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The No-Name God

A Bible Study by Fred Kenison

 

2  Exodus


Forming the nation of Israel

 

 

Beginning in Egypt

The early travels of Israel

 

Summary Highlights of Chapter 2

Attributes of Jehovah revealed in Chapter 2

 

 

The book of Exodus is sometimes called the book of redemption, or salvation. Exodus relates the story of how Jehovah, elohim, continued to create Israel, the nation that was promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

 

The casual Bible reader may not notice that Exodus relates experiences which occurred more than 400 years after Jacob and his family had gone into Egypt. There is no biblical record of Jehovah’s activities during these 400 years. Jehovah, the god of Israel, worked in his own space and time, not according to the calendars of mankind.

 

The scripture in Exodus does not show elohim, or god, to be a proper name, which is in line with other scriptures in the Old Testament. As we pointed out earlier, god, elohim, is a generic term, or an apellative, the name of an office, not a proper name. Much of the confusion today has been caused because early bible translators capitalized the word "god" as though it were a proper name, although it is not.

 

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Beginning in Egypt

A new Pharaoh arose over Egypt who did not remember what Joseph had done for his country. This should not be considered unusual since four centuries is a long time. Instead, this Pharaoh was frightened by how much the Hebrews had multiplied.

 

His fear led him to persecute them, to order them into slavery, and to command that the midwives kill all the male babies (Exodus 1:8-16). However,

"the midwives feared [the] god (elohiym:H430), and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live ." (Exodus 1:17).

 

In the Old Testament, a definite article before elohim indicates that it is either a renewed mention of a previous god, or it refers to Jehovah, the god of the Israelites.

Exodus 1:20 says,

"So god (‘elohiym:H430) dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied and grew strong."

 

Although Pharaoh did his best to keep the Israelites from multiplying, Jehovah’s purpose was still accomplished. Jehovah, elohim, was keeping his word, or covenant, to Abraham, and was building a nation according to that covenant. Throughout the Bible, this is recognized as a righteousness of Jehovah, their god.

To further his purpose, Jehovah prepared Moses, a new person through whom he would personally work to bring about his desired ends. Jehovah manipulated events in such a manner that Pharaoh’s own daughter adopted Moses and raised him as her son, a prince of Egypt. This occurred at the same time that Pharaoh was attempting to have all the male Hebrew babies killed. The name Moses means one saved from the water (Exodus 2:1-10).

 

After Moses had grown to manhood, he saw an Egyptian slave master abusing one of the Hebrew people. Realizing that his god, Jehovah, would use him to deliver his people from their bondage, Moses slew the Egyptian and hid his body in the sand. Like so many others, even today, Moses did not wait for Jehovah’s timing, but tried to move things along in his own strength. The result, however, was that Moses had to flee for his life (Exodus 2:11-15).

 

Pharaoh condemned Moses, not because he slew the Egyptian, but because he buried the body in the sand. Burying the body prevented the embalming necessary to enter the Egyptian heaven, which was a mortal crime in Egypt.

 

Moses fled to the wilderness and spent 40 years with his future father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian (Exodus 3:1). Being the priest of Midian probably meant that Jethro was the first-born son who had taken over the leadership of his clan. This made him responsible for the spiritual well-being of his tribe, as well as being responsible for their physical well-being. In other words, he was the father of his tribe.

 

After 40 years of training and growth in the knowledge of Jehovah, Moses was now fitted for what he had attempted to do 40 years before: deliver Israel from the bondage of Egypt.

"And the angel of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of the bush. And he looked, and, lo, the bush was burning (by the fire) yet it (the bush) was not consumed." (Exodus 3:2).

 

Moses turned aside to see this wonder which is exactly what Jehovah wanted him to do.

"And when Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) saw that he turned aside to see, god (‘elohiym:H430) called to him out of the bush (and said), Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I." (Exodus 3:4)

 

Then, Jehovah identified himself by saying,

"I am the god (‘elohiym:H430) of your father, the god (‘elohiym:H430) of Abraham, the god (‘elohiym:H430) of Isaac, and the god (‘elohiym:H430) of Jacob." (Exodus 3:6).

 

Here, the definite article was prefixed to elohim since it was a renewed mention. But, Jehovah’s statement, "I am the god of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," was written in the present tense, not in the past tense. Why? Because Jehovah presented himself as a god of the living, not of the dead. These three men—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob— although they had left their mortal bodies hundreds of years before, were declared to still be living entities.

 

Matthew 22:31-32 quotes Jesus as saying,

"But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken to you by the god, saying, I am the god of Abraham, and the god of Isaac, and the god of Jacob? God is not the god of [the] dead, but of [the] living."

