Miraculous Signs for Moses

Moses answered, “What if they won’t believe me and will not obey me but say, ‘The Lord did not appear(A) to you’?”

The Lord asked him, “What is that in your hand?”

“A staff,” he replied.

“Throw it on the ground,” he said. So Moses threw it on the ground, it became a snake, and he ran from it. The Lord told Moses, “Stretch out your hand and grab it by the tail.” So he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand. “This will take place,” he continued, “so that they will believe that the Lord, the God of their ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”(B)

In addition the Lord said to him, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” So he put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, his hand was diseased, resembling snow.[a](C) “Put your hand back inside your cloak,” he said. So he put his hand back inside his cloak, and when he took it out, it had again become like the rest of his skin.(D) “If they will not believe you and will not respond to the evidence of the first sign, they may believe the evidence of the second sign. And if they don’t believe even these two signs or listen to what you say, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the Nile will become blood on the ground.”(E)

10 But Moses replied to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent—either in the past or recently or since you have been speaking to your servant—because my mouth and my tongue are sluggish.”[b](F)

11 The Lord said to him, “Who placed a mouth on humans? Who makes a person mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?(G) 12 Now go! I will help you speak[c] and I will teach you what to say.”(H)

13 Moses said, “Please, Lord, send someone else.”[d]

14 Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses, and he said, “Isn’t Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, he is on his way now to meet you. He will rejoice when he sees you. 15 You will speak with him and tell him what to say.(I) I will help both you and him to speak[e] and will teach you both what to do. 16 He will speak to the people for you. He will serve as a mouth for you, and you will serve as God to him. 17 And take this staff in your hand that you will perform the signs with.”(J)

Moses’s Return to Egypt

18 Then Moses went back to his father-in-law, Jethro, and said to him, “Please let me return to my relatives in Egypt and see if they are still living.”

Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.”

19 Now in Midian the Lord told Moses, “Return to Egypt, for all the men who wanted to kill you are dead.”(K) 20 So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey, and returned to the land of Egypt. And Moses took God’s staff(L) in his hand.

21 The Lord instructed Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, make sure you do before Pharaoh all the wonders that I have put within your power. But I will harden his heart[f](M) so that he won’t let the people go. 22 And you will say to Pharaoh: This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son.(N) 23 I told you: Let my son go so that he may worship me, but you refused to let him go. Look, I am about to kill your firstborn son!” (O)

24 On the trip, at an overnight campsite, it happened that the Lord confronted him and intended to put him to death. 25 So Zipporah took a flint, cut off her son’s foreskin, threw it at Moses’s feet, and said, “You are a bridegroom of blood to me!” (P) 26 So he let him alone. At that time she said, “You are a bridegroom of blood,” referring to the circumcision.

Reunion of Moses and Aaron

27 Now the Lord had said to Aaron, “Go and meet Moses in the wilderness.” So he went and met him at the mountain of God and kissed him.(Q) 28 Moses told Aaron everything the Lord had sent him to say, and about all the signs he had commanded him to do. 29 Then Moses and Aaron went and assembled all the elders of the Israelites. 30 Aaron repeated everything the Lord had said to Moses and performed the signs before the people. 31 The people believed, and when they heard that the Lord had paid attention(R) to them and that he had seen their misery,(S) they knelt low and worshiped.

Moses Confronts Pharaoh

Later, Moses and Aaron went in and said to Pharaoh, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival for me in the wilderness.”(T)

But Pharaoh responded, “Who is the Lord that I should obey him by letting Israel go?(U) I don’t know[g] the Lord, and besides, I will not let Israel go.”(V)

They answered, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please let us go on a three-day trip into the wilderness so that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God, or else he may strike us with plague or sword.”

The king of Egypt said to them, “Moses and Aaron, why are you causing the people to neglect their work? Get to your labor!” Pharaoh also said, “Look, the people of the land are so numerous, and you would stop them from their labor.”(W)

Further Oppression of Israel

That day Pharaoh commanded the overseers(X) of the people as well as their foremen, “Don’t continue to supply the people with straw for making bricks, as before. They must go and gather straw for themselves. But require the same quota of bricks from them as they were making before; do not reduce it. For they are slackers—that is why they are crying out,(Y) ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’ Impose heavier work on the men. Then they will be occupied with it and not pay attention to deceptive words.”

10 So the overseers and foremen of the people went out and said to them, “This is what Pharaoh says:(Z) ‘I am not giving you straw. 11 Go get straw yourselves wherever you can find it, but there will be no reduction at all in your workload.’” 12 So the people scattered throughout the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw. 13 The overseers insisted, “Finish your assigned work each day, just as you did when straw was provided.” 14 Then the Israelite foremen, whom Pharaoh’s slave drivers had set over the people, were beaten(AA) and asked, “Why haven’t you finished making your prescribed number of bricks yesterday or today, as you did before?”

