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The Lord Gives Great Power to Moses

Moses asked the Lord, “Suppose everyone refuses to listen to my message, and no one believes that you really appeared to me?”

The Lord answered, “What's that in your hand?”

“A walking stick,” Moses replied.

“Throw it down!” the Lord commanded. So Moses threw the stick on the ground. It immediately turned into a snake, and Moses jumped back.

“Pick it up by the tail!” the Lord told him. And when Moses did this, the snake turned back into a walking stick.

“Do this,” the Lord said, “and the Israelites will believe that you have seen me, the God who was worshiped by their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

Next, the Lord commanded Moses, “Put your hand inside your shirt.” Moses obeyed, and when he took it out, his hand had turned white as snow—like someone with leprosy.[a]

“Put your hand back inside your shirt,” the Lord told him. Moses did so, and when he took it out again, it was as healthy as the rest of his body.

8-9 Then the Lord said, “If no one believes either of these miracles, take some water from the Nile River and pour it on the ground. The water will immediately turn into blood.”

10 Moses replied, “I have never been a good speaker. I wasn't one before you spoke to me, and I'm not one now. I am slow at speaking, and I can never think of what to say.”

11 But the Lord answered, “Who makes people able to speak or makes them deaf or unable to speak? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Don't you know that I am the one who does these things? 12 Now go! When you speak, I will be with you and give you the words to say.”

13 Moses begged, “Lord, please send someone else to do it.”

14 The Lord became angry with Moses and said:

What about your brother Aaron, the Levite? I know he is a good speaker. He is already on his way here to visit you, and he will be happy to see you again. 15-16 Aaron will speak to the people for you, and you will be like me, telling Aaron what to say. I will be with both of you as you speak, and I will tell each of you what to do. 17 Now take this walking stick and use it to perform miracles.

Moses Returns to Egypt

18 Moses went to his father-in-law Jethro and asked, “Please let me return to Egypt to see if any of my people are still alive.”

“All right,” Jethro replied. “I hope all goes well.”

19 But even before this, the Lord had told Moses, “Leave the land of Midian and return to Egypt. Everyone who wanted to kill you is now dead.” 20 So Moses put his wife and sons on donkeys and headed for Egypt, holding the walking stick that had the power of God.

21 On the way the Lord said to Moses:

When you get to Egypt, go to the king and work the miracles I have shown you. But I will make him so stubborn that he will refuse to let my people go. 22 Then tell him that I have said, “Israel is my first-born son, 23 (A) and I commanded you to release him, so he could worship me. But you refused, and now I will kill your first-born son.”

Zipporah's Son Is Circumcised

24 One night while Moses was in camp, the Lord was about to kill him. 25 But Zipporah[b] circumcised her son with a flint knife. She touched his[c] legs with the skin she had cut off and said, “My dear son, this blood will protect you.”[d] 26 So the Lord did not harm Moses. Then Zipporah said, “Yes, my dear, you are safe because of this circumcision.”[e]

Aaron Is Sent To Meet Moses

27 The Lord sent Aaron to meet Moses in the desert. So Aaron met Moses at Mount Sinai[f] and greeted him with a kiss. 28 Moses told Aaron what God had sent him to say; he also told him about the miracles God had given him the power to perform.

29 Later they brought together the leaders of Israel, 30 and Aaron told them what the Lord had sent Moses to say. Then Moses worked the miracles for the people, 31 and everyone believed. They bowed down and worshiped the Lord because they knew that he had seen their suffering and was going to help them.

Moses and Aaron Go to the King of Egypt

Moses and Aaron went to the king[g] of Egypt and told him, “The Lord God says, ‘Let my people go into the desert, so they can honor me with a celebration there.’ ”

“Who is this Lord and why should I obey him?” the king replied. “I refuse to let you and your people go!”

They answered, “The Lord God of the Hebrews has appeared to us. Please let us walk three days into the desert where we can offer sacrifices to him. If you don't, he may strike us down with terrible troubles or with war.”

4-5 The king said, “Moses and Aaron, why are you keeping these people from working? Look how many you are keeping from doing their work. Now everyone get back to work!”

That same day the king gave orders to his Egyptian slave bosses and to the Israelite men directly in charge of the Israelite slaves. He told them:

Don't give the slaves any more straw[h] to put in their bricks. Force them to find their own straw wherever they can, but they must make the same number of bricks as before. They are lazy, or else they would not beg me to let them go and sacrifice to their God. Make them work so hard that they won't have time to listen to these lies.

10 The slave bosses and the men in charge of the slaves went out and told them, “The king says he will not give you any more straw. 11 Go and find your own straw wherever you can, but you must still make as many bricks as before.”

