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).


He cometh forth to meet thee, by my instigation and direction; which, because I see thou art still diffident, I give thee for a new sign to strengthen thy belief that I will carry thee through this hard work.


Verse 15:[12] And (Ex. 7:1, 2) thou shalt speak unto him, and (Num. 22:38; 23:5, 12, 16; Deut. 18:18; Is. 51:16; Jer. 1:9) put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and (Deut. 5:31) will teach you what ye shall do.


[Put words in his mouth] A Hebraism, in the place of, thou shalt commit every matter to him (Vatablus).


Put words in his mouth, that is, instruct him what to speak, and command him freely and faithfully to express it. See Isaiah 51:16; 59:21.


Verse 16:[13] And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and (Ex. 7:1; 18:19) thou shalt be to him instead of God.


[And he shall be a mouth, etc., וְהָ֤יָה הוּא֙ יִֽהְיֶה־לְּךָ֣ לְפֶ֔ה] And he shall be, even he shall be; or, and he shall be prepared so that he might be to thee in the place of a mouth (Junius and Tremellius, Samaritan Text, Ainsworth); he shall be thine interpreter (Chaldean, Syriac, Arabic).


[Thou shalt be to him in these things which pertain to God] Hebrew: thou shalt be to him for God[14] (thus the Syriac, Samaritan Text, Montanus, Ainsworth). Giving to him the words that he should speak, just as God does to the prophets (Oleaster). Thou shalt set forth to him my will, Exodus 7:2 (Junius). Thou shalt seek doctrine from God (Targum Jerusalem in Ainsworth). He shall consult thee, as me (Vatablus, Menochius). Thou shalt be a lord to him (Arabic), or, for a prince (Chaldean). I will put thee in charge of him (Fagius): and he shall obey thee as though God (Tirinus). Thou shalt have the right of the sword[15] with respect to him and others (Grotius, Fagius). For never was this name given to men, except to signify the right of life and death. See Exodus 7:1 (Grotius).


Thou shalt be to him instead of God to teach and command him. See Exodus 7:1.


Verse 17:[16] And thou shalt take (Ex. 4:2) this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs.


Signs: Both those which I have already made thee to do, and others as I shall direct and enable thee.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֖אמֶר בִּ֣י אֲדֹנָ֑י שְֽׁלַֽח־נָ֖א בְּיַד־תִּשְׁלָֽח׃


[2] Hebrew: תִּשְׁלָח.


[3] Genesis 20:9b: “…thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done (לֹא־יֵעָשׂוּ, imperfect/future).”


[4] Genesis 34:7b: “…because he had wrought folly in Israel in lying with Jacob’s daughter; which thing ought not to be done (לֹ֥א יֵעָשֶֽׂה׃, imperfect/future).”


[5] Malachi 1:6a: “A son honoureth (יְכַבֵּד, imperfect/future, ought to honor) his father…”


[6] Malachi 2:7a: “For the priest’s lips should keep (יִשְׁמְרוּ, imperfect/future) knowledge, and they should seek (יְבַקְשׁוּ, imperfect/future) the law at his mouth…”


[7] Hebrew: וַיִּֽחַר־אַ֙ף יְהוָ֜ה בְּמֹשֶׁ֗ה וַ֙יֹּאמֶר֙ הֲלֹ֙א אַהֲרֹ֤ן אָחִ֙יךָ֙ הַלֵּוִ֔י יָדַ֕עְתִּי כִּֽי־דַבֵּ֥ר יְדַבֵּ֖ר ה֑וּא וְגַ֤ם הִנֵּה־הוּא֙ יֹצֵ֣א לִקְרָאתֶ֔ךָ וְרָאֲךָ֖ וְשָׂמַ֥ח בְּלִבּֽוֹ׃


[8] Sidonius (430-487) was Governor of Rome, and later Bishop of Clermont.


[9] Epistolarum Libri Novem.


[10] Exodus 4:14b: “…I know that he can speak well (דַבֵּ֥ר יְדַבֵּ֖ר)…”


[11] Exodus 4:11b: “…or who maketh (יָשׂוּם, in the imperfect/future) the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind?”


[12] Hebrew: וְדִבַּרְתָּ֣ אֵלָ֔יו וְשַׂמְתָּ֥ אֶת־הַדְּבָרִ֖ים בְּפִ֑יו וְאָנֹכִ֗י אֶֽהְיֶ֤ה עִם־פִּ֙יךָ֙ וְעִם־פִּ֔יהוּ וְהוֹרֵיתִ֣י אֶתְכֶ֔ם אֵ֖ת אֲשֶׁ֥ר תַּעֲשֽׂוּן׃


[13] Hebrew: וְדִבֶּר־ה֥וּא לְךָ֖ אֶל־הָעָ֑ם וְהָ֤יָה הוּא֙ יִֽהְיֶה־לְּךָ֣ לְפֶ֔ה וְאַתָּ֖ה תִּֽהְיֶה־לּ֥וֹ לֵֽאלֹהִֽים׃


[14] Hebrew: וְאַתָּ֖ה תִּֽהְיֶה־לּ֥וֹ לֵֽאלֹהִֽים׃.


[15] See Romans 13:4.


[16] Hebrew: וְאֶת־הַמַּטֶּ֥ה הַזֶּ֖ה תִּקַּ֣ח בְּיָדֶ֑ךָ אֲשֶׁ֥ר תַּעֲשֶׂה־בּ֖וֹ אֶת־הָאֹתֹֽת׃

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ABOUT US

Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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