Minutes With Messiah Logo

Why Say That?

by Tim O'Hearn

Non sequitur: a statement that does not follow logically from or is not clearly related to anything previously said. Some people are masters of this. They always bring the conversation back to them, even if it had nothing to do with them in the first place. For example, people talking about where to eat and the person inserts, “Oh, I bought a dog yesterday. Do you want to see pictures?” Sometimes certain verses in the Bible appear to be a non sequitur. Usually, though, if we look closely enough we may be able to learn a possible reason such a statement was made in the first place. One such example may be found in the book of Exodus. And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet. Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land. … And Moses and Aaron did as the LORD commanded them, so did they. And Moses was fourscore years old, and Aaron fourscore and three years old, when they spake unto Pharaoh. (Ex 7:1-2; 6-7) After God tells them to speak to the Pharaoh, and that he won’t listen, the author inserts the ages of Moses and Aaron. Why? What does that have to do with telling the ruler to let the Israelites go worship? Perhaps it is directly related to their ages. It was important to Moses to point out that he was 80 and his brother was 83. From age three months until age 40, Moses was considered the grandson of the Pharaoh then ruling. This was pretty important. If that king had no sons, then Moses might have inherited the throne of Egypt. (There were two major queens of Egypt up to that time, but descent usually went through the males.) Because he was actually a foreigner, it might have led to a civil war, but if Moses had not left Egypt under a cloud of murder accusations, he might have inherited. That would have resulted in freeing the Israelite slaves, but it would not have met God’s plans. Israel would have remained in Egypt, rather than inhabiting the Promised Land. Moses’ self-imposed exile from Egypt was part of God’s plan. During the forty years Moses was in exile, a new Pharaoh took over. We don’t know for certain who this was, although some believe it was Ramses the Great. This new Pharaoh was possibly not a direct descendant of the old king. Even if he was, he had probably not yet been born when Moses fled the country. He did not know Moses. He did not fear that Moses was going to try to take the throne. So he probably was too young to have known of Moses’ existence in the court. So here you have Moses and Aaron, in their 80s, and a young Pharaoh, possibly in his 20s or 30s. Add that Moses was seeming to speak as a priest of the God of the Israelites. An aged priest and a young king. By inserting his age in a seeming non sequitur, Moses may have been saying that he expected the Pharaoh to listen to him. Age implies wisdom. Priesthood implies authority. This punk kid of a king should have listened to this older man, and let Israel go. God had different plans. He had already told Moses that the Pharaoh would not listen. Maybe by inserting this, Moses was saying to God, “Why not? He should listen to his elders.” Perhaps the Pharaoh should have; but Moses should have listened to God.