Exodus: Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching

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Pentateuch (OT)

The constancy and certainty of his nature, and will, and word. I shall be what I shall be. He useth the future tense; either, 1. Because that tense in the use of the Hebrew tongue comprehends all times, past, present, and to come, to signify that all times are alike to God, and all are present to him; and therefore what is here, I shall be , is rendered, I am , by Christ, John See Psalm 2 Peter Or, 2. I shall be what I shall be , i. God-man; and I who now come in an invisible, though glorious, manner to deliver you from this temporal bondage, shall in due time come visibly, and by incarnation, to save you and all my people from a far worse slavery and misery, even from your sins, and from wrath to come.

Of this name of God, see Revelation ,8 This signifies the real being of God, his self-existence, and that he is the Being of beings; as also it denotes his eternity and immutability, and his constancy and faithfulness in fulfilling his promises, for it includes all time, past, present, and to come; and the sense is, not only I am what I am at present, but I am what I have been, and I am what I shall be, and shall be what I am.

The Platonists and Pythagoreans seem to have borrowed their from hence, which expresses with them the eternal and invariable Being; and so the Septuagint version here is : it is said z , that the temple of Minerva at Sais, a city of Egypt, had this inscription on it,"I am all that exists, is, and shall be. Our Lord seems to refer to this name, John , and indeed is the person that now appeared; and the words may be rendered, "I shall be what I shall be" b the incarnate God, God manifest in the flesh: thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you; or as the Targum of Jonathan has it,"I am he that is, and that shall be.

I will be that I will be 3rd marg. The rendering given appears to the present writer, as it appeared to W. Smith, and A. Davidson, to give the true meaning of the Heb.

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The explanation is thus of a character to reassure Moses. See further the separate note, p. Additional Note on Exodus The following are the reasons which lead the present writer to agree with W. Smith1[] and A. Davidson2[] in adopting the rend. Whichever rend. I will be is however the preferable rendering. As both W. Smith and A. Davidson, ll. I viz. This, however, as W. Smith remarks, is a clumsy version: v. I am ] better, as before, I will be. Pulpit Commentary Verse No better translation can be given of the Hebrew words.

The Vulgate, sum qui sum , has absolute exactness. The idea expressed by the name is, as already explained, that of real, perfect, unconditioned, independent existence. I AM hath sent me to you. The land to which the Israelites were to be taken up is called a "good" land, on account of its great fertility Deuteronomy Exodus ; Exodus ; Exodus , etc. Milk and honey are the simplest and choicest productions of a land abounding in grass and flowers, and were found in Palestine in great abundance even when it was in a desolate condition Isaiah , Isaiah ; see my Comm.

The epithet broad is explained by an enumeration of the six tribes inhabiting the country at that time cf. Genesis Removal of shoes is a sign of respect for the holy. Many African indigenous churches remove their shoes before entering their churches. The order to remove shoes shows the idea of a host inviting his guess as an act of gracious hospitality. Moses is a guess of God.

Exodus 19-20 Israel at Mt. Sinai / The Ten Commandments

In Chapter , Moses' curiosity and fearfulness are established. Despite this curiosity and fearfulness, he was not tight-lipped. He was also argumentative and brash despite the fact that he was scared. It is not unusual for God to identify himself with people as it is in verse 6: 'I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'.

Various interpretation of Exodus In terms of Christian exegesis, Exodus 3 has a long and detailed history. According to Davis, the meaning of this text seems to be that God has called Moses into a relationship to himself which is triggered by Moses' curiosity about something extraordinary Davis According to Philo of Alexandra, the burning bush is an example of providential protection of the Hebrew nation because the bush burned, but was not consumed. The bush referred to the Hebrew and the angel in the bush represents God's providence while the fire protects the bush Hebrews by consuming those who sought to destroy them Langston Exodus Raba 2.

According to Rabbi Johanna, 'Israel protected the world through its suffering', and the thorn bush also symbolises divine protection for the Jews living among hostile nations Johanna Exodus Raba nod During the patristic period, the 4th century bishop of Milan, the burning bush was connected to the Holy Spirit.

