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Bible Commentaries

Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Exodus 3

Verse 1

Fed for the space of forty years. During which time, he composed the books of Genesis and Job, for the consolation of his countrymen; (Menochius) though others believe he wrote all the Pentateuch in the desert. (Theodoret; &c.) --- Of God, on account of its height; or on account of God’s appearing to Moses. --- Horeb is so close to Mount Sinai, that the shadow of the latter reaches it when the sun rises. It is watered with three springs; and the summit is adorned with fruit trees. (Calmet)

Verse 2

The Lord appeared. That is, and angel representing God, and speaking in his name. (Challoner) (Acts vii. 30; Galatians iii. 19.) --- The apparitions of God to the patriarchs are generally understood in this sense. (St. Augustine, de Trin. iii. 11.) (Worthington) --- Yet many of the Fathers suppose, that this angel was no other than the Son of God, the angel of the great council, (Malachias iii. 1,) and St. Augustine (q. 2, in Ex.) does not disapprove of this opinion. (Calmet) --- Not burnt. Thus the Hebrews were afflicted, but not destroyed. (Menochius) --- God is styled a consuming fire, Deuteronomy iv. 24. He appeared in fire again, chap. xxiv. 17. (Calmet)

Verse 5

Shoes. Juvenal, sat. 6, takes notice of this custom. Observant ubi festa mero pede sabbata reges. (Du Hamel) --- The Ethiopian Christians and the Turks never enter their churches, or mosques, without putting off their shoes. The priests did the like when they entered the temple of Jerusalem, and God ordered them moreover to wash their feet and hands, Exodus xxx. 19. (Calmet) --- We observe the same ceremony, out of respect for Jesus Christ, when we go to kiss the cross. Pythagoras said, "Offer sacrifice and adoration barefoot." (Jamblic. 24.) On such occasions, we ought to have our hearts disengaged from the world. (Haydock) See Leviticus ii. 25.

Verse 6

Hid, out of respect, and perhaps fearing lest he should die, Genesis xvi. 13. (Calmet) --- God takes the title of these three patriarchs, because he had promised Chanaan to each of them, and because they were eminent for virtue. God is repeated thrice, to insinuate the mystery of the blessed Trinity, and to shew that the Lord watches over each individual, as if that one alone existed. (Menochius)

Verse 8

Spacious, compared with that of Gessen. Chanaan was not above 210 miles long, and 70 broad. (Brocard.) St. Jerome does not allow so much. Hecateus says that the Jews had three million acres of excellent land. --- Milk and honey are still very plentiful in Palestine, (Calmet) though the country has lost much of its ancient beauty and luxuriance, for want of cultivation. The Samaritan and Septuagint number the Gergesites among the rest of the Chanaanites.

Verse 12

A sign. Moses had modestly represented his own inability to perform so great a work, and such God generally selects. He encourages them therefore with a sign, to the splendour of which he was then a witness; and with another, which should appear in future, to convince him and all the world, that the undertaking was from God, when they should see him offering sacrifice in that place, out of the reach of Pharao, chap. xxiv. 3. Thus a future event is assigned to Achaz and Ezechias, as a sign of something that was to happen first. (Isaias vii; 4 Kings xix. 29.) Perhaps the sign here appointed is the presence of God enabling Moses to work miracles. (Menochius)

Verse 13

His name. Many of them had embraced idolatry, and had forgotten God. Moses very properly begs to have his extraordinary mission sanctioned by miracles, without which he might well have been rejected, as heretics are. (Haydock)

Verse 14

I am who am. That is, I am being itself, eternal, self-existent, independent, infinite; without beginning, end, or change; and the source of all other beings. (Challoner) --- Hebrew agrees with the Vulgate, though it seems to read aeje, "I shall be," &c. (Cornelius a Lapide; &c.) --- No name can fully explain the divine perfections. As God is alone, he stands in need of no distinctive appellation, as Lactantius, and even the pagans have confessed. (Origen, contra Cels. vi.) (Calmet) --- All other beings are just nothing, compared with God. He alone is self-existent and infinitely perfect. (Worthington)

Verse 15

Memorial. By this title he is still known among Christians. (Menochius) --- Hitherto God had generally been called Elohim. But now he assumes the incommunicable name (Tirinus) consisting of four vowels, Jod, He, Vau, He, Jehovah, the essence, or Greek: OON [Omikron, Omega, Nu.], a word which the Greek Scriptures leave undeclined, to denote the unchangeable nature of the Deity. The word has been pronounced Jehovah by the moderns, and by the ancients Jevo, Jao, Jave, &c. (Haydock)

Verse 16

Ancients. Perhaps there might be 72 magistrates already among the Hebrews, as there were afterwards in the desert (Grotius); or more probably they were only the chiefs of families, and leading men among their brethren, though without any public authority derived from the king of Egypt. --- Visiting. So Joseph had foretold, Genesis l. 23. God examines before he punishes, Genesis xviii. 21. (Calmet)

Verse 18

Called. Samaritan and Septuagint, "hath been invoked upon us." Hebrew, "hath occurred, or appeared to us." (Haydock) --- Journey, to Sinai, which was about this distance, to go straight. But the Israelites spent 48 days in arriving at it by a circuitous road. (Calmet) --- In Hebrew they ask, "Let us go, we beseech thee." They do not tell a lie, but withhold the truth. (Menochius)

Verse 21

Egyptians, among whom the Hebrews were forced to live, not being now allowed to enjoy the fertile country of Gessen alone, according to Joseph’s disposition. The subsequent kings altered that wise regulation. (Haydock)

Verse 22

Shall spoil, &c. That is, you shall strip, and take away the goods of the Egyptians. This was not authorizing theft or injustice: but was a just disposal made by him, who is the great Lord and Master of all things; in order to pay the children of Israel some part of what was due to them from the Egyptians for their labours. (Challoner) --- Wisdom (x. 17) rendered to the just the wages of their labours; and (ver. 19,) the just took the spoils of the wicked, in a just war. It is an ancient tradition of the Jews, that the Egyptians appealed to Alexander the Great for the recovery of these spoils; but when the Jews demanded their wages, they were willing to desist from their claims. (Selden, de Ture vii. 8; Tertullian, contra Marcion ii. 20.) (Calmet) --- God had a mind to punish the extravagance of the Egyptians, while he enabled his people to appear with suitable presents before him. It was on this last plea that the Hebrews borrowed precious garments, gold, &c. (Haydock) See Clement of Alexandria, strom. 1; St. Augustine, q. 23.

Verse 25


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Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Exodus 3". "Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.