 

We will comment more on this point when our study gets to the New Testament.

 

"Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) said, I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and I have heard their cry...." (Exodus 3:7). "Come, I will send you to Pharaoh, that you may bring forth my people the sons of Israel out of Egypt." (Exodus 3:10).

 

This was the proper time in Jehovah’s schedule for the deliverance of Israel. Notice carefully the words, "my people." This was the first time this terminology had been used, indicating that Jehovah was now willing to state that Israel had been adopted as "my people."

 

Exodus 3:13-15.

"Then Moses said to god (‘elohiym:H430), If I come to the people (sons) of Israel, and l say to them, The god (‘elohiym:H430) of your fathers has sent me to you, and they ask me what is his name, what shall I say to them? God (‘elohiym:H430) said to Moses, I am who I am. And he said, Say this (thus) to the people of Israel, I am (‘ehyeh) has sent me unto you. God (‘elohiym:H430) also said to Moses, Say this (thus) to the children of Israel: Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), the god (‘elohiym:H430) of your fathers, the god (‘elohiym:H430) of Abraham, the god (‘elohiym:H430) of Isaac, and the god (‘elohiym:H430) of Jacob, has sent me unto you. This is my name for ever, and thus (this) I am to be remembered (my memorial) throughout all generations."

 

Jehovah, the god of Israel, identified himself as the "I am who I am," and further stated that this would be his name for ever. In the past, name was largely synonymous with power, whereas it now takes on another characteristic, that of constancy.

 

"I am who I am" is written in the present tense which shows that Jehovah, their god, is a continual presence in their lives, and a constant provider of their needs, signified by his other designation as el shaddai. All people receive their sustenance from him.

 

Jehovah called Moses to go to Egypt and deliver the Hebrews from slavery. Although he had been an impatient, hot-headed, eager young man, Moses now tried to avoid the purpose for which Jehovah had prepared him, and he even lied to Jehovah.

 

As an aside, although preachers often harangue people about "full time service," the scriptures show that people are often called for only one special job in their entire lives. They may not even be aware that their earlier lives were only a preparation for this one service. And, like Moses, some still try to avoid the opportunity when it comes.

 

Moses was 40 years old when he first tried to deliver his people by killing the Egyptian, and he was 40 years older when Jehovah finally revealed the special purpose of his life to him. Yet, Moses did not want to go. He said,

"O my lord (‘adonay:H136), I am not (a man of) eloquent (words), either henceforth or since thou hast spoken to thy servant, but I am slow of speech and (slow) of tongue. (Exodus 4:10).

 

This was a blatant lie, as Acts 7:22 points out that,

"Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds."

 

Though he was angry with Moses, Jehovah agreed to let Aaron speak to the people whatever Moses told him to say. (Exodus 4:14-17).

 

After Jehovah instructed Moses, Exodus 6:1 reports that,

"Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) said to Moses, Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong hand he will send them out. Yea, with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land."

 

After Jehovah is finished with him, Pharaoh will drive the Hebrews from his land! Jehovah, or el shaddai, as many addressed him, is a god of power!

 

All the people of that era believed that their gods possessed great strength. Each group believed their god to be the strongest of all the other gods around them. But Jehovah, or el shaddai, would prove that he was the strongest because he would make Pharaoh drive the Hebrews out of his land, even though he wanted to keep them as slaves.

 

From this point on, a great change takes place in the scriptures. For the most part, the people spoke of their god as el shaddai. However, from now on the appellative, el shaddai, is generally replaced by the name, Jehovah, as the favorite word of address.

 

The relationship between the common noun el shaddai and Jehovah is clarified in Exodus 6:2-3.

"And god (‘elohiym:H430) said to Moses, I am Yahweh (yehovah:H3068). I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as god (‘el:H410) almighty (shadday:H7706) (‘el Shaddai). But by my name Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) I did not make myself known to them."

 

This explicitly states that the people did not understand the meaning of the name, Jehovah.

 

There are a number of extraordinary truths given in the above passage. First, elohim spoke to Moses and told Moses that he was Jehovah. Second, elohim told Moses that he had appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as el shaddai, or the many breasted one, or the god of provision. Third, elohim proclaimed that "by my name Jehovah, I did not make myself known to them."

 

At first glance, this might imply that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had never heard the name, Jehovah. However, other scriptures show that is not true. For example, when speaking with Melchizedek, Abraham identified el shaddai, as being Jehovah (Genesis 14:22).

