Brothers Bringing Redemption

Moses and Aaron play complementary roles in communicating God's message of redemption to both the Children of Israel and to Pharaoh.

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(Some commentaries elaborate that the Torah wants to show Levi’s special qualities of loyalty to Hashem and Torah in contrast to the two other, older, tribes.)  But this begs the questions: Why does the text need to list the lineage of Moshe and Aharon?  And, why now, in the midst of charging Moshe and Aharon with their mission?

Rashi addresses this in his commentary on verse 6:13:

“Since Moses said I who am of uncircumcised lips, the Holy One, Blessed be He joined Aharon to him to be his spokesman and interpreter.”

But, this further complicates matters: Have not the brothers been together ever since the first revelation to Moses (Exodus 4:14-16), with Moses saying what he heard from God and Aaron repeating it as a prophet?

Giving God's Message

A comprehensive approach to this passage is to be found in the Malbim (Rabbi Meir Leibush, 19th century commentator).  He notes carefully the changes that occurred in the mission to free the Children of Israel. Originally, Moses was to discharge the mission alone: the voice of God would emanate directly from Moses’s throat (Exodus 4:12). Once Aaron was enlisted as Moses’s spokesman, such that the word of God was heard indirectly, the effect of the prophecy was diminished.

However, this was true only insofar as the mission to speak to the Children of Israel was concerned.   Thus, we are told that, at first, both Moses and Aaron spoke to the Children of Israel, And Aaron spoke all the words which God had spoken to Moses  (Exodus 4:30). To their credit, the people believed that God would save them, even though they heard so only through the intermediary Aaron (Exodus 4:31).

Afterwards, when the oppression was intensified, even the children of Israel refused to listen (Exodus 6:9).

Speaking in God's Name

The mission to speak to Pharaoh, on the other hand, had not changed: alone, without Aaron’s mediation, Moses was to speak in God’s name:

And God spoke to Moses, saying: “ Go, speak to Pharaoh king of Egypt, that he let the Children of Israel go out of his land” (Exodus 6:10-11).

But, Moses thought that it was his own power of speech that was inadequate to convince the Children of Israel, all the more so Pharaoh (Exodus 6:12).  In response, God makes both Moses and Aaron responsible for both missions:

And God spoke to Moses and Aaron and commanded them concerning the Children of Israel and concerning Pharaoh king of Egypt to bring the Children of Israel out of Egypt (Exodus 6:13).

The Brothers Collaboration

This is what Rashi meant when he said that God "joined Aharon to him to be his spokesman and interpreter." From this moment, the true process of Israel’s redemption through the brothers’ collaboration begins.  Therefore, only now must we become fully acquainted with the ancestry of Moses and Aaron, who are uniquely qualified for this mission. Furthermore, after concluding their lineage, the Torah reminds us that Moses and Aaron were sent as Hashem’s emissaries to Pharaoh (Exodus 6:26-27).

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Rabbi Avraham Fischer

Avraham Fischer is a rabbi at Darche Noam Institutions.