Out of Bondage

Out of Bondage

 

 

 

 

 

Preface

There are those who postulate that the Exodus of Israel from Egypt as recorded in the Bible never happened. There are those who hypothesize that Moses didn’t write the book of Exodus. [1] Because our purpose is to learn more about the character and purpose of our God, Yahweh, we will not try to prove that this book is a factual account written by Moses – we will assume that it is in order to discover what it is that Yahweh wants us to know about himself. He is the hero of the book of Exodus.

The family of Promise has lived out of the Promised Land for approximately 12 Biblical generations. Some of them would have head the story of how their God, Yahweh, set their father, Abraham, apart and promised him that his family (descendants) would be as many as the sand of the sea and would possess the land he in and around the place where he lived. They would have been told that they were their God, Yahweh’, chosen people that he would use to bless the whole world through. Some of the offspring of Abraham wouldn’t have been as familiar with the history of their family in relation to their God and, as a result, may not have been as Yahweh conscious as they should have been.

While Joseph and the ruling class who benefited by by their association with Joseph and his God, Yahweh were alive the Israelites had a good life in the best land of Egypt, separated from the temptations of the opulent life of their host land. Joseph took care of all of their material needs and their herds and families flourished. After Joseph died Yahweh blessed them so that they grew in number and power until they threatened the peace of Egypt by their sheer numbers. That is where the story of Exodus starts.

 

 

Things to think about

  1. Who is the Hero of the book of Exodus?
  2. Does it matter to our understanding of our God, Yahweh, who wrote the book and when it was written?
  3. Why do you think our God doesn’t make sure there is enough archeological evidence of the author and the date this book was written so that we can prove it and won’t have to take anything on faith?
  4. Is faith blind acceptance of what we are told?
  5. What is the difference between faith in our God, Yahweh, and an unquestioning approval of cultural norms?
  6. Why is it important for us – including the people who were living in Goshen – to hear and understand what our God, Yahweh, has said and done in the past?
  7. Why would the Egyptian rulers be intimidated by the Israelites?

 

 

Chapter 1

First Moses lists the eleven male members of Jacob’s family who went to Egypt to live during the famine. He adds that there were seventy persons total produced by Jacob’s sons. Joseph was already in Egypt with his two sons.

Joseph and his whole generation died but the very productive offspring of Israel continued to reproduce and filled the land.

We remember what Genesis 15:13 – 16 says: “Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign country. They will be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years. But I will execute judgment on the nation that they will serve. Afterward they will come out with many possessions. But as for you, you will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will return here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its limit.”[2]

Hebrews were not well tolerated in Egypt and the Israelites were also shepherds which was an abomination to the Egyptians. The reigning king of Israel contemplated the disadvantage Egypt would have if all those shepherds decided to take over and put their own man on the throne or join with an enemy in a war. If he was a Hyksos king his capital was very close to Goshen. He talked it over with his advisors and they didn’t want to lose them as subjects but saw the need to control them. The plan was to work them so hard it would weaken them, but it seemed to make them stronger and more abundant.

Years passed and the Israelites continued to grow in number and strength. The plan wasn’t working and perhaps a new king was on the throne. Whatever the case the rulers devised a new plan they were sure would work to diminish the numbers of the Israelites. The plan showed how desperate and frightened the Egyptians were because it called for the Hebrew women who were midwives to destroy their own people.

“A good and honest life is a blessed memorial; a wicked life leaves a rotten stench.”[3]

Moses didn’t honor the kings of Egypt by naming them; but he recorded the names of the two Hebrew midwives the king ordered to kill the boy babies when they were born. These names mean beautiful and splendid and their refusal to slay the boy babies proved their characters to be beautiful and splendid. They even lied to the king about why the male babes were still alive – and Moses makes a point of telling his readers that God – Yahweh – was pleased with the midwives and gave them families of their own while the numbers of the Israelites continued to grow.

Pharaoh couldn’t trust the Hebrew mid wives to help him so he instructed all his people to drown all the boys in the Nile River.

The central theme of the following poem contrasts the inevitable decline of all earthly leaders and of the empires they build with their pretensions to greatness. Earthly kings fall into oblivion. Yahweh is the one and only King of kings and his kingdom is forever.

I met a traveller from an antique land,

Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;

And on the pedestal, these words appear:

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
Ozymandias by Percy Shelley

Yahweh is the hero of this story, but Shiphrah and Puah are the supporting frontrunners. They are the ones upon whom the reader’s attention is focused. We – and the people possessing the Promised Land – and learn a lot from their example. They feared their God, Yahweh, more than man, and they trusted him with their future and the future of the people of the Promise. They lived their faith in the place where Yahweh had placed them even though that faith required that they defied the highest power in the land..

Summary of Chapter 1

This beginning of the book of Exodus relates it to the book of beginnings and the Promise, the people of the Promise, and the Promised Land. We have a list of the sons of Israel who came out of the Promised Land and settled in Egypt. In Genesis Yahweh told Israel that his descendants would be slaves in Egypt for 400 years before Yahweh would take them back to the Promised Land.

Then Moses tells his readers how Israel’s position changed from favored relatives of Joseph to oppressed slaves.

When demoralizing and fear don’t diminish the strength and numbers of the Israelites the Egyptian rulers try to get rid of all the male babies to reduce that population by ordering the midwives to kill the male babies as they are being born. Moses names the honorable midwives to they will get the attention of his reader and never be forgotten. They are our example of how to walk with our God, Yahweh, in the paths of righteousness.

Prayer: Lord, it goes against the grain for my weak human spirit to turn my back on self-interest and let you lead me in all my actions. I pray constantly for you to help me to be dead to myself so you can live through me but so often find myself defending my own ego instead of seeking your will. I must put even my thoughts in submission to you, my God. Self-discipline is the hardest and most important discipline and I find myself failing at it so many times. I look to you alone to make me strong in the strength of your might as I surrender to your way and your will in my life. Thank you my precious God.

 

 

Things to think about

  1. Why do you think Moses listed the sons of Jacob who went into Egypt?
  2. Would the people going in to possess the Promised Land have remembered what Yahweh said to Jacob about his descendants being slaves in Egypt for so many years?
  3. What is the significance of the poem written by Percy Shelley?
  4. Who is the hero of this story?
  5. Who is the real King of kings?
  6. Why weren’t the Egyptian rulers able to cut the Israelite numbers down?
  7. What is the message for us and the people going in to possess the Promised Land?

 

 

Chapter 2

Moses tells us that his mother and father were both members of the tribe of Levi. When he, Moses, was born his mother ascertained the he was special and she hid him so the Egyptians couldn’t kill him. As all babies do, when he was three months old he wanted to explore his world and made it impossible for his mother to hide him anymore. He couldn’t walk, or even crawl yet, but he could squeal for attention and cry out in frustration when he couldn’t grasp everything in sight. He was a healthy boy and healthy boys make a lot of noise.

His mother got a basket made of papyrus – the tall aquatic sedge from which papyrus is obtained, native to the Nile valley. She covered it with tar and pitch to make it waterproof and put her baby boy in it. She must have asked her God, Yahweh, to take care of him – or maybe she just knew he would without asking. Sometimes our God asks us to do things without explanation; but with the sure knowledge that it is he who asks and we obey without question. His older sister was there when she placed her son in the basket and the basket in the reeds at the edge of the Nile River. She waited a little way off and watched to see what would happen next. Perhaps they knew the daughter of the king/Pharaoh bathed there. In any case, she showed up with her maids and when she saw the baby floating in a basket among the sedge and instructed her maids to get it and bring it to her. He was crying and her mother heart went out to him. She realized that he must be one of the Hebrew babies condemned to death by her father but when his sister offered to get one of the Hebrew wet nurses to give him nourishment for her she readily agreed.

So it was that the baby’s own mother took him home and nursed took care of him and Pharaoh’s daughter paid her to do it. She had him in her care until he was weaned at three or four years old. A wise mother will inculcate a good foundation for her child’s life in the first years and Moses’ mother had already proved herself to be a wise mother.

Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him as her own son and named him Moses because she pulled him out of the water.

Moses grew up in the household of Pharaoh’s daughter but he didn’t forget his early training as an Israelite and when he saw and Egyptian hit an Israelite slave – one of his brothers – he looked around and saw that no one was watching so he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand.

Moses was educated in the best schools in Egypt. He was equally impressive as a thinker and an athlete.

Stephen told the story this way in Acts 7, “When he was forty years old, he wondered how everything was going with his Hebrew kin and went out to look things over. He saw an Egyptian abusing one of them and stepped in, avenging his underdog brother by knocking the Egyptian flat. He thought his brothers would be glad that he was on their side, and even see him as an instrument of God to deliver them. But they didn’t see it that way. The next day two of them were fighting and he tried to break it up, told them to shake hands and get along with each other: ‘Friends, you are brothers, why are you beating up on each other?’
“The one who had started the fight said, ‘Who put you in charge of us? Are you going to kill me like you killed that Egyptian yesterday?’ When Moses heard that, realizing that the word was out, he ran for his life and lived in exile over in Midian. ”

Moses; however, recorded bare facts and adds that Pharaoh heard about it and sought to kill Moses so he got away to the Land of Midian and sat down by a well. The Midianites were descendants of Abraham through his wife, Keturah who he married after the death of Sarah.

The priest of Midian’s daughters took care of his sheep and came to the well for water. When other shepherds came and chased the girls off Moses came to their rescue and helped them water their sheep. When their father asked them how they got back home so soon they told him that an Egyptian rescued them from a bunch of bullies and helped them water their sheep.

Their father told them to invite their rescuer in to eat with them and he ended up settling down with them and marrying the priest’s daughter, Zipporah. She gave him a son and he named him Gershom which means Sojourner because he was a sojourner in a strange land.

Moses tells us that many years later – Stephen, in Acts 7, says it was forty years later – the king of Egypt died and the Israelites, groaning under their slavery, cried out for relief and their God, Yahweh, heard them and remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We can be sure that God never forgot his pledge to his covenant people. Moses said that he saw and understood. We – and the people going in to possess the Promised Land – need to know and understand that our God, Yahweh, always sees and understands our pain, our needs, and even our discomforts. He cares.

Summary of chapter 2

Moses was born to the tribe of Levi. Perhaps Moses made a point of telling us – and the descendants of Israel going in to possess the Promised Land – that he was a Levite so we would appreciate the fact that our ancestry can’t keep our God, Yahweh, from using us to accomplish his will in the world. We remember that Jacob didn’t have anything good to say about his son, Levi, and his descendants, but our God’s mercy and grace transcends all of pour sin.

Moses’ mother was not only saved his life but trained him well while she was nursing him. He grew up knowing that he was a son of the Promise and a member of the Promised people.

When he saw another member of the family of Promise being mistreated by an Egyptian, he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand, but the word spread between the Israelite slaves and they turned on him and put him in danger with his adopted grandfather – the king of Egypt – and he had to leave Egypt.

He went to Midian where he rescued the daughters of the priest of Midian and ended up marrying one of them.

Many years later, after that king of Egypt died, the Israelites cried out for relief from their cruel bondage and their God, Yahweh heard and remembered anthropomorphism) his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for being my God. I know that I can trust you to never forget your promises to me and, as you did with the Israelite slaves in Egypt, you will come and remind me of your love, mercy, and grace when I am weary and down in spirit. By the power of your mighty spirit I will be always faithful and obedient to you in whatever circumstances you have placed me. And blessed be the name – Yahweh – of the Lord God from this time forth and forevermore.

 

 

Things to think about

  1. Why do you thin Moses made a point of telling his reader that both of his parents were descendants of Levi?
  2. What did his mother do to ensure that he couldn’t forget that he was a son of the promise even though he spent most of his early forty years in Pharaoh’s court learning the ways of Egypt?
  3. What is the example for the family going into the Promised Land – and us – that would have made the nation of Israel – and us as the family of our God, Yahweh, – stronger?
  4. How can what Stephen said help us understand what happened when he killed the Egyptian who was abusing an Israelite slave?
  5. How do you think the Israelites going into the Promised Land felt about Moses killing the Egyptian?
  6. Should that incident have proved Moses’ loyalty to his own people?
  7. Why was it important that Moses leave Egypt for a time?
  8. Why do you think it was important for Moses to spend the designated time – forty years – in the court of Pharaoh learning the ways of the Egyptians and then the same designated time – forty years – in the land of Midian?
  9. What did Moses mean when he said that Yahweh remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?

 

 

Chapter 3

Moses life now was that of a shepherd like his ancestors. They weren’t his sheep; they belonged to his father-in-law, the priest[4] of Midian.

One day he led the flock to the end of the wilderness and came to Mount Horeb. Mount Horeb, also called Mount Sinai, is where Yahweh gave Moses the Ten Commandments.

Moses was startled by the sight of a bush that was blazing but wasn’t consumed by the fire. It was an amazing sight and Moses wanted to find out what was going on. Yahweh called to him from the burning bush and he answered, “Yes? I’m right here!”

Yahweh told him not to come any closer and to remove his shoes because he was standing on holy ground.

There were a lot of gods in Egypt but the Israelites had been separated in Goshen and Moses would have learned about Yahweh – that he was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. There may have been many gods in Midian and Moses had spent his adult life in Egypt and Midian. He needed a plainer picture of Yahweh. Yahweh told him that he was not like all those gods Moses had come in contact with. First he told him he was powerful and holy. He also told Moses that he was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Moses saw the difference. He hid his face. He wasn’t afraid to look at the gods he had been used to, but he was afraid to look at the God who was talking to him out of a burning bush.

Yahweh told him that he had “taken a good, long look at the affliction of my people in Egypt. I’ve heard their cries for deliverance from their slave masters; I know all about their pain. And now I have come down to help them, pry them loose from the grip of Egypt, get them out of that country and bring them to a good land with wide-open spaces, a land lush with milk and honey, the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite.”[5]

Yahweh assured Moses that he not only heard the cry of his people but had seen for himself how cruel the Egyptians were to them. He said it was time for Israel to go back to the Promised Land so he was sending Moses to Pharaoh to bring his people out of Egypt.

Moses made a mistake that is common of humans. He thought Yahweh expected him to be able to “help God” all by himself. He knew he wasn’t qualified and asked Yahweh if he knew something that he – Moses – didn’t know about himself. Yahweh does know something about each of us that we don’t know ourselves and we can see that our God was preparing Moses for the task all of his life. By the same token we can be sure that our God is using the circumstances of each of our lives to prepare us to function well in our individual places in his plan.

Yahweh assured Moses that he would be with him and told him as proof that when he brought his people out of Egypt they would worship their God on that very mountain where he was talking to Moses that day.

Moses was planning ahead and, thinking about the problems that would probably arise, he asked, “Suppose I go to the People of Israel and I tell them, ‘The God of your fathers sent me to you’; and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ What do I tell them?”
God said to Moses, “I-AM-WHO-I-AM. Tell the People of Israel, ‘I-AM sent me to you.’”[6]

Yahweh also told Moses to tell the Israelites that Yahweh, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – emphasizing that he was the God of each of them – sent Moses to them. He told Moses that Yahweh had always been his name – I AM – and that is how he would always be known.

Then he said, “Now be on your way. Gather the leaders of Israel. Tell them, ‘God, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, appeared to me, saying, “I’ve looked into what’s being done to you in Egypt, and I’ve determined to get you out of the affliction of Egypt and take you to the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, a land brimming over with milk and honey.”’[7]

Yahweh assured Moses that the Israelites would listen to him, go with him to Pharaoh, and tell him that Yahweh, the God of the Hebrews met with them and said for Pharaoh to let them take a three day journey into the wilderness to worship their God, Yahweh.

Yahweh said the he knew that the king of Egypt wouldn’t let them go unless he forced them to so he – Yahweh – would intervene and hit them where it hurt. The people going into the Promised Land would have understood that Yahweh was talking about the gods that the Egyptians worshiped as much as any pain inflicted. Hurt pride is often more painful than physical pain.

Yahweh told Moses that when he got through with them the Egyptians would be glad to send them off – they would even gift the Israelite women with their silver, gold, jewelry, and extra clothes.

Summary of chapter 3

Moses was tending the sheep on or by Mount Horeb when Yahweh got his attention by showing him a bush that was burning but not consumed. Torah commentators[8] have some ideas about why he chose a burning bush.

Rashi sees the Burning Bush as a symbol of God’s sheltering presence during times when the Jews will go through “burning difficulties.” That would be a good lesson for the people going in to possess the Promised Land as well as Yahweh’s people through the ages – including the present age and the future.

Rabbenu Bechaya quotes a Midrash that notes the Hebrew word for bush (“Sneh”) is similar in spelling to the Hebrew word “Sinai.” This Midrash sees the Burning Bush as a symbol of the fire that would be burning on Mount Sinai when Moses was given the Ten Commandments.

The Tosafot Daa’t Zekanim says that a bush cannot be used for idol worship and thus Moses was hearing God’s will from a medium that would be free of all spiritual pollution. This is an important point because it was evidence that Yahweh was not a god created by man.

Yahweh revealed himself to Moses the God who always was and always will be – the great I AM. Moses had to realize that he was different from every other god. He revealed himself in a burning bush that wasn’t being destroyed by the flames. He told Moses that he was holy by instructing him to take off his shoes because the very ground around was holy. Moses needed to know that Yahweh was different than any other god he had been exposed to. Moses had to know that Yahweh’s power was great enough to sustain him in the task that Yahweh set before him. The fact that this was the God of his ancestors would give credibility to the message he had for the Israelites.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary says: ” Formerly Moses thought himself able to deliver Israel, and set himself to the work too hastily. …. Formerly, self-confidence mingled with strong faith and great zeal, now sinful distrust of God crept in under the garb of humility; …. But all objections are answered in, Certainly I will be with thee. That is enough. Two names God would now be known by. A name that denotes what he is in himself, I AM THAT I AM. … Also, here is a name that denotes what God is to his people. The Lord God of your fathers sent me unto you. Moses must revive among them the religion of their fathers, which was almost lost; and then they might expect the speedy performance of the promises made unto their fathers. … Moses is here told that petitions and persuasions, and humble complaints, would not prevail with him; nor a mighty hand stretched out in signs and wonders. But those will certainly be broken by the power of God’s hand, who will not bow to the power of his word. Pharaoh’s people should furnish Israel with riches at their departure.

Prayer: Lord, I am weak but you are strong. You have equipped me to reflect your image to the part of the world you place me in and I will dwell there and cultivate faithfulness. Because I know you from the records kept by your family – past and present – as well as from my own experience with you I can trust you enough to die to my own self-will and let you direct my way.


Things to think about

  1. When Yahweh told Moses he was going to use him to get his people out of Egypt he seemed to think his God had made a mistake. Can you relate to that?
  2. Have you ever felt an uncontrollable urge to do something good and stopped yourself because you wonder if others would remind you that you weren’t qualified?
  3. What did Yahweh mean when he said that he was I AM? Remember Yahweh is the third person of the verb heyah “To Be”. Whether in the first or third person the word expresses our God as THE (one and only) Self-existent One responsible for all existence including his own –the great I AM.
  4. What do you think was the message in the burning bush?

 

 

 

Chapter 4

As J. Orr said, “The message he [Moses] had to bring was a very wonderful one. He had to ask the people to believe that, after centuries of silence, [Yahweh], the God of the patriarchs, had again appeared to him, and had spoken with him. This in itself was not incredible, but it would assume an incredible aspect to those whose faith in a living God had become shadowy and uninfluential—who had learned to look on such appearances as connected, not with the present, but with a distant and already faded past.”[9]

There were a lot of gods that people worshiped but they all had some sort of image that people could see. Moses’ first concern was to tell the Israelites what God spoke to him. Yahweh told him who he was so he could tell the people who sent him, but then Moses realized that his past didn’t recommend him as someone the Israelites would listen to. When he had tried to intervene when the two slaves were fighting they had shunned him. Why should he believe that they would listen to him now?

When he voiced his doubts to Yahweh, his God asked him what was in his hand. I can imagine Moses looking at the stick with a scowl on his face when he said, “A staff.”

Yahweh told him to throw it on the ground, so he did – and it became a snake. The kings of Egypt wore head dresses of carved heads of cobras to designate them as king over the land. Turning Moses’ staff into a cobra changed Moses from a shepherd into a king. And then Yahweh told him to reach out and grab the snake’s tail. That was not the way to grab a snake to keep it from harming the person grabbing it, but Moses showed his growing trust in Yahweh by obeying and grabbing its tail instead of by the neck. When he did, the snake became a staff again.

“That’s so they will trust that God appeared to you, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”[10]

Next Yahweh told him to put his hand in his shirt and when he pulled it out it was leprous. Studylight Commentaries[11] says, “The first sign is followed by a second, equally simple and easy of performance, and perhaps, in the eyes of the Israelites, even more marvelous. Leprosy in a developed form was regarded as absolutely incurable. … Its instantaneous production and removal were contrary to all experience and in themselves thoroughly astonishing. Further, while the first miracle was simply a sign of supernatural power—a credential, the second was a warning and a lesson. What might not he do to smite or to save on whom God had bestowed such power over the human organism? Each man would naturally fear to resist or disobey one so dangerously gifted.” When he told Moses to put it back in his shirt and pull it back out again, it was healthy again.

Yahweh told Moses if the people still didn’t believe him that he should take some water from the Nile and it would turn to blood when it hit the ground. The Egyptians considered the River Nile a god that brought life to the land and; therefore, to the people of Egypt every year when it flooded. It also was abundant in fish and other life giving animals. Power over the Nile demonstrated that Yahweh was far superior to the most powerful god of Egypt.

All that was great but Moses was still concerned that he wasn’t the man to do all those marvelous things since he couldn’t speak well. He had always stuttered and stammered. He voiced his fears to Yahweh, addressing him as ‘Adonai’, which means ‘my Lord’. He spoke as a servant would speak to his master.

