Acts 7:30
And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush.
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(30) There appeared to him in the wilderness.—With the exception of the substitution of Sina, or Sinai, for the less familiar Horeb, the fact is stated in nearly the same words as in Exodus 3:2. The reference to this revelation, besides the bearing it had on the main argument of the speech, was indirectly an answer to the charge that he had spoken “blasphemous words against Moses.” Both in the Hebrew and the LXX. the word “angel” is, as here, without the article.

In a bush.—The Hebrew word seneh is used for a species of thorny acacia, which still grows in the wilderness of Sinai. The Greek word, in the LXX. and here, was used commonly for the bramble, or any prickly shrub.

Acts 7:30-34. When forty years were expired — That is, forty after his leaving Egypt; during which time Israel had continued under this bondage, and Moses, inured to hardships and poverty, and to contemplation and devotion, had been trained up and prepared, in the humble and retired life of a shepherd, for the great work for which God designed him; see on Exodus 2:22; there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina — Which lay in the confines of the Midianite country, not far from the Red sea; an angel of the Lord — The Son of God, as appears from his styling himself Jehovah; (see on Exodus 3:2;) a name which cannot, without the highest presumption, be assumed by any created angel, since he whose name alone is Jehovah, is the Most High over all the earth, Psalm lxxxiii, 18. It was therefore the Angel of the covenant: Malachi 3:1, the Angel of God’s presence, Isaiah 63:9, who delivered the law to Moses, and was with the church in the wilderness, and gave them possession of Canaan as the Captain of the Lord’s host, Joshua 5:14. In a flame of fire in a bush — Which, though of combustible matter, was not consumed; representing the state of Israel in Egypt, where, though they were in the fire of affliction, yet they were not consumed by it, but miraculously preserved as a people, and even increased. When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight — Wondered why the bush, which burned, was not consumed: it was a phenomenon, with the solution of which all his Egyptian learning could not furnish him. And as he drew near to behold, the voice of the Lord came unto him, saying, I am the God of thy fathers, &c. — Expressions sufficiently showing that the person speaking was not a mere angel, but possessed of true Deity, and therefore, as being also styled an angel, or messenger, was the Son of God, the Father’s Messenger to men. Then Moses trembled — Moses, upon this, perceiving that God himself was there present, and spake to him, trembled at this appearance of his majesty, and durst not behold with a curious regard, as he had intended. Then said the Lord, Put off thy shoes — An ancient token of reverence; for the place is holy ground — The holiness of places depends on the peculiar presence of God there. See the note on Exodus 2:5. “It was formerly in the eastern nations, and is now in the southern, esteemed a ceremony of respect, to put off the shoes when approaching a superior, lest any of the dirt or dust cleaving to the shoes should be brought near him, and that the person approaching barefoot might tread more cautiously. This, which perhaps was introduced at first in court apartments, where rich carpets might be used, the King of kings requires to be done in a desert, as a token of the infinitely greater reverence due to him. See Joshua 5:15, and Ecclesiastes 5:1. On the same principle, it seems, the priests ministered thus in the tabernacle and temple, no direction being given for shoes or sandals as a part of their dress, though all the rest of it was so particularly prescribed.” I have seen, I have seen the affliction — See note on Exodus 2:7-8.

