Exodus 6





vs. 1-8 – “Then the LORD said unto Moses, Now shalt thou see what I will do to

Pharaoh: for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall

he drive them out of his land.  And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him,

I am the LORD:  And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by

the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.”

The explanation of this passage is by no means easy.  God Himself, according to

Genesis 15:7, revealed Himself to Abraham as Jehovah before declaring His name to

be El-Shaddai (God Almighty); and again revealed himself to Jacob as Jehovah-Elohim

(Genesis 38:13). [I recommend Genesis 17 – Names of God – El Shaddai by Nathan

Stone and Psalm 19 – Names of God – Elohim – by Nathan Stone – both on this web

site] Abraham named the place where he had been about to sacrifice Isaac, “Jehovah-jireh

(Genesis 22:14). That Moses regarded the name as known even earlier, appears from

Genesis 4:1. It was probably as old as language. The apparent meaning of the present

passage cannot therefore be its true meaning. No writer would so contradict himself.

Perhaps the true sense is, “I was known to them as a Being of might and

power, not as mere absolute (and so eternal and immutable) existence.”  This meaning

of the word, though its etymological and original meaning, may have been unknown to

the patriarchs, who were not etymologists. It was first distinctly declared to Moses at

Sinai (Exodus 3:14-15).  And I have also established my covenant with them, to

give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were

strangers.  And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel-  to

assure the Israelites that God has not forgotten them, but will sustain them under

their afflictions, and will shortly deliver them.  whom the Egyptians keep in

bondage; and I have remembered my covenant.  Wherefore say unto the

children of Israel” - God felt for the disappointment which the people had suffered

in finding no alleviation of their toils, but the reverse, after their hopes had been

raised high by the words of Moses (ch. 4:31). He therefore sent them an inspiriting

and gracious message. “They should be rid of their bondage; they should be brought

 out; they should be redeemed and delivered by His mighty arm and miraculous

 intervention. He, Jehovah, had said it.” Faith would lay hold on this assurance and

cling to it, even though God still delayed His coming, and did not precipitate matters.

“I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the

Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a

stretched out arm” - Arms are stretched out by men to help and save. An

outstretched arm in the Egyptian writing meant “action.” The phrase, elsewhere so

common, is here used for the first time. (Compare, however, ch. 3:20.) It was

significant of active, energetic help.  and with great judgments” -  These had

been previously hinted at (chps. 3:20; 4:22) but had not been previously called

judgments.” Compare Genesis 15:14: “Also that nation whom they serve will

I judge.” The plagues of Egypt were not merely “wonders,” but punishments

inflicted on a proud and cruel nation by a Judge.  The promises are continued,

heaped one upon another:


  • God will take them for His own people.
  • He will be, in a special sense, their God.
  • They shall clearly know that it is He who brings them forth out of Egypt.
  • They shall be brought into the promised land.
  • The land shall be made over to them, and become their own inheritance.


. “And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God:  and ye

shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under

the burdens of the Egyptians.  And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning

the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob” - See

Genesis 22:16-18; 26:3; - The only formal oath is recorded in Genesis 22:16; but an

oath is perhaps implied in every covenant between God and man. God’s faithfulness

is pledged to the performance of the terms of the covenant on His part.  and I will

give it you for an heritage: I am the LORD.”  “I will give it you for an heritage, I

the Lord” (or “I Jehovah,” or “I the Eternal One). “You have the pledge of my

Eternity and Immutability that it shall be yours.”  (for a different take on the

idea of “heritage” or “inheritance” I highly recommend:  Deuteronomy ch 32 v 9 –

God’s Inheritance by Arthur Pink  - this web site – CY – 2010)  The Israelites were

formally taken to be God’s people at Sinai (ch. 19:5-6); where, at the same time, He

became (specially but not exclusively) their God (chps. 20:1; 29:45-46). They had

evidence that it was He who brought them forth in the pillar of fire and of a cloud

(chps. 13:21; 14:19-20). They were brought into the promised land by Joshua

(Joshua 4:1), and given the full possession of it by him and his successors — the

various judges and kings, until at last, under David and Solomon, they held the

entire tract that had been promised to Abraham (see I Kings 4:21; II Chronicles

9:26).  The expostulation of Moses did not offend God. God gave him, in reply to it,

a most gracious series of promises and assurances, well calculated to calm his fears,

assuage his griefs, and comfort his heart; and He confirmed the whole to him by His name

JEHOVAH, “the Only Existent,” and therefore “the Eternal and Immutable.”

