1 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of Elohim, even to Horeb.

In verse 18 [of Exodus 2] we read that Reuel was Moses' father-in-law. Beginning chapter 3 we read of Jethro his father-in-law, and later on in Judges of Hobab Moses' father-in-law.

There is some uncertainty about whom these three names apply to. The term translated "father-in-law" simply means "in-law," and can be also "brother-in-law" or "son-in-law."

The most likely solution (though not positive) is that Reuel and Jethro were the same person-Moses' father-in-law-REUEL (Friend of God) being his name, and JETHRO (Excellency, or his Excellency) being his title.

Hobab was most probably the son of Jethro, and thus Moses' brother-in-law.

Bro Growcott - BYT 4. 2

Moses in ecclesial isolation

Moses, after a life of elevation and Egyptian education, had to have his zeal and his general views sobered by adversity. He had to be prepared by quietness and humiliation for the mighty work which God had in reserve for him. So here he was, in the unexciting wilderness, in a monotonous occupation, perplexed perhaps by the inexplicable delay, and discouraged by the total absence of direct tokens of God's promised interference on behalf of Israel.

His neglect to circumcise his children (Exodus 4:24, 26) would seem to indicate that he had fallen into a state of supineness.

When he had fled from Egypt ten years before the end of the 400, perhaps he consoled himself with the thought that in ten years, at all events, God's hand would become visible. At the end of ten years, nothing happened: and we can easily imagine that after that, as month after month rolled by in the routine of a shepherd's life without witnessing any token of the promised visitation, the sickness of deferred hope crept over him and reconciled him to the idea of spending his days where he was.

Nearly thirty long years dragged wearily by, after the expiry of the 400, without the expected message from God. Yet God had not been unmindful. He was at work, though not apparently. He had prepared the situation long in advance.

Moses himself, pining in the dreariness of inexplicable delay, was part of the situation. God is great, and His works in providence with men are slow, gradual, and deliberate. There are points where rapidity of action then takes place; but the developments leading to these points are all conducted on natural principles as far as appearances to the human eye are concerned.

Moses at last experienced the truth of this. To the last moment there was nothing distinctly indicative of the tremendous crisis impending. Israel was slowly baking in the furnace of Egyptian affliction, without any man regarding or God taking any notice, as it seemed. The Canaanites, on whom God's vengeance was to be poured by the sword of Israel, were indulging in all their abominations in safety in the midst of a fertile and glorious land, without molestation or fear. The eye ranging over the whole earth could see nothing but ease, carelessness, power on the side of the oppressor, and wickedness established in safety.

The purpose of God was the most invisible thing in the whole situation, and Moses had long ceased to entertain sanguine thoughts on the subject...

Like Moses we are living at the end of a time of Israel's down-treading. Like him, we are looking for a promised divine interposition. Like him we are able to discern providential signs characteristic of the situation; but like him we have been the subjects of delay in our expectations. As in his case, we may see that notwithstanding adverse appearances, God is at work, and we may hope that like him we shall one day, and that soon, be rescued and cheered by the angelic intimation that the moment of open interference has at last arrived.

Ways of Providence Ch 9

Mount Horeb

The "backside" would be towards the west. This was an appropriate place for the tremendous revelation to be given. The pastoral life is both peaceful and elevating, and Moses apparently enjoyed a peace of mind as he meditated upon the things of God.

The lonely desert was well calculated to draw him closer to God. Rawlinson comments,

"All around is stillness. Great bare mountains, scarred and seamed, raise their bald heads

into the azure sky, casting broad shadows at morn and eve over the plains or valleys at the base, at noonday searched and scorched by the almost vertical sun, which penetrates into every recess and spreads everywhere a glare of quivering light,except where some overhanging rock casts a grateful but scanty shade.

The herbage in the valleys and plains is short, but sweet and nourishing. Trees are rare; but low shrubs and bushes, chiefly camel-thorn and acacia, abound; while here and there a clump, or even a grove, of palms afford the eyes a welcome variety."

The wild peaks of the granite mountains are both grand and awe-inspiring. Mount Horeb itself rises suddenly like a huge altar of red granite before a wide plain. It seems as though the area has been reserved of God for the purpose of special Word.

The Christadelphian Expositor

The burning bush - presence of the Elohim

2 And the angel of Yahweh appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.

This was the beginning of the great and mighty work with the house of Israel which has already affected the condition of mankind in the most palpable manner, but the true nature and scope of which will only be generally apprehended when scattered Israel is regathered to Yahweh's land, and all the earth brought under subjection to the sceptre of the Lord Jesus, the prophet like unto Moses, whom they shall hear as predicted, and who will rule all nations gloriously, on the throne of David his father, in the day when that throne, having been re-established, the whole human family will taste for the first time the sweets of true and righteous government, and give praise to Yahweh and His anointed in all the earth.

