And the LORD said to Aaron, Go into the wilderness to meet Moses. And he went, and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Go into the wilderness.-Either the directions given to Aaron were more definite than this, or they were supplemented by Divine guidance. He went and met Moses on “the mount of God,” i.e., in the Sinaitic region. Without Divine guidance, he would naturally have sought him in Midian.Exodus 4:27-28. He met him in the mount of God — Almost as soon as he had set out. For while Moses had met with many delays, through his family, Aaron had made great haste. And, no doubt, his coming was a great encouragement to Moses. Moses told Aaron all — Those that are fellow- servants to God, in the same work, should use a mutual freedom, and endeavour rightly and fully to understand one another.
Moses sent Zipporah and her children back to Jethro before he went to Egypt, Exodus 18:2. The journey would have been delayed had he waited for the healing of the child.1 Samuel 2:27.
go into the wilderness to meet Moses; in the wilderness of Arabia, through which Moses was to pass into Egypt, and who was now set out on his journey thitherward:
and he went; immediately, being obedient to the heavenly vision: and met him in the mount of God; in Horeb, where the Lord had appeared to Moses, and therefore called the mount of God, and where afterwards the law was given, and the covenant made with the people of Israel; and so the Targum of Jonathan paraphrases it,"in the mount on which the glory of God was revealed:"
and kissed him: as relations and intimate friends used to do at meeting or parting, to testify affection and respect; and Aaron must on all accounts be glad to meet Moses, both as he was his brother, whom he had not seen for many years, and as he was come to be a deliverer of the people of Israel. And it is observed, that it was but two days' journey from the land of Midian, where Jethro lived, from whence Moses set out; and that a common traveller cannot conveniently make the journey from Ramesses, or Grand Cairo (from whence it may be supposed Aaron set out), to Mount Horeb, in less than a fortnight, though he be carried on the back of a camel (g); and yet Aaron reached this place by the time that Moses did, which shows that either he delayed setting out on his journey, or was detained long at the inn on the road, on account of what happened there.And the LORD said to Aaron, Go into the wilderness to meet Moses. And he went, and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)27. Aaron (cf. v. 14) coming from Egypt by Divine command to it Moses, finds him in the ‘mountain of God,’ Horeb (Exodus 3:1). The verse is the continuation of vv. 17, 18, 20b. The ‘wilderness’ meant may be either the one beyond Horeb (Exodus 3:1), or the wilderness between Horeb and Egypt.
27–31. Moses and Aaron together communicate their commission to the people in Egypt, and are readily believed by them.Verses 27, 28. - The scene suddenly shifts. Moses is left in the wilderness to recover his strength and make such arrangements with respect to his wife and children as he thinks best under the circumstances. We are carried away to Egypt and introduced to Aaron, Moses' elder brother, of whom we have only heard previously that he could "speak well," and was to assist Moses as spokesman in his enterprise (Exodus 4:14-16). We now find God revealing himself to Aaron also, and directing his movements, as he had those of Moses. Aaron had perhaps already formed the design of visiting his brother (see ver. 14), and would have sought him in Midian but for the direction now given him. That direction was probably more definite than is expressed in the text, and enabled him to set forth confidently, without the fear of missing his brother. At any rate, under God's guidance he went and met him in the Sinaitic district. The joy of meeting is briefly described in the single phrase "he kissed him." The meeting was followed by a full explanation, on the part of Moses, both of the nature of his own mission and of the part which Aaron was to take in it. Verse 27. - Go into the wilderness. It is scarcely possible that this can have been the whole of the direction given, since the wilderness extended from the shores of the Mediterranean to the extreme point of the Sinaitic peninsula. The sacred writers study brevity, and leave much to be supplied by the common-sense of the reader. He went and met him in the mount of God. Compare above, Exodus 3:1, which shows that Horeb is meant. Horeb seems to have been the name for the entire mountain region, of which Sinai was a part. Kissed him. So Esau kissed Jacob after their long separation (Genesis 33:4), and Joseph, Benjamin and his other brethren (Genesis 45:14, 15). In the East men are more demonstrative than with us. Aaron's kiss showed the gladness that was in his heart (supra, ver. 14). Deuteronomy 4:34; Deuteronomy 6:22; Deuteronomy 7:19, etc.), and embraces the idea of אות within itself, i.e., wonder-sign. The expression, "all those wonders," does not refer merely to the three signs mentioned in Exodus 4:2-9, but to all the miracles which were to be performed by Moses with the staff in the presence of Pharaoh, and which, though not named, were put into his hand potentially along with the staff. - But all the miracles would not induce Pharaoh to let Israel go, for Jehovah would harden his heart. את־לבּו אחזּק אני, lit., I will make his heart firm, so that it will not move, his feelings and attitude towards Israel will not change. For אחזּק אני or וחזּקתּי (Exodus 14:4) and מחזּק אני (Exodus 14:17), we find אקשׁה אני in Exodus 7:3, "I will make Pharaoh's heart hard, or unfeeling;" and in Exodus 10:1, הכבּדתּי אני "I have made his heart heavy," i.e., obtuse, or insensible to impressions or divine influences. These three words are expressive of the hardening of the heart.
