King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Exodus 3

God appears to Moses in a burning bush. (1-6) God sends Moses to deliver Israel. (7-10) The name Jehovah. (11-15) The deliverance of the Israelites promised. (16-22)

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God appears to Moses in a burning bush

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 God, even to Horeb.

2 And the angel of the LORD 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.

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

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

5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.

6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.

God sends Moses to deliver Israel

7 And the LORD 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;

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.

9 Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.

10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.

The name Jehovah

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

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 God upon this mountain.

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

14 And God 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.

15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, the LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.

The deliverance of the Israelites promised

16 Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt:

17 And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey.

18 And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.

19 And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand.

20 And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go.

21 And I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty.

22 But every woman shall borrow of her neighbour, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Fed for the space of forty years. During which time, he composed the books of Genesis and Job, for the consolation of his countrymen; (M.) though others believe he wrote all the Pentateuch in the desert. Theodor. &c. — Of God, on account of its height; or on account of God’s appearing to Moses. — Horeb is so close to Mount Sinai, that the shadow of the latter reaches it when the sun rises. It is watered with three springs; and the summit is adorned with fruit trees. C.

Ver. 2. The Lord appeared. That is, and angel representing God, and speaking in his name. Ch. Acts vii. 30. Gal. iii. 19. — The apparitions of God to the patriarchs are generally understood in this sense. S. Aug. de Trin. iii. 11. W. — Yet many of the Fathers suppose, that this angel was no other than the Son of God, the angel of the great council. (Mal. iii. 1,) and S. Aug. (q. 2, in Ex.) does not disapprove of this opinion. C. — Not burnt. Thus the Hebrews were afflicted, but not destroyed. M. — God is styled a consuming fire. Deut. iv. 24. He appeared in fire again. C. xxiv. 17. C.

Ver. 5. Shoes. Juvenal, sat. 6, takes notice of this custom. Observant ubi festa mero pede sabbata reges. D. — The Ethiopian Christians and the Turks never enter their churches, or mosques, without putting off their shoes. The priests did the like when they entered the temple of Jerusalem, and God ordered them moreover to wash their feet and hands. Ex. xxx. 19. C. — We observe the same ceremony, out of respect for Jesus Christ, when we go to kiss the cross. Pythagoras said, “Offer sacrifice and adoration barefoot.” Jamblic. 24. On such occasions, we ought to have our hearts disengaged from the world. H. See Lev. ii. 25.

Ver. 6. Hid, out of respect, and perhaps fearing lest he should die. Gen. xvi. 13. C. — God takes the title of these three patriarchs, because he had promised Chanaan to each of them, and because they were eminent for virtue. God is repeated thrice, to insinuate the mystery of the blessed Trinity, and to shew that the Lord watches over each individual, as if that one alone existed. M.

Ver. 8. Spacious, compared with that of Gessen. Chanaan was not above 210 miles long, and 70 broad. Brocard. S. Jerom does not allow so much. Hecateus says that the Jews had three million acres of excellent land. — Milk and honey are still very plentiful in Palestine, (C.) though the country has lost much of its ancient beauty and luxuriance, for want of cultivation. The Sam. and Sept. number the Gergesites among the rest of the Chanaanites.

Ver. 12. A sign. Moses had modestly represented his own inability to perform so great a work, and such God generally selects. He encourages them therefore with a sign, to the splendour of which he was then a witness; and with another, which should appear in future, to convince him and all the world, that the undertaking was from God, when they should see him offering sacrifice in that place, out of the reach of Pharao. C. xxiv. 3. Thus a future event is assigned to Achaz and Ezechias, as a sign of something that was to happen first. Is. vii. 4 K. xix. 29. Perhaps the sign here appointed is the presence of God enabling Moses to work miracles. M.

Ver. 13. His name. Many of them had embraced idolatry, and had forgotten God. Moses very properly begs to have his extraordinary mission sanctioned by miracles, without which he might well have been rejected, as heretics are. H.

Ver. 14. I am who am. That is, I am being itself, eternal, self-existent, independent, infinite; without beginning, end, or change; and the source of all other beings. Ch. — Heb. agrees with the Vulg. though it seems to read aeje, “I shall be,” &c. A. Lapide, &c. — No name can fully explain the divine perfections. As God is alone, he stands in need of no distinctive appellation, as Lactantius, and even the pagans have confessed. Orig. c. Cels. vi. C. — All other beings are just nothing, compared with God. He alone is self-existent and infinitely perfect. W.

Ver. 15. Memorial. By this title he is still known among Christians. M. — Hitherto God had generally been called Elohim. But now he assumes the incommunicable name (T.) consisting of four vowels, Jod, He, Vau, He, Jehovah, the essence, or OON, a word which the Greek Scriptures leave undeclined, to denote the unchangeable nature of the Deity. The word has been pronounced Jehovah by the moderns, and by the ancients Jevo, Jao, Jave, &c. H.

Ver. 16. Ancients. Perhaps there might be 72 magistrates already among the Hebrews, as there were afterwards in the desert (Grotius); or more probably they were only the chiefs of families, and leading men among their brethren, though without any public authority derived from the king of Egypt. — Visiting. So Joseph had foretold, Gen. l. 23. God examines before he punishes, Gen. xviii. 21. C.

Ver. 18. Called. Sam. and Sept. “hath been invoked upon us.” Heb. “hath occurred, or appeared to us.” H. — Journey, to Sinai, which was about this distance, to go straight. But the Israelites spent 48 days in arriving at it by a circuitous road. C. — In Heb. they ask, “Let us go, we beseech thee.” They do not tell a lie, but withhold the truth. M.

Ver. 21. Egyptians, among whom the Hebrews were forced to live, not being now allowed to enjoy the fertile country of Gessen alone, according to Joseph’s disposition. The subsequent kings altered that wise regulation. H.

Ver. 22. Shall spoil, &c. That is, you shall strip, and take away the goods of the Egyptians. This was not authorizing theft or injustice: but was a just disposal made by him, who is the great Lord and Master of all things; in order to pay the children of Israel some part of what was due to them from the Egyptians for their labours. Ch. — Wisdom (x. 17) rendered to the just the wages of their labours; and (v. 19,) the just took the spoils of the wicked, in a just war. It is an ancient tradition of the Jews, that the Egyptians appealed to Alexander the Great for the recovery of these spoils; but when the Jews demanded their wages, they were willing to desist from their claims. Selden, de Ture vii. 8. Tert. c. Marcion ii. 20. C. — God had a mind to punish the extravagance of the Egyptians, while he enabled his people to appear with suitable presents before him. It was on this last plea that the Hebrews borrowed precious garments, gold, &c. H. See Clem. strom. 1. S. Aug. q. 23.