(I recommend Psalm 19 – Names of God – Jehovah – by Nathan Stone – this web

site – CY – 2010)  This name He had previously revealed to Moses at Mount Sinai,

as His peculiar name, and the one by which He would choose to be called (3:13-15).

He had also told him to proclaim this name to the people. This command is now

repeated (v. 6) very solemnly; and with it are coupled the promises above alluded to!



      Jesus condescended to Thomas, and bade him “reach hither his finger and behold

      His hands, and reach hither his hand and thrust it into His side,” so that he        

      might be no longer “faithless, but believing” - (John 20:27), so Jehovah now         

      declared to Moses that, if he could not walk by faith, sight should be vouchsafed           

      to him. “Now shalt thou see” – Human infirmity is so great, man’s faith is so   

      weak, the best are so liable to accesses of distrust and despondency, that, if God          

      were extreme to mark what is in this way done amiss, few indeed would be

      those who could “abide it.” “If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O

      Lord, who shall stand?” – (Psalm 130:3) - Therefore, in His mercy, He         

      condescends. Well for man could he breathe continually the higher, rarer,          

      atmosphere of faith. But, if he cannot, yet has Godward aspirations, so that

      he takes his distrust and his despondency to God, as Moses did, God will in

      no wise cast him out.  (John 6:37) – He will not “break the bruised reed, nor            

      quench the smoking flax.” (Matthew 12:20) - He will accept the imperfect    

      service that is still service, and allow his servant to work in a lower sphere.        

      Henceforth the faith of Moses was not much tried — he had soon sight to

      walk by. When once the series of plagues began, he could no longer ask, “Why

      is it that thou hast sent me?” He could see that the end was being advanced —

      the deliverance being extorted from the king — and that the day of final

      triumph was fast coming.


  • GOD’S NAMES AND THEIR IMPORTANCE  - (Reader, I have mentioned

      some of these names above – the book Names of God by Nathan Stone, is

      highly recommended – CY – 2010)  - With men a name is simply a “mark of    

      difference” — a mode of distinguishing one individual from another; and the      

      particular name that a man bears is, generally speaking, a matter of the very      

      slightest importance.  But with God the case is otherwise. The names of God

      have always been among all men significant names. If their signification is

      clear, or generally known, then men’s views of the Supreme Being are vitally     

      affected by the names under which they know Him. Persons whose only name

      for God is Dyaus or Tien“the heaven” — are not likely to be strongly

            apprehensive of the personality and spirituality of the Creator. If God is

            known as Ammon, the main idea of Him will be, that He is a riddle and a

            mystery; if as Shaddai, that He is powerful; if as Mazda, that He is wise or

            bounteous. When monotheism is firmly established, it is well that God

            should be known by many names, as El, Elohim, Adonai, Eliun, Shaddai,

            Jehovah, because then His many and various attributes are better

            apprehended. If, however, God is to be known by one name only, or by

            one special name, while there is none more pure or lofty than Jehovah —

            the Self-Existent “ — there is none more tender and loving than our own

            English name, God i.e. “the Good.”


  • GOD A KEEPER OF COVENANTS.  (vs. – 4-8)  God is declared in Scripture

      to be one who keepeth covenant and mercy, yea, to a thousand generations”    

      (Deuteronomy 7:9). He is ever faithful. He cannot lie. He is not a man that He   

      should repent. The bow which He set in the cloud, when He covenanted with    

      Noah that the waters should no more become a flood to destroy all flesh, is still           

      there, and the promise of which it was the sign has been kept — there has come          

      no repetition of the Flood, no second destruction of mankind by water. God has           

      kept the covenant which He made with Israel at Sinai — first, on the side of

            promise, in giving them all the good things which He said He would give

            them; and then, on the side of threatening, in bringing upon them all the

            calamities which he said He would bring. With Christians, too, God enters

            into covenant at their baptism, promising them protection, spiritual aid, and

            eternal life in heaven, on their maintaining faith and repentance. This

            covenant, like His others, He will assuredly keep. Let them be but true to

            Him, and they need have no fear but that He will be true to them. The

            Promised Land will be theirs — He will give it to them for an heritage —

            HE, JEHOVAH!





