Exodus 6:12
And Moses spoke before the LORD, saying, Behold, the children of Israel have not listened to me; how then shall Pharaoh hear me, who am of uncircumcised lips?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) How then shall Pharaoh hear me?—This time the objection comes from Moses. His double rejection, by Pharaoh (Exodus 5:1-4) and by Israel (Exodus 6:9), had thrown him back into utter despondency. All that diffidence and distrust of himself which he had shown in his earlier communications with Jehovah (Exodus 3:11; Exodus 4:1; Exodus 4:10; Exodus 4:13) revived, and he despaired of success in his mission. Was it of any use his making a second appeal to the foreign monarch when he had failed with his own countrymen?

Uncircumcised lips.—Rosenmüller argues from this expression that Moses was “tongue-tied;” but it is not clear that more is meant here than in Exodus 4:10, where Moses says that Hebrews 13 “slow of speech and of a slow tongue.” He had some difficulty of utterance; but whether or not it was a physical impediment remains uncertain. “Uncircumcised” is used, according to the Hebrew idiom, for any imperfection which interferes with efficiency. An “uncircumcised ear,” is explained in Jeremiah 6 to be an ear that “cannot hearken;” and an “uncircumcised heart: (Lev. xxvi 41) is a heart that fails to understand.

Exodus 6:12-13. Behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened to me — They gave no heed to what I have said; how then shall Pharaoh hear me? — If the anguish of their spirit makes them deaf to that which would compose and comfort them, much more will his pride and insolence make him deaf to that which will but exasperate him. Who am of uncircumcised lips — He was conscious to himself that he had not the gift of utterance. The Lord gave them a charge to the children of Israel and to Pharaoh — God’s authority is sufficient to answer all objections, and binds us to obedience without murmuring or disputing.6:10-13 The faith of Moses was so feeble that he could scarcely be kept to his work. Ready obedience is always according to the strength of our faith. Though our weaknesses ought to humble us, yet they ought not to discourage us from doing our best in any service we have to do for God. When Moses repeats his baffled arguments, he is argued with no longer, but God gives him and Aaron a charge, both to the children of Israel, and to Pharaoh. God's authority is sufficient to answer all objections, and binds all to obey, without murmuring or disputing, Php 2:14.Uncircumcised lips - An uncircumcised ear is one that does not hear clearly; an uncircumcised heart one slow to receive and understand warnings; uncircumcised lips, such as cannot speak fluently. The recurrence of the hesitation of Moses is natural; great as was the former trial this was far more severe; yet his words always imply fear of failure, not of personal danger (see Exodus 3:11). 12. how then shall … who am of uncircumcised lips?—A metaphorical expression among the Hebrews, who, taught to look on the circumcision of any part as denoting perfection, signified its deficiency or unsuitableness by uncircumcision. The words here express how painfully Moses felt his want of utterance or persuasive oratory. He seems to have fallen into the same deep despondency as his brethren, and to be shrinking with nervous timidity from a difficult, if not desperate, cause. If he had succeeded so ill with the people, whose dearest interests were all involved, what better hope could he entertain of his making more impression on the heart of a king elated with pride and strong in the possession of absolute power? How strikingly was the indulgent forbearance of God displayed towards His people amid all their backwardness to hail His announcement of approaching deliverance! No perverse complaints or careless indifference on their part retarded the development of His gracious purposes. On the contrary, here, as generally, the course of His providence is slow in the infliction of judgments, while it moves more quickly, as it were, when misery is to be relieved or benefits conferred. i.e. Of polluted lips. Uncircumcision being a great defect and blemish, whereby men were rendered profane, contemptible, and unfit for many services and privileges, may note any defect, whether moral, and of the spirit, or natural, and of the body. So here it notes Moses’s inability to clothe God’s commands in such words as might prevail with Pharaoh. But this was a great weakness of faith, as if God could not effect his purpose, because the instrument was unfit. And Moses spake before the Lord,.... Who appeared in a visible form, and had spoke to him with an articulate voice, and before whom Moses stood, and made the following reply:

saying, behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me; even though he brought a comfortable message to them from the Lord, and delivered many gracious promises of his to them, assuring them of deliverance out of Egypt, and of their possession of the land of Canaan:

how then shall Pharaoh hear me? making a demand upon him to part with a people, from whose labour he receives so much advantage, and has such an addition to his revenues, and who is a mighty king, and haughty monarch. And this is further enforced from his own weakness and unfitness to speak to Pharaoh:

who am of uncircumcised lips? had an impediment in his speech, could not speak freely and readily, but with difficulty; perhaps stammered, and so uttered superfluous syllables, repeated them before he could fully pronounce what he aimed at; or in other words, he was not eloquent, which was his old objection, and had been fully answered before: and by this it appears that there was no alteration in the speech of Moses since God spoke with him at Mount Horeb. Some think Moses expected to have had this impediment removed, and tacitly hints at it here, not being so well satisfied with Aaron's being joined with him as his mouth and spokesman, which seemed to carry in it some reflection upon him.

And Moses spake before the LORD, saying, Behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me; how then shall Pharaoh hear me, who am of {d} uncircumcised lips?

(d) Or barbarous and rude in speech and by this word

(uncircumcised) is signified the whole corruption of man's nature.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. In Exodus 4:10 (J) Moses urges his inability to persuade the people; here he urges that the Pharaoh is not likely to listen to him.

of uncircumcised lips] i.e. lips closed in, which open and speak with difficulty. Cf. the same expression of the heart, when it is (in a figurative sense) closed in, and so impervious to good impressions (Leviticus 26:41, Jeremiah 9:26, Ezekiel 44:7; Ezekiel 44:9), and of the ear, when it is, metaphorically, in a similar condition, and hears imperfectly (Jeremiah 6:10). In substance, the meaning is the same as that of J’s ‘slow’ (lit. ‘heavy’) of mouth and tongue (Exodus 4:10 b).

