Dr. Ted Hildebrandt, OT History, Lit., and Theology, Lecture 11
© 2012, Dr. Ted Hildebrandt
is Dr. Ted Hildebrandt in his Old Testament History, Literature and Theology course
lecture number eleven on the first four chapters of the Book of Exodus.
Today since we finally made it out of Genesis. We’re going to tackle the Book of Exodus today, and we’ll set that up and hopefully this class. In the next class we’ll finish off the book of Exodus. So, let’s begin with the book of Exodus just working with it and then I’ll be trying for the rest of the semester to catch up with you. Next Thursday’s important, it's our first exam. So just keep that in mind. The study guide coming out tomorrow morning.
Title of Exodus
What does the title of Exodus mean? Ek (or “ex”) on Greek is the word “out” or “out of” it’s the preposition “out”, odos means “the way” ex-odos so it’s “the way out.” Okay, exit the room. So Exodus means “the way out and the Book of Exodus is about the way out of what?--the way out of Egypt. So this is the way out of Egypt and the way out of Egypt is largely what the text is about.
Survey of Main Movements in Exodus
The background; there’s basically five movements, in the Book of Exodus and these five major things pull together. The first would be the birth and call of Moses. We haven't met Moses yet, but in the beginning of Exodus we meet Moses as a baby,--the birth and call of Moses. Then a couple/three chapters in is on the call of Moses. So Moses becomes a big player for the rest of the Pentateuch. By the way when I use the term Pentateuch, do you guys know that is the Pentateuch? Yes, William. Yes, the first five books of the Bible. Penta- like Pentagon, five, Pentateuch means “book,” there are five books. I should say this though, did Moses ever see a book in his life? The answer is: a book like this that has a binding the binding of books started about 100 A.D. 100 A.D. we started having books bound together. Before that, what did people have? Scrolls. So Moses would have been writing on scrolls. Often times in the Bible when it says “Book of the Covenant”, it's really talking about a scroll. They translated as book in our modern language so you have to make a shift there. Now the birth and call of Moses, he writes the Pentateuch, so he’s going to be the author of the first five books of the Bible.
Now the ten plagues of Egypt. Moses goes down into Egypt and basically there's going to the dual between the God of Israel and the “god” Pharaoh. Pharaoh is considered a god. Basically, the question is going to be is it going to be the god Pharaoh or is it going to be the God Jehovah? Are you going to fear a god you can see, Pharaoh who has chariot that can run you down, or are you going to fear the God whom you can’t see. So basically God establishes himself. A lot of the plagues are going to be a dueling between Pharaoh and God and God establishes himself in the ten plagues of Egypt. So we'll look at those ten plagues.
The crossing of the Reed Sea is a big and major event when Israel leaves Egypt they cross the Reed Sea. I put Reed Sea just to be kind of ornery. You guys probably know it as the Red Sea, but it is the Reed Sea. We don't know exactly which sea it was and so it was actually the Hebrew term is yam suph which means “Sea of Reeds.” The Hebrew text does not say “Red Sea” Hebrew text says “Sea of Reeds.” So I say the Reed Sea. So they cross the Reed Sea, God splits the water, they go cross, the Egyptians are drowned, that’s a big deal, so the crossing of the Reed Sea, very big deal for Israel that's when they actually leave Egypt and the Exodus event is. Let me just finish this and we’ll talk a little more about that.
The tabernacle; once they cross the Reed Sea they get out into the wilderness, God has them build a tent for him so that he can dwell in their midst. So you get this tabernacle structure which we skipped over a lot of the details because every board and every plank is measured. They describe it in great detail. Is anybody from Lancaster area in Pennsylvania at all? There’s an actual tabernacle structure down there isn’t there? I’ve been told that in the Lancaster area some of the Amish folk have actually built an actual tabernacle that you can go through down in the Lancaster area in Pennsylvania. I've always wanted to see it and things. So but, the tabernacle is built and God will dwell in the midst of his people. It is portable; it's kind of like a portable Temple you know and when they move, God moves with them. Some people suggested that manatees as far as what the skins were the sea cows; I get really iffy on a lot of the animals. I want to say we’re 3000 years later the animals are hard to identify. First of all they have different animals over there and so sometimes the translation is hard. So yeah, sea cows has been translated manatees. The honest truth is when I was over there, I didn’t see any manatees. I think they may have been there possibly, but it maybe something else. But all I’m saying is a kind of back off on that one. I’m not sure what the honest truth is. Sorry about that, I have to be honest with you. I mean there’s big discussion over what the animal was. I've never been convinced by any of the discussions, so I’m sorry. We’ll come up with a lot of animals when we get into Leviticus. We’ll be talking about the rabbit and the hare there's trouble when you translate between languages with the animals, especially between cultures.
So you have the Torah. The giving of the Torah the law at Sinai. The word “Torah” is a Jewish word if you talk to the Jewish people and you say tell us about the Torah largely it's the law, the law at Sinai and this is the Ten Commandments that were given there at Sinai. This is the major covenant. What was the major covenant in Genesis? It was called the Covenant with Abraham or the Abrahamic Covenant. The Abrahamic Covenant was based on what? Circumcision, right? Abraham circumcised his child and then the Abrahamic Covenant: the land, the seed multiplying and being a blessing to all nations that was the Abrahamic Covenant. It was reiterated to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and on down. Here is going to be the Sinaidic Covenant, the Sinai Covenant is going to be based not on circumcision so much as on obedience. So God will give his law and then basically the people are supposed to keep that law, that covenant, that he gave them. There will be specifications and stipulations. Now, you guys have just read Numbers. Did Israel keep the law?--no. Are they breaking this right off the bat? They're breaking the law so this gets to be a problem here with this Sinaitic Covenant, the giving of the law. So that is a summary overview.
Now I want to jump over next to, before we do this I want to review this and kind of step back and look at the whole big picture of Exodus here. The book of Exodus is a great book in the Old Testament.
Exodus as great redemptive act of the Old Testament
What is the great redemptive act in the New Testament? First of all who is the real redemptive act, who does it in the New Testament? What's the person's name?--Jesus. In Jesus’ is life we've got four Gospels that give us all this historical detail. What in his life that is considered the climax? Yes his death and resurrection. His crucifixion, his dying on our behalf and the resurrection from the dead. So that's the great redemptive act in the New Testament, Christ’s dying for our sins and raising again from the dead. Defeating death, that's a pretty big enemy to defeat. So Jesus rises from the dead giving us hope.
In the Old Testament, what is the great redemptive act in the Old Testament? In the Old Testament is Moses leading the people out of the bondage out of bondage of Egypt. So the great redemptive act in the Old Testament is going to be this exodus, this coming out of Egypt. So, we'll come back to that and show you that this is huge. In other words, as Jesus death and resurrection were huge in the New Testament, so the coming out of Egypt is huge for the Israelites. They'll go back over and over again “God delivered us out of the hands of the Egyptians and out of the hands of Pharaoh.”