v. 9 – “And Moses spake so unto the children of Israel: but they hearkened

not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage.”  Hope deferred

maketh the heart sick” – (Proverbs 13:12) -  The Israelites, who had expected a

speedy deliverance, and found themselves only the more downtrodden for Moses’

interference, were too much dispirited to be cheered even by the gracious promises

and assurances which Moses was commissioned to give. They had no longer any trust

in one who they thought had deceived them. He was a dreamer, a visionary, if no

worse.  They did not intend hearkening to him any more. “Anguish of spirit”

possessed their souls, and “cruel bondage” claimed their bodies, day after

day. They had not even the time, had they had the will, to hearken. The contrast

between their feelings now, and when Moses first addressed them (ch. 4:31), is

strong, but fully accounted for by the change of circumstances. They had

lost all heart and their attitude was “let us alone, and let us serve the Egyptians;

for it is better for us to serve them than die in a wilderness” which receives

some support from ch. 14:12.



            It is the worst result of long-continued oppression that it brings its victims

            into a state of apathy. Servile insurrections are rare — servile wars all but

            unknown. Slavery so crushes men, so brutalizes, so deadens them, that they

            lose all heart, all spirit, all hope, almost all feeling. Defenders of slavery call

            the proper objects of the “institution” live machines; and “live machines” is

            exactly what it tends to make them. What is to stir a mass so sluggish and

            inert that it vegetates rather than lives? Not the name of God (v. 3). It

            falls on closed ears — it has no meaning to them, conveys no idea, arouses

            no thought. Not the mention of a covenant (vs. 4, 5). They cannot realize

            so complex a notion — cannot understand what the word means. Not

            promises (vs. 6-8). A promise has no power unless embraced by faith;

            and the down-trodden have no faith, either in themselves or in others. So

            the most stirring appeals are made in vain — the brightest hopes and

            prospects presented to no purpose. And as with oppression, so with all

            extreme depression and destitution. Hopeless poverty, constant battle with

            the wolf at the door, continual striving to keep off starvation from

            themselves, their wives, and children, reduces a population to a condition

            in which it becomes dead to spiritual things, and not only appears to be,

            but is, unimpressible. It is so occupied with the cares of this life that it has

            no thought for another. It has bid farewell to hope, and with hope to fear.

            It is reckless. The preacher can do nothing with it until he has changed the

            physical conditions of its existence. He must first address himself to the

            people’s physical wants. Let these be provided for, let the struggle for

            existence slacken, let hope dawn on the despairing souls, and all will at

            once be different. As the unbound earth opens to receive seed at the genial

            breath of spring, so these torpid souls may be brought to take in the seed

            of life, by having their bodies warmed and clothed and cared for.







vs. 10-12 – “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Go in, speak unto Pharaoh

king of Egypt, that he let the children of Israel go out of his land.”  Note the

advance in the demand. No longer is there any limitation to a three days’ journey, as at first

(chps. 3:18; 5:3). The children of Israel are to be let go altogether “out of the land.” So

generally, if God lays a light burden upon us and we refuse it, we may expect Him to

exchange our lighter burden for a heavier one. We had better accept the first cross He offers.

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 uncircumcised

lips?”  The Israelites having shown themselves, for the time, unimpressible, God commands

Moses to make his next effort upon the Pharaoh. He is to enter into his presence once more,

and demand, without circumlocution or obscurity, that the Israelites be allowed to quit the

land (v. 11). Moses, however, demurs. He had done God’s will with respect to the people

readily and at once, expecting that, as he had persuaded them before, so he

would a second time. But he had been disappointed; the people had refused to listen

to him. Immediately all his original self-distrust and diffidence recurred — even the

old form of diffidence, distrust of his ability to persuade men (ch.  4:10). How shall

he expect to persuade Pharaoh, who had already rejected him (ch. 5:2-5), when

he had just failed with his own countrymen, who previously had “believed”

his report (ch. 4:31)?



