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Shemot/Exodus 6:26-27 It was Aharon and Moshe to whom Adonai spoke ... they were the ones who spoke to Pharaoh ... it was that Moshe and Aharon.
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The text has three references to Moshe and Aharon, the original dynamic duo, in two verses; twice by name and once using the pronoun - 'they'. The commentators' attention is drawn by the fact - at least in the Hebrew text, although theSeptuagint and Qumran texts reverse the order in verse 27 - that the first verse lists Aharon before Moshe, while the second verse lists Moshe first. Nahum Sarna points out that if the current textual block starts at verse 13, then this can seen as a chiastic structure:
v. 13 Moshe v'Aharon
v. 26 Aharon u'Moshe
v. 27 Moshe v'Aharon
where the structure points attention to the component in the centre, thus favouring Aharon. Richard Elliott Friedman comments on the text that "both word orders are given: Aharon first, then Moshe first, suggesting that each is important in a different way. The recognition of Aharon here is especially significant because it is natural to think of Moshe first, but this notice follows a genealogy that has listed Aharon as the firstborn."Ibn Ezra (quoted by Michael Carasik, explains that "Aharon is mentioned first because he was older, moreover (based on 1 Samuel 2:27 and Shemot 4:13 implying that Aharon was already speaking before Moshe was commissioned) he prophesied to Israel before Moshe did. However, once their speaking to Pharaoh is mentioned, Moshe is given precedence, since he spoke face to face with G-d, while Aharon was merely a prophet (B'Midbar 12:6-7)". Echoing the Mekhilta, Rashi concludes that "there are places where the Torah puts Aharon before Moshe (e.g. B'Midbar 3:1) and there are places where it puts Moshe before Aharon (e.g. Shemot 16:6), to say that they are of equal significance".
The Mekhilta also asks another question: "What does Scripture mean to teach by saying here? It merely teaches that just as Moshe was perfectly fit to receive the divine words, so was Aharon perfectly fit to receive the divine words ... just as Moshe was a judge over Pharaoh, so was Aharon a judge over Pharaoh; just as Moshe would speak his words fearlessly, so also would Aharon speak his words fearlessly." Building on that position, the Mekhilta goes to say, "In like manner you must interpret 'I am the G-d of your father, the G-d of Avraham, the G-d of Yitz'khak and the G-d of Ya'akov' (Shemot 3:6). One might suppose that the one preceding in the scriptural text should actually have precedence over the other. But the order is reversed in the passage 'Then I will remember My covenant with Ya'akov, and also My covenant with Yitz'khak, and also My covenant with Avraham' (Vayikra 26:42). Scripture thus declares that all three were equal. In like manner you must interpret: 'Honour your father and your mother' (Shemot 20:12). One might suppose that the one preceding in the scriptural text should actually have precedence over the other. But in the passage: 'You shall each revere his mother and his father' (Vayikra 19:3), the mother precedes. Scripture that declares that both are equal."
Following this argumentation, we could deduce that unless Scripture explicitly says otherwise, we should always take the individual members or components of a list to be equal in status. Thus for example, we might say that at the start of Yeshua's ministry, the twelve apostles are not ranked in any way: "The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him" (Matthew 10:2-4, ESV), the various attributions being simply comments to uniquely identify each one. This also clearly seems the case in Rav Sha'ul's list - "there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor freeman, neither male nor female; for in union with the Messiah Yeshua, you are all one" (Galatians 3:28, CJB) - where Sha'ul explicitly ends by saying that in Messiah we are all on exactly the same standing before G-d. Although having different physiological, cultural and vocational properties, all believers in Yeshua are equally sons and daughters of G-d and Avraham. By contrast, we can hear Sha'ul emphasising the Jewish priority for the gospel when he says, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of G-d for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16, ESV). While Jew and Gentile both get to hear his gospel message and experience the power of G-d in salvation, Sha'ul preaches first in the synagogue because - for better or worse in the eyes of the nations - the Jewish people are already G-d's chosen people, His ancient people, the physical family of Avraham, Yitz'khak and Ya'akov and they get to hear first. We are seeing this priority, long set aside by the historical church, returning to the fore as the days draw to a close and G-d's end-times purposes among His people and the Land of Israel are being worked out.
Another place where Scripture clearly makes a distinction between people is the case of Moshe and Yeshua. The Bible tells us that "Moshe was faithful in all G-d's house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Messiah is faithful over G-d's house as a son. And we are His house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope" (Hebrews 3:5-6, ESV). Here the two greatest leaders of Israel are compared. Both are described as faithful, both have/had responsibility for the household of G-d. The difference comes in their status and position: Moshe as a servant in G-d's house, Yeshua as a son over G-d's house. The period of tenure is also different: Moshe was - implying that his period of ministry has ended - faithful, while Yeshua is - implying that His period of ministry is still ongoing - faithful. That is why the writer to the Hebrews says, "Long ago, at many times and in many ways, G-d spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world" (Hebrews 1:1-2, ESV). Yeshua is not just another prophet (though He certainly did prophesy), He is the Son and heir to everything. His message was not simply a call for repentance by the house of Israel (though it certainly included that), but a call for repentance by all the peoples of the nations.
In fact, Yeshua is so different that "although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore also G-d highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Yeshua every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Yeshua the Messiah is Lord, to the glory of G-d the Father" (Philippians 2:6-11, NASB). By His obedience, although He already had the ultimate position with and before G-d the Father, He earned the right to be proclaimed above and beyond everything by all people of all times and places.
This is why the apostles, when giving witness to Yeshua, His death and resurrection use the words: "G-d raised up this Yeshua! And we are all witnesses of it!" (Acts 2:23, CJB), "G-d has made Him both L-rd and Messiah - this Yeshua, whom you executed on a stake!" (v. 26, CJB), "this Yeshua whom I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah" (17:3, CJB). It is not just any man, any figure from history that we identify - Clive of India, General Gordon of Khartoum, William Wilberforce - all of whom may have had a significant impact on the lives they touched or affected - but Yeshua, this one who was crucified in early 1st century Israel, this one who rose again from death, this one alone is Messiah and is the saviour and salvation for the world.
Further Study: Psalm 2:7-12; 2 Peter 1:17
Application: Do you know this Yeshua? Have you realised exactly who He is and trusted your life to Him? Don't get distracted today debating between Moshe and Aharon, but recognise the claims and status of Yeshua, the Messiah of G-d and coming King of Israel and the world!
© Jonathan Allen, 2012
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