Exodus 6 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)

Exodus 6
Pulpit Commentary
Then the LORD said unto Moses, Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land.
Verse 1. - Now shalt thou see. There was encouragement in the very word "now." Moses' complaint was, that God delayed his coming, would not show himself, was "slack concerning his promise." In reply he is told that there is to be no longer any delay - the work is just about to commence. "Now shalt thou see." With a strong hand shall he let them go. The "strong hand" is not Pharaoh's, but God's. "By means of my strong hand" (or "overpowering might") "laid upon him shall he be induced to let them go," and similarly with the other clause. Drive them out. This phrase well expresses the final anxiety of Pharaoh to be rid of the Israelites. (See Exodus 12:31, 22.)
And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD:
Verse 2. - And God spake. The promise of the first verse was, apparently, given first, and was quite distinct from all the others - perhaps separated from them by an interval of hours, or days. It was especially addressed to Moses. The rest was in the main (ver. 6-8) a message to the people. I am the Lord. Or, "I am JEHOVAH." Compare 3:15, and note ad loc.
And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.
Verse 3. - I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty. See Genesis 17:1 for the revelation of this name to Abraham, and Genesis 35:11 for its repetition to Jacob. We do not find the full name used by God in any appearance to Isaac; but Isaac himself uses it in Genesis 28:3. By my name Jehovah was I not known unto them. The explanation of this passage is by no means easy. God himself, according to Genesis 15:7, revealed himself to Abraham as Jehovah before declaring his name to be El-Shaddai (God Almighty); and again revealed himself to Jacob as Jehovah-Elohim (Genesis 28:13). Abraham named the place where he had been about to sacrifice Isaac, "Jehovah-jireh" (Genesis 22:14). That Moses regarded the name as known even earlier, appears from Genesis 4:1. It was probably as old as language. The apparent meaning of the present passage cannot therefore be its true meaning. No writer would so contradict himself. Perhaps the true sense is, "I was known to them as a Being of might and power, not as mere absolute (and so eternal and immutable) existence." This meaning of the word, though its etymological and original meaning, may have been unknown to the patriarchs, who were not etymologists. It was first distinctly declared to Moses at Sinai (Exodus 3:14, 15).
And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers.
Verse 4. - I have established my covenant with them. Compare Genesis 15:18-21; Genesis 17:7, 8; Genesis 26:3; Genesis 28:13. The land of Canaan, in a narrow acceptation, reached "from Sidon unto Gaza" (Genesis 10:19); in a wider sense it included the whole tract between "the river of Egypt (Wady-el-Arish) and the great river, the river Euphrates" (Genesis 15:18). It was this larger tract which was promised by God to Abraham. The land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers. Literally, "the land of their sojourns wherein they sojourned." (So Kalisch.) It was by permission of the lords of the soil - the Canaaaites, Perizzites, Hittites, and others, that Abraham and his descendants dwelt in Canaan to the time of Jacob's descent into Egypt. (See Genesis 12:6; Genesis 13:7; Genesis 23:7; Genesis 27:46, etc.)
And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant.
Verse 5. - I have also heard the groaning. Compare Exodus 2:24 and Exodus 3:9. The repetition is in consequence of Moses' expostulation (Exodus 5:22, 23), and is to assure the Israelites that God has not forgotten them, but will sustain them under their afflictions, and will shortly deliver them.
Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments:
Verse 6. - Say unto the children of Israel. God felt for the disappointment which the people had suffered in finding no alleviation of their toils, but the reverse, after their hopes had been raised high by the words of Moses (Exodus 4:31). He therefore sent them an inspiriting and gracious message. "They should be rid of their bondage; they should be brought out; they should be redeemed and delivered by his mighty arm and miraculous intervention. He, Jehovah, had said it." Faith would lay hold on this assurance and cling to it, even though God still delayed his coming, and did not precipitate matters. A stretched-out arm. Arms are stretched out by men to help and save. An outstretched arm in the Egyptian writing meant "action." The phrase, elsewhere so common, is here used for the first time. (Compare, however, Exodus 3:20.) It was significant of active, energetic help. Great judgments. These had been previously hinted at (Exodus 3:20 and Exodus 4:22) but had not been previously called "judgments." Compare Genesis 15:14: "Also that nation whom they serve will I judge." The plagues of Egypt were not merely "wonders," but punishments inflicted on a proud and cruel nation by a Judge.
And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.
Verses 7, 8. - The promises are continued, heaped one upon another.

