Exodus 3:1-15 - The test of listening to a burning bush

Updated: Jan 27

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Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain ha-elohim. There the angel of Yahweh appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” When Yahweh saw that he had turned aside to see, elohim called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said further, “I am elohe of your father, elohe of Abraham, elohe of Isaac, welohe of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at ha-elohim.


Then Yahweh said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians Egypt, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.” But Moses said ha-elohim, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites sons of Israel out of Egypt?” He said, “I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship ha-elohim on this mountain.”


But Moses said ha-elohim, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘elohe of your ancestors has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' what shall I say to them?” elohim said to Moses, “I am who I am.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites sons of Israel, 'I am has sent me to you.'” elohim also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites sons of Israel, ‘Yahweh elohe of your ancestors, elohe of Abraham, elohe of Isaac, welohe of Jacob, has sent me to you':


This is my name forever, and this my title for all generations.”


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This is the Old Testament selection to be read aloud on the third Sunday in Lent, Year C, according to the lectionary for the Episcopal Church. It will precede a singing of verses from Psalm 63, where David wrote: “Therefore I have gazed upon you in your holy place, that I might behold your power and your glory.” That pair will be followed by a reading from Paul’s letter to the true Christians of Corinth, where he wrote: “Our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink.” All will accompany a reading from Luke’s Gospel, where he wrote of how Jesus “asked them, ‘Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did.’”


You will notice the changes I have made in the above text. Four times the NRSV had translated “Yahweh” as “the Lord.” Because that is not what was written, I have restored the proper name of Yahweh [in bold type] that Moses had be memorized and then written. You will also take note of the seventeen restorations I have made in italics. All relate to variations of the word “elohim,” which is plural in number, implying “gods” [in the lower-case]. In all places the NRSV has taken the liberty to make this a singular number, capitalized “God,” which is wrong. It is vital that one see there is a difference between “the Lord” and “God,” simply because that is two different words being focused upon. Likewise, there is a significant difference in Yahweh and elohim, which must be grasped to see the truth of this lesson rising to the surface.


According to the BibleHub Interlinear that shows the Hebrew words, their transliterations into an alphabet recognized, and an English translation of the transliteration, that source also provides a link to the root word [in Strong’s], where multiple translation variations can be found. Also, underneath each English translation is a coded statement about the word written in Hebrew. Relative to that reference, the transliterations that I have restored in italics above shows this [my translations in quotation marks]:


elohim – noun masculine plural = “gods”

elohe – noun masculine plural construct = “the gods”

welohe – conjunction + noun masculine plural construct = “and gods”

ha-elohim – article + noun masculine plural = “this gods”


In this text from Exodus 3 are three uses of “elohim,” with no modifications. There are five places that “ha-elohim” is written. There are seven places where “elohe” is written as that construct; and, there are two times that “welohe” is found. As shown in this list above, all are plural number masculine nouns. However, none of those uses should be thought of as “gods.”

The “elohim” are introduced in Genesis 1, where thirty-two times Moses orated [memorized and then later transcribed] the word “elohim,” which is to be understood as “the gods” that Yahweh created … first thing: “In the beginning created elohim.” There is absolutely no references to Yahweh in Genesis 1, which means Genesis 1:1a must be assumed that it was Yahweh who “in the beginning created gods.” Those “gods” [the "elohim"] would then carry out Yahweh’s plans for The Creation.


The ”elohim” that were many [plural] and who carried out Yahweh’s Creation are then named singularly – as “elohim” stated with Yahweh absent – when Yahweh then put the singular “elohim” to rest, after six phases of The Creation. The seventh phase was deemed holy by "Yahweh," whose name appears eleven times in Genesis 2. In each of the times Yahweh is written in Genesis 2 it is followed by the word “elohim.” This word has the same implication as “gods,” but when that word follows “Yahweh,” as “Yahweh elohim,” the implication is those “gods” that are then married to Yahweh, as His elohim. All elohim are the creations of Yahweh, but not all elohim are married to Yahweh within human flesh. Yahweh controls them all; but some elohim willingly and lovingly serve Yahweh as His elohim, His angels who are the guardians of His priests.


Genesis 2 tells of the creation of Adam, who is the true Son of Yahweh, the only Son, made by His hand. The “elohim,” which is a plural number word, says the soul of Adam was angelic, where Adam was made in flesh made from the earth, with a multiplicity that could be many “gods” in one body. To understand this, think of Adam as being Adam in the flesh, while being presented different animals to name; and, in that naming one of the elohim of Adam entered the soul of the animal, instantly knowing everything about that animal. Thus, Adam’s extended elohim asked the animal, “What would you like to be named, and the animal soul responded to that elohim of Adam and Adam knew, because of his still present elohim. This is a spiritual multiplicity that ordinary souls do not have, which means Adam would be sent to earth as the Son of Yahweh to spread the lineage of Yahweh elohim among mankind.


