Exodus 3:18 KJV

18 And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.

More than ten times Moses appears before Pharaoh but he only brings his brother Aaron

Exodus 5 KJV

And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness.

Exodus 7 KJV

10 And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the LORD had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent.

Exodus 10 KJV

3 And Moses and Aaron came in unto Pharaoh, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? let my people go, that they may serve me.

In all instances when Moses came before Pharaoh there is no mention of him bringing the elders to meet Pharaoh.

Did Moses disregard God's command to bring along the elders to meet Pharaoh?

  • The two further mentions of elders are Ex 4:29 and Ex 12:21.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 6, 2018 at 11:50

1 Answer 1


This issue is noted by various commentators.

The Rabbinic interpretation recorded in Exodus Rabbah (5:14) is that the elders started coming along but they dropped out one by one until by the time they reached Pharaoh none of them were left.

This is the explanation adopted by Solomon Ben Isaac in his commentary to 5:1, and he explains that they dropped out because of their fear of Pharaoh.

Joseph Ibn Kaspi in his commentary to 5:1 explains that of course the elders were there, in accordance with God's command, but the text only mentions Moses and Aaron because they were the main part of the party.

David Zvi Hoffman in his commentary to 3:18 argues that because Moses said "I am not a man of words", and therefore Aaron had to be his spokesman, the elders could no longer come along. This is because if Moses wouldn't talk there would be no indication that he was anything more than just one of the elders. By Moses and Aaron going alone it demonstrated that Moses was the leader and Aaron was his spokesman.


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