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forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand : That they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee.
“ And the Lord said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom : and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow. And he said, Put thy hand into thy bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again ; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his other flesh. And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign. And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe also these two signs, neither hearken to thy voice, that thou shalt take of the water of the river, and pour it upon the dry land : and the water which thou takest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land.
“ And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind ? have not I the Lord ? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say. And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee : and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart. And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth : and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do. And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people : and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God. And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs.
“And Moses went and returned to Jethro his father-in-law, and said unto him, Let me go, I pray thee, and return unto my brethren which are in Egypt, and see whether they be yet alive. And Jethro said to Moses, Go in peace. And the Lord said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt : for all the men are dead which sought thy life. And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt : and Moses took the rod of God in his hand. And the Lord said unto Moses, When thou goest to re
turn into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand : but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go. And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn. And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.” Exod. iv. 1—23.
The time for the deliverance has come at length. The leader is prepared by long discipline for his arduous office, and the people that are to follow him now cry unto God. Forty years before, they had denounced Moses unto Pharaoh when he smote one of their oppressors. In Egypt also, all who in the remotest degree had favoured Israel are dead, and a heartless profligate and cruel tyrant wields the thong of the taskmaster. All was ready. Then, and not till then, God will work. Our impatient struggles and cries avail nothing with him while our sorrows are working for our benefit : that once accomplished, and the fiercest efforts of our enemies cannot for a single moment delay our deliverance.
THE PLAGUES OF EGYPT.
“ AND the Lord said unto Aaron, Go into the wilderness to meet Moses. And he went, and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him.
“And Moses told Aaron all the words of the Lord who had sent him, and all the signs which he had commanded him.” Exod. iv. 27, 28.
The tribe of Levi is now no longer in the low estate in which the narrative of the birth of Moses displayed it. His adoption by queen Thouoris, and the appointment of his mother to nurse him as one of the sons of Pharaoh, were distinctions which would not fail to be accompanied with large accessions both of influence and wealth. This would give to Amram and the rest of the elders of Levi the means of protecting the small remnant of their tribe from the tyranny of the Egyptian officers, so as to restore them in some measure to their place among their brethren. Aaron the head and firstborn of Levi, is now a prince in Egypt. He leaves the boundaries of the kingdom, he goes into the presence of Pharaoh at his pleasure. He could have done neither had he not been of high rank.
The brothers met in Mount Sinai. They will meet there hereafter. They returned to Egypt together; each as a prince in his own right; for the death of Pharaoh Siphtha took off his proscription of Moses if it had ever been issued. Such was the law of Egypt.*
It had been in humble guise that Moses set out from Midian. (See verse 20.) But he went forth at God's command, and he bore God's commission : and “ them that honour Him, He will honour.”
“ And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel. And Aaron spake all the words which the Lord had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people. And the people believed : and when they heard that the Lord had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their afflictions, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.” Exodus iv. 29–31.
Thirty-seven years before, Moses“ supposed that his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them, but they under
* Rosetta Inscription, Greek lines 12–14.