By seeing this as the intent and purpose of all forms of “elohim,” one should then look at the series of Hebrew words that are given proper name status. All capitalization of Hebrew into English comes with applied capital letters, as those translating the Hebraic text see a word as a name; and, it is a name. Still, the lower-case states the meaning behind the name every time that word-name is used in divine text. Even the name Yahweh is not capitalized in Hebrew, because Hebrew has no way of designating capital letters, versus lower-case letters. Thus, the letters “yod – he – waw – he” [“י ה ו ה” where Hebrew writes from right to left] are transliterated (with vowels inserted) to sound out as “yah-weh” [or auf Deutsch “je-ho-vah” – where j = y and a w = v] but that ‘word-name’ means, “He Who Causes That-Which-Is To Be & He Who Causes That-Which-Can't-Be To Fall.”


In such a long reading selection, as is fifteen verses, this story unfolds with many Hebrew words read as proper names, without any contemplation given to the meaning behind the names. Everything in Biblical Scripture is divine, so nothing is without deeper meaning. All of these ‘names’ written need to be understood; and, when one is looking closely at these ‘names,’ one then finds the word “elohe” directly connected to the names Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, while also directly linking to non-names: “your father” [implying Amram, but not stated] and “their fathers.” That then says “elohe” are “sons of Yahweh,” which is supported in the correction made above [following strikethroughs] where is written “sons of Israel.”


All of this means it is important to have a list of the names and the meaning behind the names. They are as follows [most referenced from Abarim Publications]:


Moses = “Child – Rescued From Drowning In Water; Extracted; Loan; Hidden; Covered”

Jethro = “Excellent; His Excellence; His Remnant”

Midian = “Strife; Place Of Judgement”

Horeb = “Arid; Dryness”

Abraham = “Their Protection; Their Shield”

Isaac = “Laughter; He Will Laugh”

Jacob = “He Who Closely Follows; Supplanter”

Egypt = “Temple of Ptah; Married To Tragedy”

Canaanite = “Land Of Purple People”

Hittite = “Terrors; Terrible”

Ammonite = “Great People”

Perizzite = “Non-urbanite; Wildling; Rural”

Hivite = “Tent Villagers”

Jebusite = “Of The Trodden Underfoot; The Down Tramplers”

Israel = “He Retains God; God Is Upright”


With all of this at one’s disposal, this reading can speedily be seen to show the following:

In verse one, we find Moses (Extracted, Hidden) has found safety in a land outside of Egypt. He is working for his father-in-law Jethro (His Remnant), who is a priest of Midian (a son of Abraham that is known for Strife), as a shepherd. This element of being one who tends to a flock cannot be overlooked. It is a projection of Moses being the shepherd over the flock of Israelites for the next forty years. In the translation that says “wilderness,” the Hebrew word “midbar” is used and refers to “uninhabited land,” which is in the land of Midian, where modern Saudi Arabia touched the northern edge of the Red Sea.


In the last two segments of verse one is written “and came to mountain ha-elohim , Horeb (Dryness).” Certainly, this literally indicates Moses coming upon a mountain, where Jethro’s “flock” had gone to graze. The region of Median is indeed arid, so that would be an indication that the mountain (which could also be a hill) was one the locals called it “Horeb,” because it was dry. Still, there actually is no separation between “ha-elohim” and “hore-bah,” with that ‘name’ shown to be in the third person feminine singular. So the “mountain of elohim” can be seen as a statement of a wife of Yahweh. In this, one must see that Yahweh is the spiritual Father of His elohim Son, with the Mother of Adam being the Earth, from whom Yahweh took dust to form His Son. So, the “mountain herself” is one of the elohim created by Yahweh in The Creation.


In verse two we are immediately told, “and appeared a messenger Yahweh.” In that, the Hebrew word “malak” means “a messenger,” but Yahweh’s “messengers” are “angels;” so, that is a viable translation that must be seen. This becomes a transition from a “mountain of elohim” to an “angel of elohim.” The aspect of “Dryness” (Horeb) can now be seen as the presence of Moses bringing the moisture that made “her mountain” produce an “elohim.” This is then explained as “an angel appearing a flame of fire in the midst of a bush.” In that, “the bush” must be seen as the fruit of “her mountain,” where some conject the Hebrew word “seneh” could be a blackberry shrub,” or some other “bramble bush” that produces fruit. The fruit of this “bush” is “an angel” that is so bright it “appears” to be “a flame.” However, because it is “an angel” it is not physical fire, but Spiritual presence.

