Exodus 3:13 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Exodus 3:13, NIV: "Moses said to God, 'Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?'"

Exodus 3:13, ESV: "Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?”"

Exodus 3:13, KJV: "And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?"

Exodus 3:13, NASB: "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?'"

Exodus 3:13, NLT: "But Moses protested, 'If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, 'The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,' they will ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what should I tell them?'"

Exodus 3:13, CSB: "Then Moses asked God, "If I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' what should I tell them?""

What does Exodus 3:13 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

When God commanded Moses to go back to Egypt, in order to bring Israel out of slavery, Moses' first response was an expression of doubt. God replied with reassurances, both of His own presence, and with prophecy of Moses' eventual success.

Here, Moses provides his second objection to God's call. His first excuse related to his identity: "Who am I?" (Exodus 3:11). The excuse given here relates to God's identity. Moses' question is not entirely inappropriate. He expects people to ask a very natural question: who sent you to lead us? Specifically, Moses wants to know how to answer the question of "which God" he is representing. This interesting question leads to a unique revelation of the Lord's name in the next verse; this statement will become an integral part of God's identity as revealed in the rest of Scripture.

The phrase, "The God of your fathers," relates back to a similar comment made by God in verse 6, implying that the One speaking is the God of Moses' ancestors. Moses uses an important shift in perspective, however. In Moses' words, this being is "the God of your fathers," as spoken by Moses to the Jewish people. In other words, this emphasizes God's relationship to the Hebrew people, rather than to Moses. Moses has a conflicted identity with the Hebrews. He is a Jew, but was not raised as a Jew. He is—ethnically—one of the enslaved Israelis, yet lives in exile in freedom from that slavery. As a result, Moses is fearful to approach the Jewish people with claims that he should have authority over them. Even when he lived in Egypt, the Hebrew people saw no reason to accept his commands (Exodus 2:14).

So, Moses seeks advice from God regarding how to respond, still hoping God will choose someone else instead.