Exodus 3:11
And Moses said to God, Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK
(11) Who am I, that I should go?—The men most fit for great missions are apt to deem themselves unfit. When God called Jeremiah to be a prophet, his reply was, “O Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a child” ( Jeremiah 1:6). St. Ambrose fought hard to escape being made Archbishop of Milan. Augustine was loth to undertake the mission to England. Anselm was with difficulty persuaded to accept the headship of our Church in the evil days of Rufus. The first impression of a fit man selected for a high post generally is, “Who am I?” In Moses’s case, though there were some manifest grounds of fitness—e.g., his Egyptian training and learning, his familiarity with the court. his knowledge of both nations and both languages—yet, on the other hand, there were certain very marked (apparent) disqualifications. Forty years of exile, and of a shepherd’s life had at once unfitted him for dealing with a court, and made him a stranger to his brethren. Want of eloquence seemed to be a fatal defect in one who must work mainly by persuasion. Even his age (eighty) might well have seemed to him unsuitable.

Exodus 3:11. Who am I? — He thinks himself unworthy of the honour, and unable for the work. He thinks he wants courage, and therefore cannot go to Pharaoh: he thinks he wants conduct, and therefore cannot bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt — They are unarmed, undisciplined, quite dispirited, utterly unable to help themselves. Moses was incomparably the fittest of any man living for this work, eminent for learning, wisdom, experience, valour, faith, holiness, and yet he says, Who am I? The more fit any person is for service, the less opinion he has of himself.3:11-15 Formerly Moses thought himself able to deliver Israel, and set himself to the work too hastily. Now, when the fittest person on earth for it, he knows his own weakness. This was the effect of more knowledge of God and of himself. Formerly, self-confidence mingled with strong faith and great zeal, now sinful distrust of God crept in under the garb of humility; so defective are the strongest graces and the best duties of the most eminent saints. But all objections are answered in, Certainly I will be with thee. That is enough. Two names God would now be known by. A name that denotes what he is in himself, I AM THAT I AM. This explains his name Jehovah, and signifies, 1. That he is self-existent: he has his being of himself. 2. That he is eternal and unchangeable, and always the same, yesterday, to-day, and for ever. 3. That he is incomprehensible; we cannot by searching find him out: this name checks all bold and curious inquiries concerning God. 4. That he is faithful and true to all his promises, unchangeable in his word as well as in his nature; let Israel know this, I AM hath sent me unto you. I am, and there is none else besides me. All else have their being from God, and are wholly dependent upon him. Also, here is a name that denotes what God is to his people. The Lord God of your fathers sent me unto you. Moses must revive among them the religion of their fathers, which was almost lost; and then they might expect the speedy performance of the promises made unto their fathers.Who am I-- These words indicate humility (compare Numbers 12:3), not fear. He feared failure, owing to incompetency, especially in the power of expression. 10-22. Come now therefore, and I will send thee—Considering the patriotic views that had formerly animated the breast of Moses, we might have anticipated that no mission could have been more welcome to his heart than to be employed in the national emancipation of Israel. But he evinced great reluctance to it and stated a variety of objections [Ex 3:11, 13; 4:1, 10] all of which were successfully met and removed—and the happy issue of his labors was minutely described. What a mean, inconsiderable person am I! how unworthy and unfit for that employment! He was more forward in the work forty years ago, by reason of the fervours of his youth, his inexperience in affairs, the advantage of his power and interest in the court, by which he thought he could and should procure their deliverance; but now age had made him cool and considerate; the remembrance of his brethren’s rejection of him, when he was a great man at court, took away all probability of prevailing with them to follow him, much more of prevailing with Pharaoh to let them go. Thus Moses falls into that distemper to which most men are prone, of measuring God by himself, and by the probabilities or improbabilities of second causes. And Moses said unto God, who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh,.... A private person, an exile in a foreign country, a poor shepherd, unknown to Pharaoh, and had no interest in him; and he a great king, and possessed of numerous forces to defend his country, and prevent the Israelites' departure out of it: time was when he was known to a Pharaoh, dwelt in his court, and made a figure there, and had great interest and authority there, being the adopted son of the king's daughter; but now it was otherwise with him:

and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt: who though a people numerous, yet unarmed, and held in great bondage; and he might remember how he had been repulsed and rejected by some of them forty years ago, which might be discouraging to him.

And Moses said unto God, Who am {l} I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?

(l) He does not fully disobey God, but acknowledges his own weakness.

