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The Lord Gives Great Power to Moses

Moses asked the Lord, “Suppose everyone refuses to listen to my message, and no one believes that you really appeared to me?”

The Lord answered, “What’s that in your hand?”

“A walking stick,” Moses replied.

“Throw it down!” the Lord commanded. So Moses threw the stick on the ground. It immediately turned into a snake, and Moses jumped back.

“Pick it up by the tail!” the Lord told him. And when Moses did this, the snake turned back into a walking stick.

“Do this,” the Lord said, “and the Israelites will believe that you have seen me, the God who was worshiped by their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

Next, the Lord commanded Moses, “Put your hand inside your shirt.” Moses obeyed, and when he took it out, his hand had turned white as snow—like someone with leprosy.[a]

“Put your hand back inside your shirt,” the Lord told him. Moses did so, and when he took it out again, it was as healthy as the rest of his body.

8-9 Then the Lord said, “If no one believes either of these miracles, take some water from the Nile River and pour it on the ground. The water will immediately turn into blood.”

10 Moses replied, “I have never been a good speaker. I wasn’t one before you spoke to me, and I’m not one now. I am slow at speaking, and I can never think of what to say.”

11 But the Lord answered, “Who makes people able to speak or makes them deaf or unable to speak? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Don’t you know that I am the one who does these things? 12 Now go! When you speak, I will be with you and give you the words to say.”

13 Moses begged, “Lord, please send someone else to do it.”

14 The Lord became irritated with Moses and said:

What about your brother Aaron, the Levite? I know he is a good speaker. He is already on his way here to visit you, and he will be happy to see you again. 15-16 Aaron will speak to the people for you, and you will be like me, telling Aaron what to say. I will be with both of you as you speak, and I will tell each of you what to do. 17 Now take this walking stick and use it to perform miracles.

Moses Returns to Egypt

18 Moses went to his father-in-law Jethro and asked, “Please let me return to Egypt to see if any of my people are still alive.”

“All right,” Jethro replied. “I hope all goes well.”

19 But even before this, the Lord had told Moses, “Leave the land of Midian and return to Egypt. Everyone who wanted to kill you is dead.” 20 So Moses put his wife and sons on donkeys and headed for Egypt, holding the walking stick that had the power of God.

21 On the way the Lord said to Moses:

When you get to Egypt, go to the king and work the miracles I have shown you. But I will make him so stubborn that he will refuse to let my people go. 22 Then tell him that I have said, “Israel is my first-born son, 23 and I commanded you to release him, so he could worship me. But you refused, and now I will kill your first-born son.”

Zipporah’s Son Is Circumcised

24 One night while Moses was in camp, the Lord was about to kill him. 25 But Zipporah[b] circumcised her son with a flint knife. She touched his[c] legs with the skin she had cut off and said, “My dear son, this blood will protect you.”[d] 26 So the Lord did not harm Moses. Then Zipporah said, “Yes, my dear, you are safe because of this circumcision.”[e]

Aaron Is Sent To Meet Moses

27 The Lord sent Aaron to meet Moses in the desert. So Aaron met Moses at Mount Sinai[f] and greeted him with a kiss. 28 Moses told Aaron what God had sent him to say; he also told him about the miracles God had given him the power to perform.

29 Later they brought together the leaders of Israel, 30 and Aaron told them what the Lord had sent Moses to say. Then Moses worked the miracles for the people, 31 and everyone believed. They bowed down and worshiped the Lord because they knew that he had seen their suffering and was going to help them.


  1. 4.6 leprosy: The word translated “leprosy” was used for many different kinds of skin diseases.
  2. 4.25 Zipporah: The wife of Moses (see 2.16-21).
  3. 4.25 his: Either Moses or the boy.
  4. 4.25 My dear son. . . you: Or “My dear husband, you are a man of blood” (meaning Moses).
  5. 4.26 you are. . . circumcision: Or “you are a man of blood.”
  6. 4.27 Mount Sinai: Hebrew “the mountain of God.”

Signs for Moses

Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen(A) to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?”

Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”

“A staff,”(B) he replied.

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. 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. “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.”

Then the Lord said, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” So Moses put his hand into his cloak, and when he took it out, the skin was leprous[a]—it had become as white as snow.(E)

“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.

Then the Lord said, “If they do not believe(G) you or pay attention to the first sign,(H) they may believe the second. 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)


  1. Exodus 4:6 The Hebrew word for leprous was used for various diseases affecting the skin.
  2. Exodus 4:24 Hebrew him
  3. Exodus 4:25 The meaning of the Hebrew for this clause is uncertain.

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