God promises deliverance, 6:1-12
Ex 6:1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.”
“Now you will see what I will do” – As Chester remarks, God’s message for the Christian who thought she was following God faithfully, and yet finds things going from bad to worse, is even better than this. For God says: “See what I have done.” We can look back to what he accomplished in the exodus (as many later OT writers do). Better yet, we can look back at what he has done in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There we see that
- God keeps his promises – every one of them (2 Cor 1:20)
- God is sovereign over all things – even when evil seemed to have triumphed (Acts 4:28)
- God rescues people from death, and gives them life (Ex 6:6; Col 1:13f; 1 Jn 4:10)
He will drive them out of his country – He will be so eager to see them leave that he will not merely release them, but actually expel them.
Ex 6:2 God also said to Moses, “I am the LORD. 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them. 4 I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they lived as aliens. 5 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant.
Some scholars see 6:2-13 as a second (Priestly) account of Moses’ calling. But it is better to view it as a renewal of his call, with fresh encouragement and reassurance (Cole).
I appeared as God Almighty – ‘El Shaddai’. This title ‘appears to be an old Mesopotamian divine title, connected with the root ‘mountain’: p 91 compare the way in which ‘rock’ is often used as God’s title in early days (Deut. 32:4), perhaps as a symbol of stability and as a place of safety. In view of patriarchal origins in Mesopotamia, such a linguistic ‘fossil’ is not surprising.’ (Cole)
By my name the LORD I did not make myself know to them – Source critics point out that this (attributed to ‘P’) appears to contradict Gen 4:26 (attributed to ‘J’), which says that men called upon the name of the LORD as early as the days of Enosh (see also Gen 12:8; 28:13).
Ehrman (Jesus, Interrupted) asks:
In the book of Exodus, God tells Moses, “I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name ‘The LORD’ [= Yahweh] I did not make myself known to them” (Exodus 6:3). How does this square with what is found earlier, in Genesis, where God does make himself known to Abraham as The LORD: “Then he [God] said to him [Abraham], ‘I am The LORD [= Yahweh] who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans’” (Genesis 15:7)?
Waltke & Fredricks (in their commentary on Genesis) cite Eslinger, who notes that ‘Exodus 6 does not say that the patriarchs did not call upon the name Yahweh. He argues that the passive construction “I was not known as Yahweh” is a variant of the active construction, “you will know that I am Yahweh.” This “recognition formula” refers to the manifestation of the divine name through miraculous interventions and is common only in Exodus and Ezekiel (more than fifty times). In the former God manifests his miraculous intervention through history; in the latter, through prophecy.’
Cole (TOTC) remarks that the truth of the present verse is borne out by the fact that forms of YHWH do not occur in personal names before the time of Moses. The use of YHWH from Gen 2:5 onwards is, according to Cole, due to the later writer reading that name into the text (i.e., ‘the God we now know as YHWH…’). When Gen 4:26 says that men ‘began to call upon the name of YHWH’ it may mean no more than that at that time people began to engage in organised prayer and worship.
Matthew Henry has a succinct explanation: ‘The patriarchs knew this name, but they did not know him in this matter by that which this name signifies.’
K.A. Kitchen (On the Reliability of the Old Testament) regards this verse as expressing a rhetorical positive – “Did I not…?”.
Whatever we make of this statement regarding the ancient use of the divine name, the main point is clear enough: the God of Moses and Aaron is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. All that he was to those patriarchs he will now be to them. More specifically, the God who promised blessing to Abraham and his descendants will continue to be faithful to that promise now. See Gen 15:13-16.
I have heard the groaning of the Israelites – cf. Ex 2:24.
Ex 6:6 “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.
In extra-biblical developments of the Passover, the Jews associated four cups with Exodus 6.6-7:
Cup 1 “I will bring you out” [deliverance] Cup 2 “I will rid you of their bondage” [freedom] Cup 3 “I will redeem you” [redemption] Cup 4 “I will take you for my people and I will be your God” [consummation]
Mighty acts of judgement – As Stuart points out, ‘Egypt had unfairly oppressed the Israelites—they were never a real threat, they never would actually have joined with Asiatic enemies to try to take over Egypt (1:10), and they were therefore illegally placed in servitude. Accordingly, God would not merely rescue his people from the Egyptians but would also overtly punish the Egyptians in the process.’
Ex 6:7 I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.
Ex 6:8 And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.’”
I will give it to you as a possession – ‘They had never owned land—thus making Abraham’s purchase of land to bury Sarah an exceptional event worthy of a special story in Genesis (Gen 23:3–20). But now they would have the land where the patriarchs resided as resident aliens given to them as a gift from God.’
Ex 6:9 Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and cruel bondage.
Ex 6:10 Then the LORD said to Moses,
Ex 6:11 “Go, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the Israelites go out of his country.”
Ex 6:12 But Moses said to the LORD, “If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?”
Family record of Aaron and Moses, 13-27
Ex 6:13 Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron about the Israelites and Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he commanded them to bring the Israelites out of Egypt.
Ex 6:14 These were the heads of their families: The sons of Reuben the firstborn son of Israel were Hanoch and Pallu, Hezron and Carmi. These were the clans of Reuben.
Ex 6:15 The sons of Simeon were Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jakin, Zohar and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman. These were the clans of Simeon.
Ex 6:16 These were the names of the sons of Levi according to their records: Gershon, Kohath and Merari. Levi lived 137 years.
Ex 6:17 The sons of Gershon, by clans, were Libni and Shimei.
Ex 6:18 The sons of Kohath were Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel. Kohath lived 133 years.
Ex 6:19 The sons of Merari were Mahli and Mushi. These were the clans of Levi according to their records.
Ex 6:20 Amram married his father’s sister Jochebed, who bore him Aaron and Moses. Amram lived 137 years.
Ex 6:21 The sons of Izhar were Korah, Nepheg and Zicri.
Ex 6:22 The sons of Uzziel were Mishael, Elzaphan and Sithri.
Ex 6:23 Aaron married Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab and sister of Nahshon, and she bore him Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.
Ex 6:24 The sons of Korah were Assir, Elkanah and Abiasaph. These were the Korahite clans.
Ex 6:25 Eleazar son of Aaron married one of the daughters of Putiel, and she bore him Phinehas. These were the heads of the Levite families, clan by clan.
Ex 6:26 It was this same Aaron and Moses to whom the LORD said, “Bring the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions.”
Ex 6:27 They were the ones who spoke to Pharaoh king of Egypt about bringing the Israelites out of Egypt. It was the same Moses and Aaron.
Aaron to speak for Moses, 6:28-7:7
Ex 6:28 Now when the LORD spoke to Moses in Egypt, 29 he said to him, “I am the LORD. Tell Pharaoh king of Egypt everything I tell you.”
“I am the LORD” – “I am YHWH,” ‘which is not only used as authentication and guarantee of command or promise, but is also an explanation of its reason and nature, e.g. Lev 19:18.’ (Cole)
Ex 6:30 But Moses said to the LORD, “Since I speak with faltering lips, why would Pharaoh listen to me?”
‘If the Israelites would not believe Moses, what likelihood was there that Pharaoh would? In response, God reassured Moses of his ability to overcome Pharaoh and lead the people out of Egypt.’ (NBC)