Oral and written nature of Torah
Now wrote this material? Was it just oral. In other words, did this material that's coming down to us in our Pentateuch was this just oral? Or was it written? Or how does it come down. There will be big debates and the tension between this “writteness” of it and the “oralness” of it. So this comes up in several ways, but let's look at what the actual Bible itself says. In chapter 17 verse 14 you get this statement: “Then the Lord said to Moses”, how is God communicating with Moses? Is it oral or written? “And the Lord said to Moses” God is speaking to Moses. Moses is apparently hearing, so it’s oral. God to Moses is oral. You say, “Hildebrandt, what about the Ten Commandments? Was that oral or was that written?” Okay that was written. God wrote down the Ten Commandments right in the stone, right? So God actually wrote that himself. But here, here and in most places, God is speaking to Moses and he tells Moses he says “write this on a scroll as something to be remembered.” God commands Moses to write down what God said. So God's going to speak to Moses, Moses is going to write it down. So, is this Pentateuch, is this all oral tradition handed down through hundreds of years, or is this written down? God says it, Moses is commanded to write it down on the spot. So that's important. By the way does that assume that Moses can write?--yes. By the Way, Moses was trained in Pharaoh’s court, he was trained by his own family, so yes Moses was a very literate person.
God says, “write this on a scroll to be remembered and make sure that Joshua [reads] it.” I misquoted Scripture. It doesn't say that. It says, “and make sure Joshua hears it.” Do you see this shift here? Moses you write it down, and make sure that Joshua hears it. Was the Scripture to be read out loud so people could hear it? Make sure so that basically it was written down but then, by the way, there were there a lot people in the culture who probably couldn't read? Therefore, it would be read to them orally. I’m not saying Joshua couldn't read because Joshua will probably be writing the book of Joshua finishing up Deuteronomy, but he says read it out loud so Joshua can hear it. So it goes from the written back to oral. In other words, it goes: God speaks it, it starts out oral; Moses writes it down and for Moses after having it written down it goes back to oral and it is read in front of the people. So it’s this dance back and forth between oral and written. Can the oral check the written? Can the written check the oral? So you get this kind of checks and balances between the two. It's interesting both oral and written are mentioned in Exodus 17:14.
If you go over to another passage, over here in 24:4, you get a similar type of thing where God says in 24:4, “Moses went and told people.” Notice the oral Moses went and told the people all the words and the laws. Is that oral? Moses is telling them; it's oral. He's telling them of the words and the laws. They responded with one voice. “Everything the Lord has said, [again oral], everything the Lord has said we will do. Then Moses wrote down everything the Lord had said.” Do you see this oscillation back and forth? He told the people what God said, the people then confirmed the covenant saying we will do that and Moses then writes it down. Now is it hundreds of years later, they say we will do it? In this same verse here it says Moses wrote this stuff down. So this oscillation, this reciprocation between oral and written going back and forth, again we see it in Exodus 24:4.
Now, if you jump over to the New Testament, it’s interesting in the New Testament, in the Book of John, the fourth Gospel, it says, in the first chapter of John 1:17, it says “for the law was given through” whom?--Moses. Okay, so you've got a clear statement in the New Testament. The law was given through Moses.
Critics and biblical authors
Now you say, “Hildebrandt, why are you making a big deal about this? We all know Moses wrote it. Do you realize one of the big things that the critics always do and you can tell, they do the same thing every time, they take a book of the Bible, and it says the Psalms of David. What will the critics do? They'll say, well it says Psalms of David but it doesn't really mean that because David didn't really write that. Isaiah, you know the prophecies of Isaiah well, it really isn't Isaiah and so clunk, they throw out Isaiah and they throw out David. It says Samuel but obviously Samuel isn’t right so clunk, it's out. Well Joshua, you know Joshua wasn't writing either and these things. Basically they go through and they do a hit job. If the Bible says these guys are authors, the critics will basically go through and they try to dissect the author from the writing. Now why would they do that? Why try to get rid of the author from the writing? What they're trying to say is these things are handed down which means that they’re just legends and that they're not really historical. It’s not really from the real person that these are just legends about the person. What does that do? You see how that undermines the historicity of the Scriptures? So that technique then of removing the authors pretty common. Moses gets hit big time.
Yes, Hannah? John 1:17 says, “for the law was given through Moses.” Now here, Jesus himself makes some comments in John 7:19-22. Let me just read these two verses. Jesus himself is on record, the first is in John the narrator John there, in 7:19 it says this: “Jesus then said to them, I did one miracle and you were all astonished. Yet because Moses”, Jesus says Moses, “yet because Moses gave you circumcision”. Now by the way, is that true? Did Moses really give them circumcision? Did Moses command them to be circumcised?--yes he did. But question, did he give them circumcision? Actually it says here Moses gave you circumcision, although actually it did not come through Moses, but from the patriarchs. Which patriarch first did circumcision?--Abraham. So, the text notes that it didn't come directly through Moses, it was through the patriarchs. “You circumcise the child on the Sabbath. Now the child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken. Why are you angry with me for healing this man on the Sabbath? Stop judging mere appearances and make right judgment.” So, here Jesus says Moses and the law of the Sabbath and circumcision. So Jesus himself thinks that Moses wrote it. I usually say that if Jesus and the apostles think Moses wrote is it good enough for me?--yes. I think Jesus is God so he's pretty good on this.
Exodus elsewhere in the Old Testament
How is the book of Exodus looked at elsewhere in Scripture? If this is the great redemptive act in the Old Testament, what I’m going to show you now is that the Exodus that we’re going to be talking about gets echoed through the rest of the Old Testament. So there will be these echoes where, the Exodus themes of being delivered out of bondage and slavery and set free. It's almost like, what was that movie where, “Freedom!” you know at the end of the movie [Brave Heart]. But this idea of them being set free and that God is the great liberator all based on the book of Exodus. So you're going to hear this echo of the Exodus through the whole rest of Scripture. You’re going to hear it, and I just want to look at some of this in terms of this theme. The Exodus becomes a metaphor for deliverance. Deliverance and great redemptive act of God in the Old Testament.
Exodus in the Prophets
Now, let me just give you an example of this in the prophets. Here is one in the prophets. I'm curious as to how many of you have heard this before. In Hosea 11:1 it says, “When Israel was a child, I loved him.” God is portraying himself here as a what? “When Israel was a child, I loved him.” God is portraying himself as a father who loves his kid. He's saying when I was the father, and Israel was my child I loved him. “And out of Egypt, I called my son.” Who is God's son? His son is Israel. Did Pharaoh try to damage God’s son?--yes. Did God damage Pharaoh’s son?--yes. Do you see how it goes there? So, he says, “out of Egypt I called my son.” His son was Israel so he encapsulates the whole nation and portrays the relationship as a father has his love for his son.