This depiction is wrong, as shepherds do not tend their flocks at night; so, the background should be depicting daylight.


Because we now have read “ha-elohim” twice, the “appearance,” which says Moses was able “to see and angelic elohim,” this becomes a statement that Moses has transfigured, in the same way as did Peter, James and John, when they went on “a mountain” with Jesus. They too had an ability “to see” the “angels” that were Moses and Elijah. This must now be realized when the remainder of this reading unfolds, as it is not ordinary Moses talking with Yahweh elohim. He has become a Yahweh elohim. When we then are told that Moses looked and saw what he thought was physical fire not destroying the bush, this says he was beginning to realize this was a spiritual manifestation.


In verse three, it begins by stating, “and said Moses.” Unless Moses was talking to the flock, he was speaking to the “angel of elohim,” which had appeared to him. To then say, “I will turn aside now to see great here ; for what reason not does burn this bush .” This must be recognized as two statements being made, with the second statement not being a question about why the bush is not burning. It says Moses understands that the reason the bush is not burning is it is a spiritual presence, not material … not physical fire. That is then what makes Moses say it is ”great.” That then says that the Hebrew words translating as “I will turn aside now” [“’ā·su·rāh- nā”] is not a statement of Moses changing direction, as if walking towards the bush. Instead, the word means Moses told the angel that he willingly would enter into the spiritual realm; and, he would do that because he knew the “angel of elohim” was most holy.


In verse four begins by saying, “when he saw Yahweh,” which is the first time that Moses became face-to-face with Yahweh and spoke with Him. For this to happen – to “see Yahweh” – one has to die, because “no one can look upon Yahweh and live.” Thus, the soul of Moses had left his body of flesh, in order to have this direct spiritual meeting. The way this has described a flame of fire in a bush says this bright glowing light is what would transfer onto Moses’ soul; so, when his soul returned to his body of flesh the holiness of Yahweh’s penetrating light would shine through his flesh, as a halo. This leaving of his physical body is now confirmed by repeating “he turned aside to look.” That says Yahweh made it possible for the soul of Moses to leave his body; and, Moses voluntarily went towards Yahweh.


From this naming of Yahweh, we then read that Moses was called by “elohim” in the “midst of the bush,” saying (twice), “Moses!” (“Extracted”) “Moses!” (“Child Rescued”). When Moses heard the voice of Yahweh speaking his name, two things should be seen. First, Moses ceased being part of the physical surrounding. Instead of a “flame of fire in a bush,” Moses has become an “elohim amid that which gives birth to angels of elohim.” Having become one of Yahweh’s “elohim,” Moses could hear Yahweh speaking to him. Rather than hear Yahweh speak his name – as a name is unimportant in the spiritual realm – hearing Yahweh declare a new soul has been “Extracted!” and a “Child Rescued,” that led Moses to respond. This is then the second point of importance to realize. For Moses to say (in Hebrew) “hin·nê·nî,” this better translates as “behold!” where Moses saw that truth spoken from Yahweh. While that Hebrew word is similar to the one written by Isaiah, in his spiritual dream where the question was asked, “Who do we send?” there is no focus place on the first person “I” in the spiritual realm of Yahweh. Thus, Moses said “See!” the truth of what Yahweh spoke [the truth of a name] and replied, “Behold!” because the truth was amazing to Moses.


In verse five, Yahweh did not say Moses was walking about and needed to stop. Yahweh said Moses did “not draw near to this place,” as “this place” or “here” [“hă·lōm”] is not physical, but spiritual. Yahweh next said “clear away your sandals,” where the implication to “take off” or “remove” footwear is symbolic, as Moses’ soul had no need for any clothing at all. The words are intended to say that Moses was no longer in a realm that required “sandals” to move about. The spiritual realm had taken Moses’ soul “clear away,” in the same sense he willingly “turned aside.” The focus placed on “your sandals” is then a statement about the spiritual “footwear” of Moses being “above” [from “mê·‘al”] the terrestrial. The necessity of “your feet” [“raḡ·le·ḵā”] has been “cleared away,” as ordinary human souls stand at the “feet” of Yahweh; but Moses has been divinely elevated “above” that state of being; adding, “for this place” only.


