And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe you, neither listen to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The voice of the first sign.—Not “the voice of Moses witnessed to by the first sign” (Rosenmüller), but the voice, which the sign itself might be regarded as uttering. (Comp. Psalm 105:27, where Moses and Aaron are said to have proclaimed “the words of God’s signs.”) A miracle speaks to men.
They will believe, i.e., most of them. Accustomed to the tricks of the serpent charmers (see Exodus 7:11 and comment ad loc.), the Israelites might be unmoved by the sight of the first miracle. They were then to be shown the second, which would be much more astonishing to them, having no parallel in their experience. This would persuade the greater number. As some, however, might still doubt, a third sign was provided. God is patient with all reasonable doubt.Exodus 4:8. The voice of the first sign — The expression here is peculiarly proper and forcible; for God’s works have a voice as well as his word, to which we ought diligently to attend. And these miracles spoke aloud in the ear of reason, and said, Believe in him whom God hath sent. Bishop Warburton observes here (see Divine Legation, book 4, sect. 4) that “in the first ages of the world, men being obliged to supply the deficiencies of language by significant signs, mutual converse was carried on by a mixed discourse of words and actions. Hence came the eastern phrase of the voice of the sign; and use and custom improving what had arisen out of necessity into ornament, this practice subsisted long after the necessity was over, especially in the East, the natural temperament of the people in that part of the world inclining them to a mode of conversation which exercised their vivacity by motion, and gratified it by a perpetual representation of material images.”To the voice of the first sign; to the voice or word of God delivered and confirmed by the first sign. For Moses did not make dumb shows before them, but acquainted them with the mind of God therein. Or he saith
the voice, to note that God’s works have a voice to speak to us, which we must diligently observe. See Micah 6:9.
neither hearken to the voice of the first sign; which miracle wrought, spoke plain enough that he that wrought it, or for whose sake it was wrought, must be one come from God, or such a miracle would never be wrought by him or for him; but should any of the Israelites be still incredulous, it is supposed:And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 8. - The voice of the first sign. Some understand "the voice of Moses as he gave them the first sign;" but it is better to regard the sign itself as speaking to them. According to the sacred writers everything that can teach us anything - day, night, the heavens, the firmament, the beasts, the fowls of the air, the fishes, nay, the very stones - have a voice. They teach us, speak to us, declare to us, cry out aloud, lift up their voice, shout, sing, proclaim God's will, whether man will hear or whether he will forbear. (See Psalm 19:1-3; Job 12:7, 3; Habakkuk 2:11; Luke 19:40, etc.) Equally, or rather much more, must a miracle be regarded as having a voice. God speaks to us by it. 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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