The second part of this then changes the whole thing. Have any of guys ever been in a grocery store and watched parents with their kids? Is that a disaster? I have four kids and I learned how to handle the grocery store. What you do is you put them in the cart and that way they can't like get away. So I recommend that. You just have to be careful with the food and that if they crash around too much. Now, the other one that comes back to mind is I had a daughter who had a very strong personality even to today she’s a strong feminist. She's been she's had her own mind ever since she was a little kid. So she was a little kid around four or five in kindergarten. We were in a T.J. Maxx type store and will never forget we were going down the aisle and there's about a 60 foot long aisle and she's running away. Do you ever see kids run away from their parents when they're in the store? It's terrible. Because you can't control them in the store. So she is running down the aisle and it's about 60 feet long. I look and I just watched her just to see. Will most kids when they get very far away from their parents and she's going to run around the corner just before she goes around the corner to escape, will kids look back at the parents just to get a fix. You know what I’m saying, that this is home ground. So usually what will happen at least with my kids when they went on the end there, they'll look back to get the clue of where you are just to get a fix of where they are. Well my oldest daughter, she runs down there and she never looked back. I was waiting for the look I thought I'm going to get the look and see and then I’m going to jump around the next aisle and cut her off? She went down the aisle and never looked back. She was gone. Check this out.
What happens with Israel? God says, “I called my son out of Egypt but the more I called Israel the further they went for me.” Is that exactly what happened? God said “I brought them out with great a mighty arm and an outstretched hand” and stuff and the more I called them, the more they took off and ran away. So this verse is a classic verse.
Has anybody ever heard this verse before, “Out of Egypt I called my son”? Guess what, in Matthew 2:15, remember the infants who were killed in Bethlehem? Herod killed the infants and God's warned Joseph and Mary in a dream. He said, “You guys have to go down to Egypt to get protection because Herod’s going to do some bad stuff here. Joseph and Mary went down to Egypt and then Jesus then comes from Egypt and he doesn't go back to Jerusalem, Jesus goes up to Nazareth down in Galilee. When he does that, does Jesus come out of Egypt? Jesus himself comes out of Egypt and this verse then is quoted of Jesus, “out of Egypt I called my son” i.e. Jesus, that is Jesus. So what you have in the Exodus account, is that God calls “his son Israel out of Egypt.” Does Jesus himself in one sense stand for the whole nation of Israel? In himself he reenacts, what God's other son Israel did. So you get this echo in Jesus of what the nation of Israel did. Jesus is the new Israel in Matthew. Did Israel make it or did they botch it up? Israel botched it up. Now you have the new Israel coming out of Egypt and is he going to do it right. Jesus knew Israel comes out, is Jesus himself going to go into the desert to be tempted? Guess what happens in Matthew chapter four? Jesus comes out basically and goes into the wilderness and is tempted by Satan. Do you see that Jesus becomes the new Israel? So these things in Israel as a nation get echoed in the person of Jesus. “Out of Egypt I called my son” and you get this back and forth between the nation of Israel and Jesus becomes the new Israel.
And I'm sorry that was Matthew chapter 4 where the temptation comes. Chapter three he's baptized. “Oh,” you say wait a minute Hildebrandt, “he’s baptized in chapter three, comes out of Egypt in chapter 2, and he’s baptized chapter three.” The baptism, when did Israel go through the waters? And Jesus goes through baptism. You see the similarities here? And then going after through the waters then does he go into the desert to be tempted? Okay, you say, it gets pretty freaky but you start hearing these echoes. Is that maybe why Matthew set up his Gospel like this to show that Jesus is the new Israel? Okay, take it or leave it but anyways there are some things going on there.
This time we’ll jump over to the apostle Paul. The apostle Paul picks up the exodus in the New Testament. In 1 Corinthians 5 he says that Jesus is our Passover lamb. Now remember do what do they do with the Passover lamb? Do you remember that? They killed the lamb and they put blood where? You got a doorpost here, you’ve got two door posts and the header going across. Basically they put the blood over the doorway. Then, the angel of death sees the blood and what does the angel do? It passes over. That's where you get the name Pesach or “Passover,” the angel of death sees the blood of the door and “passes over.” Who is our Paschal lamb? Who is our Passover lamb? Whose blood got put on the door so the angel of death passes us by?--Jesus. So then Paul says explicitly Jesus is our Passover lamb.
Then what else happens? Jesus the night before he was betrayed he took what? He took the bread. Now, how many of you in your churches when you do the Lord's Supper or the Eucharist, how many of you use unleavened bread? Do some of your churches use regular bread? Some of the churches now are using regular bread but do you see when Jesus said it was unleavened bread because when Jesus does the Lord's Supper, what are his disciples celebrating?--The Passover. Why is it unleavened bread? Does anybody remember that? Because they had to leave Egypt in haste and they didn't have time for it to rise. So God says, “you guys are going to get out of Egypt so fast don't put leaven in the bread because you are going to have time to let rise. Then they would eat unleavened bread for seven days and as part of the feast.
By the way, that is what our Eucharist does, or the Lord's Supper, it's unleavened bread. Now how does Jesus, how does Jesus interpret that bread? That bread is my is what?--my body, which is broken for you. The cup that they drink is a cup of wine is my what? Is my blood. Does Jesus take the symbols of the Passover and reinterpret them as applying to himself? So you see even Jesus, the cross his death and the breaking and the shedding of his blood are symbolized coming out of these Exodus symbols.
By the way, I should say you’re at Gordon College. Gordon College has a wonderful privilege here. We have a unique man here, Dr. Marvin Wilson. He is connected in incredible ways to the Jewish community on the North Shore here. We have had at Gordon College had a Pesach, a Passover dinner, put on by the Jewish community. There must've been in Bennett Center were probably 1000 people here. And so we all went to the Passover dinner and it was really cool. So my kids went, I wanted my kids to go, and so stuff so my kids went and they asked all their friends. So we had a whole bunch of people. And we sat down at the table, and then all of a sudden the Rabbi, the Rabbi comes up to me, I never met this guy in my life, now is it clear that I’m a goi, that I’m a Gentile? I used to have hair but anyway the color of this hair and the nose I'm not Jewish. I mean sorry this isn’t Jewish okay. I mean you can tell just by looking. He comes up to me and approaches me and I’m sitting at this Pesach table and he says, “would you pray at the meeting?” Now I’m going, “whoa, there’s like 1000 people here I’m a Gentile obviously I’m a Gentile, I was wearing my kippah but that doesn't make you Jewish.” And so I couldn't figure out why did this guy ask me to pray in front of everybody. So I didn't know what was going on. Afterwards I caught Dr. Wilson running around campus and I said, “hey Marv, this guy called me out of the clear blue to pray for the for these people. I'm a Gentile.” And he said, “apparently whoever had the biggest family unit in the group would be asked to pray and you had the biggest family.” Well I had ten kids but they weren't all my kids. Most were all the friends of my children. So anyway if you ever get a chance, to go to a Passover dinner, a Jewish Passover dinner, do it. When you sit there you will be shocked at how so much of the imagery goes right into Jesus. And so it's beautiful if you ever get a chance to go to a Pesach dinner, go. The food is good too. Passover is connected to the Lord’s Supper.