7:30-41 Men deceive themselves, if they think God cannot do what he sees to be good any where; he can bring his people into a wilderness, and there speak comfortably to them. He appeared to Moses in a flame of fire, yet the bush was not consumed; which represented the state of Israel in Egypt, where, though they were in the fire of affliction, yet they were not consumed. It may also be looked upon as a type of Christ's taking upon him the nature of man, and the union between the Divine and human nature. The death of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, cannot break the covenant relation between God and them. Our Saviour by this proves the future state, Mt 22:31. Abraham is dead, yet God is still his God, therefore Abraham is still alive. Now, this is that life and immortality which are brought to light by the gospel. Stephen here shows that Moses was an eminent type of Christ, as he was Israel's deliverer. God has compassion for the troubles of his church, and the groans of his persecuted people; and their deliverance takes rise from his pity. And that deliverance was typical of what Christ did, when, for us men, and for our salvation, he came down from heaven. This Jesus, whom they now refused, as their fathers did Moses, even this same has God advanced to be a Prince and Saviour. It does not at all take from the just honour of Moses to say, that he was but an instrument, and that he is infinitely outshone by Jesus. In asserting that Jesus should change the customs of the ceremonial law. Stephen was so far from blaspheming Moses, that really he honoured him, by showing how the prophecy of Moses was come to pass, which was so clear. God who gave them those customs by his servant Moses, might, no doubt, change the custom by his Son Jesus. But Israel thrust Moses from them, and would have returned to their bondage; so men in general will not obey Jesus, because they love this present evil world, and rejoice in their own works and devices.And when forty years ... - At the age of 80 years. This, however, was known by tradition. It is not expressly mentioned by Moses. It is said, however, to have been after the king of Egypt had died Exodus 2:23; and the tradition is not improbable.

In the wilderness of mount Sina - In the desert adjacent to, or that surrounded Mount Sinai. In Exodus 3:1, it is said that this occurred at Mount "Horeb." But there is no contradiction; Horeb and Sinai are different peaks or elevations of the same mountain. They are represented as springing from the same base, and branching out in different elevations. The mountains, according to Burckhardt, are a prodigious pile, comprehending many peaks, and about thirty miles in diameter. From one part of this mountain, Sinai, the Law was given to the children of Israel.

An angel of the Lord - The word "angel" means properly a "messenger" (see the notes on Matthew 1:20), and is applied to the invisible spirits in heaven, to people, to the winds, to the pestilence, or to whatever is appointed as a messenger "to make known" or to execute the will of God. The mere "name," therefore, can determine nothing about the "nature" of the messenger. That "name" might be applied to any messenger, even an inanimate object. The nature and character of this messenger are to be determined by other considerations. The word may denote that the "bush on fire" was the messenger. But a comparison with the other places where this occurs will show that it was a celestial messenger, and perhaps that it was the Messiah who was yet to come, appearing to take the people of Israel under his own charge and direction. Compare John 1:11, where the Jews are called "his own." In Exodus 3:2, it is said that the angel of the Lord appeared in a flame of fire; in Exodus 3:4 it is said that Yahweh spake to him out of the midst of the bush; language which implies that God was there, and which is strongly expressive of the doctrine that the angel was Yahweh. In Exodus 23:20-21, God says, "I send an angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Beware of him, and obey "his" voice," etc., Exodus 23:23; Exodus 32:34; Exodus 33:2. In all these places this angel is mentioned as an extraordinary messenger sent to conduct them to the land of Canaan. He was to guide them, to defend them, and to drive out the nations before them. All these circumstances seem to point to the conclusion that this was no other than the future deliverer of the world, who came then to take his people under his own guidance, as emblematic of the redemption of his people.

In a flame of fire - That is, in what "appeared" to be a flame of fire. The "bush" or clump of trees seemed to be on fire, or to be illuminated with a special splendor. God is often represented as encompassed with this splendor, or glory, Luke 2:9; Matthew 17:1-5; Acts 9:3; Acts 12:7.

In a bush - In a grove, or clump of trees. Probably the light was seen issuing from the "midst" of such a grove.

30-34. an angel of the Lord—rather, "the Angel of the Covenant," who immediately calls Himself Jehovah (Compare Ac 7:38). Forty years; so long it pleased God to try Moses’s faith, and his people’s patience.

Mount Sinai, in the desert of Arabia, where the law was afterwards delivered, Exodus 18:5 19:3.

An angel; not a created, but the uncreated Angel; the Angel of the new covenant, as may be seen Acts 7:32, and by Moses putting off his shoes because the place was holy, Exodus 3:2,5; he is also in Exodus 3:4 called the Lord. God still appeared in such a manner as was most instructive to them he appeared to, and to us; as here in a flame of fire in a bush to show that he was with his people in all their sufferings, and would so provide, that they should not be consumed by them; they might be purified, but should not be destroyed.