 

What, then, is the meaning of the statement "by my name Jehovah, I did not make myself known to them?"  MacDonald (p. 284) says,

"Exod. 6:3. By my name Jehovah (as giving being to my promises in the execution of them) was I not known, experientially, to them, ...the name is supposed to correspond to the nature of a person, or thing: or to express some qualities or circumstances relating to them."

 

In other words, they may have known the name Jehovah, but they did not yet understand that Jehovah, whom they knew also as el shaddai, was really the one who gave being to the promises, and the one who executed the promises, or made them reality. After this meaning of the name Jehovah was revealed, it is easy to understand why the name el shaddai fell further into the background as the scriptures progressed.

 

Another scholar, Salmons (p. 98), points out that,

"El shaddai served as the patriarchs’ covenant name for ‘God’, and continued as such until the time of Moses, when a further revelation took place (Exodus 6:3). The Abrahamic covenant was marked by a degree of closeness between ‘God’ and the human participants that was distinctive in Hebrew history. ‘God Almighty’ revealed himself as a powerful deity who was able to perform whatever He asserted."

 

Salmons placed quote marks around the word "God," probably to denote that the word was not a proper name, but only a designation of character.

 

Exodus 6:4-6 reports:

"I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their sojourning which they sojourned in it. Moreover I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold in bondage, and I have remembered my covenant. Therefore say to the people of Israel, I am Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm, and with acts of great judgment."

 

Now that Jehovah had revealed the true meaning of his name, he immediately took steps to deliver them from bondage. Notice, though, the clear-cut manner in which he now identified himself as Jehovah. This was a much more direct statement than had been usual in previous scriptures.

 

Jehovah was now clearly identified as the god (elohim) of Israel, and his actions would be manifest as specific, visible actions. He will see to it that all of the promises, or covenants, made will be carried out as actual events. The deliverance of Israel will be the fulfillment of the promises of the covenant first made with Abraham. Of course, none of these will be an instantaneous fulfillment. Events will work themselves out over time as Jehovah causes events to conform to his will.

 

Although Abraham has been dead for over 400 years, Jehovah has not forgotten the promise, or covenant, first given to him and then passed to Isaac and Jacob. Moses has now been appointed to begin fulfilling the covenant as Jehovah undertakes the long and arduous task of teaching and leading Israel in the way he commands them to go.

 

Then, in Exodus 6:7, Jehovah revealed a decision which would effect Israel, not only in this present age, but in the age to come.

"And I will take you (to me) for my people, and I will be (to you) your god (‘elohiym:H430), and you shall know that I am Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), your god (‘elohiym:H430) who has brought you from under the burdens of the Egyptians."

 

Jehovah repeated his decision to have Israel for his people, or a nation, through whom his power might be manifested. This would occur as he delivered them from the Egyptians, something they knew they could not do by themselves. Not only would Israel know this, but Egypt and all the surrounding nations would see the power of Jehovah demonstrated against Egypt, the greatest power known in the world at that time. Each of the plagues Jehovah sent upon Egypt (Exodus 7-12) related to one of the many gods of Egypt. The object was to show that Jehovah, the god of Israel, was much stronger than the gods worshiped by the Egyptians.

 

The scriptures previously said that Jehovah was the god of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Now, Moses reveals that Jehovah is also the god of Israel, or the one who tells them what they should do, and expects obedience from them as a nation to do it.

 

A play upon the word god (elohim) is found in Exodus 7:1-2.

"And Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) said to Moses, See, I make you [a] god (‘elohiym:H430) to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you, and Aaron your brother shall tell Pharaoh to let go (send) the people of Israel out of his land."

 

This is a most interesting passage as it plainly shows that the word elohim, or god, does not always apply only to Jehovah, but also to a human who is in command of another. Moses would be a god to Pharaoh, and Aaron would be the prophet of Moses.

 

Exodus 7:16 reinforces the fact that Jehovah is the god of Israel.

"And you shall say to him, Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), the god (‘elohiym:H430) of the Hebrews, sent me to you, saying, Let go my people."

 

Here, Jehovah used the word Hebrews instead of Israel to describe the nation in bondage. When the word Hebrew is used, it refers to the language of the people which binds them into one nation. When the word Israel is used, it is the designation that these are primarily the descendants of Jacob, or Israel, including any proselytes.

 

Exodus 8 contains a number of verses which repeat that Jehovah is the god, elohim, of Israel. For example,

"We must go three days journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice to Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) our God (‘elohiym:H430), as he will command us." (Exodus 8:23).

 

There are many instances of the phrase "Jehovah our elohim," especially now that Jehovah has revealed who he really is and given the meaning of his name.