Then here's something you may not have caught, and actually I have a good friend Dave Mathewson put me onto this. In the book of Revelation, are there a lot of plagues in Revelation? Yes. Do you know the plagues in the book of Revelation many of those plagues echo the plagues that were found in Egypt. In the book of Revelation does the sun go dark?--yes. In the book of Revelation are there locusts and stuff that come out?--yes. And so what you have is the Exodus plagues echoed in the book of Revelation the last book of the Bible when God's going to kind of do all this and the earth is trembling and all this big nasty stuff happens in the book of Revelation, much of that imagery is built off of the Exodus. And so all I'm saying is this little book of the Exodus, does it get echoed through the whole Bible? It's kind of incredible.
If you read Psalm 78 for example, Psalm 105, or Psalm 106, those Psalms are just full of this Exodus. So Psalms as well as the prophets on Exodus. Now speaking of the Psalms, here's one called the Great Hallel and this is actually read at the Passover time this. You know this term because you guys say. “hallelujah.” Hallelujah, okay “jah” is Jehovah so Hallel means “praise Jehovah”, praise the Lord. I realize I was a Baptist so we always did Amen. But if you're charismatic you go “hallelujah.” That was a joke, but okay. As everybody's looking all serious here that was a joke okay.--the Great Hallel. This is what is read at Passover time. And here's how it starts, “when Israel came out of Egypt” so as soon as it does that what is talking about? “When Israel came out of Egypt” that’s the Exodus. “The house of Jacob from the people of foreign tongue.” The people of a foreign tongue are the Egyptians. “Judah became God's sanctuary and Israel his dominion. God dwelt in the midst of his people in the tabernacle. The sea looked and fled.” What’s that talking about, “the sea looked and fled”?--the parting of the Red Sea. Is the sea being personified like a person? As it's afraid of God and running away. And the sea looked and fled, the Jordan turned back. By the way, when does the Jordan turned back? Is that in the Pentateuch? No that's the book of Joshua. So he moved from Exodus now to the entering of the Promised Land. “The mountains skipped like lamb, rams the hills like lambs.” When did the mountains shake?--when God was on Mount Sinai. Remember the mountains trembling? So this is a poetic description in the Psalms of the Exodus. Here they are singing this at the feast then, they will sing the Great Hallel and they do this till this day. So, okay so in the Psalms, the Prophets, the New Testament, the book of Revelation the book of Exodus is important and is echoed.
Ancient Egyptian History: survey
Now, what was Egypt like? The Greek historian Herodotus has called Egypt the “gift of the Nile.” Do any of you guys ever do Google maps? Have you ever done Google maps to look at your house or something. If you ever get on Google maps, do Egypt. You get the Google maps and do Egypt and you find in Egypt, what color dominates that whole area? A sandy brown because you’ve got desert for like 1000 miles. You’ve got desert for like 2000 miles on the side. And what will happen when you do your Google maps, you'll find there is a thin ribbon of green. There'll be a yellow-brown, sandy brown, and there’ll be a little ribbon of green coming down. That’s the what? That's the Nile River. They basically irrigate out of the Nile River and you'll see a little strip of green. In other words, “Egypt is the gift of the Nile.” You take the Nile away, where is Egypt?--Nowhere. Egypt doesn't exist. It's basically where water and life comes together.
Now, okay first of all, number one I don't want you to know this. I say I don't want you to know this I’m just going to run through this, this is summary of all of Egyptian history. This is the Hildebrandt summary of Egyptian history. Are some of you taking the real thing off of Prof. David Wick and Western Civilizations? Wick is phenomenal. You're getting some of the best ancient Near Eastern teaching you can find anywhere. I've sat in his class I got what you guys are getting in college, I had graduate courses that weren’t as good as what Dr. Wick does. The guy is a phenomenal teacher. Western Civilization and Dr. Dave Wick. By the way it always disturbed me when I would sit in the back of his class and he would tell the funniest jokes and the students would just sit there and I’m roaring. He's got a real dry sense of humor but he's telling jokes half the time in his class. This guy is really humorous but you've got to get tuned into it. I’m going to do all the Egyptian history on one screen okay. Now I just want you to get a sense of the flow of Egyptian history okay. You have the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom and the New Kingdom. These are the three kingdoms of Egypt. The Old Kingdom, starts back about 2700 BC and runs down to about 2100, and this is when the pyramids were built. What’s our date for Abraham?—2000 B.C. Question. Were the pyramids already built, when Abraham was in Egypt?--yes. Abraham saw that. Okay the pyramids were there already before Abraham's time about 2700-2100 B.C. This is the great building; they built all of these massive of things. The First Intermediate Period, these intermediate periods are going to be periods of chaos. The Intermediate Periods is when there’s chaos. It's when foreigners come in and beat up the native Egyptians and then there’s chaos. So the First Intermediate Period, is largely when Abraham was? So when Abraham goes down, is Egypt strong or weak?--weak. There’s chaos going down there so he fit in with foreigners coming in. So this is the First Intermediate Period with Abraham.
Then you have what's called the Middle Kingdom. The Middle Kingdom is what I work with a lot when I do wisdom literature. So the Wisdom of Amenemope, the wisdom of various people it comes with a lot of arts and literature from about 1991 B.C. Can some of you remember 1991? It was 1991 to 1670 B.C. So anyways, this is the period of literature and this is when a lot of wisdom literature is developed. This is the building period. This is the literary period.
Then you have a Second Intermediate Period. That's when Israel’s in Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period. A lot of people said the Hyksos are there and the Hyksos group comes in there and creates chaos. Israel is in there too. Does anybody remember the text that says the “Pharaoh that knew not Joseph”? In other words, Joseph was favored by the one Pharaoh, but there was a Pharaoh who knew not Joseph? Some people think that that's the Hyksos. When the Hyksos took over, they didn't know the Jews from anybody, so they enslaved the Jews. They enslaved them. So this is the Second Intermediate Period.
The New Kingdom, is a period of expansion. And this is when, what's the problem with Egypt? Is Egypt a very expansionist culture?--now, Egypt was very provincial. As long as they had their Nile, were they happy? They were like the breadbasket of the ancient world. They provided wheat and stuff, food for everybody else. They didn't go out much, I'm saying they weren’t conquerors going out all the time. They were kind of like what I think about China. Is China a really big strong country that could dominate a bunch of areas? But is China does not go out dominating other peoples, they’re kind of more provincial. They work within their own society. Egypt was kind of like that. They weren't expansionistic except in this period when they did go off and went up to Mesopotamia. But normally they were not that way.
So then finally, after the New Kingdom Period of expansion, then there's this what they call the Third Intermediate Period and this is done around the time of David and Solomon, which is really interesting. So during the time of David and Solomon, is Egypt's strong or weak?--weak. David and Solomon come to power and their kingdom expands because basically because Egypt is weak, and by the way, at the same time Mesopotamia was weak. So David and Solomon will flourish because both Egypt and Mesopotamia were weak at that time, and David and Solomon will flourish. So the kind of flow for Egypt: Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom and the New Kingdom with these Intermediate Periods of chaos in between.