When verse five then has Moses hearing (as an “elohim”) Yahweh say, “where you stand over , land-holy is .” This becomes relative to Genesis 2, as “land-holy” is Eden. Eden is where divine souls (elohim) can exist in bodies of flesh. Moses was elevated out of his body of flesh, but his body of flesh was still present and living, in the sense that Moses felt his body of flesh still within his soul. Yahweh was telling Moses that his “elohim” addition to his soul had taken him above and beyond ordinary “land,” taking his being to a “land-holy” (or Holy Land), which is Eden. While Adam and Eve lived in Eden (as Yahweh elohim) they could hear the footsteps of Yahweh and hear His voice. They could see Yahweh in the same way Moses was now able to see Him, hear Him and talk to Him.


In verse six we see that Yahweh begins to teach Moses about all who are His “elohim.” When He first says, “I elohe your father,” this is not Yahweh saying that Amram (the father of Moses and Aaron) was one of Yahweh’s “elohim,” even if Amram was such a divinely elevated soul. This first segment of words is stating that Yahweh (“I”) am “your father,” who made Moses’ soul one of His “elohim.” This first segment is the truth about all souls that can call Yahweh “my Father.” Thus, with that understood, the same relationship existed between Yahweh and “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Yahweh was the Father of each of those souls, when they became His “elohim.”


When verse six then tells us, “for hid Moses his face for fear , to look into of elohim .” that says Moses immediately knew he could not wear the face of a mere mortal upon his face and look upon Yahweh. Moses was still some time away from receiving the Law he would take down to the children of Israel to agree with, as their vows of divine marriage to Yahweh; but the first Law says, "Thou shall wear no other face before the face of Yahweh.” The “fear” Moses felt was that of being ejected from this divine experience; so, he feared standing for his own self-ego in such a great presence. This means Moses lowered his face in submission to the power of Yahweh; and, he could then “look into” Yahweh’s face, as one “of His elohim.” That says being one of Yahweh’s elohim means subjection of self-will, in service to Yahweh.


Verses seven, eight and nine are then Yahweh telling Moses the background story of the Israelite people in Egypt. In verse nine, and again in verse ten, Yahweh does not call those children “Israelites,” but instead “sons of Israel.” The key terms used by Yahweh – “to deliver them” [from “lə·haṣ·ṣî·lōw”] “and bring them up” [from “ū·lə·ha·‘ă·lō·ṯōw”] “to earth flowing with milk and honey” [from “el-’e·reṣ zā·ḇaṯ ḥā·lāḇ ū·ḏə·ḇāš”] – together say that Yahweh is choosing Moses to be the ‘midwife’ who would “deliver” the baby ready to be born from the womb of Egypt (Married To Tragedy]. Those “sons of Who Retained God,” who developed in the womb from one Yahweh elohim that taught all of his children to worship One God as above all others, had reached a point in fetal development that birth pangs were signaling it was time for their birth. And, in that regard, the infant would need another Yahweh elohim to lead them to the teat that would fatten them, where other peoples would still be allowed to remain and dwell. Canaan would be the nursemaid of baby Israel.


In verses ten through twelve, the scenario of “pharaoh” comes up. This needs to be read metaphorically as the soul of Egypt, where Egypt has been like a surrogate mother of Yahweh’s child. As has been the case in reported surrogate mother situations, once they carry a fetus in their womb the birth makes the baby be an extension of the mother; so, the mother does not want to part with the child. This is why Moses asked what legal grounds did he have in his favor, when the children of Israel had become an extension of the surrogate mother. If she were tp be unwilling to give up her newborn without a legal battle, how would Moses handle that resistance?


This is where the name “Egypt” takes on the meaning of “Temple of Ptah,” where “Ptah” was a deity with similarities to Yahweh (a creator god, patron to the development of crafts). The “sons of Israel” were placed in a surrogate mother’s womb, in order to develop into priests who serve only one God, not the polytheism natural to Egyptians. Thus, the ‘DNA’ of the “sons of Israel” was the legal grounds for the mother (Egypt) to release the baby to the rightful parent (Yahweh). Egypt had no gods that could make that claim of parentage. Moses would then be the “elohim” of Yahweh that would develop their ‘craft’ of priesthood further.