The burning bush represents God's intention to destroy 'sin and dispense grace' Milan cited in Langston Chrysostom CE says that the bush represents the resurrection of the Jews and as the bush burned without being consumed, so also Jesus died but death did not overcome him.

Although Gregory of Nyssa saw the burning bush as representing Mary's virginity, Augustine equated the burning bush's thorn with the sinners and the bush with the Jewish people, while the angel in the bush was Jesus Langston Abbot Suger saw the church as the burning bush, mediating and dispensing the divine, 'Just as the bush is seen to burn yet is not burned, so he who is full of this fire Divine burns with it yet is not burned' Langston In the middle ages, Jewish commentators took good care to deal with the presence of both angel and God in the bush.

Targum Neofit speaks of the various Shekinah dwelling in the bush. Targum Pseudo-Jonathan characterised Mt. Exodus Rabbah identified the angel as Michael and Gabriel 2. Exodus Rabbah continued that at first, an angel descended as an intermediary and then the Shekinah later conversed with Moses 2.

The Jewish's attempt to distinguish from the presence of God and the angel in the bush were not mere semantic game but a reflection of a response to the divine. The burning bush, as a powerful symbol, represents God's miraculous energy, sacred light, illumination and the burning heart of purity, love and clarity to both Jews and Christians. It also represents Moses' reverence and fear before the divine presence, according to Langston According to Janzen, the bush is emblematic of the descendants of the Jews ancestors suffering under the fiery trials imposed on them by the Egyptians The fire is the persecution by the Egyptians and the 'bush that remains intact in the face of the flames may be symbolic of the people of Israel surviving oppression' Sarna To Robinson, what is important in the burning bush is the messenger in the flame of fire.

It portrays Yahweh as 'an attractive but formidable deity who was in control of the forces of nature and revealed himself definitively on Sinai' Robinson It is a potent symbol of the constant presence of the ever-living God Robinson Wyatt sees the wilderness as a symbol of Babylon that even there the presence of Yahweh brings the exile, some hope in despair because Yahweh reveals himself against all odds. The bush is a symbol of 'life and divine grace' Noth considers the burning bush as a sign of a divine presence Noth Terence E Fretheim believes that the messenger of God who appears in the flame of fire is, in fact, God himself and the bush is indeed 'a divine attention-getting device' Harris and Platzner see the voice from the fire as a transforming symbol of divinity and that the divine presence of the divinity made the place to be holy The entire event in the wilderness is interpreted as God's self-disclosure to Moses Birch et al.

Moses and the Israelites was on drugs, says Benny Shanon, an Israeli Professor of cognitive philosophy. The assertions give a whole new meaning to Moses being on Mount Sinai. According to Shanon, a professor at Hebrew University, two naturally existing plants in the Sinai Peninsula have the same psychoactive components as ones found in the Amazon jungle and are well-known for their mind-altering capabilities. The drugs are usefully combined in a drink call ayahuasca.

McGregor-Wood Shannon told Israel Radio in an interview on Tuesday, 05 March , that:.


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As far as Moses on Mount Sinai is concerned, it was either a supernatural cosmic event, which I don't believe, or a legend, which I don't believe under the effects of narcotics McGregor-Wood Abc news further reported that 'The description in the Book of Exodus of thunder, lightning and a blaring trumpet, according to Shanon, are the classic imaginings of people under the influence of drugs'.

As for the vision of the burning bush, well obviously, that too was a drug-fueled hallucination, according to Shanon. Shanon admits he took some of these drugs while in the Amazon in The burning bush which does not consume itself has also been said to symbolically represent the sun, an unquenchable fire which burns without ceasing Hamilton The burning bush is also used as the basis of several symbols. For example, it is the symbol of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, which uses the Latin motto Ardens sed virens , meaning Burning but flourishing.

The same logo is used from the separated Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster. The logo of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America is also an image of the Burning Bush with the phrase 'and the bush was not consumed', in both English and in Hebrew. A close examination of Exodus shows that the words 'fire', 'land' and 'bush' are important words in the passage. However, the word 'fire' appears to connect the whole episode. It has been 'a consistent element' in God's relationship with his people. It has been a means of demonstrating his power of approval or disapproval Gn ; Ex ; and This is quite evident in the story of the burning bush in Exodus In Exodus when Moses stretched his staff toward heaven, the Lord sent down a fire in form of thunder and lightning as it had never happened in Egypt because it became a nation and it destroyed human beings, plants and every tree in the field.

