christine's bible study

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isa 40:8

exodus 1:1-6:1, annual cycle shemot, “names”

Read Exodus 1:1-6:1 at Bible Gateway.

Exodus 2:5-6

The teaching tools of scripture
The hebrew paragraph divisions for exodus

The complete chiastic structure formed by shemot is posted here. The biblical chronology and Egyptian chronology, the Pharaoh of the Exodus, and Moses as a Messianic type, is discussed here. The signs of the power of the Spirit from the Old Testament, and more signs of Messiah in the narrative of Moses, is discussed here. That God is teaching everyone from Pharaoh down, what “I am YHVH” means, is discussed here.

One of the strong paragraphs in shemot always troubled me, so I studied it further this year:

Exo 4:18-26 {p} Return to Egypt with authority (rod of God) + obedience (circumcision)

Exo 4:18-26 {p}
1a) Exo 4:18, Moses to Jethro his father in law: “Let me go and return to my brethren in Egypt;”
1b) Exo 4:19-20, The men who sought Moses’ life + return journey to Egypt with his wife and sons:
— 1) Exo 4:19, The Lord said to Moses, “Return to Egypt, for all the men are dead who sought your life;”
— 2) Exo 4:20, Moses took his wife and sons, set them on a donkey + returned to Egypt with the rod of God in his hand;
1c) Exo 4:21, The Lord said to Moses: “Do these wonders before Pharaoh, but he will not let the people go;”
central axis) Exo 4:22-23a, Say to Pharaoh, “Israel is My son, My firstborn; Let My son go, that he may serve Me;”
2c) Exo 4:23b, “And if you refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay your son, even your firstborn;”
2b) Exo 4:24-25, The Lord sought to kill him + Moses’ wife and son (circumcision):
— 1) Exo 4:24, Along the way at the inn, the Lord met him and sought to kill him;
— 2) Exo 4:25, Zipporah cut off the foreskin of her son + cast it at his feet: “You are a husband of blood;”
2a) Exo 4:26, So He let him go.

Exo 4:25-26
1a) Exo 4:25a, Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at Moses’ feet;
1b) Exo 4:25b, And said, “Surely a bloody husband you are to me;”
central axis) Exo 4:26a, So He let him go;
2b) Exo 4:26b, Then she said, “A bloody husband you are;”
2a) Exo 4:26c, Because of the circumcision.

This question has always plagued me about this parashah: Why did God provide a deliverer for Israel through miraculous circumstances, and call, equip, and anoint him for his task, then seek to kill him when he was finally on his way back to Egypt to execute his commission?

Moses, being born to the house of Levi in Egypt, was circumcised on the eighth day according to the covenant God made with Abraham. I believe this is how Pharaoh’s daughter was able to recognize immediately that the baby in the basket was a baby boy of the Hebrews. His sons born to his wife Zipporah, were not circumcised on the eighth day according to the covenant of God. Zipporah seems to have been opposed to the practice, and so Moses did not press the issue.

However, I believe that when Moses met God in the burning bush, it became fresh on his heart again to circumcise his sons after the covenant of God. It is clear that Zipporah remained opposed. Moses did not overrule his wife, but took the rod of God in his hand to accomplish his commission.

The rod of God represents the authority of God. The Hebrew letter lamed originally was a pictograph of the shepherd’s staff or rod, the tool of his office which allowed him to lead and direct the sheep. The lamed then can not only mean to shepherd, direct, or teach, but also to wield authority. The scepter of the king is the rod of his authority. When the authority of Aaron to act as high priest was questioned among the elders of Israel, it was Aaron’s rod that budded out of all the other rods.

God charged and anointed Moses with authority to command Pharaoh and accomplish deliverance for Israel, and the rod of God in his hand was the symbol that his message was indeed, “Thus saith the Lord.” The signs and wonders which the rod allowed Moses to perform, confirmed the Word of the Lord, and established that Moses’ authority had in fact been given to him by God.

But if Moses would not obey God when his wife said, “No;” how was he going to obey God when Pharaoh said, “No?” If he would not do the simple thing of circumcising his sons in faith, how was he going to do the hard thing of shepherding six million of the children of Israel? When Moses showed God that he would not exercise his rightful authority over his wife, God took the drastic step of seeking to kill Moses, as the Scripture records. In other words, the rod of God must necessarily be wielded by a man submitted in faith and in obedience to the Lord his God above all others.

We know nothing about how the Lord sought Moses’ life. If it had been the Lord’s intention to have Moses dead and go on to the next candidate, Moses would be dead, and a struggle would not have ensued. (The Lord God wrestled with Jacob also, when Jacob faced his crossroads of obedience.) That Moses and Zipporah both knew why Moses’ life was being sought, and who was seeking it, is clear. Zipporah relented to save her husband’s life, however casting the foreskin disdainfully at his feet, and calling him a husband of blood.

But Moses learned that day just how serious the Lord was when He asked something of him. I believe this incident was a turning point in Moses’ life and heart, which strengthened him to become the servant faithful in all His house for the next 40 years, as Scripture records of him.

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