The hardening of Pharaoh is ascribed to God, not only in the passages just quoted, but also in Exodus 9:12; Exodus 10:20, Exodus 10:27; Exodus 11:10; Exodus 14:8; that is to say, ten times in all; and that not merely as foreknown or foretold by Jehovah, but as caused and effected by Him. In the last five passages it is invariably stated that "Jehovah hardened (יהזּק) Pharaoh's heart." But it is also stated just as often, viz., ten times, that Pharaoh hardened his own heart, or made it heavy or firm; e.g., in Exodus 7:13, Exodus 7:22; Exodus 8:15; Exodus 9:35, לב ויּחזק "and Pharaoh's heart was (or became) hard;" Exodus 7:14, לב כּבד "Pharaoh's heart was heavy;" in Exodus 9:7, ל יכבּד; in Exodus 8:11, Exodus 8:28; Exodus 9:34, את־לבּו ויּכבּד or והכבּד; in Exodus 13:15, פ הקשׁה כּי "for Pharaoh made his heart hard." According to this, the hardening of Pharaoh was quite as much his own act as the decree of God. But if, in order to determine the precise relation of the divine to the human causality, we look more carefully at the two classes of expressions, we shall find that not only in connection with the first sign, by which Moses and Aaron were to show their credentials as the messengers of Jehovah, sent with the demand that he would let the people of Israel go (Exodus 7:13-14), but after the first five penal miracles, the hardening is invariably represented as his own. After every one of these miracles, it is stated that Pharaoh's heart was firm, or dull, i.e., insensible to the voice of God, and unaffected by the miracles performed before his eyes, and the judgments of God suspended over him and his kingdom, and he did not listen to them (to Moses and Aaron with their demand), or let the people go (Exodus 7:22; Exodus 8:8, Exodus 8:15, Exodus 8:28; Exodus 9:7). It is not till after the sixth plague that it is stated that Jehovah made the heart of Pharaoh firm (Exodus 9:12). At the seventh the statement is repeated, that "Pharaoh made his heart heavy" (Exodus 9:34-35); but the continued refusal on the part of Pharaoh after the eighth and ninth (Exodus 10:20, Exodus 10:27) and his resolution to follow the Israelites and bring them back again, are attributed to the hardening of his heart by Jehovah (Exodus 14:8, cf. Exodus 14:4 and Exodus 14:17). This hardening of his own heart was manifested first of all in the fact, that he paid not attention to the demand of Jehovah addressed to him through Moses, and would not let Israel go; and that not only at the commencement, so long as the Egyptian magicians imitated the signs performed by Moses and Aaron (though at the very first sign the rods of the magicians, when turned into serpents, were swallowed by Aaron's, Exodus 7:12-13), but even when the magicians themselves acknowledged, "This is the finger of God" (Exodus 8:19). It was also continued after the fourth and fifth plagues, when a distinction was made between the Egyptians and the Israelites, and the latter were exempted from the plagues, - a fact of which the king took care to convince himself (Exodus 9:7). And it was exhibited still further in his breaking his promise, that he would let Israel go if Moses and Aaron would obtain from Jehovah the removal of the plague, and in the fact, that even after he had been obliged to confess, "I have sinned, Jehovah is the righteous one, I and my people are unrighteous" (Exodus 9:27), he sinned again, as soon as breathing-time was given him, and would not let the people go (Exodus 9:34-35). Thus Pharaoh would not bend his self-will to the will of God, even after he had discerned the finger of God and the omnipotence of Jehovah in the plagues suspended over him and his nation; he would not withdraw his haughty refusal, notwithstanding the fact that he was obliged to acknowledge that it was sin against Jehovah. Looked at from this side, the hardening was a fruit of sin, a consequence of that self-will, high-mindedness, and pride which flow from sin, and a continuous and ever increasing abuse of that freedom of the will which is innate in man, and which involves the possibility of obstinate resistance to the word and chastisement of God even until death. As the freedom of the will has its fixed limits in the unconditional dependence of the creature upon the Creator, so the sinner may resist the will of God as long as he lives. But such resistance plunges him into destruction, and is followed inevitably by death and damnation. God never allows any man to scoff at Him. Whoever will not suffer himself to be led, by the kindness and earnestness of the divine admonitions, to repentance and humble submission to the will of God, must inevitably perish, and by his destruction subserve the glory of God, and the manifestation of the holiness, righteousness, and omnipotence of Jehovah.