Visible Hand of God Ch 9

3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.

Remembering Jothan's parable about the fruit trees and the bramble (Judges 9), Jehoash's taunt about the cedar and the thistle (2 Kgs. 14:9), Isaiah's and Ezekiel's use of the tall cedars as mighty nations, the great, wide-spreading Babylonian tree that reached to heaven (Dan. 4), and Jesus' parable of the Kingdom as a minute grain of mustard seed that finally filled the earth -- in the light of these symbols, and others, how fitting is this fire-swept but never destroyed thorn-bush as a manifestation of God's purpose in and through Israel.

As shown on Roman coins, the emperors of Rome -- one of the mightiest tree-kingdoms -- wore a laurel wreath as a badge of their authority, but the King of the thorn-bush kingdom wore a crown of thorns.

Bro Growcott - The serpent and the rod

A Standing Miracle Among the Nations

The Jews.

-The present physical, moral and social condition of the Jews must be a miracle. We can come to no other conclusion.

Had they continued from the commencement of the Christian era down to the present hour in some such national state in which we find the Chinese, walled off from the rest of the human family, and by their selfishness, on a national scale, and their repulsion of alien elements, resisting every assault from without in the shape of hostile invasion, and from an overpowering national pride, forbidding the introduction of new and foreign customs, we should not see so much miracle interwoven with their existence.

But this is not their state: far from it. They are neither a united and independent nation, nor a parasitic province. They are peeled and scattered into fragments; but like broken globules of quicksilver, instinct with a cohesive power, ever claiming affinity and ever ready to amalgamate.

Geography, arms, genius, politics, and foreign help, do not explain their existence; time and climate and customs equally fail to unravel it. None of these are or can be the springs of their perpetuity.

They have been spread over every part of the habitable globe; have lived under the reign of every dynasty; they have shared the protection of just laws, the oppression of cruel ones, and witnessed the rise and progress of both; they have used every tongue, and have lived in every latitude.

The snows of Lapland have chilled and the suns of Africa have scorched them. They have drunk of the Tiber, the Thames, the Jordan, the Mississippi. In every country and in every degree of latitude and longitude, we find a Jew. It is not so with any other race.

Empires the most illustrious have fallen, and buried the men that constructed them; but the Jew has lived among the ruins, a living monument of indestructibility. Persecution has unsheathed the sword and lighted the faggot; papal superstition and Moslem barbarism have smote them with unsparing ferocity; penal rescripts and deep prejudice have visited on them most unrighteous chastisement; and, notwithstanding all, they survive.

Like their own bush on Mount Horeb, Israel has continued in the flames, but unconsumed. They are the aristocracy of Scripture, reft of coronets-princes in degradation.

A Babylonian, a Theban, a Spartan, an Athenian, a Roman, are names known in history only: their shadows alone haunt the world and flicker on its tablets. A Jew walks every street, dwells in every capital, traverses every exchange, and relieves the monotony of the nations of the earth. The race has inherited the heirloom of immortality, incapable of extinction or amalgamation.

... The Jewish race, at this day, is, perhaps, the most striking seal of the truth of the sacred oracles. There is no possibility of accounting for their perpetual isolations, their depressed but distinct being, on any grounds, save those revealed in the records of truth.-

Fraser's Magazine.

The Christadelphian, Dec 1872

4 And when Yahweh saw that he turned aside to see, Elohim called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.

The wrapping of a bush in flame that did not consume it, was a miracle, but not what is popularly understood by a miracle. It was not a violation or setting aside of nature.

 It was simply a supplementing of nature, an intelligent application of nature's powers, with a view to produce an unusual phenomenon: not more difficult to produce than the ordinary phenomenon of combustion, but requiring a specific discrimination as to the working of the elements to prevent combustion extending, as when a scientific professor, lecturing to a chemistry class, does the same thing in freezing water, or making it burn, or wrapping a substance in flame that does not consume it.

The only difference lay in the superior power of the angelic operator (for it was an angel that appeared in the transaction; see Exodus 3: 2)-an operator who could manipulate the elements by a volition which vitally controlled them, instead of having to resort to clumsy apparatus that produced but a very limited result on purely mechanical principles.

The object was to arrest the attention of Moses, and to arrest it in a way that would show him that God was working by the hand of an angel. This result was effectually accomplished. Moses turned aside to find out the meaning of this flaming mystery on the mountain side. He had approached near to the object of his curiosity, when from the midst of the bush he was called by name. Responding to the call, his eyes beheld another marvel.

