Moshe’s Return Trip
With Questions and Proposed Answers
Background and Printed Text: Exodus 4:18-31
Exodus 4:18 And Draw [Moshe] walked. And he returned unto Excess [Jethro] his father-in-law. And he said to him, “I will walk, na. And I have returned unto my brethren who are in Egypt. And I have seen: Are they yet alive?” And Excess [Jethro] said to Draw [Moshe], “Walk to peace.”
19And Yehovah said unto Draw [Moshe] in Contention [Midian], “Walk. Return Egypt. For all the men seeking thy being died.” 20And Draw [Moshe] took his woman and his sons. And he rode them upon the ass. And he returned landward Egypt. And Draw [Moshe] took the rod of the Gods in his hand.
21And Yehovah said unto Draw [Moshe], “See all the wonders that I have put into thy hand during thy walking to return Egyptward. And do them to the faces of Pharaoh. And I, I will grasp his heart. And he shall not send the people.22And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, ‘Yehovah said Thus: “Israel is my son—my firstborn! 23And I said unto thee, ‘Send my son! And he will serve me!’ And thou refused to send him! Behold, I am slaying thy son thy firstborn!”’”
24And he was in the way, in the inn. And Yehovah met him. And He sought to kill him. 25And Ladybird [Zipporah] took a stone. And she cut the foreskin of her son. And she struck to his feet. And she said, “For thou art to me a sealed-one- of bloods -by-marriage!” 26And He desisted from him. Then she said, “A sealed-one- of bloods -by-marriage to circumcise!”
27And Yehovah said to Oy!-Conception! [Aharon], “Walk desertward to meet Draw [Moshe].” And he walked. And he met him in The Mountain of the Gods. And he kissed him. 28And Draw [Moshe] told to Oy!-Conception! [Aharon] all the speeches of Yehovah Who sent him and all the signs that He commanded him.
29And Draw [Moshe] Walked, and Oy!-Conception! [Aharon]. And they gathered all the elders of the children of Israel.30And Oy!-Conception! [Aharon] spoke all the speeches that Yehovah spoke unto Draw [Moshe]. And he did the signs to the eyes of the people [sing.]. 31And the people [sing.] believed [sing.]. And they hearkened because Yehovah visited the children of Israel and because He saw their humiliation. And they bowed. And they worshipped.
I. Moshe Leaves (verse 18)
Moshe walked and returned to Jethro his father-in-law. He told him that he will walk and return to his brethren who are in Egypt. He wanted to see for himself: are they still alive? Jethro told Moshe to walk in peace.
1. Why does the text need to say that Moshe walked? Isn’t that obvious? Moshe had just conversed with Yehovah (and had lived). He had argued with Yehovah. He was now ready to obey commands; so the text notes that he walked.
2. Why didn’t Moshe tell Jethro about his conversation with Yehovah at this time, but instead made up the story about seeing whether his brethren were still alive? Moshe needed to go; he didn’t need to explain at this time. While he knew that his brother was alive, he didn’t know about the rest of his family. There are times to explain, and there are times when explanations will cause delays that are not helpful.
3. What did Jethro mean by “Walk to peace”? Jethro himself had complete peace with what Moshe wanted to do, and his desire was that Moshe obtained an answer of peace—an answer that those of his family members who were alive were doing well.
II. The Green Light (verses 19-20)
Moshe was now in Midian. Yehovah spoke to him: “Walk. Return Egypt. For all the men seeking thy being died.” Moshe took his woman (his wife) and his sons. He rode them upon the ass. He returned to the land of Egypt. Moshe also took the rod of the Gods in his hand!
1. Moshe already decided to go to Egypt. Why did Yehovah again tell him to Walk and to return [to] Egypt? Moshe knew that Yehovah had commanded him to go to Egypt. Yehovah hadn’t said when he was to go. A wise person not only hearkens to orders, but also waits until a commander indicates that the time is right to do the command.
2. What were the men seeking who were seeking Moshe’s being? They were seeking to kill Moshe’s being—that is, to take his life!
3. Who had been seeking Moshe’s being? The previous Pharaoh and his slaves desired to find and kill Moshe for what he had done—for rescuing a Hebrew slave from the hands of an Egyptian slavedriver who was killing the Israeli.
4. Why did Moshe take his wife and sons? Wouldn’t they be in the way? Moshe must have thought that his time in Egypt might be long. He wasn’t going there just to visit, but to become part of the Israelis again.
