G-D Upholds the Covenant

The children of Israel could no longer endure their terrible suffering and persecution at the hands of their cruel overlords. Their cries for help, their supplications and prayers, coming from the very bottom of their hearts, pierced the heavens. G‑d remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and decided to deliver their descendants from bondage.

G-D Reveals Himself

Moses took care of the flocks of his father-in-law Jethro. Once when he had driven his flocks far out in the desert, a small lamb got lost. After searching for it all over the hills of the desert, Moses found it near the Mount of Horeb. He took the tired little animal in his arms and set out to return to the flocks. Suddenly an unusual sight attracted his attention.

He saw a thorn-bush burst out in flame, but although the flames burned continuously, the bush did not turn into ashes. His curiosity aroused, Moses stepped closer, and out of the thorn-bush, he heard the voice of G‑d calling (Exodus 3:4) : "Moses, Moses!"

"Here I am," replied Moses.

G‑d continued to speak to him saying: And He said, "Do not draw near here. Take your shoes off your feet, because the place upon which you stand is holy soil. I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." Moses covered his face; for he was afraid to look up to G‑d.

G‑d then told Moses that He had heard the crying of the children of Israel in distress; and that He would deliver them from the hands of the Egyptian oppressors and bring them back into the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey. He, Moses, was the one to go to Pharaoh and lead the Jewish people out of Egypt.

Moses hesitated to accept this great mission. He was afraid he was neither worthy nor able to carry out such a great task. G‑d assured him, however, that He would be with him. Still Moses begged to be relieved of this mission. He feared that the children of Israel would not recognize his authority to speak as their leader. If he told them that G‑d had sent him, they would demand to know His name.

G‑d told Moses to identify Him to the children of Israel as the G‑d of their fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Who has now come to redeem them from slavery and take them to the land He had promised their ancestors.

The Miraculous Signs

To further impress the children of Israel, Moses was to perform for them miraculous wonders with his staff. It was the staff that Adam had taken out of the Garden of Eden, and that had served Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It had the inscription of G‑d's Holy Name on it. Jethro had taken possession of this wonderful staff after Joseph's death. He planted it in his garden and no one had since that time been able to pull it out of the earth, until Moses came and removed it easily, thus proving his just claim to its ownership.

Now G‑d told Moses to throw this staff on the ground. Moses did so, and the staff turned into a serpent. Moses fled in terror, but G‑d ordered him to grasp it by its tail: Moses did so, and the serpent changed back into a staff.

Again G‑d bade Moses put his hand into his bosom. When Moses took it out it was stricken with incurable leprosy. Then he again put his hand into his bosom, and when he pulled it out, it was clean as before. Finally, G‑d told Moses that if he were to pour water on dry land it would turn into blood. All these signs G‑d gave to Moses to be able to impress upon the children of Israel that G‑d had sent him to them.

Moses made a final attempt to be relieved of his mission, hoping that G‑d Himself would bring about His people's salvation. "I am tongue-tied," Moses pleaded.

But G‑d told him that the One who gave the human being the ability to hear, see, and speak, could surely remedy this handicap! He then told Moses that Aaron would serve as his spokesman. Then G‑d ordered Moses to return to Egypt, since there was no longer any danger for him there.