Click here to read Exodus 4:18-6:30

In today’s passage we see the developing story of the struggle between Moses and God.  At the opening of the passage Moses’ pessimism is clear when he asks his father-in-law Jethro to “Let me go back to my own people in Egypt to see if any of them are still alive.” But God responds with encouragement, instruction, and He lets Moses know Pharaoh’s response – “no.”  (Also note here that God refers to Israel as His firstborn and promises to kill Pharaoh’s firstborn).

But, despite following what God told Him to do, Moses still hadn’t followed one of the most important instructions that God gave to His people—to circumcise his son as a sign of the covenant between God and His people.  Once again Moses struggles with God and both Moses and Zipporah are finally brought to a point they submit to God’s total authority and sovereignty.

Moses continues to do what God told him to and the result is exactly what God said it would be.  Unfortunately, it isn’t at all what the Israelites wanted.  And so begins a cycle that will continue into their time in the wilderness—Moses will be caught between the grumblings of Israel and God.

But God once again reminds Moses of His promise to deliver Israel, adopt them, and give them the promised land of Canaan.  And He again tells Moses what will happen, which shows Moses that the terrible response of Pharaoh is God’s will and not due to a lack of God’s power or authority.

The question might arise as to why God would allow the Israelites to suffer further before He delivered them.  We can rule out cold indifference because God has repeatedly stated that He is responding to their cries.  The reasons will be seen in the days, weeks, and months ahead, but if you don’t want to wait that long:

1) Egypt and Israel will see God’s power, know who He is, and realize that He is more powerful and superior to Pharaoh and the gods of Egypt.

2) The further trials will lead to the Israelites relying more on God and strengthening their faith in Him.

3) They will more clearly see how great God’s redemption is.  In fact, Israel will look back at the events of this book and see it as one of the greatest demonstrations of God’s love.

Names Places

God – God

Moses – baby drawn from water and saved

Zipporah – Moses’ wife

Pharaoh – ruler of Egypt

Jethro – Moses’ father-in-law (priest of Midian)

Aaron – Moses’ brother, a Levite


Egypt – where the sons of Jacob/Israel lived

Mount Horeb/Sinai – where Moses met up with Aaron

Canaan – the promised land

Midian – land where Moses lived with his father-in-law


Jacob/Israel – Joseph’s father

Abraham – Jacob’s grandfather

Isaac – Jacob’s Father


Egyptian foremen and slave drivers

Israelite foremen

elders of Israel

sons of Moses – Gershom and Eliezer

Reuben – firstborn son of Jacob

sons of Reuben – Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron and Carmi

Simeon – second son of Jacob

sons of Simeon – Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jakin, Zohar, and Shaul

Levi – third son of Israel

to see the sons of Levi and trace the line of Aaron and Moses click here



Interesting facts:

1) While the account of the circumcision of Moses’ son seems to be sort of jammed into this passage, that isn’t true.  The issue here is that Moses was disobedient to one of God’s commands.  It may have been because Moses had spent his life in Egypt and the land of the Midianites or it may have been because his wife opposed the practice (it certainly seems to be the case based on her response to the circumcision she performs).  But for whatever reason it was, it is important to see that it was disobedient to an important command and Moses was punished with a very serious illness (and Zipporah recognized the correlation between the circumstances).  The reason that circumcision is taken so seriously is because to no circumcise your sons was to remove yourself and your family from the covenant promises of God and Moses couldn’t continue with God’s plan unless he was part of the covenant community.

2) One of the most discussed theological points of Exodus is concerning the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart.  Did God harden it? Is it fair or just for God to do that? What does hardening really refer to? Rather than try to answer this here, you can check out the following link to get the answer.  My answer would end up being similar to the answer here, but Walter Kaiser is much more eloquent and concise with his answer.

Hard Sayings of the Bible

3) Moses and Aaron’s Genealogy

Verses 26-27 reveal the purpose of this genealogy—to trace their lineage and show that they had the authority to lead Israel and speak on God’s behalf.  Reuben and Simeon are included here because they are the first and second born (Moses wanted to focus on the descendants of the third son—Levi).