In Exodus , Yahweh descended on Mt. Sinai in the form of fire, lightning and thunder. This event also was reflected in Deuteronomy , 33, and Although it is difficult to distinguish God's presence from his glory because God's glory is also a figure of his divine presence, many passages mentioned fire as synonymous to his glory. In Exodus and when the people saw thunder and lightning and Mt.

Sinai was on smoke they were afraid because the glory of the Lord looked like 'a consuming fire'. This can be compared with Leviticus and Deuteronomy It is one of the most important and common words for fire in the Old Testament. This word occurs about times in the Old Testament with the exclusive sense of fire Renn It is used both literally and metaphorically.

Examples of these uses are in Genesis , 7; Judges ; Psalm ; Isaiah ; Jeremiah and Ezekiel It is also used as a means of destroying idols and destruction of the city of Jerusalem as in 2 Kings ; I Chronicles ; Isaiah ; and Nehemiah , , It is commonly associated with Levitical sacrifices as in Exodus ; Leviticus ; Numbers In the literal sense, it was part of Elijah's sacrifice on Mt. Carmel against the prophet of Baal. Leviticus discusses the execution of Nadab and Abihu. Numbers discusses the deaths of Korah and his family. The destruction of Jerusalem by fiery fire is mentioned in Jeremiah , , ; Lamentation ; Ezekiel , ; 2 Kings ; and 2 Chronicles In many places, Yahweh condemns the wicked to fiery deaths in Psalms , ; Isaiah , ; Jeremiah ; Ezekiel ; and Zechariah God also punished the people of the covenant who disobeyed his covenant in Psalm ; Isaiah , ; Jeremiah ; Ezekiel ; Hosea ; and Micah ,7 by fire.


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It is a verb that appears about 12 times in the Hebrew Bible and the usage is predominantly metaphorical Renn It has the meaning 'set on fire' in the contexts depicting the wrath of God as in Deuteronomy ; Psalms ; Joel ; and Malachi The latter prophetic literature also mentions fire in the context of the 'Day of Yahweh'. It is also used in Daniel ff to mean 'fiery' fire. All these references are in the contexts of the furnace to which Daniel's three friends were thrown and were miraculously delivered Renn The three words appear in the biblical narrative, prophetic and poetic literature.

In African indigenous tradition, the word for fire is ina. In Yoruba legends, Sango is the god of ina, thunder and lightning. There are legends concerning the origin of fire which are built around Sango. Sango was said to be a mysterious child at his birth. His mother died immediately after his birth, and he was thrown into the thrash and somebody called Ekun had picked him up from the thrash and had taken care of him Oladele et al.

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When his father came back from the battle front, he heard that a man called Ekun picked him up and took care of him. His father got him back from Ekun, and Sango eventually became the fourth Alaafin of Oyo in Nigeria Awolalu There are many legends associated with Sango, and each of these legends tried to explain how Sango became apotheosised and then associated with the god of lightning and thunder Awolalu One version of the story says that Sango discovered a charm for calling down from heaven lightning and thunder and one day he went to a nearby hill to try the charm Awolalu The charm worked perfectly well but made lightning to destroy Sango's own palace, his children and wives.

He was so horrified by the calamity and as a result, he hanged himself. Another version says that Sango's wives, Oya, Osun and Oba, gave him too much trouble. When he was tired of the domestic and state troubles, he rode his horse to the forest. His people looked for him in vain in the forest but could not find him. They called him in the forest urging him 'to come back home'.

He answered them from the distance, 'I will not come back to you; I will now rule you unseen' Awolalu The legend says that Sango went to the sky by a chain and started manifesting his rule by lightning and thunder. The most popular of the legends, which his devotees disagree with, is that Sango was a tyrannical and powerful ruler with various magical arts. Sango had two courtiers, Timi and Gbonkaa who were too troublesome for him to control. Sango set them against each other hoping that they will destroy each other. Sango then ordered that Gbonkaa be killed by fire.

