Thursday, August 15, 2013

Exodus 4: Free Will Is Overrated

Today's Podcast


Moses fled from Egypt after killing a slave driver and started a family in Midian. Then God appeared to him in a burning bush and told him he needed to go back to Egypt and save the Israelites from slavery.

Moses Given Powerful Signs (v. 1-17)

Moses complains to God that people might not believe that God has talked to him. God responds that he will allow Moses to perform signs for them. He will be able to turn his staff into a snake, he can make his hand look leprous and back to healthy, and if that doesn't work he can pour some water from the Nile onto the ground and it will turn to blood.
Those do sound like some pretty cool tricks.

Moses continues to complain, saying that he is not an eloquent speaker, he begs God to send someone else. God gets a bit angry, and says that his brother Aaron can accompany him. God will help them know what to say.

Moses Returns to Egypt (v. 18-31)

Moses got permission from his father-in-law Jethro and then gathered up his wife and child and headed for Egypt. God instructs Moses to do the miracles for Pharaoh and threaten to kill Pharaoh's first born son unless he releases the Israelites. God will then harden Pharaoh's heart to prevent him from letting the Israelites go.

What is the point of this? God apparently just wants to punish the Pharaoh, why not just do it? Why the pretense? If you tell someone you will punish them unless they do x, but you prevent them from doing x, it's all on you. This story pretty much ruins any apologetic argument about free will as far as I'm concerned. 

From Guzik
Who really hardened Pharaoh's heart? We might say that it was both God and Pharaoh; but whenever God hardened Pharaoh's heart, He never did it against Pharaoh's will. 
Horse shit! If it was Pharaoh's will, he wouldn't have needed his heart to be hardened. God hardened his heart to make him do what he wanted to do anyway? Ridiculous! By the way, I looked up a few other bible commentaries, and they didn't even try to explain this away. I guess they either thought it was indefensible or uninteresting.

God met them on the way to Egypt and sought to put him to death, Zipporah quickly cut off her sons foreskin and touched it to Moses feet and declared he was a bridegroom of blood. God then didn't kill him.

First, I put him in bold because I don't know who it is referring to. Is it Moses or his son? In either case, why did this satisfy God? Why would God send them on this quest and then immediately want to kill someone in the party? Is this more evidence of polytheistic roots of the bible? Perhaps it was supposed to be a different God who was trying to kill him.

Apparently God was trying to kill Moses for not circumcising his son. Zipporah set it straight by doing it on the spot. Fine.

Moses and Aaron went to the wilderness and discussed what God had told Moses. Then they did went to the elders of the Israelites and spoke the words which God commanded and performed the signs. The people believed and worshiped God.

This just feel slightly out of order to me. Moses packed up his family and started travelling. Then he met with Aaron and discussed the plan. Then they were just suddenly in Egypt. Maybe this isn't a big deal, but it's weird. 

Verses of note:


Exodus 4:14 God gets angry with Moses

"Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses..."

--Free Will--

Exodus 4:21 God hardens Pharaoh's heart to prevent him from complying with God's orders

"And the LORD said to Moses, 'When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.'"


  1. Strange about that deadly foreskin, huh? God was ready to kill Moses, or his son, over a flap of skin, yet people who commit genocide (even against God's chosen people!) don't get that kind of deadly scrutiny from God.

    The story just gets all the more strange as you press on. I don't want to spoil it too much for you, but I'll just say that you should keep an eye on that Free Will perspective throughout this Exodus affair. :-) Also, keep track of the horses. ;-) (That'll make sense once the plagues set in.)

    1. horses? alright, I'll keep my eyes open

  2. I am glad you are touching on the so called free will and Christianity. It is without a doubt for me one of the strangest beliefs that is held by Christians. It makes no sense for an omnipotent and omniscient God to allow free will as it nullifies all the power that God is meant to have.

    1. yeah, the god of the bible clearly doesn't value free will based on his actions in this story. I do love the way the christian commentaries try to get around that though. It is pretty clear to me it is utter nonsense.


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