 

Exodus 11:6-7 says,

"And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor (as there) ever shall be again. But against any of the people of Israel, not a dog shall growl (sharpen his tongue), either man or beast, that you may know that Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) makes a distinction between the Egyptians and Israel."

 

Does this mean that Jehovah is not the elohim of Egypt? No, he is, but the people of Egypt had not yet come to know him as such. Later, we will find that Jehovah also calls Egypt "my people" (Isaiah 19:25).

 

In fact, he is Jehovah of all the nations of earth, but only Israel was chosen to bear the responsibility of demonstrating his power to the rest of the world (Dueteronomy 7:6).

 

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The early travels of Israel

 

After Jehovah’s death angel passed throughout Egypt slaying the first born, Pharaoh finally agreed to let the people of Israel go (Exodus 12:29-31). The total number of people leaving Egypt, consisting of 600,000 men (Exodus 12:37), plus women and children, which would total at least two million people. In addition to the Hebrews, there were some Egyptian proselytes who also left with them, whom the Bible calls the "mixed multitude" (Exodus 12:38). As the people left Egypt, Jehovah became much more in evidence as the one who was going to lead, protect, and provide for them.

 

The purpose for giving the history of Israel, and some of the people, is to show how Jehovah manifested himself through his relationship with his people. Up to this point, Jehovah, elohim, often spoke directly with certain people. However, from this point forward, Jehovah will appear less often, and will speak from the shekinah glory cloud which has now become his dwelling place. He will manifest himself less and less in human form, but shows himself more as the spiritual being he is.

 

After Moses became the leader of Israel, Jehovah spoke to Moses and Moses spoke to Israel through his brother, Aaron. Aaron was to say or do nothing except by the direct order of Moses. This line of authority stretched backward through Aaron to Moses to Jehovah, who told Moses what to do and say, insofar as Israel was concerned. This revealed a new attribute of Jehovah: allowing men to speak for him. From now forward, Jehovah will have prophets, or judges, or whomever he calls upon, speaking to others rather than speaking directly to them himself.

 

Exodus 13:17-18 begins the account of Israel’s travels to Canaan, the promised land.

"(And it was) when Pharaoh let go the people that god (‘elohiym:H430) did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines although that was near, for god (‘elohiym:H430) had said lest the people repent when they see war and return to Egypt. But god (‘elohiym:H430) led the people round by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea (sea of rushes), and equipped for battle, the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt."

 

Here Jehovah, or elohim, as he is referred to in part of this chapter, began to lead his people.

 

This verse Exodus 13:21clarifies that the elohim spoken of earlier in the chapter is actually Jehovah.

"And Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them along the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give light to them that they might travel by day and by night."

 

Jehovah led them via a pillar of cloud which guided them by day, and a pillar of fire which lit the way for them to travel at night.

 

The pillar of fire must have been a spectacular sight. It certainly was not a small one since the Israelites represented an immense multitude of people as they left Egypt with all their belongings. Some have estimated that the traveling multitude could have been 10 miles wide. Even so, it would take many hours for this huge cavalcade of people and animals to pass any given point.

 

Their elohim, Jehovah, wanted the people to keep moving rapidly. He knew that Pharaoh would pursue the Israelites, and he wanted them to be at a specific location when the Egyptians arrived.

 

From a military standpoint, the location chosen by Jehovah was a poor one. The Israelites were boxed in by terrain on two sides and by the Red Sea in front of them. The Egyptian army, with its chariots and men, was closing in behind them.

 

When the Israelites realized the predicament they were in, they turned against Moses, who said,

"Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see (them) again (until forever). Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) will fight for you, and you have only to be still." (Exodus 14:13-14).

 

There is a bundle of good preaching wrapped up in this scripture! However, the purpose of this study is limited to showing how the god of the Old Testament gradually revealed himself to people. Jehovah was revealing his attribute as protector, a god who will fight for his people. All the people had to do was stand still, keep quiet, and watch their god deal with the Egyptians.

 

Exodus 14:18 relates another reason for Jehovah’s deliverance of Israel.

"The Egyptians shall know that I am Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen."

 

Jehovah, the god of Israel, wanted Pharaoh to know, without question, that he, Pharaoh, was dealing with a real god, not an idol.

 

Exodus 14:19-20 says,

"Then the angel of god (‘elohiym:H430), who went before the host of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness, and the night passed (caused to light) without one coming near the other all night."

 

This angel was Jehovah’s messenger, or voice, which emanated from the cloud where Jehovah dwelt. This pillar separated the Israelites from the Egyptians, bringing a thick darkness to the Egyptians, but a bright light to the Israelites.