5. Did Moshe also ride on an ass? The wording gives me the impression that Moshe walked. He was used to walking many miles; his wife and children were not as used to this. (His wife used to be; she was a shepherdess.)
6. What does “he returned landward Egypt” mean? This means that he returned to the land of Egypt. Hebrew expressions are different from English expressions.
7. Why is that rod called the rod of the Gods? It is a tool that Elohim (Gods) gave to Moshe to use. Moshe acquired the rod by a normal means, but Yehovah turned it into a tool by which to do what Yehovah commanded him.
III. Specific Commands (verses 21-23)
Yehovah again spoke to Moshe: “See all the wonders that I have put into thy hand during thy walking to return Egyptward.” He then commanded him, “And do them to the faces of Pharaoh.” Yehovah then promised, “And I, I will grasp his heart. And he shall not send the people.” In the meantime, Yehovah told Moshe to tell Pharaoh, “Yehovah said Thus: ‘Israel is my son my firstborn!’” This is why Yehovah was telling Pharaoh to send Israel out.
Yehovah continued, “And I said unto thee, ‘Send my son! And he will serve me!’ And thou refused to send him!”
Yehovah then threatened Pharaoh: “Behold, I am slaying thy son thy firstborn!”
1. What was Yehovah commanding Moshe when He said, “See all the wonders that I have put into thy hand during thy walking to return Egyptward”? I propose that He was commanding Moshe to think about, and thus see in his mind, all the wonders that He already put into his hand; he was to see those wonders while he walked toward Egypt. If he set his mind on them, he would be less likely to be intimidated when he met with opposition.
2. Yehovah then commanded, “And do them to the faces of Pharaoh.” What was different about this command? The wonders he was given were originally for the elders of Israel. Going before Pharaoh, a king over a mighty land was a different proposition!
3. What does “I will grasp his heart” mean? The heart in the Bible is usually the mind. It is in this case. Yehovah will take hold of his mind.
4. What will be the result if Yehovah grasps the king’s mind? The next statement tells what will happen: “And he shall not send the people.”
5. Why would Yehovah aid Pharaoh to not send the people? Isn’t that the opposite of what Yehovah desires to do? Long before Yehovah sends the Israelis, he must prepare the Israelis so that they will hearken to Yehovah. He also must prepare the Egyptians to live without Israeli slaves; otherwise, they will come after the Israelis once they have left. Yehovah always gives preparation to anyone or any group for which He has an assignment. That preparation makes the difference between success and failure.
Yehovah desired the Israelis to be free from Egyptian slavery, but He also desired them to hearken to what is right. They were not ready to hearken to what was right—not yet.
6. Yehovah said, “And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh…” How would Moshe get to see Pharaoh? Yehovah will make certain that Pharaoh will see Moshe!
7. Yehovah told Moshe to tell Pharaoh, “Israel is my son—my firstborn!” What does that mean, in what way is that true, and why is that so important? First, that means that Yehovah views Israel as a good parent views the firstborn son. Yehovah’s view is a correct view.
That is true in this way: Yehovah sees Yeshua in Israel, and Israel will be in Yeshua when Israel comes to faith.
Hosea 11:1 For Israel is a youth. And I loved him. And I called to my son from Egypt.
If there are other ways, I cannot see them at this time. Yehovah declared this to be true, and declared Israel to be his firstborn son!
This is so important, because anyone or any group that seeks to enslave or harm Israel is asking to be enslaved or destroyed by Yehovah. This is so important because anyone or any group that claims that it is Israel (when Israel is unique) is tempting Yehovah to attack that person or group as an imposter as well as showing God as a liar!
Pharaoh will be in the position of feeling Yehovah’s anger over the next number of months as he begins to realize that Israel truly is His son!
8. Yehovah told Moshe to tell Pharaoh, “And I said unto thee, ‘Send my son! And he will serve me!’ And thou refused to send him! Behold, I am slaying thy son thy firstborn!” Why did Yehovah tell Pharaoh that right up front? This way, Pharaoh could have avoided that slaughter. Yehovah gives warnings.
IV. Moshe Is Nearly Killed (verses 24-26)
Moshe was en route—he was already on the road. He had come to an inn to spend at least one night.
Yehovah met him. Yehovah sought Moshe to kill Moshe. His woman Ladybird took a stone, and she cut the foreskin of her son. She then struck the foreskin to his feet—that is, she threw it to his feet to strike his feet. She said, “For thou art a spouse of bloods to me!”