Now, the little bit of a map. Here’s a map we see the Salt Sea, the Dead Sea. You come down here you’ve got the Gulf of Aqaba, named after the city of Aqaba in Jordan. This is the Red Sea. Down here this is the Gulf of Suez. What city is named after right here? This Gulf of Suez named after the city of Suez right here. The Gulf of Aqaba is named after the city here that's called Aqaba in Jordan. They call it Elat on the Israeli side. This is the Sinai Peninsula. Can you see that it's a peninsula here? This peninsula is like a huge plate here and it actually has, this part here has lifted up and then you get this drop into the Red Sea. Let me just explain this. I've actually gone swimming. If I say the name Jacques Cousteau, does that mean anything anymore? This guy was really good at swimming but he said some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world are found along here and I would agree with that. I don't have his experience but I’ve swum around here. Let me just tell you about the Ras Mohammed. Okay, you're down at the very tip of this Sinai Peninsula and you’re going to go swimming. So you walk out of the water it’s this deep and I was raised in the Niagara River so I’m kind of like a fish. So the water doesn't scare me and I like swimming. So I’m walking out; it’s bout this deep, about this deep and you take one step one step and the water is 600 feet deep. Yes. Remember I told you that platform lifted up? When the platform lifted up, boom. It shattered down. And there's a 600 foot drop off. What happens is you're in the water so you basically you float like this and where you're out now is 600 feet deep. Question. When you look down, what's down there? It goes like, it’s like holy cow while that’s really deep. It's like I can't see the bottom I mean I can't even see close to the bottom. Anyway, what happens is you turn around and look at this cliff that you just came off of, and there will like be all kinds, I don’t know what the official name is but it's like barnacle things and all these tropical fish that are really colorful fish. We’re swimming out between these corals and these barnacles and stuff and you can just float there and just watch these fish. It's really, really cool.
Now you say yes, you're watching these fish and a shark comes up behind you, but I didn’t see any sharks, but they have them there. What happens is you float back up and get back on the cliff and it’s knee-deep. So it's really fun things.
But anyways, this is Sinai and a lot of people put Mount Sinai down here and if you ever get, actually I was going to tell you if you ever get a chance to get down there, but it is this dangerous territory now? The terrorists they blow up stuff down there now. So when I went there it was after the Civil War there were barely any roads back then. And now it’s all built up; the terrorists had blown it up two or three times. Okay let's get out of here.
Geography of Egypt/Goshen
Okay. So this is Sinai and things, then comes across. This is the land of Goshen, this is Memphis. I always say this is Memphis because that is where the king’s buried. This is the Nile and the Nile Delta. You were familiar with that because this is the land of Goshen, which is going to be important for us. Who's going to live in the land of Goshen?--the Hebrew slaves. Now even in America do we have places called Goshen? Has anyone ever heard of Goshen College? We name these things after Goshen where the Jews settled.
Why did the Egyptians settle them there? You got a couple things going. The Jewish people, what is their trade by nature?--they’re shepherds. What are the people that live along the Nile?--farmers. Do shepherds and farmers get along real well? What happens with the shepherds when the shepherd brings a sheep over to your house and you’ve got a farm, what does your sheep do? Eats the farm plants. It's like, in America didn't we have the cattlemen versus the farmers in America? When a guy brings his cow in and eats your cornfield, you’re done. They had the same conflict there. So basically you tell the shepherd stay out of here and leave the farmland alone. Again, Egypt was the breadbasket of the ancient world, and the wheat was grown here.
Now the other reason why they're out there because when Egypt gets attacked, how can Egypt get attacked? They seem to be more provincial. Can Egypt get attacked from over here? All the Libyans over here say they want to beat up on Mubarak. So they come across the desert. Are you going to cross the desert to attack from the west?--no, it’s a thousand miles of desert. Even a two-humped camel can't make that one. So you’re not going to come this way. Nobody's can attack you from this direction from the west. Nobody's going to attack you. Well, maybe somebody will attack from the South? If they try floating down the Nile River, that will be some great whitewater rafting. You just flow down with the current. What's the problem? In seven places you’ve got what?--cataracts. Now that maybe fun in the whitewater rafting boat, but when you’ve got an army that's not good. So basically they're cut off from the south by the cataracts that protect them. Is anybody going to come attack them from the north, across the whole Mediterranean Sea to attack Egypt? Is that a long trip across the Mediterranean? Are you going to lose boats, men and who knows what else your going to lose. So nobody, and by the way you put them up here and they land in this Delta area. What happens when they lands in the swap? Is anybody familiar with Williamsburg in Virginia? You put them in a swamp, what happens? There are mosquitoes. What do mosquitoes do to people? They sting them and infect them with malaria. Question. Do the mosquitoes kill people?--yes, Williamsburg. One-third of the people died.
So therefore what was the only direction Egypt can be attacked from? Right down to through hear. So where are you going to put the Jews? Put them here that way when you're attacked from here, who will your attackers have to kill first?--the Jews in Goshen. The Jews become a buffer zone so Israel gets protection, then the Jews can be killed before they actually face the real Egyptians. So this land of Goshen then is located here, and we'll see more about the land of Goshen later. That's just kind of a brief layout of some of the things. We’ll come back to that later.
Pharaoh’s persecution of the Jews: Taskmasters
Now, let’s look at Pharaoh's ways of dominating the Jews. In Exodus 1 and 2, you get this--I want to put this into a bigger context. What is God's plan for the Jews? Let me go back before the Jews. What was God’s plan for all humankind? They were in the Garden of Eden, they were told to work the garden and they were told to do what? Adam and Eve-- multiply and do what? “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” God's destiny for humankind that they multiply and fill the earth. Now what happens? Okay you get Noah God says to Abraham's descendants they are to do what? They're going to be what? As many as the sand of the sea shore or the stars of the heavens. They are to multiply and be fruitful. Abraham's descendants are to be fruitful and multiply. So God's destiny for Adam and Eve the gets taken over by Abraham. Now, who stands in the way of that? There's a guy named Pharaoh, and Pharaoh says wait a minute. There are way too many of these Jews we have to kill these Jews. There's too many. They are multiplying too much.
So Pharaoh will oppose God's plan for the multiplication of the seed. Do you see that? So Pharaoh here is going to go at odds with God. Basically Pharaoh is going to attack God’s son to destroy God's son, and God will attack whom? He will attack Pharaoh, because Pharaoh attacked God’s son. Will God takeout Pharaoh’s son? You see the similarities here? Pharaoh will try to destroy God's son, God will take out Pharaoh’s son. So he is resisting God's major plan for Israel.
What happens? How does Pharaoh do it? In chapter one of Exodus starting at verse eight. “Now Joseph and all his brothers and all their generation died. But the Israelites were fruitful and they multiplied greatly and became exceedingly numerous so that the land was filled with them. Then a new king who did not know Joseph came to power. But he said the Israelites have become much too numerous for us. Come, we must deal shrewdly with them.” So then in chapter one verse eleven “they placed slave masters over them to oppress them with forced laborers. And they built the cities of Python and Ramses.” So Pharaoh says there is too many, they’re multiplying. How are we going to get their numbers down? We will enslave them, we will oppress them and we will work the daylights out of them. If we work the daylights out of them will have time to have children? No, they’re going to be too tired. So basically he puts taskmasters over them and the taskmasters enslave oppress them. Israel become slaves so that this gets really bad for Israel. The more they oppress them. However, the more they work them what happens to the Israelites? The Israelites get stronger. They worked hard and all of a sudden they get stronger and they multiply all the more.