Yahweh reminded Moses who it was that made the human mouth. He said, “And who makes some mute, some deaf, some sighted, some blind? Isn’t it I, [Yahweh]? So, get going. I’ll be right there with you—with your mouth! I’ll be right there to teach you what to say.”

Moses’ family may have never lost touch with him because his brother, Aaron, was on his way to see him Yahweh gave Moses another reason to believe that his God was powerful and omniscient when he said, “Don’t you have a brother, Aaron the Levite? He’s good with words, I know he is. He speaks very well. In fact, at this very moment he’s on his way to meet you. When he sees you he’s going to be glad. You’ll speak to him and tell him what to say. I’ll be right there with you as you speak and with him as he speaks, teaching you step by step. He will speak to the people for you. He’ll act as your mouth, but you’ll decide what comes out of it. Now take this staff in your hand; you’ll use it to do the signs.”[12]

Moses returned to his father-in-law’s home and told him that he needed to return to his relatives in Egypt and see if they were still alive. His father-in-law sent him off with his blessing.

Yahweh told him it was safe to go back because the men who wanted to kill him were dead; so Moses put his wife and sons on a donkey and started for Egypt with his staff in his hand.

Yahweh prepared Moses for the rejection ahead. He told him that when he got back to Egypt he would do all the wonders through him – Moses – before Pharaoh but he would make him stubborn so he wouldn’t let the people go easily. Yahweh had a lot to show Pharaoh about himself. He knew Pharaoh’s heart and knew that he wouldn’t want to let go of his slaves easily; but Yahweh also wanted him to see who he was – the great I AM, and that his people were important to him. He said, “Then you are to tell Pharaoh, ‘God’s Message: Israel is my son, my firstborn! I told you, “Free my son so that he can serve me.” But you refused to free him. So now I’m going to kill your son, your firstborn.’”[13] The Easy English Bible commentary says, “God is the Judge of everything on the earth. He is always fair (Genesis 18:25). God let Pharaoh be unwilling to listen to Moses and Aaron. But that was only one side of what happened. God’s power and human responsibility are both true. Someone may refuse to do what he should do. He may continue to refuse. Then it becomes more and more difficult for him to change his attitude. The Hebrew texts say that he makes his own ‘heart hard’. That means that he became unable to change.[14]

Moses would have known that circumcision was the sign of Yahweh’s covenant between himself and the people of the Promise. Eugene Peterson says they were on the journey back and as they camped for the night Yahweh met Moses and would have killed him. The Reformed Reader[15] says this is another case of resistance to God’s call. Both Moses and Zipporah knew that Moses’ problem was caused by his failure to circumcise their son so Zipporah cut off her son’s foreskin. She showed an aversion to the whole idea when she called him a bridegroom of blood.

With the matter of circumcision taken care of we are told that Yahweh sent Aaron to meet Moses at the mountain. When he got there the two greeted each other and Moses told Aaron everything that Yahweh had told him. Aaron believed Yahweh both when he told him to go meet Moses at the mountain and when Moses told him what Yahweh had commanded him. The people of Yahweh going in to possess the Promised Land would have realized that Aaron was aware of everything that had happened in Moses’ life since his birth. The fact that Moses’ life had been spared, not only when he was a baby, but 40 years earlier when Pharaoh and his minions were out to kill him again was a miracle. However, each of us must decide for ourselves whether or not we will believe that the miracles we come across in life are from Yahweh or “just coincidence.” Aaron believed Yahweh and Yahweh used him. He became the first Levitical Priest.

The Israelites were ready for Yahweh to get them out of Egypt. When Moses and Aaron told them everything Yahweh had told Moses along with Moses’ demonstration of the wonders Yahweh preformed with the staff they trusted and believed that Yahweh cared. They bowed low and worshiped.

Summary of chapter 4

Moses required evidence that Yahweh was sending him to talk to Pharaoh on behalf of the Israelites. His God drew attention to the staff in his hand that Moses had been using in his job of caring for the sheep. Yahweh showed Moses that he would use that very tool to demonstrate his power and authority through Moses. The marvels were first used to convince Moses that Yahweh was going to work through him, and then they were used to convince the Israelites that Yahweh was speaking to him and working through him.

Yahweh’s anger toward Moses was immediately transformed into his provision of Moses’ brother, Aaron, as his spokesperson.

Moses obtained his father-in-law’s blessing to return to his family in Egypt. He set an example for us and the people going into the Promised Land to be thoughtful of others, and always be up front and honest without having to announce everything about what we are doing. It is important for us to realize that honesty doesn’t require us to share the intimate details of our lives with everyone.

Moses took his family and put them on donkeys for the trip to Egypt; and he kept the staff that Yahweh would use firm in his hand. He wouldn’t need it to herd sheep but Yahweh told him to keep it close and he obeyed.

Moses was stopped on his journey by his need to get his son circumcised.

Moses met his brother, Aaron, at mount Horeb where they embraced and kissed. Moses told Aaron all the Yahweh had showed him and the two proceeded to Egypt where they met with the elders of Israel. Jamison, Fausset, and Brown say[16],”-Aaron was spokesman, and Moses performed the appointed miracles–through which “the people” (that is, the elders) believed (1 Kings 17:24, Joshua 3:2) and received the joyful tidings of the errand on which Moses had come with devout thanksgiving. Formerly they had slighted the message and rejected the messenger. Formerly Moses had gone in his own strength; now he goes leaning on God, and strong only through faith in Him who had sent him. Israel also had been taught a useful lesson, and it was good for both that they had been afflicted.

Prayer: Lord, there are many lessons for me to learn in this simple narrative. When I consider the sign of the rod that Moses had been using for many years to keep the sheep safe becoming a sign of power at your direction; I remember the times in my own life when something I considered average became a powerful message at your direction. It is so easy to get bogged down in the commonplaces of life and forget that you are the power holding all the familiar things of life together and you may change them to extraordinary anytime. Help me to keep my spiritual eyes open and anticipate the extraordinary from you; but always be grateful for the predictable.

 

 

Things to think about

  1. After all those years of not hearing from the God of their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob do you think it was unreasonable of Moses to expect the Israelites to doubt that Yahweh had spoken to him?
  2. Do you think that our God, Yahweh doesn’t speak to people anymore except through the pages of the Bible?
  3. Is anything too hard for Yahweh?
  4. What do those signs that Yahweh showed Moses to convince him and the Israelite slaves in Egypt that he was God mean to you?
  5. What are the tools you use in your daily life that Yahweh can transform into symbols of power and authority?
  6. What did Yahweh mean when he said that Israel was his firstborn son?
  7. Why was it important for Moses’ son to be circumcised?

 

 

Chapter 5

Moses and Aaron should have been prepared for Pharaoh’s attitude. Yahweh had told Moses that he would harden his heart, but perhaps Moses and Aaron thought everything Yahweh told Moses would happen in one day. Sometimes we forget that Yahweh is operating from the viewpoint of eternity. Our sight is limited and we think everything has to happen at once. The people going into the Promised Land – and we – have an example here of how Yahweh’s ways aren’t our ways. He is our Creator and he is the one who can see the big picture, so it is always best to try to see our lives from his perspective. That isn’t possible “in the flesh”; so our “best bet” is to be alert to what he is doing, wait patiently, and follow his direction in his timing.

Moses and Aaron told Pharaoh that Yahweh, the God of Israel sent them with a message. He said, “Free my people so that they can hold a festival for me in the wilderness.’

Pharaoh’s answer was what Moses and Aaron should have expected. He said, “Who is Yahweh that I should listen to him and send Israel off? I certainly never heard of this so called God and I don’t take coders from him. I positively will not send Israel anywhere.”

Moses and Aaron persisted. They insisted, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness so we can worship our Yahweh or maybe he will strike us with either disease or death.”

The implication of that was a threat to their ability to work and be any worth to Pharaoh, but he had never heard of the Hebrew God, Yahweh and wasn’t worried. He asked them why they thought he would give the Israelites a holiday and told them to get back to work. He said the Israelites hadn’t been working hard enough and that was what gave them the idea that they could ask for a vacation.

The result of Pharaoh’s scorn for the unknown God of the Israelites and his slaves was to order the slave drivers to not supply straw for the brick-makers anymore. The slaves would have the added work of getting their own stray and they would have to make the same number of bricks as they did when the straw was provided for them. That was intended to keep them too busy to think of taking a holiday to worship a God that Pharaoh had never heard of and had to respect for.

The Israelites had to go all over Egypt rummaging for straw and couldn’t keep up. The Israelite foremen who the slave-drivers had appointed over the lesser workers were beaten and harried to keep the production up. The foremen went to Pharaoh for support. They asked him why he was treating his servants so badly and told him they couldn’t possibly keep up production without being supplied with the material to make the merchandise.

Pharaoh wasn’t going to be an understanding commander. Instead of making things better by going to him it seemed things were going to be worse. He yelled at them that they were a bunch of lazy whiners and reiterated that no one was going to help them by giving them straw for the bricks but they better keep production up. He accused them of using a pretense of wanting to worship their God for getting out of work. Things were looking bad for the foremen.

Moses and Aaron were waiting for them when they left their audience with Pharaoh. They took out their disappointment and aggravation by accusing Moses and Aaron of making them objects of contempt and; consequently, making life harder for them. They said that Moses and Aaron had put the weapon of death for the Israelites in Pharaoh’s hand and said that Yahweh would convict them of murder. Moses remembered the mistake of his youth and his reaction to their complaints was to feel the guilt of past failure.

Our narrative says, “Moses went back to God and said, “My Master, why are you treating this people so badly? And why did you ever send me? From the moment I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, things have only gotten worse for this people. And rescue? Does this look like rescue to you?”’

Many times when our God, Yahweh is working things out in our lives and the lives of those we love we interrupt his perfect work as delay or neglect. We are reading this account and can remember that Yahweh told Moses that Pharaoh would not be willing to let the people go. He also told Moses that this was all happening so that Pharaoh would know that Yahweh was God over all. Moses, as all human beings do, let his emotions and long term personal memories hide his short term memories of what Yahweh had told him.

Summary of chapter 5

Wesley’s explanatory notes summarize this chapter this way: “Moses and Aaron here deal with Pharaoh to get leave of him to go to worship in the wilderness.
They demand leave in the name of God, ver. 1.
and he answers their demand with a defiance of God, ver. 2. They beg leave in the name of Israel, ver. 3.
and he answers their request with further orders to oppress Israel, ver. 4 – 9.
These cruel orders were,
Executed by the task – masters, ver. 10 – 14.

  1. Complained of to Pharaoh, but in vain, ver. 15 – 19.
  2. Complained of by the people to Moses, ver. 20, 21. and by him to God, ver. 22, 23.”

Hear this summation from the Preacher:

Ecclesiastes 10
Dead flies in perfume make it stink,
And a little foolishness decomposes much wisdom.
Wise thinking leads to right living;
Stupid thinking leads to wrong living.
Fools on the road have no sense of direction.
The way they walk tells the story: “There goes the fool again!”
If a ruler loses his temper against you, don’t panic;
A calm disposition quiets intemperate rage.
Here’s a piece of bad business I’ve seen on this earth,
An error that can be blamed on whoever is in charge:
Immaturity is given a place of prominence,
While maturity is made to take a backseat.
I’ve seen unproven upstarts riding in style,
While experienced veterans are put out to pasture.
Caution: The trap you set might catch you.
Warning: Your accomplice in crime might double-cross you.
Safety first: Quarrying stones is dangerous.
Be alert: Felling trees is hazardous.
Remember: The duller the ax the harder the work;
Use your head: The more brains, the less muscle.
If the snake bites before it’s been charmed,
What’s the point in then sending for the charmer?
The words of a wise person are gracious.
The talk of a fool self-destructs—
He starts out talking nonsense
And ends up spouting insanity and evil.
Fools talk way too much,
Chattering stuff they know nothing about.
A decent day’s work so fatigues fools
That they can’t find their way back to town.
Unlucky the land whose king is a young pup,
And whose princes party all night.
Lucky the land whose king is mature,
Where the princes behave themselves
And don’t drink themselves silly.

Don’t bad-mouth your leaders, not even under your breath,
And don’t abuse your betters, even in the privacy of your home.
Loose talk has a way of getting picked up and spread around.
Little birds drop the crumbs of your gossip far and wide.

Prayer: Lord, by you and of you and through you all things exist and I praise your holy name, Yahweh, and worship you. It amazes me that you, who are the Supreme Being, the great I AM, would stoop down to my level and pardon and sanctify me when I have the unmitigated gall to question you just because I don’t understand what you are doing and how you are doing it. Forgive me and bless me, my Father.

 

 

Things to think about

  1. Can you think of incidents in your own life when Yahweh didn’t answer your prayers the way you expected him to, as quickly as you would have liked?
  2. What can we – and what could the people going in to possess the Promised Land – learn from this narrative?
  3. The very thing that Moses feared would happen when he talked to his own people about his God, Yahweh, approaching him happened when he talked to Pharaoh. Do you think he should have expected this reaction and been prepared for it? Would you have been?
  4. We know today that the only way anyone will ever be convinced that our God, Yahweh, is real and vibrant is if the Holy Spirit of God himself speaks to their hearts and they listen. We know that because Yeshua/Jesus told us so. We also know that the Spirit of the living God, Yahweh, uses our mouths, hands, and hearts to speak to others. What is our responsibility in revealing Yahweh to others?
  5. Could Moses and Aaron have convinced Pharaoh that Yahweh was the one and only Supreme Being?
  6. Does Yahweh use you in his great plan to glorify himself to the nations? Do we always know when Yahweh is using us and when he is not?
  7. Do we turn ourselves on for Yahweh to use us, or do we daily submit to his will so that he can use us when and how he chooses? How do we submit to Yahweh’s will?

 

 

Chapter 6

Moses had been upset with his God, the great I AM – his creator. One could expect that the Supreme Being would have had reason to get very upset with Moses for his chutzpah but Yahweh patiently reassured Moses and explained that he was about to show Moses and Aaron when he would do to Pharaoh so that he would drive the Israelites out of his land.

Yahweh again reminded Moses that he was I AM, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – the all powerful God. He told Moses that his name, Yahweh, which means “I Am Present, was not known to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but he established his covenant with them in the land of Canaan where they lived as sojourners.

He reminded Moses that he heard the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – the Israelites – groaning under the burden of their servitude and because of his covenant, was ready to act. Israel’s knowledge of their God was as the God who established the covenant with their fathers. Yahweh is the one who fulfilled the covenant. He had been the personal God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; now he would be the personal God, Yahweh, of their descendants.

Yahweh instructed Moses to tell the Israelites that he was Yahweh and he would bring them out from under the harsh arduous labor of Egypt. He would be their near relative and rescue them from slavery – restore them to himself. Pharaoh’s domination will be dethroned when Yahweh directed the situation with his momentous deeds of judgement.

Yahweh again declared that he would reclaim Israel as his own people – redeem Israel to himself – and they would know that he was Yahweh, their I AM who brought them out of their cruel hard labor in Egypt into the land that he promises to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Promised Land would be theirs as their own country. And the he reiterated that he is I AM – Yahweh.

The Israelites were a lot like you and I. Instead of listening to the good news they stayed bogged down in their troubles and complained about their condition.

Yahweh wasn’t surprised about the Israelites lack of gratitude; he merely told Moses to go tell Pharaoh to release Israel from bondage.

Moses was discouraged and reminded Yahweh that his own brethren wouldn’t even listed to him so how could he expect Pharaoh to – and besides that – he was afflicted with a speech impediment.

Yahweh didn’t through in the towel because of Moses and Aaron’s unbelief. He simply commanded them to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt.

 

At this juncture[17] in the narrative we are given a list of the descendants of Jacob – the heads of the tribes of Israel. The list includes the families of Reuben – four generations by name; six families descended from Simeon. Then we are told that Levi lived 137 years and had three sons. The first son had two sons and the second so had four sons. He lived 133 years. Levi’s third son had three sons

Levi’s grandson by his second son married his aunt Jochebed who was Aaron and Moses’ mother. Then we are told that Aaron and Moses’ father lived 137 years. The years these people lived may have been calculated to establish that Israel was in Egypt 400 years.[18]

Aaron and Moses’ uncle Izhar had three sons and their uncle Uzziel also had three sons. Aaron had four sons and we are given her name and who her father was. One of his sons may have married and Egyptian but was still his son and part of the priesthood later established. One of Aaron’s sons was married and we are also given her name and the name of her son. One of Levi’s descendants, Korah, had three sons and were listed because the Korahites will figure later in this story.

These were the families who Moses and Aaron told Pharaoh to release from Egypt. And he told Moses, “I’ll Make You as a God to Pharaoh.”

And Moses said, “I’m not your man. I stutter and no one listens to anything I say anyway.”

Summary of chapter 6

Yahweh reacted to Moses’ temperamental outburst with compassion and grace. He answered him by being reassuring and reiterating who he is, what he was about to do, and what he expected of Moses and Aaron

A short genealogy was inserted here that established the position in the family both Aaron and Moses had as well as some of the Levites who will be playing an important part in the story and the priesthood to be established.

Prayer: You are my God, the great I AM. You are, you were, and you will be. You have no beginning and you will have no end. You created the universe by your will and great power. You created me, in Adam, and gave me your image so that I could reflect your glory and be your hands, heart, and head to the rest of your creation. You knew that I would go my own way and constantly mess things up, but by the council of your own will you chose to love me and extend mercy and grace. I love you and adore you, my precious Lord, Yahweh.

 

 

Things to think about

  1. Who is God?
  2. Do you want to know Yahweh?
  3. Is knowing Yahweh just a matter of accepting his Son, Yeshua/Jesus as your Savior?
  4. We know that Yeshua is the exact representation of the Father/Yahweh. How can you know Yeshua/Jesus? Can you go beyond accepting the fact that he died on the cross to save you from your sins? He is your kinsman Redeemer when you accept him as your Savior – He redeemed you back to your Creator, Yahweh and now you are equipped to reflect his glory – his image – to the world around you. How can you do that?
  5. How could the Israelites going in to possess the Promised Land know Yahweh? They didn’t have the example of Yeshua/Jesus to help them.
  6. What had Yahweh done in the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to revel his character and power?
  7. What did Moses know about Yahweh in the narrative of this chapter of Exodus?

 

 

Chapter 7

Yahweh told Moses to look at him. Yahweh is a spirit and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.[19] Yahweh was telling Moses to pay attention to what he was saying. Moses had been listening to his own fear and inadequacy and Yahweh can’t work through us until we put our self-absorption to death and focus on our God and Master, Yahweh.

Yahweh informed Moses that he was going to make him like a god to Pharaoh. Pharaoh would see Moses as the god who was able to perform great acts and Aaron as Moses’ prophet who spoke for the god, Moses.

Yahweh told Moses that he was to speak the words that he commanded and Aaron was to relay it to relay it to Pharaoh.

Yahweh said that Pharaoh would release Israel from Egypt, but he didn’t say how long it would take to convince him or how long Yahweh would take to convince Israel and Pharaoh that he was Yahweh, the Supreme Being. Yahweh told Moses that Pharaoh would be stubborn and he, Yahweh, would use his – Pharaoh’s – obnoxious attitude to demonstrate his – Yahweh’s – legitimacy by great signs and wonders. Yahweh told Moses again that Pharaoh wouldn’t listen to him, but he, Yahweh would have his way against Egypt and bring his soldiers and people out of Egypt with mighty acts of judgment. There were no soldiers in Israel as far as Moses could see, but he must have been getting the idea that Yahweh was equipped with greater insight than he was because he didn’t argue. Yahweh again repeated that Egypt would realize that he is Yahweh – the great I AM – the one and only Supreme Being when he moved in and took Israel out of Egypt.

“Moses and Aaron did exactly what God commanded. Moses was eighty and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.”[20]

Yahweh told Moses and Aaron to prove their selves by performing a miracle – through down the staff and turn it into a snake.

But Pharaoh called in his wise men and sorcerers and the Egyptian magicians turned rods into snakes by their incantations. And then, surprise – Aaron’s snake swallowed the snakes of Pharaoh’s magic makers.

Pharaoh was impressed and refused to let Israel leave Egypt.

Yahweh encouraged Moses by assuring him that he knew Pharaoh was stubborn and would refuse to let Israel go. When we realize that our god, Yahweh, knows what is going on in our lives the hopeless begins to look hopeful and we can see that the impossible is possible.

Yahweh told Moses to go down to the Nile in the morning where he would meet Pharaoh by the river. He was to turn the staff into a snake and tell Pharaoh the he must release Yahweh’s people so that they could worship him in the wilderness. He was to tell Pharaoh that he would take his staff and strike the Nile with it. The Egyptians believed that the Nile River was a god and would consider the rod striking it an insult to their god. Moses was to tell pharaoh that the water of the Nile would turn to blood and the fish that the people of Egypt depended on for life giving food would die. The river that Egypt worshiped as a god would stink and the Egyptian people wouldn’t be able to drink it.

Aaron obeyed Yahweh’s command given through his little brother, Moses, and waved his staff over the waters of Egypt. He waved it over its rivers, canals, and even its ponds – every body of water. All the water in Egypt – even in the cooking utensils – turned to blood.

“But the magicians of Egypt did the same thing with their incantations. Still Pharaoh remained stubborn. He wouldn’t listen to them as God had said. He turned on his heel and went home, never giving it a second thought. But all the Egyptians had to dig inland from the river for water because they couldn’t drink the Nile water.”[21]

The number seven is used her to indicate that the time between this first sign from Yahweh for Egypt was perfect and complete.

Summary of chapter 7

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of [his God] as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. [22]

And by faith, when Yahweh told him that he would make him akin to a god in Pharaoh’s eyes, even though circumstances proclaimed the opposite, Moses obeyed his God, Yahweh and went to Pharaoh and turned the waters of Egypt to blood. Yeshua/Jesus said that if we have faith even as small as a mustard seed we could move mountains. Moses’ faith wasn’t even a great as a mustard seed – something the human eye can’t even see without a magnifying glass – but when he exercised it and obeyed the seemingly unreasonable commandments of Yahweh, it grew and he was able to do what was required of him.

