Exodus 3:13-14

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Exodus 3:13
  • Exodus 3:14

The book of Exodus is the second book of the Torah (“law”). It continues the story of Genesis concerning the migration of the family of Jacob (the Israelites) to Egypt (Genesis 50). It describes the commissioning of Moses and Aaron as God’s representatives on earth to accomplish God’s deliverance of His people from slavery in Egypt and lead them to the Promised Land (the land of Canaan). It also relates the miraculous deliverance from Egypt beginning with the plagues on Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea. It then describes the journey to Mount Sinai and the establishment of the Mosaic covenant with the Israelites. The last part of the book involves the specifications and building of the tabernacle – the place where the Lord Himself dwelt amongst His people.

In the book of Exodus, the focus shifts to the deliverance of God’s people.

The account of the preparation of Moses to be deliverer starts in Exodus 3. It begins with God confronting him at the burning bush. Moses needs to be impressed by the fact that this is a very holy call at a very holy moment in a very holy place. God is aware of the suffering of His people and He is ready to deliver them. He wants Moses to be his representative before Pharaoh and before His people to make this deliverance happen.


Chapter 3 can outlined as follows:

  •      God Calls Moses to be a Deliverer (3:1 – 10)
  •      Moses Responds to God’s Call (3:11 – 22)

In his first objection, Moses asks “Who am I?” His second objection asks God, “Who are you?” Moses wants to be prepared if (and when) confronted by the Israelites concerning where he gets the authority to tell them what to do.


Verse 13 begins Moses’ second objection, using the attention-getting word Behold to start. Moses seems to be apprehensive about whom he is representing. He also realizes that he is going to the sons of Israel, who rejected his leadership forty years ago, and now he is to approach them and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Moses is expecting the Israelites to be suspicious of him and of his motives for wanting to be their leader. He needs God’s advice when they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?”


Moses is anticipating that the Israelites will confront him about his notion of who the “God of your fathers” is. God provides two answers to the question (14, 15). The first answer is in verse 14 when God said to Moses I AM WHO I AM.


Though some scholars prefer to translate the phrase in the future tense (“I will be who I will be”), it seems best to leave it in the present tense. It conveys His continuing presence with His people; He is not limited or bound by time, space, and history. The name also implies that He is separate from His creation and is not dependent upon it. Such a God can fulfill the covenant He made to His people, and indeed He will fulfill it.


God continues His first answer by telling Moses Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”  I AM is probably a word-play on the name Yahweh (translated LORD) given in the next verse. It speaks of His continuing existence (as opposed to the gods of Egypt). It is also significant because it is the covenant-relationship name of the Creator. I AM has a covenant relationship with His chosen people.

Biblical Text

13 Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?”14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

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