New European Commentary

 

About | PDFs | Mobile formats | Word formats | Other languages | Contact Us | What is the Gospel? | Support the work | Carelinks Ministries | | The Real Christ | The Real Devil | "Bible Companion" Daily Bible reading plan


Deeper Commentary

 

Exo 3:1 Now Moses was keeping the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the back of the wilderness, and came to God’s mountain, to Horeb-
This was where he would later lead God's people, as a flock. Also for 40 years. It can be shown that much of Moses life, especially his Midian years, were lived in a spirit of semi-spirituality, aware of his responsibility to God, but being slack to rise up to what it really meant, being content, year after year, to live the life of a spiritual minimalist, ever making excuses for himself. Yet somehow God overruled this, as He did the fact that Moses sinned and was excluded from entering the land. The result was that Moses was able to enter exactly into the feelings of rejected, spiritually apathetic Israel in their 40 years wilderness wanderings. For 40 years he too had wandered in the same desert as a shepherd, with the same apathy. This points forward to how the Lord Jesus can enter into the feelings of active sinners, whilst himself being sinless.

Moses was a shepherd for 40 years, and then for 40 years he put this into practice by leading Israel as God's shepherd for 40 years in the same wilderness (Num. 27:17; Ps. 80:1; Is. 63:11). As Moses was willing to sacrifice his eternal life for the salvation of the sheep of Israel (Ex. 32:30-32), so Christ gave his life for us. John's Gospel normally shows the supremacy of Christ over Moses. In this connection of them both being shepherds willing to die for the flock, Moses is not framed as being inferior to Christ- in that in his desire to die for Israel, he truly reached the fullness of the spirit of Christ. "The good shepherd" was a Rabbinical title for Moses; Christ was saying "I am Moses, in his love for your salvation; not better than him, but exactly like him in this". In a sense, Moses' prayer was heard, in that he was excluded from the land for their sakes (Dt. 1:37; 3:26; 4:21; Ps. 106:33); they entered after his death. This was to symbolize how the spirit of his love for Israel was typical of Christ's for us.

Exo 3:2 The angel of Yahweh appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed-
LXX "bramble bush", representing the thorns and thistles brought forth as a result of human sin. And yet within that, the flame of fire of God's manifestation burned, and did not consume that frail, highly flammable, sin cursed bramble bush. It was all a message of how God would dwell within sinful people, and not consume them. Yahweh was likewise to dwell within Israel in the pillar of fire which never consumed them, despite their sins demanding this. This connects with how Moses' hand was made leprous [symbolic of sin], and how he used that hand to catch a snake [sin] by its tail.


Exo 3:3 Moses said, I will turn aside now, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt-
The spiritual growth of Moses was a jagged graph. In the bigger picture of Moses' life, it's clear that God was working with him according to a pattern. His 120 years of life fall into three distinct periods of 40 years. His 40 years as a shepherd in the wilderness were to prepare him for 40 years of shepherding God's people in the same wilderness. The burning bush was to prepare him for the awesome meeting with God in the burning mountain- note how the unusual Hebrew word used for "bush", seneh, echoes the name of the mountain, Sinai. Everything was used by God in His personal development plan for Moses. It was likely an acacia bush, the wood of which was to be used for the construction of the tabernacle, over which the fire of God's manifestation was to burn without consuming the sinful people.

 

Exo 3:4 When Yahweh saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses! Moses! He said, Here I am-
The double repetition "Moses, Moses" may be some kind of rebuke. "I have" seen the affliction of Israel could suggest that Moses felt God was not sensitive to the pain of His children; he had been living for 40 years feeling forgotten by God . Moses "wondered" at what he saw and heard at the burning bush (Acts 7:31)- a Greek word which is often used in a negative sense concerning people lacking faith and insight when they should have had it.

"Here I am" was to be matched by Yahweh's declaration that "[Here] I am" (:6). We see here the mutuality intended between God and man. Yahweh's manifestation was apparently predicated upon Moses ' turning aside to see' (Ex. 3:3,4). And the same phrase is used later when God says He will 'turn aside' His hand, so that Moses may 'see' something of Him (Ex. 33:23). Here again we see the mutuality between God and Moses.


