Exodus 4:10
And Moses said to the LORD, O my LORD, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since you have spoken to your servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(10) I am not eloquent.—Heb., No man of words am I. Moses, still reluctant, raises a new objection. He is not gifted with facility of speech. Words do not. come readily to him; perhaps, when they come, he has a difficulty in uttering them. According to a Jewish tradition, he was unable to pronounce the labials, b, f, m, p, v. According to his own expressions at the end of the verse, he was “heavy” or “slow of speech,” and “heavy” or “slow of tongue.”

Neither heretofore.—Heb., neither yesterday, nor the day before. It is a Hebrew idiom to make these words cover past time generally. (See below, Exodus 5:7-8; Exodus 5:14; and comp. Genesis 31:2; Genesis 31:5, and 2Samuel 3:17.)

Nor since thou hast spoken.—Converse with God had not cured his defect of utterance, whatever it was. He remained “slow of speech and slow of tongue”—unready, i.e., and hesitating.

Exodus 4:10. O my Lord, I am not eloquent — He was a great philosopher, statesman, and divine, and yet no orator; a man of a clear head, great thought, and solid judgment, but had not a voluble tongue, nor ready utterance; and therefore he thought himself unfit to speak before great men and about great affairs. Moses was mighty in word, (Acts 7:21,) and yet not eloquent; what he said was strong and nervous, and to the purpose, and distilled as the dew, (Deuteronomy 32:2,) though he did not deliver himself with that readiness, ease, and fineness that some do.4:10-17 Moses continued backward to the work God designed him for; there was much of cowardice, slothfulness, and unbelief in him. We must not judge of men by the readiness of their discourse. A great deal of wisdom and true worth may be with a slow tongue. God sometimes makes choice of those as his messengers, who have the least of the advantages of art or nature, that his grace in them may appear the more glorious. Christ's disciples were no orators, till the Holy Spirit made them such. God condescends to answer the excuse of Moses. Even self-diffidence, when it hinders us from duty, or clogs us in duty, is very displeasing to the Lord. But while we blame Moses for shrinking from this dangerous service, let us ask our own hearts if we are not neglecting duties more easy, and less perilous. The tongue of Aaron, with the head and heart of Moses, would make one completely fit for this errand. God promises, I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth. Even Aaron, who could speak well, yet could not speak to purpose, unless God gave constant teaching and help; for without the constant aid of Divine grace, the best gifts will fail.Eloquent - See the margin. The double expression "slow of speech (Ezekiel 3:5 margin) and of a slow tongue" seems to imply a difficulty both in finding words and in giving them utterance, a very natural result of so long a period of a shepherd's life, passed in a foreign land.

Since thou hast spoken - This expression seems to imply that some short time had intervened between this address and the first communication of the divine purpose to Moses.

10-13. I am not eloquent—It is supposed that Moses labored under a natural defect of utterance or had a difficulty in the free and fluent expression of his ideas in the Egyptian language, which he had long disused. This new objection was also overruled, but still Moses, who foresaw the manifold difficulties of the undertaking, was anxious to be freed from the responsibility. I am not eloquent; not able to deliver thy message acceptably and decently, either to Pharaoh or to the Israelites. Since thy appearance to me, thou hast made some change in my hand, but none in my tongue, but still I am, as I was, most unfit for so high an employment. But indeed he was therefore fit for it, as the unlearned apostles were for the preaching of the gospel, that the honour of their glorious works might be entirely given to God, and not to the instruments which he used. And Moses said unto the Lord,.... Notwithstanding the above miracles, he seems unwilling to go on the Lord's errand to Pharaoh and to the Israelites, and therefore invents a new objection after all his other objections had been sufficiently answered:

I am not eloquent; or "a man of words" (s), that has words at command, that can speak well readily, and gracefully; such an one, he intimates, was proper to be sent to a king's court, that was an orator, that could make fine speeches, and handsome addresses, for which he was not qualified:

neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken to thy servant; neither in his younger years had he ever been an eloquent man, nor was there any alteration in him in that respect, since God had given him this call:

but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue; had some impediment in his speech, could not freely and easily bring out his words, or rightly pronounce them; so Lucian (t) the Heathen calls Moses slow tongued, or one slow of speech, and uses the same word the Septuagint does here, which version perhaps he had seen, and from thence took it.