And when forty years were expired,.... "Forty other years" the Arabic version reads; for so long the Jews (g) say Moses kept Jethro's flock, and so many years he lived in Midian; and so the Syriac version, "when then he had filled up forty years"; which agrees exactly with the account of the Jewish writers observed on Acts 7:23 who say, that he was forty years in Pharaoh's court, and forty years in Midian; so that he was now, as they (h) elsewhere justly observe, fourscore years of age:

there appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai; the same with Horeb, Exodus 3:1 where it is said, "Moses came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb"; where he saw the sight of the burning bush, and out of which the angel appeared to him: and Stephen is to be justified in calling it Mount Sinai; the account which Jerom (i) gives of it is this;

"Horeb is the Mount of God in the land of Midian, by Mount Sinai, above Arabia, in the desert, to which is joined the mountain and desert of the Saracenes, called Pharan: but to me it seems, that the same mountain was called by two names, sometimes Sinai, and sometimes Horeb;''

and in which he was right. Some think the same mountain had two tops, and one went by one name, and the other by another; or one side of the mountain was called Horeb, from its being dry and desolate; and the other Sinai, from the bushes and brambles which grew upon it. So "Sinin", in the Misna (k), signifies the thin barks of bramble bushes; and the bush hereafter mentioned, in the Hebrew language, is called "Seneh"; from whence, with the Jews, it is said to have its name.

"Says (l) R. Eliezer, from the day the heavens and the earth were created, the name of this mountain was called Horeb; but after the holy blessed God appeared to Moses out of the midst of the bush, from the name of the bush "(Seneh)", Horeb was called Sinai.''

Some say the stones of this mountain, when broken, had the resemblance of bramble bushes (m) in them. Add to this, that Josephus (n) calls this mountain by the same name as Stephen does, when he is reciting the same history. Moses, he says,

"led the flock to the Sinaean mountain, as it is called: this is the highest mountain in that country, and best for pasture, abounding in good herbage; and because it was commonly believed the Divine Being dwelt there, it was not before fed upon, the shepherds not daring to go up to it.''

Here Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law; for to such a life did he condescend, who for forty years had been brought up in the court of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. Here appeared to him

an angel of the Lord, and who was no other than the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as appears from Acts 7:32 and was the second person in the Trinity, the Son of God, the angel of the divine presence, and of the covenant, an uncreated angel. And this is the sense of many of the Jewish writers, who interpret it of the angel the Redeemer, the God of Bethel (o); though Jonathan the paraphrast seems to understand it of a created angel, whose name he calls Zagnugael (p), and some say it was Michael, and some Gabriel (q).

In a flame of fire in a bush; and which yet was not consumed by it. This bush was a bramble bush, or thorn; so Aben Ezra (r) says it was a kind of thorn, and observes, that in the Ishmaelitish or Turkish language, the word signifies a kind of dry thorn; and so Philo the Jew says (s), it was a thorny plant, and very weak; and therefore it was the more wonderful, that it should be on fire, and not consumed. Josephus (t) affirms, that neither its verdure, nor its flowers were hurt, nor any of its fruitful branches consumed, though the flame was exceeding fierce. The Jerusalem Targum of Exodus 3:2 is,

"and he saw and beheld the bush burned with fire, and the bush "became green"; or, as Buxtorf renders it, "emitted a moisture", and was not burnt.''

This sight, the Arabic writers (u) say, Moses saw at noon day. Artapanus (w), an ancient writer, makes mention of this burning, but takes no notice of the bush; yea, denies that there was anything woody in the place, and represents it only as a stream of fire issuing out of the earth: his words are,

"as he (Moses) was praying, suddenly fire broke out of the earth, and burned, when there was nothing woody, nor any matter fit for burning in the place.''

But Philo better describes it; speaking of the bush, he says (x),


And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an {l} angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush.

(l) Now, he calls the Son of God an angel, for he is the angel of great counsel, and therefore immediately after he describes him as saying to Moses, I am the God of thy fathers, etc.