Prayer: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, help me to throw off everything that hinders me and the sin that so easily entangles me that I may run with perseverance the race marked out for me, fixing my eyes on Yeshua, the creator and of faith and the one who cultivates it in my life. Yeshua, because of the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. So Lord, help me to meditate upon him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that I will not grow weary and lose heart. And blessed be the name of Yahweh, my God, from this time forth and forevermore.

 

 

Things to think about

  1. How was Moses able to get his mind off himself and his inadequacies and troubles and focus on what Yahweh was telling him?
  2. What has Yahweh given us to aid us in laying aside our burdens and overcoming our shortcomings so that we can run the race of life with endurance?
  3. How could the Israelites going in to possess the
    Promised Land get victory over their personal liabilities and incompetence so they could follow Yahweh to their new home victoriously?
  4. Why did Yahweh have Moses and Aaron turn the water of the Nile into blood?
  5. The waters of the Nile were the ultimate source of water for every canal, pond, and stream. What do you think might have gone through the minds of the people when all their water turned to blood?
  6. How long do you think it took the water to clear up so the people could use it again?

7 What was Pharaoh thinking that he watched all the water of Egypt turn to blood but still wouldn’t give any quarter to the Israelites and still despised the god of Israel, Yahweh?

 

 

Chapter 8

Yahweh told Moses to go back to Pharaoh and tell him to let his people go so they could worship him or he would send a plague of frogs on the whole land of Egypt. He said the Nile would be full of frogs and they would come up into Pharaoh’s palace and get into his bed. They would get into the houses of his administrators and invade all their kitchens, including the ovens and kneading troughs.

Heket was an Egyptian goddess of life and fertility who took the form of a frog. There are at least two god/goddess of the Nile. Yahweh was basically telling pharaoh that he would use one of his little gods to bottleneck another one of Egypt’s useless gods.

Yahweh told Moses to tell Aaron to take his staff and stretch it over the streams, canals, and ponds and bring the frogs up. Aaron obeyed and frogs covered the land. The Egyptian magicians performed their secret arts and more frogs accompanied the ones Aaron brought up. All of Egypt was overrun with frogs and Pharaoh’s magicians made it even worse.

Pharaoh called in Moses and Aaron and told them that if they would pray for Yahweh to take the frogs away from Egypt he would let Israel go to sacrifice to him.

Moses obeyed and told Pharaoh that he would leave it up to him when he wanted him to pray for the land to be rid of frogs. They would remain in the Nile. Pharaoh didn’t say, “Right now.” He said, “Tomorrow.”

Moses assured him that the frogs would be gone on the morrow from the rest of the land, but would remain in the Nile so that he would know that Yahweh was the Supreme Being. When Moses interceded with Yahweh the frogs in the houses, courtyards, and fields died. They were piled into heaps and the whole land stank of dead frogs.

Yahweh had said that Pharaoh would be stubborn and not let the people go and he didn’t. When Yahweh said he would do something he did it. When Pharaoh said he would do something he increasingly demonstrated his deficiency of the character traits that make a good ruler by his duplicity.

Yahweh was ready for Pharaoh with another plague. He told Moses to tell Aaron to stretch his staff over the dust of the ground and turn the dust to gnats. This was a strike against Geb, the god of the earth, and Set, the god of the desert. Aaron stretched out his arm and tiny insects invaded the nostrils and eyes of the Egyptians. They stung the skin and irritated everyone. Perhaps the irritation was so great that it left the magicians unable to perform because they couldn’t reproduce Aaron’s act this time. They told Pharaoh that God was behind the gnats and they couldn’t do it.

Pharaoh still wouldn’t let the Israelites go and worship Yahweh s but he was ready with his next plague. He told Moses to get up early in the morning and confront Pharaoh as he went to the Nile River. He told Moses to warn Pharaoh that if he didn’t let Israel go so they could worship him that he would send swarms of flies on him and his officials, on his people and into his houses. The houses of the Egyptians would be full of flies; even the ground would be covered with them.

Yahweh made a difference between his people and Pharaoh’s with the flies and keep the flies away from Israel so that Pharaoh would know that Yahweh was in Egypt and working. The next day Egypt was jam-packed with swarms of flies. All of Egypt, except for Goshen, was ruined by flies.

This may have been the blood-sucking dog fly (gadfly) which was repugnant to Egypt, or it might be the Ichneumon fly, which deposits its larvae on living things so that it can feed and the Egyptians saw as the manifestation of the god Uatchit. Many other insects may have been revered in the same way.

Another concept of the fly in Egyptian mythology is that it gave protection against disease or misfortune. The fly was exhibited on the so-called “magic wands,” probably intended to protect the owner from harm.

Some scholars think this passage implies the scarab beetle, which was actually a dung beetle. Swarms of scarabs, with mandibles that could saw through wood, were destructive and worse than termites. Deification of the scarab was found in the creator and king god Amon-Ra. In the Hebrew the phrase “grievous swarm” implies something oppressive like a yoke. It may also carry the idea of massive numbers or abundance conveying the severe energy of the plague. Every Egyptian was experiencing the wrath of Yahweh.[23]

Pharaoh told Moses and Aaron that the Israelites could sacrifice to Yahweh in Goshen, but Moses told him that would be wrong because their sacrifices would insult the Egyptians and they would stone the Israelites. They would have to go three days journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to Yahweh as he commanded them.

Pharaoh agreed to let Israel go into the wilderness to worship their god and instructed Moses to pray for him. Moses consented to pray for the flies to leave Pharaoh but warned him not to go back on his word again.

“Then Moses left Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord, and the Lord did what Moses asked. The flies left Pharaoh and his officials and his people; not a fly remained. But this time also Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not let the people go.”[24]

Summary of chapter 8

Being inundated with frogs and gnats didn’t bother pharaoh enough to give any credence to Moses or the God of the Israelites. Even when the magicians told him God was responsible for the gnats he didn’t allow himself to be moved. The magicians didn’t give credit to Yahweh either. They only knew it was an act of some god. When Yahweh protected Goshen and his people from the worst of the plagues and sent the plague of “flies” on Egypt he consented to let Israel go a short distance into the wilderness to worship their God, their way.

Some believe the plague of flies was a plague of wild animals. Chabad says, “The fourth plague to harass the Egyptians consisted of hordes of wild animals roving all over the country, and destroying everything in their path. Only the province of Goshen where the children of Israel dwelt was immune from this as well as from the other plagues. Again Pharaoh promised faithfully to let the Hebrews go out into the desert on the condition that they would not go too far. Moses prayed to G‑d, and the wild animals disappeared.”[25]

Whether the plague was of flies or other animals it was bad enough to rattle Pharaoh into a promise that he may or may not have intended to keep. Of course Pharaoh didn’t keep his word

Prayer: Lord, you alone are the faithful and true God, Yahweh, who I can always depend on. I am so glad that you do great and wondrous works so everyone can know that you are and you are a rewarder of them who diligently seek you. That is why I can be dead to my own self-interest and let you live through me. You keep your word even when the whole world is lying through its teeth. Scripture says the same; your words stand fast and true and rejection doesn’t surprise you.

 

 

Things to think about

  1. Do you think the Egyptians would have been allowed to try to kill the frogs that were molesting them since one of their gods took the form of a frog?
  2. What do you think Yahweh was telling the Egyptians through the plague of the frogs?
  3. What can we learn about our God, Yahweh, through the plague of the frogs?
  4. Why do you think the magicians of Egypt couldn’t duplicate the plague of the gnats?
  5. Why did Yahweh make a distinction between the Egyptians and Israelites with the plague of the flies?
  6. What do you think Yahweh wanted the Israelites to know about him through the last plague?
  7. What do you think Yahweh wants the reader to know about the character of Pharaoh? How is it different from the image that he gifted humans with when he created us?

 

 

Chapter 9

Moses had warned Pharaoh not to go back on his word again so he would have been ready when Yahweh told him to go back to Pharaoh and tell him to let his people go so they could worship him. He was to warn Pharaoh that if he persisted in his refusal to release his people and continued to hold on to them Yahweh would strike all of their livestock with terrible disease; but he wouldn’t touch the livestock of his people. Egypt’s cattle would die but Israel’s would live.

Chabad says, “Then G‑d sent a fatal pestilence that killed most of the domestic animals of the Egyptians. How the people must have grieved when they saw their stately horses, the pride of Egypt, perish; when all the cattle of the fields were stricken at the word of Moses; and when the animals upon which they looked as gods died smitten by the plague! They had, moreover, the mortification of seeing the beasts of the Israelites unhurt. Yet Pharaoh still hardened his heart, and would not let the Israelites go.”[26]

Yahweh gave Pharaoh and his people time to repent. He said, “Tomorrow God will do this thing.”[27]

The following day Yahweh kept his word. By this time Egypt, as well as Israel, should have been getting the idea that Yahweh doesn’t make empty threats.

All the animals of Egypt died but none of the livestock of the Israelites were touched. Any reasonable ruler would have realized that it was time to throw in the towel, but Pharaoh didn’t budge. Israel was his possession and he wasn’t going to let anyone – even a God – to take it away. He considered himself a god in competition with another God and he just wouldn’t admit that Yahweh was the one and only Supreme Being – the great I Am, Creator of all that is – including Pharaoh.

Yahweh got ready for his sixth plague and instructed Moses to take soot from the furnace in his fist and throw it into the air before Pharaoh’s eyes. It became a haze of diaphanous dust all over Egypt that produced an eruption of boils on people and animals alike. The magicians couldn’t even try to show pharaoh that they could do the same kind of thing because they were covered with boils.

Everyone was miserable but Pharaoh wasn’t giving any quarter – he closed his eyes to everything but his own self-will. He was so self-absorbed that he was “cutting off his nose to spite his face.” He is an example of how to give one’s self a miserable life.

Yahweh again told Moses to get up early in the morning and confront Pharaoh. He said, “Tell him that Yahweh, the God of the Hebrews says, ‘Release my people so they can worship me. This time I’m going to hit you with enough power so you will have to realize that there is no one anywhere in all the earth like me. You realize by now that I could have struck you and your people with a terrible disease that would obliterate you but I kept you alive so you would see my great power and enhance my reputation all over the Earth; but you are still trying to build yourself up at my people’s expense. Because you still won’t let them go at this time tomorrow I’m sending an enormous, unprecedented, hailstorm throughout Egypt.” He told Pharaoh to get his livestock under cover if he wanted to protect it from the hail when it came down. At this point you may be wondering where the livestock came from since the previous plague took them all out. We are not told how much time elapsed between the plagues so we don’t know if there was time for the Egyptians to get new livestock. They also may have taken some of the Israelites livestock; and there is also the account of “all” the animals of Egypt dying may have been an exaggeration to empathize the horror and insult to the so called gods of the Egyptians. The important thing here isn’t the historicity of facts but the power of Yahweh and the lengths he goes to to reveal himself to his creatures. Egypt could never claim ignorance of who Yahweh is.[28]

There were some in Egypt that heeded the word of Yahweh and got their animals under cover immediately. Unfortunately there were others who left both their animals and workers out in the fields.

Yahweh told Moses to stretch out his hands to the skies and tell the hail to fall all over the fields with their crops, over the people, and over the animals left exposed in Egypt.

Moses obeyed and Yahweh sent the storm. Lightening lit up the atmosphere shot through with hail and reverberating with thunder. The storm was fierce, smashing and shattering everything in Egypt – except for Goshen where Yahweh’s people were safe and protected. The flax and the barley were ruined, because they were just ripening, but the wheat and spelt weren’t hurt since they ripen later.

Yahweh’s people aren’t always protected in that way from the physical pain and traumas of life; but we are safe in his arms and as we walk through the fires and floods of life his is right there with us with his strength and comfort. We aren’t always free from fear and doubt; but he is always there waiting for us to let go of the anxiety and uncertainty and turn back to his presence where there is fullness of joy.

Pharaoh, we are told, appealed to Moses and Aaron and admitted that he had sinned for sure. He admitted that Yahweh was right and he and his people were wrong. He ordered Moses and Aaron to pray to Yahweh to take away the hail and he would let the people go.

Moses assured him that as soon as he was out of the city he would stretch out his arms to Yahweh and the hail would end. He would do this so that Pharaoh would know that Egypt is Yahweh’s land. Moses also assured Pharaoh that he knew that he and his servants didn’t appreciate who Yahweh is.

Moses left Pharaoh and his city, spread out his arms to Yahweh, and the hail stopped.

As soon as Pharaoh the hail and thunder stopped Pharaoh’s fear and trepidation from the destruction of the hailstorm turned back to self-centered absorption and stubbornness.

Summary of chapter 9

The animals of Egypt revered as gods were struck with disease that killed most of them, then they and the people that cared for them were covered with boils; and, adding insult to injury, the hail came and killed animals, people and crops. Pharaoh was hurt but not impressed with Yahweh, the God of the Israelites. He still considered himself a god and was determined to hang on to Israel, who he considered his property.

Prayer: Lord, it is clear to me that whatever is written in these Scriptures is not what you say about others but to me. These Scriptures are addressed to me personally. It clear to me that I am a sinner, in the same sinking boat with everybody else. My involvement with your revelation doesn’t put me right with you; it does force me to face my complicity in everyone else’s sin. I have proved that I am utterly incapable of living the glorious life you want for me, so you did it for me. Out of sheer generosity you put me in right standing with yourself. You got me out of the mess I was in and restored me to where you always wanted me to be. And you did it by means of Jesus Christ.[29]

 

 

Things to think about

  1. What is the most important thing for us to remember about Yahweh’s warning to Pharaoh before each plague?
  2. What was the worst thing about the plague that afflicted and killed the animals of Egypt?
  3. Why weren’t the animals of Goshen affected?
  4. Why didn’t Pharaoh back down after this assault on the animals of Egypt?
  5. Why weren’t the magicians able to try to demonstrate their power when Yahweh struck Egypt with boils?
  6. Did the hailstorm make Pharaoh realize that there was no God equal to Yahweh? How long did that last?
  7. Are you and I any better than Pharaoh? What makes the difference in the fate that we are destined for?


Chapter 10

Yahweh sent Moses back to Pharaoh. He explained that he had made Pharaoh stubborn so he could force him to pay attention to the signals that were indicating that the Great I AM had been there. Moses had been warning Pharaoh that Yahweh was going to do these things and he had done them. The truth was there for anyone to see, as it is today.[30] Pharaoh and his minions tried to forget what they were seeing with their own eyes; but the Israelites were to pass the stories down to their children through the ages – “So that they will know that I AM God.” It is the responsibility of every individual to decide for themselves where or not they will believe Yahweh’s validation; but it is the task of every parent to supply the evidence that will enable their offspring to make a rational decision. [31]

When Moses and Aaron returned to Pharaoh they told him that Yahweh, the God of the Hebrews said to ask him how long he was going to refuse to surrender. That must have got Pharaoh’s hackles up. Pharaoh considered himself to be a god and gods did not humble themselves before another god who they considered inferior to them. The Hebrews God had to be inferior to the Egyptian gods – in Pharaoh’s mind – because he considered the Hebrews to be inferior to Egyptians.

Then Moses and Aaron told Pharaoh their God said that if he refused to release his chosen people that he, Yahweh, would bring locusts into Egypt and they would cover every square inch of the land. The ground would be covered so that no one could see it. Everything that the hailstorm had left would be devoured by the locusts. There would be so many locusts that they would invade the houses. It would be terrible.

Moses and Aaron left Pharaoh and his servants converged on him. They had had enough. They strongly advised Pharaoh to let the Israeli men go and worship their God. They told him that Egypt couldn’t stand anymore punishment from the Hebrew God.

Pharaoh consented and Moses and Aaron were called back and told them to go and worship their God – but just who would be going.

Pharaoh must have started to sweat when Moses said they would all go – young and old alike along with their animals. It would be a worship-celebration of Yahweh.

Pharaoh was adamant in his decision not to let that happen. Letting Moses and Aaron – and even some of the other men – go worship their God was one thing but he wasn’t letting go of his hostages. He was sure that if he let them take their families and stock with them he would lose all his free labor – and that wasn’t going to happen. It was a matter of pride and self-absorbing pride is destructive and destroys good judgment.

Yahweh told Moses to stretch out his hand over Egypt as a signal for the locusts to cover the land and devour everything the hail didn’t trounce.

Moses obeyed and a strong, hot, dry and wind begin to blow from the east. It blew the rest of the day and all night and in the morning the locusts began their consuming work. Every inch of Egypt was shrouded in locusts. This had never happened before so Pharaoh and his people couldn’t say, “It’s just a coincidence that this happened now – it’s all happened before.” The ground was covered by locusts exactly as Yahweh, through Moses and Aaron had pronounced the day before. Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron back in.

He said, “I’ve sinned against your God and against you. Overlook my sin one more time. Pray to your God to get me out of this—get death out of here!”[32]

Moses again left Pharaoh and asked Yahweh to let Pharaoh off once again and he did. He sent a powerful west wind to take the locusts and dump them into the Red Sea, called the Egyptian Sea by the Israelites.

Pharaoh remained wrong-headed and refused to submit to Yahweh’s demands to release the Israelite, and Yahweh had another opportunity to leave a permanent record of his great power both with the Egyptians and his own chosen people. He told Moses to stretch out his hand to the skies and let opaque blackness pervade the nation of Egypt.

Moses did as he was told and darkness so deep no one could see even their hand in front of their face, let alone anyone else, for three days. The number three represents something solid and substantial. There are three qualities of the universe: Time, Space, and Matter. To exist (except for God) all three are required. Each quality consists of three elements. Therefore, we live in a trinity of trinities. During this perfect time of darkness the Egyptians couldn’t even move. The Israelites had plenty of light where they were living though. Three is also used as a signpost for the reader to pay attention to the next event

Pharaoh called Moses back in and told him to go worship. They could take their families but were to leave their livestock behind. Pharaoh may have planned on replenishing Egypt’s depleted animals with Israel’s. Moses, however, informed Pharaoh that they would have to take their own animals for sacrifices and offerings to their God and they wouldn’t be able to leave any behind because they wouldn’t know what they would need until they got to the wilderness.

Yahweh still had an object lesson to leave both Egypt and Israel with, so Pharaoh still refused to release his chosen people. He told Moses to get out of his sight – and be warned that if he ever saw Moses again he would kill him.

Moses agreed he would never contact Pharaoh again and left.

Summary of chapter 10

The eighth and ninth plagues are recorded in this chapter but first Yahweh teaches Moses what the meaning of these marvelous examples of his providence is.

Yahweh promised to send locusts to invade Egypt and destroy any vegetation that the hail didn’t get.

Pharaoh’s servants persuaded him to let the Hebrew men go and worship their God and Pharaoh presented the terms of his treaty to Moses. Moses rejected the terms, stating that their families and livestock must accompany them. Pharaoh rejected those terms. Yahweh sent the locusts.

Pharaoh again pleaded for mercy which Yahweh granted when Moses prayed. Pharaoh again refused to let Israel go and Yahweh sent the plague of intense darkness. Pharaoh offered another treaty to Moses with the same terms and threw Moses out when he insisted on his own terms that were directed by his God.

Prayer: Lord, I know that all you do is so that your creation may know that you are Yahweh the great I AM, supreme over all, and the Creator of the universe. You have created and equipped me to reflect your character to the world around me and it is my duty, as the product of your creative ability and the image of your character, to be a testimony of who you are. Give me the sense to know when I am letting my self-will influence my actions so that I will put it to overthrow it with my desire to let you live through me. And blesses be the name of Yahweh, my god from this time forth and forevermore.

Things to think about

  1. What was the object of the plagues?
  2. What is the responsibility of a parent where knowing Yahweh is concerned? Does that responsibility extend beyond parenthood?
  3. How can one know Yahweh?
  4. Was there anything aside from increasing the knowledge of the power of Yahweh that we can learn from the plague of locusts?
  5. What can we learn about Yahweh from the plague of darkness?
  6. Aside from the fact that Yahweh allowed and encouraged it why would Pharaoh be so stubborn about letting Israel go after Yahweh sent such awful plagues on Egypt?
  7. Did Yahweh’s mercy and grace ever materialize during the plagues?

 

 

Chapter 11

We are told that Yahweh had earlier told Moses that he was going to strike Pharaoh and Egypt with one final bow that would ensure that Pharaoh would release Israel from his domination for good. He told Moses to instruct the Israelites to each as his and her neighbor to give them things made of silver and gold. Yahweh had prepared the hearts of the Egyptians to be well dispositioned toward the Israelites so they were glad to give them gifts; and Moses was an admired and respected public figure in Egypt. They were impressed with his wisdom and power because of miracles that he had been working.

And then the narrative returns to the last conversation between Moses and Pharaoh. Pharaoh had told Moses to leave his presence and not come back and Moses left, but before he left he gave him one last message from Yahweh. Some eighty years earlier the king of Egypt and his advisors had decided that it would be good policy to kill all the male babies born to the Israelites – Yahweh’s people especially chosen that he would bless the world through. Now his message to Pharaoh was that – not every male baby – but every first-born son of Egypt would die. At midnight Yahweh would go through Egypt and every first-born male of human and animal alike would die. Many of Egypt’s gods took the shape of one animal or another. Yahweh said that when this last calamity touched every family in Egypt they would all go to their knees before him and beg Israel to leave. Moses emphasized the fact that they would certainly leave. And then he turned and left Pharaoh for the last time.

Again Yahweh made a distinction between Egypt and his chosen people so that the Egyptians would know that Yahweh verifies a contrast between those who honor him and those who don’t. Egypt continues to worship false gods and ignore their creator even after all the signs and wonders that demonstrated the power and glory of Yahweh to any thoughtful person who was willing to acknowledge him.

