Exodus 6


God encourages Moses, and promises to show wonders upon Pharaoh,

and to bring out his people with a strong hand, 1.

He confirms this promise by his essential name JEHOVAH, 2, 3;

by the covenant he had made with their fathers, 4, 5.

Sends Moses with a fresh message to the Hebrews, full of the most

gracious promises, and confirms the whole by appealing to the name

in which his unchangeable existence is implied, 6-8.

Moses delivers the message to the Israelites, but through anguish

of spirit they do not believe, 9.

He receives a new commission to go to Pharaoh, 10, 11.

He excuses himself on account of his unreadiness of speech, 12.

The Lord gives him and Aaron a charge both to Pharaoh and to the

children of Israel, 13.

The genealogy of Reuben, 14;

of Simeon, 15;

of Levi, from whom descended Gershon, Kohath, and Merari, 16.

The sons of Gershon, 17;

of Kohath, 15;

of Merari, 19.

The marriage of Amram and Jochebed, 20.

The sons of Izhar and Uzziel, the brothers of Amram, 21, 22.

Marriage of Aaron and Elisheba, and the birth of their sons,

Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar, 23.

The sons of Korah, the nephew of Aaron, 24.

The marriage of Eleazar to one of the daughters of Putiel, and

the birth of Phinehas, 25.

These genealogical accounts introduced for the sake of showing the

line of descent of Moses and Aaron, 26, 27.

A recapitulation of the commission delivered to Moses and Aaron, 29,

and a repetition of the excuse formerly made by Moses, 30.


Verse 1. With a strong hand] yad chazakah, the

same verb which we translate to harden; See Clarke on Ex 4:21.

The strong hand here means sovereign power, suddenly and forcibly

applied. God purposed to manifest his sovereign power in the

sight of Pharaoh and the Egyptians; in consequence of which

Pharaoh would manifest his power and authority as sovereign of

Egypt, in dismissing and thrusting out the people. See

Ex 12:31-33.

Verse 2. I am the Lord] It should be, I am JEHOVAH, and

without this the reason of what is said in the 3d verse is not

sufficiently obvious.

Verse 3. By the name of God Almighty] EL-SHADDAl, God

All-sufficient; God the dispenser or pourer-out of gifts.

See Clarke on Ge 17:1.

But by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.] This passage

has been a sort of crux criticorum, and has been variously

explained. It is certain that the name Jehovah was in use long

before the days of Abraham, see Ge 2:4, where the words

Jehovah Elohim occur, as they do frequently afterwards; and

see Ge 15:2, where Abraham expressly addresses him by the name

Adonai JEHOVAH; and see Ge 15:7, where God reveals himself to

Abraham by this very name: And he said unto him, I am JEHOVAH,

that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees. How then can it be

said that by his name JEHOVAH he was not known unto them? Several

answers have been given to this question; the following are the

chief:-1. The words should be read interrogatively, for the

negative particle lo, not, has this power often in Hebrew. "I

appeared unto Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by the name of God

Almighty, and by my name Jehovah was I not also made known unto

them?" 2. The name JEHOVAH was not revealed before the time

mentioned here, for though it occurs so frequently in the book of

Genesis, as that book was written long after the name had come

into common use, as a principal characteristic of God, Moses

employs it in his history because of this circumstance; so that

whenever it appears previously to this, it is by the figure called

prolepsis or anticipation. 3. As the name JEHOVAH signifies

existence, it may be understood in the text in question thus: "I

appeared unto Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by my name God Almighty,

or God All-sufficient, i.e., having all power to do all good; in

this character I made a covenant with them, supported by great and

glorious promises; but as those promises had respect unto their

posterity, they could not be fulfilled to those fathers: but

now, as JEHOVAH, I am about to give existence to all those

promises relative to your support, deliverance from bondage, and

your consequent settlement in the promised land." 4. The words

may be considered as used comparatively: though God did appear to

those patriarchs as JEHOVAH, and they acknowledged him by this

name, yet it was but comparatively known unto them; they knew

nothing of the power and goodness of God, in comparison of what

the Israelites were now about to experience.

I believe the simple meaning is this, that though from the

beginning the name JEHOVAH was known as one of the names of the

Supreme Being, yet what it really implied they did not know.

El-Shaddai, God All-sufficient, they knew well by the

continual provision he made for them, and the constant protection

he afforded them: but the name JEHOVAH is particularly

to be referred to the accomplishment of promises already made; to

the giving them a being, and thus bringing them into existence,

which could not have been done in the order of his providence

sooner than here specified: this name therefore in its power and

significancy was not known unto them; nor fully known unto their

descendants till the deliverance from Egypt and the settlement

in the promised land. It is surely possible for a man to bear the

name of a certain office or dignity before he fulfils any of

its functions. King, mayor, alderman, magistrate, constable, may

be borne by the several persons to whom they legally belong,

before any of the acts peculiar to those offices are performed.