Exo 3:5 He said, Don’t come close. Take your sandals off from your feet, for the place you are standing on is holy ground-
God appeared to Moses in the flame of fire in the bush, but Moses had to be told to take off his shoes as a sign of respect- even though taking off shoes was understood as a token of respect and recognition of sin (see 2 Sam. 15:30). It sounds as if Moses did not appreciate the holiness of God, and ought to have done this without being asked. Stephen will develop the thought of how a thorn bush in the desert could be made "holy ground"; and therefore the idea that the temple alone was "holy ground" was patently false. We don't need any sacred space or religious structure in order to meet God on holy ground. "Holy ground" is the same phrase translated "holy land" in Zech. 2:12. The land of promise included the desert where Moses was then standing; he was being reminded that he was not in fact in exile, but was within the land of promise.


Exo 3:6 Moreover he said, I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob-
See on Lk. 20:37. Moses is one of the greatest types of the Lord Jesus, in whom the Father was supremely manifested. Because of this, it is fitting that we should see a very high level of God manifestation in Moses. Indeed it seems that God was manifest in Moses to a greater degree than in any other Old Testament character. God is His word (Jn. 1:2). Moses is likewise spoken of as if he is his word (Acts 15:21; 21:21; 26:22; 2 Cor. 3:18), so close was his association with it. The words and commands of Moses were those of God. “In the bush God spoke unto (Moses), saying, I am the God of Abraham... Isaac and Jacob” (Mk. 12:26; Mt. 22:31; Ex. 3:6). Yet Lk. 20:37 says that “that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham” etc. Yet this was what God said of Himself.

Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look at God-
Clearly the Angel in the bush (Acts 7:30,35) was functioning as God Himself to Moses, just as the Lord Jesus can function as God without being God. And just as Moses was to be made as God to Pharaoh (Ex. 9:1). We note Moses' spiritual growth; for later he wanted to see God's face.  


Exo 3:7 Yahweh said, I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows-
God looked on the sorrows of His people through the sensitivity of Moses, He saw and knew their struggles, their sense of being trapped, their desire to revive spiritually but their being tied down by the painful business of life and living; and He sent Moses to deliver them from this. But these very words are quoted about our deliverance through the 'coming down' of the Lord Jesus (Ex. 3:7; 4:31 = Lk. 1:68). Our heart can touch the heart of God. It's a priceless wonder to know and experience this. God saw Israel's depressed minds in Egypt and was moved to 'come down' to them in response (Ex. 3:7- the word translated "affliction" is rendered by Strong as 'depression').

Our guardian Angels are emotional beings, capable of changing their plans in accordance with how moved they are by our prayers, and to an extent they fellowship the sufferings they bring upon us- so the Angel in the burning bush could tell Moses "I have seen the affliction of My people (for whom I am guardian)... and have heard their cry... for I know their sorrows: and I am come down to deliver them. . and to bring them up out of that land (again, the work of the Angel)" (Ex. 3:7,8). The purpose of God in Christ is to "bring together in one all things, which are in Heaven (Angels) and which are on earth (us their charges )", and in the day of judgement we will perhaps be united in some special spiritual sense to our Angel who has redeemed us through this life.


Exo 3:8 I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey; to the place of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite-
We know an Angel was physically sent in advance of the Israelites to drive out those tribes, and so the phrase "I am come down" used by the same Angel here may therefore be taken literally- He literally, physically "came down". Although this phrase "came down" is often used to describe God manifestation, it may be that when it is used in connection with the Angels, it does have a physical, literal application. It seems that great stress is placed in Scripture on the Angels physically moving through space, both on the earth and between Heaven and earth, in order to fulfil their tasks, rather than being static in Heaven or earth and bringing things about by just willing them to happen. See on Gen. 18:10. We note that "bring them up out of" Egypt to Canaan was also literally true, in that Canaan is far higher than Egypt (this is stressed- Gen. 12:10; 13:1; 37:25; 39:1; 42:2; 46:3,4; 50:25).

