|Go to verse:|
|01 |02 |03 |04 |05 |06 |07 |08 |09 |10 |11 |12 |13 |14 |15 |16 |17 |18 |19 |20 |21 |22 |
Go to Bible: Exodus 3
“far side.” The biblical culture was oriented to the east, so the “far side” is the far west side. In this context, it is not so much where any “wilderness” (desert) area ended, but where the territory of Midian ended.(top)
|Exo 3:2||- (top)|
|Exo 3:3||- (top)|
|Exo 3:4||- (top)|
“Take your sandals off.” In the biblical culture it was the custom in a holy place to leave your head-covering on and take your shoes off. In the Western culture we leave our shoes on and take our hats off.(top)
“father.” We would normally think that the word should be plural, “fathers.” But in this case the word is singular to emphasize the covenant that God made individually with Abraham and then reconfirmed with Isaac and Jacob (see commentary on Genesis 17:8). The word “father” here does not refer to Amram, Moses’ actual father (Exod. 6:20), but rather to the “fathers of the Faith,” i.e., Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.(top)
|Exo 3:7||- (top)|
“spacious land.” We normally do not think of Israel as a “spacious land,” since it is small compared to other countries, but at this time in Egypt’s history, the only fertile land in Egypt was within a very short distance from the Nile River; all the rest was desert. So the Egypt that was livable south of the Nile delta was only a few miles wide, and compared to that, Israel was “spacious.”(top)
|Exo 3:9||- (top)|
|Exo 3:10||- (top)|
“Who am I.” Moses begins to make excuses to get out of going to Egypt. This excuse seems totally normal, “Who am I.” We often underestimate our abilities, especially when it comes to things that God would surely help us with. Successful believers need to see themselves as God sees them.(top)
“you will all.” The singular “you” changes to the plural here, and is brought out by “you will all.”(top)
“if I go.” The Hebrew is written in a way that expresses Moses reservation about going back to Egypt. In short, he is saying, “Suppose I do all this….” We word that as “If.”(top)
“I am who I am.” The Hebrew can be translated “I am who I am” [or: I am that I am], or “I will be what I will be” [or: I will become what I will become]. All of these are good translations of the Hebrew, and all of them apply. “I am” is true both now and in the future: God is an ever-present reality now and in the future; both now and then He is the “I am.” God was, and is, and is to come. This “name,” is clearly related to the proper name of God, Yahweh, (actually YHVH) because it is derived from the trilateral root (H-V-H), which is from an earlier root (H-Y-H) “to be.” Even that does “double duty,” because it can both refer to God, who is Eternal and who “is,” and it can refer to what He will become and do.
God “is” in that He is an ever-present reality. God is also “I will become what I will become” in several different senses. One of those is that God will become what His people need Him to become for them: the provider, the deliverer, the comforter, etc. On the other hand, God will become what He Himself “will become,” apart from human condition or desire. He is God and Creator, and He is not subject to the will and whims of humans. He will become what He will become according to His plan, wisdom and desire.
God’s proper “name” is Yahweh, but when asked His name, He did not say, “Yahweh,” He said “I am who I am” (“I will become who I will become”). This shows us that God’s name Yahweh is intrinsically connected to His character, which is multifaceted, and cannot be simplified into a simple name or concept, such as “God is love.” While He is love, He is much more than that.
Although almost all English version have “I am that I am” as the translation of Exodus 3:14, a number of versions have “I will become [or “be”] what I will become” as an acceptable translation and put in a marginal note to that effect (cp. CEB; HCSB; ESV; NAB; NET; NIV; NLT; NRSV).
It is sometimes said that Jesus claimed to be God in John 8:58 and said he was the “I am,” but that is not the case at all (see commentary on John 8:58).(top)
“Abraham...Isaac…Jacob. God made His covenant with Abraham, and reconfirmed it with Isaac and Jacob. The reason God mentions them in this context is that it emphasizes the covenant that God made with the “Fathers,” which included giving them the land of Israel, so the Israelites would have to be delivered from Egypt for the covenant to be fulfilled.(top)
“I have surely visited you.” When God “visited” someone, He intervened in their life, and He could intervene for the better or for the worse. The exact meaning of the Hebrew perfect tense of the verb here in Exodus 3:16 has been debated, and it could be a perfect of intent (“I have decided to intervene”), an instantaneous perfect (“I will now intervene”), or prophetic perfect (“I will intervene in the future”). However, it seems best given the situation that the perfect tense should be taken as literally meaning that God had already, in the past, started the process of delivering the Israelites from Egypt, which indeed He had, and in fact had already foreseen that Egypt would have to be smitten for that to happen (cp. Exod. 3:20). No doubt the Israelites, who wanted to be free from their slavery in Egypt, remembered that Joseph had prophesied that God would visit Israel and bring them from Egypt to the Promised Land (Gen. 50:24-25).
[For more on “visit,” see commentary on Exodus 20:5].(top)
|Exo 3:17||- (top)|
|Exo 3:18||- (top)|
“I know that the king of Egypt will not give you permission to go.” God knew both the heart of Pharaoh and the culture of time, so it made sense to Moses that God would know Pharaoh would not let his slaves go just because Moses asked him to. God knew there would have to be a power-showdown between He and Pharaoh, but it was still Pharaoh’s freewill choice to not let the Israelites go when Moses started displaying the power of God. God started demonstrating His power very gently, with no loss of life of man or beast. Only as Pharaoh continued to harden his heart did the plagues get really damaging.(top)
|Exo 3:20||- (top)|
|Exo 3:21||- (top)|
|Exo 3:22||- (top)|