Exodus 3:2
And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the middle of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
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(2) The angel of the Lord.—Heb., an angel of Jehovah. In Exodus 3:4 the angel is called both “Jehovah and “Elohim,” whence it is concluded, with reason, that it was the Second Person of the Trinity who appeared to Moses.

Out of the midst of a bush.—Literally, out of the midst of the acacia. As the seneh, or acacia, is very common in the Sinaitic region, we can scarcely suppose that a special tree, growing alone, is intended. Probably the article is one of reference, and the meaning is, “the bush of which you have all heard.” (Comp. John 3:24.)

Exodus 3:2. The Angel of the Lord appeared to him — Not a created angel, but the Angel of the covenant, Christ, who then and ever was God, and was to be man, and a messenger from God to man. He, termed the Angel of God’s presence, (Isaiah 63:9,) had wrestled with Jacob, (Genesis 32:24;) and had redeemed him from all evil, (Genesis 48:16;) and afterward conducted his posterity through the wilderness, 1 Corinthians 10:4. These his temporary appearances were presages of his more solemn mission and coming, on account of which he is fitly called the Angel or Messenger. That this angel was no creature, appears from his saying, I am the Lord, a language which angels never speak; but, I am sent from God — I am thy fellow-servant. In a flame of fire — Representing God’s majesty, purity, and power, and showing that he was about to bring terror and destruction to his enemies, and light and comfort to his people, and to display his glory before all. The bush burned and was not consumed — An emblem of the church now in bondage in Egypt, burning in the brick-kilns, yet not consumed; cast down, but not destroyed; for God was in the burning bush, was and always will be present with his people in their sufferings; Isaiah 43:2; Daniel 3:25.3:1-6 The years of the life of Moses are divided into three forties; the first forty he spent as a prince in Pharaoh's court, the second as a shepherd in Midian, the third as a king in Jeshurun. How changeable is the life of man! The first appearance of God to Moses, found him tending sheep. This seems a poor employment for a man of his parts and education, yet he rests satisfied with it; and thus learns meekness and contentment, for which he is more noted in sacred writ, than for all his learning. Satan loves to find us idle; God is pleased when he finds us employed. Being alone, is a good friend to our communion with God. To his great surprise, Moses saw a bush burning without fire to kindle it. The bush burned, and yet did not burn away; an emblem of the church in bondage in Egypt. And it fitly reminds us of the church in every age, under its severest persecutions kept by the presence of God from being destroyed. Fire is an emblem, in Scripture, of the Divine holiness and justice, also of the afflictions and trials with which God proves and purifies his people, and even of that baptism of the Holy Ghost, by which sinful affections are consumed, and the soul changed into the Divine nature and image. God gave Moses a gracious call, to which he returned a ready answer. Those that would have communion with God, must attend upon him in the ordinances wherein he is pleased to manifest himself and his glory, though it be in a bush. Putting off the shoe was a token of respect and submission. We ought to draw nigh to God with a solemn pause and preparation, carefully avoiding every thing that looks light and rude, and unbecoming his service. God does not say, I was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but I am. The patriarchs still live, so many years after their bodies have been in the grave. No length of time can separate the souls of the just from their Maker. By this, God instructed Moses as to another world, and strengthened his belief of a future state. Thus it is interpreted by our Lord Jesus, who, from hence, proves that the dead are raised, Lu 20:37. Moses hid his face, as if both ashamed and afraid to look upon God. The more we see of God, and his grace, and covenant love, the more cause we shall see to worship him with reverence and godly fear.The angel of the Lord - See the note at Genesis 12:7. What Moses saw was the flame of fire in the bush; what he recognized therein was an intimation of the presence of God, who maketh a flame of fire His angel. Compare Psalm 104:4. The words which Moses heard were those of God Himself, as all ancient and most modern divines have held, manifested in the Person of the Son.

Of a bush - Literally, of the bush or "seneh," a word which ought perhaps to be retained as the proper name of a thorny shrub common in that district, a species of acacia.

2, 3. the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire—It is common in Scripture to represent the elements and operations of nature, as winds, fires, earthquakes, pestilence, everything enlisted in executing the divine will, as the "angels" or messengers of God. But in such cases God Himself is considered as really, though invisibly, present. Here the preternatural fire may be primarily meant by the expression "angel of the Lord"; but it is clear that under this symbol, the Divine Being was present, whose name is given (Ex 3:4, 6), and elsewhere called the angel of the covenant, Jehovah-Jesus.

out of the midst of a bush—the wild acacia or thorn, with which that desert abounds, and which is generally dry and brittle, so much so, that at certain seasons, a spark might kindle a district far and wide into a blaze. A fire, therefore, being in the midst of such a desert bush was a "great sight." It is generally supposed to have been emblematic of the Israelites' condition in Egypt—oppressed by a grinding servitude and a bloody persecution, and yet, in spite of the cruel policy that was bent on annihilating them, they continued as numerous and thriving as ever. The reason was "God was in the midst of them." The symbol may also represent the present state of the Jews, as well as of the Church generally in the world.

