Old Testament Commentary - Exodus 4

by Don R. Hender

Scriptural Text [& Editorial]
Commentary & Explanation
Footnotes ~ References ~ JST
            CHAPTER 4             

The Lord gives signs to Moses—
Aaron chosen as a spokesman—
Israel is the Lord's firstborn and must be released to serve him—
Circumsision of Moses' son—Moses and Aaron lead Israel in worship.

Due to the unbelief of men, the Lord gives many signs and wonders to Moses—Aaron is to be Spokesman—
Israel is the Lord's firstborn—Israel is to be released by Pharaoh from bondage—Moses with Aaron as spokesman lead Israel.
They Will Not Believe
  1 AND Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not abelieve me, nor bhearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto theea.

Like Unto Moses 
Even as they did not believe the words of Moses, that God did appear unto him, they did not believe Joseph Smith that God had appeared unto him and called him to do that work of the latter day in a spiritual sense like unto what Moses had done in a temporal sense. The Lord had even told Moses of this fact that Joseph Smith would be raised up in the latter days (See Commentary Moses 1:41). Moses was called to deliver Israel out of thier bondage to the Egyptians. Joseph Smith was called to deliver all of mankind from the bondage of the world of the lack of having the true word of God. Where Moses' deliverance was more of a temporal deliverance, that which would be brought to pass by Joseph Smith was spiritual deliverance unto the truth of God, which makes all men free who do come unto it and partake thereof.
 1a they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee Moses had been raised in Pharaoh's courts and in Pharaoh's house. He was older and experienced and he knew the disposition of men. In contrast Joseph Smith was young and inexperienced. In the innocence and naivity of his simple mind, he preceived not why men would not believe that he had seen God and that the LORD had appeared unto him. Yet in both cases a prophet had been called, Moses in his older age and Joseph Smith in his youth. And they both faced the unbelief of man that God would so appear unto man as he had done unto Moses of the Old Testament and Joseph Smith of the Latter-days. Even Jesus Christ, the Son of God, despite all the signs as was given by him, they believed him not. Since they rejected Moses until after many signs and wonders and even later rebelled against him often, and since they completely rejected the Lord in His day and crucified him, is it any wonder that they did not accept Joseph Smith, whom the Lord had called. And that many lost faith in him even after the wonders which he brought forth, for so did they to Jesus, even likewise unto the taking of the life of the latter-day prophet as they did so even unto the Christ. youth  1a OR consecrate or set apart.
   b Lev. 21:10 (10-15)
   c OR young bull (also vv. 3, 10-12,
      14, 36).; Lev. 8:2; 1 Chr. 13:9
 2a Lev. 2:4
   b HEB mingled
      OR smeared

  2 And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod.
  3 And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it.
  4 And the LORD said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand:
  5 That they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee.

 1a OR consecrate or set apart.
   b Lev. 21:10 (10-15)
   c OR young bull (also vv. 3, 10-12,
      14, 36).; Lev. 8:2; 1 Chr. 13:9
 2a Lev. 2:4
   b HEB mingled
      OR smeared

  6 ¶ And the LORD said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was aleprous as snow.
  7 And he said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and aplucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was bturned again as his other flesh.
  8 And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter asign.

 1a OR consecrate or set apart.
   b Lev. 21:10 (10-15)
   c OR young bull (also vv. 3, 10-12,
      14, 36).; Lev. 8:2; 1 Chr. 13:9
 2a Lev. 2:4
   b HEB mingled
      OR smeared

  9 And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe also these two signs, neither hearken unto thy voice, that thou shalt take of the water of athe river, and pour it upon the dry land: and the water which thou takest out of the river shall become bblood upon the dry land.

  10 ¶ And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of aspeech, and of a bslow tongue.
  11 And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who amaketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?
  12 Now therefore go, and I will be with thy amouth, and bteach thee what thou shalt saya.