1. God will take them for his own people.

2. He will be, in a special sense, their God.

3. They shall clearly know that it is he who brings them forth out of Egypt.

4. They shall be brought into the promised land.

5. The land shall be made over to them, and become their own inheritance.

The Israelites were formally taken to be God's people at Sinai (Exodus 19:5, 6); where, at the same time, he became (specially but not exclusively) their God (Exodus 20:1; Exodus 29:45, 40). They had evidence that it was he who brought them forth in the pillar of fire and of a cloud (Exodus 13:21; Exodus 14:19, 20, etc.). They were brought into the promised land by Joshua (Joshua 4:1), and given the full possession of it by him and his successors - the various judges and kings, until at last, under David and Solomon, they held the entire tract that had been promised to Abraham (see 1 Kings 4:21; 2 Chronicles 9:26).
And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the LORD.
Verse 8. - The land which I did swear to give it to Abraham etc. See Genesis 22:16-18; Genesis 26:3, etc. The only formal oath is recorded in Genesis 22:16; but an oath is perhaps implied in every covenant between God and man. God's faithfulness is pledged to the performance of the terms of the covenant on his part. I will give it you for an heritage: I am the Lord. Rather, "I will give it you for an heritage, I the Lord" (or "I Jehovah," or "I the Eternal One"). "You have the pledge of my Eternity and Immutability that it shall be yours."

And Moses spake so unto the children of Israel: but they hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage.
Verse 9. - Hope deferred maketh the heart sick. The Israelites, who had expected a speedy deliverance, and found themselves only the more down-trodden for Moses' interference, were too much dispirited to be cheered even by the gracious promises and assurances which Moses was commissioned to give. They had no longer any trust in one who they thought had deceived them. He was a dreamer, a visionary, if no worse. They did not intend hearkening to him any more. "Anguish of spirit" possessed their souls, and "cruel bondage" claimed their bodies, day after day. They had not even the time, had they had the will, to hearken. Verse 9. - Anguish of spirit. Literally, "shortness." Compare Job 21:4. Their spirit was shortened - they had lost all heart, as we say, so cruel had been their disappointment. The contrast between their feelings now, and when Moses first addressed them (Exodus 4:31), is strong, but "fully accounted for by the change of circumstances". (Cook). Cruel bondage. Bondage, i.e., far more oppressive and continuous than. it had been (Exodus 5:9-14). The Samaritan version adds: "And they said to him, Let us alone, and let us serve the Egyptians; for it is better for us to serve the Egyptians than die in a wilderness," an addition which receives some support from Exodus 14:12.

CHAPTER 6:10-12
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Verses 10-12. - The Israelites having shown themselves, for the time, unimpressible, God commands Moses to make his next effort upon the Pharaoh. He is to enter into his presence once more, and demand, without circumlocution or obscurity, that the Israelites be allowed to quit the land (ver. 11). Moses, however, demurs. He had done God's will with respect to the people readily and at once, expecting that, as he had persuaded them before, so he would a second time. But he had been disappointed; the people had refused to listen to him. Immediately all his original self-distrust and diffidence recurred - even the old form of diffidence, distrust of his ability to persuade men (Exodus 4:10). How shall he expect to persuade Pharaoh, who had already rejected him (Exodus 5:2-5), when he bad just failed with his own countrymen, who previously had "believed" his report (Exodus 4:31)?
Go in, speak unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, that he let the children of Israel go out of his land.
Verse 11. - Out of his land. Note the advance in the demand. No longer is there any limitation to a three days' journey, as at first (Exodus 3:18; Exodus 5:3). The children of Israel are to be let go altogether "out of the land." So generally, if God lays a light burthen upon us and we refuse it, we may expect him to exchange our light burthen for a heavier one. We had better accept the first cross he offers.
And Moses spake before the LORD, saying, Behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me; how then shall Pharaoh hear me, who am of uncircumcised lips?
Verse 12. - Uncircumcised lips, i.e. "lips inefficient for the purpose for which lips are given;" as "uncircumcised ears" are ears that cannot hearken (Jeremiah 6:10), and an "uncircumcised heart" a heart that cannot understand (Jeremiah 9:26). The meaning is the same as in Exodus 4:10, where Moses says that he is "slow of speech and of a slow tongue." Nothing can be determined from the expression as to the exact cause of the imperfection of which complaint is made.

