The Genealogy of Moses and Aaron
In our last chapter Moses and Aaron return to Egypt, with Aaron performing miracles and speaking Moses' words to the Jews as they succeed in uniting the people behind them. They then go before the Pharaoh with their request to allow the people a three-day break to go worship their God in the desert.
We know that the monarch flatly refuses them, accusing the people of laziness and as punishment forces them to supply their own straw for their brick making while producing the same quota. This creates division among the Israelites who blame Moses for provoking this crisis which threatens their very lives. Moses, in turn, blames this seeming failure on God.
This is where we pick up the golden thread – at the seeming destruction of the Israelites by the hand of the cruel Pharaoh.
II. Deliverance 1 – Exodus 1:1-6:27
D. Moses and Aaron Genealogy – Exodus 6:1-27
1. God Reassures Moses and Aaron – Exodus 6:1-13
After their humiliating defeat before Pharaoh and the Jewish people, God renews His promises and issues even more challenging instructions.
Then the Lord said to Moses, "Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for under compulsion he will let them go, and under compulsion he will drive them out of his land."
- Exodus 6:1
Once Moses has spoken to God recounting what the Pharaoh has done to him and the people, and how this is all God's fault, God responds with what He will now do to Pharaoh.
- God will use compulsion (a mighty hand - NRSV) to compel him to let the people go.
- The Pharaoh (anxious to see them leave) would also force the people once held captive to now leave the nation.
Here God is summarizing what will happen in the future so they will know it will be through God's will and power that the people will be released.
Their first experience and failure with the Egyptian ruler convinced them that he was absolutely determined to keep the Israelites captive in Egypt – no doubt about this.
2God spoke further to Moses and said to him, "I am the Lord; 3and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, Lord, I did not make Myself known to them. 4I also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they sojourned. 5Furthermore I have heard the groaning of the sons of Israel, because the Egyptians are holding them in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant.
- Exodus 6:2-5
God provides a history lesson based on His name so that first and foremost, Moses will understand who he represents and who will be responsible for the things that are about to happen.
- He had been known as God Almighty (EL SHADDAY) to Moses' ancestors and more specifically as the Lord (YAHWEH) to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
- He was not one of the Egyptian deities or some new divine being but the God of the golden thread which He describes next.
- He is the one who appeared to the patriarchs and made a covenant (promise) to give them a land of their own.
- Even though these men knew that it was the same God that appeared and renewed the covenant with each of them in successive generations, they did not know Him to the extent that Moses and this generation would come to know Him.
- To further connect the past and present, God tells Moses that the reason for His appearance now is the promise He made centuries before.
- God reveals the "big picture" to Moses. What is about to happen is not a singular event but rather part of this thread that stretches back to Abraham and will ultimately lead to God's people entering and possessing their promised land.
Of course, we know today that the thread was to stretch further into the future, however, for Moses, just the thought that what was taking place now connected the past promise of God to a future fulfillment, and he was at the center of it, was a lot to take in.
6Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, 'I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 7Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8I will bring you to the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession; I am the Lord.'"
- Exodus 6:6-8
In these verses God gives Moses a summary of what he is to say to the Jews as God's spokesman, a role and communication model that was new. Up to this point God had only interacted with individuals (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) revealing His will, making promises, establishing covenants. This provided knowledge of Him to specific families and clans.
With Moses, God was raising up a national leader, a single man who would speak to an entire people on behalf of God and to other national leaders (like the Pharaoh) on behalf of His people. This was a new form of communication.
In verses 6-8 Moses is given his first major pronouncement to make on behalf of God. It contained three parts:
Part 1 – vs. 6
- Introduce to the people on whose behalf you are speaking. You are not conveying the words, commands and promises of Moses, but those of the Lord – YAHWEH.
- This is the same Lord that spoke to your forefathers and revealed Himself through appearances and signs.
- Moses was to announce the plan for His people:
- Free the people from bondage.
- Do this with a display of power.
Part 2 – vs. 7
- Tell the people that the Lord was to take them as His people and be their God thus establishing an exclusive relationship with them.
- Remember that many of them may have still remembered the promises of old, after 400 years in Egypt they had been thoroughly indoctrinated in the belief and worship of the pagan deities of Egypt.
- One feature of this relationship will be that not only will God know them, but they in turn will know their God – He will not be a mystery to them.
- One of the first things they will know (because they will actually see for themselves) is the power that He has and will use on their behalf.
- This power will be used and seen as God will use it to free them from Egyptian bondage.
Part 3 – Vs. 8
- God will fulfill the promise made to Abraham and renewed to Isaac and Jacob – that He would give them a land to possess.
- Moses' role would be to lead them to this promised land.
We see that in these few verses, an outline and summary of Israel's experiences recorded in five of the early books of the Old Testament is continued:
- God delivers Israel from Egypt – Exodus 1-18
- God makes Israel His people – Exodus 19 – Leviticus
- God gives Israel the Promised Land – Numbers – Joshua
So Moses spoke thus to the sons of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses on account of their despondency and cruel bondage.
- Exodus 6:9
Instead of being encouraged with Moses' message of rescue and hope, the people refused to listen or to respond. They were despondent (Hebrew – small spirit) because the Pharaoh's strategy of breaking their spirit with harsh labor and no hope of recovery was working.
The Pharaoh seemed to have won his first encounter with the God of Israel.
10Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 11"Go, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the sons of Israel go out of his land."
- Exodus 6:10-11
God gives Moses a renewed charge to go to the Pharaoh and demand that he release the Jews and this time with no explanation that it's for a time of worship.
But Moses spoke before the Lord, saying, "Behold, the sons of Israel have not listened to me; how then will Pharaoh listen to me, for I am unskilled in speech?"
