Exodus 3:2 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Exodus 3:2, NIV: "There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up."

Exodus 3:2, ESV: "And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed."

Exodus 3:2, KJV: "And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed."

Exodus 3:2, NASB: "Then the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not being consumed."

Exodus 3:2, NLT: "There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn't burn up."

Exodus 3:2, CSB: "Then the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire within a bush. As Moses looked, he saw that the bush was on fire but was not consumed."

What does Exodus 3:2 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Moses was raised in an Egyptian palace, though he was born to a Hebrew slave. He is now tending to the sheep of his father-in-law in the land of Midian, as an exile from Egypt and his former life. Without any particular warning, Moses sees "the angel of the LORD." He appears in a "flame of fire" coming from a bush. A burning bush is not itself unique, but this bush burned without being consumed. In other words, the bush had flames coming from it without the bush actually burning up. While many different visions could be described, poetically, as "flames," the specific mention that these flames did not consume the bush makes it likely that what Moses saw appeared as literal, visible flames. This "sign" attracted Moses to investigate it in more detail (Exodus 3:3–4).

The major controversy in this verse is the identification of "the angel of the LORD." Is he an actual angel, or God in human form? Verse 4 says, "God called to him out of the bush." If this is God's voice, most assume it is God's presence in the bush. However, the other option is also possible. In ancient culture, a messenger could speak on behalf of a dignitary, speaking in his voice. So it is possible this was an angelic being speaking on God's behalf. While either view is possible, most interpreters lean towards this being a theophany, or physical manifestation of God in human form.