            Scarcely has Moses made one attempt at service and failed than God

            requires of him another service. “Go in, speak unto Pharaoh.” In the

            career of God’s servants there is “no rest, no pause.” Failure here must be

            redeemed by effort there. And in this unceasing continuance of service one

            thing is especially remarkable. After failure, not a lighter but a heavier duty

            is commonly imposed on men. If they prove unable to convince their

            kindred, they are given a mission to strangers; if they fail with men of low

            degree, they are appointed to preach to princes. God will have them

            redeem failure by fresh effort. God knows the causes of their failure, and

            introduces them to new spheres, where those causes will not operate, or

            operate less. A man who has failed in a humble sphere not unfrequently

            succeeds in a higher one. The servant of God must not care greatly about

            the sphere to which he is called, but seek to do his best in each while he

            remains in it. He will thus —


ü      Be always laboring for God;

ü      Be always exercising and so improving his own mental and spiritual

                        gifts; and

ü      Be of far more benefit to others than if he sat idle half his time waiting

                         for such a call as seemed to him altogether fitting and suitable. “The

                        time is short.” (I Corinthians 7:29 – THIS IS THE THEME OF THIS                       

                        WEB SITE – CY – 2010)  We must “work while it is day — the night                                

                        cometh when no man can work.”  (John 9:4)





vs. 13-27 – “And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, and gave them a

charge unto the children of Israel, and unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring the

children of Israel out of the land of Egypt.  These be the heads of their fathers’

houses: The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel; Hanoch, and Pallu, Hezron,

and Carmi: these be the families of Reuben.  And the sons of Simeon; Jemuel,

and Jamin, and Ohad, and Jachin, and Zohar, and Shaul the son of a

Canaanitish woman: these are the families of Simeon.  And these are the names

of the sons of Levi according to their generations; Gershon, and Kohath, and

Merari: and the years of the life of Levi were an hundred thirty and seven years.”

The length of Levi’s life is recorded, not from any chronological considerations, but to

show God’s blessing upon the family of Moses, which gave such length of days to so many

of his ancestors.  The sons of Gershon; Libni, and Shimi, according to their families. 

And the sons of Kohath; Amram, and Izhar, and Hebron, and Uzziel:

and the years of the life of Kohath were an hundred thirty and three years.  And

the sons of Merari; Mahali and Mushi: these are the families of Levi according

to their generations. And Amram took him Jochebed  (The name Jochebed is the

earliest known compounded with Jah, or Jehovah. It means “the glory of Jehovah.”)

his father’s sister to wife; and she bare him Aaron and Moses: and the years of

the life of Amram were an hundred and thirty and seven years.  And the sons of

Izhar; Korah, and Nepheg, and Zichri. And the sons of Uzziel; Mishael, and

Elzaphan, and Zithri” -   (Mishael and Elzaphan are again mentioned as “sons of

Uzziel in Leviticus 10:4. They were employed by Moses to carry the bodies of Nadab

and Abihu out of the camp.)  And Aaron took him Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab,

sister of Naashon, to wife; and she bare  him Nadab, and Abihu, (on their fate see

Leviticus 10:1-2)  Eleazar, and Ithamar.  And the sons of Korah” – (All Korah’s

sons were not cut off with him (Numbers 26:11). Three at least survived, and became

the heads of “families of the Korhites.” – “Assir, and Elkanah, and Abiasaph: these

are the families of the Korhites.  And Eleazar Aaron’s son took him one of the

daughters of Putiel to wife; and she bare him Phinehas: these are the heads of the

fathers of the Levites according to their families.  These are that Aaron and Moses,

to whom the LORD said, Bring out the children of Israel from the land of Egypt

according to their armies.” At this point the narrative is interrupted The author, or

(it may be) the final compiler - perhaps Joshua — thought it desirable to insert here a

genealogical section, taking up the family history of Israel from the point at which it

was left in ch.1:5, where the sons of Jacob were enumerated. The whole political

system of Israel was based upon the tribal relation; and it was of the last importance,

politically, to hand down the divisions and subdivisions of families. The lists here

given, probably prepared by Moses in a separate document, had to be inserted

somewhere. The present seemed a fitting place. The narrative had reached a turning-

point. All the preliminaries were over — the action of the Exodus itself was about to begin.

A dramatist would have made Act 1 end and Act 2 commence. A poet would

have begun a new canto. In the imperfect bibliography of the time, it was thought best

to make a division by a parenthetic insertion.