The KING, acknowledged as such on his coronation, is known to be

such by his legislative acts; the civil magistrate, by his

distribution of justice, and issuing warrants for the apprehending

of culprits; and the constable, by executing those warrants. All

these were known to have their respective names, but the exercise

of their powers alone shows what is implied in being king,

magistrate, and constable. The following is a case in point,

which fell within my own knowledge.

A case of dispute between certain litigious neighbours being

heard in court before a weekly sitting of the magistrates, a woman

who came as an evidence in behalf of her bad neighbour, finding

the magistrates inclining to give judgment against her mischievous

companion, took her by the arm and said, "Come away! I told you

you would get neither law nor justice in this place." A

magistrate, who was as much an honour to his function as he was to

human nature, immediately said, "Here, constable! take that woman

and lodge her in Bridewell, that she may know there is some law

and justice in this place."

Thus the worthy magistrate proved he had the power implied in

the name by executing the duties of his office. And God who was

known as JEHOVAH, the being who makes and gives effect to

promises, was known to the descendants of the twelve tribes to

be THAT JEHOVAH, by giving effect and being to the promises

which he had made to their fathers.

Verse 4. I have also established my covenant] I have now fully

purposed to give present effect to all my engagements with your

fathers, in behalf of their posterity.

Verse 6. Say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I

will bring you out, &c.] This confirms the explanation given of

Ex 6:3, which

See Clarke on Ex 6:3.

Verse 7. I will take you to me for a people, &c.] This was

precisely the covenant that he had made with Abraham. See

Ge 17:7, and

See Clarke on Ge 17:7.

And ye shall know that I am the LORD your God] By thus

fulfilling my promises ye shall know what is implied in my name.

See Clarke on Ex 6:3.

But why should God take such a most stupid, refractory, and

totally worthless people for his people? 1. Because he had

promised to do so to their noble ancestors Abraham, Isaac, Jacob,

Joseph, Judah, &c., men worthy of all praise, because in general

friends of God, devoted to his will and to the good of mankind.

2. "That (as Bishop Warburton properly observes) the

extraordinary providence by which they were protected, might

become the more visible and illustrious; for had they been endowed

with the shining qualities of the more polished nations, the

effects of that providence might have been ascribed to their own


3. That God might show to all succeeding generations that he

delights to instruct the ignorant, help the weak, and save the

lost; for if he bore long with Israel, showed them especial mercy,

and graciously received them whenever they implored his

protection, none need despair. God seems to have chosen the worst

people in the universe, to give by them unto mankind the highest

and most expressive proofs, that he wills not the death of a

sinner, but rather that he may turn from his iniquity and live.

Verse 8. Which I did swear] nasathi eth yadi, I

have lifted up my hand. The usual mode of making an appeal to

God, and hence considered to be a form of swearing. It is thus

that Isa 62:8 is to be understood:

The Lord hath sworn by his right hand, and by the arm of his


Verse 9. But they hearkened not] Their bondage was become so

extremely oppressive that they had lost all hope of ever being

redeemed from it. After this verse the Samaritan adds, Let us

alone, that we may serve the Egyptians: for it is better for us to

serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.

This appears to be borrowed from Ex 14:12.

Anguish of spirit] kotzer ruach, shortness of

spirit or breath. The words signify that their labour was so

continual, and their bondage so cruel and oppressive, that they

had scarcely time to breathe.

Verse 12. Uncircumcised lips?] The word aral, which we

translate uncircumcised, seems to signify any thing exuberant or

superfluous. Had not Moses been remarkable for his excellent

beauty, I should have thought the passage might be rendered

protuberant lips; but as this sense cannot be admitted for the

above reason, the word must refer to some natural impediment in

his speech; and probably means a want of distinct and ready

utterance, either occasioned by some defect in the organs of

speech, or impaired knowledge of the Egyptian language after an

absence of forty years. See Clarke on Ex 4:10.

Verse 14. These be the heads] rashey, the chiefs or

captains. The following genealogy was simply intended to show

that Moses and Aaron came in a direct line from Abraham, and to

ascertain the time of Israel's deliverance. The whole account

from Ex 6:14-26 inclusive, is a sort of parenthesis, and does not

belong to the narration; and what follows from Ex 6:28 is a

recapitulation of what was spoken in the preceding chapters.

