New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary

Exo 6:1 Yahweh said to Moses, Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh, for by a strong hand he shall let them go, and by a strong hand he shall drive them out of his land-
See on Ex. 5:22,23. God doesn't give up with Moses' pathetic loss of faith in Ex. 5:23. He assures him that His saving purpose will indeed work out. Because He is Yahweh, the saviour God, and His purpose "will" work out, because "I will be who I will be". See on :2.

Exo 6:2 God spoke to Moses, and said to him, I am Yahweh-
The Name speaks of the Father's desire to respond to His children, despite their weakness of faith; see on :1. 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.

Exo 6:3 and I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty; but by My name Yahweh was I not known to them?-
See on Ex. 5:22,23. At the time of the burning bush, the people knew Yahweh's Name as a word- because "By My name Yahweh was I not known?" (Ex. 6:3), and clearly enough the patriarchs had been aware of the Yahweh Name. But the point was that they didn't see from His Name, just as a word, what He was really like, and what He could do for them. The Egyptians and others with whom Israel had had contact invoked their gods by pronouncing their name, and expected a miracle to happen. Presumably Israel had tried doing this with the word 'Yahweh'- and nothing happened. Moses put the problem to God in Ex. 6, and the response was "Ehyeh asher ehyeh". "I am that I am" isn't a purely correct translation, because the Hebrew verb used doesn't mean simply existence in an abstract sense. It refers rather to being there / present / being someone or something for someone. Martin Buber, in my judgment one of the finest of the many fine Jewish minds to have engaged with this matter of the Name, concluded: "'I am that I am' could only be understood as an avoiding of the question, as a statement which withholds any information". I would put it somewhat more gently, in saying that God was saying that He will be present with us, will be what Israel ultimately needs, without defining precisely in what sense. Because we're mere humans, we don't know what to ask of God as we should; and His very Name is the comfort that He will be for us as we need, with our eternal salvation in mind. God seemed to have encouraged Israel to understand this by going on to promise simply that "I shall be [ehyeh] present" (Ex. 3:12; 4:12). At this point it seemed Israel were doomed to make bricks without straw, and to be worked to death literally. But through the revelation of His Name, He wanted them to trust that He knew best how to bring them to salvation; He didn't want them to invoke His Name in the primitive way the Egyptians did with their gods, hoping for a quick-fix miracle. God is only ehyeh for His people; and there came a terrible moment when He had to tell them through the prophets that "You are not my people and I am not ehyeh for you" (Hos. 1:9). Israel lost this 'presence' of their God. And we know that we are His people by the constant sense we have of the hand of Providence in our lives, even through the unanswered prayers that reveal an altogether higher and ultimately Divine game plan in place in our lives. But like Israel before Moses, we wish for the quick fix, the waving of the wand to resolve the issues, the sense of the saving presence of God in our experiences, working out His ultimate plan of delivering us from Egypt / this world and from ourselves.

God had revealed Himself as Jehovah previously (thus Abraham could speak of 'Jehovah Jireh' in Gen. 22:14), but the  patriarchs conceived of God as a singular Angel- "God  Almighty" (as Jacob: "The Angel that redeemed me from all evil"). Now Yahweh says "you shall know that I am Yahweh your Elohim which brings you out from under the burden of the Egyptians" (Ex. 6:7). God is saying, 'I will be Elohim; I will be manifested not in just one Angel, but in many'.

Exo 6:4 I have also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their travels, in which they lived as aliens-
"I am that I am" can equally mean 'I was who I was', and implies that He will be who He was historically. And historically, He had been their saviour God. And although with the cry of the slave drivers fresh in their ears it seemed this was all irrelevant, the point was that the God of historical salvation was going to come through for them now. Because that was what His Name was all about. 

Exo 6:5 Moreover I have heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant-
The "groaning" was that just described at the end of Ex. 5, where the Israelites groan because of having to now make bricks without straw. To try to alleviate the burden, they even plead with Pharaoh that they are his people and not Yahweh's (see on Ex. 5:16). But despite that, God's grace was such that He simply felt sorry for them in their affliction. He likewise saved them at the time of the judges, not because they had repented or were suddenly faithful to Him- but simply because of His pity for them in their sufferings (Jud. 2:18).

