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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 3


1 Meanwhile Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian. Leading the flock across the desert, he came to Horeb, the mountain of God.


2 There an angel of the LORD appeared to him in fire flaming out of a bush. As he looked on, he was surprised to see that the bush, though on fire, was not consumed.


So Moses decided, "I must go over to look at this remarkable sight, and see why the bush is not burned."


When the LORD saw him coming over to look at it more closely, God called out to him from the bush, "Moses! Moses!" He answered, "Here I am."


God said, "Come no nearer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.


3 I am the God of your father," he continued, "the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob." Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.


But the LORD said, "I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt and have heard their cry of complaint against their slave drivers, so I know well what they are suffering.


4 Therefore I have come down to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians and lead them out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey, the country of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.


So indeed the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have truly noted that the Egyptians are oppressing them.


Come, now! I will send you to Pharaoh to lead my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt."


5 But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and lead the Israelites out of Egypt?"


He answered, "I will be with you; and this shall be your proof that it is I who have sent you: when you bring my people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this very mountain."


"But," said Moses to God, "when I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' if they ask me, 'What is his name?' what am I to tell them?"


6 God replied, "I am who am." Then he added, "This is what you shall tell the Israelites: I AM sent me to you."


God spoke further to Moses, "Thus shall you say to the Israelites: The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. "This is my name forever; this is my title for all generations.


7 "Go and assemble the elders of the Israelites, and tell them: The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has appeared to me and said: I am concerned about you and about the way you are being treated in Egypt;


so I have decided to lead you up out of the misery of Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.


"Thus they will heed your message. Then you and the elders of Israel shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him: The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has sent us word. Permit us, then, to go a three days' journey in the desert, that we may offer sacrifice to the LORD, our God.


"Yet I know that the king of Egypt will not allow you to go unless he is forced.


I will stretch out my hand, therefore, and smite Egypt by doing all kinds of wondrous deeds there. After that he will send you away.


I will even make the Egyptians so well-disposed toward this people that, when you leave, you will not go empty-handed.


8 Every woman shall ask her neighbor and her house guest for silver and gold articles and for clothing to put on your sons and daughters. Thus you will despoil the Egyptians."



1 [1] The mountain of God: probably given this designation because of the divine apparitions which took place there, such as on this occasion and when the Israelites were there after the departure from Egypt.

2 [2] An angel of the LORD: the visual form under which God appeared and spoke to men is referred to indifferently in some Old Testament texts either as God's angel or as God himself. Cf Genesis 16:7, 13; Exodus 14:19, 24, 25; Numbers 22:22-35; Jdgs 6,11-18.

3 [6] The appearance of God caused fear of death, since it was believed that no one could see God and live; cf Genesis 32:30. The God of Abraham . . . Jacob: cited by Christ in proof of the resurrection since the patriarchs, long dead, live on in God who is the God of the living. Cf Matthew 22:32; Mark 12:26; Luke 20:37.

4 [8] I have come down: a figure of speech signifying an extraordinary divine intervention in human affairs. Cf Genesis 11:5, 7. Flowing with milk and honey: an expression denoting agricultural prosperity, which seems to have been proverbial in its application to Palestine. Cf 13:5; Numbers 13:27; Joshua 5:6; Jeremiah 11:5; 32:22; Ezekiel 20:6, 15.

5 [11] Who am I: besides naturally shrinking from such a tremendous undertaking, Moses realized that, as a fugitive from Pharaoh, he could hardly hope to carry out a mission to him. Perhaps he also recalled that on one occasion even his own kinsmen questioned his authority. Cf Exodus 2:14.

6 [14] I am who am: apparently this utterance is the source of the word Yahweh, the proper personal name of the God of Israel. It is commonly explained in reference to God as the absolute and necessary Being. It may be understood of God as the Source of all created beings. Out of reverence for this name, the term Adonai, "my Lord," was later used as a substitute. The word LORD in the present version represents this traditional usage. The word "Jehovah" arose from a false reading of this name as it is written in the current Hebrew text.

7 [16] Elders: the Israelite leaders, who were usually older men. They were representatives of the people.

8 [22] Articles: probably jewelry. Despoil: this was permissible, that the Israelites might compensate themselves for their many years of servitude; besides, the Egyptians would give these things willingly. Cf Exodus 12:33-36.

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