Q. In Exodus 4, Moses is giving excuses to God why he’s not the man for the job. God replies in giving him 3 signs that will cause the elders of Israel to believe Moses is their deliverer sent by God. I understand that the plagues, that come later, were demonstrations of God’s supremacy over the gods of Egypt (at least one of the lessons from the plagues). My question is, what were the 3 signs to the elders to typify that they would believe that Moses was indeed sent by God? (staff to a serpent, leprous hand, and water from the Nile poured out turning to blood on the ground) These appear to be similar to the plagues, but not quite.
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A. If I understand correctly, you’re looking for meaning beyond the supernatural nature of the signs that would convince the Elders of Israel that Moses was indeed sent by God. I’ve never seen anything on this in the commentaries I’ve read, but here’s what I know.
The serpent is a model of Satan. By turning the rod into a serpent big enough to frighten Moses and then having him pick it up by the tail (something no snake handler in his right mind would do since it left the head free to come around and bite him) God was demonstrating his power over Satan, something only He has.
Throughout the Bible, leprosy is a model for sin. In his gospel to the Jews, Matthew had Jesus heal a man of leprosy as His introductory miracle. Curing leprosy was symbolic of forgiving sins, something only God can do.
Blood is the symbol of life, something only God can give. So you have something only God has, something only He can do, and something only He can give symbolized in the three signs. To the Jewish mind, these three things would have clearly identified God as the power behind Moses.