CHAPTER 6:13-27
And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, and gave them a charge unto the children of Israel, and unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt.
Verses 13-27. - At this point the narrative is interrupted The author, or (it may be) the final compiler - perhaps Joshua - thought it desirable to insert here a genealogical section, taking up the fatuity history of Israel from the point at which it was left in Exodus 1:5, where the sons of Jacob were enumerated. The whole political system of Israel was based upon the tribal relation; and it was of the last importance, politically, to hand down the divisions and subdivisions of families. The lists here given, probably prepared by Moses in a separate document, had to be inserted somewhere. The present seemed a fitting place. The narrative had reached a turning-point. All the preliminaries were over - the action of the Exodus itself was about to begin. A dramatist would have made Acts 1. end and Acts 2 commence. A poet would have begun a new canto. In the imperfect bibliography of the time, it was thought best to make a division by a parenthetic insertion. Verse 13 seems to belong to what follows rather than to what precedes. There is no emphasis on the words and to Aaron, as if God, having found Moses singly to be irre-sponsive, had now given a charge to both the brothers conjointly (Rashi). Rather the verse is a concise summary of chs. 3-5, prefixed to the genealogy when it was a separate document, and preserved when the compiler placed the document in the text
These be the heads of their fathers' houses: The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel; Hanoch, and Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi: these be the families of Reuben.
Verse 14. - These be the heads of their fathers' houses. By "fathers' houses" are meant families (see 1 Chronicles 4:38; 1 Chronicles 5:13; 1 Chronicles 7:40; 1 Chronicles 9:9, etc.); and "the heads of fathers' houses" are simply the acknowledged chiefs and founders of families. The main families of the tribe of Reuben were those of Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carrel, actual sons of the patriarch (See Genesis 46:9; and compare 1 Chronicles 5:3.)
And the sons of Simeon; Jemuel, and Jamin, and Ohad, and Jachin, and Zohar, and Shaul the son of a Canaanitish woman: these are the families of Simeon.
Verse 15. - The sons of Simeon. The list corresponds exactly, both in the names and in the order, with that given in Genesis 46:10, but differs considerably from 1 Chronicles 4:24, and Numbers 26:12. In both the latter places Jemuel appears as Nemuel, and Zohar as Zerah, while Obad is omitted. In 1 Chronicles 4:24, Jachin appears as Jarib. It would seem that the family of Obad died out and disappeared soon after the Israelites quitted Egypt. The family of Shaul, on the other hand, increased and multiplied (1 Chronicles 4:25-27).
And these are the names of the sons of Levi according to their generations; Gershon, and Kohath, and Merari: and the years of the life of Levi were an hundred thirty and seven years.
Verse 16. - The sons of Levi. The same three sons are given in Genesis 46:11; Numbers 3:17; and 1 Chronicles 6:2. According to their generations. This phrase is introduced because the writer does not here stop at the sons, but proceeds on to the grandsons, great-grandsons, and other descendants. (See vers. 17-25.) He is concerned especially in this place with the descent of Moses, and therefore with the genealogy of the tribe of Levi, and has only inserted any account of the families descended from Reuben and Simeon, that he might not seem to disregard the claims of primogeniture. The years of the life of Levi. These began about forty or fifty years before the descent into Egypt, which took place after the birth of all his three sons, as appears front Genesis 46:8-11. The length of Levi's life is recorded, not from any chronological considerations, but to show God's blessing upon the family of Moses, which gave such length of days to so many of his ancestors.
The sons of Gershon; Libni, and Shimi, according to their families.
Verse 17. - The sons of Gershon. The line of Gershon, as the eldest, is taken first. Moses and Aaron are descended from the second son. Shimi is called "Shimei" in 1 Chronicles 6:17; but there is no difference in the original.
And the sons of Kohath; Amram, and Izhar, and Hebron, and Uzziel: and the years of the life of Kohath were an hundred thirty and three years.
Verse 18. - The sons of Kohath. The same names are given in 1 Chronicles 6:2 and 15. The years of the life of Kohath. Kohath, who was probably about twenty at the time of the descent into Egypt, must have considerably outlived Joseph, who died about seventy years after the descent. His eldest son, Amram, is not likely to have been born much later than his father's thirtieth year. (See Genesis 11:12-24.) Amram would thus have been contemporary with Joseph for above fifty years.
And the sons of Merari; Mahali and Mushi: these are the families of Levi according to their generations.
Verse 19. - The sons of Merari. The same names occur in 1 Chronicles 6:19 and 23. 21, Mahali, by a difference of pointing, becoming Mahli. The Mahlites and Mushites were among the most important of the Levitical families (Numbers 3:33; Numbers 26:58).
And Amram took him Jochebed his father's sister to wife; and she bare him Aaron and Moses: and the years of the life of Amram were an hundred and thirty and seven years.