Verse 16. The years of the life of Levi] "Bishop Patrick

observes that Levi is thought to have lived the longest of all

Jacob's sons, none of whose ages are recorded in Scripture but his

and Joseph's, whom Levi survived twenty-seven years, though he was

much the elder brother. By the common computation this would be

twenty-three years: by Kennicott's computation at the end of Gen.

xxxi., (See Clarke on Ge 31:55) Levi's birth is placed

twenty-four years before that of Joseph; his death, therefore,

would be only three years later. But this is not the only

difficulty in ancient chronologies. Kohath, the second son of

Levi, according to Archbishop Usher was thirty years old when

Jacob came into Egypt, and lived there one hundred and three

years. He attained to nearly the same age with Levi, to one

hundred and thirty-three years; and his son Amram, the father of

Moses, lived to the same age with Levi. We may observe here how

the Divine promise, Ge 15:16, of delivering the Israelites out of

Egypt in the fourth generation was verified; for Moses was the son

of Amram, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, the son of


Verse 20. His father's sister] dodatho. The true meaning

of this word is uncertain. Parkhurst observes that dod

signifies an uncle in 1Sa 10:14; Le 10:4, and frequently

elsewhere. It signifies also an uncle's son, a cousin-german:

compare Jer 32:8 with Ex 6:12, where the Vulgate renders

dodi by patruelis mei, my paternal cousin; and in Am 6:10,

for dodo, the Targum has karibiah, his near

relation. So the Vulgate, propinquus ejus, his relative, and

the Septuagint, οιοικειοιαυτων, those of their household. The

best critics suppose that Jochebed was the cousin-german of Amram,

and not his aunt. See Clarke on Ex 2:1.

Bare him Aaron and Moses] The Samaritan, Septuagint, Syriac,

and one Hebrew MS. add, And Miriam their sister. Some of the best

critics suppose these words to have been originally in the Hebrew


Verse 21. Korah] Though he became a rebel against God and

Moses, (see Nu 16:1, &c.,) yet Moses, in his great impartiality,

inserts his name among those of his other progenitors.

Verse 22. Uzziel] He is called Aaron's uncle, Le 10:4.

Verse 23. Elisheba] The oath of the Lord. It is the same name

as Elizabeth, so very common among Christians. She was of the

royal tribe of Judah, and was sister to Nahshon, one of the

princes; see Nu 2:3.

Eleazar] He succeeded to the high priesthood on the death of

his father Aaron, Nu 20:25, &c.

Verse 25. Phinehas] Of the celebrated act of this person, and

the most honourable grant made to him and his posterity, see

Nu 25:7-13.

Verse 26. According to their armies.] tsibotham, their

battalions-regularly arranged troops. As God had these

particularly under his care and direction, he had the name of

Yehovah tsebaoth, Lord of hosts or armies.

"The plain and disinterested manner," says Dr. Dodd, "in which

Moses speaks here of his relations, and the impartiality wherewith

he inserts in the list of them such as were afterwards severely

punished by the Lord, are striking proofs of his modesty and

sincerity. He inserts the genealogy of Reuben and Simeon, because

they were of the same mother with Levi; and though he says nothing

of himself, yet he relates particularly what concerns Aaron,

Ex 6:23, who married into an honourable family, the sister of a

prince of the tribe of Judah."

Verse 28. And it came to pass] Here the seventh chapter should

commence, as there is a complete ending of the sixth with

Ex 6:27, and the 30th verse of this chapter is intimately

connected with the 1st verse of the succeeding.

THE principal subjects in this chapter have been so amply

considered in the notes, that little of importance remains to be

done. On the nature of a covenant (See Clarke on Ex 6:4.)

ample information may be obtained by referring to Ge 6:18, and

Ge 15:9-18, which places the reader will do well to consult.

Supposing Moses to have really laboured under some defect in

speech, we may consider it as wisely designed to be a sort of

counterbalance to his other excellences: at least this is an

ordinary procedure of Divine Providence; personal accomplishments

are counterbalanced by mental defects, and mental imperfections

often by personal accomplishments. Thus the head cannot say to

the foot, I have no need of thee. And God does all this in great

wisdom, to hide pride from man, and that no flesh may glory in his

presence. To be contented with our formation, endowments, and

external circumstances, requires not only much submission to the

providence of God, but also much of the mind of Christ. On the

other hand, should we feel vanity because of some personal or

mental accomplishment, we have only to take a view of our whole to

find sufficient cause of humiliation; and after all, the meek and

gentle spirit only is, in the sight of God, of great price.

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