Exodus 4:13-17: Moses and Aaron, Companions in Tribulation

Verse 13:[1] And he said, O my Lord, (see Jonah 1:3) send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt (or, shouldest[2]) send.



[Send whom thou art going to send (thus the Arabic), שְֽׁלַֽח־נָ֖א בְּיַד־תִּשְׁלָֽח׃] Send by the hand thou wilt send (Montanus, Oleaster); by the hand of him whom thou wilt send (Tigurinus, Samaritan Text, Pagnine); by him whom thou art going to send (Syriac, Junius and Tremellius). The אֲשֶׁר/whom is wanting (Munster). Hand is here put in the place of agency (Piscator). That is to say, Send whomever thou wilt, but only send not one that is less suitable than me (Fagius, Vatablus). Send someone more fit than me (Menochius). Some maintain that Moses by these words had respect to someone in particular; either Aaron (as the Hebrews think), who was at that time a prophet in Israel; or Messiah (as nearly all the Latin commentators maintain) (Fagius’ Comparison of the Principal Translations). That is to say, Seeing that thou art going to send Him whom thou hast promised, send now the same; He is suitable. For we see that those ancient fathers in weightier causes and difficulties always had regard unto the promised Christ (Fagius, Vatablus). Thus most of the ancient Fathers, and rightly (Tirinus). Here the modesty of Moses appears, declared in Numbers 12:3. Send whom thou art going to send: the Greeks better, Send someone who is fit to be sent. For יַד/hand to the Hebrews often signifies any aptitude whatever (Grotius).


By the hand of him whom thou wilt: By one who is fitter for the work than I am. Hebrew: Send by the hand of him whom thou wilt send, that is, should send; for the future tense oft signifies what one should do. See Genesis 20:9;[3] 34:7;[4] Malachi 1:6;[5] 2:7.[6] Thou usest according to thy wisdom to choose fit instruments, and to use none but whom thou dost either find or make fit for their employment, which I am not. Others, Send by the hand of Messias, whom thou wilt certainly send, and canst not send at a fitter time, nor for better work. Moses and the prophets knew that Christ would come, but the particular time of his coming was unknown to them. See 1 Peter 1:11.


Verse 14:[7] And the anger 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, (Ex. 4:27; 1 Sam. 10:2, 3, 5) he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart.


[Angry] Sidonius,[8] in Nine Books of Epistles[9] 5:20, concerning a certain one, That thou failest to show at first, is ascribed to modesty; the second postponement looks like cowardice (Gataker).



[Aaron, etc.] There is a wonderful elegance to the Hebrew speech, by which the pattern of the angry and of the instigators is beautifully expreseed; for thus the agitated are wont to speak, by placing after a word which ought to precede. Some here explain in speaking to speak[10] by to be very eloquent (Vatablus). Thus interpreters and orators were wont to be added to ambassadors of great authority. Moses is more excellent than Aaron, as much as the mind is more excellent than speech (Grotius).


[Eloquent (similarly the Syriac, Arabic, Tigurinus, Junius and Tremellius)] Hebrew: in speaking he will speak (thus most interpreters), or he will speak out; that is, he is able to speak out. The future denotes ability, verse 11, Who shall set the dumb?[11] in the place of, who is able to set? (Piscator).