Today’s reading begins with the birth of Moses and concludes with the return of Moses to Egypt.
Under the mandate of Pharaoh, Moses is born. He is born of the lineage of Levi and within three months of his birth, his parents determine that he can no longer be hidden and in a sense they follow the command of Pharaoh and place Moses into the Nile in a basket made to float. Upon seeing the floating basket in the Nile, Pharaoh’s daughter who was bathing at the time, took the baby boy in the basket and made him her son. The name of Moses deriving from fact that he was drawn out of the water.
Although the text isn’t completely clear as to the details of how Moses came to know his Hebrew heritage, in time his anger for the treatment of his people gets the best of him and seeing one of them being beaten by an Egyptian foremen, Moses slays the foremen and buries him in the sand. Moses didn’t think that he had been seen when he killed the foremen, but it becomes apparent to him that if he doesn’t flee his own life may be in danger. Moses leaves the only life that he knows and flees to Midian.
In Midian, Moses becomes acquainted with Jethro and and his daughters, he eventually marries Jethro’s oldest daughter Zipporah. After his marriage to Zipporah, Moses works as a shepherd for Jethro. During this time of shepherding for Jethro, Moses meets God in the Burning Bush.
Quite honestly, the Burning Bush story to me is one of the most breathtaking in all of Scripture. I can’t even do it justice. God speaks to man and God for the first time reveals the name by which He is to be known. Out of deference to the holiness of the Name, it’s not written or spoken by the Hebrew people, but rather it is written as “my Lord” or “Adonai”. The Holy Name of God. As He Himself has written in His Word:
Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Say this is the people of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations. Exodus 3:12-15
Truly beautiful. Not I was. Not I will be. I AM WHO I AM. And for all time, forever, this is the name God has chosen to be called.
God then instructs Moses to go to the Israelites in captivity in Egypt and tell them that God had heard their pleas for deliverance and was about to remove them from captivity and restore them to their ancestral home land. As a way to convince the Israelites that God’s hand was upon Moses, God gave Moses signs to show the elders: a staff that could become a serpent, the ability to put his hand into his cloak and become leprous and then when he replaces his hand the leprosy disappears, and the last sign was to take water from the Nile pour it on dry ground and it would become blood.
Moses doubts his ability to speak and some suggest that he may have had a stutter. God is angered by Moses’ doubt in His calling, but His concession to Moses is that Moses’ brother Aaron would be permitted to speak on behalf of Moses before Pharaoh. Moses returns to Egypt and meets with his brother Aaron first, and then the elders of Israel. The Israelite people heard the words that God spoke to Moses and saw the signs that God had given to Moses, and the people knew that God had seen their enslavement and they worshiped.