(See notes of 3.26.06)
Mc Calmont, Gertrude S., “’And it came to pass,’” Christian Science Journal (October 1935), p. 384.
--Much that is helpful remains hidden in words and phrases that have become so familiar as to induce a perfunctory reading.
• One is apt to slip lightly, for instance, over such a phrase as is frequently found throughout the Old Testament, “And it came to pass,” its direct meaning being the recording of an event.
---But when one pauses to consider that the word “pass” may also be taken as indicating progress, the expression may be seen to take on new value.
--we go forward willingly and gladly in the taking of any necessary step when convinced that victory in the experience means the glorification of God among men.
--The Scriptures teem with the rehearsal of victorious steps taken when the outlook was most ominous.
Leaishman, Thomas L., “Abraham and the Impending Sacrifice of Isaac,” THE CONTINUITY OF THE BIBLE, Christian Science Journal (October 1963), p. 542.
--Of all the trials of Abraham’s faith which came to him over a long period of years, none was more searching than the one recorded in the twenty-second chapter of Genesis.
• His eager desire to have an heir by his wife Sarah had now been fulfilled, and he was assured that his descendents though Isaac would be innumerable; but before the lad was old enough to have children of his own, the thought came to Abraham that he himself must sacrifice this only and dearly beloved son.
--To the patriarch’s imperfect understanding, this came as a direct command from God.
• Strange and now almost unbelievable as might appear to be the parts played both by Abraham and by his God in the vivid drama as the Bible records it, a careful study of its context and of the thought and practice of Abraham’s contemporaries casts some light upon the harrowing ordeal so bravely faced by the father and by his son.
Lawrence, Robert G., “The Isaac in your life,” Christian Science Journal (March 1980), p. 121.
--In the Bible story of Abraham and Isaac, Abraham lays his own son on an altar as a human sacrifice.
• Beyond the strong pagan belief of Abraham’s time that a god required sacrifice of things very dear as proof of absolute fidelity, can we discern a spiritual lesson?
---In this special test of courage, Abraham shows us that human love can be elevated to an awareness of the divine.
---And he also shows us how to exchange our highest human concept of good for the understanding of perfect Love, which is God.
--For a time it must have been Abraham’s highest understanding of God’s will to sacrifice his child.
• But of course God doesn’t require us to sacrifice anything genuinely good.
Walker, Channing (CS and Contributing Editor, Glendora, CA), “God, Abraham, Isaac—and us,” Christian Science Journal (March 1997), p. 28.
--What is God really saying?
• What’s going on here?
---Is this an early account of child abuse—and is such abuse ever divinely sanctioned?
--Abraham’s quest to know God better and to follow His will more closely extends before and after this episode.
• It seems certain, though, that this was a landmark experience in his spiritual growth.
--He started up the mountain with the conviction that he was obeying a divine edict.
--God does not test His children to discover how faithful they are.
• But as we test our thoughts, we can discover which ones come from God and which ones come from a faulty or inflated sense of self.
SECTION III: Aaron’s Rod Turned into a Serpent during the Second Appearance before Pharaoh (Ex 7: 8-12)
Moses and his brother Aaron had already appeared before Pharaoh once, which resulted in even greater hardships for the Hebrew people. Now they are sent to Pharaoh again, this time to perform a sign proving that they spoke on behalf of the true God who could do mighty works and miracles.
[Mō’zez] (Egyp. “extraction, a son”/Heb. “drawn from the water”)
“MOSES. A corporeal mortal; moral courage; a type of moral law and the demonstration thereof; the proof that, without the gospel, — the union of justice and affection, — there is something spiritually lacking, since justice demands penalties under the law.” (S&H 592: 11)
TIME LINE: 1526-1406 BC (some say @1300 BC)
Kings of Egypt: Thutmose 1529-1517
Thutmose II 1517-1504
Thutmose III 1504-1453
Queen Hatshepshut 1504-1483
Amenhotep II 1453-1426
First Passover @1446
Exodus/Wilderness Wanderings @1446
Thutmose IV 1426-1416
Amenhotep III 1416-1377
Amran (father)=Jochebed (mother)
Aaron (brother) =Elisheba (tribe of Judah)
Eleazar=(daughter of Putiel)
Moses = Zipporah (wife/Jethro’s
= Tharbis (Ethiopian wife)
Jochebed (Amran’s aunt and wife)
(11 other sons/Dinah)
Moses was the first and preeminent Hebrew leader, who led the people in their exodus out of Egypt to the threshold of the promised land; and he was a lawgiver and the archetypical prophet. He is the most majestic figure in the Old Testament. His role was so central that the Pentateuch was called the Five Books of Moses, and the code of religious laws, the Law of Moses. For all his greatness, Moses never loses his humaneness, displaying anger, frustration, and lack of self-confidence in addition to his leadership abilities, humility, and perseverance.