"The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of the bush."

Flame does not act on spirit-substance such as the angels are made of (for "He maketh his angels spirits"- Hebrews 1: 7). Therefore an angel can, when circumstances call for it, appear in the midst of a flame without inconvenience, as in this case; or ascend in a flame of fire, as in the case of Manoah's visitor (Judges 13: 19-20), or walk in the midst of a seven-times-heated fiery furnace, as on the plain of Dura, in the time of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 3: 24-25) when, in addition to the marvel of an angelic living form appearing in all composure in the white heat of a glowing furnace, three men cast into the same furnace were so mantled by the protective action of the Spirit of God as to be enabled to bear themselves in the same apparently dreadful situation, without so much as the singeing of a hair or the smell of fire passing on their clothes.

Visible Hand of God Ch 10

7 And Yahweh said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;

Having thus secured the attention of Moses, and made him sensible of the august presence in which Moses now stood, the angel manifesting Yahweh proceeded to inform him that he had visited the earth for the purpose of effecting that deliverance of Israel, which had long been promised, but of which Moses himself had begun to despair.

Yahweh to deliver Israel - Moses to bring forth the people

8 And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

The object of the message was not merely to announce a piece of good news in the abstract, but to take a step towards its accomplishment; like the gospel - the glad tidings of the kingdom of God, which is not merely the announcement of God's good purpose, but a call for people to become the Lord's instruments at last in setting up the kingdom.

11 And Moses said unto Elohim, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?

Moses being thus called of God, was first sent to the elders of Israel to make proclamation to them of the good of deliverance from Egypt, and of national independence in the land promised to their fathers. Moses was not only called and sent, but he was also equipped for the work; and prepared to prove that he was YAHWEH'S ambassador to them and Pharoah.

The Lord knew how incredulous they would reasonably be of the validity of Moses' pretensions to the high office of His plenipotentiary. They had refused Moses forty years before when he was in favour at the court of Egypt; it was not likely, therefore, that they would accept him as a returned exile.

Hence, something more was wanting than Moses' bare assertion that he was the ambassador of God. He was, therefore, endued with divine power by the exercise of which his claim to their acceptance might be attested.

Elpis Israel 2.4.

12 And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve Elohim upon this mountain.

Moses, as a man of practical experience, must have realised the stupendous difficulties in the way of such an enterprise. We, who live so long after the time, see how easily stupendous difficulties disappear in the presence of divine power; but Moses had no such example before his eyes.

He knew the power of Pharaoh; he knew the helplessness of Israel, as a race of bondsmen; he knew the lack of leadership and organization among them, and the absence of every element from the situation that would make an attempted liberation humanly feasible. It is indicative of the artless truthfulness of the narrative that Moses should be represented as recoiling from the proposed mission of liberation.

The answer to his scruples was what the case called for:

"I will certainly be with thee."

This was enough for Moses himself. He knew-nay, he has evidence before his eyes, that God was speaking to him; and for God to assure him of cooperation was all that was needed to dissipate the uncertainty he felt in his own capacity for the work.

Ways of Providence Ch 9

13 And Moses said unto Elohim, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The Elohim of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?

The Memorial Name declared

14 And Elohim said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

... This was a startling declaration for a fugitive from Egyptian vengeance, and a Midianitish shepherd, to make to a whole people. I am "called and sent" of Him, Who is the God of the living, and hath appeared unto me, to inform you that He hath come down to deliver you by my hand from your grievous bondage in this country of the Nile.

Elpis Israel 2.4.

14 God [Elohim] said to Moshe [Moses], "Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh [I am/will be what I am/will be]," and added, "Here is what to say to the people of Isra'el: 'Ehyeh [I Am or I Will Be] has sent me to you.'"

15 God said further to Moshe, "Say this to the people of Isra'el: 'Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh [Adonai], the God of your fathers, the God of Avraham, the God of Yitz'chak and the God of Ya'akov, has sent me to you.' This is my name forever; this is how I am to be remembered generation after generation.

This translation 'The Common Jewish Bible' vindicates Bro Thomas' translation of Ehyeh Asher Ehyer. It also demonstrates the superstious attitude of the Jews in avoiding the name Yahweh in favour of Adonai.

Hence, the Eternal Spirit, in imposing upon himself a name, selected a word which should point toward this wonderful future manifestation of spirit. There had been previous manifestations of spirit, and the then already-existent Elohim were its fruit. But now a new manifestation was pre-determined -- a manifestation of Elohim, or Sons of God, out of human flesh and spirit.

