Today’s post will tackle the question that the Skeptic Annotated Bible asked: “Was Moses a good speaker?”
Here are the two answers which the skeptic believes shows a Bible contradiction:
Yes, Moses “was mighty in words.”
Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds. Acts 7:22
Moses was not an eloquent speaker. He was “slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.”
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 slow of speech and slow of tongue.” Exodus 4:10
Not even the Isrealites would listen to him. He had “uncircumcised lips.”
But Moses spoke before the Lord, saying, “Behold, the sons of Israel have not listened to me; how then will Pharaoh listen to me, for I am unskilled in speech?” Exodus 6:12
But Moses said before the Lord, “Behold, I am unskilled in speech; how then will Pharaoh listen to me?” Exodus 6:30
So God made Aaron his spokesman instead of Moses.
Then the anger of the Lord burned against Moses, and He said, “Is there not your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that 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. Exodus 4:14-16
(Note: Scriptural quotation comes from the New American Standard Bible)
Let’s take a closer look at whether or not there is a contradiction:
- As always when dealing with alleged Bible contradictions, we must remember what constitutes an actual contradiction. A contradiction exists when there are two or more claims which denies each other in the same sense at the same time.
- For the sake of the argument let’s assume that all the verses cited does support the claim that the skeptic is making that Moses was and was not a good speaker according to the Bible. Still there is no contradiction when one takes into account the timing.
- Acts 7:22 is cited to prove that Moses was a good speaker since “he was a man of power in words and deeds.” Note how according to the context this was talking about Moses before he fled Egypt (see verses 23 to 29). Verse 23 even tells us that at the time Moses “was approaching the age of forty.“
- All the verse cited to demonstrated that Moses was not a good speaker happened after Moses had fled Egypt. God has just told Moses to go back to Egypt to talk to Pharaoh in order to free the Hebrews. When did this take place? According to Acts 7:30 “forty years had passed.” Which means Moses was around eighty years old. This is confirmed by Exodus 7:7 which states “Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three, when they spoke to Pharaoh.“
- To be a good speaker at age forty but to not be a good speaker at eighty years old is understandable. It certainly is not a contradiction!
- Let us go further: we must also be cautious with the biblical evidences that the skeptic used to support the answer that Moses was not a good speaker.
- Three of the four verses cited are quotations from Moses when he was reluctant to go speak to Pharaoh.
- As a general rule of Bible interpretation remember that a quotation from a character might not automatically be the truth. Quotations are not the same as what the narrator says is true.
- While God spoke in Exodus 4:14-16 and mentioned that Aaron spoke fluently (verse 14) notice how God never says there’s a speech problem with Moses. It is possible that God provided Aaron so that Moses would be without any lame excuse (pun intended) in disobeying God, something that is the theme of Exodus 4-6.
- Even if one takes the interpretation that Moses does have a speech problem, remember there is no contradiction here since there’s difference of time of when Moses was and was not a good speaker. One thing we can learn from God using an 80 year old Moses versus a 4o year old Moses is that God would rather use our weaknesses rather than our strengths. We must never forget that it is God who should get the credit rather than ourselves for doing God’s ministry.
- We must also ask what does the skeptic mean by “good speaker” because there’s equivocation of what is meant by “good” here.
- If one pays attention to the chapters in which the passages where Moses is mentioned as being not a “good” speaker, notice that Moses’ complaint is really about people not believing him, whether it is Pharaoh or the Hebrews as seen in Exodus 4:1, 6:12, 6:30.
- When Moses complained about Pharaoh not listening to him in Exodus 6:30 notice how God responds by challenging Moses thinking that a good speaker is merely getting Pharaoh to listen to him. Instead God’s answer to Moses reveal that God will even harden Pharaoh’s heart not to listen to God (Exodus 7:3) and ultimately for the Egyptians to know that God is God (Exodus 7:5).
- Thus God’s measure of a “good speaker” is not merely whether how many would listen to the speaker but rather whether the speaker is faithful in presenting God’s message biblically.