Exodus 6:1 God uses the expression “with a strong hand” twice in this verse. He is answering Moses’ complaint by reminding Moses of his original promise in Exodus 3:19 that it would take something greater than human power to move Pharaoh to let Israel go. God is promising Moses that he would force Pharaoh to let Israel go, not just for three days of worship, but he would “drive them out of his country. God was reassuring Moses that there would be a full and complete exodus from Egypt.
Exodus 6:2–5 God’s reassurance includes the language of His covenant, reminding him that he is the God of his fathers and that His promises to them included their descendants’ possession of Canaan. To possess that land would require leaving Egypt which was the only way the promise could be fulfilled. Moses should trust God’s promises to the patriarchs in light of their present trials. The promises that God would give them the land after their being enslaved in a foreign land and mistreated (Gen 15:13–16).
Exodus 6:6–8 God reassured Moses and Israel with His plans for Israel. We will always find hope and reassurance in God’s Word to us, that’s why we need to daily read His Word. God’s assurance begins with His declaration that He is YHVH (I Am I am) the only one who can set captives free. The expression “an outstretched arm” and “with mighty acts of judgment” speaks of impending plagues that will force Pharaoh to let God’s people go. Israel is God’s Son, His firstborn among the nations and when the nations strike His son, God will bring His response in judgment. The four “I will” form the core of the Passover Seder where God speaks of His covenantal commitment to Israel. These words are repeated by Jeremiah referring to their covenant relationship (Jer 7:23; 11:4); or the breaking of the covenant (Ps 50:7; Hos 1:9); or keeping the Mosaic covenant in general (Lev 26:12) or after the restoration of the covenant blessings (Deuteronomy 30:1-8; Isa 40:1; Jer 30:22; Ezek 36:28). God was assuring Israel of its special relationship: that they were his own people in a way that no other people were. The actual covenant was confirmed at Sinai and would list the blessings and responsibilities associated with this calling. When would he “take” them as his people? in v. 7 we learn: “Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.” They will know when they meet Him outside of Egypt at Mt Sinai and every Passover thereafter where we are called to remember that He is the God that delivers His people according to His Word. He fulfilled and is still fulfilling His Promises to His firstborn sons. The words “I am the LORD” at the end of Exodus 6:8 bring to mind God’s future covenant. It is a statement of relational identity inviting all who read these words to know that they have a connection with Him personally. He is not just any god. He is my God, which now applies to all who will come to Israel’s Messiah, Jesus by being grafted into God’s covenant with Israel (Rom 11:11-32; Eph. 2:11-18)
Exodus 6:9–12 Faith is often diminished by the trials that come our way and that is the case here. When our eyes are on our trial rather than on the Lord, we find it difficult to hear and believe the Word and Promises of God. Pharaoh’s response to Moses’ request (Exodus 5:7–9) was successful in demoralizing the potential rebellion. Moses’ strength in coming before Pharaoh was weakened greatly as is seen in Exodus 6:12. If Israel would not listen, how could he go forward in delivering God’s people? God sent Moses once again to confront Pharaoh demanding that he release Israel.
In Exodus 5:1 the request was to allow the people to hold a festival to Lord in the desert. Now Pharaoh was to let Israel go out of his country. In the face of increased resistance from Israel and Pharaoh, Moses once again wants to be relieved of his responsibility. Instead of using the excuse slow of speech, he now says his “lips are uncircumcised” Moses was saying he was not good at public speaking which is what that expression means. Moses demonstrates his diminishing faith in his skills and is weakening trying to get out of his calling. God has other plans for him.
Exodus 6:13 Moses said, in effect, “I can’t do it.” Exodus 6:13-27 serve as an overview of what has unfolded thus far. These verses speak of God’s reassurance of Moses’ call, commission, and challenge (Exodus 6:28–7:7) equipping him afresh for the plagues that will follow in Exodus 7:8. We the readers are now given Moses and Aaron’s genealogy. The list begins with Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn son, and traces the lineage of Aaron and Moses back to Israel linking them with their people. Their genealogy legitimizes them as part of God’s people. It ends with Aaron’s grandson Phinehas in Exodus 6:25 and brings the genealogy into the time of the book of Judges (Judg 20:28) linking Israel’s historical leaders with their time. It honors Aaron and the priesthood, a special concern in Exodus. It shows where Korah, leader of the wilderness rebellion (Num 16:1–49) based his claims to leadership. It shows us that Moses was from a priestly family and tribe, and as such qualified to perform priestly and not just prophetic ministry as he did in overseeing the building of the tabernacle, his right to enter it, and his offering the ordination sacrifice in Lev 8:28–29. It shows also that Israel and its leadership married outside the faith by mentioning the Canaanite woman in Exodus 6:15.