The promised land was only 'larger' than Egypt if we accept that it was God's intention to give Israel the entire land promised to Abraham, from the Nile to the Euphrates. But in reality they lacked the faith to inherit it, and so He was willing to work with them to give them the area from around the Jordan to the Mediterranean. And they didn't even possess all that. See on :17.


Exo 3:9 Now, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me. Moreover I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them-
Moses manifested / represented both God and Israel, superbly prefiguring the nature of the Lord's work and mission far later. As God "saw" the oppression of Israel (Ex. 2:25; 3:7,9; 4:31; 5:19), so did Moses (Ex. 2:11). He looked on God's people with the eyes / perspective of God- just as we should.


Exo 3:10 Come now therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh, that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt-
Isaiah realized his unworthiness: "Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips". He felt he was going to be condemned. But then out of the same vision, the Angel comforted him: "Thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged". And then immediately he offered to go on a preaching mission to Israel, motivated by his own experience of forgiveness and with therefore an appropriate humility: "Here am I, send me" (Is. 6:5-8). This incident is full of allusion to the sending of an equally hesitant Moses. As God appears in the burning bush, so God appears to Isaiah among the seraphim, the burning ones. Moses is reluctant to bear God’s word because “I am a man of uncircumcised lips”, and Isaiah felt the same. Whom shall I send… who will go? (Ex. 3:8,9) is matched by Is. 6:8,9. The willingness of Moses to go (Ex. 3:4) is that of Isaiah. And it is to be our pattern, going forth in witness firstly convicted of our own utter unworthiness.


Exo 3:11 Moses said to God, Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?-
See on Ex. 4:10. Through Moses allowing himself to become part of God manifestation, he found a confidence to achieve that which felt impossible to him. He asks God: "Who am I...?" to do the great things God required... and the answer was "I will be who I will be" (Ex. 3:11-13). Moses' sense of inadequacy was met by the principle of God's manifestation in him; and so will ours be, if we participate in it. "Who am I?" is answered by "I am...".

The more we enter into the depths of the Name, the more we will seek the Father; and in this sense, the Name is an endless inspiration to know the Father better and better, closer and closer, world without end. The whole declaration of God's Name to Moses is actually part of a mutuality between God and Moses. Moses has just commented: "Who am I to bring Israel out?" (Ex. 3:11). And God alludes to this in His answer, for His declaration of His Name hinges around the idea of "Who am I? I am...". The implication of the Name seems to be "I will be who I am / I am who I will be"- i.e. 'I will be God for you'. Surely the idea of the Name being declared in this way was to assure a doubting, depressed Moses that God will be God, will be true to Himself, and therefore will be God for us in all aspects, all places, situations. This is what the Name is really all about- assurance. For that was the context in which God declared it to Moses, as part of a relationship with that man


Exo 3:12 He said, Certainly I will be with you. This will be the token to you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain-
See on Jud. 6:12,16; Dt. 31:8; Ex. 4:4. It even seems that Moses had forgotten the significance of God's Name, even though it had been revealed to Abraham (Ex. 3:13). Moses' fear to look upon God suggests a bad conscience.

Note that the promise of Moses that God would not fail nor forsake Joshua, but would be with him (Dt. 31:8) was similar to the very promise given to Moses which he had earlier doubted (Ex. 3:12; 4:12,15). Such exhortation is so much the stronger from someone who has themselves doubted and then come to believe. Joshua was encouraged that "As I was with Moses, so I will be with you: I will not fail you, nor forsake you" (Josh. 1:5). But these very words are quoted in Heb. 13:5 as the grounds of our matchless confidence that the Lord God will be with us too! As He was with Moses- not just in power, but in wondrous patience and gentleness- so He will be with us too. Not only did God encourage Joshua to see himself as in Moses' shoes; He inspired Jeremiah likewise (Jer. 21:8 = Dt. 30:15,19), and Ezekiel (Ez. 2:3 = Dt. 31:27; Neh. 9:17; Num. 17:10); and He wishes us to also see Moses' God as our God. But if Moses' God is to be ours in truth in the daily round of life, we must rise up to the dedication of Moses; as he was a faithful steward, thoroughly dedicated to God's ecclesia (Heb. 3:5), so we are invited follow his example (1 Cor. 4:2; Mt. 24:45).