Of the referral to dogs, Adam Clarke said, “Is it not probable that the allusion is here made to a well-known custom of dogs howling when any mortality is in a village, street, or even house, where such animals are? There are innumerable instances of the faithful house-dog howling when a death happens in a family, as if distressed on the account, feeling for the loss of his benefactor; but their apparent presaging such an event by their cries, as some will have it, may be attributed, not to any prescience, but to the exquisite keenness of their scent. If the words may be understood in this way, then the great cry through the whole land of Egypt may refer to this very circumstance: as dogs were sacred among them, and consequently religiously preserved, they must have existed in great multitudes.”

Adam Clarke also said, “We know that one of their principal deities was Osiris, whose son, worshipped under the form of a dog, or a man with a dog’s head, was called Anubis latrator, the barking Anubis. May he not be represented as deploring a calamity which he had no power to prevent among his worshippers, nor influence to inflict punishment upon those who set his deity at naught? Hence while there was a great cry, צעקה גדלה tseakah gedolah, throughout all the land of Egypt, because of the mortality in every house, yet among the Israelites there was no death, consequently no dog moved his tongue to howl for their calamity; nor could the object of the Egyptians’ worship inflict any similar punishment on the worshippers of Jehovah.”[33]

The author of this account summarized the journey Moses had been on with Pharaoh. Yahweh had told Moses that Pharaoh wouldn’t listen to Moses’ demands and Yahweh would use Pharaoh’s stubbornness to multiply his works in the land of Egypt. Moses and Aaron had presented Yahweh’s signs before Pharaoh but Pharaoh remained immovable and denied Israel’s need to worship their God and release them from Egypt.

As Paul told the Romans, “… God said, in effect, “If that’s what you want, that’s what you get.”[34]

Summary of chapter 11

First, the reader is given an addendum that reveals what Yahweh had told Moses earlier about getting ready to leave after Yahweh’ decisive disaster. He was to instruct the Israelites to ask their neighbors for gifts of silver and gold. We are told that the Egyptians admired Moses and his people and willingly donated to them.

The account returns to the conversation between Moses and Pharaoh where Moses told Pharaoh that Yahweh’s last demonstration of his superiority would be the death of Egypt’s first-born which would include Pharaoh’s own first-born and every human, high and low on the social ladder. But it didn’t stop there; even the first-born of animals would die. This last affliction would cause the Egyptians to beg the Israelites – who wouldn’t be touched by this last torment either – to leave.

Prayer:  Lord, as Paul told the Romans when outsiders who have never heard of God’s law follow it more or less by instinct, they confirm its truth by their obedience. So I know that when I follow your law my obedience also confirms the truth. Your law is summed up in this: that I love you with all my heart and soul and mind and my fellow humans with the same regard and care that I love myself. When humans obey your law we show that your law is not something alien, imposed on us from without, but woven into the very fabric of our creation. There is something deep within us all that echoes your yes and no, right and wrong. Our response to your yes and no will become public knowledge on the day you make your final decision about us all. We’ve compiled a long and sorry record as sinners and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives you will for us, so you did it for us. Out of sheer generosity you put us in right standing with yourself. And it was pure gift; you got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where you always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ. And blessed be your holy name, Yahweh, from this time forth and forevermore.[35]

 

 

Things to think about

  1. What truth do you think Yahweh wants you to ascertain from the information that the Israelites were instructed to ask for items of gold and silver from the Egyptians?
  2. What should we perceive about the fact that the Egyptians gladly donated valuable items to the Hebrews?
  3. Do you think that Egyptian rulers decision to murder all the male infants of the Hebrews eighty years before had anything to do with the death of Egypt’s first-born?
  4. Do you think the fact that Pharaoh’s refusal to let Yahweh’s first-born go had anything to do with his decision to kill the first-born of Egypt?
  5. Does the justice of Yahweh negate or contradict his mercy and grace?
  6. How is Yahweh’s mercy and grace exhibited in this part of the story?
  7. How did Yahweh demonstrate his conviction of the gods of Egypt?
  8. Why is it important for Yahweh’s creatures to worship him instead of the gods of the creation of their own minds?

 

 

Chapter 12

Yahweh got Moses ready for the future before his last audience with Pharaoh. He told him that the month of their exit from Egypt was to be the first month of the year for Israel. He instructed Moses to tell all the Israelites that on the tenth day of the month each man was to take a healthy male lamb one year old from from either his sheep or his goats and keep it penned for four days. On the fourteenth day of the month they were to slaughter their lambs at twilight. They were instructed to smear some of the blood on the doorposts and supports of the house where they would eat the meat. Yahweh told them that the blood would serve as a sign on the houses and when he saw the blood he would pass over them and no harm would come to them when he struck the land of Egypt with the death of the first-born.

They were told to roast the meat in the fire. They were not to eat the flesh raw as the Egyptians ate their flesh in honor of Osiris. The entire animal was to be roasted that night along with its head, legs, and innards. No bone would be broken. Israelites usually ate sour dough bread because the fermentation was always available. For this meal they were charged to make bread without leavening and bitter herbs to eat with the meat. The bread without leavening was a symbol of leaving the corruption of sin behind. The bitter herbs would remind them of their bitter bondage in Egypt. They weren’t to leave any of it until morning. If the family was too small to consume the whole lamb they were share with a neighbor. If there were any leftovers they were to burn them in the fire in preparation for leaving.

Yahweh further instructed the Israelites, through Moses, to eat fully dressed with their sticks – ready to leave – in their hands and eat in a hurry. This was the Passover to Yahweh. He told them that he would go through the land of Egypt and strike down every first-born male – human and animal alike – carrying out his judgement on all the gods of Egypt. He said, “I AM Yahweh.

The feast they were to eat with the unblemished lamb, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs was to be a memorial day for Israel. They were charged to celebrate it as a festival to Yahweh down through their generations. It was to be a continuous perpetual feast celebration when they would eat matzoth for seven days. On the first day they were to get rid of anything with leavening. The first and seventh days were set aside as sanctified when no one worked except for preparing and serving meals.

They were again charged to keep this feast perpetually because it marked the day that Yahweh forced them out of bondage in Egypt. They were to honor the day down through their generations. It was to be a permanent tribute to be remembered regularly beginning on the fourteenth day of the first month at evening until the twenty-first day at evening they were to eat unleavened bread with not a smidgen of leaven anywhere in their houses. Anyone – Israeli or visitor – in the land who ate anything with leaven would be cut off from the nation of Israel. The only kind of bread that was permitted was matzoth. Leaven was a representation of sin, because it progressed from corruption; and the putting away of this represented the heart that humbly turned to Yahweh. As a nation, they were to be careful to show themselves devoted to their God, Yahweh. They were the people of the promise that Yahweh would bless the world through them. They were the nation that would produce the Savior of the world. Sin is the word Scripture uses for the corruption of Yahweh’s character in us. When the participant leaves the leaven out of the bread as part of the feast of the Passover, it is a picture of shunning the corruption of Yahweh’s image in each of us. Paul told the Romans that we have all declined to reach the perfection of Yahweh’s moral fiber in our own natures.

When Moses gathered the Israelites and explained the process to them, he told them to use hyssop to sprinkle the blood on the lintel and doorposts. Hyssop was used as a cleansing agent. The Israelites were to stay in their houses until morning and when Yahweh saw the blood he would keep the destroyer from the houses where the blood was sprinkled. He repeated that they should keep the law he was giving them for them and their children forever and when they entered the Promised Land they should keep the Passover in memory of Yahweh passing over their homes where the blood of the lamb was sprinkled. They were to teach their children the reason for the Passover feast every time it was celebrated.

We Christians know that the paschal lamb was a type of Christ; and everything in this account is symbolic. The bondage and affliction of the people of Israel are depictions of the the slavery and desolation that is a consequence of sin. “[F]irst sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death. That sin disturbed relations with God in everything and everyone.”[36] Yahweh’ great mercy and grace rescued us from the bondage if sin through his Son who is our Passover Lamb. On the anniversary of the day that Yahweh rescued Israel from bondage in Egypt, on the day and hour which the paschal lamb was originally sacrificed Yeshua ha Mashiach died on the cross and “Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life—no longer at sin’s every beck and call! What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did.[37]

Israel was commanded to eat the paschal lamb; and Yeshua, memorializing the Passover, instructed his disciples to eat the unleavened bread as a symbol of his body, which is given for us and told them to do it in remembrance of him. Thus Yahweh continues the memorial of the assignment that he said should be an ordinance forever, picturing the death of our Passover Lamb, Yeshua, in the future before he came; and in bread and wine, in remembrance of his crucifixion after he came – the continual representatives of his sacrifice till the end of the world. Thus the Passover in itself, and in its reference, is an everlasting ordinance.

The Israelites bowed and worshiped Yahweh and then they did everything according to the pattern Yahweh laid out for them.

And at midnight Yahweh did as he said he would and the first-born of everyone in the land of Egypt from the first-born of Pharaoh to the first-born of the prisoner locked up in jail – including all the animals in Egypt died. There was screaming and much sorrow in Egypt that night. There wasn’t a dwelling in Egypt where someone wasn’t dead.

Pharaoh called in Moses and Aaron and said, “Get out of here and be done with you—you and your Israelites! Go worship [Yahweh] on your own terms. And yes, take your sheep and cattle as you’ve insisted, but go. And bless me.”[38]

Keil and Delitzsch said, “The very same night Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron, and gave them permission to depart with their people, their children, and their cattle. The statement that Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron is not at variance with Exodus 10:28-29; and there is no necessity to resort to Calvin’s explanation, “Pharaoh himself is said to have sent for those whom he urged to depart through the medium of messengers from the palace.” The command never to appear in his sight again did not preclude his sending for them under totally different circumstances. The permission to depart was given unconditionally, i.e., without involving an obligation to return. This is evident from the words, “Get you forth from among my people….”[39]

The Egyptians were anxious to see Israel go before they all lost their lives. The Israelites snatched up their bread dough without its leaven, wrapped their kneading troths in their cloaks and threw them over their shoulders. They took the gold and silver they had acquired from the Egyptians with them. About six hundred thousand Israelites and their dependents walked from Rameses to Succoth with their flocks and herds of livestock; and a crowd of Egyptian riffraff followed along. Their meals consisted of bread made from the unleavened bread dough they brought out of Egypt.

After 430 years Yahweh’s complete army left Egypt and Yahweh kept watch over them all night – and because he did, all Israel, for all generations were to honor him by keeping watch on that night every year.

Yahweh had given Moses and Aaron the rules of the Passover, emphasizing unity. He said that no foreigners were allowed to participate, but any slave, if he were paid for and circumcised, could be included. No casual visitor or hired hand was to participate. They were to eat the Passover in one house and not take the meat outside in remembrance of staying in their houses in Egypt as protection against the avenging angel; they were not to break any of the bones of the lamb as a picture of Yeshua – the Lamb of Yahweh who takes away the sins of the world; and the whole community of Israel was to be included. If an expatriate wanted to keep the Passover every male of his family had to be circumcised then he would be treated as a native son and could keep the Passover; but no uncircumcised person was allowed. It was Yahweh’s Passover and only his family was included.

“All the Israelites did exactly as God commanded Moses and Aaron. That very day God brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt, tribe by tribe.”[40]

Summary of chapter 12

Yahweh made the month that he initiated the Passover the first month of the year. He gave detailed instruction for the Israelites to follow so they would be safe when the first-born of all of Egypt was destroyed. He also gave thorough commandments for how the feast of the Passover was to be celebrated as a permanent observance.

After the death of all the first-born of Egypt they were anxious to see Israel go, even Pharaoh; so he called Moses and Aaron in and instructed them to take all of their dependents, flocks, and herds and get out of Egypt for good.

Prayer: Going through a long line of prophets, you have been addressing our ancestors in different ways for centuries. Recently you spoke to us directly through your Son, Yeshua ha Mashiach. By you Son, you created the world in the beginning, and it will all belong to your Son at the end. This Son perfectly mirrors you, and is stamped with your nature. He holds everything together by what he says—powerful words![41] Your Passover pictures what your Son did for me; and I said the welcoming word to you—“Yeshua is my Master”—embracing, body and soul, your work of doing in me what you did in raising your Son from the dead. That’s it. I didn’t “do” anything; I simply called out to you, trusting you to do it for you. That’s salvation. With my whole being I embraces you to set things right, and then I said it, right out loud: “God has set everything right between him and me!”[42] And blessed be your holy, righteous name, Yahweh, from this time forth and forevermore.

 

 

Things to think about

  1. Why did Yahweh tell the Israelites to smear blood on their door posts?
  2. What does the blood represent for us today?
  3. Why were the Israelites told to leave the leaven out of their bread?
  4. Why did Yahweh stipulate that the lamb should be roasted whole without breaking any bones?
  5. What part of the Passover feast is a type of the bitterness of sin?
  6. What is the bitterness of sin? Is it always bitter when we deliberately sin in this life? Does it always seem unpleasant while we are sinning?
  7. How can we confirm our devotion to Yahweh today?
  8. What is sin?
  9. Why is sin like the bondage of the Israelites to Egypt?

9 What does Yahweh’s releasing Israel from bondage a type of?

  1. Why do we call Yeshua ha Mashiach our Passover Lamb?

 

 

Chapter 13

Yahweh told Moses to set every first-born of Israel apart – devoted to him. He said that the first one to come from the womb, whether human or animal was his. Moses told the Israelites to never forget the day they left Egypt as slaves. Not to ever forget that Yahweh brought his people out of slavery with power. As a commemoration they weren’t to eat any bread corrupted with leaven. He told them they were leaving in the spring, in the month of Abib and when they got to the Land of Promise that Yahweh gave to their fathers for their inheritance they should remember to observe the Passover every spring.

And then Moses reminded the Israelites that they were to eat bread without leaven for seven days and on the seventh day they would eat the anniversary celebration to Yahweh. He emphasized that they should not eat any bread with leaven for those seven days and that no leaven should be found anywhere during this time of remembrance. Leaven is a type of the corruption of sin and the bondage of Israel in Egypt was a type of the bondage of sin; so the celebration told a story of Yahweh’s merciful and powerful redemption from the bondage of sin. We have all made the bad choices that corrupted the image of Yahweh’s character that he gave each one of us; and we have all had to live with the results of those ruinous decisions. As it is today, some of the Israelites then saw the truth behind the celebration and some didn’t. Yahweh gave each of us free will and so some of us reap the benefits of his redemption and some of reject it.

Moses instructed the Israelites to teach their children that the reason for the unleavened bread and the feast was to commemorate the day Yahweh brought them out of Egypt. The celebration should be an illustration and the means of instruction for future generations so that they would never forget that Yahweh released them from bondage.

Moses told the Israelites that when Yahweh brought them into the land of the Canaanites, according to the Promise, to turn it over to them that they were to set aside the first-born of every human and every animal to be concentrated to Yahweh. They were to redeem every first-born child and when their children ask why they were to use it as another means to teach the children that Yahweh brought them out of slavery with profound authority. They were to relate how Yahweh killed every first-born of Egypt – human and animal – when he refused to let the people go; and so his people consecrated to Yahweh and redeemed their own first-born. All these things were object lessons for the future generations of Yahweh’s chosen people.

Moses took the bones of Joseph with them in obedience to the directive that Joseph gave his family before he died.

Adam Clarke said, “Moses took the bones of Joseph. It is supposed that the Israelites carried with them the bones or remains of all the twelve sons of Jacob, each tribe taking care of the bones of its own patriarch, while Moses took care of the bones of Joseph. St. Stephen expressly says, Act 7:15, Act 7:16, that not only Jacob, but the fathers were carried from Egypt into Sychem; and this, as Calmet remarks, was the only opportunity that seems to have presented itself for doing this: and certainly the reason that rendered it proper to remove the bones of Joseph to the promised land, had equal weight in reference to those of the other patriarchs.”[43]

Israel left Egypt in military formation but Yahweh avoided the road through the land of the Philistines which happened to be the shortest route because he knew that they would encounter war going that way. The Israelites had been many years under the yoke of the Egyptians and Yahweh knew that they weren’t equipped to fight a war. So he led the people on the Wilderness Road around the Red Sea.

Adam Clarke said, ” God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, etc. – Had the Israelites been obliged to commence their journey to the promised land by a military campaign, there is little room to doubt that they would have been discouraged, have rebelled against Moses and Aaron, and have returned back to Egypt. Their long slavery had so degraded their minds that they were incapable of any great or noble exertions; and it is only on the ground of this mental degradation, the infallible consequence of slavery, that we can account for their many dastardly acts, murmurings, and repinings after their escape from Egypt. The reader is requested to bear this in mind, as it will serve to elucidate several circumstances in the ensuing history. Besides, the Israelites were in all probability unarmed, and totally unequipped for battle, encumbered with their flocks, and certain culinary utensils. which they were obliged to carry with them in the wilderness to provide them with bread, etc.”[44]

Yahweh led the Israelites going before them in a Column of cloud during the day and a Column of fire at night. He guided them from Succoth and they camped at Etham on the border of the wilderness. The Pillar of cloud by day and the Pillar of fire at night never left them so they had direction both day and night for traveling. That Pillar was a tower of strength for Israel as moved through unknown territory.

Summary of chapter 13

Yahweh established the law vis-à-vis the first-born, and commanded that all of them, both of man and beast, should be sanctified unto him. He instructed them, when they got to the promised Land, to remember the day that they were brought out of Egypt and keep the Passover service in the month Abib. He repeated the command concerning the leavened bread, and commanded them to teach their children the cause of it, and to be sure to remember that it was by the power of Yahweh alone they had been delivered from Egypt. The consecration of the first-born, both of man and beast, was to take place when they settled in the Promised Land. The first-born of man and beast were to be redeemed. The reason for this also was to be shown to their children. The command to use these commandments as object lessons for their children eventually resulted in the symbols of frontlets or phylacteries for the hands and forehead. Coffman said, “The triple memorial of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Consecration of the First-born was far more than mere symbols or memorials. “They (all three) were to be vivid visual aids by which the older generation would instruct the younger in the ways of God.”[As Ralph Langly said] [3]Furthermore, this was designed to continue from generation to generation throughout the ages.”[45]

The reason why the people were not led directly to the Promised Land, but about through the wilderness was explained and we are told that Moses took the bones of Joseph with him. The Israelites journeyed from Succoth and come to Etham. Yahweh went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, and by night in a pillar of fire which miracle continued by day and night.

Prayer: Lord, your son is the first-born of creation and the first-born from the dead. You told us that your Son is God, and on the throne for good; because his rule makes everything right. You tell us that he loves it when things are right; and hate it when things are wrong. He is our Master. Your word tells us that he started it all, laid earth’s foundations, and then you crafted the stars in the sky. Earth and sky will wear out, but not you. They’ll become threadbare like an old coat. You’ll fold them up like a worn-out cloak, and lay them away on the shelf. But you’ll stay the same, year after year; and you’ll never fade, you’ll never wear out.[46]

 

 

Things to think about

  1. What do you think is the most significant thing about the law of the first-born?
  2. What do you think the law of the first-born had to do with the first-born of Egypt?
  3. Why do you think Yahweh told the Israelites to redeem their first-born children?
  4. What do you think that redemption is a symbol of?
  5. What do you think the three memorials instituted here were for?
  6. Why do you think Yahweh told the Israelites to leave the leaven out of their bread for these feasts?
  7. Why did Yahweh go before them and lead them with a cloud towering in front of them and fire lighting the way at night?

 

 

Chapter 14

Yahweh did a peculiar thing then. He turned Israel around and headed them back in the direction they came from. Pharaoh’s spies would think they were confused and turning in circles when they turned south and camped at the mouth of the pass on the shore of the Red Sea. It looked to Pharaoh as though they were in a spot where they couldn’t escape from him. Yahweh told Moses when he redirected Israel that Pharaoh would think they were confused and decide to peruse them. He also assured Moses that he knew Pharaoh’s heart and what he would do, so he was using this as another demonstration of his power meant to confirm that he is Yahweh – God – the great I AM.

The narrator then tells us that when Israel left Egypt, even after the death of all their first-born, the king and his men may have thought about losing all that free labor – or maybe they got to talking among themselves and decided the recent events were just coincident and had nothing to do with Israel’s God. Whatever the case, they elected to get them back and got their army ready with war horses hooked up to six hundred of his best chariots. The rest of Egypt followed along with the chariots.

Israel was camped by the sea ready for them when they caught up. Yahweh was ready, but the Israelites were shocked to see all the army from Egypt followed by so many other Egyptians with their chariots and war horses.

Fear overwhelmed the Israelites and they cried out in terror to Yahweh, through Moses. They asked Moses if there weren’t enough graves in Egypt that he brought them to the wilderness to die. Sarcasm wasn’t enough so they also said, “I told you so!”

Fear is a natural reaction to horrendous events and the best reaction is to go to Yahweh and the people in charge of the situation but sarcasm and criticism don’t help in any situation. Moses comforted them by reminding them that Yahweh was still in control. The Israelites would see first-hand what Yahweh would do to save them from Egypt once and for all. His admonition to Israel is something for us to remember today when he said, “Stand still and see the salvation of your God, Yahweh.” When we are afraid we, too, can stand firm and watch Yahweh act in his strength. Sometimes fear or some other disquieting emotion takes over and we forget that our God is never absent from our lives or responses to events. Yahweh will always fight our battles for us – in his own way and in his own time. When we stand firm to see the salvation of Yahweh – and when we are still and remember that he is the great I AM – reality behind all reality we can cooperate with him and he does all things well.

Yahweh told Moses to hold his staff over the sea and split it so the Israelites could walk over it on dry land. He assured Moses that he knew the Egyptians would keep chasing the Israelites and he would use their futile efforts to regain control over Israel to display his own power and glory. He wanted Egypt to realize that he is Yahweh – the great I AM; not just a god, but THE (one and only) Self-existent One responsible for all existence including his own.

