Exodus 6:2 – 9:35; Haftarah: Ezekiel 28:25 – 29:21
We begin with an important left-over from last week’s parasha and focus on the scene at the burning bush with its massively important details that would overshadow the rest of the pentateuch – and indeed the rest of Scripture. We related the scene to the scene at the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden and study God’s revelation to Moses about his divinity. We then progress towards the current week’s parasha by studying the initial interactions of God Moses and Aaron – operating as a unit – with Pharaoh. Finally, we study Moses’ first crisis of faith and the breathtaking response given to him by God.
Scripture references from the episode
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
(Ex 3:2) St. Gregory of Nyssa
It seems to me that, already, the great Moses knew about this mystery by means of the light in which God appeared to him, when he saw the bush burning without being consumed. For Moses said: “I wish to go up closer and observe this great vision.” I believe that the term “go up closer” does not indicate motion in space but a drawing near in time. What was prefigured at that time in the flame of the bush was openly manifested in the mystery of the Virgin, once an intermediate space of time had passed. As on the mountain the bush burned but was not consumed, so the Virgin gave birth to the light and was not corrupted. Nor should you consider the comparison to the bush to be embarrassing, for it prefigures the God-bearing body of the Virgin.
(Ex 3:2) John of Damascus – On Divine Images:
The burning bush was an image of God’s mother, and when Moses was about to approach it, God said, “Do not come near; put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” Now if the ground where Moses saw an image of the Theotokos is holy ground, how much more holy is the image itself? Not only is it holy, I daresay, but the holy of holies.
(Ex 3:4) Peter Chrysologus – Sermon 147
This is why he summons Moses by his fatherly voice, addresses him with paternal love and invites him to be the liberator of his people. Why should I say more? He makes him a god; he sets him up as a god22 before Pharaoh. He makes him a god, fortifies him with signs, arms him with virtues, wins wars through mere commands, grants to him as a soldier victory gained by a mere word. By his orders he concedes him a triumph and leads him through all the crowns of virtues to his own friendship, gives him an opportunity to share in his heavenly kingdom and allows him to be a legislator. However, Moses received all this that he might love—that at length he might be so inflamed with the love of God that he would burn with it himself and encourage others to have it too.
(Ex 4:16) Philo – De mutatione nominum (207-208)
Then as to the words, “This is Aaron and Moses, whom God directed to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt,” and the expression, “These are those who conversed with Pharaoh the king.” Let us not think that they are used superfluously, or that they do not convey some intimations beyond the mere open meaning of the words; for since Moses is the purest mind, and Aaron is his speech (logos).
(Ex 4:16) Philo – De migratione (169)
Aaron is described in the law as the prophet of Moses, being loudly uttered speech prophesying to the mind.
(Ex 4:22) Origen – Commentary on the Gospel of John 28.185
And is there anything more profound to say of Israel, not of nature but of grace, of whom it was written, “Israel is my firstborn son,” when Israel was in dispersion? You yourself will also understand that these are the scattered children of God for whom Jesus was to die in order to gather them together into one.
(Ex 7:1) Jerome – Homilies on the Psalms 14
“I said: You are gods, all of you sons of the Most High.” Let Eunomius hear this, let Arius, who says that the Son of God is son in the same way that we are. That we are gods is not so by nature but by grace. “But to as many as received him he gave the power of becoming sons of God.”10 I made man for that purpose, that from men they may become gods. “I said: You are gods, all of you sons of the Most High.”11 Imagine the grandeur of our dignity; we are called gods and sons! I have made you gods just as I made Moses a god to Pharaoh, so that after you are gods, you may be made worthy to be sons of God. Reflect upon the divine words: “With God there is no respect of persons.”12 God did not say, “I said, you are gods, you kings and princes”; but “all” to whom I have given equally a body, a soul and a spirit, I have given equally divinity and adoption. We are all born equal, emperors and paupers; and we die as equals. Our humanity is of one quality.