0 A burning bush and some magic tricks (Ex 3-4:17)

Episode 24: A burning bush and some magic tricks

(Exodus 3-4a)

3 1 One day when Moses was watching his father-in-law's sheep, he came to God's mountain, Horeb.

2 And the angel of God appeared to him in a burning bush.

4 God called out from the bush, saying,

Moses, Moses. 5 Take your shoes off because you're standing on holy ground.

I'm your father's God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

7 I have seen the affliction of my people in Egypt, and I have heard their cry.

8 I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians and bring them to a land flowing with milk and honey, which is now occupied by other people.

10 So I'm going to send you to Pharaoh, so that you can lead my people out of Egypt.

Burning Bush, Sebastien Bourdon, 17th century

13 Moses said to God, "When the Israelites ask me what your name is, what should I tell them?"

14 God said,


16 Say to the Israelites,

I AM has sent me. He appeared to me and said,

I have seen what was done to you in Egypt.

17I will bring you out of Egypt and into a land flowing with milk and honey.

20 I'll smite Egypt with all my wonders. Then the Pharaoh will let you go.

21 And when you leave Egypt, you won't go away empty.

22 You will steal from your Egyptian neighbors -- jewels, silver, gold, and clothing.

God teaches Moses some magic tricks

4 1 Moses said to God, "They won't believe that you appeared to me."

2-3 God said, "Throw your rod on the ground."

Moses threw his rod on the ground, and his rod became a snake. Moses ran away from it.

Moses' Rod Turned into a Serpent, illustration from the 1890 Holman Bible

4 God said, "Grab the snake by the tail."

Moses grabbed the snake, and it became a rod.

5 God said, "This will make them believe that I appeared to you."

6 Then God said, "Put your hand on your chest."

Moses put his hand on his chest, and his hand became leprous.

7 God said, "Put your hand on your chest again."

Moses put his hand on his chest again, and his hand was cured.

8-9 God said,

If they won't believe after these two things, take water from the river and pour it on the ground.

It'll turn to blood.

10 Moses said, "But I'm not a good speaker." 11 God said,

Who made men's mouths?

Who made blind and deaf people? Wasn't it me?

12Go. I'll be with your mouth; I'll teach you what to say.

13 Moses said, "Please God, send someone else."

14 God became angry at Moses, and said,

Isn't Aaron your brother? I know that he can speak well.

15-16 He'll be your spokesman. He'll be your mouth, and you'll be like God to him.

17 Be sure to take your rod with you.

A few more words about this episode

In this episode, Carole asked how old Moses was when God appeared to him in the burning bush. I said I that I didn't think you could tell from the story in Exodus. And that's true. But the New Testament book of Acts claims to know. Here's what it says about it:

Moses ... was full forty years old [when] he ... smote the Egyptian. Acts 7:22-24

Then fled Moses [to] the land of Midian ... When forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sinai an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush. Acts 7:29-30

So Moses was 80 years old when he met God in the burning bush. (Things are nearly always in intervals of 40 years in the Bible.)

The angel of God appeared to him (3:2)
God called out from the bush (v.4)
Who appeared to Moses in the burning bush?
I AM THAT I AM (3:14)
What is God's name?
You will steal from the Egyptians (3:22)

God tells the Hebrews to break the eighth commandment. (Or the seventh if you're Catholic.)

Is it wrong to steal?

Who made blind and deaf people? Wasn't it me? (4:11)
Who makes people deaf and blind?
Isn't Aaron your brother? (4:14)
The is the first time Aaron is mentioned in the Bible. The story about Moses's birth and rescue didn't say anything about him. (His sister Miriam isn't mentioned by name either until Ex 15:20 - although presumably she was the sister who was involved in his rescue from the river.)
No comments yet

Copyright © 1999-2024
The Skeptic's Annotated Bible

Send comments to Steve Wells
at swwells(at)gmail.com