11–12. Moses’ first difficulty: he is unsuited either to treat with Pharaoh, or to become the leader of his people. Cf. Jdg 6:15.Verse 11. - And Moses said... Who am I, that I should go, etc. A great change had come over Moses. Forty years earlier he had been forward to offer himself as a "deliverer." He "went out" to his brethren and slew one of their oppressors, and "supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them" (Acts 7:25). "But they understood not" (ibid.) They declined to accept him for leader, they reproached him with setting himself up to be "a ruler and a judge" over them. And now, taught by this lesson, and sobered by forty years of inaction, he has become timid and distrustful of himself, and shrinks from putting himself forward. Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh? What weight can I, a foreigner, forty years an exile, with the manners of a rough shepherd, expect to have with the mighty monarch of all Egypt - the son of Rameses the Great, the inheritor of his power and his glories? And again, Who am I, that I should bring forth the children of Israel? What weight can I expect to have with my countrymen, who will have forgotten me - whom, moreover, I could not influence when I was,in my full vigour - who then "refused" my guidance and forced me to quit them? True diffidence speaks in the words used - there is no ring of insincerity in them; Moses was now as distrustful of himself as in former days he had been confident, and when he had become fit to be a deliverer, ceased to think himself fit. Here, at Horeb, God appeared to Moses as the Angel of the Lord "in a flame of fire out of the midst of the thorn-bush" (סנה, βάτος, rubus), which burned in the fire and was not consumed. אכּל, in combination with איננּוּ, must be a participle for מאכּל. When Moses turned aside from the road or spot where he was standing, "to look at this great sight" (מראה), i.e., the miraculous vision of the bush that was burning and yet not burned up, Jehovah called to him out of the midst of the thorn-bush, "Moses, Moses (the reduplication as in Genesis 22:11), draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground" (אדמה). The symbolical meaning of this miraculous vision, - that is to say, the fact that it was a figurative representation of the nature and contents of the ensuing message from God, - has long been admitted. The thorn-bush in contrast with the more noble and lofty trees (Judges 9:15) represented the people of Israel in their humiliation, as a people despised by the world. Fire and the flame of fire were not "symbols of the holiness of God;" for, as the Holy One, "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5), He "dwells in the light which no man can approach unto" (1 Timothy 6:16); and that not merely according to the New Testament, but according to the Old Testament view as well, as is evident from Isaiah 10:17, where "the Light of Israel" and "the Holy One of Israel" are synonymous. But "the Light of Israel became fire, and the Holy One a flame, and burned and consumed its thorns and thistles." Nor is "fire, from its very nature, the source of light," according to the scriptural view. On the contrary, light, the condition of all life, is also the source of fire. The sun enlightens, warms, and burns (Job 30:28; Sol. Sol 1:6); the rays of the sun produce warmth, heat, and fire; and light was created before the sun. Fire, therefore, regarded as burning and consuming, is a figurative representation of refining affliction and destroying punishment (1 Corinthians 3:11.), or a symbol of the chastening and punitive justice of the indignation and wrath of God. It is in fire that the Lord comes to judgment (Daniel 7:9-10; Ezekiel 1:13-14, Ezekiel 1:27-28; Revelation 1:14-15). Fire sets forth the fiery indignation which devours the adversaries (Hebrews 10:27). He who "judges and makes war in righteousness' has eyes as a flame of fire (Revelation 19:11-12). Accordingly, the burning thorn-bush represented the people of Israel as they were burning in the fire of affliction, the iron furnace of Egypt (Deuteronomy 4:20). Yet, though the thorn-bush was burning in the fire, it was not consumed; for in the flame was Jehovah, who chastens His people, but does not give them over unto death (Psalm 118:18). The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had come down to deliver His people out of the hand of the Egyptians (Exodus 3:8). Although the affliction of Israel in Egypt proceeded from Pharaoh, yet was it also a fire which the Lord had kindled to purify His people and prepare it for its calling. In the flame of the burning bush the Lord manifested Himself as the "jealous God, who visits the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generations of them that hate Him, and showeth mercy unto thousands of them that love Him and keep His commandments" (Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 5:9-10), who cannot tolerate the worship of another god (Exodus 34:14), and whose anger burns against idolaters, to destroy them (Deuteronomy 6:15). The "jealous God" was a "consuming fire" in the midst of Israel (Deuteronomy 4:24). These passages show that the great sight which Moses saw not only had reference to the circumstances of Israel in Egypt, but was a prelude to the manifestation of God on Sinai for the establishment of the covenant (Exodus 19 and 20), and also a representation of the relation in which Jehovah would stand to Israel through the establishment of the covenant made with the fathers. For this reason it occurred upon the spot where Jehovah intended to set up His covenant with Israel. But, as a jealous God, He also "takes vengeance upon His adversaries" (Nahum 1:2.). Pharaoh, who would not let Israel go, He was about to smite with all His wonders (Exodus 3:20), whilst He redeemed Israel with outstretched arm and great judgments (Exodus 6:6). - The transition from the Angel of Jehovah (Exodus 3:2) to Jehovah (Exodus 3:4) proves the identity of the two; and the interchange of Jehovah and Elohim, in Exodus 3:4, precludes the idea of Jehovah being merely a national God. The command of God to Moses to put off his shoes, may be accounted for from the custom in the East of wearing shoes or sandals merely as a protection from dirt. No Brahmin enters a pagoda, no Moslem a mosque, without first taking off at least his overshoes (Rosenm. Morgenl. i. 261; Robinson, Pal. ii. p. 373); and even in the Grecian temples the priests and priestesses performed the service barefooted (Justin, Apol. i. c. 62; Bhr, Symbol. ii. 96). when entering other holy places also, the Arabs and Samaritans, and even the Yezidis of Mesopotamia, take off their shoes, that the places may not be defiled by the dirt or dust upon them (vid., Robinson, Pal. iii. 100, and Layard's Nineveh and its Remains). The place of the burning bush was holy because of the presence of the holy God, and putting off the shoes was intended to express not merely respect for the place itself, but that reverence which the inward man (Ephesians 3:16) owes to the holy God.
Exodus 3:11 Interlinear
Exodus 3:11 Parallel Texts

Exodus 3:11 NIV
Exodus 3:11 NLT
Exodus 3:11 ESV
Exodus 3:11 NASB
Exodus 3:11 KJV

Exodus 3:11 Bible Apps
Exodus 3:11 Parallel
Exodus 3:11 Biblia Paralela
Exodus 3:11 Chinese Bible
Exodus 3:11 French Bible
Exodus 3:11 German Bible

Bible Hub

Exodus 3:10
Top of Page
Top of Page