The burning bush (Ex 3:1-3:6)

 “Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian.  He led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.  There the angel of Yahweh appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush.  He looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed.  Then Moses said, ‘I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.’  When Yahweh saw that he turned aside to see, Yahweh called to him out of the bush.  ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said ‘Here I am.’  Then he said, ‘Come no closer!  Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’  He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.   Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.”

Moses was tending the flock of his father in law Jethro.  However, in the preceding story the priest of Midian was called Reuel.  Moses went to Horeb, the mountain of God, apparently a Midianite sacred place in the Sinai Peninsula.  First an angel and then Yahweh himself appears and speaks to Moses from a burning bush that is not consumed.  Moses was curious as to why the bush was not burning up.  Out of the bush Moses hears his name.  His response is the great biblical traditional response when God calls, ‘Here I am.’  However, Yahweh tells him not to come closer and take off his sandals because this is holy ground.  Moses hid his face when Yahweh said that he was the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.

According to this Yahweh tradition, this is the first encounter of Moses with Yahweh.  This is a mysterious theophany experience as are all encounters with God.  Moses seems overwhelmed throughout all these exchanges with Yahweh.  Yahweh always refers to himself as the God of your fathers.  The three names are Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with no mention of Joseph, the real reason that they are in Egypt.  The whole scene takes place in the Sinai area.

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