Ex 4:10: And Moses said unto the Lord, o my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue

This was Moses response to the call of God but we are also told in Acts 7:22 he was mighty in words and in deeds.

And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds

There seems to be a little contradiction in the two referenced Scriptures above. Did Moses truly have impaired speech or was he only making excuses? If excuses, why would he lie to the Lord Almighty knowing that he would definitely be found out?

2 Answers 2


Why did Moses claim he was not eloquent when the Lord called him?

Obviously from the scriptures below the prophet Moses apparently had speech difficulties in expressing himself and which he eventually ovecamed. God would have known if Moses was lying , and most likely punish him for it, notice that God did not refute Moses, and instead said to him :“Is there not your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that he speaks fluently.(Verse 4:14) And so Aaron became Moses' mouthpiece.Exodus 4:10-17 (NASB)

Moses did not give up and to a large extend overcame his speech difficulties, on later occasions he spoke with confidence to the Israelites himself. Deuteronomy 1:1-5 (NASB)

Exodus 4:10-17 (NASB)

10 Then Moses said to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am [c]slow of speech and slow of tongue.” 11 The Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.” 13 But he said, “Please, Lord, now [e]send the message by whomever You will.”

Aaron to Be Moses’ Mouthpiece

14 Then the anger of the Lord burned against Moses, and He said, “Is there not your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that [a]he speaks fluently. And moreover, behold, he is coming out to meet you; when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. 15 You are to speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I, even I, will be with your mouth and his mouth, and I will teach you what you are to do. 16 Moreover, he shall speak for you to the people; and he will be as a mouth for you and you will be as God to him. 17 You shall take in your hand this staff, with which you shall perform the signs.”

Moses speaks with confidence to the Israelites.

Deuteronomy 1:1-5 (NASB)

1 These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel across the Jordan in the wilderness, in the Arabah opposite [a]Suph, between Paran and Tophel and Laban and Hazeroth and Dizahab. 2 It is eleven days’ journey from Horeb by the way of Mount Seir to Kadesh-barnea. 3 In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses spoke to the children of Israel, according to all that the Lord had commanded him to give to them, 4 after he had [b]defeated Sihon the king of the Amorites, who lived in Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth [c]and Edrei. 5 Across the Jordan in the land of Moab, Moses undertook to expound this law, saying,

  • If this was the case, then why was the Lord angry with Moses swing that his excuse was genuine? Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 10:23
  • Ere Oludiya: Recommend reading Exodus 3:11-4:31 The Lord was correct to be angry at Moses,even after assuring him of his Divine mission and that He will be with him and the fact that he had already performed three miracles in the presence of Pharaoh, Mosses hesitated. God nevertheless ,after giving him a stinging rebuke, showed compassion and provided Aaron to serve as his mouthpiece. Would you have doubted God if you were to perform a Divine mission? Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 19:43

Moses was deeply concerned about his people, Israel.

When he was about 40 years old Moses thought that God may utilize him – also taking advantage of his favourably position inside the Egyptian court – as a medium of salvation for the Israelites (Acts 7:23, 25). In that epoch Moses was “a man with power both in his speech and in his actions” (Acts 7:22, NJB).

According the chronological sequence of the happenings described by Stephen, this Moses’ ‘power’ [δυνατος, Greek] was not in reference with the subsequent encounters with the Pharaoh. Besides, Stephen did not mention that encounters between Moses and the king of Egypt – but refers to the Moses’ strong management of his superior position in the Egyptian court, directed – mainly - to benefit the people of Israel (not to mention the other princely activities Moses performed according Josephus).

Like we know, after about 40 years (Acts 7:30) Moses encountered Yahweh God (burning thornbush story) that commissioned him to serve as deliverer of his people. In this occasion Moses try to avoid this huge responsability pleading God a speaking problem (literally, ‘heavy [כבד] of mouth and heavy [כבד] of tongue’), as Exodus 4:10 affirms.

According LXX, Moses defined himself (in Exo 6:12) αλογος, ‘without a word’ (Emanuel Tov [2001, p. 126] translates αλογος as ‘lacking verbal fluency’), to corresponding the Hebrew expression שׂפתים ערל, ‘uncircumcised of lips’ (MT). Regarding these Hebrew idiomatic expression Barnes wrote (bold is mine): “An uncircumcised ear is one that does not hear clearly; an uncircumcised heart one slow to receive and understand warnings; uncircumcised lips, such as cannot speak fluently.”

Interestingly, Moses speaks about his tongue problem also in Exo 6:30, but in this instance, to correspond to the same Hebrew expression שׂפתים ערל, ‘uncircumcised of lips’ (MT), the Greek LXX hasn’t the term αλογος, but has the term ισχνοφωνος, that means ‘which has difficulty to speak’. This compound word is formed by two different terms, ισχνο that means ‘weak, reduced, unadorned', and φωνεω, ‘to emit sounds’'.

Some people see a discrepance between these two passages, but, is it necessary argue so?

We have to think about this, What kind of life Moses had in the intervening 40 years?

From the few clues the Bible offer us we may conclude that – after his departure from Egypt – he drastically changed his life-style: from a princely status (‘son of Pharaoh’s daughter’), as a powerful man belonging to royal entourage, to an humble sheep-leading life, as shepherd of a flock not even belonging to him. Further, the years went on also for him. Perhaps, in that intervening 40 years, he lose gradually the breeziness he had when he was in Egypt court, losing also the habit to speak in public as he did before.

The spirit of Yahweh God, however, allowed Moses – from the age of 80 to 120 years old – to regain the flowingness of language he had 40 years before having received the deliverance divine commission.

The point to point for us is to trust fully God, without a doubt. Like a pastor said many years ago, ‘When he (Moses) thought to be ready to deliver Israel, God thought he was not. When he (God) thought Moses was ready to deliver Israel, Moses thought he was not.’

I hope this answer your question.

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