Exo 6:6 Therefore tell the children of Israel, ‘I am Yahweh, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm, and with great judgments-
The three "I will"s clearly allude to 'I will be who I will be / who I was and have been'. This assurance of salvation was and is part of God's most essential characteristics bound up with the very essence of His Name. Those who bear that Name should therefore be able to say that they are assured, at this moment, of final salvation. For this is so much part of God's purpose and essence.

Israel were brought out by "great judgments" (Ex. 6:6; 7:4), i.e. by God's stretched out arm (Ex. 6:6). The way He acted with His “arm” was a manifestation of His judgment principles which are part of His Name. Therefore the Red Sea deliverance is described as the judgment of God, the day of the Lord etc. because God's people exited from the world whilst judgments came upon it; the Name of God was revealed through this process (Ps. 76:6-9; 103:6,7). For "redeem" see on :7.

Yahweh "purchased" His people from Egypt (Ex. 15:16) in the sense that He "redeemed" them (Ex. 6:6), alluding to the idea of buying a close relative out of slavery to a Gentile. God's people were in slavery to Egypt and wished to remain like that (Ex. 14:12); and had accepted their idols, rather than Yahweh (Ez. 20:8). Yet God bought them out of that slavery, He redeemed them only thanks to His love and pity (s.w. Is. 63:9); so earnest was He to have them as His own. We cannot push the metaphors too far, but the price paid was perhaps represented by the blood of the Passover lamb. For this finally was the price He was willing to pay to redeem us, similarly weak as they were. For we are redeemed (s.w.) by Him from the power of sin and death (Hos. 13:14).

Exo 6:7 and I will take you to Me for a people, and I will be to you a God; and you shall know that I am Yahweh your God, Who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians-
Literally, 'I will take you unto Myself as a people', as in Ex. 19:4. This is similar to the formulae used for adoption of children into a family. This could continue the family allusion of :6, where we read that God would redeem / act as a family redeemer, a ga'al, for His people. The idea may not be that they became His people at the point of the exodus, but rather that He took them to Himself "as a people", they received a collective redemption, not one of them was left behind, not even the most faithless. But the collective nature of Yahweh's salvation, in our times seen in Jesus, Yehoshua, Yah's salvation, must be responded to on an individual level. 

Exo 6:8 I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it to you for an inheritance: I am Yahweh’-
This promise was solemnly made, with uplifted hand as it were (Num. 14:30), to that generation who left Egypt (Ex. 6:8). But they did not enter the land, as Num. 14:30 makes clear. This was because Israel broke their side of the covenant, and did not in fact want to enter the land; and continued serving the idols of Egypt, which they took with them through the Red Sea (Ez. 20:8; Acts 7:43). But that promise was guaranteed by the fact that "I will bring you into the land... I am Yahweh" (Ex. 6:8). The very essence of Yahweh, that 'I will' save, as surely as 'I will be who I will be', a saviour God, was fought against by Israel's idolatry and unfaithfulness to the covenant. And because 'Yahweh' involves His character, which includes His judgment of sin and not turning a blind eye to it (Ex. 34:4-6), human intransigence and faithlessness was allowed to as it were even counteract His most essential 'being' a saviour God for His beloved people.    

Exo 6:9 Moses spoke so to the children of Israel, but they didn’t listen to Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage-
This appears to be God, through the inspired narrative, being generous to them. Rather like the sleeping disciples in Gethsemane being excused because they supposedly 'slept for sorrow'. The good news of the Gospel is for those afflicted by bondage and anguish of Spirit, as the Lord makes clear in the beatitudes. But here, the weight of the bondage is used as an excuse for their disbelief and disobedience- which later the prophets were to deeply lament. We marvel at God's grace.  

Exo 6:10 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying-
It seems that Yahweh now tells Moses to speak directly himself to Pharaoh; although He does take account of Moses' excuses about his stammer and poor knowledge of Egyptian. And He provides Aaron as a concession to that weakness. But His ideal intention was that Moses should speak to Pharaoh; because He loves to use the stammering, nervous tongue through which to speak His word.