Well, that didn’t work so we have to go to plan number two. Plan number two is to go to these midwives. Let me jump down to chapter one verse fifteen. “And the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah” “Shiphrah and Puah”. How many with midwives are named here?--two. Do we know the names of these midwives? --Shiphrah and Puah. You say, “Hildebrandt, do you really care about that though.” No I don't, but what’s interesting to me is can you tell me the name of Pharaoh? What’s Pharaoh’s name? Pharaoh is Pharaoh. Is this ironic? Is it Amenemope? Do we know the name of Pharaoh or is this Pharaoh just named Pharaoh? Do we know the names of these Hebrew midwives? Do you see the irony here? We know the names of the midwives but we don't know the name of the Pharaoh. Do you see what’s going on with the text? Is Pharaoh being denigrated by the fact that he has no name but these two midwives have names? I think there is some literary play here going on with these midwives.
So what happens with these midwives? He comes to the midwives and he says this: “when you help Hebrew women in childbirth on the delivery stool, if is a boy kill him but if it is a girl let her live.” I mean this is gender-based discrimination. This is terrible. The boys get killed but the girls get to live. That is just not right. This is gender inequality. This is terrible. It's not an issue because it's just boys after all. Do you see what I'm doing there? Do we have cultures today that are saying let the girls die and let the boys live?--the same thing. There are countries that are doing that right now. So I'm saying that this is a big problem here they are killing boys.
Now what midwives do? Are these midwives smart? “The midwives however feared God.” The Hebrew mid-wives however feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt wanted. And they let the boys live. Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives asked them “why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?” Then the midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women. They are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.” Is that the truth? Are Hebrew women indeed different from the Egyptian women and the child birthing process? Are these women lying to the Pharaoh? Okay, playing off of the prejudice that the Jews are different than the Egyptians. Are they playing off the prejudice to get at Pharaoh? Yes they are.
Does God bless liars? Is it okay to lie sometimes? Some people call this altruistic sinning. What does the Bible say about that? Thou shalt not what?—lie. It's a sin. Did God bless these women?--yes he did. As a matter of fact, when they go to Egypt, guess who leaves with them?--Shiphrah and Puah. They think that's our jobs we’re going to go deliver some more babies. So they left with the Israelites and when they took off God blessed them and they had a part in Israel.
Now the question comes up. How do you understand this? This is going to come up again and again, so let me just say how I would understand this. Let me give you a couple of examples. Once upon a time we lived in Indiana for about twenty-two years. My children were raised and reared in Indiana. Is anybody from Indiana here? Okay, Indiana. You have to understand Indiana is different from Massachusetts, believe me. In Indiana, they only have one sport. They only play one sport in Indiana and that sport is basketball. My son he was in fourth grade. The high school coach was scouting him out at fourth grade. High school coach scouting a fourth grade kid! They started training these kids in basketball from the time that they were born, I’m serious. I played ball at Houghton College so I thought well I'm going to teach my son how to play ball. So I took him out and I thought well you know when he gets older I’ll let him beat me; when he’s in the ninth or tenth grade, I’ll let him beat me. But I was trying to work with him.
When you’ve got a kid who’s about seventh grade, there's right hand and left. Which hand is the weak one? His left hand’s weak. So basically I wanted to develop his left hand. So basically what I do is I would push them one way to develop his hand to force him to go to the left. So we’re out playing and this little kid of mine, this seventh grade kid looks at his father and I'm trying to get position to force him to go left and he goes like he goes like this. He goes like this, he actually tried to deceive me. The kid tried to deceive me like he was going to take a shot or something. He actually threw a fake in order to deceive his father. Deceptive little rascal! I go up to swat him but then he goes around me. Deception of the father is the worst kind. He lied to me. Was there intent to deceive? Was there intent to deceive his father? There was intent to deceive.
Now question: You laugh because you say in basketball, is it okay to have the intent to deceive? As a matter fact most of the game is throwing fakes. Part of football is the same way. You get them thinking you're going one way but you go back the other way. By the way, in war is the same way? America is going into Kuwait. We have all our troops and it's all our troops were going in this way and then guess what? Generals fake them out because they go in the exact opposite way as they were seeming to go. Is that part of war? You're going to do one thing then you actually go the other way. So this is part of war.
You have to ask yourselves in the case of the Hebrew midwives, is it okay to lie when someone is going to kill babies? Let me put it into another context. Say if you're in Germany or in Holland and you get a bunch of Jews in your basement and Nazis come to your door and they say, “Have you got Jews living here?” Well I am a Christian and I'm sworn never to lie. “Yeah they're already down there in the basement.” So the guy asks you up front and you got the Jews in there and you go yes they’re right there. Is that a great atrocity that you participated in? Would you say, “Will you hold on, I’ll go get them”? You have the same thing in a war context. When they're out to kill somebody do you deceive? Is that part of the quote “game”? You say, “Hildebrandt, are you saying it's okay to lie every time?” This brings up the claim: does God bless liars? And the answer is: did God bless the Hebrew midwives?--yes he did. Did they fear God? Is that why they did what they did was because they feared God? It's like if somebody is going to come to your door and say I'm going to kill your family, where are your sons; where are they? And you say, “well they're hiding in the bed there.” That's not good. You say, “no I'm not going to do that and you're going to tell them something different.”
Does this mean then total relativism? You say, “Hildebrandt are you open up to ethics that the situation determines what's right and wrong?” Does the Bible clearly say lying is wrong? Does the Bible clearly say “thou shalt not lie”? Is the Bible consistent in saying that in all of Scripture? Are integrity and honesty really important features? However, having said that, are there certain contexts in the preservation of life that you use deceptive tactics? Yes. Is war one of those contexts? Basically what you've got is a war going on here before with Pharaoh. So I think the thing with the Hebrew midwives was right. God looks at it and blesses them and so I'm saying it doesn't open a can of worms to say, “oh I lied to my mother because she was really going to get angry and I didn't want to make her feel bad so I lied to her to protect her from herself.” Okay that's a bunch of baloney. What I’m trying to say is you have to take context into account. You see the importance of context. The Hebrew midwives in the fear of God they deceived Pharaoh and they were blessed as a result of it.
Now, the last one what happens here? Let’s kind of run on through this. Pharaoh says okay this baby thing isn't going anywhere. Let's not have the midwives do this. Let's throw the male babies into the river. Now by the way, is the Nile River a god? So throwing the babies into the river. Question: are there critters in the Nile River? You throw the babies in there, are babies helpless? Babies are helpless. You throw them into the river and the baby is going to drown and if it doesn't drown one of the crocodiles or whatever they’ve got there going to get them. Are there manatees in the Nile River, do you know? I don't know you got me on this manatee thing now. But anyway the babies would die.
