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Ex 3:1-22. DIVINE APPEARANCE AND COMMISSION TO MOSES.
1. Now Moses kept the flock--This employment he had entered on
in furtherance of his matrimonial views (see on
but it is probable he was continuing his service now on other terms
like Jacob during the latter years of his stay with Laban
2, 3. the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of
fire--It is common in Scripture to represent the elements and
operations of nature, as winds, fires, earthquakes, pestilence,
everything enlisted in executing the divine will, as the "angels" or
messengers of God. But in such cases God Himself is considered as
really, though invisibly, present. Here the preternatural fire may be
primarily meant by the expression "angel of the Lord"; but it is clear
that under this symbol, the Divine Being was present, whose name is
(Ex 3:4, 6),
and elsewhere called the angel of the covenant, Jehovah-Jesus.
4. when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see--The manifestations which God anciently made of Himself were always accompanied by clear, unmistakable signs that the communications were really from heaven. This certain evidence was given to Moses. He saw a fire, but no human agent to kindle it; he heard a voice, but no human lips from which it came; he saw no living Being, but One was in the bush, in the heat of the flames, who knew him and addressed him by name. Who could this be but the Divine Being?
5. put off thy shoes--The direction was in conformity with a usage which was well known to Moses, for the Egyptian priests observed it in their temples, and it is observed in all Eastern countries where the people take off their shoes or sandals, as we do our hats. But the Eastern idea is not precisely the same as the Western. With us, the removal of the hat is an expression of reverence for the place we enter, or rather of Him who is worshipped there. With them the removal of the shoes is a confession of personal defilement and conscious unworthiness to stand in the presence of unspotted holiness.
6-8. I am the God . . . come down to deliver--The reverential awe of Moses must have been relieved by the divine Speaker (see Mt 22:32), announcing Himself in His covenant character, and by the welcome intelligence communicated. Moreover, the time, as well as all the circumstances of this miraculous appearance, were such as to give him an illustrious display of God's faithfulness to His promises. The period of Israel's journey and affliction in Egypt had been predicted (Ge 15:13), and it was during the last year of the term which had still to run that the Lord appeared in the burning bush.
10-22. Come now therefore, and I will send thee--Considering the patriotic views that had formerly animated the breast of Moses, we might have anticipated that no mission could have been more welcome to his heart than to be employed in the national emancipation of Israel. But he evinced great reluctance to it and stated a variety of objections [Ex 3:11, 13; 4:1, 10] all of which were successfully met and removed--and the happy issue of his labors was minutely described.