 

Jehovah also gave Moses authority to lift his staff over the Red Sea and divide it so the people of Israel could cross over on dry land. The Egyptians followed them into this division of the sea, and at the appropriate time Jehovah caused the portion of sea around the Egyptians to collapse back together, drowning them all. Meanwhile, the portion of sea around the Israelites remained divided, and the Israelites finished their journey through the sea on dry ground (Exodus 14:21-30).

 

This episode reveals another attribute of Jehovah: he controls the elements. Stories of this miraculous victory over Egypt caused fear among all the nations through which Israel would pass on their way to the promised land.

 

When the Israelites came upon large springs in the desert, they discovered the waters were bitter and undrinkable. Instead of relying on Jehovah to take care of them again, they complained to Moses. When Moses cried to Jehovah, he was told to cast a tree into the water, which made it drinkable (Exodus 15:23-25).

 

Then, Jehovah said,

"If you will diligently hearken to the voice of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), your god (‘elohiym:H430), and do that which is right in his eyes, and give heed to his commandments and keep all his statutes, then all the diseases which I put on the Egyptians I will not put upon you, for I am Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), your healer." (Exodus 15:26).

 

This is still another manifestation: Jehovah rapha, the god who heals, will heal the diseases of the Israelites.

 

After traveling in the wilderness for six weeks, with their provisions being exhausted, the people again complained that Moses and Jehovah had led them into the wilderness to starve. In spite of the fact that Jehovah had provided for them and had overcome every obstacle for them, yet, when they met another obstacle they forgot all the former blessings.

"And Moses said to Aaron, Say to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, Come near before Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), for he has heard your murmurings. And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) appeared in the cloud. And Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) said to Moses (saying), I have heard the murmurings of the people of Israel. Say to them (saying), At twilight you shall eat flesh and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), your god (‘elohiym:H430). In the evening quails came up and covered the camp, and in the morning (was) a (layer of) dew round about the camp. And when the dew had gone up there was (and behold) on the face of the wilderness a fine flake-like thing fine as hoar-frost on the ground. When the people of Israel saw they said (each) one to another to his brother) what is it, for they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, it is the bread which Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) has given you to eat. This is the matter what Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) has commanded: Gather every man of it as much as he can eat, an omer apiece according to the number of the persons of each of you whom you shall take in his tent. And the people of Israel did so. They gathered, some more, some less. But when they measured with an omer, the much had nothing over and the little had no lack. Each gathered according to what he could eat. And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning. But they did not listen to Moses, and left some of it till the morning, and it bred worms and became foul. And Moses was angry with them. They gathered it morning by morning each as much as he could eat, but when the sun grew hot, it melted." (Exodus 16:9-21).

 

Jehovah promised to be the god of provision for the people. Note that he made the promise of flesh in order that they might know that he, Jehovah, was their god. Moses told them that this was the bread promised by Jehovah, thus fulfilling his promise. Do not forget, Jehovah was feeding over two million people!

 

Numbers 11:31-32 provides an idea of how many quail were provided:

"And a wind went forth from Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) and it brought quails from the sea and let them fall beside the camp, about a day’s journey on this side and a day’s journey on the other side, round about the camp, and about two cubits above the face of the earth. And the people rose up all that day, and all night, and all the next day, and they gathered the quails. He who gathered least gathered ten homers."

 

A day’s journey represented about 10 miles, so the quail covered a circular area 20 miles in diameter. Within this area, the quail were two cubits deep, or about three feet deep! This is an unimaginable number of quail, enough for over two million people!  And, on top of the quail would come an equally unbelievable amount of manna for breakfast. Truly, Jehovah is el shaddai, the god of providence!

 

At this time, Jehovah also commanded that the seventh day be a day of rest for people and animals (Exodus 16:23-26). None were to do any work on the sabbath, as it was a day set apart (holy) to Jehovah.

 

Exodus 17 relates another incident when the people had no water to drink and they again began to murmur against Moses. This time, Moses,

"cried to Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), saying, What shall I do with this people, almost they stone me. And Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) said to Moses, Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel. And (your) rod, which you struck (with it) the Nile, take in your hand, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, that the people may drink. And thus Moses did in the sight of the elders of Israel." (Exodus 17:4-6).

 

The point here, though, seems to be that although the people constantly murmur and fail to believe in Jehovah’s providence, he continues to supply their needs anyway.

 

In the wilderness of Mount Sinai, Jehovah unveiled another of his desires.

"And Moses went up to god (‘elohiym:H430), and Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) called him out of the mountain, saying, Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel. You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on wings of eagles, and brought you to myself. Now, therefore, if (utterly) you will obey my voice, and keep my covenant, you shall be my own possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine. And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These (are) the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel." (Exodus 19:3-6).