With reference to this, "Elohim said to Moses," i.e., they who delivered the words of the spirit, the Eternal Spirit sent them to say for Him, "I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE: tell Israel I WILL BE has sent me, Moses, unto you. I WILL BE, the Mighty Ones of your fathers, the Mighty Ones of Abraham, the Mighty Ones of Isaac, and the Mighty Ones of Jacob: that is MY NAME for an Olahm (Aion or Millennium) and this MY MEMORIAL for a generation of the race" (Exod. 3:14, 15).

The memorial, in its simplest form, is ehyeh asher ehyeh, "l will be who I will be." Asher, "who," the relative pronoun in this memorial, is both singular and plural, masculine and feminine.

It will, therefore, stand for "ten thousand times ten thousand," as well as for two or three persons. The other two words of the memorial are the first person singular, future tense of the verb hahyah, "to be." In this memorial the Eternal Spirit is the "I", and the Elohim of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, are the "who," of whom it is memorialized they "shall be." The reader will observe that it is not "I will be who tihyenah, they shall be"; but "who I will be"; for although "who" refers to a plurality, that plurality, when developed, is but the manifestation of the One Eternal Spirit.

When this Spirit-manifestation is developed, it contains the name for an Olahm. The word olahm signifies anything hidden. The name is, for a period, still hidden in the future: and, therefore, without defining the length of the period, termed simply olahm, hidden. The name is multitudinous, embracing "ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands" (Dan. 7:10; Rev. 5:11), at the head of whom is He who is "altogether lovely" (Cant. 5:16); nevertheless, all One Spirit out of whom, and for whom "they are manifested."

In this manifestation to Moses, God revealed the eternal, memorial, covenant Name -- I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE -- the multitudinous purpose.

Bro Growcott - The serpent and the rod


Let our Jewish readers make a note of this, that the Memorial Name exhibited in Moses' writing, is not simply a word of four letters given to an abstraction for a name, as men give names to their children; but a name memorial of a future manifestation of the Eternal Spirit; which manifestation will not be of One through One Only; but of One in and through ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands: that the name covers them all; and that consequently, the thousands of thousands are but "One Yahweh."

This was precisely the relation of things before the formation of the Adams, first and second. Before Adam the first, there were thousands of Elohim, yet only one Eternal Spirit. The Name of those thousands was not Ehyeh, or Shall be"; but, as implied elsewhere, Howeh we-Hahyah, "He is and He was" --the One Eternal Spirit in plural manifestation, by which, as a whole, the earth was "created and made." And at the birth of the second Adam, "He is and He was," as manifested in the "multitude of the Heavenly Host," was praised in having glory ascribed to Him in the highest heavens (Luke 2:13, 14).

In regard to a name being representative of a multitude, we may refer the reader to the fact that the name of Ehyeh is even now comprehensive of all the saints living and dead; for everyone who believes the promises and the things concerning Jesus; and is immersed into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is "in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Anointed" (1 Thess. 1:1), and Christ is in Him by faith (Eph. 3:17). He is thus "in the Name" which is named upon him, and of the Elohim elect, "waiting for the adoption or redemption of the body," which results in "the manifestation of the sons of God," at the Olahm, for which they are prepared.

It has been well observed by some one whose name escapes me, that "there exists in the universe only One Generic Spiritual substance, the Sole Primary Cause, efficient, formative, and substantial, of all secondary causes, and of all appearances whatever, but indued in its highest degree with a supreme providential wisdom, and proceeding by ways incomprehensible to the spirits which emanate from it, apart from revelation."

This is perfectly Scriptural, and therefore in harmony with the teaching of Moses and the prophets, among whom are included Jesus and the apostles.

Phanerosis - The Memorial Name

You cannot induce a superstitious Jew, be he Rav or amhaaretz, to utter the name Yahweh. It is like attempting to drive a pig along a single plank over a ditch, to get him to do it; when you have coaxed him to the edge, and think he is just about to step upon it, he dodges, and scampering off to an opposite point, squeaks out Adonai!

But the idea of the word gods being obnoxious to Jews pretending to be Hebrew critics, is exceedingly ridiculous. The Eternal Spirit did not say to Moses at the Bush, "My name is God." Nor did Abraham know him by the name of God, but by AIL-shaddai.

God or gods are not Hebrew words; but words merely of a language that had no existence when the Spirit uttered oracles through the prophets and apostles. They are of that class of "words that man's wisdom teacheth;" and in which he does not condescend to speak—1 Cor. 2:13. God is a contraction for good; and gods for goods, or good ones; and, etymologically, do not express the signification of Ail, Elohim, or Eloah.

Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Apr 1861