Exo 6:11 Go in, speak to Pharaoh king of Egypt, that he let the children of Israel go out of his land-
There is no contradiction here with the requests to let them go and keep a feast to Yahweh for three days (Ex. 3:18; 4:23). For that still required the people to "go out of his land". But it could also be that once Pharaoh turned down that initial request, for the men to go and keep a feast and return, then the demands upon Pharaoh got progressively larger- not just the men, but all Israel, along with their children and animals, and not for three days but permanently. God clearly was working according to a carefully devised program with Pharaoh. Those who refuse God's requests likewise find that to avoid condemnation, the requests become larger and larger.

Exo 6:12 Moses spoke before Yahweh, saying, Behold, the children of Israel haven’t listened to me. How then shall Pharaoh listen to me, who am of uncircumcised lips?-
God had explained that His Name means "I will...", and Moses is effectively denying the power of the Name. God had promised Moses earlier that Israel would hear him (Ex. 3:18). God solemnly told him to go and speak to Pharaoh, because God had told him to do so. But Moses has the nerve to say exactly the same words to God a second time. In a chapter which speaks much of Moses' reluctance, the record encourages us: "These are that Aaron and Moses... these are they which spake to Pharaoh... these are that Moses and Aaron" (Ex. 6:26,27). They who were so weak, full of excuses, incomplete fulfilment of what they were commanded to do...

Exo 6:13 Yahweh spoke to Moses and to Aaron, and gave them a command to the children of Israel, and to Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt-
This summary statement appears to be reminding us that they were given a commandment and potential power to bring Israel out of Egypt. But Moses made every excuse not to, and railed against this command. And thus this section concludes in :26,27 that these are that Moses and Aaron. This was the extremely weak moral material which God used to save His people; and out of their weakness they were indeed made strong.

Exo 6:14 These are the heads of their fathers’ houses. The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel: Hanoch, and Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi; these are the families of Reuben-
Hanoch [s.w. Enoch] was named after the son of Cain (Gen. 4:17) and means "initiated", rather hinting at unspirituality and paganism.

Exo 6:15 The sons of Simeon: Jemuel, and Jamin, and Ohad, and Jachin, and Zohar, and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman; these are the families of Simeon-
But 1 Chron. 4:24 simply has "The sons of Simeon were Nemuel, Jamin... and Shaul"; but here and Gen. 46:10 shows that Shaul was Simeon's son by a wrong, casual relationship. Yet this is not recorded in Chronicles, even though so many other weaknesses are. Surely this is to demonstrate how if God imputes righteousness for a repented of sin, there really is no record of this kept by Him. This and other such lessons from Chronicles only come from digging under the surface.

Exo 6:16 These are the names of the sons of Levi according to their generations: Gershon, and Kohath, and Merari; and the years of the life of Levi were one hundred thirty-seven years-
"Gershon" means 'expelled', maybe meaning that like Reuben he was expelled from the role of firstborn [he is mentioned first as if he was the firstborn]. This is a theme of the Genesis record. But perhaps because of these weaknesses, the line to the high priest ran through Kohath. See on :20.

Exo 6:17 The sons of Gershon: Libni and Shimei, according to their families-
We note that both Moses and Aaron had sons called Gershon (Ex. 2:22). Such repetition of names within families and in the same generation was quite common, and is one thing which makes the study of the genealogies difficult in places.

Exo 6:18 The sons of Kohath: Amram, and Izhar, and Hebron, and Uzziel; and the years of the life of Kohath were one hundred thirty-three years-
We note the lack of emphasis upon the children of Moses and Miriam, the great wilderness leaders of Israel. There was to be no cult of personality nor nepotism, no riding on the name of a forefather in order to be a leader of God's people. Spiritual leadership in the Bible was intended to be based upon spiritual qualification.

Exo 6:19 The sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi. These are the families of the Levites according to their generations-
"Mahli" and "Mushi" mean 'sickly' and 'sensitive' respectively.  This confirms the suggestion I have often made, that names were given in response to later character and life experience. Sometimes in these genealogies we read the birth names, at others, the names they were given later in life. And therefore the same person can have more than one name.

