Exodus 4:31
And the people believed: and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked on their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Exodus 4:31. The people believed — That Moses was God’s messenger, sent for their deliverance, and bowed their heads, and worshipped Jehovah as the true God, and the God of their fathers, acknowledging his goodness, and testifying their gratitude for his thus graciously visiting them.4:24-31 God met Moses in anger. The Lord threatened him with death or sent sickness upon him, as the punishment of his having neglected to circumcise his son. When God discovers to us what is amiss in our lives, we must give all diligence to amend it speedily. This is the voice of every rod; it calls us to return to Him that smites us. God sent Aaron to meet Moses. The more they saw of God's bringing them together, the more pleasant their interview was. The elders of Israel met them in faith, and were ready to obey them. It often happens, that less difficulty is found than was expected, in such undertakings as are according to the will of God, and for his glory. Let us but arise and try at our proper work, the Lord will be with us and prosper us. If Israel welcomed the tidings of their deliverance, and worshipped the Lord, how should we welcome the glad tidings of redemption, embrace it in faith, and adore the Redeemer!All the elders - The Israelites retained their own national organization; their affairs were administered by their own elders, who called a public assembly Exodus 4:31 to hear the message brought by Moses and Aaron. 29-31. Moses and Aaron went—towards Egypt, Zipporah and her sons having been sent back. (Compare Ex 18:2).

gathered … all the elders—Aaron was spokesman, and Moses performed the appointed miracles—through which "the people" (that is, the elders) believed (1Ki 17:24; Jos 3:2) and received the joyful tidings of the errand on which Moses had come with devout thanksgiving. Formerly they had slighted the message and rejected the messenger. Formerly Moses had gone in his own strength; now he goes leaning on God, and strong only through faith in Him who had sent him. Israel also had been taught a useful lesson, and it was good for both that they had been afflicted.

Had visited, i.e. taken cognizance of their cause and condition, and resolved to deliver them,

they bowed their heads and worshipped; acknowledging and adoring the kindness and faithfulness of God thereto. And the people believed,.... That Moses was sent of God, and would be the deliverer of them:

and when they heard that the Lord had visited the children of Israel; in a way of grace and mercy, by raising such a redeemer and deliverer in the midst of them:

and that he had looked upon their affliction; with an eye of pity and compassion:

then they bowed their heads, and worshipped; adoring the goodness of God, and expressing their thankfulness for the notice he took of them, and signifying their readiness to obey all instructions and directions that should be given them.

And the {n} people believed: and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.

(n) So that Moses had experience of God's promise that he would have good success.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
31. The people believe in Moses’ commission, as Jehovah had assured him that they would do (Exodus 3:18 a, Exodus 4:8-9); and bow the heads in reverence and gratitude when they hear that Jehovah has visited (Exodus 3:16) His people.

and when, &c.] Heb. and they heard …, and they bowed. LXX. for and they heard (וישמעו) have and they rejoiced (וישמחו); no doubt rightly.Verse 31. - The people believed. This ready faith stands in strong contrast with the ordinary incredulous temper of the Israelitish people, who were "a faithless and stubborn generation" - a generation that "believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation" (Psalm 78:22). It would seem that under the pressure of affliction - having, humanly speaking, no hope - the stubborn spirit of the people had given way, and they were content to look to Jehovah and accept his promises, and believe in his messengers, notwithstanding their natural scepticism. No doubt the novelty of miracles helped to produce this state of feeling; and the fact that they were not called upon at present for any active exertion made acquiescence in what Moses put before them easier. When they heard that the Lord had visited - i.e. when the message contained in Exodus 3:16 was delivered to them. And that he had looked upon their affliction. Compare Exodus 3:7. They bowed their heads. Rather "they bowed down" (Kalisch), or "inclined themselves." And worshipped. Some understand an act of respect and ho-mage done to Moses and Aaron, in token of their acceptance by the people as leaders; but, though the words employed are sometimes used in this sense, the context is opposed to their having this sense in this place. "When the people heard that the Lord had visited the children of Israel they bowed down and worshipped." Whom? Surely, the Lord.