Now what is really cool here is Pharaoh was using the Nile River to destroy the infants. How does God use the Nile River? Does God use the Nile River to deliver Moses? The very thing that Pharaoh was trying to use to destroy the infant God turns it and uses it as Moses gets floated down the river, special delivery, right into the arms of Pharaoh's daughter. Do you remember how they made this box saying and they coated it with tar and put Moses in it. He goes down the river and Pharaoh's daughter picks up the box and she says, “whoa I am drawing this baby out of the water.” So she names and “drawn out” which means what drawn out is Moshe. Moshe for you guys is Moses. So “Moses” means “drawn out.” His name is basically “the one drawn out” of the water like this and his name becomes “Moses.” She picks him up and she says, “oh wow this must be one of the Hebrew children.” Now how did she know that this was a Hebrew child? Is it possible that he was wrapped in a kind of cloth that the Hebrews would have made? That's possible that he was wrapped in a distinctive cloth different from different cultures. That's possible. Is it also possible that there were other possibilities?—yes. She picks up the child and says, “Holy cow this kid is circumcised already.” So she may have associated with the Jews.
Now who is standing by and says, “hey I can take care of that baby for you? You need a babysitter?”--yes, Miriam, Moses’ older sister. The suggestion here is that Pharaoh's daughter would have suggested that the river god had just provided her and maybe she was barren or something and the goddess or the god of the Nile had just presented her this baby. That seems like a likely possibility of how she would have understood it from her perspective. Now what we know is it was Jehovah who shipped him right down in there: Do you see this? I'm trying to bring this up again. Do you see God who is taking that which is evil and turning it to good? Why is that important? And when your life is falling apart, and really bad stuff is happening to you what I want to tell you is God can take that bad stuff and give it a few years and God will take the worst thing that ever happened to you in your life and all of a sudden turn it around for good. You say, “Hildebrandt it can't be this thing is so bad for me,” but I want to tell you some of the worst things in your life God will turn around and they will actually be the things that become the most important in the redemptive process for you. I say that now and we’re going through situations in our own family now and I've seen it happen over, and over, and over again. So when really bad stuff starts happening, I want to tell you start looking up because God's at work. Now you may not understand it and frankly you may not understand for two or three years or even longer, but God is at work and when disaster hits you look up. Aslan’s on the move.
Three stages of Moses’ life
Now three stages of Moses's life. These are fairly straightforward. For the first forty years, Moses initially was raised by his own family. So by his sister Miriam he would've been trained. They were Hebrews and they were Levites. After he probably became of age, you get these rites of passage. You know what I'm talking about these rites of passage? For Jewish kids the rites of passages around the time-- have you ever heard of Bar Mitzvah? Some of you may have had Confirmation--has anybody gone through Confirmation? You know twelve or thirteen years old you are welcomed into the adult world. So there is this movement from child to adult via these rites of passage. By the way, will different cultures have different rites of passage? So anyway he is raised, or reared by Pharaoh's daughter as her son. Would he have been very illiterate and would he have been trained in the wisdom literature of Egypt?—yes. Moses would've been very highly trained. She said is he being raised by his family or by Pharaoh's daughter, and the answer is: yes. Both of those are right. Early in his life he's raised by his family, but for the dominant part of his adult life he was raised by Pharaoh's daughter. Yes that's the first stage of his life--forty years there.
The second forty years of his life, he goes out and he's a shepherd in Midian. Now by the way, when you think of a shepherd, do you think of a guy out on the side of the hill watching his sheep? Do you realize how boring that is? Have you ever seen sheep? I want to tell you I have not seen in my life much stupider animals. I'll take you over just down by Bradley Palmer State Park, the guy has sheep. They are dumb. Really dumb. No there are animals that are really smart. Are there really smart dogs?--yes. They almost understand what you're saying. Sheep are just the opposite. When you're out there watching them day after day in the desert, is that a really, really boring job? So when you think about this shepherd thing be careful that you do not idealize it. It's really hard labor. Moses is in the desert as shepherd here for forty years in Midian. This is where he marries Zipporah, his wife, has some kids while he's out in Midian. Midian is Sinai. This is out in the Sinai Desert and the tribe that he is with is the Midianites with Jethro.
Now God then calls him and basically tells him go back from the desert and be a deliverer for forty years then Moses then leads the sheep of Israel through the desert. Now he's a shepherd of Israel. So he turns in his sheep for Israel and leads them through the desert and brings them out. So there's this play on the different types of sheep.
Call of Moses
Now, let's look at what Moses' relationship with God was like and this is chapters three and four following. With many of the people in the Bible, you're going to get this vocation, or calling, where God comes and calls a prophet to his service. Moses is going to receive a call from God, and I just want to see how Moses and God interact here.
But before I do that, I want to jump in here just to say why did God do the Exodus? Why did God deliver them at this point? The text tells us that God comes down and says he's going to deliver them as a result of their prayers. What I am trying to suggest to you with this verse I am going to read to you next is that prayer is exceedingly powerful. The whole Exodus is prompted by the Israelite prayer and here it is: the Lord said in chapter three verse seven, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers and I am concerned about their suffering, so I will come down to rescue them.” “He heard their cries,” their pleas for help, and he says, “I am going to come down and rescue them.” Prayer makes a difference and God listens and comes down.
Now, what he does is we have to have a deliverer. Is it all right to ever resist God's will? When God calls a person does the person ever resist the call of God? Moses is going to be one of the huge figures in the Old Testament. Let's look at his call and how he reacts when God comes to him. Many think they would say, God whatever your will for my life is I just want to follow you. God just take me and use me for your service.” Is that what Moses says?
Excuse me, not quite what it says here in our Bibles is that God comes to him in chapter three and in verse eleven. Let's just get the interaction between God and Moses. God comes down and says I am going to bring my people out of Egypt with a strong arm and an outstretched hand but Moses said to God, “who am I that I should go to Pharaoh to bring out the Israelites out of Egypt?” And God said: “I will be with you.” Does Moses jump on it and say, “okay, God let's bring them out of Egypt?” No, Moses says, “who am I to go to Pharaoh?” God says, “it's not who you are, I will be with you.” What does the name “I will be with you,” what is the Hebrew term? Does anybody know of a term? “Emmanuel,” God with us. And so when God says, “I will be with you” this is kind of “Emmanuel,” “I will be with you.”
God says “Moses I know you can't do this to go to Pharaoh, but I will come with you.” And Moses says, “God if you are with me who can be against me let's go!” No, he doesn't do that either. He backs off again and the next time he says this: and this is in chapter three verse thirteen and following. Moses says, “suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them the God of your fathers has sent me to you and they ask me what is your name? Then what shall I tell them?” Moses says, “excuse me God, I don't know your name. Hi, I am Moses, what's your name? I just don't know your name. Now I have to tell them that I met some God in the desert. They're going to think I'm dehydrated and my brain’s gone. What's your name anyway? I don't even know your name?” By the way, is that a big thing to ask God about his name?--yes.
