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From: Exodus 3:1-8a, 13-15

God Appears to Moses in the Burning Bush

[1] Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Mi-
dian; and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness, and came to Horeb,
the mountain of God. [2] And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of
fire out of the midst of a bush; and he looked, and lo, the bush was burning, yet
it was not consumed. [3] And Moses said, “I will turn aside and see this great
sight, why the bush is not burnt.” [4] When the Lord saw that he turned aside to
see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here am
I.” [5] Then he said, “Do not come near; put off your shoes from your feet, for the
place on which you are standing is holy ground.” [6] And he said, “I am the God
of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”
And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

[7] Then the Lord, said, “I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt,
and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters; I know their suffering, [8a]
and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to
bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk
and honey.”

The Divine Name is Revealed (Continuation)

[13] Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them,
‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his
name?’ what shall I say to them?” [14] God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”
And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.’” [15]
God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of
your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has
sent me to you’: this is my name for ever, and thus I am to be remembered
throughout all generations.”


3:1-4:17. This account of the calling of Moses is charged with theological content;
it gives the features of two protagonists (Moses and God) and the bases of the li-
beration of the people by means of wondrous divine intervention.

In the dialogue between God and Moses after the theophany of the burning bush
(vv. 1-10), the Lord endows Moses with alt the gifts he needs to carry out his mis-
sion: he promises him help and protection (vv. 11-12), he makes his name known
to him (vv. 13-22), he gives him the power to work wonders (4:1-9), and he desig-
nates his brother Aaron as his aide, who will be his spokesman (4:10-17).

This section shows how God brings about salvation by relying on the docility of a
mediator whom he calls and trains for the purpose. But the initiative always stays
with God. Thus, God himself designs the smallest details of the most important
undertaking the Israelites will embark on — their establishment as a people and
their passing from bondage to freedom and the possession of the promised land.

3:1-3. The mountain of God, Horeb, called in other traditions Sinai, probably lies
in the south-east part of the Sinai peninsula. Even today shepherds in that region
will leave the valleys scorched by the sun in search of better pasture in the moun-
tains. Although we do not yet know exactly where Mount Horeb is, it still had pri-
mordial importance in salvation history. On this same mountain the Law will later
be promulgated (chap. 19), in the context of another dramatic theophany. Elijah
will come back here to meet God (1 Kings 19:8-19). It is the mountain of God
“par excellence”.

The “angel of the Lord” is probably an expression meaning “God”. In the most
ancient accounts (cf., e.g., Gen 16:7; 22:11, 14; 31:11, 13), immediately after
the angel comes on the scene it is God himself who speaks: since God is invi-
sible he is discovered to be present and to be acting in “the angel of the Lord”,
who usually does not appear in human form. Later, in the period of the monar-
chy, the existence of heavenly messengers distinct from God will begin to be
recognized (cf 2 Sam 19:28; 24:16; 1 Kings 19:5,7; etc.).

Fire is often a feature of theophanies (cf., e.g., Ex 19:18; 24:17; Lev 9:23-24;
Ezek 1:17), perhaps because it is the best symbol to convey the presence of
things spiritual and divine transcendence. The bush mentioned here would he
one of the many thorny shrubs that grow in desert uplands in that region. Some
Christian writers have seen in the burning bush an image of the Church which en-
dures despite the persecutions and trials it undergoes. It is also seen as a figure
of the Blessed Virgin, in whom the divinity always burned (cf. St Bede, “Com-
mentaria In Pentateuchum”, 2, 3).

All the details given in the passage help to bring out the simplicity and at the
same time the drama of God’s action; the scene is quite ordinary (grazing, a
mountain, a bush...), but extraordinary things happen (the angel of the Lord, a
flame which does not burn, a voice).

3:4-10. The calling of Moses is described in this powerful dialogue in four stages:
God calls him by his name (v. 4); he introduces himself as the God of Moses’ an-
cestors (v. 9); he makes his plan of deliverance known in a most moving way (vv.
7-9); and, finally, he imperiously gives Moses his mission (v. 10).

