Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Exodus 4

There are three stories in this chapter. The first has to do with Moses' unwillingness to obey God. The second has to do with the circumcision of Moses' son. The third has to do with how the Israelites come to believe that God is coming to their aid through Moses.

Unlike the other patriarchs, Moses receives from God certain personal powers, to use at his discretion. He receives the power to transform what is dead, a staff, into something living, a snake. He receives the power to generate and heal a disease. And he receives the power to transform water into what was regarded as life essence, blood. These are the powers of a god, yet Moses finds it impossible to believe that anyone will believe him. This reveals his lack of faith in God and God punishes Moses by transferring the power of the priesthood to Aaron (see Jamieson's commentary).

The second story is quite involved. Moses starts out on his journey by lying to his father-in-law about the purpose of his trip. According to Jamieson, the donkey is not suited for long trips, yet Moses puts his wife and son on the back of this animal. Moses had also been disobedient to the covenant of God by failing to circumcise his son. His wife, who is not even of the faith, is forced to do the job of circumcision or someone (either Moses or the son) who has been sick will die. She calls Moses her "bridegroom of blood," which Jamieson takes as an expression that she has risked the life of her son. Is it possible that, because Moses was reluctant to participate in freeing Israel, God was treating Moses as a kind of Pharaoh? Was God urging him to soften his heart? Is there a parallel between the circumcision ritual and the Passover ritual of smearing blood on the doorposts so that the angel of death will pass over?

(As a side note, note the donkey and the overnight stay have a slight resemblance to the story of Jesus.)

The final story has to do with how the Israelites came to believe. From miracles, they believed that Moses was the representative of God. However, it was from the news that God cared about them that they bowed their heads and worshipped. Miracles are not enough to make us worship God. We must come to understand He Loves us.


Post a Comment

<< Home