The angel of the Lord; not a created angel, but the Angel of the covenant, Christ Jesus, who then and ever was God, and was to be man, and to be sent into the world in our flesh, as a messenger from God. And these temporary apparitions of his were presages or forerunners of his more solemn mission and coming, and therefore he is fitly called an Angel. That this Angel was no creature, plainly appears by the whole context, and specially by his saying,

I am the Lord, & c. The angels never speak that language in Scripture, but, I am sent from God, and, I am thy fellow servant, &c. And it is a vain pretence to say that the angel, as God’s ambassador, speaks in God’s name and person; for what ambassador of any king in the world did ever speak thus, I am the king, &c.? Ministers are God’s ambassadors, but if any of them should say, I am the Lord, they would be guilty of blasphemy, and so would any created angel be too, for the same reason. By a flame of fire was fitly represented God’s majesty, and purity, and power.

The bush was not consumed; which doubtless represented the condition of the church and people of Israel, who were now in the fire of affliction, yet so as that God was present with them, and that they should not be consumed in it, whereof this vision was a pledge. And the Angel of the Lord appeared unto him,.... Not a created angel, but the Angel of God's presence and covenant, the eternal Word and Son of God; since he is afterwards expressly called Jehovah, and calls himself the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, which a created angel would never do: the appearance was:

in a flame of fire, out of the midst of a bush; not in a tall, lofty, spreading oak or cedar, but in a low thorny bramble bush, which it might have been thought would have been consumed in an instant of time:

and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed; this was not imaginary, but a real thing; there wassuch a bush, and Jehovah appeared in it in this manner, and though it was all on fire yet was not consumed, but remained entire after it: reference is frequently had to it as a matter of fact, Deuteronomy 33:16. Artapanus (g), an Heathen writer, had got some hint of it; his account is this, that while Moses was praying to God, and entreating the afflictions of his people might cease, he was propitious to him, and on a sudden fire broke out of the earth and burned, when there was no matter nor anything of a woody sort in the place: nor need this account Moses gives be thought incredible, when so many things similar to it are affirmed by Heathen writers, who speak of a whole forest in flames without fire, and of a spear that burned for two hours, and yet nothing of it consumed; and of a servant's coat all on fire, and yet after it was extinguished no trace or mark of the flames were to be seen on it; and several other things of the like kind are related by Huetius (h) out of various authors: as to the mystical signification of this bush, some make it to be a type of Christ, and of his manifestation in the flesh; of the union of the two natures in him, and of their distinction of the glory of the one, and of the meanness of the other; of his sustaining the wrath of God, and remaining fearless and unhurt by it; and of his delivering and preserving his people from it: the Jews commonly interpret it of the people of Israel, in the furnace of affliction in Egypt, and yet not consumed; nay, the more they were afflicted the more they grew; and it may be a symbol of the church and people of God, in all ages, under affliction and distress: they are like to a thorn bush both for their small quantity, being few, and for their quality, in themselves weak and strengthless, mean and low; have about them the thorns of corruptions and temptations, and who are often in the fire of afflictions and persecutions, yet are not consumed; which is owing to the person, presence, power, and grace of Christ being among them; See Gill on Acts 7:30.

(g) Apud Euseb. ib. c. 27. p. 434. (h) Alnetan. Quaest. l. 2. c. 12. sect. 10. p. 193, 194.

And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a {c} bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.

(c) This shows that the Church is not consumed by the fires of affliction, because God is in the midst of it.

2. the angel of Jehovah] The ‘angel of Jehovah,’ or, in E (Exodus 14:19, Genesis 21:17; Genesis 31:11), ‘of God,’ is a temporary, but full, self-manifestation of Jehovah, a manifestation usually, at any rate, in human form, possessing no distinct and permanent personality, as such, but speaking and spoken of, sometimes as Jehovah Himself (e.g. v. 4a here, comp. with v. 2; Genesis 16:10; Genesis 16:13; Genesis 31:11; Genesis 31:13; Jdg 6:12; Jdg 6:14; Jdg 13:21 f.), and sometimes as distinct from Him (e.g. Genesis 16:11; Genesis 19:13; Genesis 19:21; Genesis 19:24; Genesis 21:17; Numbers 22:31): cf. Gray, EB. iv., Theophany, § 4. As Davidson remarks (DB. i. 94b, s.v. Angel), the ‘angel of Jehovah’ differs from ‘Jehovah’ only in being sensibly manifest: ‘the mere manifestation creates a distinction between the “angel of Jehovah” and “Jehovah,” though the identity remains.’ The angel of Jehovah is mentioned chiefly in the older parts of the historical books, J, E (never P), and the older narratives in Judges (Exodus 2:1; Exodus 2:4, Exodus 5:23, Exodus 6:11 f., Exodus 20-22, Exodus 13:3-21).

