Exodus 5:22-23 – Lament of the Leader


Exodus 5:22-23


Resistance to God’s plan for deliverance discourages Moses and leads him to question God.


Demands have been made to Pharaoh to release the people of Israel so that they might go into the wilderness to worship. Moses and Aaron have communicated to Pharaoh the demands of God. The only result has been an intensification of the burdens on the Israelites. The direct intercessions of Israelite supervisors also were to no avail. They began to turn against Moses. At this point Moses turns to God and charges God with mistreating the people and doing nothing to carry out the declared intention to deliver Israel from Egyptian enslavement.

Moses’ important position between the people and God is underscored in this brief episode. The frankness of his question to and charge against God is startling. Moses identifies with the earlier groans and cries of the people (2:23-25). He is not extending his objections to his commissioning; rather, he is speaking from within God’s promise to be with him. He holds God to that promise and in view of that promise asks why nothing has occurred up to this point. Moses’ sharp speech is possible and permitted because God has promised to be with him. Once again it is clear that the project of delivering Israel was not something that grew out of Moses’ character or personality. Delivering Israel from Egypt was God’s project, and Moses asked God about the status of God’s project. Israel’s well-being is tied up in the answer. In the world of divine promise, everything depends on God doing what God promises. There is no conversation about trying harder, praying harder, being more sincere, repenting more fervently, or anything else that involves Israel’s action. God must act; hence, the directness of Moses’ question and challenge.