Shemot Six: Strength in Numbers

God reassures Moses that Pharaoh will let the people go by a strong hand. Further, God said, “‘I am the Lord; and I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name *YHWH* I made Me not known to them. And I have also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their sojournings, wherein they sojourned. And moreover I have heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered My covenant (Exodus 6:2-5).'” In this statement, God reaffirms His ongoing connection with the Israelites through the covenant, His relationship with Moses is an extension of the relationship that He had with the patriarchs, and the people are still in relationship with Him through the covenant, though he “forgot” them for a time.

Moses shares these words with the Israelites. However, they don’t respond well to them, because they are impatient with their slavery. So God tells Moses to go to Pharaoh, to tell him the let the people go. “And Moses spoke before the Lord, saying: ‘Behold, the children of Israel have not listened to me; how then shall Pharaoh hear me, who am of uncircumcised lips (Exodus 6:12)?'” Now, that’s a weird expression if I’ve ever heard one. I personally take it to mean that Moses is still insecure about himself, and doesn’t see his words as holy yet, because he doesn’t have the support of the people.

Now, we are given a list of the tribes and the leaders within the tribes of Reuben, Shimon, and Levi. This includes some additions to the genealogy  of Moses, who is of the tribe of Levi. We learn that his father’s name was Amram, and his mother Yocheved. We also learn the names of Aaron’s sons, Nadav, Avihu, Eleazar, and Itamar. The tribal leaders now accompany Moses and Aaron when they go before Pharaoh. Moses now has the strength of numbers, and the knowledge that he has the support of the people, which will hopefully bring him confidence in the next encounter with Pharaoh.

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