12 The slaves went all over Egypt, looking for straw. 13 But the slave bosses were hard on them and kept saying, “Each day you have to make as many bricks as you did when you were given straw.” 14 The bosses beat the men in charge of the slaves and said, “Why didn't you force the slaves to make as many bricks yesterday and today as they did before?”

15 Finally, the men in charge of the slaves went to the king and said, “Why are you treating us like this? 16 No one brings us any straw, but we are still ordered to make the same number of bricks. We are beaten with whips, and your own people are to blame.”

17 The king replied, “You are lazy—nothing but lazy! That's why you keep asking me to let you go and sacrifice to your Lord. 18 Get back to work! You won't be given straw, but you must still make the same number of bricks.”

19 The men knew they were in deep trouble when they were ordered to make the same number of bricks each day. 20 After they left the king, they went to see Moses and Aaron, who had been waiting for them. 21 Then the men said, “We hope the Lord will punish both of you for making the king and his officials hate us. Now they even have an excuse to kill us.”

The Lord's Promise to Moses

22 Moses left them and prayed, “Our Lord, why have you brought so much trouble on your people? Is that why you sent me here? 23 Ever since you told me to speak to the king,[i] he has caused nothing but trouble for these people. And you haven't done a thing to help.”

The Lord God told Moses:

Soon you will see what I will do to the king. Because of my mighty power, he will let my people go, and he will even chase them out of his country.

(B) My name is the Lord.[j] But when I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, I came as God All-Powerful and did not use my name. I made an agreement and promised them the land of Canaan, where they were living as foreigners. Now I have seen how the people of Israel are suffering because of the Egyptians, and I will keep my promise.

Here is my message for Israel: “I am the Lord! And with my mighty power I will punish the Egyptians and free you from slavery. I will accept you as my people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I was the one who rescued you from the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I solemnly promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and it will be yours. I am the Lord!”

When Moses told this to the Israelites, they were too discouraged and mistreated to believe him.

10 Then the Lord told Moses 11 to demand that the king of Egypt let the Israelites leave. 12 But Moses replied, “I'm not a powerful speaker. If the Israelites won't listen to me, why should the king of Egypt?” 13 But the Lord sent Aaron and Moses with a message for the Israelites and for the king. He also ordered Aaron and Moses to free the people from Egypt.

Family Record of Aaron and Moses

14 The following men were the heads of their ancestral clans:

The sons of Reuben, Jacob's[k] oldest son, were Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi.

15 The sons of Simeon were Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul, the son of a Canaanite woman.

16 (C) Levi lived to be 137; his sons were Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.

17 Gershon's sons were Libni and Shimei.

18 Kohath lived to be 133; his sons were Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel.

19 Merari's sons were Mahli and Mushi. All of the above were from the Levi tribe.

20 Amram lived to be 137. He married his father's sister Jochebed, and they had two sons, Aaron and Moses.

21 Izhar's sons were Korah, Nepheg, and Zichri.

22 Uzziel's sons were Mishael, Elzaphan, and Sithri.

23 Aaron married Elisheba. She was the daughter of Amminadab and the sister of Nahshon; they had four sons, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.

24 Korah's sons were Assir, Elkanah, and Abiasaph.

25 Aaron's son Eleazar married one of Putiel's daughters, and their son was Phinehas. This ends the list of those who were the heads of clans in the Levi tribe.

26 The Lord had commanded Aaron and Moses to lead every family and tribe of Israel out of Egypt, 27 and so they told the king of Egypt to set the people of Israel free.

The Lord Commands Moses and Aaron To Speak to the King

28 When the Lord spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt, 29 he said, “I am the Lord. Tell the king[l] of Egypt everything I say to you.”

30 But Moses answered, “You know I am a very poor speaker, and the king will never listen to me.”


  1. 4.6 leprosy: The word translated “leprosy” was used for many different kinds of skin diseases.
  2. 4.25 Zipporah: The wife of Moses (see 2.16-21).
  3. 4.25 his: Either Moses or the boy.
  4. 4.25 My dear son … you: Or “My dear husband, you are a man of blood” (meaning Moses).
  5. 4.26 you are … circumcision: Or “you are a man of blood.”
  6. 4.27 Mount Sinai: Hebrew “the mountain of God.”
  7. 5.1 the king: See the note at 1.11.
  8. 5.7 straw: The straw made the mud bricks stronger and kept them from shrinking, cracking, or losing their shape.
  9. 5.23 the king: See the note at 1.11.
  10. 6.2 My name is the Lord: See the note at 3.14,15.
  11. 6.14 Jacob: The Hebrew text has “Israel,” Jacob's name after God renamed him.
  12. 6.29 the king: See the note at 1.11.

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