Exodus 4:5
That they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee.
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(5) That they may believe . . . —These are God’s words to Moses, in continuation of those which form the first portion of the preceding verse. The clause describing the action of Moses in Exodus 4:4 is parenthetic. The words give Diviue sanction to the view, so strangely combatted of late, that the power of working miracles is given to men, primarily and mainly, for its evidential value to accredit them as God’s messengers. Without the gift of miracles neither would Moses have persuaded the Israelites, nor would the Apostles have converted the world.

Exodus 4:5-6. That they may believe — The sentence is imperfect, but the meaning is, This thou shalt do before them that they may believe. His hand was leprous as snow — For whiteness. This signified, that Moses, by the power of God, should bring sore diseases upon Egypt, that at his prayer they should be removed. And that whereas the Israelites in Egypt were become leprous, polluted by sin, and almost consumed by oppression, by being taken into the bosom of Moses they should be cleansed and cured.

4:1-9 Moses objects, that the people would not take his word, unless he showed them some sign. God gives him power to work miracles. But those who are now employed to deliver God's messages to men, need not the power to work miracles: their character and their doctrines are to be tried by that word of God to which they appeal. These miracles especially referred to the miracles of the Lord Jesus Christ. It belonged to Him only, to cast the power of the devil out of the soul, and to heal the soul of the leprosy of sin; and so it was for Him first to cast the devil out of the body, and to heal the leprosy of the body.A serpent - This miracle had a meaning which Moses could not mistake. The serpent was probably the basilisk or Uraeus, the Cobra. This was the symbol of royal and divine power on the diadem of every Pharaoh. The conversion of the rod was not merely a portent, it was a sign, at once a pledge and representation of victory over the king and gods of Egypt! 2. the Lord said, … What is that in thine hand?—The question was put not to elicit information which God required, but to draw the particular attention of Moses.

A rod—probably the shepherd's crook—among the Arabs, a long staff, with a curved head, varying from three to six feet in length.

An imperfect sentence, to be thus completed,

This thou shalt do before them, that they may believe. See the like in 2 Samuel 5:8, compared with 1 Chronicles 11:6; and Mark 14:49, compared with Matthew 26:56.

That they may believe,.... The elders and people of Israel; for this miracle was wrought not for the confirmation of Moses's faith; for, as Aben Ezra observes, the sign of the burning bush was given to him to confirm his faith, that it was God that appeared to him, and called him to this work; but this was wrought to confirm the faith of the Israelites in his divine mission:

that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee; See Gill on Exodus 3:6.

{b} That they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee.

(b) This power to work miracles was to confirm his doctrine, and to assure him of his vocation.

Verse 5. - That they may believe. The sign was to convince the Israelites, in the first instance, and cause them to accept the mission of Moses (see vers. 30, 31). It was afterwards to be exhibited before Pharaoh (ver. 21), to try him and prove him, but not to convince him. Exodus 4:5The 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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