- Exodus 6:12
Moses seems to forget his conversations with the Lord at the burning bush and reverts back to his previous excuses that he is not a good speaker. The actions of Pharaoh seem to have made his spirit small as well. If the Israelites have rejected me, how can I hope to win over the Pharaoh?
Then the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron and gave them a charge to the sons of Israel and to Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt.
- Exodus 6:13
God responds by renewing His charge to both Moses and Aaron along with instructions as to what they will say to the Israelites and the Pharaoh. In His charge, God encouraged His two servants and again clarifies the mission – the release of the Israelites from Egyptian captivity.
- Sometimes when we fail at something we focus on the failure itself, our own personal weakness, the reasons for giving up, and the difficulties associated with the task.
- Here we see that in renewing their charge that God doesn't deal with any of these issues, He simply clarifies the mission so their focus will be on the mission itself (obtaining the release of the people and not any of the obstacles in the way of that).
2. The Genealogy – Exodus 6:14-27
The genealogies maintain the historical record of those people associated with the Bible's "Golden Thread" story line. In Genesis the genealogy narrows the line of mankind in general to the specific line of Abraham – then narrows it still more to Jacob in order to focus on the seed through whom God would bless the world. (Roper – P. 102)
In Exodus 1:1-5 the thread identifies the men who were heads of the families of Israel at the time when they first arrived in Egypt.
- This answers the question, "Who were the people delivered by the Lord from the Egyptian bondage?"
- The answer is: The descendants of these people.
In Exodus 6 we have another genealogy that answers a different question, "Of the descendants of the people mentioned in Chapter 1, who were the deliverers of the people – who were their ancestors?"
- The answer is: Moses and Aaron, descendants of Levi.
Why a Genealogy Now?
It would seem a strange place, in the middle of the action, to place a genealogy. Note that this genealogy is placed between two key parts of the story:
- Moses' first attempt to get Pharaoh to release the people (4:27-6:19), which ended in failure.
- We read further on (6:28-12:51) that this second attempt is successful.
In between these two attempts a genealogy is placed, which focuses attention on those Israelites who will become the priestly line. Since Levi was the father of the priestly tribe, the genealogy features him. Since Aaron was to be the first High Priest, the genealogy highlights him and his family rather than Moses. Also, Amram (Moses and Aaron's father) married Jochebed who was his father's sister (aunt). Unions like these were permitted at the time but eventually forbidden by the law given by God to Moses.
Aaron, therefore, was the first High Priest succeeded by Elazar and in the next generation by Phineas and his descendants to whom the Lord gave a "covenant of a perpetual priesthood" (Numbers 25:13).
On that note, the promise and description of Aaron's ultimate role in this mission: he will become the first human spiritual leader of the people of the golden thread. We already know Moses' role is to lead them out of bondage into the land of promise.
With the confirmation of both their roles (which they haven't yet fulfilled) the story of the first attempt at deliverance of the Israelites is concluded.
In our next chapter we'll begin the action as the Lord sends both Aaron and Moses back to the Egyptian monarch for a second attempt at freeing the people of Israel.
1. God Knows How to Encourage His Servants
Warren Wiersbe, a prolific Christian author and teacher, noted that Moses became discouraged but did what all Christian leaders ought to do – bring their problems to the Lord.
Moses did this and God encouraged him in ways that only God can encourage:
- God reminded Moses of the promises that only He could make and keep.
- Reminded Moses who He was (God) and what He had done in the past (made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to give them the land of Canaan).
- Reminded Moses of His name – Jehovah. He was the true and living God.
- Finally, God assured Moses that his mission would eventually be successful.
It's one thing if our parents or friends encourage us saying things like:
- Don't quit
- You can do it
- How do you know if you don't try?
- I believe in you
- I'll help you
All good and sincere things but there are no guarantees of the outcome, you might still fail. When God encouraged Moses, He assured him with things that were true and sure:
- God would be with him
- In the end the king would release the people
- He was going to lead the people to the Promised Land
God doesn't simply provide encouragement, He gives assurances that what He promises, He will deliver.
Whether it's a promise that the Pharaoh would relent and allow Moses to lead the people out of Egypt, or His promise that no matter how weak and sinful you see yourself, or Satan has convinced you that you are – God promises that all your sins are forgiven in baptism, and you will be with Him in heaven after you die. This is not an encouragement, it's a promise from God (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38).
2. Many Times Our Trials Come About Simply To Teach Us Something About God, Not Ourselves
Most big lessons dealing with difficulties and trials end up teaching us to grow in certain virtues like patience, trust, or perseverance.
However, sometimes it's not about us but about God – What He's like, how He acts.
- Job is a good example. After all that suffering, he learned that he didn't know God like He thought He did.
- Each time Moses went to God with his problems he would come away with new knowledge about God's character, power, eternal nature, patience, and plans for the future.
I remember falling ill quite suddenly over two years ago. One minute I was eating and laughing with the brothers at the men's breakfast and the next minute I was nearly passed out on my couch in the office, nauseous and dizzy. That began a journey of illness, doctors, tests, and physical decline that continued for over a year.
In a feverish moment of prayer one night when I was especially in pain and discouraged, I had a wonderful moment of clarity about God that brought me great peace in the middle of the noisy battle of my illness. The thought came to me that He Does Not Change. He is always the same, will always be the same. He never changes.
I knew this intellectually (the changeless God) but after undergoing all the changes in my body and mind due to my illness, I grasped for a precious moment the divine attribute of His never changing nature and being.
This more informed knowledge of Him brought me peace and calmed my fears about the rapid deterioration of my own body. The illness that changed me, enabled me to see Him more clearly and thus assured me that He doesn't change – and all without a word being spoken.
- He is truly the portion of our cup.
- Knowledge of Him is eternal life.