Moses Given Powers
4 Then Moses answered [the Lord] and said, “What if they will not believe me or take seriously what I say? For they may say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you.’” 2 And the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” And he said, “A staff.” 3 Then He said, “Throw it on the ground.” So Moses threw it on the ground, and it became a [living] serpent [like the royal symbol on the crown of Pharaoh]; and Moses ran from it. 4 But the Lord said to Moses, “Reach out your hand and grasp it by the tail.” So he reached out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand— 5 [“You shall do this,” said the Lord,] “so that the elders may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has [most certainly] appeared to you.”
6 The Lord also said to him, “Put your hand into your robe [where it covers your chest].” So he put his hand into his robe, and when he took it out, his hand was [a]leprous, as white as snow. 7 Then God said, “Put your hand into your robe again.” So he put his hand back into his robe, and when he took it out, it was restored [and was] like the rest of his body. 8 “If they will not believe you or pay attention to the evidence of the first sign, they may believe the evidence of the second sign. 9 But if they will not believe these two signs or pay attention to what you say, you are to take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water which you take out of the river will turn into blood on the dry ground.”
10 Then Moses said to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I am not a man of words (eloquent, fluent), neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am [b]slow of speech and tongue.” 11 The Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute or the deaf, or the seeing or the blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and will teach you what you shall say.” 13 But he said, “Please my Lord, send the message [of rescue to Israel] by [someone else,] whomever else You will [choose].”
Aaron to Speak for Moses
14 Then the anger of the Lord was kindled and burned against Moses; He said, “Is there not your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know that he speaks fluently. Also, he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you, he will be overjoyed. 15 You must speak to him and put the words in his mouth; I, even I, will be with your mouth and with his mouth, and I will teach you what you are to do. 16 Moreover, he shall speak for you to the people; he will act as a mouthpiece for you, and you will be as God to him [telling him what I say to you]. 17 You shall take in your hand this staff, with which you shall perform the signs [the miracles which prove I sent you].”
18 Then Moses went away and returned to Jethro his father-in-law, and said to him, “Please, let me go back so that I may return to my [c]relatives in Egypt, and see if they are still alive.” And Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.” 19 Then the Lord said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who were seeking your life [for killing the Egyptian] are dead.”(A) 20 So Moses took his wife [Zipporah] and his sons [Gershom and Eliezer] and seated them on donkeys, and returned to the land of Egypt. Moses also took the staff of God in his hand.
21 The Lord said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders (miracles) which I have put in your hand, but I will harden his heart and make him stubborn so that he will not let the people go. 22 Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Israel is My son, My firstborn. 23 So I say to you, ‘Let My son go so that he may serve Me’; and if you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your son, your firstborn.”’”
24 Now it happened at the lodging place, that the Lord met Moses and sought to kill him [making him deathly ill because he had not circumcised one of his sons].(B) 25 [d]Then Zipporah took a flint knife and cut off the foreskin of her son and threw it at Moses’ feet, and said, “Indeed you are a husband of blood to me!” 26 So He let Moses alone [to recover]. At that time Zipporah said, “You are a husband of blood”—because of the circumcision.
27 The Lord said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he went and met him at the mountain of God (Sinai) and kissed him. 28 Moses told Aaron all the words of the Lord with which He had sent him, and all the signs that He had commanded him to do. 29 Then Moses and Aaron went [into Egypt] and assembled all the elders of the Israelites; 30 and Aaron said all the words which the Lord had spoken to Moses. Then Moses performed the signs [given to him by God] before the people. 31 So the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord was concerned about the Israelites and that He had looked [with compassion] on their suffering, then they bowed their heads and worshiped [the Lord].
- Exodus 4:6 The Hebrew term for “leprous” referred to any of several severe rashes or skin diseases, including Hansen’s disease (true leprosy).
- Exodus 4:10 Lit heavy of mouth and heavy of tongue.
- Exodus 4:18 Lit brethren.
- Exodus 4:25 Moses had not circumcised his son in obedience to the commandment that God had given to Abraham and his descendants (Gen 17:10 ff). It is possible that Moses refrained from doing the procedure because his wife Zipporah, a Midianite, had objected. If so, Zipporah now reluctantly performed the procedure herself as a last resort to save Moses’ life, not hiding her disgust over the situation.
New International Version
Signs for Moses
4 Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen(A) to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?”
2 Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”
“A staff,”(B) he replied.
3 The Lord said, “Throw it on the ground.”
Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake,(C) and he ran from it. 4 Then the Lord said to him, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.” So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. 5 “This,” said the Lord, “is so that they may believe(D) that the Lord, the God of their fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has appeared to you.”
7 “Now put it back into your cloak,” he said. So Moses put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored,(F) like the rest of his flesh.
8 Then the Lord said, “If they do not believe(G) you or pay attention to the first sign,(H) they may believe the second. 9 But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood(I) on the ground.”
10 Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”(J)
11 The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute?(K) Who gives them sight or makes them blind?(L) Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go;(M) I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”(N)
13 But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”(O)
14 Then the Lord’s anger burned(P) against Moses and he said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet(Q) you, and he will be glad to see you. 15 You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth;(R) I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. 16 He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth(S) and as if you were God to him.(T) 17 But take this staff(U) in your hand(V) so you can perform the signs(W) with it.”
Moses Returns to Egypt
18 Then Moses went back to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, “Let me return to my own people in Egypt to see if any of them are still alive.”
Jethro said, “Go, and I wish you well.”
19 Now the Lord had said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all those who wanted to kill(X) you are dead.(Y)” 20 So Moses took his wife and sons,(Z) put them on a donkey and started back to Egypt. And he took the staff(AA) of God in his hand.
21 The Lord said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders(AB) I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart(AC) so that he will not let the people go.(AD) 22 Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son,(AE) 23 and I told you, “Let my son go,(AF) so he may worship(AG) me.” But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.’”(AH)
24 At a lodging place on the way, the Lord met Moses[b] and was about to kill(AI) him. 25 But Zipporah(AJ) took a flint knife, cut off her son’s foreskin(AK) and touched Moses’ feet with it.[c] “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,” she said. 26 So the Lord let him alone. (At that time she said “bridegroom of blood,” referring to circumcision.)
27 The Lord said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he met Moses at the mountain(AL) of God and kissed(AM) him. 28 Then Moses told Aaron everything the Lord had sent him to say, and also about all the signs he had commanded him to perform.
29 Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders(AN) of the Israelites, 30 and Aaron told them everything the Lord had said to Moses. He also performed the signs(AO) before the people, 31 and they believed.(AP) And when they heard that the Lord was concerned(AQ) about them and had seen their misery,(AR) they bowed down and worshiped.(AS)