Exo 6:20 Amram took Jochebed his father’s sister to himself as wife; and she bore him Aaron and Moses: and the years of the life of Amram were a hundred and thirty-seven years-
Amram lived to the same age as Levi (:16). Numbers and ages are used in Semitic literature often in a non literal sense, in order to make some point. Perhaps the idea here is that Amram was indeed a true son of Levi; despite Israel's general apostacy in Egypt, he married within his own tribe, as if seeking to keep the spirit of the later legislation to this effect. 

Exo 6:21 The sons of Izhar: Korah, and Nepheg, and Zichri-
The theme of this section, as explained on :13,26,27, is how the leaders of Israel, Moses and Aaron, were so weak. And with the benefit of our knowledge of Korah's later apostacy, we see the theme repeated here.

Exo 6:22 The sons of Uzziel: Mishael, and Elzaphan, and Sithri-
The recording of four generations is surely to prove how the prediction of Gen. 15:16 came true- in the fourth generation they were to return to Canaan.

Exo 6:23 Aaron took Elisheba, the daughter of Amminadab, the sister of Nahshon, as his wife; and she bore him Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar-
The theme of this section, as explained on :13,26,27, is how the leaders of Israel, Moses and Aaron, were so weak. And with the benefit of our knowledge of Nadab and Abihu's later apostacy (Lev. 10:1-4), we see the theme repeated here.

Exo 6:24 The sons of Korah: Assir, and Elkanah, and Abiasaph; these are the families of the Korahites-
1 Chron. 6:22,23 defines the relationships more closely; , Elkanah was the son of Assir, and only a "son of Korah" in the sense of being a descendant of him. The sons of Korah didn't perish with their father (Num. 16:32; 26:11), and became authors of some of the Psalms, working as gate keepers in the temple (1 Chron. 9:19; 26:1-19).

Exo 6:25 Eleazar Aaron’s son took one of the daughters of Putiel as his wife; and she bore him Phinehas. These are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites according to their families-
Putiel isn't mentioned elsewhere, but it appears to be a common Egyptian name, “He whom God gave”. This continues the theme of spiritual weakness (see on :23)- even the mother of Phinehas was an Egyptian, whom his father ought not to have married. Although we could argue the other way- that for an Egyptian to marry one of the slave Hebrews could be a reflection of this woman's acceptance of Yahweh as her God, even though most of His people were very far from Him. Just as it seems the daughter of Pharaoh who adopted Moses married into the Israelites. 

Exo 6:26 These are that Aaron and Moses, to whom Yahweh said, Bring out the children of Israel from the land of Egypt according to their armies-
This summary statement appears to be reminding us that they were given a commandment and potential power to bring Israel out of Egypt. But Moses made every excuse not to, and railed against this command. And thus this section concludes in :26,27 that these are that Moses and Aaron. This was the extremely weak moral material which God used to save His people; and out of their weakness they were indeed made strong.

Exo 6:27 These are those who spoke to Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring out the children of Israel from Egypt. These are that Moses and Aaron-
The point of :26 is laboured here a second time- that "these are those...", these weak ones, stubbornly not wanting to be used by God, initially little better than Pharaoh, resistant to His word of salvation... who were used, and out of their weakness they were indeed made strong.

Exo 6:28 It happened on the day when Yahweh spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt-
There is solemn emphasis in :28,29, stating the same thing twice, that Yahweh really spoke to Moses. And he had resisted this Divine calling.

Exo 6:29 that Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, I am Yahweh. Speak to Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I speak to you-
As explained on :1-4, the Yahweh Name promised that "I will..." redeem Israel, and yet Moses refused to believe that. And a comparison of what God told Moses to tell Pharaoh, and what he is recorded as telling Pharaoh, would suggest Moses was not fully obedient to this solemn calling.

Exo 6:30 Moses said before Yahweh, Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips, and how shall Pharaoh listen to me?
Because of his weakness, we are able to relate to Moses, and see him as our example. It is possible that Moses was not circumcised (Ex. 6:12,30); which would make him even closer to us. As noted on :26,27, this refusal of Moses to respond to God's word, and his making of pathetic excuses, is being laboured. For "these are those" (:27) who were used. That we might glorify God for His patience, and soften ourselves to work with Him without resistance.