The cloud – Yahweh’s representative – that had been going before Israel to lead them changed positions and shifted itself behind them, between Israel and Egypt. The side of the cloud facing Israel became a light and the part facing Egypt made the night darker so Egypt wasn’t able to approach Israel all night.

When Moses stretched out his hand over the sea Yahweh sent an enormous east wind that blew all night and split the water so there was a dry road through it for Israel to walk to the other side.

The Egyptians saw a wall of water on both sides of the road the Israelites were traveling to get to the other side of the Sea and they attempted to follow. But Yahweh confused their pursuit when instead of their chariots rolling over a dry road; they became bogged down in mud. They tried to retreat when they realized that Yahweh was the commander-in-chief of the helpless Israelites. They had brought their army and all their war equipment out against a nation they assumed was ineffectual and weak and discovered they had a great God.

Yahweh told Moses to stretch out his hand over the sea and the waters would cover the Egyptian army and Moses obeyed. Morning came with The Egyptians fleeing but the sea waters returned to their natural position with Pharaoh and his army caught by the deluge. Yahweh had unloaded the Egyptians in the middle of the Sea. The delivery of Israel by the mighty hand of Yahweh was complete. Israel was. The dead Egyptians washed up on the shore of the sea and had to acknowledge that their God, Yahweh, was more powerful than all their fears. And it was because Yahweh had Moses use his raised hand as an agent of his miracles that Israel accepted Moses as Yahweh’s representative.

Summary of chapter 14

Yahweh told the Israelites to camp before Pi-hahiroth. He informed Israel that Pharaoh would peruse them. When Pharaoh was notified that the Israelites were gone, he regretted that he commanded them to leave. He marshalled his troops and chased them. Pharaoh overtook Israel in their camp by the Red Sea. The Israelites were alarmed at his approach. They complained against Moses for leading them out of Egypt. Moses reassured them, and promised them they would be delivered by their God, Yahweh. Yahweh commanded the Israelites to advance, and Moses to stretch out his rod over the sea that it might be divided. He promised to fully conquer the Egyptians. The Column of Yahweh placed itself between the Israelites and the Egyptians. It became darkness to the Egyptians, while it gave light to the Israelites. Moses stretched out his rod, and a strong east wind moved the water, dividing it and forming a dry road for Israel to walk over to the other side. The Egyptians followed the Israelites into the Sea expecting their chariots to rollover dry ground. Yahweh looked out of the pillar of cloud on the Egyptians, terrified them by dragging their chariots down in mud. Yahweh directed Moses to stretch forth his rod over the waters, and they returned to their former bed. Moses obeyed, and the whole Egyptian army was subdued. Meanwhile all Israel escaped. Israel acknowledged the power of God, and acknowledged the calling of Moses.

Prayer: Lord, do many times it has been easier for me to say, “Now what am I going to do?” instead of asking, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” Fear and indecision have often paralyzed me before I remembered that I have a great God. Yet, even in my unbelief and weakest, you have never left me alone. You have always spoken to me through one of your other children – or even nature itself – and reminded me that you know what I need and nothing is too hard for you. I am in awe before your glory, and visible power. I stand at attention! And adorn myself in my best behavior to honor you! You thunder across the waters. Your brilliant, your voice and your face, are streaming brightness— across the flood waters. Your thunder is tympanic, and symphonic. Your thunder smashes cedars, it topples the northern cedars. Because of you the mountain ranges skip like spring colts, and the high ridges jump like wild kid goats. Your thunder spits fire. You thunder and the wilderness quakes; you make the desert shake. Your thunder sets the oak trees dancing, a wild dance, whirling; the pelting rain strips their branches. We fall to our knees—we call out, “Glory!” Your throne is above the floodwaters from where your power flows, and you rule the world. You make your people strong, and give your people peace.[47]

Things to think about

  1. Why did Yahweh turn Israel back and put them in a precarious position when they seemed to be “home free”?
  2. Have you ever found yourself in a position that you believed Yahweh could have kept you out of?
  3. Sometimes it is good to think of ourselves as being like a piece of coal that could only become a diamond after a lot of heat and friction. Do you think the Israelites thought of themselves as a work in progress?
  4. Is it always easy for us to remember that we are works in progress – as nations as well as individuals?
  5. Why do you think Egypt followed Israel into the sea? Do you think they didn’t know that was where the Red sea was supposed to be?
  6. Does Yahweh still fight for his people?
  7. Why did Yahweh tell Moses to hold his staff over the Sea? Did Moses have the power to direct the water in any way?

8 What part do you and I play in the miracles of Yahweh?

 

 

Chapter 15

When I’m happy, I want to sing. When I’m contented, I want to sing. When I’m working, I want to sing. The Israelites had just been rescued by Yahweh from what looked like certain destruction from the Egyptians. Singing to Yahweh was a good way to express their relief and gratitude for their salvation. We worship our God, Yahweh through song when we sing our hymns and praise songs. Israel worshiped Yahweh through song after their deliverance.  They memorialized their salvation in song. Their song gave voice to the excellence of their God, Yahweh. They sang of his mighty deeds and his great power. They sang of his exploits using metaphors and similes of the world they knew and could see the power of. Their song stressed that none other could measure up to their God, Yahweh, in love as well as power and grace. It expressed Israel’s dependence on their God and predicted that people everywhere would hear of his fame.

John, when he wrote the book of Revelation, summed the song of Moses up this way:
” Mighty your acts and marvelous,
O God, the Sovereign-Strong!
Righteous your ways and true,
King of the nations!
Who can fail to fear you, God,
give glory to your Name?
Because you and you only are holy,
all nations will come and worship you,
because they see your judgments are right.”[48]

The narrator recapped the reason for the song. The waters of the Red sea engulfed Egypt’s army and her king after Israel walked through the middle of the Sea on dry ground.

Aaron and Moses’ sister, Mariam, was a prophetess. Yahweh used her to save Moses from assassination when he was an infant, and after Israel’s escape from Egypt he used her to lead the women in singing praises. The women may have sand with the men when they sang the song of Moses or they may have echoed the joy and enthusiasm of the message with Mariam as she led them with a tambourine.

The narrator continues the story by telling us that Moses led Israel from the Red Sea on to the wilderness of Shur. After three days travel with no water the Israelites were a little cranky. We could say the Israelites must have had some water or they would have all died before they got to the bitter water at Marah and we could argue that people have been known to go a week or more without water. However, the important thing about these stories isn’t to prove whether or not they are historically accurate accounts of the birth pangs of Israel; but the spiritual lessons we can learn from the accounts recorded and kept through the ages for us. We must also remember that these chronicles aren’t simply object lessons for us to use to teach our children how to live productive and victorious lives. They are records of the character of our God, Yahweh. He created us and gave us his image but we have corrupted that image by making decisions that were contrary to the image of his character. Paul, explaining what we can do to re-establish Yahweh’s image in our lives, said, ” So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”[49]

When Israel got to the place they called Marah because of the bitter water, they complained to Moses. He was in charge after all and the normal thing to do when things don’t go right is to badger our leaders to do something about the situation

Moses went to the only one who could do anything about the conditions in the desert and Yahweh showed him a stick of wood from a tree and Moses threw it into the water. When the wood hit the water the bitterness left it and the Israelites drank sweet water.

“All our ancestors were led by the providential Cloud and taken miraculously through the Sea. They went through the waters, in a baptism like ours, as Moses led them from enslaving death to salvation life. They all ate and drank identical food and drink, meals provided daily by God. They drank from the Rock, God’s fountain for them that stayed with them wherever they were. And the Rock was Christ.”[50]

Moses told the Israelites that Yahweh wanted to transform them the way he had the water. He had brought them out of Egypt where they lived for the benefit of Pharaoh. Now he would show them a better way. They were to listen to him and follow his directions. They would be living in his presence and under his protection. He said, “I AM Yahweh, your healer.” Yahweh would heal them by renewing their minds so that they would be able to understand the will of Yahweh for their lives.

After the left the sweet water of Mariah they came to twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees at Elim and set up camp. Seventy symbolizes perfect spiritual order carried out with all power – or great fullness. Twelve symbolizes Yahweh’s power and authority or blessing and care for Israel.[51]

Summary of chapter 15

Moses and the Israelites sang a song of praise to Yahweh for their miraculous escape celebrating the power of Yahweh, magnificently demonstrated in the wreckage of Pharaoh and his army. Their song expressed their conviction that Yahweh was their forte and defender. They sang of the events that were the defeat of Egypt; and re-counted how Egypt had planned the devastation of the people of Yahweh. The song praised Yahweh for his perfect character and amazing works. They included a prediction of the effect the account of the destruction of the Egyptian arms would have on other nations and that the nation of Israel would be established in the Promised Land. Miriam and the women lengthened the chorus. The people traveled three days in the wilderness of Shur, and found no water. When they got to Marah the water was bitter and they murmured against Moses. Moses prayed and Yahweh showed him a tree that sweetened the water when Moses threw a branch of it in. Yahweh gave Israel orders and compassionate assurances. They camped at Elim, where they found twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees.

Prayer: Lord, we like to sing the song of Moses because it reminds us of your gracious munificence. I love you, Yahweh. You make me strong. You are bedrock under my feet and the castle in which I live. You are my rescuing knight; my God and the high crag where I run for dear life, hiding behind the boulders, and safe in the granite hideout.
I sing to my God, the Praise-Lofty, and find myself safe and saved.
The hangman’s noose was tight at my throat; devil waters rushed over me. Hell’s ropes cinched me tight; and death traps barred every exit. It is a hostile world! I called to you to help me. You heard me cry and brought me right into your presence—a private audience!
You made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before you. When I got my act together you gave me a fresh start. Now I’m alert to your ways. I don’t take you for granted. Every day I review the ways you work and try not to miss a trick. I feel put back together, and I’m watching my step. You rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to your eyes.

 

 

Things to think about

  1. Why do you think that great company of people stopped to sing after the traumatic experience of being chased by the whole Egyptian army?
  2. Think about where the Israelites were and where they’d come from. They had houses in Egypt and steady jobs. They were the property of Pharaoh and looked down on by the Egyptian people as nothing but slaves but their status had been raised by Moses and Aaron’s dealings with Pharaoh and the resulting miracles. They only knew where they were going from the stories of their ancestors. Would you be singing?
  3. What did the song of Moses say about the mood of the people at this juncture in their journey and why Moses would have stopped to write a song and lead the people in singing?
  4. Why do you think Moses started the song with this line: “I’m singing my heart out toGod—what a victory!”?
  5. Why did the song express Israel’s dependence on Yahweh?
  6. Why do you think the narrator told the reader about Mariam’s role in promoting the song?
  7. Do you think any of the Israelites understood the significance of what they were going through? What does it mean to you that they traveled in community, tasted bitterness together, had their bitterness turned into sweetness together, and camped under the shade of those seventy palm trees together?

 

 

Chapter 16

It is so easy to complain about everything and blame others when things don’t go exactly the way we think they should. We eat meals that we take for granted and forget that we are blessed to have them. We even bow our heads and say words that are supposed to honor Yahweh – and never give him a single thought through the whole process. We idolize the past while we complain about the present and forgetting the anxieties of the past, we exaggerate the concerns of the present. The people who left slavery in Egypt and escaped the army of Pharaoh at the Red Sea; had seen Yahweh perform miracles through Moses and Aaron. We might expect that they would be happy and contented but human nature is such that we balk at any inconvenience. These stories about Israel are samples of our own natural behavior. We also have illustrations of how renewing our minds to the standards of Yahweh’s image will transform our attitudes. We know that attitude dictates whether the circumstances of our lives will be stumbling stones to defeat or stepping stones to victory.

Two months and fifteen days after Israel left Egypt they left Elim. They had been camping under the palm trees midst springs of water and traveling in the wilderness again made them grumpy. They started finding fault with Moses and Aaron again asking why their God didn’t just let them die in comfort in Egypt where they had plenty to eat. The “good old days” always seem so much better than they actually were. We like to remember the days of our youth when everything was so much better. We remember lying around in the sun and conveniently forget how cold it was getting to the outhouse in winter or trying to read by candlelight. Israel forgot how the whip felt on their backs when they didn’t produce enough bricks for their Egyptian taskmasters. They also forgot the miracles at the Red Sea and Mariah.

Yahweh demonstrated his great mercy and grace again by raining bread down from the sky. He gave them instructions about how they were to gather it and explained what would happen if they didn’t do it right. Yahweh said he was going to test the people to see if they would live according to his directions. Since Yahweh is omniscient we know that he already knew who would and would not follow his directions. The test was to reveal his people’s characters to themselves.

Moses told the people that they would have another demonstration of who their God, Yahweh, was when they saw his glory in the cloud of quail that landed before them in the evening; and the bread that fell from the sky and covered the ground in the morning. He pointed out that it was Yahweh they were complaining against because it was Yahweh that supplied their every need. The lesson for us is that, when we complain and grouch because things in this life don’t go our way, we would be advised to remember that our God, Yahweh, is our provider and the banner over our lives. When we bellyache because of the rain that is falling we forget that without rain everything would die. When we grumble about the cold in the winter and the heat in summer we forget that both are necessary for life on this earth.

Moses ordered Aaron to tell the people to come near to their God, Yahweh, because he heard their complaints. Aaron instructed the people and they turned toward the inhospitable surroundings before them and there was the magnificence of their God visible in a cloud of quail.

Yahweh had told Moses that he heard the complaints of the people and they would eat meat at night and the ground would be covered with bread for them to eat each morning. True to his word, Yahweh sent quail that covered the camp at evening and every morning when the dew lifted off the ground it left a fine flaky substance in its wake. Moses explained to the people that it was the bread Yahweh sent them and they were to gather enough for everyone in their tent to eat.

Quite often when Yahweh supplies what we actually need we don’t recognize it and try to plan how to get what we assume we need without checking with our Guide and Counselor. It is only in retrospect that we see our God’s provision with clear eyes.

Moses gave the people instructions so they went to work and started gathering their morning meal. Some gathered more than others but when it was measure out they discovered that everyone had just what they needed – no more and no less.

Moses told them not to leave any of it till morning but some of the men kept back some for the next morning and it got worms and smelled bad. Preparing for the future isn’t always a bad thing but following instructions is essential for accomplishing anything in life. When the instructions are from Yahweh it is doubly important to follow them to the tee if we want achievement. As Paul told the Corinthians, “You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.”[52]

The people were instructed to gather twice as much on the sixth day so they would have some for the seventh day. This was another lesson for them. There wouldn’t be anything to gather on the seventh day because they were to remember that Yahweh had rested from his work of creation when it was complete and the number of completion is seven. Therefore, Yahweh stipulated that the seventh day should be a memorial day.[53]

When the leaders reported to Moses he reminded them that the seventh day was the day of rest because it was consecrated to Yahweh “Know this: [Yahweh] is God, and God [Yahweh]. He made us; we didn’t make him. We’re his people, his well-tended sheep.”[54] Moses told the people that they should prepare their seventh day food on the sixth day. The only time the bread didn’t get wormy and smell when they kept if overnight was what was kept for the seventh day. There were some who didn’t prepare for the seventh day and went out to get their bread but didn’t find any. The Spirit of Yahweh, through Moses, reminded the errant ones that the seventh day was to be devoted to remembering the he was their Creator who had ceased his work of creation when it was completed and set aside the seventh day in honor of that fact. They were to stay home on the seventh day and not do any work. Self- discipline is the most important and hardest kind of instruction. It is a lot easier to tell others what they ought to be doing than to regulate our own actions.

Yahweh told Moses to keep a jar of the bread for future generations to see how he fed his people in the wilderness. Moses told Aaron and Aaron put some in a jar and saved it for an object lesson for future generations, along with his rod. The bread didn’t spoil the way what the people gathered out of disobedience did. “Moses fed our ancestors with bread in the desert. It says so in the Scriptures: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Jesus responded, “The real significance of that Scripture is not that Moses gave you bread from heaven but that my Father is right now offering you bread from heaven, the real bread. The Bread of God came down out of heaven and is giving life to the world.” They jumped at that: “Master, give us this bread, now and forever!” Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life.”[55]

The narrator related here that the Israelites ate the manna for forty years – all the time of their wandering – until they reached the Promised Land.

Summary of chapter 16

The Israelites looked around them and didn’t see anything handy to eat. They started talking to each other about the need for food and, as is the usual case with human nature in control, one thing led to another until they were agreeing that their leader was not only in the wrong for not supplying them with a speedy meal, but must have brought them out of Egypt into the desert to die.

Yahweh heard their petulant carping and told them that he was going to give them quail to eat that night and manna every morning. He did just as he said he would but he also gave the people rules for gathering the manna. When some of the people didn’t follow his instructions they discovered that he kept his word about what the result of noncompliance with the rules would be too.

Prayer: Lord, your glory is on tour in the skies, Yahweh-craft on exhibit across the horizon. Madame Day holds classes every morning, Professor Night lectures each evening. Their words aren’t heard, their voices aren’t recorded, but their silence fills the earth: unspoken truth is spoken everywhere. You make a huge dome for the sun—a superdome! The morning sun is like a new husband leaping from his honeymoon bed. The sun at daybreak is like an athlete racing to the tape. That’s how your word vaults across the skies from sunrise to sunset. It melts ice and scorches deserts, warming hearts to faith. Your revelation is whole and pulls my life together. Your signposts are clear and point out the right road for me to travel. Your life-maps are right. They show me the way to joy. Your directions are plain and easy on my eyes. Your reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee. Your decisions are accurate down to the nth degree. Your Word is better than a diamond – better than a diamond set between emeralds. I like it better than strawberries in spring – better than red, ripe strawberries. What is more, your Word warns me of danger and directs me to hidden treasure. Otherwise how would I find my way? – Or how can I know when I play the fool? Clean the slate, my God, so I can start the day fresh! Keep me from stupid sins, from thinking I can take over your work; then I can start this day sun-washed, scrubbed clean of the grime of sin. These are the words in my mouth; these are what I chew on and pray. Accept them when I place them on the morning altar, O Yahweh, my Altar-Rock, God, Priest-of-My-Altar.

 

 

 

Things to think about

  1. How do you think attitude affected the way the Israelites reacted to the lack of food in the wilderness?
  2. What do you think would have made a difference in the attitude of the Israelites?
  3. What do you grumble about? Who are you bellyaching about?
  4. Do you think that when Moses told the Israelites their belligerent attitude was against Yahweh it made a difference in their attitude?
  5. Why do you think some of the Israelites didn’t gather twice as much manna on the sixth day?
  6. Why do you think Yahweh wanted Israel to honor the seventh day out there in the wilderness?
  7. Who is the Bread of Life? Why did he identify himself that way?

 

 

Chapter 17

The cloud and fire of his Presence led that great company of the descendants of Israel and the group that followed them out of Egypt. They moved slowly but surely through the Rugged, hilly territory of the Wilderness if Sin. They traveled in country that was barren, covered in tumbleweed, with prickly places to navigate. Therefore, the Wilderness of Sin is bordered by a place of refuge and a place that suggested they were facing a lot of misery.

When they camped at Rephidim there with no water in sight, they sent their leaders to Moses to demand that he do something about the situation. Moses accused them of testing Yahweh to see if he would give them another miracle. The people begin to grumble again, accusing Moses accusing him of dragging them out into the desert with their children and animals to die. We could wonder what was the matter with those people that, after all Yahweh had done for them, they could still grumble and complain because they didn’t have water. We could wonder, that is, until we remember how easy it is for us to grumble and complain with far less reason. I had a friend who grumbled and complained as much as I did, so we made a deal – when one of us started to complain the other would stop the complainer in her tracks until we broke the habit. Habits are hard to break – especially the bad ones – but it worked. Human nature needs a lot of self-discipline in the best of circumstances; and a dearth of food or water is lower than most of us have ever been.

Moses panicked. He went to Yahweh and cried out for help. He was afraid the people were going to kill him in their craze for water. Moses was a man who Yahweh had been preparing for this for over eighty years, but Yahweh still had lessons for him. Yahweh’s lessons are meant for more than one man though; he used Moses to teach us today. The lesson here is that when we wait until life gives us something to panic about before we go to Yahweh for guidance it makes the run a lot harder. The writer to the Hebrews said, ” Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins.”[56]

Yahweh was ready. He told Moses to take some of the elders with him to a rock at Mt. Horeb. He told him to use the staff that he used to strike the Nile River and make the water undrinkable for the Egyptians and strike the rock to give the Israelites drinkable water. He told Moses that he was going to be present before Moses and the elders and water would gush out of the rock for Israel to drink.

The smitten rock is an illustration of the Rock of our salvation[57]. John recorded Yeshua as saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says.”[58]

The elders of Israel watched as Moses obeyed Yahweh’s instructions. According to studylight commentaries “… the mighty issue of the waters provided water for Israel throughout the years following this event.”[59] Moses gave the place two names: “Testing Place”, and “Quarreling” because the Israelites had asked whether or not Yahweh was there with them after all.

Both Moses and the people he led learned something about their God and when Amalek came against them in battle Moses told them later, “Don’t forget what Amalek did to you on the road after you left Egypt, how he attacked you when you were tired, barely able to put one foot in front of another, mercilessly cut off your stragglers, and had no regard for God.”[60] From that we are reminded that Israel was tired and discouraged when Amalek attracted them.

Moses ordered Joshua to select men to go fight Amalek. Joshua/Yeshua means Yahweh is salvation. Moses named – the man he ordered to select and command a militia group to fight for Israel – Yahweh is salvation. And then he said the he would stand on the top of the hill holding Yahweh’s staff – the staff that turned the Nile River to blood, split the Red Sea for Israel to walk through, and split the rock that gushed water for them to drink. On the morrow that staff would direct the battle with another enemy.