Gideon was bidden rise up to the example of Moses- for there were many similarities between his call by the Angel, and the Angelic calling which Moses received at the burning bush. Thus Gideon was called to follow the Angel in faith, "because Ehyeh is with you" (Jud. 6:16)- a direct quotation from the Angelic manifestation to Moses in Ex. 3:12, "I will be [ehyeh] with you". And yet he responds: "Alas! For I have seen Yahweh's envoy face to face!" (Jud. 6:22). Gideon knew full well that Moses had seen the Angel "face to face" (Dt. 34:10). Gideon's fear is therefore rooted in a sense that "No! I'm simply not Moses!". And it's the same with us. We can read of all these reasons to believe that Moses is really our pattern, and respond that "No! This ain't me...". But there, in the record of Gideon and his success, lies our challenge to rise up to the spirit of Moses.


Exo 3:13 Moses said to God, Behold, when I come to the children of Israel, and tell them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you;’ and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ What should I tell them?-
To the Semitic peoples, a name stands for the essential identity of a person; to know their name gives access to the power and authority which they have. This is why Moses is so urgent to know God's Name (Ex. 3:13,14). Insofar as we grasp and absorb into ourselves the principles of that Name, we likewise will be empowered by the Father. The Name of God is essentially an epitome of who God is. God declared His Name to Moses when He declared His attributes to Him. This means that all that God is, we must be. Our attitudes to God are therefore related to our views about God.


Exo 3:14 God said to Moses, I AM WHO I AM; and He said, You shall tell the children of Israel this: ‘I AM has sent me to you’-
The Lord Jesus in John’s Gospel describes Himself in terms of the “I am…” formula, alluding to the Name He carried. Each time, He was referring back to the burning bush revelation of Yahweh as the “I am”; and by implication, the Lord’s audience are thereby placed in the position of Moses, intended to rise up in response as he did.

The Name speaks of the Father's desire to respond to His children. The root word ehyeh from which 'Yahweh' is derived occurs 50 times, mainly in the context of God's help and comfort in real situations. This is the practical nature of the things expressed in the Name. The repeated references to God’s Name in Ex. 3 and 6 had a very practical context. Israel needed to summon all their faith to believe that actually, they were not in a hopeless situation there in the concentration camps of Egypt. Even when they were given no straw and told to make the same number of bricks, the comfort they are given is to remember the Name of their God, who had acted according to that Name in the past, and would do so in the future for them- because He is and will be who He has been.

Whenever God speaks about His Name, it is in the context of His emphasizing His huge commitment to Israel as His people, often in the face of their weakness (Ex. 12:12; 15:26; 20:2; Ez. 20:5,6). The very meaning of God's Name is of itself encouraging- although it is somewhat masked in English translations. God 'is' not just in the sense that He exists, but in that He 'is' there with and for us. Von Rad puts this in more theological language when commenting upon Ex. 3:14: "It is to be understand in the sense of 'being present', 'being there' and therefore precisely not in the sense of absolute, but of relative and efficacious, being- I will be there (for you)". The verb behind 'YHWH' was "originally causative", i.e. God not only 'is' but He causes things to happen. We aren't to understand Him as passive, just a stone cold Name... but rather passionately active and causative in our sometimes apparently static and repetitive lives.


