Old Testament

Exodus 4
Moses Is Given Three Miraculous Signs
41But Moses responded, “What if they do not believe me and do not listen to my voice, but instead they say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you’?”
2So the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”
He said, “A staff.”
3He said, “Throw it on the ground.”
Moses threw it on the ground, and it became a snake, so he ran away from it.
4The Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand and take it by the tail.”
He stretched out his hand and took hold of it, and it became a staff in his hand.
5The Lord said, “This sign is being given to you so that the Israelites will believe 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.”
6The Lord also said to him, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” So he put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, his hand was leprous,[] as white as snow.
7Then the Lord said, “Put your hand back inside your cloak.” So he put his hand inside his cloak again, and when he took it out of his cloak, it was restored like the rest of his flesh.
8The Lord said, “If they do not believe you or do not respond to the first sign, they might believe because of the second sign. 9If they do not believe even these two signs or listen to your voice, you are to take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry land. The water which you take from the Nile will become blood on the dry land.”
There Is No Excuse Not to Trust the Lord
10But Moses said to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, either in the past or more recently or even since you started speaking to your servant, for my mouth and tongue are slow and clumsy.”[]
11So the Lord said to him, “Who made a mouth for people? Or who makes someone mute or deaf, able to see or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12Now go, and I will be with your mouth, and I will teach you what you will speak.”
13But he said, “Please, Lord, send someone else.”
14Then the Lord's anger burned against Moses, and the Lord said, “What about Aaron, your brother, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. Look, he is already coming out to meet you. He will be very glad to see you. 15You will speak to him and put the words into his mouth. I will be with your mouth and with his, and I will teach you what you are to do. 16He will speak to the people for you so that it will be as if he were your mouth, and you were God to him. 17You will also take this staff in your hand, the one with which you will perform the signs.”
Moses Returns to Egypt
18Then Moses went back to his father-in-law Jethro and said to him, “Let me go and return to my own people, who are in Egypt, and see whether they are still alive.”
Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.”
19The Lord said to Moses in Midian, “Go, return to Egypt, for everyone who wanted to kill you is dead.”
20So Moses took his wife and his sons, placed them on a donkey, and set out to return to the land of Egypt. Moses took the staff of God in his hand.
21The Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, make sure that you perform in the presence of Pharaoh all the wonders which I have put into your hand. However, I will make his heart hard,[] and he will not let the people go. 22You will then say to Pharaoh, ‘The Lord says: Israel is my son, my firstborn, 23and I have said to you, “Let my son go to serve me,” but you have refused to let him go. Watch out. I will kill your son, your firstborn.’”
24At a lodging place along the way, the Lord confronted him and sought to kill him.[] 25Then Zipporah took a flint blade, cut off her son's foreskin, and cast it at his feet. Then she said, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me.”
26So the Lord left him alone. (At that time she said “bridegroom of blood,” referring to circumcision.)
Reunion of Moses and Aaron
27The Lord had said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.”
So he went, met Moses at the mountain of God, and kissed him. 28Moses told Aaron all the words that the Lord had sent him to speak and all the signs he had commanded him to perform. 29Moses and Aaron then went and gathered together every elder of the people of Israel. 30Aaron spoke all the words which the Lord had spoken to Moses and performed the signs in the sight of the people. 31The people believed. When they heard that the Lord had paid attention to the Israelites and that he had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshipped.


  • 4:6 The Hebrew word for leprous was used for various skin diseases.
  • 4:10 Literally I am heavy of mouth and tongue
  • 4:21 Exodus uses three words for hardening or hardness of heart. The most common one chazaq is translated harden. The other two, kabad and qashah, are translated unyielding and stubborn. The verbs seem interchangeable.
  • 4:24 Interpreters disagree whether it was Moses or one of his sons that God was about to kill. The whole account is cryptic.