They threw him into the fire but Gonkaa came out of the fire unhurt. As a result, Sango was afraid and fled to exile. On his way to the exile, he discovered that his followers, especially his wives, disserted him. He then committed suicide by hanging on a tree called Ayan in Koso Adepegba However, the dead body of Sango was not found.

What was seen is the rope protruding from the earth and that led the followers of Sango to conclude that Sango did not die but became a god Ilega When the news went round, Sango's opponents ridiculed his followers and sang, Oba so -the king hanged himself. In order to retaliate, Sango's followers went to procure a charm to attract lightning and thunder to bring lightning disaster on the opponents of Sango who ridiculed him in Oyo town and its environs. When they consulted the oracle and discovered that it was Sango who brought the fire calamity on Oyo because they alleged that Oba so [the king hanged himself].

They were told that the solution was to declare openly that Oba ko so [the king did not hang himself] and bring propitiatory sacrifices to a appease Sango. They brought sacrifices to the alleged place where the king hanged himself and proclaimed Oba ko so [the king did not hang. Since then, the place where they made the sacrifice became the shrine of Sango worshippers and was named Koso. Thus, Sango who was once a human being became deified and worshipped as king and god till today, especially among the Yoruba. There is a belief that there are counterparts of Sango, called Jakuta and Oramfe, who lived before Sango.

But they are one and the same divinity who performed the same function of discharging the wrath of the Supreme Being Olodumare on evil people. Thus, Sango is believed to be the divinity that is the manifestation of the wrath of Olodumare, the Supreme Being Idowu Below is Sango's Praise name:. On'-le ina! The Lord of the house of Fire. A da'ni ni 'ji One who causes sudden dread.

Ina osan! Noonday fire!

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Ina gun ori ile fe 'feju Fire that mounts the roof and becomes glaring flame! Ebiti re fi se gbi The murderous weight that strikes the ground with a resounding force Idowu Sango's devotees also remember Sango as god of justice and fair play. He hates stealing, lying, witchcraft and sorcery despite the tyranny and high handedness when he was reigning as the king of Oyo. The devotees believe that whenever there is thunder and lightning, it was Sango's visitation. They, therefore, hailed him Kabiesi [Hail your majesty!

It is believed that Sango is the messenger of God called Olodumare, who rewards the wicked accordingly. Whenever lightning or thunder strikes a house or a person, it is believed by the Yoruba that the house and the people living there must be wicked. The diseased must only be buried in the bad forest by the priest of Sango, called Magba. If thunder and lightning destroy a house such a house must not be used by the owner until proper sacrifices are offered because Sango has taken possession of the house.

The belief that Sango can possess a person and that person is Elegun Sango, who becomes the mouth piece of Sango like a prophet , is very strong among the Yoruba of Nigeria. The possessed person can do many extra-ordinary things such as 'sitting on an iron spear point, passing a sharp-edged knife through his tongue, carrying a pot of life coals on his head, eating fire and similar actions without getting hurt' Awolalu The Elegun Sango usually wears a red cloth and plats his hair like that of a woman.

In the midst of dancing and singing, he hears the message of Sango and relates it to the people. During Sango festival, barren women request for children, other asked for riches and other blessings. Children given by Sango are given special theophoric names such as Sangoyomi -Sango delivers me; Sangoseyi , Sango provides this; Sangowole -Sango has come home; Sangotunde -Sango has come back; and others.

The implication to African Christianity. In both traditions, as Yahweh is alleged to be God of consuming fire in the Old Testament, so also Sango, the Yoruba god or divinity is also a consuming fire, according to the Yoruba legends. However, as God of Israel is God of wrath, so also is God of mercy.

The Yoruba god, Sango, god of lightning and thunder is both god of wrath and mercy because he is alleged to provide children and riches to those who asked and devoted to him. As Yahweh God of Israel is seen as God of justice so also the devotees of Sango see him to be god of justice and fair play who hates lying, deceit and cheating.

This could form the background to essential African theology before the advent of Christianity. It is no doubt that this event of a fire on Mt.


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