FAMILY AND EARLY LIFE
“The story of Moses begins in Egypt.” (Bible Handbook) Moses was born there to Hebrew slave parents in exile during dangerous times, and we come to know him first as an infant when the king of Egypt decreed that all infant males should be killed. Moses was hidden among a river’s edge when Pharaoh’s daughter came to bathe, saw the basket with the baby, and had pity on this baby boy. Miriam, Moses’ sister, was nearby and suggested a Hebrew nurse to suckle the child. When Pharaoh’s daughter agreed, Jochebed, Moses’ mother, was surreptitiously selected to be that nurse. The boy then grew up at the royal court but, through his mother, remained aware of his Hebrew origin.
YOUTH AND YOUNG MANHOOD
Slew an Egyptian. Later, he had to flee Egypt when he killed an Egyptian who was flogging an Israelite slave.
He Flees to Midian[present day Saudi Arabia, just east of the Gulf of Aquba]. He joined a nomadic shepherd, Jethro, and subsequently, married his daughter, Zipporah.
40 YEARS IN MIDIAN
AT THE BURNING BUSH: Called to Leadership
Moving deep into the desert in search of pasture for his father-in-law’s flocks, Moses came to the mountain of Horeb (or Sinai). He turned aside to examine a strange sight: a bush that was burning without being consumed. God’s voice came out of the bush demanding him to halt and remove his shoes as he was on holy ground. Moses was told that he had been chosen to lead his brethren out of their oppression, and bring them to the Promised Land. Moses shrank from this task, saying: “Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? (Ex 3:11). Slowly his reaction changed from curiosity to awe as he realized that he was in God’s presence.
MAKES FOUR EXCUSES
Moses was reluctant to accept the task of bringing the Israelites out of Egypt and gave a series of excuses for which God provided retorts.
Moses shrank from this task, saying, “Who am I, that I
should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Ex 3: 11)
Fears Unbelief of the People.
To reassure him the name of the Lord (“Jehovah”) was
revealed to Moses and he was given certain magic signs to impress Pharaoh and the Israelites: turning his staff into a snake, making a hand white with leprosy, and turning water into blood.
Lack of Eloquence.
Still reluctant, Moses pointed out that “I am slow of
speech, and of a slow tongue.” (Ex 4: 10)
Request Some Other Leader Be Sent.
The Lord became impatient with him, and replied that his
brother Aaron could be his spokesman.
THE RETURN TO EGYPT
As an adult, Moses was sent to lead the people out of Egypt, and there is no question that he was a successful leader. He took a mixed multitude and under his guidance they were shaped into a national entity. Moses led the people from encampment to encampment and directed them when conflicts with other nations arose. Like most leaders, he was subjected to complaints and grumbling and even rebellions, and he was called upon to provide solutions to problems and psychological encouragement. Moses served as the link between the Israelites and God; he interceded with God on behalf of the people.
“Soon after his return, Moses stirred the Hebrews to revolt and demanded of Pharaoh, ‘Let My people go, that they may hold a feast to Me in the wilderness (Ex 5:1).” (Who Was Who in the Bible)
THE TEN PLAGUES SENT
The Passover. Each year Jews commemorate the Exodus in the seven-day spring festival of Passover, as enjoined in Exodus 10. They eat “matzot” (flat cakes of unleavened bread) to recall the haste with which their ancestors departed. At the “Seder” or ceremonial meal, bitter herbs are the symbol of the bondage in Egypt, and a roasted shank-bone represents the paschal lamb eaten that fateful night.
His parting of the Red Sea to bring the people out, his wandering in the wilderness, the handing down of the Ten Commandments, and his continued march to the Promised Land consumed the remainder of his life.