Exo 3:15 God said moreover to Moses, You shall tell the children of Israel this, ‘Yahweh, 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 this is My memorial to all generations-
The idea is that God didn't have a new Name. He was going to act according to the principles of His Name as He had acted with their fathers. Nothing had changed; and He had always been a God of salvation by grace. This was to continue; He was to be remembered for how He had articulated His Name in how He had historically acted in saving the patriarchs, and He would be remembered for how He was going to act to save His people from Egypt. What was to be memorialized was therefore His actions, rather than simply the letters YHWH. It was His wonderful works which were to be remembered [Ps. 111:4, s.w. "My memorial"]. By contrast, the sinful works and persons of the wicked would not be remembered / memorialized, be they Amalek (s.w. Ex. 17:14; Dt. 25:19), or God's apostate people (s.w. Dt. 32:26).  


Exo 3:16 Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and tell them, ‘Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt-
The pronouns stress how despite Moses' separation from His people over the last 80 years, he self identified as a Hebrew and God accepted that. Yahweh appeared "to me", with the new that He had "visited you", and was aware what had been "done to you". Moses indeed had felt for his own people there and identified with them, and God recognized that.

The ultimate visitation of Yahweh was in His plan to save His people eternally through the Lord Jesus, the greater than Moses (Lk. 1:68; 7:16). And we too are to look out of ourselves and visit the fatherless and widows (James 1:27), which is how Israel in Egypt are described in Ps. 68:5.  


Exo 3:17 and I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, to a land flowing with milk and honey’-
We note that only six nations are mentioned as living in the land, in contrast to the ten nations listed when the land was first promised (Gen. 15:18-21). It was as if God had already started to scale back the extent of His potential operations with Israel and His grace toward them, foreseeing they would not be able to cope with it all at one time. See on :8.


Exo 3:18 They will listen to your voice-
And yet there were various levels of possible obedience. Thus if the people don't believe the first sign, they may believe the second; if they don't believe either of them then there will be a third sign (Ex. 4:8,9). Yet God states in Ex. 3:18 that the people will listen; and yet Ex. 4:8,9 accepts the possibility that they may not. In this we see not only the essential hopefulness of God for human response to Him, but His willingness to go along with our continued weakness and blindness in an open-ended manner. There is, therefore, the possibility of living before God on different levels. See on Ex. 4:1.

And you shall come, you and the elders of Israel, to the king of Egypt, and you shall tell him, ‘Yahweh, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Now please let us go three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to Yahweh our God’-
See on Ex. 6:12; 33:14-16. God had explained to Moses what He wished him to tell Pharaoh: "Yahweh, the God of the Hebrews, hath met with us: and now let us go, we pray thee, three days journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to Yahweh our God" (Ex. 3:18). But Moses actually doesn't say those exact words. Instead he says: "Thus saith Yahweh, the God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness... The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days' journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice unto Yahweh our God, lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword" (Ex. 5:1,3). This seems perilously similar to the way in which Eve added to Yahweh's words when telling the serpent that actually, God had told Adam not to even touch the fruit. Moses appears to be painting Yahweh as somewhat draconian and threatening of him personally as well as Israel- as if to say 'Well sir, please do us this favour, or else our God is gonna get mad with us'. Perhaps this was actually how Moses misperceived Yahweh; or perhaps he added to Yahweh's words in order to make his appeal sound more plausible.

Thus we can as it were do the work of the Saviour Himself, if we truly live as in Him. In this spirit, Moses’ faith in keeping the Passover led to Israel’s salvation, they left Egypt by him (Heb. 3:16; 11:28); and when Aaron deserved death, he was redeemed by Moses’ prayer on his behalf (Dt. 9:20). Moses’ prayer, with uplifted hands, resulted in Israel’s victory over Amalek; without his prayer, and the intensity of it, there would have been no victory for them. However, he had to learn this lesson; for God first of all taught him that if he explained the power of God’s Name to Israel’s elders, then they would hearken unto him (Ex. 3:18). But they didn’t hearken unto Moses (5:20), because he didn’t bother expounding the Name to them. Therefore he did explain it to them (6:1-9 = 3:14-17); but then again they refused to hearken to him (6:9 cp. 3:18). He learnt that what was proclaimed by God as possible all the same depends on human effort. And this lead him on even further, to realize that through his spirituality, he could bring salvation for others.