The answer to v. 12 does not follow till Exodus 7:1, where the way is prepared for it by the repetition in substance of vv. 10–12 in vv. 28–30.Verse 12. - Uncircumcised lips, i.e. "lips inefficient for the purpose for which lips are given;" as "uncircumcised ears" are ears that cannot hearken (Jeremiah 6:10), and an "uncircumcised heart" a heart that cannot understand (Jeremiah 9:26). The meaning is the same as in Exodus 4:10, where Moses says that he is "slow of speech and of a slow tongue." Nothing can be determined from the expression as to the exact cause of the imperfection of which complaint is made.

CHAPTER 6:13-27 Equipment of Moses and Aaron as Messengers of Jehovah. - Exodus 6:1. In reply to the complaining inquiry of Moses, Jehovah promised him the deliverance of Israel by a strong hand (cf. Exodus 3:19), by which Pharaoh would be compelled to let Israel go, and even to drive them out of his land. Moses did not receive any direct answer to the question, "Why hast Thou so evil-entreated this people?" He was to gather this first of all from his own experience as the leader of Israel. For the words were strictly applicable here: "What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter" (John 13:7). If, even after the miraculous deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt and their glorious march through the desert, in which they had received so many proofs of the omnipotence and mercy of their God, they repeatedly rebelled against the guidance of God, and were not content with the manna provided by the Lord, but lusted after the fishes, leeks, and onions of Egypt (Numbers 11); it is certain that in such a state of mind as this, they would never have been willing to leave Egypt and enter into a covenant with Jehovah, without a very great increase in the oppression they endured in Egypt. - The brief but comprehensive promise was still further explained by the Lord (Exodus 6:2-9), and Moses was instructed and authorized to carry out the divine purposes in concert with Aaron (Exodus 6:10-13, Exodus 6:28-30; Exodus 7:1-6). The genealogy of the two messengers is then introduced into the midst of these instructions (Exodus 6:14-27); and the age of Moses is given at the close (Exodus 7:7). This section does not contain a different account of the calling of Moses, taken from some other source than the previous one; it rather presupposes Exodus 3-5, and completes the account commenced in Exodus 3 of the equipment of Moses and Aaron as the executors of the divine will with regard to Pharaoh and Israel. For the fact that the first visit paid by Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh was simply intended to bring out the attitude of Pharaoh towards the purposes of Jehovah, and to show the necessity for the great judgments of God, is distinctly expressed in the words, "Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh." But before these judgments commenced, Jehovah announced to Moses (Exodus 6:2), and through him to the people, that henceforth He would manifest Himself to them in a much more glorious manner than to the patriarchs, namely, as Jehovah; whereas to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, He had only appeared as El Shaddai. The words, "By My name Jehovah was I now known to them," do not mean, however, that the patriarchs were altogether ignorant of the name Jehovah. This is obvious from the significant use of that name, which was not an unmeaning sound, but a real expression of the divine nature, and still more from the unmistakeable connection between the explanation given by God here and Genesis 17:1. When the establishment of the covenant commenced, as described in Genesis 15, with the institution of the covenant sign of circumcision and the promise of the birth of Isaac, Jehovah said to Abram, "I am El Shaddai, God Almighty," and from that time forward manifested Himself to Abram and his wife as the Almighty, in the birth of Isaac, which took place apart altogether from the powers of nature, and also in the preservation, guidance, and multiplication of his seed. It was in His attribute as El Shaddai that God had revealed His nature to the patriarchs; but now He was about to reveal Himself to Israel as Jehovah, as the absolute Being working with unbounded freedom in the performance of His promises. For not only had He established His covenant with the fathers (Exodus 6:4), but He had also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, and remembered His covenant (Exodus 6:5; וגם - וגם, not only - but also). The divine promise not only commences in Exodus 6:2, but concludes at Exodus 6:8, with the emphatic expression, "I Jehovah," to show that the work of Israel's redemption resided in the power of the name Jehovah. In Exodus 6:4 the covenant promises of Genesis 17:7-8; Genesis 26:3; Genesis 35:11-12, are all brought together; and in Exodus 6:5 we have a repetition of Exodus 2:24, with the emphatically repeated אני (I). On the ground of the erection of His covenant on the one hand, and, what was irreconcilable with that covenant, the bondage of Israel on the other, Jehovah was not about to redeem Israel from its sufferings and make it His own nation. This assurance, which God would carry out by the manifestation of His nature as expressed in the name Jehovah, contained three distinct elements: (a) the deliverance of Israel from the bondage of Egypt, which, because so utterly different from all outward appearances, is described in three parallel clauses: bringing them out from under the burdens of the Egyptians; saving them from their bondage; and redeeming them with a stretched-out arm and with great judgments; - (b) the adoption of Israel as the nation of God; - (c) the guidance of Israel into the land promised to the fathers (Exodus 6:6-8). נטוּיה זרוע, a stretched-out arm, is most appropriately connected with גּדלים שׁפטים, great judgments; for God raises, stretches out His arm, when He proceeds in judgment to smite the rebellious. These expressions repeat with greater emphasis the "strong hand" of Exodus 6:1, and are frequently connected with it in the rhetorical language of Deuteronomy (e.g., Deuteronomy 4:34; Deuteronomy 5:15; Deuteronomy 7:19). The "great judgments" were the plagues, the judgments of God, by which Pharaoh was to be compelled to let Israel go.
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