Exod 3. 12. And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.
Well, which way is it? God tells Moses they will have the land of Canaan, but God also tells Moses that his people will serve God on Mount Horeb. And it's practically being said in the same breath. It looks like Moses has to first please his father-in-law, Jethro, before he can go and take the land of Canaan. Certainly, Jethro, a priest with a mountain that God lives on, must have a lot of influence with Moses.
Exod 3. 19.And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand. 20.And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go. 21.And I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty. 22.But every woman shall borrow of her neighbour, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians.
We are not short of examples of God's desire for the children of Abraham to have wealth. Whenever they leave the country, they've got to take their property, and much of their neighbor's property as well. Notice it is called "borrowing", here. Can you imagine what would happen in court today if a thief told the judge, "but God told me to borrow it when I left."
Moses goes on to have an interesting conversation with God. If it isn't enough for the people to believe God sent Moses to take the Egyptians gold and raiments and the Canaanite's land, then Moses is to throw down his rod and it will become a snake. Then he is to put his hand down his bosom and pull it out so he looks like a leper, and then put his hand back in and pull it out so he is healed. Then God will have him take water from the rivers and pour it over the land where it will turn to blood. Sounds more like an Alfred Hitchcock movie than an all loving, eternal God. The things God commands Moses to do before the Pharaoh, the Pharaoh will have his magicians do the same tricks back. Where did Moses learn these Egyptian magic tricks? Jethro was an Egyptian priest, remember?
Exod 4. 10.And Moses said unto the LORD, O my LORD, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. 11 And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?
Well, now I know why I'm deaf. God did it. I certainly didn't expect to read this in a book that was supposed to teach me the virtuous life. Quite honestly, I don't know how Jesus turned out to be such a good son.
As it turns out, Moses was slow of speech. He was not able to communicate very well. So God told him Aaron, his brother whom Moses was not raised with and he barely knew, would become his spokesman. Aaron was to be Moses' mouth, and Moses was to be God to Aaron.
Exod 4. 16.And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God.
Not only does God intend to slaughter the land of Canaan because the Egyptians were afflicting the children of Abraham, but he is going to have Aaron be spokesman by way of Moses because Moses is slow of speech. It would seem that God could find more direct ways to get his work done. Any reasonable person today would question whether Moses really spoke to a real god under these conditions. In fact if Moses existed today we wouldn't be able to tell him from the Son of Sam.
Exod 4. 18.And Moses went and returned to Jethro his father in law, and said unto him, Let me go, I pray thee, and return unto my brethren which are in Egypt, and see whether they be yet alive. And Jethro said to Moses, Go in peace.
The influence of Jethro over Moses is evident. It is highly likely there is a connection between Jethro's teachings and Moses' beliefs.
Exod 4. 21.And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.
If God is so great, why didn't he just soften the Pharaoh's heart instead? Apparently God didn't like Egyptians and really enjoyed the macabre. If we took a vote of church members today, I wonder how many of them would choose this strategy if they were running the world? Is this the route the President of the United States or other world leader should take? It sounds like God intentionally tried to start a war.
Exodus 4. 22-26 is a confusing bunch of lines. Apparently the translators couldn't believe what they were translating and so tried to confuse the message. But it appears that God told Moses to kill his own firstborn. When Moses' wife saw this, she took a sharp stone from nearby and cut the foreskin off her son and threw it at Moses' feet. After which he allowed the boy to live. Accordingly it is said...
Exod 4. 25.Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me. 26.So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.
Moses was a bloody husband for more than the circumcision. He had already killed an Egyptian and he was preparing to free his people and take the land of Canaan.
It's amazing how Abraham could be circumcised at the age of 100 and then create an entire religion based upon that simple procedure. Granted, circumcision prevented infections in shepherds who lived for months and perhaps years without a bath. But what does that have to do with a spiritual path? Quite frankly, none of the Old Testament has anything to do with a spiritual path. It's all about how one family increased its fortunes through treachery, lies, stealing, and murder. And their justification for doing it was because God told them to. Far from being inspirational, the Bible is a scary horror story.
Exod 4. 28.And Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD who had sent him, and all the signs which he had commanded him. 29.And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel:
At this point, Israel is not a nation. Israel is the family of Jacob. Apparently the rest of Abraham's descendants were left out of the plan to flee Egypt and take the land of Canaan.
Exod 5. 1.And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness.
Here, the God of Abraham and Isaac has been reduced to the God of Jacob. From here on out, the vision God gave Moses belongs to the Israelites. Why is he the God of Israel? I don't know, but the family of Joseph and the family of Moses share common ancestry with Jacob, who was later known as Israel. As we do know, the family of Joseph was huge, having prospered during the great drought. Moses will need a large army to take the land of Canaan.
So Moses and Aaron go before the Pharaoh and ask him to allow the Israelites time off so they can have a feast in the wilderness. This, of course, is just a ruse as they really intend to bolt for Mount Horeb. The Pharaoh wants to know why
Exod 5. 3.And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days' journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the LORD our God; lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword.
Nowhere earlier did God say he would bring pestilence or the sword upon the children of Israel if they didn't make a sacrifice to Him. Moses and Aaron are trying to pull a fast one over the Pharaoh.
The Pharaoh responds by making work even harder for the Israelites by forcing them to gather their own straw. The straw is necessary for making the bricks which is their daily task. But they are not allowed to fall behind on their work of making bricks on the account of gathering straw. The Israelites are then beaten for falling behind in their work. This is the Pharaoh's way of keeping the Israelites so busy they can't get away. It is also the Pharaoh's own folly for doing such a stupid thing.
But the Israelites are getting mad at Moses for getting them into trouble. Moses, himself, is getting mad at God for allowing his people to suffer such brutality. Indeed it is difficult to ascertain who is the most evil, the Pharaoh for doing such evil things or Moses' God for making the Pharaoh do such evil things. Or, maybe it was Moses' fault?
Exod 6. 3.And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them. 4.And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers.
If we haven't been told before, we're being told now that the thing that means the most to God is that this family get the land of Canaan. God wouldn't reveal his name to Abraham, nor to Isaac nor Israel (after whom the land of Canaan would be renamed,) no mention of Joseph, but to Moses he says his name is Jehovah or YHWH. I wonder if there is a correlation between JEthro and JEhovah? It's quite the coincidence that Jehovah was living on Mount Horeb, right in Jethro's back yard when Moses stumbled upon Him. Jethro means "excellence" or "preeminence" and was probably an honorary title given by Moses to his father in law. Later we learn Jethro's real name is Reuel.