“On the wilderness journey for the Israelites’ benefit….His raised hands ensured victory over the Amalekites (Ex 17:11-12).” (HarperCollins Dictionary)
AT MOUNT SINAI [almost at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula] “On Mt. Sinai Moses receives God’s moral, civil, and ceremonial laws, as well as the pattern for the tabernacle to be built in the wilderness.” (Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps & Charts) “The cluster of material now attached to the revelation at Mount Sinai is diverse in date, structure, and content. Its literary connections are largely with the Priestly Pentateuchal material, including Exod. 25-31; 35-40; Leviticus; Num. 1-10:28, speaking generally.” (Interpreter’s Dictionary)
The Divine Appearance on the Mount: “There is a strict hierarchy of personnel: Moses at the apex of the Mountain, with Aaron in attendance (the status of the priesthood as a whole is recognized in 19:22…), while the people have to be rigorously excluded at the base of the mountain. The elders interposing as representatives of the people (19:7…) may belong to the same scenario.” (Eerdmans Commentary)
The Decalogue Given: “When the Israelites arrived at Mount Sinai, Moses went up onto the mountain for 40 days (Ex 24:18). The Lord appeared in a terrific storm—‘thunderings and lightenings, and a thick cloud’ (Ex 19:18). Out of this momentous encounter came the covenant between the Lord and Israel, including the Ten Commandments (Ex 20:1-17).” (Who Was Who in the Bible)
The Divine Presence Restored: Moses intercedes, and receives in reply the gracious assurance that God will go with them. Without that assurance he would desire to go no farther but to remain at Sinai, where they already had the evidence of his presence and power. Better the Sinai wilderness with God, than the land flowing with milk and honey without him.
The Tabernacle Set Up: “He received instructions for constructing the tabernacle and its accoutrements.” (Oxford Guide to People & Places)
SINAI TO KADESH-BARNEA [southwestern border of Israel] Ambition of Aaron and Miriam. “Aaron and Miriam started speaking against Moses, of whom they had become jealous. The Lord was angry at this attack, and Miriam was stricken with leprosy. Moses prayed that she be forgiven, and she recovered after seven days of isolation in the desert outside the camp. Oddly enough Aaron was not punished—perhaps because of his priestly role.” (Who’s Who in the Old Testament)
The Israelites resumed their journey northward, and came to rest at Kadesh-barnea, a green and well-watered oasis some fifty miles south of Beersheba. They were now nearing the southern rim of Canaan [Israel], but it was for them unknown country.
Spies Report. Moses decided to send into it a scouting party of twelve picked men, one from each tribe to “see what the land is, and whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, whether they are few or many” (Num 13: 18)—also, whether the inhabitants lived in fortified towns or in tents and whether the soil was fertile.
FORTY YEARS WANDERING IN THE WILDERNESS
Rebellion of the People. The leadership of Moses and Aaron was challenged by a revolt—all the more serious because it started with their own tribe of Levi, which was dedicated to priestly duties.
Aaron’s Atonement. Moses felt the need of some act to bolster the status of Aaron and the priests. He collected and placed in the Tabernacle a stave from each of the tribes, with the Levites represented by Aaron’s own rod. When they were taken out and shown to the people next morning, it was seen that Aaron’s stave had spouted with blossom and borne almonds.
AT KADESH THE SECOND TIME
Death of Miriam
The People Murmur Because of Thirst: The Children of Israel now settled down for some decades to the life of nomad shepherds and cattle-herders roaming the wilderness of Zin, with their base at the oasis.
Moses’ Sin LAST DAYS
Moses’ Farewell Address and Blessings: In three farewell addresses, recorded in the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses recalled for the Israelites the story of their wandering; expanded their religious and legal code; and instructed them about their coming settlement in Canaan.
Ascends Mount Nebo [west of Ammon, Jordan]: Ironically, although Moses must certainly be judged successful in his mission, he himself was not permitted to partake of this success; he was not granted the privilege of entering the promised land but was given a distant view of the Promised Land from Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho [eastern West Bank] across the Jordan. At his death, he was a hundred and twenty years old.
THE LAW OF MOSES
The Mosaic code goes far beyond religious observance in the narrow sense. It deals with political, social, and family affairs in a progressive spirit well in advance of its period.