The Call Of Moses Part II -- By: Edward J. Young

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 30:1 (Nov 1967)
Article: The Call Of Moses Part II
Author: Edward J. Young


The Call Of Moses
Part II

Edward J. Young

If the burning bush is to be understood as a genuine miracle, it is well to ask what its significance is. The miracles of the Bible were designed to be signs and attestations of God’s plan of redemption. In what sense, then, did the burning bush point to God’s redemptive activity?

According to Acts 7:30 the events described in Exodus 3 took place forty years after Moses’ flight into the land of Midian. Emphasis falls immediately upon Moses and the fact that he was shepherding (the participle expresses continual occupation) the flock of Jethro. In the desert itself there was apparently not enough vegetation for the flock, so Moses led the flock beyond the desert. This would imply that when he had come to Horeb, he was no longer in the desert. Indeed, if we are to identify the mountain with Jebel el-Musa or Jebel es-Sufsafeh we can well understand why the plain Er-rahah would have been sought after by a shepherd. Even today there is considerable water in this location.1

To assume that the mountain was regarded as a sanctuary even before the revelation to Moses is unwarranted.2 The designation, “mountain of God”, is merely used by anticipa

tion, and there is no reason for supposing that Moses was expecting a revelation or that he came to seek such.3 The whole emphasis of verse one falls upon the ordinary, earthly task of Moses. He was a shepherd and he was concerned for the welfare of his sheep.4 Inasmuch as there was water near Horeb, that is where he brought his flock. The Rabbis may not have been wrong when they declared that God first tested Moses in small things so that he might later be suited to serve in greater tasks.5 He who could faithfully be a shepherd in Midian could serve in the exalted position which God was preparing for him in the divine economy.

Why, however, is the mountain here named Horeb and not Sinai? The most likely answer is that Horeb and Sinai are simply two different names of the same mountain, just as Hermon and Sirion both designate Mt. Hermon (cf. Deuteronomy 3:9; Psalm 29:6). Why this was so we do not know, nor do we know why Horeb is sometimes used and sometimes Sinai. Conceivably one might fit into the rhythm of a verse better than t...

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