Acts 7:30. πληρωθέντων, see Acts 7:23, cf. Exodus 7:7, “fulfilled,” R.V. ὤφθη, Acts 7:2, so the second fundamental revelation of God to Israel took place in the wilderness far away from the Promised Land (Weiss), see also Acts 7:33.—τεσσαράκοντα, cf. Acts 1:3.—Σινᾶ: there is no contradiction between this and Exodus 3:1, where the appearance is said to take place in Horeb, for whilst in the N.T. and Josephus Sinai only is named for the place of the law-giving, in the O.T. the two names are interchanged, cf. also Sir 48:7. According to Hamburger the two names are identical, signifying in a narrower sense only one mountain, the historical mountain of the giving of the law, but in a wider sense given to a whole group of mountains. Thus Hamburger declines to accept the view that Horeb was the name of the whole ridge of mountain-cluster, whilst Sinai specially denotes the mountain of the law-giving, since Horeb is also used for the same event (cf. Exodus 3:1; Exodus 17:6; Exodus 33:6), Real-Encyclopädie des Judentums, i., 7, 940. See also B.D.1, “Sinai,” Wendt, edition (1899), in loco; Schaff-Herzog, Encyclopœdia, iv., “Sinai” (also for literature); and Grimm-Thayer, sub v. According to Sayce, Higher Criticism and the Monuments, p. 263 ff., Sinai is a mountain of Seir, rather than of the Sinaitic peninsula so called. The same writer lays stress upon the fact that Sinai is associated with Seir and Edom, Deuteronomy 33:2, Jdg 5:4-5, and maintains that it is nowhere in the O.T. transported to the Sinaitic peninsula of our modern maps. The word Σινᾶ is an indeclinable noun τό (sc., ὄρος); Josephus τὸ Σιναῖον and τὸ Σιναῖον ὄρος; Grimm-Thayer, Winer-Schmiedel, p. 91, Blass, Gram., 8, 32; and see also Sayce, u. s., p. 268, 269, and Patriarchal Palestine, p. 259, who renders as adjective “(the mountain) which belongs to Sin,” i.e., like desert which it overlooked, to the worship of the Babylonian Moon-God Sin in that region.—ἄγγελος: in Exodus 3:2 “the angel of the Lord,” but in Acts 7:7 “the Lord said,” so here in Acts 7:31 “the voice of the Lord said,” cf. Acts 7:33. For the same mode of expression cf. Acts 27:23 with Acts 23:11. In this Angel, the Angel of the Lord, cf. Exodus 3:2 with Acts 7:6; Acts 7:14 and Genesis 22:11 with Acts 7:12; the Angel of the Presence, Exodus 33:11, cf. Isaiah 63:9 (Acts 7:38 below), although Jewish interpreters varied, the Fathers saw the Logos, the Eternal Word of the Father. See references in Felten, in loco, and Liddon, Bampton Lectures, Lect. ii., and “Angel,” B.D.2. Otherwise we can only say that Jehovah Himself speaks through the Angel (Weiss, Blass, in loco).—ἐν φλογὶ πυρὸς βάτου: words interchanged as in LXX A, Exodus 3:2; according to Hebrew πυρὸς ἐκ τοῦ βάτουπυρός here = an adjective, rubus incensus (Blass, Weiss); cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:8, ἐν πυρὶ φλογός. For gender of βάτος see Acts 7:35.

30. And when forty years were expired] Thus making, with the forty years mentioned in Acts 7:23, eighty years, the age at which Moses went unto Pharaoh (Exodus 7:7).

there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord] It is better to conform the New Testament orthography in familiar names to that of the Old, and so write Sinai, The oldest authorities omit the words “of the Lord.”

Acts 7:30. Ἄγγελος, an angel) The Son of GOD. See foll, verses. Moses at first did not know who it was, but presently after recognised Him from the voice.—πυρὶ φλογὸς, in a flame of fire) signifying the majesty of GOD, who was present.

Verse 30. - Fulfilled for expired, A.V.; an angel appeared for there appeared... an angel, A.V.; an angel for an angel of the Lord, A.V. and T.R.; Sinai for Sina, A.V. Acts 7:30
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