 

Several developments should be noted in this passage of scripture.

 

l. The definite article appears in the Hebrew text: Moses went up to the elohim. Before Exodus 6, the definite article was seldom prefixed to elohim. After Exodus 6, it was used more frequently. After el shaddai declared himself to be the I Am, and was identified as being Jehovah, the definite article became more common because it was denoting that Jehovah was the elohim of Israel.

 

2. Although it says that Moses went up to the elohim, it was Jehovah who spoke to him. It is evident that the god spoken of here is Jehovah.

 

3. In verse 19:5, Jehovah, the elohim of Israel, demanded two things of Israel. They were to obey his voice, and they were to keep his covenant. If they did these two things, then they would become above all other nations, a peculiar possession, or treasure, to Jehovah, the elohim of Israel.

 

4. This would involve Israel becoming "a nation of priests, and a holy nation" to Jehovah. Thus, we see another attribute, or perhaps a desire, of Jehovah: he did not want a random priest here and there, but an entire nation of people who would declare his glory.

 

With these four items, Jehovah set a different agenda for the people of Israel. Earlier, their elohim had promised delivery from slavery and leadership into the promised land, and Jehovah has been in the process of carrying out these promises. Now, Jehovah gave further instructions and conditional promises for Israel.

 

Exodus 19:18 says,

"And Mount Sinai in smoke was wrapped in (all of it) because Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) descended upon it in fire. And the smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln and the whole mountain quaked greatly."

 

Notice that the god upon Mount Sinai was Jehovah, the god of Israel. It was also Jehovah, the god of the Israelites, who gave Moses the ten commandments (Exodus 19:20-20:18).

 

Exodus 24:10 provides a description of Jehovah which was granted to Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and 70 elders of Israel when they went up to meet Jehovah.

"And they saw the god (‘elohiym:H430) of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness (lit. as the body of the heavens for purity). And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw god (‘elohiym:H430), and did eat and drink."

 

This does not say whether Jehovah, the god of Israel, ate and drank with the people, but they did see him manifested as a glorified man.

 

After receiving the tablets of the law, Moses received instructions on how to build an earthly tabernacle. These instructions were to be followed precisely because each part of this tabernacle signified something specific about their god (we will say more about this when our study reaches the New Testament.) These instructions for the tabernacle are found in Exodus 25-28.

 

The Israelites were also instructed to build an ark of the covenant in which the tablets containing the ten commandments would be placed. These commandments essentially summed up all the promises the people had made to Jehovah in order to be a nation of priests to him.

 

Within the tabernacle there was to be a veil of four colors hiding the holy of holies. These four colors were blue, indicating heavenly things; purple, indicating royalty, or kingship; scarlet, indicating sacrifice; and white, which always symbolizes righteousness.

 

Of particular interest is the fact that Jehovah prepared a place for his dwelling among the people. The dwelling place of his presence will be in the holy of holies within the tabernacle. The elohim of Israel will withdraw himself into the darkness of that windowless, lightless space. Henceforth, Jehovah will manifest himself mainly through his presence in the shekinah glory cloud above the mercy seat, which was also in the holy of holies. 

 

As an aside, it would be a rewarding study for any reader to trace the four colors of the veil throughout the Bible, with their attendant implications.

 

Concerning the ten commandments written on the stone tablets, Exodus 32:16 says,

"And the tables were the work of god (‘elohiym:H430), and the writing the writing of god (‘elohiym:H430), graven upon the tables."

 

This verse states unequivocally that these tablets were the work of elohim. That this elohim is the same as Jehovah, the elohim of Israel, is shown by Exodus 34:1:

"And Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) said to Moses, Cut (for yourself) two tables of stone like the first, and I will write upon the tables the words that were on the first tables, which you broke."

 

Jehovah, the elohim of Israel, was the one who wrote the words of the ten commandments upon the two tablets of stone. The first five commandments revealed that people were supposed to love Jehovah, and the second five commandments revealed that they were also supposed to love other people.

 

When Moses brought down the tables of the law, he found the people naked, engaged in a sexual, drunken orgy. He called for some of the people to aid him in carrying out Jehovah’s command to kill the people. The only ones who responded to his call were the Levites. As a result of their loyalty, Jehovah chose them to be the tribe of priests who would represent Jehovah to the people of Israel throughout their Old Testament history (see Exodus 32:19-28).

 

But, with a second set of tablets,

"Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) passed before him and proclaimed, Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) a god (‘el:H410), merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation." (Exodus 34:6-7).