Exodus 6:14-15 Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn son, is mentioned first, in the manner of normal genealogical preference. His listing, however, goes only to his immediate children and then stops because Moses and Aaron were not descended from him. Simeon, Jacob’s second- born, is listed next, and his listing also stops at the second generation because Aaron and Moses were not descended from him either. The mention of “a Canaanite woman” as the father of Shaul shows that the line of Levi, is purer which is appropriate for the tribe of the priests, and also serves as a reminder that some who are prominent mothers of Israel were not pure Israelite by birth. Gentile converts were always a part of Israel.
Exodus 6:16 Here the lineage traces down to Aaron’s grandson (Exodus 6:25) because it is the lineage of the tribe of Levi, Jacob’s third son. So far, the list corresponds to the one Moses wrote in Gen 46:8–11. But it diverges from there because there is no further interest in naming the other sons of Jacob and their offspring because all attention is now on the Levites. Levi living 137 years was typical of the patriarchs, which was a reason Israel could multiply so rapidly in Egypt.
Exodus 6:17–20 Levi’s sons Gershon, Kohath, and Merari are named here with a second generation given for each, but only Kohath’s age is given since he was the one from whom Aaron and Moses were descended. Amram, Moses’ and Aaron’s father, is mentioned here for the first time by name. He is only mentioned as “a man of the house of Levi” in Exodus 2:1. It is interesting that Moses points out that his father married his aunt “his father’s sister”, Jochebed. Later incest laws would be enacted (Lev 18:12, “Do not have sexual relations with your father’s sister; she is your father’s close relative”) that would from then on prohibit marriage to close relatives (Lev 18:6). But a cousin is technically not a close relative according to Lev 18. This is a true genealogy of Moses and Aaron, which preceded the Law given at Mt. Sinai. Jochebed was a Levite herself, making Moses and Aaron Levites on both sides.
Exodus 6:21–22 The sons of Kohath are mentioned, with their children Korah in Exodus 6:21. He is listed as a cousin of Moses and Aaron. His name has significance because of his role in the rebellion in Num 16. Korah’s genealogy places him on par of Moses and Aaron in the genealogical line and as such attempted to lay claim to leadership in Israel as well. His lineage is further described in Exodus 6:24.
Exodus 6:23-24 Aaron married a woman from the tribe of Judah, Elisheba, whose father and brother are ancestors of Yeshua. His four sons have roles in various future narratives because of their importance in the priestly lineage. Once God established the priesthood as an inherited office, the descendancy of a priest became an essential credential. “The Korahites,” despite their father’s behavior were a powerful family among the Levites and worthy of honor and mention here. The Sons of Korah were key contributors to the Psalms, Israel’s hymnal.
Exodus 6:25 Moses ended his and Aaron’s genealogy with Phinehas. When Moses wrote this genealogy, Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, had been struck dead because of their unlawful offering (Lev 10:1–2). In Numbers, Moses tells us that Aaron’s other two sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, continued as priests. Why is Eleazar and his son Phinehas mentioned here? Ithamar had children and was the father of offspring that also made up a large portion of the priesthood. Phinehas was the one who forever secured the Levites role as priests because of his zeal in the incident at Baal-Peor in Num 25:13.
Exodus 6:26–27 The names Aaron and Moses are repeated here following their genealogy to identify them as the ones who went before Pharaoh. The ESV uses the word “divisions” or “hosts” in NASV and can refer to various sorts of divisions, including clan divisions (Gen 36:30) and priestly divisions (1 Chr 28:13), but here the wording of the Hebrew focuses on Israel’s organization as an army of God, the main reference for the language of divisions in the Pentateuch. This verse points to the fighting role of Israel in the exodus and conquest, which will first be tested in Exodus 17:8–16 at Rephidim, near Sinai.
Exodus 6:28–30 All Moses was asked is that he should be God’s spokesman. He wasn’t asked to come up with his own plan or be a gifted communicator. He was just to tell Pharaoh what God told him to say. Moses asked God, “Why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I am not able to speak well?” This is a reminder to the reader of what Moses had said previously.