What does God say? First, there is a bush that's burning and out of this bush that's burning comes this statement. God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” “This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.” Now what is this “I am that I am”? You say, “wait a minute Hildebrandt, you’ve got this here. Can you pronounce this for me? What's the problem? Why can't you pronounce this? There are no vowels. Now did the Jews drop the vowels on purpose so that it can't be pronounced? Why did they do that? Did they want the name of Jehovah pronounced? No, because they are afraid that people would take the name of the Lord your God in vain. So they took the vowels out so that you can't say it. Now by the way, if you're going to insert vowels, there will be an “A” here and an “E” here. They used to say Jehovah. Has anybody heard that term? The “A” would be here so it would be Yahweh and the “E” would be between the “W” and the “H” okay. So it would be Yahweh. The “W” can sound like a “V”. And this is God's most sacred name. This is the “I am that I am” name, and we will look at that in a minute.
Now, Moses receives God's most sacred name: “I am that I am.” Does Moses follow God? No he makes up another excuse. He says “hey if I go down there”, chapter four verse one, Moses said, “what if they do not believe me or listen to me and say the Lord did not appear to you as a leader? “What have you got in your hand?” Moses says, “I have a stick, a staff.” God says, “throw it down on the ground.” What happens to that staff? It becomes a snake.
Now what's going to happen when he goes to Egypt one of the magicians going to do? They're going to do the same thing. What snake is going to eat the other one? Moses’ is going to eat it. Is this snake a symbol in Egypt? Have you ever seen Pharaoh’s hat, the hat that pharaohs wear? What's coming out on the front of Pharaoh’s hat? It's the cobra: the snake. So what you have happening here is you have a power play going on between Jehovah God and Pharaoh. Pharaoh’s snake is going to get eaten up by Moses’. So what you have is the power play between Moses and Pharaoh and God is going to defeat the snake of Egypt.
Moses still won't give in. So Moses starts next, he starts “bbbbbut GGGGGod I can't talk very well”. A lot of people think that Moses was a stutterer; that he could not talk real well. Some people think he's a stutterer while others think that he was talking about rhetorical skills that he's been out talking to sheep too long. That he realizes when you go into Pharaoh’s court you have to have rhetorical skills and all his rhetorical skills were long gone. So it is either one of those two.
So God comes to him and says, “Moses, who made your mouth? I made your mouth and if I want to I can make a donkey talk.” But Moses still doesn't give up. Finally in chapter seven Moses says, “okay, God I'm not going to go. Send somebody else.” Again, you see Moses's reluctance? He is so reluctant to follow God and that is what I'm saying. Beware of people who were just going to follow God do his will as my hearts desire. Here’s Moses one of the greatest man who ever lived and do you see what he's doing? All I'm saying is be careful we have a lot of that in our culture today. When someone faces the real God you're not out there saying, “yes.” Do it your shoes are off and your face is to the ground, so be careful with that.
Moses says, “Send somebody else.” What does God do? “Hey, Moses you have a brother, Aaron. He's on his way now to meet you. I know that you can't speak well. So I'm going to tell you what you're going to do and you, Moses, are going to speak to Aaron. Then Aaron is going to be your prophet. What does that mean? He's setting up a structure. As God speaks to the prophet and the prophet speaks to the people. So Moses is going to speak to Aaron and Aaron is going to speak to the people. So it tells us what the role of the prophet is. The role of the prophet is to speak the Word of God. Now, Moses is going to be like a god to Aaron and Aaron is going to speak. As you get this prophetic structure and Aaron is going to be like a prophet to Moses.
Now the burning bush happens here. The bush is burning but the bush is not consumed. So what happens? He comes up to the burning bush and what happens? You are on holy ground, take off your shoes you are on holy ground. We’ll study holiness when we get into the Book of Leviticus, but basically this is a sacred place. This is a special place. Because this ground is holy, take off your shoes you are on holy ground. Now, what does this “I am that I am,” mean what I want to suggest is that God’s most sacred name, the name Jehovah, what does it mean? Three suggestions: the name comes from the ANE. If I say ANE, do you all know what that is?--ancient Near East. Old Testament scholars, use this abbreviation for ancient Near East. Are names an important part of the dimension of the Ancient Near East? Do names have meaning? Abram changed to Abraham, Jacob changed Israel, Joseph's named Joseph, Moses’ meaning “to pull out.” Names meant something back then and God is giving him his most sacred name.
Some people think that God's name meant “I am what I am;” that God is saying from the bush “I am that I am” that God is the self-existent one. And “I am what I am” that is the bush is on fire, but the bush doesn't burn up. God does not need the bush to consume it to be a fire. God is a fire within himself; he needs nothing. Now by the way, do we need something for our existence? Let's start out with water and food. We need something for our existence; God needs nothing to sustain his existence. He is the self- existent one; he is who he is. “I am what I am”; he needs nothing, that's one way to take it.
A second way to take it, is David Freeman this guy was out Harvard and University of Michigan, he holds the sovereignty view. He takes it and it's an imperfect tense in Hebrew. It could be translated literally: “I will be what I will be.” Moses asks, “what is your name?” And he's telling Moses “I will be what I will be--you will see who I am.” God will declare who he is by the great miracles that he does in Egypt. God was kind of putting Moses off a little bit here he will see who I am when I do all these miracles in Egypt. That’s the second view. I’ve said that this is probably the least likely in my opinion.
Third interpretation this is the one God is saying here, “I am what I said I would be.” Then if you read the next part of the passage here, God said to Moses “I will save the Israelites, the Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” So he is the God of the fathers. God is now going to keep what he promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He's now going to give them the promised land and the seed. God is the covenant keeper and God is keeping his promise. So this name Yahweh or Jehovah means that God is the covenant keeping God. He keeps his word and Moses is going to see that God is now doing what he promised. God is the ultimate promise keeper. Now his name Jehovah Yahweh is going to be that he's going to do this.
Now, why does the Bible contradict itself? In Exodus 6, it says this, verse 3, “God also said to Moses I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty.” What does God Almighty mean? El Shaddai, have you ever heard that song, El Shaddai? He says, “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob knew me as El Shaddai, they did not know me as Yahweh. They did not know my name Jehovah.” But what's the problem? When you go back to Genesis 49:18, you have Jacob saying this, “I look for your deliverance O Lord.” How is Lord spelled? Capital “L”, capital “O” capital “R” capital “D”. Lord is all capitalized, that's a substitution for Yahweh/Jehovah. When it's all capitalized, that means the Hebrew word behind it is Yahweh so it is all capitalized. By the way, if it is only a small “L”, that means what? It means Lord in the sense of “Sir” or “mister” or something like that. But Jacobs says, “Lord, I look for your deliverance, O LORD” and he uses the name Jehovah. Therefore what is going on here Exodus 6:3 tells us that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob didn't know God’s name Jehovah but yet we see Jehovah used by Jacob in Genesis. Is it a contradiction in Scripture there now? We're out of time so we'll just leave that “contradiction” to simmer and next time we'll talk about it.
by Tyler Berube
Rough edited by Ted Hildebrandt