(s) "vir verborum", Paguinus, Montanus, Piscator, Ainsworth. (t) In Philopatride.

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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
10. Oh] In the Heb. a particle of entreaty, craving permission to speak: always followed by either Lord (‘Adonai,’ not ‘Jehovah’), v. 13, Joshua 7:8 al., or my lord, Genesis 43:20, Numbers 12:11 al.

eloquent
] lit. a man of words, i.e. able to command words, fluent. Cf. Jeremiah’s objection (Exodus 1:6).

nor since, &c.] In giving him his commission, God has conferred upon him other powers (vv. 2–9), but not the gift of fluency.

heavy of mouth and heavy of tongue] i.e. slow to move them.

10–17. Moses’ fourth difficulty: he objects that he is not fluent, has no power to state his case, to convince or persuade the Israelites. He is promised, in reply, firstly, that God will be with him to give him words, and afterwards, as he still demurs, that Aaron shall be his spokesman.Verse 10. - And Moses said, O my Lord. The phrase used by Moses is full of force. It is "vox dolentis et supplicantis" (Noldius). Joseph's brethren use it to the steward of Joseph's house, when they expect to be fallen upon and taken for bondsmen (Genesis 43:20); Judah used it (Genesis 44:18) when pleading with Joseph for Benjamin; Aaron when pleading for Miriam (Numbers 13:11); Joshua when expostulating with God about Ai (Joshua 7:8). There is a deprecatory idea in it, as well as a supplicatory one; an idea like that which Abraham expanded into the words, "Oh! let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once" (Genesis 18:32). Moses feels that he is trying the patience of God to the uttermost; but yet he must make one more effort to escape his mission. I am not eloquent. Literally, as in the margin, "a man of words." "Words do not come readily to my tongue when I attempt to speak; I have never been a fluent speaker, neither yesterday (i.e. recently) nor the day before (i.e. formerly). Nor do I even find that I have become eloquent by divine inspiration since thou spakest with me. Still I remain slow of speech and slow of tongue." A question is raised whether the mere difficulty of finding words and giving them utterance - a difficulty felt at first by almost every speaker - is here meant, or something further, as "a natural impediment owing to defect in the organs of speech" (Kalisch), or a want of readiness, owing to disuse, in speaking the Hebrew language (Clarke). The latter suggestion is scarcely consistent with the ease and fluency with which Moses had carried on the conversation in Hebrew up to this point. The former is a possible meaning, though not a necessary one. According to a Jewish tradition, Moses had a difficulty in pronouncing the labials b, v, m, ph, p. The First Sign. - The turning of Moses' staff into a serpent, which became a staff again when Moses took it by the tail, had reference to the calling of Moses. The staff in his hand was his shepherd's crook (מזּה Exodus 4:2, for מה־זה, in this place alone), and represented his calling as a shepherd. At the bidding of God he threw it upon the ground, and the staff became a serpent, before which Moses fled. The giving up of his shepherd-life would expose him to dangers, from which he would desire to escape. At the same time, there was more implied in the figure of a serpent than danger which merely threatened his life. The serpent had been the constant enemy of the seed of the woman (Genesis 3), and represented the power of the wicked one which prevailed in Egypt. The explanation in Pirke Elieser, c. 40, points to this: ideo Deum hoc signum Mosi ostendisse, quia sicut serpens mordet et morte afficit homines, ita quoque Pharao et Aegyptii mordebant et necabant Israelitas. But at the bidding of God, Moses seized the serpent by the tail, and received his staff again as "the rod of God," with which he smote Egypt with great plagues. From this sign the people of Israel would necessarily perceive, that Jehovah had not only called Moses to be the leader of Israel, but had endowed him with the power to overcome the serpent-like cunning and the might of Egypt; in other words, they would "believe that Jehovah, the God of the fathers, had appeared to him." (On the special meaning of this sign for Pharaoh, see Exodus 7:10.)
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