            Among the religions of the world which are based on the contents of a

            written volume, none has such an historical character as the religion of

            Christians. Most nations have evolved their religion out of their internal

            consciousness, and have then, after a certain lapse of time, thrown into a

            narrative form the supposed revelations made to this or that individual

            secretly, and by him committed to writing. These revelations — to give

            them the name — are not connected with any series of events, are not,

            properly speaking, historical at all, but belong to the domain of thought,

            contemplation, philosophy. It is quite otherwise with the religion of the

            Bible. Both in the Old Testament and in the New our attention is directed

            primarily and mainly to a series of facts. Religion is not put before us in an

            abstract, but in a concrete form. The Bible represents to us “God in

            history.” We learn the nature and the will of God from his dealings with

            nations and individuals at definite times and in definite places. It is a

            necessary consequence of such a mode of inculcating religious truth, that

            very dry and mundane details must from time to time be obtruded upon the

            reader, in order that the narrative may be clear, and that he may understand

            the circumstances of time and place with which each writer in his turn has

            to deal. In this way genealogies come in. History cannot be understood

            without them. We want to know who the individuals are who are

            introduced afresh at each new stage in the narrative, and in what relation

            they stand to those other individuals with whom the narrative is concerned

            before and after. (Remember friends, the teaching of Hebrews 11:39-40  -       

            these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not

            the promise:  God having provided some better thing for us, that they     

            WITHOUT US should not be made perfect”.  Genealogies convey this       

            knowledge. Many think them uninteresting; but they are not so to any

            thoughtful person. For


ü      they raise the salutary thought of the rapid flight of time and the

      speedy passing away of one generation after another.


ü      They show us how good men and bad, great men and little, are

                        intermixed in the world, arise under the same conditions, seem

                        produced by the same circumstances; and thus they force us to see

                        what a vast power the human will has in shaping human character,

                        and even in determining the course of earthly events. Hence they

                        remind us of our responsibilities.


ü      They hold up to us warnings and examples — warnings in the names

      to which there is attached the savor of evil deeds never to be forgotten

      so long as the world endures — Nadabs, Abihus, Korahs; examples in

      those, familiar to us as household words, which we no sooner hear or

      see than there rush to our thought a crowd of glorious and heroic actions.          

      Being dead, these men still speak to us — theirs is a death “full of       

      immortality.”  “Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before

      to judgment; and some men they follow after.  Likewise also the

      good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are

      otherwise cannot be hid.” (I Timothy 5:24-25)




  • As regards position. The true central point of honor in this genealogy is

            v. 20 — that which includes the names of Moses and Aaron. It was the

            spiritual greatness of these men which secured for them this honor.


  • As regards rise and fall, Reuben was “the firstborn of Israel” (v. 14),

            but he lost through sin the prerogatives of birth. He is eclipsed by Levi,

            who, through piety, rose from a degraded position to one of honor.

            Korah, whose name, from considerations of relationship, is honorably

            prominent in this select list (vs. 21-24), subsequently destroyed himself

            by his rebellion (Numbers 16.). His posterity, however (another illustration

            of the same law), rose to high spiritual honor in the minstrelsy of the



  • As regards relationship. The families of the tribe of Levi, grouped

            around the names of Moses and Aaron, some in nearer, some in more

            distant relations, draw honor from the association. The chief prominence

            is given to the Kohathites, as most nearly related to the sons of Amram.

            This distinction was subsequently confirmed by the appointment of this

            family to the charge of the sacred Ark, and of the vessels of the sanctuary

            (Numbers 4:4-16). Relationship with the good thus confers honor, and

            secures privilege. The highest of all examples of this is the honor and

            privilege conferred through relationship to Jesus Christ.



The remainder of this chapter is scarcely more than a recapitulation. The author, or

compiler, having interposed his genealogical section, has to take up the narrative from

v. 12, where he broke off, and does so by almost repeating the words of vs. 10-12.

The only important addition is the insertion of the words — “I am the Lord” (v. 29),

and the only important variation, the substitution of “Speak thou unto Pharaoh all

that I say unto thee’ (ibid.), for “Speak unto Pharaoh… that he let the

children of Israel go out of his land” (ver. 11).


vs. 28-30 – “These are they which spake to Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring out

the children of Israel from Egypt: these are that Moses and Aaron.  And it came

to pass on the day when the LORD spake unto Moses in the land of Egypt, That

the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, I am the LORD: speak thou unto Pharaoh

king of Egypt all that I say unto thee.  And Moses said before the LORD, Behold,

I am of uncircumcised lips, and how shall Pharaoh hearken unto me? 



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