 

This was a further declaration of Jehovah’s personality. All of the attributes listed are ones which the people may depend upon as being true. He is merciful, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping love for the multitudes, and forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin. Neither will Jehovah clear the guilty, but will visit the iniquity of the fathers upon their children until the third and fourth generation.

 

This latter point—visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon their children—may seem to be a strange ending to all of his goodness previously listed. However, in context, it could mean that Jehovah was speaking of the dreadful venereal diseases which always accompanied the sexual, drunken orgies associated with the Egyptian religion. These diseases would normally be passed to the children for several generations.

 

When the scriptures speak of Jehovah bringing evil upon people, it is usually not meant as something which he actually does as an overt act. Rather, it conveys the overall result that follows someone’s sinning. Sin always has adverse effects upon the sinner, and often upon others closely associated with the sinner. The effect is automatic, and does not require a specific act of Jehovah to bring it about.

 

This is the case in Exodus 34:7 when it says that Jehovah will visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation. This is a natural result of sin, cause and effect, a built-in law as Jehovah requires righteousness from his people.

 

Moses also asked Jehovah to take the people of Israel as his inheritance, which Jehovah agreed to do, but he warned in Exodus 34:10 that,

"Behold, I make a covenant: before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been wrought in all the earth, or in any nation; and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068): for it is a terrible thing that I will do with you."

 

Jehovah also told the people how they were to behave when confronted by other nations. Among his instructions is a warning:

"For you shall not worship another god (‘el:H410): for Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), jealous is his name, a jealous god (‘el:H410) he is." (Exodus 34:14).

 

Jehovah stated quite clearly that he is a jealous god, and he will not stand idly by while his people worship other gods. However, they did not obey, even though Jehovah emphasized his jealousy.

 

By now, his people, Israel, knew that Jehovah was a god who provided, led, protected, and was jealous of them and their worship. This explains why all the altars were built for the worship of Jehovah, why the priests were to minister before Jehovah only, and why the sacrifices were to be made before Jehovah.

 

Exodus 34:23 says,

"All your males shall appear three times in the year before the Lord (adon) Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), the god (‘elohiym:H430) of Israel.

 

Here, the terms adon, Jehovah, and elohim, all appear in one scripture. Adon, lord, means someone who is entitled to men’s service. This verse clearly states that Jehovah is that adon, as well as the elohim of Israel. Therefore, when Jehovah is addressed as lord, adon, or adonai, it is usually in direct conversation, indicating that the speaker knows that the one to whom he is speaking, Jehovah, is due the service of a lord, or master.

 

Another attribute of Jehovah is revealed in Exodus 36:1.

"And Bezalel and Aholiab and every man shall work able (wise of heart) in whom Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) has put ability and intelligence (in them) to know how to do any work in the construction of the sanctuary in accordance with all thet Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) had commanded."

 

This shows that it is Jehovah who enables people to serve him in an acceptable manner.

 

The rest of Exodus describes the finishing of the tabernacle, the clothing of the priests, and the building of all the furniture and utensils which would be needed. After all this was done to Jehovah’s exacting requirements,

"Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud abode upon it and the glory of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) filled the tabernacle." (Exodus 40:34-35).

 

Jehovah was now at home with his people.

 

The book of Exodus, like that of Genesis, revealed several attributes of Jehovah, the elohim of Israel, the el of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Now the people have a tabernacle, a tent of meeting, where the presence of Jehovah will dwell in the cloud above the mercy seat in the holy of holies.

 

Admittedly, this study has been very limited. We have examined only those scriptures which show how Jehovah gradually revealed his attributes and desires to this tribe he had chosen as a vehicle for revealing himself to the other nations.

 

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Summary Highlights of Chapter 2

 

# Although Pharaoh did his best to keep the Israelites from multiplying,

      Jehovah’s purpose was still accomplished.

 

# Like so many others, even today, Moses did not wait for Jehovah’s

     timing, but tried to move things along in his own strength. The result,

     however, was that Moses had to flee for his life.

 

# All people receive their sustenance from Jehovah.

 

# The scriptures show that people are often called for only one special job

     in their entire lives. They may not even be aware that their earlier lives

     were only a preparation for this one service. And, like Moses, some still

     try to avoid the opportunity when it comes.

 

# For the most part, the people spoke of their god as el shaddai.

     However, from now on the appellative, el shaddai, is generally replaced

     by the name, Jehovah, as the favorite word of address.

 

# Jehovah is also the god of Israel, or the one who tells them what they

     should do, and expects obedience from them as a nation to do it.

 

# When the word Hebrew is used, it refers to the language of the people

     which binds them into one nation. When the word Israel is used, it is

     the designation that these are primarily the descendants of Jacob, or

     Israel, including any proselytes.