Joshua obeyed Moses’ instructions and the following day Moses, Aaron, and Hur ascended the hill and Moses raised the staff high. As long as his arms were raised with the staff of Yahweh Israel was winning the battle, but when he got tired and dropped his arms Israel begin to lose the battle. Moses sat on a stone and Aaron and Hur held his arms up until the sun went down and Joshua defeated Amalek. His lifted hand with the staff of Yahweh displayed displayed the power and authority of Yahweh.

Moses was a record keeper and Yahweh told Moses to make an entry of what had just occurred and promised to wipe even the memory of the Amalek off the face of the earth. Moses built an altar and called it Yahweh, my banner. A banner was a symbol of the cause for which an army fought. The name Moses gave to the altar he built would remind the Israelites that they were Yahweh’s soldiers and the fight was for the cause of their God and not their own glorification. Paul told Timothy to fight the good fight of faith and explained that we don’t fight against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers in high places, so we know that we can’t start or fight our own battles. The only battles worth fighting are the ones that are directed by Yahweh. It is too easy for human nature to start their own wars and declare that “God is on our side.” It is wiser to put our efforts toward being on Yahweh’s side. Our God is not a genie in a bottle to be at our beck and call.

Moses said that the Israelites should salute Yahweh’s rule; and the message is for us today as well as as our predecessors. We should honor and respect his command with praise and thanksgiving.

Summary of chapter 17

Two episodes of story are recorded in this chapter. First Israel needed water and their leaders approached Moses for a solution. Moses didn’t have one and eventually cried out to Yahweh for help. Yahweh ordered Moses to strike the rock with his staff with the elders of Israel in attendance so they could tell the people where their water came from. Moses obeyed and water gushed out of the rock from it. The second incident was the battle with Amalek. The Battle was won when Moses held the staff – a symbol of Yahweh’s victory and power – high. When the battle was over Moses built an altar to Yahweh reminding the Israelite people that Yahweh was their Commander-in-chief and their loyalty should always be to him. Yahweh told Moses to make a record of the battle and the Amalekite injustice.

Prayer: Lord, When I was frightened I remember how sick it made me – and how long it took me to trust you enough to realize that you love me and my loved ones more than I do and you do all things well. Sometimes when we are judging the Israelites for not trusting you after all the wonderful miracles you preformed first- hand in their presence we forget two things. We forget all the wonderful things we have witnessed first-hand about you; and we forget that all have sinned and come short of your glory. Help me to always remember to salute your power and majesty in everything. And blessed be your precious, holy name, Yahweh, both now and forever.

 

 

Things to think about

  1. What would you do if you were traveling through rough terrain with your family and animals and you couldn’t find water?
  2. Do you think that Yahweh told Moses to strike the rock so they would know that “God helps those who help themselves”?

3 What did Moses strike the rock with?

  1. What was the significance of the staff of Yahweh?
  2. Why do you think Moses held that staff up during the battle with Amalek?
  3. Why do you think Israel won the battle as long as Moses held the staff high?
  4. What does it mean to salute Yahweh’s rule?

 

 

Chapter 18

The narrator again reminds us that Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, was the Priest of Midian. He represented the gods of Midian for the people but when he heard what Yahweh did for Israel he admitted that he is greater than all the other gods.

He sent a message ahead that he was coming with Moses’ family and Moses met him with a kiss – the traditional greeting of respect. They got their small talk over with and then Moses related all that Yahweh had done for the nation of Israel – delivering them from all their troubles.

Yahweh had told Moses that he would use Pharaoh to put himself on display at the Red Sea. The news spread to the people all around and Jethro’s declaration that Yahweh is sovereign is an indication that all the people in that area at that time at least suspected that the God of Israel is supreme.

The narrator explained that Jethro had brought Moses’ wife and two sons to him. We are reminded of the meaning of their names; Sojourner and Eliezer (because he said, “The God of my fathers was my helper.”) so Jethro already knew that Moses worshiped Yahweh.

The narrator tells us that Jethro was pleased about all that Yahweh had done for Israel and declared him to be better than all others. “Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a Whole-Burnt-Offering and sacrifices to God. And Aaron, along with all the elders of Israel, came and ate the meal with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God.”[61]

The following day when Moses positioned himself as Israel’s judge with individuals approaching him all day with questions about Yahweh Jethro was dumbfounded. He asked Moses why he was doing it all by himself. Moses explained that he made judgments between neighbors and taught them God’s laws and instructions. Jethro had experience to share with his son-in-law. He told him not to try to operate alone. He admitted that it was important for Moses to be there for the people and that it was Moses’ responsibility to teach his people and show them how to live. However, he should look for capable men to help him who revered Yahweh. He told Moses he should appoint them as leaders. First there should be men over thousands and, under them there should be leaders over hundreds. Under the leaders of hundreds should be leaders of fifty and on down to leaders of ten. These leaders would be responsible for the everyday judging and they would bring the hard cases to Moses. He would be the Supreme Court and that would make it easier for him and he would have the strength to do whatever Yahweh commanded him to do. It would be good for both Moses and the people in his care.

Moses saw the value in what his father-in-law said and did as he instructed. Since we know that this isn’t chronological history we don’t know if this happened before or after the law was recorded in what we call the book of Leviticus.

Matthew Henry[62] said that Moses was explaining the laws of nature to the people. Another thing we must remember is that Moses was a servant of Yahweh functioning as his lawgiver and judge among his (Yahweh’s) people. In spite of the fact that he had been afraid the people were going to kill him when they were angry at him, he was still always available to service them. He is a good example of what Isaiah 40:31 tells us – “But those who wait upon [Yahweh] get fresh strength.     They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don’t get tired,     they walk and don’t lag behind.”

The advice Jethro gave Moses was sound. Paul told the Corinthians that the way Yahweh designed our bodies is a model for understanding good government.[63] Moses listened to good counsel and his father-in-law must have stayed around to help and encouragement because it wasn’t until after the government was organized and functioning well that Jethro went back to his own country.

Yahweh was the head of that great body of his chosen people. Every member of a body has its own function that allows the whole body to function well. Yahweh gave all the members his image so that every member was equipped to reflect his character. Not every member was equipped to be a leader and not every member who was equipped to lead was capable of leading under the authority of Yahweh. Moses was equipped and appointed by Yahweh to lead that great body of people but he had to be willing for others to share the burden. If he had been less of a man then he was he might not have been willing to let go of the power associated with leadership, but he realized that he was first and foremost the servant of the living God to the people of his God, Yahweh. This wasn’t recorded here just so that we could read a good story about how Moses reacted to Jethro’s advice. These stories are recorded so that we can learn something more about our God, Yahweh. He not only created us in his image so that we would have the character and intelligence to represent Yahweh to the world around us; but he equipped us to do the task that he chose each individual for. He didn’t choose and equip all of us to be leaders. He chose some of us to other undertakings, but we are all called to be faithful and obedient to him.

Summary of chapter 18

Jethro heard, along with everyone else in the area, about how Yahweh had rescued Israel from the Egyptians and gave them food and water in the desert. He sent a message ahead and then he gathered Moses’ wife and sons and headed for the wilderness where Moses was camped. After he and Moses talked and Moses related all that had happened since they last met Jethro declared Yahweh sovereign over everyone and everything; and sacrificed to him. The following day when he saw how Moses was trying to be the total government of the people of Israel, Jethro advised him to set up government where the responsibility was shared to replace his attempt to teach and judge everyone all by his self.

Prayer: Thank You, Yahweh. You deserve my gratitude because your love never ends. You are the God of all gods, and your love never ends. I praise you, Lord of all lords. Your love never ceases. You are the miracle-working God, and your love never stops. You are the God whose skill formed the cosmos, and your love never ceases. You are the God who laid out earth on ocean foundations, and your love never lapses. You are the God who filled the skies with light, and your love is eternal. You give the sun to watch over the day, because your love is unending. You give the moon and stars as guardians of the night, because your love is immeasurable. You are the God who struck down the Egyptian firstborn, and your love is never-ending. You rescued Israel from Egypt’s oppression, because your love is extreme. You took Israel in hand with your powerful hand, because your love is incalculable. You split the Red Sea right in half, because your love is powerful. You led Israel right through the middle, because your love is almighty. You dumped Pharaoh and his army in the sea, because your love is my deliverance. You are the God who marched your people through the desert, and your love is sustaining. You remember us when are down, and your love is endless. You take care of everyone in time of need because you love never abandons anyone. Thank you, Yahweh, you do all things well because of your great unending love.[64]

 

 

Things to think about

  1. Think about how much the word spread about Yahweh and his activities in Egypt and what he did for Israel in the wilderness. Do you think the word about him spreads as easily in today’s society?
  2. What do we want the world around us to know about our God, Yahweh?
  3. The Israelites didn’t have the power of the Holy Spirit living in them to help them reflect Yahweh’s character and power to the world around them. Does the presence of the Holy Spirit help you to make your life an effective testimony to your God? What does the fruit of the Spirit have to do with an effective testimony?
  4. What lesson for you and I do you think is in the story of Moses trying to do all the work by his self?
  5. What do you think that motive has to do with what we do for Yahweh? How do you think it effects whether or not we get “burned out” in our efforts to work in the kingdom?
  6. Moses was called by Yahweh to lead his people but he didn’t push himself forward and insist that no one but him could do the job well enough. He shared the burden and, in doing so, shared the power that came with the burden. Do you think that was easy for him?
  7. Do you and I have to be leaders to be effective laborers for the Kingdom of Yahweh?

 

 

 

Chapter 19

Moses recorded the time line here because it established the fact that there were fifty days from Passover to Pentecost – the giving of the law. Rashi said that it was “on this day” – the day of the New Moon. It should be looked on every day as though it were fresh and new. The law is never old.

When Israel entered the Wilderness of Sinai they camped before the mountain. According to Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown “the “desert of Sinai” is that wild and desolate region which occupies the very center of the peninsula, comprising the lofty range to which the mount of God belongs. It is a wilderness of shaggy rocks of porphyry and red granite, and of valleys for the most part bare of verdure.”[65] He described Israel’s camping ground as a long flat valley about a quarter of a mile wide with plenty of springs.

Moses went up to meet Yahweh who called down to him to remind Israel what he did in Egypt and how he cared for Israel as carefully as an eagle carries her young on her wings where they will be safe from the arrows of man. Yahweh reminded Israel that he didn’t just bring them out of bondage in Egypt to go their own way. They were his chosen people before they sojourned in Egypt and they were his chosen people in Egypt. He re-established the covenant he had made with Israel’s fathers in the Land of Promise. It is always easy to forget that the whole Earth belongs to its Creator, Yahweh; so he reminded Israel of that fact. And then Yahweh reminded Israel again that they were special. They were set apart as a nation of spiritual sovereigns, as Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown put it.

Israel’s part in their contract with Yahweh was to function within its terms and if they did, Yahweh said, they would be his special treasure, a standard for the whole world.

Moses returned to the camp and called the elders together so he could relate to them what Yahweh had said. They, in turn, told the people who said that they would do whatever Yahweh told them to do. Moses took their answer back to Yahweh. As Rashi pointed out, Moses didn’t need to tell Yahweh what the people said so that Yahweh would know. Yahweh knew what they said with their mouths and what their hearts were like. He knew that the human Character is flawed so badly that we can’t but fall short. Moses had to return to Yahweh and give him the people’s answer for his own benefit. Talking to Yahweh strengthens our relationship with him because it keeps him close to our hearts.

Yahweh told Moses to get ready to talk to him in front of the people. They would see a thick cloud and hear the voice of their God, Yahweh as he spoke to Moses, and then they would know firsthand that the one Moses was talking to was magnificent and awe inspiring, a God to be cherished and submitted to. The Israelites were to see their King in his majesty.

Yahweh told Moses to go to his people and, in the next two days, get them ready to meet their God. As Rashi said, it was a time of repentance. They things they were to do in outward appearance were a symbol of inner cleansing and preparation. When they were ready Yahweh would make his presence known to them. They weren’t allowed to try to climb up to him. Our God, Yahweh, is too high and lofty for us to climb up to. The law would show Israel that this was the case, but they were getting acquainted with him here and needed his majesty demonstrated in the boundary around the mountain and the admonition not to try to climb up to reach Yahweh in their own strength.

Moses was told that he would hear a long blast from the horn to signal him that it was safe to climb the mountain.

Moses relayed the instructions to the people and they got ready to meet their God, Yahweh.

The third day erupted with a clap of thunder, flashing lightning and a tremendous long loud blast from the ram’s horn out of an opaque cloud that covered the mountain.

Moses led the Israelites out of camp to meet their God, Yahweh and they stood at attention and trembled with awe at the demonstration of his power and glory.

The mountain was ablaze with the powerfulness of Yahweh demonstrating himself as a consuming fire to the transgressions of his law. The Israelites saw the mountain pulsate before them and the sound of the ram’s horn steadily increased. When Moses spoke to Yahweh he answered in thunder. He descended the summit of the mountain and Moses climbed up to meet him.

Yahweh told Moses to go down and warn the people again not to try to break through the obstructions to get a look at their God. He said that not even the priests should try to get close but should prepare themselves for a holy meeting. Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown say that this was “a course adopted to heighten the impressive solemnity of the scene. The strict injunctions renewed to all, whatever their condition, at a time and in circumstances when the whole multitude of Israel were standing at the base of the mount, was calculated in the highest degree to solemnize and awe every heart.”[66]

Moses objected. Reminding Yahweh that he had already told the people and posted boundaries but his God insisted that he declare the limits again. He instructed him to bring Aaron back with him, but to make sure the priests and population as a whole wouldn’t try to break through.

 

 

Summary of chapter 19

The children of Israel departed from Rephidim and camped in the wilderness of Sinai at the foot of the mountain. Moses went up into the mount to Yahweh and received a message which he delivered to the people before the elders. The people promised obedience to Yahweh. Yahweh proposes to meet Moses in the cloud. He charged Moses with sanctifying the people, and pledged to come down visibly on Mount Sinai on the third day. He ordered him also to set boundaries to prevent the people or any of the cattle from touching the mount, on pain destruction. Moses went down and conveyed Yahweh’s message to the elders who, in turn, instructed the people under their care. The third day was presented itself attended by seeing the mountain shrouded in a dense cloud, along with loud thunder, flashes of lightning, and the increasingly intense sound of the trumpet. The people were deeply impressed by this demonstration of the majesty of their God, Yahweh – the great I AM.

After Israel left Egypt,
the clan of Jacob left those barbarians behind;
Judah became holy land for him,
Israel the place of holy rule.
Sea took one look and ran the other way;
River Jordan turned around and ran off.
The mountains turned playful and skipped like rams,
the hills frolicked like spring lambs.
What’s wrong with you, Sea, that you ran away?
and you, River Jordan, that you turned and ran off?
And mountains, why did you skip like rams?
and you, hills, frolic like spring lambs?
Tremble, Earth! You’re in the Lord’s presence!
in the presence of Jacob’s God.
He turned the rock into a pool of cool water,
turned flint into fresh spring water.”[67]

Prayer: My God, you are indispensable and your law is eternal. You said that the whole law is contained in the statement that we should love you with all our feeling, concentration and desire and love every other human being as much and in the same way that we love and care for ourselves. We adore and worship you out of appreciation for your love and care for us. We demonstrate our love for others by reflecting your character in our actions as we put their needs ahead of our desires. I have been chosen for a life of love so I will dress in the wardrobe you picked out for me: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, and discipline. I will be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. I will forgive as quickly and completely as you, my Master, forgave me. And regardless of what else I put on, I will wear love. It’s my basic, all-purpose garment and I’ll never be without it. I’ll let the peace of Christ keep me in tune with others. None of this going off and doing my own thing. I will cultivate thankfulness and let your Word have the run of my mind. I’ll give it plenty of room in my life. Instruct and direct others using good common sense. And I’ll sing my heart out to you. I shall let every detail in my life—every word, every action—be done in your name, thanking you my Father every step of the way.[68]

 

 

Things to think about

  1. Why do you think it mattered that there were fifty days between Passover and the day Yahweh gave the law to the Israelites?
  2. What did Rashi mean when he said the law was new every day?
  3. Why did the people of Israel need to stop and remember how Yahweh had cared for them in Egypt while he was bringing judgment on the Egyptians?
  4. Why is it important to remember that the earth is Yahweh’s and everything in it? Does remembering that make it easier to live closer to the image Yahweh created us to reflect?
  5. What does it mean to be Yahweh’s special treasure?
  6. Were the Israelites able to keep their part of their contract with Yahweh? Why?
  7. What did the Israelites learn about Yahweh’s character through the images and sounds from the mountain?

 

 

Chapter 20

The people were prepared to hear from their God, Yahweh. They had spent the three days previous absorbed with getting ready to hear from him. They had been warned about trying to get too close to his presence because their God was so far above them in both power and moral character that they were incapable of reaching his glory. When Yahweh spoke, it further emphasized that fact.

Yahweh had created humans with his own image but it was contaminated with self-absorption. Then, as now, human understanding of right and wrong was confused, tentative, and often corrupted and depraved.

Yahweh spoke to the great company at the foot of the mountain and reminded them who he was to them, that day – the God who brought them out of slavery in Egypt. He reminded them of his power and mercy and the he was Yahweh, their God. He was the third person of the verb heyah “To Be”. Whether in the first or third person the word expresses our God as THE (one and only) Self-existent One responsible for all existence including his own –the great I AM.

As David Guzik says, “The first commandment logically flowed from understanding who God was and what He had done for Israel. Because of that, nothing was to come before God and He was the only God we worship and serve.”[69] It has always been tempting to worship the gods of materialism – Baal in the ancient world was the god of weather and financial success; and sex – Ashtoreth in the ancient world was the goddess of sex, romance, and reproduction; and many more local deities. Modern society doesn’t give these gods their old fashioned names because humans are much too sophisticated to worship gods – but modern human nature worships the method and outcome nonetheless. Human nature is such that we constantly put all sorts of things before our worship of our God, Yahweh – even so called “Christian work”. It is easy to: work for the night is coming,” instead of being still and allowing Yahweh to be in control of our lives. It is easy to forget to stop and let Yahweh lead instead of surging ahead to get what we assume is important work done and expecting our God to follow and bless our efforts.

Yahweh made sure that his people knew that he is a spirit and must be worshiped in spirit and in truth[70]. He reminded his people again that they were not to worship anyone or anything but him when he told them not to make any images to worship; but he was also reminded them not to trade the glory of their God, Yahweh, who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand.[71] He reminded them that if they were loyal to him, he would be loyal to them. As Paul told the Romans, “So [Yahweh] said, in effect, “If that’s what you want, that’s what you get.” It wasn’t long before they were living in a pigpen, smeared with filth, filthy inside and out. And all this because they traded the true God for a fake god, and worshiped the god they made instead of the God who made them—the God we bless, the God who blesses us. Oh, yes!”[72]

Yahweh’s name is righteousness itself so if his people used it flippantly without reverence or with contempt it would be the highest insult to the one who should have been treated with the highest respect. David Guzik says this; “There are at least three ways this command is commonly disobeyed.

Profanity: Using the name of God in blasphemy and cursing.

Frivolity: Using the name of God in a superficial, stupid way.

Hypocrisy: Claiming the name of God but acting in a way that disgraces Him”[73]

When someone talks about “God” with authority and misrepresents his character and will they aren’t taking his name in vain literally but they are certainly breaking the spirit of the law since they think Yahweh’s name is God. They don’t “swear” and criticize those who do and in doing so they, themselves, break the third commandment.

“By the seventh day [Yahweh] had finished his work. On the seventh day he rested from all his work. God blessed the seventh day. He made it a Holy Day because on that day he rested from his work, all the creating God had done. This is the story of how it all started, of Heaven and Earth when they were created.”[74] “We must remind ourselves again that this book was written for the ancient decedents of Israel and go back and see how the people of that time and space would think. John Walton is a student of ancient cosmology and a professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College. He says[75]  the people whom Moses was writing to would have understood the account of the seventh day of rest to be a temple text and consider it to be the most important of the seven days. To the ancients rest resulted when a crisis was resolved. Rest would be a matter of engagement without obstacles as opposed to our definition of disengagement without responsibilities.”[76] The Sabbath existed when it had a role to function in an ordered system. The cosmos is Yahweh’s temple and the seventh day functions to celebrate his completed work of creating his dwelling place.

The seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh – a day of rest, delight, and renewal. He set it apart when he ceased from the work of creation. Yahweh instructed the Israelites to show fundamental humanity and dignity to women, slaves, and strangers by giving them the same right to a day of rest as the free Israeli man on the seventh day. The Sabbath is a picture of the eternal rest we have in Yahweh through faith in the finished work of Yeshua. As the writer to the Hebrews said; there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of Yahweh.[77]

Yahweh created all the other functionaries of the cosmos – his temple – for humans; but he gave humans the purpose of bearing his image so that we would be equipped to reflect his image to the other functionaries in his temple. The function of parents is to propagate the human race whose function is to manifest the image of Yahweh in his temple, the universe. The law was written for people who had the unflawed image of their creator. In a perfect universe parents deserve honor because they are Yahweh’s method for the propagation of the human race whose purpose it is to be present as his image in his creation. That image is corrupted in all of us so we are to honor spirit of who our parents are and not their ability or inability to perform their jobs as parents to our satisfaction. The promise is that if the Israelites honored their parents they would live long in the Promises Land. The Israelites ability to be deferential in word and action and value their parent’s position would naturally determine how they felt about their God, Yahweh and his right to orchestrate their lives.

Yeshua explained murder to the people of his day when he said, “You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.”[78] Murder’ therefor, is the result of unrestrained anger. Paul said that anger resides in the bosom of fools[79]. James said that the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of Yahweh[80]. Murder is ultimately the destruction of Yahweh’s image. It originates in the heart of the murderer and results in the extermination another individual human being who was created in the image of his God, Yahweh.

