Exodus 3:3
And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) I will now turn aside.—A minute touch, in dicating that Moses is the writer. He remembers that the bush did not grow on the track which he was pursuing, but lay off it, and that he had to “turn aside,” in order to make his inspection.

This great sight.—The phenomenon was strange and unusual—worthy of note, whatever might be the cause.

Exodus 3:3-4. I will turn aside and see — He speaks as one inquisitive and bold in his inquiry: whatever it was, he would, if possible, know the meaning of it. God called to him, and said, Moses, Moses — Probably there had been no appearance of God to any one since Jacob’s descent into Egypt, above two hundred years before: and Moses, being addressed thus by name, must have been much more surprised by what he heard than by what he saw. Divine calls are then effectual when the Spirit of God makes them particular, and calls us as by name. He said, Here am I — Not only to hear what is spoken, but to do what is commanded.

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.

No text from Poole on this verse.

And Moses said, I will now turn aside,.... From the place where he was, and the flock he was feeding, and get nearer to the bush, which seems to have been on one side of him and not directly before him:

and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt; inquire into, and find out, if he could, the reason of this strange and amazing sight; how it could be that a bush should be on fire and yet not burnt up, which might have been expected would have been destroyed at once; for what is a thorn or bramble bush to devouring flames of fire, as these appeared to be?

And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. Moses would fain approach nearer, and learn the reason of the marvel, why the bush was not consumed.

Moses, Moses] The duplication, as Genesis 22:11; Genesis 46:2 (both E).

Verse 3. - I will turn aside. Suspecting nothing but a natural phenomenon, which he was anxious to investigate. The action bespeaks him a man of sense and intelligence, not easily scared or imposed upon. Exodus 3:3Here, 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.
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