 

# In fact, he is Jehovah of all the nations of earth, but only Israel was

     chosen to bear the responsibility of demonstrating his power to the rest

     of the world (Dueteronomy 7:6).

 

# Up to this point, Jehovah, elohim, often spoke directly with certain

     people. However, from this point forward, Jehovah will appear less

     often, and will speak from the shekinah glory cloud, which has now

     become his dwelling place. He will manifest himself less and less in

     human form, but will show himself more as the spiritual being he is.

 

# From now forward, Jehovah will have prophets, or judges, or

     whomever he calls upon, speaking to others on his behalf, rather than

     speaking directly to them himself.

 

# The point seems to be that although the people constantly murmur and

     fail to believe in Jehovah’s providence, he continues to supply their

     needs anyway.

 

# After el shaddai declared himself to be the I Am, and was identified as

     being Jehovah, the definite article became more common because it

     was denoting that Jehovah was the elohim of Israel.

 

# Although it says that Moses went up to the elohim, it was Jehovah who

     spoke to him. It is evident that the god spoken of here is Jehovah.

 

# In verse 19:5, Jehovah, the elohim of Israel, demanded two things of

     Israel. They were to obey his voice, and they were to keep his covenant.

     If they did these two things, then they would become above all other

     nations, a peculiar possession, or treasure, to Jehovah, the elohim of

     Israel.

 

# This would involve Israel becoming "a nation of priests, and a holy

     nation" to Jehovah.

 

# Notice that the god upon Mount Sinai was Jehovah, the god of Israel. It

     was also Jehovah, the god of the Israelites, who gave Moses the ten

     commandments.

 

# Jehovah's instructions were to be followed precisely because each part

     of this tabernacle signified something specific about their god

 

# Of particular interest is the fact that Jehovah prepared a place for his

     dwelling among the people. The dwelling place of his presence will be

     in the holy of holies within the tabernacle. The elohim of Israel will

     withdraw himself into the darkness of that windowless, lightless space.

     Henceforth, Jehovah will manifest himself mainly through his presence

     in the shekinah glory cloud above the mercy seat, which was also in the

     holy of holies. 

 

# Jehovah, the elohim of Israel, was the one who wrote the words of the

     ten commandments upon the two tablets of stone. The first five

     commandments revealed that people were supposed to love Jehovah,

     and the second five commandments revealed that they were also

     supposed to love other people.

 

# When the scriptures speak of Jehovah bringing evil upon people, it is

     usually not meant as something which he actually does as an overt act.

     Rather, it conveys the overall result that follows the act of sinning. Sin

     always has adverse effects upon the sinner, and often upon others

     closely associated with the sinner. The effect is automatic, and does not

     require a specific act of Jehovah to bring it about.

 

# When Jehovah is addressed as lord, adon, or adonai, it is usually in

     direct conversation, indicating that the speaker knows that the one to

     whom he is speaking, Jehovah, is due the service of a lord, or master.

 

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Attributes of Jehovah revealed in Chapter 2

 

# Jehovah worked in his own space and time, not according to the

     calendars of mankind.

 

# Jehovah was keeping his word, or covenant, to Abraham, and was

     building a nation according to that covenant. Throughout the Bible,

     this is recognized as a righteousness of Jehovah.

 

# Jehovah manipulated events.

 

# Jehovah stated that Israel had been adopted as "my people."

 

# Jehovah is a constant provider; all people receive their sustenance from

     him.

 

# Jehovah causes events to conform to his will.

 

# Jehovah is also the god of Israel, or the one who tells them what they

     should do, and expects obedience from them as a nation to do it.

 

# Jehovah was the one who was going to lead, protect, and provide for

     them.

 

# Jehovah manifested himself through his relationship with his people.

 

# Jehovah allowed men to speak for him.

 

# Jehovah was a protector, a god who would fight for his people.

 

# Jehovah controls the elements.

 

# Jehovah rapha, the god who heals, will heal the diseases of the Israelites.

 

# Jehovah promised to be the god of provision for the people.

 

# Jehovah did not want a random priest here and there, but an entire

     nation of people who would declare his glory.

 

# Jehovah is a god of precision.

 

# Jehovah is merciful

 

# Jehovah is gracious

 

# Jehovah is slow to anger

 

# Jehovah is abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness

 

# Jehovah keeps loving the multitudes

 

# Jehovah forgives their iniquities, transgressions, and sins.

 

# Jehovah will not clear the guilty,

 

# Jehovah is a jealous god.

 

# Jehovah enables people to serve him in an acceptable manner.

 

 

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October 2009

 

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