Exodus 4:8
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.
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(8) The voice of the first sign.—Not “the voice of Moses witnessed to by the first sign” (Rosenmüller), but the voice, which the sign itself might be regarded as uttering. (Comp. Psalm 105:27, where Moses and Aaron are said to have proclaimed “the words of God’s signs.”) A miracle speaks to men.

They will believe, i.e., most of them. Accustomed to the tricks of the serpent charmers (see Exodus 7:11 and comment ad loc.), the Israelites might be unmoved by the sight of the first miracle. They were then to be shown the second, which would be much more astonishing to them, having no parallel in their experience. This would persuade the greater number. As some, however, might still doubt, a third sign was provided. God is patient with all reasonable doubt.

Exodus 4:8. The voice of the first sign — The expression here is peculiarly proper and forcible; for God’s works have a voice as well as his word, to which we ought diligently to attend. And these miracles spoke aloud in the ear of reason, and said, Believe in him whom God hath sent. Bishop Warburton observes here (see Divine Legation, book 4, sect. 4) that “in the first ages of the world, men being obliged to supply the deficiencies of language by significant signs, mutual converse was carried on by a mixed discourse of words and actions. Hence came the eastern phrase of the voice of the sign; and use and custom improving what had arisen out of necessity into ornament, this practice subsisted long after the necessity was over, especially in the East, the natural temperament of the people in that part of the world inclining them to a mode of conversation which exercised their vivacity by motion, and gratified it by a perpetual representation of material images.”

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. To the voice of the first sign; to the voice or word of God delivered and confirmed by the first sign. For Moses did not make dumb shows before them, but acquainted them with the mind of God therein. Or he saith

the voice, to note that God’s works have a voice to speak to us, which we must diligently observe. See Micah 6:9.

And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee,.... Will not give credit to the commission he had from God, but question the truth of it:

neither hearken to the voice of the first sign; which miracle wrought, spoke plain enough that he that wrought it, or for whose sake it was wrought, must be one come from God, or such a miracle would never be wrought by him or for him; but should any of the Israelites be still incredulous, it is supposed:

that they will believe the voice of the latter sign; which had a voice in it commanding belief that he was a messenger of God; the first sign respects his rod, the other his hand.

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.
Verse 8. - The voice of the first sign. Some understand "the voice of Moses as he gave them the first sign;" but it is better to regard the sign itself as speaking to them. According to the sacred writers everything that can teach us anything - day, night, the heavens, the firmament, the beasts, the fowls of the air, the fishes, nay, the very stones - have a voice. They teach us, speak to us, declare to us, cry out aloud, lift up their voice, shout, sing, proclaim God's will, whether man will hear or whether he will forbear. (See Psalm 19:1-3; Job 12:7, 3; Habakkuk 2:11; Luke 19:40, etc.) Equally, or rather much more, must a miracle be regarded as having a voice. God speaks to us by it. Exodus 4:8The 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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