Exodus 4:6
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.
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(6) His hand was leprous as snow.—The worst form of leprosy was called by the Greeks λεύκη, “the white disease.” When it is fully developed, the whole skin appears glossy white, and every hair is “white like wool” (Celsus, De Re Medica, v. 28, § 12). This form is said to be absolutely incurable. It was probably from the fact of Moses exhibiting a leprous hand that the Egyptians called the Israelites “the lepers,” as related by Manetho (ap. Joseph. contra Ap. i. 26), Chæremon (ibid., i. 32), and others.

4:1-9 Moses objects, that the people would not take his word, unless he showed them some sign. God gives him power to work miracles. But those who are now employed to deliver God's messages to men, need not the power to work miracles: their character and their doctrines are to be tried by that word of God to which they appeal. These miracles especially referred to the miracles of the Lord Jesus Christ. It belonged to Him only, to cast the power of the devil out of the soul, and to heal the soul of the leprosy of sin; and so it was for Him first to cast the devil out of the body, and to heal the leprosy of the body.Leprous - The instantaneous production and cure of the most malignant and subtle disease known to the Israelites was a sign of their danger if they resisted the command, and of their deliverance if they obeyed it. The infliction and cure were always regarded as special proofs of a divine intervention. 6. Put now thine hand into thy bosom—the open part of his outer robe, worn about the girdle. For whiteness. See Numbers 12:10. Hereby God would suggest to them how soon he could weaken and destroy the hard and strong hand by which the Egyptians tyrannised over them. It might also be done to keep Moses humble and depending upon God, and to teach him and Israel to ascribe all the future miracles not to the hand of Moses, which was weak and liable to many distempers, but wholly to the Divine power and goodness.

And the Lord said furthermore unto him,.... Continued his discourse, and gave him another sign:

put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom; within his coat, under that part of the garment next to his breast:

and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow; that is, white as snow, as the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan, through the leprosy that was upon it; it was a leprosy of the white sort, and which is reckoned the worst and most difficult to be cured, see Leviticus 13:3. It is highly probable that this gave rise to the story told by several Heathen writers, as Manetho (m), Lysimachus (n), Trogus (o), and Tacitus (p), that Moses and the Israelites were drove out of Egypt by the advice of an oracle, because they had the leprosy, itch, and other impure diseases upon them.

(m) Apud Joseph. contr. Apion. l. 1. c. 26. (n) Apud. ib. c. 34. (o) Justin e Trogo, l. 36. c. 2.((p) Hist. l. 5. c. 3.

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.
6–8. The second sign.

leprous, as white as snow] cf. Numbers 12:10, 2 Kings 5:27.

was turned] an archaism for ‘turned’ (as Jeremiah 31:18-19; Jeremiah 34:15, and elsewhere: see the writer’s Parallel Psalter, p. 483). The Heb. verb, as in the passages quoted, is an intransitive one, and is rendered in 2 Kings 5:14 (in the same expression) ‘came again.’

Verse 6. - Furthermore. The first sign is followed by a second, equally simple and easy of performance, and perhaps, in the eyes of the Israelites, even more marvellous. Leprosy in a developed form was regarded as absolutely incurable. (Celsus, 'De Re Medica,' 5:7-8.) Its instantaneous production and removal were contrary to all experience, and in themselves thoroughly astonishing. Further, while the first miracle was simply a sign of supernatural power - a credential, the second was a warning and a lesson. What might not he do to smite or to save on whom God had bestowed such power over the human organism? Each man would naturally fear to resist or disobey one so dangerously gifted. Leprous as snow. The Greek name for the worst form of leprosy, λεύκη, was based on this fact of whiteness. The loathsome disease is thus described by Kalisch: - "It begins with mealy crusts and scurfy scabs, originally not larger than a pin's point, a little depressed in the skin (Leviticus 13:3, 30), and covered with white hairs (ib. 3, 20). These spots rapidly spread (ib. 8), and produce wild [proud?] flesh (ib. 10, 14). The leprous symptoms appear most frequently on the hairy parts of the body, and also on members which have been ulcerously affected. When the leprosy has gained ground, the whole skin appears glossy white at the forehead, nose, etc., tuberated, thickened, dry like leather, but smooth; sometimes it bursts, and ulcers become visible. The nails of the hands and feet fall; the eyelids bend backwards; the hair covers itself with a fetid rind, or goes off entirely (Leviticus 13:42). All external senses are weakened: the eyes lose their brightness, become very sensitive, and are continually blearing; from the nostrils runs a fluid phlegm." ('Comment. on Exodus,' p. 50.) Exodus 4:6The Second Sign. - Moses' hand became leprous, and was afterwards cleansed again. The expression כּשּׁלג מצרעת, covered with leprosy like snow, refers to the white leprosy (vid., Leviticus 13:3). - "Was turned again as his flesh;" i.e., was restored, became healthy, or clean like the rest of his body. So far as the meaning of this sign is concerned, Moses' hand has been explained in a perfectly arbitrary manner as representing the Israelitish nation, and his bosom as representing first Egypt, and then Canaan, as the hiding-place of Israel. If the shepherd's staff represented Moses' calling, the hand was that which directed or ruled the calling. It is in the bosom that the nurse carried the sucking child (Numbers 11:12), the shepherd the lambs (Isaiah 40:11), and the sacred singer the many nations, from whom he has suffered reproach and injury (Psalm 89:50). So Moses also carried his people in his bosom, i.e., in his heart: of that his first appearance in Egypt was a proof (Exodus 2:11-12). But now he was to set his hand to deliver them from the reproach and bondage of Egypt. He put (הביא) his hand into his bosom, and his hand was covered with leprosy. The nation was like a leper, who defiled every one that touched him. The leprosy represented not only "the servitude and contemptuous treatment of the Israelites in Egypt" (Kurtz), but the ἀσέβεια of the Egyptians also, as Theodoret expresses it, or rather the impurity of Egypt in which Israel was sunken. This Moses soon discovered (cf. Exodus 5:17.), and on more than one occasion afterwards (cf. Numbers 11); so that he had to complain to Jehovah, "Wherefore hast Thou afflicted Thy servant, that Thou layest the burden of all this people upon me?...Have I conceived all this people, that Thou shouldest say to me, Carry them in thy bosom?" (Numbers 11:11-12). But God had the power to purify the nation from this leprosy, and would endow His servant Moses with that power. At the command of God, Moses put his hand, now covered with leprosy, once more into his bosom, and drew it out quite cleansed. This was what Moses was to learn by the sign; whilst Israel also learned that God both could and would deliver it, through the cleansed hand of Moses, from all its bodily and spiritual misery. The object of the first miracle was to exhibit Moses as the man whom Jehovah had called to be the leader of His people; that of the second, to show that, as the messenger of Jehovah, he was furnished with the necessary power for the execution of this calling. In this sense God says, in Exodus 4:8, "If they will not hearken to the voice of the first sign, they will believe the voice of the latter sign." A voice is ascribed to the sign, as being a clear witness to the divine mission of the person performing it. (Psalm 105:27).
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