But if Moses was to carry out the divine commission with success, he must first of all prove himself to be a faithful servant of Jehovah in his own house. This he was to learn from the occurrence at the inn: an occurrence which has many obscurities on account of the brevity of the narrative, and has received many different interpretations. When Moses was on the way, Jehovah met him at the resting-place (מלון, see Genesis 42:27), and sought to kill him. In what manner, is not stated: whether by a sudden seizure with some fatal disease, or, what is more probable, by some act proceeding directly from Himself, which threatened Moses with death. This hostile attitude on the part of God was occasioned by his neglect to circumcise his son; for, as soon as Zipporah cut off (circumcised) the foreskin of her son with a stone, Jehovah let him go. צור equals צוּר, a rock, or stone, here a stone knife, with which, according to hereditary custom, the circumcision commanded by Joshua was also performed; not, however, because "stone knives were regarded as less dangerous than those of metal," nor because "for symbolical reasons preference was given to them, as a simple production of nature, over the metal knives that had been prepared by human hands and were applied to daily use." For if the Jews had detected any religious or symbolical meaning in stone, they would never have given it up for iron or steel, but would have retained it, like the Ethiopian tribe of the Alnaii, who used stone knives for that purpose as late as 150 years ago; whereas, in the Talmud, the use of iron or steel knives for the purpose of circumcision is spoken of, as though they were universally employed. Stone knives belong to a time anterior to the manufacture of iron or steel; and wherever they were employed at a later period, this arose from a devoted adherence to the older and simpler custom (see my Commentary on Joshua 5:2). From the word "her son," it is evident that Zipporah only circumcised one of the two sons of Moses (Exodus 4:20); so that the other, not doubt the elder, had already been circumcised in accordance with the law. Circumcision had been enjoined upon Abraham by Jehovah as a covenant sign for all his descendants; and the sentence of death was pronounced upon any neglect of it, as being a breach of the covenant (Genesis 17:14). Although in this passage it is the uncircumcised themselves who are threatened with death, yet in the case of children the punishment fell upon the parents, and first of all upon the father, who had neglected to keep the commandment of God. Now, though Moses had probably omitted circumcision simply from regard to his Midianitish wife, who disliked this operation, he had been guilty of a capital crime, which God could not pass over in the case of one whom He had chosen to be His messenger, to establish His covenant with Israel. Hence He threatened him with death, to bring him to a consciousness of his sin, either by the voice of conscience or by some word which accompanied His attack upon Moses; and also to show him with what earnestness God demanded the keeping of His commandments. Still He did not kill him; for his sin had sprung from weakness of the flesh, from a sinful yielding to his wife, which could both be explained and excused on account of his position in the Midianite's house. That Zipporah's dislike to circumcision had been the cause of the omission, has been justly inferred by commentators from the fact, that on Jehovah's attack upon Moses, she proceeded at once to perform what had been neglected, and, as it seems, with inward repugnance. The expression, "She threw (the foreskin of her son) at his (Moses') feet," points to this (ל הגּיע, as in Isaiah 25:12). The suffix in רגליו (his feet) cannot refer to the son, not only because such an allusion would give no reasonable sense, but also because the suffix refers to Moses in the immediate context, both before (in המיתו, Exodus 4:24) and after (in ממּנּוּ, Exodus 4:26); and therefore it is simpler to refer it to Moses here. From this it follows, then, that the words, "a blood-bridegroom art thou to me," were addressed to Moses, and not to the boy. Zipporah calls Moses a blood-bridegroom, "because she had been compelled, as it were, to acquire and purchase him anew as a husband by shedding the blood of her son" (Glass). "Moses had been as good as taken from her by the deadly attack which had been made upon him. She purchased his life by the blood of her son; she received him back, as it were, from the dead, and married him anew; he was, in fact, a bridegroom of blood to her" (Kurtz). This she said, as the historian adds, after God had let Moses, go, למּוּלות, "with reference to the circumcisions." The plural is used quite generally and indefinitely, as Zipporah referred not merely to this one instance, but to circumcision generally. Moses was apparently induced by what had occurred to decide not to take his wife and children with him to Egypt, but to send them back to his father-in-law. We may infer this from the fact, that it was not till after Israel had arrived at Sinai that he brought them to him again (Exodus 18:2).
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