The repetition of his name (”Moses, Moses!’’) stresses how important this event
is (cf. Gen 22:11; Lk 22:31). Taking one’s shoes off is a way of showing venera-
tion in a holy place. In some Byzantine communities there was a custom for a
long time of celebrating the liturgy barefoot or wearing different footwear from nor-
mal. Christian writers have seen this gesture as being an act of humility and de-
tachment in the face of the presence of God: “no one can gain access to God or
see him unless first he has shed every earthly attachment” (”Glossa Ordinaria In
Exodum”, 3, 4).

The sacred writer makes it clear that the God of Sinai is the same as the God of
Moses’ ancestors; Moses, then, is not a founder of a new religion; he carries on
the religious tradition of the patriarchs, confirming the election of Israel as people
of God. Four very expressive verbs are used to describe this election, this choice
of Israel by God: I have seen..., I have heard..., I know..., I have come down to de-
liver (v. 8). This sequence of action includes no human action: the people are op-
pressed, they cry, theirs is a sorry plight. But God has a clear aim in sight — “to
deliver them and to bring them up [...] to a good and broad land” (v. 8). These two
terms will become keynotes of God’s saving action. To bring up to the promised

land will come to mean, not only a geographical ascent but also a journey to-
wards plenitude. St Luke’s Gospel will take up the same idea. (cf. “The Navarre
Bible: The Gospel of Saint Luke”, pp 22). God’s imperative command is clear in
the original text (v. 10): “...bring forth my people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt”.
This is another way of referring to the salvific event which gives its name to this
book; according to Greek and Latin traditions “exodus” means “going out”.

3:8. This description of the promised land is meant to show that it is extensive
and fertile. Its fertility can be seen from its basic products — milk and honey
(Lev 20:24; Num 13:27, Deut 26:9, 15; Jer 11:5; 32:22; Ezek 20:15) — the ideal
desert food; a land which produces them in abundance is a veritable paradise.

The number of nations inhabiting the promised land and disputing over it gives
an indication as to its extent and desirability. The Pentateuch often lists the pre-
Israelite peoples (with small variations from one list to the other): cf. Gen 15:19-
20; Ex 3:17; 13:5; 23:23; 28; 32:2; 34:11. Mentions like this probably act as a
reminder of the difficulties the Israelites had in settling the land, and the count-
less ways in which God intervened on their behalf.

3:13-15. Moses now raises another difficulty: he does not know the name of the
God who is commissioning him. This gives rise to the revelation of the name
“Yahweh” and the explanation of what it means — “I am who I am”.

According to the tradition recorded in Genesis 4:26, a grandson of Adam, Enosh,
was the first to call upon the name of the Lord (Yahweh). Thus, the biblical text
is stating that a part of mankind knew the true God, whose name was revealed to
Moses in this solemn way (Ex 35:15 and 6:2). The patriarchs invoked God under
other names, to do with the divine attributes, such as the Almighty (”El-Shaddai”:
Gen 17:1; Ex 6:2-3). Other proper names of God which appear in very ancient
documents lead one to think that the name Yahweh had been known from a long
time back. The revelation of the divine name is important in salvation history be-
cause by that name God will be invoked over the course of the centuries.