But God not only permits a man to harden himself; He also produces obduracy, and suspends this sentence over the impenitent. Not as though God took pleasure in the death of the wicked! No; God desires that the wicked should repent of his evil way and live (Ezekiel 33:11); and He desires this most earnestly, for "He will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4, cf. 2 Peter 3:9). As God causes His earthly sun to rise upon the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45), so He causes His sun of grace to shine upon all sinners, to lead them to life and salvation. But as the earthly sun produces different effects upon the earth, according to the nature of the soil upon which it shines, so the influence of the divine sun of grace manifests itself in different ways upon the human heart, according to its moral condition.
(Note: "The sun, by the force of its heat, moistens the wax and dries the clay, softening the one and hardening the other; and as this produces opposite effects by the same power, so, through the long-suffering of God, which reaches to all, some receive good and others evil, some are softened and others hardened." - (Theodoret, quaest. 12 in Ex.))
The penitent permit the proofs of divine goodness and grace to lead them to repentance and salvation; but the impenitent harden themselves more and more against the grace of God, and so become ripe for the judgment of damnation. The very same manifestation of the mercy of God leads in the case of the one to salvation and life, and in that of the other to judgment and death, because he hardens himself against that mercy. In this increasing hardness on the part of the impenitent sinner against the mercy that is manifested towards him, there is accomplished the judgment of reprobation, first in God's furnishing the wicked with an opportunity of bringing fully to light the evil inclinations, desires, and thoughts that are in their hearts; and then, according to an invariable law of the moral government of the world, in His rendering the return of the impenitent sinner more and more difficult on account of his continued resistance, and eventually rendering it altogether impossible. It is the curse of sin, that it renders the hard heart harder, and less susceptible to the gracious manifestations of divine love, long-suffering, and patience. In this twofold manner God produces hardness, not only permissive but effective; i.e., not only by giving time and space for the manifestation of human opposition, even to the utmost limits of creaturely freedom, but still more by those continued manifestations of His will which drive the hard heart to such utter obduracy that it is no longer capable of returning, and so giving over the hardened sinner to the judgment of damnation. This is what we find in the case of Pharaoh. After he had hardened his heart against the revealed will of God during the first five plagues, the hardening commenced on the part of Jehovah with the sixth miracle (Exodus 9:12), when the omnipotence of God was displayed with such energy that even the Egyptian magicians were covered with the boils, and could no longer stand before Moses (Exodus 9:11). And yet, even after this hardening on the part of God, another opportunity was given to the wicked king to repent and change his mind, so that on two other occasions he acknowledged that his resistance was sin, and promised to submit to the will of Jehovah (Exodus 9:27., Exodus 10:16.). But when at length, even after the seventh plague, he broke his promise to let Israel go, and hardened his heart again as soon as the plague was removed (Exodus 9:34-35), Jehovah so hardened Pharaoh's heart that he not only did not let Israel go, but threatened Moses with death if he ever came into his presence again (Exodus 10:20, Exodus 10:27-28). The hardening was now completed so that he necessarily fell a victim to judgment; though the very first stroke of judgment in the slaying of the first-born was an admonition to consider and return. And it was not till after he had rejected the mercy displayed in this judgment, and manifested a defiant spirit once more, in spite of the words with which he had given Moses and Aaron permission to depart, "Go, and bless me also" (Exodus 12:31-32), that God completely hardened his heart, so that he pursued the Israelites with an army, and was overtaken by the judgment of utter destruction.
Now, although the hardening of Pharaoh on the part of Jehovah was only the complement of Pharaoh's hardening of his own heart, in the verse before us the former aspect alone is presented, because the principal object was not only to prepare Moses for the opposition which he would meet with from Pharaoh, but also to strengthen his weak faith, and remove at the very outset every cause for questioning and omnipotence of Jehovah. If it was by Jehovah Himself that Pharaoh was hardened, this hardening, which He not only foresaw and predicted by virtue of His omniscience, but produced and inflicted through His omnipotence, could not possibly hinder the performance of His will concerning Israel, but must rather contribute to the realization of His purposes of salvation and the manifestation of His glory (cf. Exodus 9:16; Exodus 10:2; Exodus 14:4, Exodus 14:17-18).
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