Yeshua said, “You know the next commandment pretty well, too: ‘Don’t go to bed with another’s spouse.’ But don’t think you’ve preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks you think nobody notices—they also corrupt”[81]. Yahweh created man male and female. He gave them their function as one, not divided[82]. Yeshua said, “Haven’t you read in your Bible that the Creator originally made man and woman for each other, male and female? And because of this, a man leaves father and mother and is firmly bonded to his wife, becoming one flesh—no longer two bodies but one. Because God created this organic union of the two sexes, no one should desecrate his art by cutting them apart.”[83] Adultery destroys the perfect artwork of the creator, our God, Yahweh.

Yahweh is our creator and sustainer. He always supplies all of our needs in his time, in his way. It is an insult to his ability to care for us, his love for us and his right to give to others when we decide to take it upon ourselves to take what belongs to someone else.

Yeshua said that he was the truth[84] and he is the exact representation of the Father, Yahweh[85] so if we lie about our neighbor we are lying about Yahweh’s image and insulting the one who is truth itself. Truth is that which is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory, and being of God. It is is the self-expression of God.

Lust is a strong desire to have something that the one with the desirer doesn’t have a right to. The desire to have something other than what Yahweh gives has to be greater than the desire for the love and will of our God. In order to lust after something we have to ignore Yahweh’s authority in our lives. Yahweh’s presence is worth more than any object or experience we can possess in our wildest dreams.

The Israelites had been listening to Yahweh through the trumpet blasts, the thunder, with flashes of lightning all around them. Now they pulled back from the smoking mountain and stood away. What Yahweh had been saying would have gone a long way toward illustrating his holiness without the fire that he spoke from or the other noises and sounds that accompanied his words. They told Moses to go speak to Yahweh and come tell them what he said. If they heard anymore words directly from Yahweh they would be sure to die. After all, their feet were made of clay and their characters were flawed. They knew that they couldn’t live up to Yahweh’s standard.

Moses told them not to be afraid because Yahweh had come to prove to them what they were capable of and saturate their souls with profound and worshipful awe that would keep them from transgressing.

The Israelites stayed back and Moses approached Yahweh in the dense cloud where he got a message for the community. He said to tell the Israelites that they had experienced first-hand how he spoke to them from lofty heights. He reminded them again not to make material gods of silver or gold and align them as gods with him

He instructed the Israelites to make him and altar from the earth to sacrifice whole burnt offerings of sheep and cattle. He told them that each location where he told them his name should be honored and worshiped he would be there himself and bless them. If they were to use stones to make his altar they should be natural stones that no chisel or any other tool profaned; and no steps to climb because that would make a public display of their weakness.  We can’t climb up to Yahweh, he stoops down to us.

Summary of chapter 20

Yahweh reminded Israel who he was and of his love and care for them before stating the ten things that would set them apart and show them the way to live so they could avoid sin. First Yahweh warned his people against any kind of idolatry next he warned them against making and worshipping images whether it was an imagined concept of him or anything or anybody else. Thirdly he warned them against against irreverent use of his name. Then he reminded them to celebrate the Sabbath. Then he warned them against murder, adultery, stealing, perjury and covetousness. The people were alarmed at the powerful appearance of Yahweh and noise on the mountain and moved away. They asked Moses to be mediator between Yahweh and them. Moses encouraged them and drew near to the thick darkness where he communed with Yahweh. Yahweh repeated his directions against idolatry and gave instructions for making and altar for their whole burnt offerings.

Prayer: I love you Yahweh. You are my strength. Your law is perfect and restores my soul. Your teachings are right and bring joy to my heart. Your commandment is pure and gives me understanding.

 

 

Things to think about

  1. Why did Yahweh have to remind Israel who he was before he said anything else? Do you and I have to be reminded who Yahweh is and what he is and has been to us?
  2. Is there “only one God” so it doesn’t matter what we believe about him? Why do you think Yahweh had to make a distinction between his self and the gods created by humans?
  3. What are some of the gods that you and I are tempted to place above or alongside of our God, Yahweh in importance in our lives?
  4. What do you think Yeshua meant when he said that Yahweh is a spirit and must be worshiped in spirit and in truth?
  5. What do the “ten commandments” say about the character of our God, Yahweh? What do they tell us about the image Yahweh gave us? How do you think the Israelites felt when they heard Yahweh speak those guidelines to them?
  6. What is the Sabbath and why did Yahweh say to keep it separated and special?
  7. Why did Moses say that Yahweh had brought the Israelites to the mountain and spoke the commandments to them?

 

 

Chapter 21

The Israelites stayed back and Moses approached Yahweh in the dense cloud where he got a message for the community. He said to tell the Israelites that they had experienced first-hand how he spoke to them from lofty heights. He reminded them again not to make material gods of silver or gold and align them as gods with him

He gave Moses instructions about his altars to relate to his people; and then Yahweh communicated to Moses deeper insights into the summation he had spoken to Israel.

Yahweh’s first law concerned slavery. When we read these principles it is best to remember that we are not discussing today’s social norms. Wikipedia says, “The history of slavery spans nearly every culture, nationality, and religion and from ancient times to the present day. However the social, economic, and legal position of slaves was vastly different in different systems of slavery in different times and places.[86] Slavery can be traced back to the earliest records, such as the Code of Hammurabi (c. 1760 BC), which refers to it as an established institution. Slavery is rare among hunter-gatherer populations, as it is developed as a system of social stratification.”[87]

Easton’s Bible Dictionary says. “Slavery as it existed under the Mosaic Law has no modern parallel. That law did not originate but only regulated the already existing custom of slavery”[88]. The Cambridge dictionary defines a slave as person who is owned by someone else and has no personal freedom[89], but personal freedom as it is defined today doesn’t equate with the ancients concept of what it meant to be free. Freedom without responsibility, in any age and society, is a substandard way of life and the definition of anarchy.

Yahweh instructed his people that when they bought a Hebrew slave, that slave could only serve six years. The seventh year he was to be free to leave or stay as he chose. The freed slave’s family would have to stay with the household they were born to. If the freed slave loved his family and master he would want to stay with them. Freedom from love is slavery to loneliness. The slave’s decision to stay would mean that he would be marked for the rest of his life as part of that household. The law for this slave is the law of love. Love is dependable and permanent. The lover cares more for the loved ones than for self. Love dictates that the one from whom it flows doesn’t want what he/she doesn’t have; and isn’t arrogant; doesn’t have a swelled head; nor does he/she force him/her self on others – always saying, “me first.” The lover doesn’t fly off the handle, nor does he/she keep score of the sins of the loved ones. He/she doesn’t celebrate when others cringe; but finds pleasure in the flowering of truth. When love is in control the lover endures any burden because he/she trusts Yahweh. The lover always looks for the best, and never looks back, but keeps going to the end.[90]

The slave who decided to stay in the household of his master counted the cost and knew the developing blessings of his master and family were more valuable than the abstract windfalls of the unknown. The love the slave had for his master and the blessings the master gave to him exemplify the love and devotion Yahweh’s people should have for him. When we love Yahweh and what he blesses us with, more than the things we imagine freedom from his love and care offer, we are truly blessed.[91]

Marriage is a live long bonding of two into one so when a man who (possibly through poverty is unable to support his family) sells his daughter into servitude she won’t be set free after six years like a man. If the buyer bought her to be his future wife – perhaps to avoid having to pay a higher bride price for her when she grew up – and then changed his mind her own family had to buy her back. She would have equal status with the one who bought her in any case. She couldn’t be sold to a foreigner. If he married her to a son she was to be treated like a daughter and if he were to marry another woman she wouldn’t lose any of her rights. If he wouldn’t marry her, give her to his son in marriage, or care of her as a daughter it was a breach of contract and she was to be returned to her father’s house without cost to her father. The man who bought the girl committed adultery against her when he married someone else; he stole her position as a respected daughter of the house and he lusted after something that he had no right to when he decided to marry someone else or marry his son to someone else. Yahweh’s law protected her.

“Yahweh pointed out that he had made mankind to reflect his own nature and; therefore, would always hold it in higher esteem than the rest of his creation, even to requiring the death of any animal – man or beast – who takes the life of a human being. Since corruption is ingrained in the character of us humans that Yahweh made to reflect his nature something is required to show mankind when he/she is running amuck, so Yahweh’s laws are important. We can look around us today and see why Yahweh had to emphasize the importance of human life. Mankind is prone to disrespect the life of other human beings.”[92]

Yahweh told Moses that if someone were to hit another man so that he died the penalty for the murderer was death unless the man hit the dead man by mistake. Yahweh is full of mercy and grace and because there was no intent to kill and Yahweh didn’t prevent it, it was an “act of God” and Yahweh would set apart a place of refuge for the killer. However, if it wasn’t an accident – or even an act of anger that resulted in death there should be no mercy. Premeditated murder deserves death.

As I said before, in a perfect universe parents deserve honor because they are Yahweh’s method for the propagation of the human race whose purpose it is to be expressions of his image in his creation. Yahweh expressed the importance of honoring one’s father and mother when he said that if someone were to hit a parent the penalty should be death. The same goes for cursing a parent. Curse here is the opposite of a blessing. Criticizing and belittling a parent deserves death. James said, ” This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!”[93]

Kidnapping is the worst form of stealing. It also breaks the law about coveting but that is not the worst part of kidnapping. When one steals another person they are showing contempt for someone who Yahweh created to reflect his character. The penalty is, again, death.

The next laws cover compensation. The workman is worthy of his hire[94] and when someone is injured by another – even when two people get into a fight and only one is injured – the one who did the injury must compensate the injured for his lost wages and pay for whatever help he needs until he is completely healed.

Yahweh reminded the Israelites that murder deserved the death penalty even when the murdered one was the property of the murderer. Yeshua said that Yahweh gave the Israelites certain laws because their hearts were hard – they were naturally evil so their actions needed to be tempered with his mercy. Paul told the Colossians, “And masters, treat your [slaves] considerately. Be fair with them. Don’t forget for a minute that you, too, serve a Master—God in heaven.”[95] He told the Ephesians,Masters, it’s the same with you. No abuse, please, and no threats. You and your [slaves] are both under the same Master in heaven. He makes no distinction between you and them.”[96] If the slave survived when his master beat him – or her -, there was no penalty because the financial debt was essentially annulled because the master had to bear the cost of an injured and unproductive slave. However, if the owner causes bodily harm to his slave he has to set him/her free.

Compensation for the loss of an unborn child is left up to the father. If the mother is injured the law of life for life, member for member[97] comes in. This was a law that goes back to ancient Mesopotamian culture. “The law which authorized retaliation (a principle acted upon by all primitive people) was a civil one. It was given to regulate the procedure of the public magistrate in determining the amount of compensation in every case of injury, but did not encourage feelings of private revenge.”[98] Remember what Yeshua said about that, “[This was] another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.”[99] Yahweh reminded Moses that for justice to prevail retribution would have to fit the crime. Yeshua reminded his people that mercy was an attribute of the image of Yahweh that works better than retaliation.

Man or beast who takes the life of Yahweh’s image must be put to death so if an ox gored a man and he died he must be stoned and his meat couldn’t be eaten. The owner was exonerated unless the ox has a history of goring and the owner knew it in which case the owner is responsible for the death as much as if he did it himself and both ox and owner would get the death penalty. The only exception would be the law of redemption where he could pay a certain amount and his life was spared. If a slave was involved compensation was made to the owner.

The next two laws are regarding injury caused by culpable neglect.

If someone uncovers a cistern or digs a pit and leaves it open and an ox or donkey falls into it, the owner of the pit must pay whatever the animal is worth to its owner but can keep the dead animal.”[100] Moses reminded the Israelites that they were personally responsibility for their actions and the results of those actions. Thoughtful consideration for the rights of others is self-serving in the long run.

If someone’s ox injures a neighbor’s ox and the ox dies, they must sell the live ox and split the price; they must also split the dead animal. But if the ox had a history of goring and the owner knew it and did nothing to guard against it, the owner must pay an ox for an ox but can keep the dead animal.”[101] This is another rule for personal responsibility. We are not only responsible for our own actions but for the actions of those we are in command of.

Summary of chapter 21

The Slave wasn’t a slave for life. The young girl must either be given all the comforts of home and equal status in her new home or returned to her father’s protection. The punishment must fit the crime. The law used hyperbole to emphasize the seriousness of wrongdoing. Murder, including attitude and words that are destructive, deserve death. “But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,    what [Yahweh] is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,     be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously—    take God seriously.”[102] The law of redemption and the law of love weren’t left out of the standards that Moses brought to the Israelites.

Prayer: I have no trouble understanding that the law has power over the living but when Mashiach died he took the entire rule-dominated way of life down with him and left it in the tomb, leaving me free to “marry” a resurrection life and bear “offspring” of faith for you. As long as I lived that old way of life, doing whatever I felt I could get away with, sin was calling most of the shots because the old law code hemmed me in. And this made me all the more rebellious. In the end, all I had to show for it was miscarriages and stillbirths. But now that I’m no longer shackled to that domineering mate of sin, and out from under all those oppressive regulations and fine print, I’m free to live a new life in your freedom. But I know the law code was better than sin itself. The law code had a perfectly legitimate function. Without its clear guidelines for right and wrong, moral behavior would be mostly guesswork. Apart from the succinct, surgical command, “You shall not covet,” I could have dressed covetousness up to look like a virtue and ruined my life with it. I remember how it was perfectly well. The law code started out as an excellent piece of work. What happened, though, was that sin found a way to pervert the command into a temptation, making a piece of “forbidden fruit” out of it. The law code, instead of being used to guide me, was used to seduce me. Without all the paraphernalia of the law code, sin looked pretty dull and lifeless, and I went along without paying much attention to it. But once sin got its hands on the law code and decked itself out in all that finery, I was fooled, and fell for it. The very command that was supposed to guide me into life was cleverly used to trip me up, throwing me headlong. So sin was plenty alive, and I was stone dead. But the law code itself is your good and common sense, each command sane and holy counsel. Sin simply did what sin is so famous for doing: using the good as a cover to tempt me to do what would finally destroy me. By hiding within your good commandment, sin did far more mischief than it could ever have accomplished on its own. All your commands are spiritual, but I’m not. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that your command is necessary. But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help. I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do what is right, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do badly, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do the right thing, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in your commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not every element of of me adheres to that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank you Yahweh, is that Yeshua ha Mashiach can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve you with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.[103]

 

 

Things to think about

  1. What does the Law of Yahweh say about the practice of slavery?
  2. Is the Law fair?
  3. Is the Law necessary?
  4. Did Yahweh’s Law cancel mercy?
  5. Where did the concept of “an eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth” come from?
  6. What did the Law of Redemption have to do with the above view attitude?
  7. What is the Law of Redemption and how was it developed through history to benefit humans most?
  8. When the Jewish leaders asked Yeshua which was the great commandment in the law, he told them that “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”[104] How does the Law of love encompass the rest of the commandments? Can you relate how each of the commandments in chapter 21 operates on love?

 

 

Chapter 22

The laws regarding personal property and restitution exemplify what the Psalmist said, Yahweh’s laws are flawless. Israel could be sure that it was wise to listen to what their God said and following his law would convert the soul of the thief and make him an honest man. Israel could rejoice because Yahweh’s rulings are always appropriate and desirable. Anyone who wants clarification about what is the right action may find the answer in Yahweh’s faultless commandment. His judgments are always true and blameless. Yahweh’s decisions are more valuable than any material blessing not only because they protect the innocent but because they warn the culprit that there is greater reward in a trustworthy life than in a life of crime.

A property owner had a right to protect his property with force so if the thief was struck and died when it was so dark that the one striking the death blow couldn’t see that it would result in accidental death, is wasn’t murder. However, if the property owner could see what he was doing and knowingly killed the offender it was murder.

The law of restitution is a positive approach to the punishment of criminals, putting them to productive repayment and compensating the victims of their theft. If a thief was poverty-stricken he would be sold as an indentured laborer, with the money from the sale going to the victim. It would have made sense for the needy person to sell himself as an indentured worker in the first place instead of stealing as a solution to his need.

Yahweh’s laws emphasized the guilt of carelessness proving that one can’t base their life on selfishness or isolation without accountability. Israel lived in community and wrong inflicted on neighbor by neighbor in the sphere of material possessions became sin against Yahweh in the moral realm. The laws of Yahweh are as suitable for today’s society as there were for Israel. Yahweh is truth and truth is real and eternal.

Yeshua said that the foundation of Yahweh’s law is equality, compassion and commitment. The law has to include details of how to discover who the guilty party is because of the corruption of the human makeup. The banker may be the one who robbed his own bank. The judge is responsible to Yahweh to make honest decisions.

A man was supposed to pay the parents to obtain a wife, so the seducer was required to comply with the custom and pay the marriage price. If the father gave his permission the man could make the woman he seduced his wife. If the father refused his permission for marriage the offender had to pay the price without getting the prize. The Pulpit Commentary says, “If her father utterly refuses, etc. There might be such a disparity between the parties, or such an ineligibility of the man for a son-in-law, that the father might refuse to reestablish his daughter’s status by the alliance. In that case the offender was to pay such a sum as would form a handsome dowry for the injured female, and enable her to enter with proper dignity the house of whatever man might be selected for her husband.”[105]

A sorceress uses magical powers that are obtained through evil spirits; therefore, the punishment is death. As Paul said, “Don’t become partners with those who reject God. How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong? That’s not partnership; that’s war. Is light best friends with dark?”[106]

Yahweh pointed out that he had made mankind to reflect his own nature and; therefore, would always hold it in higher esteem than the rest of his creation, even to requiring the death of any animal – man or beast – who takes the life of a human being. Yahweh’s method for the propagation of the human race whose purpose it is to be expressions of his image in his creation was through a man and his wife. Therefore, human the sex act is more than a physical urge. Yahweh meant a man and his wife to enjoy the pleasure of sexual intimacy along with a close emotional connection. Yahweh made men and women sexual beings with nervous systems capable of receiving pleasure from the sex act. Sex with an animal degrades the gift and blessing of sex as Yahweh intends it to be and; consequently, deserves death.

Yahweh again made it very clear that he was Israel’s God and anyone who worshiped any other god was separating themselves from his love and care. The Hebrew word for death is separation and separation from Yahweh is suicide because Yahweh is life. Yahweh said that the one who separated him/her self from him would be utterly destroyed. The word חרם cherem denotes a thing totally and irreversibly separated from Yahweh.

As the preacher said, Yahweh conquers the arrogance of those who consider themselves above the common people and stands with those who have no standing.[107] The Psalmist said that he is the father of the fatherless and champion of widows[108]; and he protects strangers[109]. He reminded the Israelites that they were once outsiders in a foreign land themselves and should treat the foreigners among them with dignity and respect. Yahweh didn’t pull any punches when it came to the law against mistreating widows and orphans. If Israel’s widows and orphans cried out to him because of unjust treatment Yahweh promised to retaliate with force.

Our God, Yahweh, is love. He is full of mercy and grace – and compassion. His laws reflect his character. They define what is just and good beyond equal. They are reasonable, balanced, and impartial.

The people of that era in that area were familiar with the laws that the code of Hammurabi originated from. The Israelites would have heard of the code of Ur passed down from their father Abraham. The penalty for murder, adultery, rape, and robbery was death. A kidnapper had to pay a fine. The laws concerning slaves protected the slave owner. Rapping a slave resulted in a fine, as did divorce. “If a man is accused of sorcery he must undergo ordeal by water; if he is proven innocent, his accuser must pay 3 shekels. False accusation, false witness, perjury, and most other corrupt behavior resulted in a fine. “An eye for an eye” was the rule of the day and was emblematic and payment was money. [110] Yahweh used these laws because the Israelites were familiar with them and he always approaches us from our understanding. Yahweh’s laws proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us.

Most early religious systems in the ancient Near East, and the secular codes arising from them, did not forbid usury.[111] Since Yahweh is the creator of all people it is reasonable to understand this as referring to charging interest to anyone for loans. Moses amended this law in the book of Deuteronomy to say that if the one The Israelite was a foreigner the Israelite could charge interest but the circumstances would have been different in that case. Loaning to someone in need is much different from loaning for business interests. The laws of Yahweh were more interested in compassion than control.

Yahweh told his people not to curse or make light of [תקלל tekallel] him. He reminded them that he was the fountain of justice and power. He added that they should refrain from speaking evil of rulers because they derive their authority from him.

“Our ancestors, who held their food, their country, the light, and all that they possessed, from the bounty of the gods, consecrated to them a part of all their property, rather as a token of their gratitude, than from a conviction that the gods needed anything. Therefore as soon as the harvest was got in, before they had tasted of the fruits, they appointed libations to be made to the gods. And as they held their fields and cities as gifts from their gods, they consecrated a certain part for temples and shrines, where they might worship them.”[112] Yahweh instructed his people to share with each other, thereby giving to him of their firstfruits. Giving Yahweh the firstfruits of their harvest acknowledged that the harvest was a gift from him to them. At the Feast of Firstfruits the Israelites were to offer the firstfruits of the late spring wheat harvest in the Holy Land as a ritualistic offering. Giving Yahweh the first-born sons of Israel acknowledged that they were from him and that he had redeemed them out of Egypt – a memorial to the exodus.

As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, “I am holy; you be holy.”[113] Yahweh is righteous, excellent, pure and praiseworthy. He created us in his image but we are flawed. He wants us to be what he created us to be, with characters that represent his. Animals that don’t have Yahweh’s image would eat mutilated flesh that they find in the fields. We humans are meant to be above animal behavior and exhibit Yahweh’s nature.

Summary of chapter 22

This chapter relates laws about theft, laws concerning casualties; laws pertaining to deposits, or goods left in custody of others which may have been lost, stolen, or damaged. There were laws in relation to things borrowed or let out on hire; laws concerning seduction as well as laws pertaining to witchcraft, bestiality, and idolatry. There are laws protecting strangers, and widows. Yahweh’s laws include regulations for lending money to the poor, pledges; and about respecting public officers. The law of the first ripe fruits, and the first-born of man and beast was repeated and directions with reference to carcasses found torn in the field were given.