All kinds of suggestions have been put forward as to the meaning of Yahweh; not
all are mutually exclusive. Here are some of the main ones: a) God is giving an
evasive answer here because he does not want those in ancient times, contamina-
ted as they were by magic rites, to think that because they knew the name they
would have power over the god. According to this theory, “I am who I am” would
be equivalent to “I am whom you cannot know”. “I am unnameable”. This solution
stresses the transcendence of God. b) What God is revealing is his nature — that
he is subsistent being; in which case “I am who I am means I am he who exists
“per sibi”, absolute be-ing. The divine name refers to what he is by essence; it
refers to him whose essence it is to be. God is saying that he “is”, and he is gi-
ving the name by which he is to be called. This explanation is often to be found
in Christian interpretation. c) On the basis of the fact Yahweh is a causative form
of the ancient Hebrew verb “hwh” (to be), God revealing himself as “he who cau-
ses to be”, the creator, not so much in the fullest sense of the word (as creator
of the universe) but above all the creator of the present situation — the one who
gives the people its being and who always stays with it. Thus, calling upon
Yahweh will always remind the good Israelite of his reason-for-being, as an indi-
vidual and as a member of a chosen people.

None of these explanations is entirely satisfactory. “This divine name is myste-
rious just as God is mystery. It is at once a name revealed and something like
the refusal of a name, and hence it better expresses God as what he is — infini-
tely above everything that we can understand or say: he is the ‘hidden God’ (Is
45:15), his name is ineffable, and he is the God who makes himself close to
men (cf. Judg 1.3:18)” (”Catechism of the Catholic Church”, 206).

At a later time, around the 4th century BC, out of reverence for the name of
Yahweh the use of the word was avoided; when it occurred in the sacred text it
was read as “Adonai”, my Lord. In the Greek version it is translated as “Kyrios”
and in the Latin as “Dominus”. “It is under this title that the divinity of Jesus will
be acclaimed: ‘Jesus is Lord’” (ibid., 209). The RSV always renders “Yahweh”
as “the Lord”. The medieval form Jehovah was the result of a misreading of the
Hebrew text into which vowels were inserted by the Massoretes; it is simply a
mistake and there is no justification for the use of “Jehovah” nowadays (cf. ibid.,

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

4 posted on 03/02/2013 7:50:58 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

From: 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12

The Lessons of Israel’s History

[1] I want you to know, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all
passed through the sea, [2] and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in
the sea, [3] and all ate the same supernatural food [4] and all drank the same su-
pernatural drink. For they drank them from the supernatural Rock which followed
them, and the Rock was Christ. [5] Nevertheless with most of them God was not
pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

[6] Now these things are warnings for us, not to desire evil as they did; [10] nor
grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. [11] Now
these things happened to them as a warning, but they were written down for our
instruction, upon whom the end of the ages has come. [12] Therefore let any one
who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.


1-33. St Paul now points to the lessons which the self-assured and proud Corin-
thians might draw from certain events in the history of Israel (vv. 1-13). He focu-
ses mainly on the Exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land: during this journey
God worked many wonders (vv. 1-4), but because of their frequent infidelity most
of the Israelites died before the journey was over (vv. 5-10); this, the Apostle con-
cludes, should serve as a lesson to us: if we rely too much on ourselves we run
the risk of being unfaithful to God and deserving rejection, like those Israelites (vv.

St John Chrysostom says that “God’s gifts to the Hebrews were figures of the
gifts of Baptism and the Eucharist which we were to be given. And the punish-
ments meted out to them are figures of the punishment which our ingratitude
will deserve; hence his reminder to be watchful” (cf. “Horn, on 1 Cor”, 23).

In the second part of the chapter (vv. 14-33), St Paul gives the final part of his
reply to the question about food offered to idols, with advice as to how to act in
certain situations.

1-4. The Exodus of the Israelites was marked by many prodigies. St Paul recalls
some of these—God leading the way by day in the form of a pillar of cloud (cf. Ex
13:21-22), the crossing of the Red Sea (cf. Ex 14:15-31); the feeding with man-
na (cf. Ex 16:13-15) and the drinking water which Moses caused to flow out of a
rock (cf. Ex 17:1-7; Num 20:2-13).

St Paul sees the land and the sea as symbolizing two basic elements in Chris-
tian Baptism—the Holy Spirit and the water (cf. “St Pius V Catechism”, II, 2, 9).
By following Moses in the cloud and through the sea, the Israelites were some-
how linked to him, into anticipating the way the Christian is fully incorporated in-
to Jesus through Baptism (cf. Rom 6:3-11).