Yehovah desisted—that is, He ceased (from seeking to kill him).
Zipporah had more to say: “A spouse of bloods to circumcise!”
1. What does “in the way” mean? This means that he was en route—he was on the way to Egypt.
2. The text states, “And Yehovah met him. And He sought to kill him.” Doesn’t that conflict with Yehovah’s assigning him to go to Egypt? It does conflict! If Moshe is dead, he certainly can’t do the wonders in Egypt! Yehovah was that angry at Moshe.
3. The text then states, “And Zipporah took a stone. And she cut the foreskin of her son.” What was she doing, and why was she doing this? She was doing a circumcision. She was doing this because she had known before that Yehovah had commanded all the offspring of Avraham to circumcise their male children when they are eight days old.
Circumcision is cutting off the foreskin from the male’s penis. Men are born with a thin skin covering that covers the tip of the penis. Yehovah designed it so that this thin skin can be removed almost painlessly when a newborn is eight days old; that is also when the possibility of infection is at its lowest during the entire life of the male. Removing that foreskin is a type—it pictures cutting away wrong and sinful lusts of the flesh (there are other lusts that are not wrong or sinful), since the male’s penis is associated with lust. It doesn’t hurt the functions of the penis in any way. (Some adult men must have the foreskin removed in order to stop getting infections!)
The reason why Zipporah did this was because she knew why Yehovah had come and what He was about to do to her husband! I cannot prove how she knew, but she knew! Therefore, she acted quickly!
4. What does “she struck to his feet” mean, and why did she do that? She took that very small foreskin that she had cut off, and she threw it to someone’s feet. There are three possibilities:
- She threw it to Yehovah’s feet to stop Him from killing her husband. (I don’t see where she would do that; it might show contempt to a being she greatly feared at this time.)
- She threw it to Moshe’s feet in contempt and disgust for him not doing what he should have done. (While this may be true, I don’t know that she would have openly showed contempt for her husband in such a direct way.)
- She threw it to the child’s feet since she was close to the child, and she wanted both Moshe and Yehovah to see that she had truly removed the foreskin.
While I can suppose that she was furious with Moshe, and he was responsible to do the circumcision, she almost ended up with a dead husband. This Being that appeared and that left was the One Who sent Moshe on this strange mission. Zipporah now understood how important circumcision was to this God. I propose that her next comments show this.
Thus, I propose that she threw the foreskin to the child’s feet, and that she spoke to the child in the hearing of both her husband and this Man Who came to kill her husband.
5. What did she mean by, “thou art to me a sealed-one- of bloods -by-marriage”? The Hebrew word khatan has both the idea of sealing something (like an agreement, since an agreement that is sealed is one that both are determined to keep) and the idea of a marriage-or marriage-like agreement. The word is used for marriage. Thus, when a man and woman marry, the ‘in-laws’ are now part of the family of the person who married into that family, and the ‘in-laws’ now see that person as part of their family. Other agreements may not be part of any marriage, but they are marriage-like, in which two or more agree to aid and benefit each other from now on.
When she said, “thou art to me a sealed-one- of bloods -by-marriage,” I propose that she was speaking to the very young child whom she circumcised. I also propose that she was prophesying while she was saving the life of her (disobedient) husband. She wasn’t Jewish, and she was saving the life of a Jewish person and a Jewish child (since a child of Avraham who isn’t circumcised will be cut off—that is, will be killed, as the Torah warns: Genesis 17:14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.)
6. What does “He desisted from him” mean? This means that He, Yehovah, left him, Moshe, alone; He stopped coming at him to kill him, and He went away.
7. Zipporah continued to speak after Yehovah left. She then said, “A sealed-one- of bloods -by-marriage to circumcise!” What did she mean? I propose that she meant, the child was sealed to her by her marriage with Moshe, and he was sealed to her to circumcise him! Though this was her own son, she is speaking as if she is living during the Tribulation, and has acquired a very young Jewish baby to tend and to save its life. Such a woman will have to circumcise the uncircumcised infant who will be ‘sealed’ to her—given to her to be totally responsible for the child, since the father isn’t there to take care of the child in this manner.
V. Moshe and Aaron (verses 27-28)
Yehovah next spoke to Aharon: “Walk desertward to meet Moshe.” Moshe did as he was told. He walked, and he met him in the Mountain of the Gods. Moshe kissed Aharon and vice versa.