15 So the Israelite foremen went in and cried for help to Pharaoh: “Why are you treating your servants this way? 16 No straw has been given to your servants, yet they say to us, ‘Make bricks!’ Look, your servants are being beaten, but it is your own people who are at fault.”

17 But he said, “You are slackers. Slackers! That is why you are saying, ‘Let us go sacrifice to the Lord.’ 18 Now get to work. No straw will be given to you, but you must produce the same quantity of bricks.”

19 The Israelite foremen saw that they were in trouble when they were told, “You cannot reduce your daily quota of bricks.” 20 When they left Pharaoh, they confronted Moses and Aaron, who stood waiting to meet them.

21 “May the Lord take note of you and judge,” they said to them, “because you have made us reek to Pharaoh and his officials—putting a sword in their hand to kill us!” (AB)

22 So Moses went back to the Lord and asked, “Lord, why have you caused trouble for this people? And why did you ever send me?(AC) 23 Ever since I went in to Pharaoh to speak in your name he has caused trouble for this people, and you haven’t rescued your people at all.”

But the Lord replied to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: because of a strong hand he will let them go, and because of a strong hand he will drive them from his land.”(AD)

God Promises Freedom

Then God spoke to Moses, telling him, “I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty, but I was not known to them by my name ‘the Lord.’[h](AE) I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land they lived in as aliens.(AF) Furthermore, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are forcing to work as slaves, and I have remembered(AG) my covenant.

“Therefore tell the Israelites: I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from the forced labor of the Egyptians and rescue you from slavery to them. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm(AH) and great acts of judgment. I will take you as my people,(AI) and I will be your God. You will know(AJ) that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from the forced labor of the Egyptians. I will bring you to the land that I swore[i](AK) to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.” Moses told this to the Israelites, but they did not listen(AL) to him because of their broken spirit and hard labor.

10 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, 11 “Go and tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the Israelites go from his land.”

12 But Moses said in the Lord’s presence, “If the Israelites will not listen to me, then how will Pharaoh listen to me, since I am such a poor speaker?” [j](AM) 13 Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron and gave them commands concerning both the Israelites and Pharaoh king of Egypt to bring the Israelites out of the land of Egypt.

Genealogy of Moses and Aaron

14 These are the heads of their fathers’ families:

The sons of Reuben,(AN) the firstborn of Israel:

Hanoch and Pallu, Hezron and Carmi.

These are the clans of Reuben.

15 The sons of Simeon:(AO)

Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin,

Zohar, and Shaul, the son of a Canaanite woman.

These are the clans of Simeon.

16 These are the names of the sons of Levi

according to their family records;

Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.(AP)

Levi lived 137 years.

17 The sons of Gershon:

Libni and Shimei, by their clans.

18 The sons of Kohath:

Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel.

Kohath lived 133 years.

19 The sons of Merari:

Mahli and Mushi.

These are the clans of the Levites(AQ)

according to their family records.

20 Amram married his father’s sister Jochebed,

and she bore him Aaron and Moses.(AR)

Amram lived 137 years.

21 The sons of Izhar:(AS)

Korah, Nepheg, and Zichri.

22 The sons of Uzziel:

Mishael, Elzaphan,(AT) and Sithri.

23 Aaron married Elisheba,

daughter of Amminadab(AU) and sister of Nahshon.

She bore him Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.(AV)

24 The sons of Korah:(AW)

Assir, Elkanah, and Abiasaph.

These are the clans of the Korahites.

25 Aaron’s son Eleazar married

one of the daughters of Putiel,

and she bore him Phinehas.(AX)

These are the heads of the Levite families by their clans.

26 It was this Aaron and Moses whom the Lord told, “Bring the Israelites out of the land of Egypt according to their military divisions.”(AY) 27 Moses and Aaron were the ones who spoke to Pharaoh king of Egypt in order to bring the Israelites out of Egypt.

Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh

28 On the day the Lord spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt, 29 he said to him, “I am the Lord;(AZ) tell Pharaoh king of Egypt everything I am telling you.”

30 But Moses replied in the Lord’s presence, “Since I am such a poor speaker,(BA) how will Pharaoh listen to me?”

Footnotes

  1. 4:6 A reference to whiteness or flakiness of the skin
  2. 4:10 Lit heavy of mouth and heavy of tongue
  3. 4:12 Lit will be with your mouth
  4. 4:13 Lit send by the hand of whom you will send
  5. 4:15 Lit will be with your mouth and with his mouth
  6. 4:21 Or will make him stubborn
  7. 5:2 Or recognize
  8. 6:3 Lord (in small capitals) stands for the personal name of God, which in Hb is Yahweh. There is a long tradition of substituting “Lord” for “Yahweh” out of reverence.
  9. 6:8 Lit raised my hand
  10. 6:12 Lit I have uncircumcised lips, also in v. 30

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