How God helped Moses speak

In Exodus 4, as Moses is trying to haggle his way out of God’s mission, Yahweh brushes aside Moses’ complaint that he is slow of speech and tongue.

The LORD said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you want to say.” (Ex. 4:11-12, NIV)

What an interesting text if you are reading with an eye open for theological issues touching on disability. Here we have God himself  saying it is God who makes people deaf or blind. This is a creator God who is active in the creation. This is the kind of God who will send swarms of gnats and frogs and an angel of death over Egypt in a few chapters.

Interestingly, as in John 9, the cause of the conditions is not attached to sin. We are created so that God’s works might be shown in us and through us.

And here, we notice that Moses is not “healed” by Yahweh, so he can be a skillful speaker. God does not remove whatever speech problem Moses had. Instead, God gives him Aaron. God helps Moses speak by giving him someone to speak for him.

Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses and he said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and he will be glad to see you. You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him. (Ex. 4:14-16, NIV)

The helper Aaron becomes the mouth of Moses and Moses, the one with the speech problem, becomes like God to his “helper.”

In the words of my former Bible study teacher: What does this tell us about God? What does this tell us about us? What does this tell us about the relationship between us and God?

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3 thoughts on “How God helped Moses speak

  1. What does this tell us about God? What a wonderful, mysterious, mind-blowing, world altering God we have…
    What does this tell us about the relationship between us and God? So many things it is hard to know where to start. But only one for the moment: That we can trust God – that all that is asked of us, whether we think we are up to it or not, is to give ourselves to what comes before us. A gift, I think, is not something we are good at – or that we have the talents for – but something that God brings good things from DESPITE what we bring to the table.

    I love your referring to John 9. One of the things in that story that relates to this story in my mind…is that perhaps Moses is worried that folks won’t receive what he has to offer because he is slow of speech, etc… – when Jesus heals the blind man in John 9 many of his neighbors don’t recognize him! (he was blind, according to the story, not disfigured – so even though he had been healed – people couldn’t get it out of their mind the idea that he was blind)

    1. I certainly read Moses’ concern/reaction in a similar way to you, Mike. He seemed to be very worried that neither the Egyptians nor the Israelites would listen to what he has to say.

  2. I see a message to accept assistance. Moses had that problem later, trying to manage the people, when his father-in-law suggested organization structure. Many leaders find it difficult to relinquish soul control. I have a motto: ” Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something. ” I sometimes have to search to find what some of my colleagues can do, but they need to be included.

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