Moshe told Aharon all the speeches of Yehovah Who sent him, and he also told all the signs that He commanded him.
1. Since there were deserts all around, how did Aharon know which way is desertward? How could he possibly just happen to run into Moshe? In the Bible, whenever Yehovah gives a command (including basic directions), He always supplies information (and ability) that is necessary to carry out His command. Aharon didn’t know which way to go, but all he needed to do was to walk. Yehovah would then guide him to the exact spot where he needed to be to meet Moshe.
Others have tried the same things—wait on ‘the Lord’ to guide them—but they didn’t have the command from Yehovah. They thought they did, and they think they do. You will meet folks like this who will claim that they have commands from God to go here or there, to do this or that. Never believe them! (If they had commands from God, they wouldn’t be telling folks and bragging about how close they were to God; they would be walking righteously and would do the commands instead of talking about them.)
Aharon won’t just happen to run into Moshe; Yehovah will lead them both to the same place at the same time.
2. What is this Mountain of the Gods? It is Mount Horeb, also known as Mount Sinai. It is located in Saudi Arabia. The area is very dry; few plants (if any) live there.
3. Who kissed whom (verse 27)? Aharon kissed Moshe (and Moshe likewise kissed Aharon). This is part of their cultures, as well as being an expression of gladness at seeing each other. It had been years since they last saw each other!
4. Moshe told Aharon all about the speeches of Yehovah and the signs. Why did Aharon believe Moshe? Aharon knew that his brother was very special; he knew that from the time he was a small child. Aharon looked for the deliverance of his people from Egyptian slavery; believing Moshe was not difficult.
5. Who sent Moshe, according to this text? Yehovah sent Moshe!
VI. Signs (verses 29-31)
Moshe and Aharon walked together. They did gather all the elders of the children of Israel. Aharon did the speaking, telling what Yehovah said to Moshe.
Moshe then did the signs directly in the eyes of the people. The people believed! They hearkened because Yehovah visited the children of Israel; they hearkened because Yehovah saw their humiliation. They then bowed, and they prostrated.
1. If Aharon was a slave, how was he able to just walk into and out of Egypt? Aharon was an elder; he wasn’t one of the younger Israeli workers. He had more freedom to go here and there, and Yehovah made certain that he had no trouble.
When Aharon and Moshe walked into Egypt, the Egyptians saw two old men walking together. They had no reason to stop them and question them.
2. How did they gather all the elders of the children of Israel? I propose that Aharon was a leader among the Israelis. Whether or not this was the case, he knew where the elders were located, and he went and called them to come to one place for a meeting.
3. Who did the speaking to the elders? Aharon did all the speaking; that is what Moshe desired. He told the elders all the speeches that Yehovah told Moshe.
4. Who did the signs (to the eyes of the people)? Moshe did the signs; he was already experienced doing these things. (I don’t see where Aharon was authorized to do the signs.)
5. What does “to the eyes of the people” mean? The people were directly watching this performance of the miracles—miracles that looked like magic, but were beyond normal magic.
6. Why is people singular instead of plural? Throughout the Bible, people is singular, referring to one group, and peoples is plural, referring to more than one group. The King James Version Bibles normally don’t have the word peoples, though they should have contained it. Instead, translators put the same word for both the singular and the plural. This causes many problems. Many English-language speakers don’t know what a people is and what peoples are. (People in the Bible is never the plural form of person.)
7. The text states, “the people believed.” Is that good? It would have been good if it had been permanent. Belief (the same as faith) can be permanent or temporary. If it is temporary, it won’t last.
8. Why did the Israeli elders hearken to Aharon and Moshe? They hearkened because:
- Yehovah visited the children of Israel
- Yehovah saw the humiliation of the children of Israel
The elders were the most affected by the mistreatment of the Israelis since they watched them grow up as their own children, and they heard their sorrowful expressions on a daily basis. They were ready for Yehovah to do something.
9. What does visited mean in, “they hearkened because Yehovah visited the children of Israel”? To visit in the Bible is to personally come in order to take action for or against a person or a group. This was a good visitation; Yehovah personally came to take action for the Israelis, and to bring them out of slavery.
10. To whom did they bow? They bowed to Yehovah (whom they didn’t see, because He wasn’t appearing to them).
11. What does “they worshipped” mean? This means that they (the elders) prostrated—lay down flat—before Yehovah, showing that they were willing to submit to Him and to do what He commanded.