Verse 20. - Amram. That this Amram is the "man of the house of Levi" mentioned in Exodus 2:1, cannot be doubted; but it is scarcely possible that he should be the Amram of ver. 18, the actual son of Kohath and contemporary of Joseph. He is probably a descendant of the sixth or seventh generation, who bore the same name, and was the head of the Amramite house. That house, at the time of the Exodus, numbered above two thousand males (Numbers 3:27, 28). See the excellent remarks of Keil and Delitzsch, 'Biblical Commentary,' vol. 1. p. 470, E. T.; and compare Kurtz, 'History of Old Covenant,' vol. 2. p. 144, and Cook, in 'Speaker's Commentary,' vol. 1. p. 274. Jochebed his father's sister. Marriages with aunts and nieces have been common in many countries, and are not forbidden by any natural instinct. They first became unlawful by the positive command recorded in Leviticus 18:12. The name Jochebed is the earliest known compounded with Jah, or Jehovah. It means "the glory of Jehovah." She bare him Aaron and Moses. Aaron is placed first, as being older than Moses (Exodus 7:7). Miriam is omitted, since the object of the writer is confined to tracing descent in the male line.
And the sons of Izhar; Korah, and Nepheg, and Zichri.
Verse 21. - The sons of Izhar. Korah is mentioned as a "son (descendant) of Izhar" in Numbers 16:1 and 1 Chronicles 6:38. The other "sons" are not elsewhere mentioned. Zithri in this verse should be Zichri.
And the sons of Uzziel; Mishael, and Elzaphan, and Zithri.
Verse 22. - The sons of Uzziel. Mishael and Elzaphan are again mentioned as "sons of Uzziel" in Leviticus 10:4. They were employed by Moses to carry the bodies of Nadab and Abihu out of the camp. Elzaphan, called Elizaphan, is mentioned as head of the Ko-hathites in Numbers 3:30.
And Aaron took him Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab, sister of Naashon, to wife; and she bare him Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.
Verse 23. - Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab. Amminadah had not been previously mentioned. He was a descendant of Judah, through Pharez and Hezron, and held a place in the line of our Lord's ancestry.
And the sons of Korah; Assir, and Elkanah, and Abiasaph: these are the families of the Korhites.
Verse 24. - The sons of Korah. All Korah's sons were not cut off with him (Numbers 26:11). Three at least survived, and became the heads of "families of the Korhites."
And Eleazar Aaron's son took him one of the daughters of Putiel to wife; and she bare him Phinehas: these are the heads of the fathers of the Levites according to their families.
Verse 25. - Eleazar... took him one of the daughters of Putiel to wife. Putiel is not elsewhere mentioned. The name is thought to be half Egyptian (compare Poti-phar) and to mean "dedicated to God." She bare him Phinehas. This Phinehas became high priest on the death of Eleazar (Judges 20:28). The heads of the fathom i.e. "the patriarchal chiefs."
These are that Aaron and Moses, to whom the LORD said, Bring out the children of Israel from the land of Egypt according to their armies.
Verses 26, 27. - The genealogy being concluded as a separate document, its author appends a notice that the Aaron and Moses mentioned in it (ver. 20) are the very Aaron and Moses who received the Divine command to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, and who appeared before Pharaoh, and "spoke to him" on their behalf. As the heading of the document was kept upon its insertion into the narrative of the Exodus (see the comment on ver. 13), so its concluding sentences were kept, though (according to modern ideas) superfluous. Verse 26. - According to their armies. The term "armies" had not been previously used of the Israelitish people; but it occurs in Exodus 7:4, which was probably in the mind of the writer who drew up the genealogy

CHAPTER 6:28-30
These are they which spake to Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring out the children of Israel from Egypt: these are that Moses and Aaron.
And it came to pass on the day when the LORD spake unto Moses in the land of Egypt,
Verses 28-30. The remainder of this chapter is scarcely more than a recapitulation. The author, or compiler, having interposed his genealogical section, has to take up the narrative from verse 12, where he broke off, and does so by almost repeating the words of verses 10-12. The only important addition is the insertion of the words - "I am the Lord" (ver. 29), and the only important variation, the substitution of "Speak thou unto Pharaoh all that I say unto thee' (ibid.), for "Speak unto Pharaoh... that he let the children of Israel go out of his land" (ver. 11).
That the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, I am the LORD: speak thou unto Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I say unto thee.
Verse 29. - I am the Lord. It is not improbable that every revelation made to Moses was authenticated by these initial words - which have the force of that initial phrase, so constant in the later prophets - "Thus saith the Lord."
And Moses said before the LORD, Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips, and how shall Pharaoh hearken unto me?
Verse 30. - All that I say unto thee. To the general command thus expressed, was probably appended the particular injunction of verse 11, not here repeated - Speak thou unto Pharaoh, that he let the children of Israel go out of his land." The sacred historians continually abbreviate

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