When verse thirteen begins by stating, “and said Moses into of elohim,” that needs to be seen as Moses now speaking as an extension of Yahweh, having received the soul of His Son, where Moses is also one “Who Retains Yahweh as one of His elohim” (Israel’s deeper meaning). This speech then led Moses to say, “behold!,” followed by the identification of “I” [from “’ā·nō·ḵî”]. Because Moses had hidden his ”face in fear,” the use of “I” cannot be read as if Moses suddenly raised his “face” and spoke of self (“I”). This is Yahweh speaking through the Son, so Moses spoke as one of the “elohim,” realizing he had also “come to the sons of Israel to tell them” he was an “elohim” who was divinely raised in soul, just like “the fathers” of the children of Israel in Egypt, with Moses “sent to them” as the same spirituality that made their fathers be “sons of Israel.”


In what appears to be two questions posed to Yahweh by Moses, this is actually two statements made by Yahweh to Moses. The first says, “and they will say to you what his name,” with the second statement being, “anything I shall say to them.” Again, the first-person construct in “I shall say” [from “’ō·mar”] says Yahweh will do all the talking. This is the model that will be found in Jesus, where he repeatedly said he spoke for the Father, because the Father was in him. This is Yahweh telling Moses not to worry about any questions posed to him, especially those posed by pharaoh, as to what God an “elohim” speaks for.


When verse fourteen begins, “and said elohim into Moses,” this is again Yahweh speaking through the divine soul that has possessed Moses, letting Moses’ soul know who is now his Father, the Father of all “elohim.” Here is where Yahweh says “I am” [from “’eh·yeh”]. The root Hebrew word here – “hayah” – means, “to fall out, come to pass, become, be,” which becomes an “I” statement about “Being.” That is “who” [from “asher”] is the possessor of Moses’ soul. Thus, Yahweh repeated “I am” again, which says there really is no name that can possibly be applied to Yahweh, because names are meaning applied to souls in shapes of angels or bodies of flesh [which resemble the elohim].


In this regard, the name “Yahweh” – or “YHWH” – is said to be “it incomprehensible” [from Judges 13:18, using “wə·hū-p̄e·li,” which can say “it wonderful” also]. By telling Moses Yahweh is simply a way to denote Him specifically, that ‘name’ is a statement of a presence that “IS.” It is a sensation that exceeds physical limitations, such that there are no words that truly can express what the divine “Being” is like, in human terms [even "God" or "Lord" fails to properly name Yahweh]. It is only a presence that can be felt by a soul [well beyond the sensations of a body of flesh], such that it is the truth of Spiritual “Love,” which cannot possibly be found equating to human “love.”


By Moses’ soul being told this, one needs to realize that there were no descendants of Jacob in Egypt, who had been taught by their forefather certain rites and rituals that were passed down from Yahweh to all His “elohim,” who Moses would go to and say, “I come to free you guys” and they would ask him, “Who sent you?” Moses would show up as God incarnate – like Jesus was seen – and he would let Yahweh do all the talking for him, which spoke loudest in miracles done. The children of Jacob – the “sons of Israel” – were in no way divinely elevated to ask any questions, or even know what answers should be given. Their approval – like a baby who is about to be born – had no bearing on the matter of their exit from the womb. Moses would appear as a divine ‘midwife’ to deliver that child, which meant taking it from the birthing table and then leading it to the big teat in Canaan, where it would suckle for several hundred years.


Moses would then be the “elohim” that would prepare the “sons of Israel” to become that themselves. They had been conceived by “Israel,” who was a “Son” of Yahweh, as a Yahweh elohim. The people were then normal “sons,” or “children,” who came from a divine lineage that was not genetically inherited (being a lineage of souls married to Yahweh – elohim). This is why Moses would become their teacher to sacrifice their souls to Yahweh, in the same way the human lineage went from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob. Those three had sons that were not inheritors of a divine elevation of soul [Ishmael, Esau, and the sons who sold Joseph into slavery and did other grave sins). Thus, Yahweh would be their Spiritual teacher, with Moses their “elohim” babysitter-teacher.


As a very deep reading selected to be read on the third Sunday in Lent, the theme of sacrifice in the wilderness must be seen as the test of service. Moses was filled with the Spirit of Yahweh that made him become a most divine elohim, one who saw Yahweh while in a transfigured state of being. Moses is quite parallel to Jesus in many ways, as the same Spirit-soul was in possession of Moses’ soul. The test of Moses would take him the rest of his life taking that test, which was the last forty years (a little more) of his life. Therefore, to see Lent as some temporary commitment to Yahweh is wrong. One needs to be in the presence of Yahweh forever, if one’s soul truly seeks salvation. The test is always about eternity; and, that means accepting all tasks that come from the Father. One must always reply, “Behold!” so Yahweh knows your soul welcomes the test.

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