 12a I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say When one speaks by the power of God under the influence of the Holy Spirit, one is speaking as if with the mouth of angels. Both Moses who was slow of speach and Joseph Smith who was an 'unlearned' farm boy would have felt the weight of having to stand and speak before men of high position and learning. As in the case of Moses, the Lord provides Moses with Aaron his brother who is well spoken to be a spokesman unto Moses. Joseph Smith was given a couple of 'spokesmen' over the course of his administration, first was Oliver Cowdery a well spoken school teacher and lawyer and then Sydney Rigdon a well spoken trained minister of religion. In each case, Aaron, Cowdery and Rigdon, there came a time when the 'spokesman' did usurp authority over the prophet and did to an extent rebell against him. Only in the case of the 'writer of the Book of Mormon' who is Mormon, and his spokesman, his son Moroni, is there the case as explained by Lehi in 2 Nephi chapter 3 where the spokesman did fully and successfully remain totally true and represent well the prophet in the Church. And in Moroni's case, Moroni was set forth as that angel which would fly in the midst of heaven having the everlasting gospel to preach unto all the earth.
  13 And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, aby the hand of him whom thou wilt send.
  14 And the aanger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart.
  15 And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy amouth, and with his mouth, and will bteach you what ye shall do.
  16 And he shall be thy aspokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him binstead of Goda.
  17 And thou shalt take this arod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs.

 16a he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he sahll be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God In Polynesian culture there is the 'High Chief' who is the Chief over all and then to that High Chief, there is often given to speak for him what is called a 'Talking Chief'. Joseph when given charge as 'ruler' over all of Egypt could have been so considered as Pharaoh's mouth piece. To Moses who was slow of speach, Aaron who spoke well did speak and represent him to the people. To Joseph Smith who was lowly educated, Oliver Cowdery was given as scribe and spokesman and then later also Sydney Rigdon. To Mormon who was the prophet and also the Chief Captain of the Nephite armies, Moroni his son was made the 'spokesman' to the Church in his father's absence. And it is Mormon and Moroni who Lehi spoke as writer and spokesman in 2 Nephi 3. Even Jesus Christ had a sort of 'forerunner' or Elias, who did prepare the way before him in John the Baptist. In having such a 'spokesman' who may speak for the prophet, come the responsibility to be true to that Prophet. Aaron at one point did rebell against Moses. Oliver Cowdery and Sydney Rigdon did also against Joseph Smith. That is always the danger of such an arrangement, the 'spokesman', 'forerunner' or 'Elias' overstepping their bounds. John the Baptist did not in relationship to Jesus Christ, Moroni did not in his relationship to his father Mormon, and just as similar, Jesus Christ the Servant of the Father has neer over stepped his bounds in so representing the Father and giving all glory to his name, whereas Lucifer was of the other sort who would usurped authority even over God.
  18 ¶ And Moses went and returned to aJethro his father in law, and said unto him, Let me go, I pray thee, and return unto my brethren which are in Egypt, and see whether they be yet alive. And Jethro said to Moses, Go in peace.

  19 And the LORD said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are adead which sought thy blife.
  20 And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt: and Moses took the arod of God in his hand.

  21 And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those awonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine bhand: cbut I will dharden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.
  22 And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, aIsrael is my bson, even my cfirstborn:
  23 And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy ason, even thy firstborn.

  24 ¶ aAnd it came to pass bby the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to ckill him.
  25 Then Zipporah took a asharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bbloody husband art thou to me.
  26 So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the acircumcision.

  27 ¶ And the LORD said to Aaron, Go into the wilderness to meet Moses. And he went, and met him in the amount of God, and kissed him.
  28 And Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD who had sent him, and all the signs which he had commanded him.

  29 ¶ And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the aelders of the children of Israel:
  30 And Aaron aspake all the words which the LORD had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people.
  31 And the people abelieved: and when they heard that the LORD had bvisited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their caffliction, then they dbowed their heads and worshipped.