St Paul calls the manna and the water from the rock “supernatural” food and
drink because these are symbols of the Eucharist (cf. Jn 6:48-51). The Fathers,
in commenting on these verses, stress the superiority of the Eucharist over what
prefigures it: “Consider now which of the two foods is the more sublime [...]. The
manna came down from heaven, it [the Eucharist] is to be found higher than hea-
ven; the manna belonged to heaven, (the Eucharist) to the Lord of heaven; the
manna rotted away if it was kept for another day, (the Eucharist) knows no cor-
ruption because whoever tastes it with the right dispositions will never experience
corruption. For them [the Israelites] the water sprang up from the rock; for you
blood flows from Christ. The water quenched the (Israelites’) thirst for a short while;
the blood cleanses you forever. The Jews drank and were thirsty; you, once you
have drunk, can no longer feel thirst. In their case everything that happened was
symbolic; in yours it is real. If you are amazed by it and yet it was no more than
a shadow, how much more awesome must that reality be whose mere shadow
amazes you” (St Ambrose, “Treatise on the Mysteries”, I, 8, 48).

“The rock was Christ”: in the Old Testament Yahweh was at times described as
the rock (cf. Deut 32:4, 15, 18: 2 Sam 22:32; 23:3; Is 17:10; etc.); as he does
elsewhere (cf., e.g., Rom 9:33; 10:11-13; Eph 4:8). St Paul here applies to Jesus
Christ the prerogatives of Yahweh, thereby showing his divinity. Elsewhere in the
New Testament our Lord is spoken of as the cornerstone (cf. Mt 21:42; Acts 4:
11; Eph 2:20). By referring to the rock as “following them” St Paul may be citing
—without accepting it—a rabbinical legend which claimed that the rod from which
the water gushed continued to stay with the Israelites in the desert.

5-10. In spite of all the marvels God kept doing for the Israelites during the Exo-
dus, only a few of those who left Egypt managed to enter the Promised Land (cf.
Num 26:65). St Paul lists some of the repeated infidelities of the people of Israel
which brought God’s punishment upon them—idolatry (cf. Ex 32), sexual immora-
lity (cf. Num 25), grumbling against God and Moses (cf., for example, Ex 15:23-
25; 16:2-3; 17:2-7; Num 21:4-9; 17:6-15).

11-13. The events in the history of Israel mentioned in the Old Testament foretell
things which will happen when Christ comes (cf. note on 1 Cor 10:1-4); they are
also instructive for us. Here St Paul emphasizes that however many benefits God
showers on us, no one should think that his eternal salvation is assured. “The
greater you are, the more you must humble yourself; so you will find favor in the
sight of the Lord” (Sir 3:20); one must continually implore God’s help and not re-
ly on one’s own strength.

At the same time St Paul recalls God’s faithfulness (cf. also Phil 1:6; 1 Thess 5:
24; 2 Thess 3:3): God never allows us to be tempted beyond our strength, he al-
ways gives us the graces we need to win out. “If anyone plead human weakness
to excuse himself for not loving God, it should be explained that he who demands
our love pours into our hearts by the Holy Spirit the fervor of his love (cf. Rom 5:5);
and this good spirit our heavenly Father gives to those that ask him (cf. Lk 9:13).
With reason, therefore, did St Augustine pray: “Give what thou commandest, and
command what thou pleasest” (”Confessions”, X, 29,31 and 37). As, then, God
is ever ready to help us, especially since the death of Christ the Lord, by which
the prince of this world was cast out, there is no reason why anyone should be
disheartened by the difficulty of the undertaking. To him who loves, nothing is dif-
ficult” (”St Pius V Catechism”, III, 1, 7).

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

5 posted on 03/02/2013 7:53:01 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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