a flame of fire] A frequent form of the Divine manifestation (Exodus 19:18, Exodus 24:17; Ezekiel 1:27; Ezekiel 8:2; and in the ‘pillar of fire,’ Exodus 13:21 f.). On the present occasion, however, the fire was not a ‘devouring’ fire, but only the brilliancy of fire. Cf. Hom. Od. xix.39 f. (Kn.).

out of, &c.] i.e. rising up out of the bush.

a bush] only besides Deuteronomy 33:16 ‘the favour of him that dwelt in the bush.’ Properly, as Aram. shews (PS. 2671; Löw, Aram. Pflanzennamen, No. 219), the bramble bush, rubus fruticosus, Linn. (so LXX. βάτος, [Luke 6:44], Vulg. rubus), which however does not seem to grow in the Sin. Peninsula.Verse 2. - The angel of the Lord. Literally, "an angel of Jehovah." Taking the whole narrative altogether, we are justified in concluding that the appearance was that of "the Angel of the Covenant" or" the Second Person of the Trinity himself;" but this is not stated nor implied in the present verse. We learn it from what follows. The angel "appeared in a flame of fire out of the midst of the thorn-bush" - not out of "a thorn-bush - which may be explained by there being only one on the spot, which however seems improbable, as it is a common tree; or by Moses having so often spoken of it, that, when he came to write to his countrymen, he naturally called it "the bush," meaning "the bush of which you have all heard." So St. John says of the Baptist (John 3:24) that "he was not yet cast into the prison, meaning, prison into which you all know that he was cast. Seneh, the word translated "bush," is still the name of a thorny shrub, a species of acacia, common in the Sinaitic district. Moses' Life in Midian. - As Reguel gave a hospitable welcome to Moses, in consequence of his daughters' report of the assistance that he had given them in watering their sheep; it pleased Moses (ויּואל) to dwell with him. The primary meaning of הואיל is voluit (vid., Ges. thes.). קראן for קראנה: like שׁמען in Genesis 4:23. - Although Moses received Reguel's daughter Zipporah as his wife, probably after a lengthened stay, his life in Midian was still a banishment and a school of bitter humiliation. He gave expression to this feeling at the birth of his first son in the name which he gave it, viz., Gershom (גּרשׁם, i.e., banishment, from גּרשׁ to drive or thrust away); "for," he said, interpreting the name according to the sound, "I have been a stranger (גּר) in a strange land." In a strange land he was obliged to live, far away from his brethren in Egypt, and far from his fathers' land of promise; and in this strange land the longing for home seems to have been still further increased by his wife Zipporah, who, to judge from Exo 4:24., neither understood nor cared for the feelings of his heart. By this he was urged on to perfect and unconditional submission to the will of his God. To this feeling of submission and confidence he gave expression at the birth of his second son, by calling him Eliezer (אליעזר God is help); for he said, "The God of my father (Abraham or the three patriarchs, cf. Exodus 3:6) is my help, and has delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh" (Exodus 18:4). The birth of this son is not mentioned in the Hebrew text, but his name is given in Exodus 18:4, with this explanation.

(Note: In the Vulgate the account of his birth and name is interpolated here, and so also in some of the later codices of the lxx. But in the oldest and best of the Greek codices it is wanting here, so that there is no ground for the supposition that it has fallen out of the Hebrew text.)

In the names of his two sons, Moses expressed all that had affected his mind in the land of Midian. The pride and self-will with which he had offered himself in Egypt as the deliverer and judge of his oppressed brethren, had been broken down by the feeling of exile. This feeling, however, had not passed into despair, but had been purified and raised into firm confidence in the God of his fathers, who had shown himself as his helper by delivering him from the sword of Pharaoh. In this state of mind, not only did "his attachment to his people, and his longing to rejoin them, instead of cooling, grow stronger and stronger" (Kurtz), but the hope of the fulfilment of the promise given to the fathers was revived within him, and ripened into the firm confidence of faith.

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