Prayer: Lord, I thank you that Isaiah said someday the wilderness and desert will sing joyously, the badlands will celebrate and flower like the crocus in spring, bursting into blossom in a symphony of song and color. They will be the image of your resplendent glory. The whole world will see you as Yahweh, awesome and majestic. Energize my limp hands, and strengthen my rubbery knees. I will tell fearful souls to take courage because you are here and will put things right. You will redress all wrongs. I will tell them that you are on your way and will save them. Blind eyes will be opened, and deaf ears unstopped; lame men and women will leap like deer and the voiceless will break into song. Springs of water will burst out in the wilderness, and streams will flow in the desert. Hot sands will become a cool oasis, and thirsty ground will be a splashing fountain. Even lowly jackals will have water to drink and barren grasslands will flourish richly. There will be a highway called the Holy Road because you are the way, the truth, and the life. No one rude or rebellious is permitted on this road. It’s for your people exclusively. It is impossible to get lost on this road; not even fools can get lost on it. There are no lions on this road, and no dangerous wild animals—nothing and no one dangerous or threatening. Only the redeemed walk on the Holy Road. The people you ransomed will come back on this road. I will sing as I make my way into your presence. An unfading halo of joy encircles my head. I am welcomed home with gifts of joy and gladness as all sorrows and sighs scurry into the night.[114]

 

 

Things to think about

  1. Why do you think Yahweh started giving the Israelites laws while they were still in the wilderness?
  2. How could Yahweh’s laws change a person?
  3. How was the law of restitution a positive approach to punishment? Does it work well in disciplining children?
  4. Why do you think Yahweh’s laws covered carless behavior?
  5. Why would the father of a seduced woman refuse to let her marry the offender? Why did he have to pay the price of a bride when he didn’t get the bride? How could the woman expect to ever be married after losing her virginity?
  6. Why was sex with animals forbidden?
  7. Was the law condemning sorcery a new law Yahweh made or was it a law common to that area and era?
  8. What did Yahweh’s laws have to do with his nature?
  9. What is the law of firstfruits and how did Yahweh use it? Does it make it any less important that gratitude for a good harvest had motivated humans to share the firstfruits of the harvest with their gods? Why did Yahweh say that the firstfruits belong to him? Why did it include animals and humans? What did it have to do with the exodus?

 

 

Chapter 23

The “ninth commandment” ESV that Yahweh spoke directly to his people says, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Yahweh developed the law in his instructions to Moses to relate to the people.

Information brokers don’t always know what they are talking about but it is easy for flawed human nature to assume that they do know and to relay the information to anyone who will listen. Gossip cloaked in helpful information or prayer is still gossip and gossip is destructive. Gossip, according to a google definition, is “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.”[115] A gossip betrays secrets and repeats lies. The KJV says, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”[116]  That is what Yahweh told Moses to tell his people, “Don’t link up with a wicked person and give corrupt testimony. Don’t go along with the crowd in doing evil and don’t fudge your testimony in a case just to please the crowd. [And when there is a dispute don’t withhold justice to someone just because they are poor.]”[117]

To the ancients an ox or donkey was the owner’s source of income. Life is more complicated today but the principle is the same. If your enemy needs help, help him/her. The law needed to be clarified again in Yeshua’s day. On the sermon he preached from the mountain[118] he reminded Israel that although it was common to say, “…love your friends and hate your enemies” that wasn’t Yahweh’s way. He said, “…love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.”

The instruction about equal justice for the rich and poor alike is repeated throughout scripture. However, that seems to be one of the hardest things for human nature to conform to “God-nature” in. It is much easier to judge the poor than to show them justice. John said, “If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.”[119] Yahweh created humans in his image to reflect his love to the rest of his creation.

As Yahweh continued to develop the ninth commandment not to generate deceptive evidence against anyone he pointed out that it would contribute to the death of innocent and good people. Untrue indictments murder the character created by Yahweh. He warned his people not to be induced to give incorrect testimony for profit and reminded them how easy self-deception is.

Yahweh again told his people to remember that they had been outsiders in Egypt so they could understand what it was like for those who were sojourners in their land and treat them with respect and dignity. Paul said, “The law …any… “don’t” you can think of—finally adds up to this: Love other people as well as you do yourself. You can’t go wrong when you love others. When you add up everything in the law code, the sum total is love.”[120] It is good to remember that love, as used here, is an action and not an emotion.

The law concerning letting the land go fallow the seventh year is another demonstration of love. The land itself has a rest from continual replanting but the seventh year the crops that grow wild were to be for the poor humans and wild animals.

The law of the seventh day was another chance to demonstrate love to the people and animals that did the work by giving them a rest.

Yahweh knew the future and so he warned his people to listen carefully and not even consider any of the man-made gods worshiped by people. The Psalmist said, “They didn’t wipe out those godless cultures     as ordered by [Yahweh]; Instead they intermarried with the heathen, and in time became just like them. They worshiped their idols, were caught in the trap of idols. They sacrificed their sons and daughters     at the altars of demon gods. They slit the throats of their babies,     murdered their infant girls and boys. They offered their babies to Canaan’s gods; the blood of their babies stained the land. Their way of life stank to high heaven;     they lived like whores.”[121]

The feasts Yahweh ordained were to help them remember what he had done for them and who he is. When Yahweh’s people are concentrating on who he is it is easier to try to conform to his character. Our focus determines our thoughts and when we direct our attention to other people it is easy to go along with the fads and customs of flawed human nature.

The Israelites were told to keep feast of Unleavened Bread celebrating their journey through the wilderness after Passover when they left Egypt and ate unleavened bread. Leaven in the bread was a symbol of the corrupting influence of Egypt which represented the culture of damaged mortality. Unleavened bread represented the pure bread of life. In scripture bread has always represented the Word of Yahweh, the Torah. So eating bread which was not leavened is a type of eating the pure Word of Yahweh, untouched by the viewpoints and dogmas of man. All incorrect guideline and wrong doctrine is founded in the values of flawed human nature. Leaven, used in this context, symbolizes the deception of the enemy of our souls.

As leaven is a symbol of sin, Yeshua is the remedy for sin. “The next day John [the Baptist] was back at his post with two disciples, who were watching. He looked up, saw Jesus walking nearby, and said, “Here he is, God’s Passover Lamb.”[122] “The Messiah, our Passover Lamb, has already been sacrificed for the Passover meal, and we are the Unraised Bread part of the Feast. So let’s live out our part in the Feast, not as raised bread swollen with the yeast of evil, but as flat bread—simple, genuine, and unpretentious.”[123]

The Harvest festival memorialized the giving of the law. Yahweh chose the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Yeshua ha Mashiach to pour out His Holy Spirit on 120 believers [124]

The Autumn Fest of Ingathering was later celebrated in memory of Israel’s wilderness wandering; but it was instituted as a harvest thanksgiving to celebrate Yahweh’s goodness and sheltering presence.

Yahweh repeated that three times a year all of Israel’s males were to celebrate these holydays in his presence.

The blood of the sacrifice was a symbol of Yeshua ha Mashiach and leaven represented corruption so mixing one with the other would distort the picture. The fat belonged to Yahweh because it represented him as “the best”. It is the richest part of the animal and was to be totally burned as a sacrifice to Yahweh. Fat turns rancid when it is left out and that would distort its true depiction – obedience turns rancid when it is left overnight too. The best and first produce was to go to the Yahweh’s house to demonstrate Israel’s faith that all good things come from Yahweh and he would continue to supply their needs throughout the year.

Yahweh told his chosen people not to boil a kid in its mother’s milk as an injunction against indorsing the superstitious rites of the Egyptians, who, when they had gathered in all the fruits of the earth, boiled a kid in its mother’s milk and sprinkled the trees, fields, and gardens, with the broth as a charm for rendering fields and orchards more productive. Yahweh’s people must not confuse him and his laws with the man-made gods and superstitious customs of people who don’t know their creator.

When Yahweh finished communicating the laws to be relayed to his people he promised them that they would be guided and protected in their travels to the Promised Land. Paul said, “No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this, Never so much as imagined anything quite like it— What God has arranged for those who love him. But you’ve seen and heard it because God by his Spirit has brought it all out into the open before you.”[125]

Yahweh said he would send an angel before Israel. The writer to the Hebrews said that all angels are sent out to help with Yahweh’s redeemed. Yahweh’s chosen people were told to listen to and obey his angel because he was acting on Yahweh’s authority. Angels are messengers of Yahweh. As Paul said, “Duly constituted authorities are only a threat if you’re trying to get by with something.”[126]

Paul told the Romans that we all know well enough from our own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. When we offer ourselves to sin, for instance, and it’s our last free act. But when we offer ourselves to the ways of Yahweh the freedom never quits. All their lives the Israelites let sin tell them what to do; but Yahweh asked them to start listening to him because his commands would set them free to live openly in his liberty.[127]  He promised them that he would clear the Promised Land of people who worshiped man-made gods and were caught up in their traps. People who sacrificed their sons and daughters at the altars of demon gods and slit the throats of their babies, – murdered their infant girls and boys. People who offered their babies to Canaan’s gods; the blood of their babies stained the land. Their way of life stank to high heaven.[128]

Yahweh’s simple instructions often function as stepping-stones to life’s most meaningful blessings. His greatest blessings often come because we are willing to do something that seems very inconsequential at the time. Yahweh listed the results of a completely obedient life for his chosen people. It is easy to think, “I can do that,” but it’s not as easy to do it as it is to say it. As Paul said,… we’ve compiled a long and sorry record as sinners and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives Yahweh wills for us.[129] The law code was weakened by fractured human nature[130] but “The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.”[131]

The things Yahweh promised his people he would do if they obeyed him would have made them a shining witness of who our God created us to be. The Promised Land would have been a land of peace, prosperity, and happiness. The borders of the land were to stretch from the Red Sea to Mediterranean Sea and from the Wilderness to the Euphrates River. The tract marked out by these limits had been already promised to Abraham [132] Matthew Pool’s commentary says, “All within these bounds were given them by God, but upon conditions, which they manifestly broke, and therefore were for the most part confined to a much narrower compass.”[133]

Yahweh repeated the warning not to associate with the people and their evil man-made gods.

Summary of chapter 23

Yahweh developed his law against evil-speaking and warned against bad company, and partiality. He gave instructions about acts of kindness and humanity; and against oppression, unrighteous decisions, bribery and corruption; and he gave instructions about being kind to strangers. He gave the ordinance concerning the Sabbatical year, and the Sabbath a day of rest. He gave general directions concerning circumcision, etc. He established the three annual festivals – the feast of unleavened bread, the feast of harvest, and the feast of ingathering. All the males were instructed to appear before God thrice in a year for these feasts. Then he repeated that no blood was to be offered with leavened bread, no fat would be left till the next day, and the first fruits were to be brought to the house of God. After that he said that a kid was not to be seethed in its mother’s milk. He gave a description of the Angel of God, who was to lead the people into the Promised Land, and drive out the Amorites, etc. He told his people to keep away from idolatry and destroy the images of idols. He gave them promises for obeying him and he said that he would send hornets to drive out the Canaanites, etc. The ancient inhabitants would be driven out little by little so the land wouldn’t be taken over by wild beasts before they got their crops in. Yahweh told his chosen people what the boundaries of the Promised Land were. They were not to make a league or covenant with the ancient inhabitants, who were all to be utterly expelled.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for giving us a chance. Thank you for your love, mercy and grace. Thank you for continuing to treat me as your dear child and educate me in your ways. I want to be mature in my relationship with you. So I won’t sit around on my hands or drag my feet. I’ll clear the path for my fellow runners so they won’t trip and fall. I will always be ready to help my others in this human race with me. I don’t want anyone to miss out on your generosity so I will be sure to pull any weeds of bitter discontent from my thoughts and speech.  I didn’t have to go to Mount Sinai with all that volcanic blaze and earthshaking rumble to hear you speak. The earsplitting words and soul-shaking message terrified them and they begged him to stop. When they heard the words—“If an animal touches the Mountain, it’s as good as dead”—they were afraid to move. Even Moses was terrified. That’s not my experience. I have come to Mount Zion – your residence populated with throngs of festive angels and Christian citizens. It is the city where you are judge – and it’s amazing, Lord, your judgment made me just! I came to Yeshua and the new covenant – your fresh covenant with Yeshua as the Mediator. His murder became an affirmation of grace. I won’t turn a deaf ear to those gracious words. Your voice at Sinai shook the earth to its foundations. Your voice of grace shakes the heavens, getting rid of all the historical and religious junk so that the unshakable essentials stand clear and uncluttered. Now we have an unshakable kingdom and you, my God, are not an indifferent bystander. You are actively cleaning house and won’t quit until it’s all cleansed because you are a consuming fire. I praise you and my heart thanks you.

 

 

Things to think about

  1. What do you think gossip has to do with bearing false witness against your neighbor?
  2. Who is your neighbor? Remember the parable of the Good Samaritan.
  3. What do you think the first Psalm has to do with gossip?
  4. What do you think pleasing the crowd has to do with giving false testimony?
  5. What are some examples of loving your enemies?
  6. Why should Yahweh’s instructions about outsiders affect you and me in today’s society?
  7. Should you and I be concerned about obeying the law of Yahweh given on Mount Sinai? What do they have to do with us? What do you think Yeshua meant when he said he had come to fulfill the law?

 

 

Chapter 24

Yahweh instructed Moses and Aaron and Aaron’s two eldest sons to climb the mountain with seventy of the elders. Moses was to approach Yahweh but the others were told to worship from afar and the rest of Israel was to stay away from the mountain.

When Moses related to Israel everything that Yahweh had told him they all agreed that they would do as he said. Moses’ actions were in accord with the ancient method of making covenants. He did two things to make the laws a binding contract between Yahweh and his people. He wrote it all down and then, early in the morning, he got up and built an Altar at the foot of the mountain. He used twelve pillar stones in it to represent the twelve tribes of Israel. He directed young Israelite men to offer Whole-Burnt-Offerings and sacrifice Peace-Offerings of bulls. Moses took half the blood and put it in bowls and threw the other half against the Altar. He read what he had written – the book of the Covenant – to the people and they affirmed that they intended to do everything that Yahweh said. Therefore, Moses took the blood he had saved in the bowel and threw it over the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant which Yahweh has made with you out of all these words I have spoken.”

After that they climbed the mountain and saw Yahweh, the God of Israel as he stood on something that looked like sapphires it was so pure. It reminded them of the clear blue sky. They had a fest there in his presence, communicating a sense of fellowship with their God. Moses Aaron, Aaron’s two oldest sons, and the representative elders of Israel all saw the glory of their God, Yahweh as a testimony and witness for their own lives and to relate to the people they were responsible for. The need to see with their own eyes that the God they had been hearing about is common to all human nature. When Isaiah said that he had seen the Lord, high and lifted up we know that it was a manifestation of his glory. He described what he saw with his spiritual eyes in terms his readers could understand with their natural senses. He said Yahweh’s train filled the temple to describe his majesty. He told of angels, who are also spiritual beings, as crying, “Holy” to show that Yahweh is unique – not like anyone or anything that we could compare him to. Joseph wrestled with a man and realized that his God had been the one he was struggling with and Yahweh had used the form of a man to relate to Joseph. We don’t know what the leaders on the mountain saw with their physical eyes but we can be sure they saw more with their senses. The spirit of their God, Yahweh was real and convincing to their senses while they were there in his presence. They had an experience to relate to the people when they descended the mountain.

Yahweh told Moses to climb higher and wait for him there. He told Moses he would give him a copy of the commandments written in stone. Moses left Aaron and Hur in charge and climbed higher with Joshua his aid.

 

 

 

[1] http://www.reformjudaism.org/exodus-not-fiction

Was There an Exodus?

http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-Ed-Contributors/The-Exodus-Does-archaeology-have-a-say-348464

 

[2] Net Bible Tagger Bible.org

[3] Proverbs 10:7

[4] Wikipedia says: “A priest ….is a person authorized to perform the sacred rituals of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and one or more deities.”

[5] Verses 7,8

[6] Verses 13, 14

[7] Verses 16, 17

[8] http://www.aish.com/tp/b/app/48944531.html

 

[9] https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tpc/exodus-4.html

[10] Verse 5

[11] https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tpc/exodus-4.html

[12] Verse 17

[13] Verse 23, Hosea 11:1

[14] http://www.easyenglish.info/bible-commentary/exodus-1-18-lbw.htm

[15] https://reformedreader.wordpress.com/2008/12/07/exodus-424-26-the-bloody-bridegroom/

[16] http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/jamieson-fausset-brown/exodus/exodus-4.html

[17] Jamison, Fausset, and Brown say, ” chiefs or governors of their houses. The insertion of this genealogical table in this part of the narrative was intended to authenticate the descent of Moses and Aaron. Both of them were commissioned to act so important a part in the events transacted in the court of Egypt and afterwards elevated to so high offices in the government and Church of God, that it was of the utmost importance that their lineage should be accurately traced. Reuben and Simeon being the oldest of Jacob’s sons, a passing notice is taken of them, and then the historian advances to the enumeration of the principal persons in the house of Levi

[18] http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/9867/jewish/Chapter-6.htm#showrashi=true

[19] John 4:24

[20] Verses 7, 8

[21] Verses 22-25

[22] Hebrews 11:24-27

[23] https://www.knowingthebible.net/yahweh-versus-the-gods-of-egypt

[24] Verses 30-32

[25] http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1653/jewish/The-Ten-Plagues.htm

[26] http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1653/jewish/The-Ten-Plagues.htm

[27] Verse 5

[28] Romans 1:18-32

[29] From Romans 3

[30] Romans 1:20

[31] Romans 10:14-17

[32] Verses 16, 17

[33] http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/cmt/clarke/exo011.htm

[34] Romans 1:24

[35] Taken from Romans 1 and 3

[36] Romand 5″12

[37] Romans 6:6-11

[38] Verses 31, 32

[39] http://biblehub.com/commentaries/exodus/12-38.htm

[40] Verses 50, 51

[41] Hebrews 1:1-3

[42] Romans 10:10

[43] http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/cmt/clarke/exo013.htm

http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/cmt/clarke/exo013.htm [44]

[45] https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/exodus-13.html

[46] From Hebrews 1

[47] From Psalm 29

[48] Revelation 15:4

[49] Romans 12:1, 2

[50] I Corinthians 10:3, 4

[51] http://www.biblestudy.org/bibleref/meaning-of-numbers-in-bible/70.html

[52] I Corinthians 9:24, 25

[53] Genesis 2:2-4

[54] Psalm 100:3

[55] John 6:31-35

[56] Hebrews 12:1

[57] I Corinthians 10:1-5

[58] John 7:37

[59] https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/exodus-17.html.

[60] Deuteronomy 25:17

[61] Verse 12

[62] http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/exodus/18.html

[63] I Corinthians 12:25

[64] Taken from Psalm 136

[65] http://www.christianity.com/bible/commentary.php?com=jfb&b=2&c=19

 

[66] http://www.christianity.com/bible/commentary.php?com=jfb&b=2&c=19

 

[67] Psalm114

[68] In part, taken from Colossians 3:12-14

[69] https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/guz/exodus-20.html

 

[70] John 4:23, 24

[71] Romans 1:23

[72] Romans 1:24, 25

[73] https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/guz/exodus-20.html

 

[74] Genesis 2:2-4

[75] The Lost World of Genesis One, IVA Acdemic,Dawners Grove, IL, 2009, John H. Walton, pages 72-92

 

[76] From In The Beginning by Allison Kohn, htps://tsw.createspace.com/title/6466176https://tsw.createspace.com/title/6466176eatespace.com/646617

[77] Hebrews 4:9

[78] Matthew 21, 22

[79] Ephesians 7;9

[80] James 1:20

[81] Matthew 5:27, 28

[82] Genesis 1:27; 2:7

[83] Matthew 19:6

[84] John:14:6

[85] Hebrews 1:3

[86]  Klein, Herbert S.; III, Ben Vinson (2007). African Slavery in Latin America and the. Caribbean (2nd ed.). New York [etc.]: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195189421.

[87] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_slavery#cite_note-1

[88] http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/slave/

[89] http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/slave

[90] I Corinthians 13:3-7

[91] Psalm 37:4 KJV

[92] In The Beginning by Allison Kohn https://tsw.createspace.com/title/6466176https://tsw.createspace.com/title/6466176

[93] James 3:7-10

[94] I Timothy 5:18

[95] Colossians 4:1

[96] Ephesians 6;9

[97] The notion that for every wrong done there should be a compensating measure of justice.

[98] Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary http://biblehub.com/commentaries/exodus/21-24.htm

[99] Matthew 5:38-42

[100] Verses 33, 34

[101] Verses 35, 36

[102] Micha 6″8

[103] From Romans 7

[104] Matthew 22:36-40 NKJV

[105] http://biblehub.com/commentaries/exodus/22-17.htm

[106] II Corinthians 6:14

[107] Proverbs 15:25

[108] Psalm 68:5

[109] Psalm 146:9

[110] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_of_Ur-Nammu#Content

[111] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usury

[112] from Censorinus, De Die Natali

[113] I Peter 1:16

[114] From Isaiah 35

[115] https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=gossip+definition

[116] https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+1&version=KJV https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+1&version=KJV

[117] Verse 3

[118] Matthew 5:43, 44

[119] I john 3:17

[120] Romans 13:10

[121] Psalm 106:34-39

[122] John 1:35. 36

[123] I Corinthians 5:7, 8

[124] Acts 1:15

[125] I Corinthians 2:9

[126] Romans 13:3

[127] Romans 6:16-18

[128] I Corinthians 5:7, 8

[129] Romans 3:23

[130] Romans 8:3

[131] Romans 8:2

[132] Genesis 15:18

[133] http://biblehub.com/commentaries/exodus/23-31.htm

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