Interpretation of Exodus 4:24 Essay Example

Interpretation of Exodus 4:24

Interpretation of Exodus 4:24

Exodus chapter four verse twenty-four gives an account of how God was looking for Moses in the wilderness so as to kill him, and this was after God had sent Moses to Egypt to go and rescue the children of Israel. Moses was given signs to perform to convince Pharaoh into releasing the Israelites, in the first miracle his staff would change into a snake. Secondly, his hand would turn into leprosy then back to normal, and the third sign was to turn water into blood. Aaron was to company him to act as his spokesman because Moses stammered. The paper here in explains how the knowledge of culture and background helps in the interpretation of Exodus four verse twenty-four, using BS Childs the book of Exodus and Alan Cole exodus (TOTC) series in addition to other sources.

In this chapter God was plotting to kill Moses because he had not performed the right of passage to his son which was circumcision. Circumcision was a culture among the Israelites that was supposed to be carried out on every male child including the servants (Binns 2014). The rite of circumcision was a covenant between Abraham and God as per the book of Genesis chapter seventeen. The rite of circumcision was mandatory to every eight-year-old male child in Israel; failure to perform the act would result in one being cut off from the family of Abraham.

God was, therefore, angry with Moses because his act of disobedience would mean cut off all his family members from his glory. Hence Moses would be in no position to continue with God’s work in Egypt of rescuing the Israelites from Pharaoh (Newman 2016). Moses wife Zipporah performs the circumcision act on her son hence Moses his spared from his death. However, the use of him in the verse is inconsistent because it is not clear on whether God wanted to kill Moses or his son.

Chapter four in exodus is among the difficult chapters in the Bible to interpret, for example, the reason God seek to kill Moses after having given him a mission in Egypt. The explanation to this statement is that God prepares his people before he decides to punish them, because Moses had knowledge of circumcision on eight-year-old male, yet he decided to go against God’s word. In the biblical background, BS Child asserts that Old Testament is no different from the New Testaments; some of the stories in the Old Testament unfold in the New Testament. In the book of Genesis God gave Abraham promises of fame, long life, blessings, and curse on those who curse him among others (Childs 1974). The book of Exodus, therefore, is based on redemption from bondage.

The promises made to Abraham would be fulfilled to the Israelites after they were redeemed from Pharaoh in Egypt. In Genesis God engage Abraham in a contest where he was to offer a burnt offering of selected animals without fire which God was to provide. Abraham had to keep off birds of prey from feasting on the sacrificial animals. God, therefore, appeared to Abraham in a dream and explained to him the meaning of the sacrifice (Binns 2014). The birds of prey symbolized the four hundred years of enslavement of the Israelites into a foreign land. God also promised Abraham that he would die of old age and honor.

It was after the prophecy a flaming torch and a smoking pot passed over the offering burning it. The incidence was a symbol of God fulfillment of his promises to the people and the restoration of Abraham generation after undergoing suffering in Egypt. The suffering in Egypt was a way of God to rescue His people from the influence of other nations such as the Canaanites who worshiped idols and gave human sacrifices (Rothschild 2015). The Egyptians had not been influenced therefore would be a good place for the Israelites to undergo their punishment having disobeyed God. However, Yahweh deliverance of the people of Israelites from Egypt is evident in the book of Exodus when God tells them that he delivered them from the bondage of suffering in Egypt. In Exodus God delivered the Israelites through Moses as a fulfillment of the promises he had made to Abraham to be the father of a great nation.

The major theme of Exodus four chapter twenty four is circumcision. Culturally the theme can be embarrassing based on modernity for it entails a cut off foreskin and smear of blood. However, Childs asserts that the smear of blood on the child’s feet was an indication that circumcision has been performed (Newman 2016). The importance of circumcision is also portrayed in the verse according to Childs because Moses was at risk of losing his life if were not for his wife intervention.

According to Alan Cole and other scholars in a proposed interpretation of Exodus chapter four verse twenty-four. They assert that the use of him portray Moses as the object in the verse while the utilization of the verb met and sought to kill, represent God as the subject in verse. Moses had earlier on had a conversation with God, who revealed Himself to him, and gave him a mission to rescue the Israelites from Pharaoh was now an enemy of God having gone against his rules and command on circumcision (Cole 2015). However, critics have underestimated the use of the word encounter in the scripture. Cole asserts that the word meant God was angry with Moses for going against his rules and had struck him with a dangerous illness as a form of punishment. The book of Genesis explains further that the use of verb him in the scripture is not addressed to a particular person. Therefore, God was not to kill Moses but his uncircumcised son, because according to the word given to Moses the uncircumcised one was to be cut off from the family of Israelites. Therefore God would not have killed Moses for he had a mission in Egypt.

The act of Moses disobedience on Gods law according to Cole can be as a result of influence from Zipporah his wife, who did not believe in circumcision since she was a Midianitish. The first son of Moses is assumed to have been circumcised, although not mentioned in the scripture. The second son could have been from another man that explains why Moses did not perform the rite of passage on him, yet he was going to perform it on all the Israelites in Egypt as a way of cleansing them before entering the Promised Land.

In conclusion, God was patient with Moses before the actual act of killing, but according to the scripture, he was not planning to kill him when they met in the inn. Zipporah’s act of performing circumcision on her son saved Moses life which implies that God acted in a human way when he changed his mind afterward on killing Moses. The act of splitting blood on the child’s feet symbolized the act of circumcision was complete. According to Childs’s book Exodus; we learn that God is slow to anger since He did not act immediately on killing Moses for his disobedience.


Binns, L.E., 2014. The Book of Exodus. Cambridge University Press.

Childs, B.S., 1974. The Book of Exodus (1974): A Critical, Theological Commentary. Westminster John Knox Press.

Cole, R.A., 2015. Exodus (Vol. 2). InterVarsity Press.

Newman, S.A., 2016. Why Moses Did Not Circumcise His Son. Jewish Bible Quarterly44(1), p.50.

Rothschild, J.P., 2015. Yahweh and Moses in Conflict. The Role of Exodus 4: 24-26 in the Book of Exodus.