             
The concepts of being God manifest and also being representative of a sinful Israel come together in Moses in a wonderful way. Ex. 3:18 is an example of this. The elders of Israel were to tell Pharaoh that "the Lord God of the Hebrews has met with us". Yet Yahweh God of Israel had only met with Moses. Yet because he was representative of Israel and also because he himself manifested Yahweh God of Israel, the elders had met Yahweh when they met Moses. In this we see a superb prefigurement of the Lord Jesus. He was the supreme, faultless manifestation of God, and yet also the total, empathetic representative of sinful man. 

 

Exo 3:19 I know that the king of Egypt won’t give you permission to go, no, not by a mighty hand-
And yet Pharaoh had the real possibility to let the people go, and therefore Ex. 4:23 NRSV implies that God only therefore went ahead with the plan to kill Pharaoh's firstborn. The "mighty hand" speaks of God's huge efforts to save Pharaoh by persuading him to submit to Yahweh. God did bring them out "by a mighty hand" (Ex. 6:1 s.w.), so the sense may be that it would require a "mighty hand" to bring them out, because the king of Egypt would not allow them to.


Exo 3:20 I will reach out My hand and strike Egypt with all My wonders which I will do in its midst, and after that he will let you go-
Moses "supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them" (Acts 7:25); but God told Moses that "I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt...". Moses only slowly learned the meaning of God manifestation through men. The hand of Moses was to be that of God. But he doubted that. Hence he was given signs relating to his physical hand; it became leprous, and he used it to catch the snake which his rod had turned into. Both leprosy and snakes are associated with sin. So God is teaching him that despite his weakness, He was still able and willing to work with Him.

Moses was “sent forth” by God to do the work (Ex. 3:12 and frequently); yet the same Hebrew word is used to describe how God ‘sent out’ [“stretched forth”] the hand of God to do it (Ex. 3:20). And Moses was taught this by being told to ‘stretch out’ [same Hebrew word] his hand (Ex. 4:4).  But Moses, for some moments at least, just didn’t want to do this. Hence God's anger when Moses comments: “Send [the same word translated “let go” or “put forth” used about Moses being asked to “put forth”  his hand in Ex. 4:4] by the hand of him whom thou wilt send” (Ex. 4:13). It was Moses’ hand that God had asked to be ‘put forth’ or ‘sent’. But Moses refuses to play a part in God manifestation. He wanted God to send forth another hand, the hand of God personally perhaps; although God had asked him to put forth his hand. We too tend to assume that God cannot manifest Himself through us; but we all tend to assume someone else will do the job, when it is we who are called to it.


Exo 3:21 I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, and it will happen that when you go, you shall not go empty-handed-
The Egyptians came to fear the Israelites at the end (Ex. 11:3), and therefore wished themselves to give them their wealth in the hope that this would as it were buy off the threat of death. For after the death of the firstborn, they feared that the rest of them would be slain next. The same word for "empty-handed" is used of how Jacob likewise did not return to his land from his slavery "empty-handed" but wealthy (Gen. 31:42). Constantly they were bidden see how they were being dealt with as their God had previously treated their fathers. And they were to remember this by not sending any slave away from them "empty-handed" (s.w. Dt. 15:13). Always they were to live life under the deep impression of how they had been redeemed themselves, and were to reflect that grace to others in every context and situation of their lives. And the new Israel likewise.  


Exo 3:22 But every woman shall ask of her neighbour, and of her who visits her house, jewels of silver, jewels of gold, and clothing; and you shall put them on your sons, and on your daughters. You shall plunder the Egyptians-
We may well ask whether this is commandment or prophecy. It is both, in that so much prophecy is conditional prophecy, dependent upon human obedience to actualize it. The idea was that they would march toward their new land dressed up in the finest clothing and jewellery. And it was this which they were to then give for the work of the tabernacle (Ex. 35:22).