In Exodus 6:12, the Hebrew phrase “Poor Speaker” (NRSV), does not mean a physical speech disability in a literal sense, but rather it is used as a metaphor to describe Moses’ hesitation to speak to Pharaoh which was not only his own self-consciousness, but was also a product of Israelites disinclination towards him.
A Plan of Defense
I plan to start my defense by providing those arguments that claim that it was self-consciousness at Moses’ part rather than a disability. For instance, The Eerdmans' commentary states that “uncircumcised” in the passage has been used as a metaphor of being unfit or unready. Besides this, I will add The International Bible commentary, which has the similar kind of views. It describes that Moses was not equipped to talk. The Oxford Bible Commentary also provides the same reason and argues that Yahweh compelled him to go. In addition to it, I will add Gregory Glazov as well. He has done extensive work on the issue of Moses' speech. He does agree that Moses objected God’s call but according to him, to understand the passage, the subject passage needs to be seen in the context of the immediate passage where Yahweh responds to the objections of Moses and obliges him to go to Pharaoh.
Then to dig more into the reasons for Moses’ hesitation, I will begin with Martin Nath’s commentary that claims that Moses to avoid his given charge by God comes up with a reason for his previous failure claiming that he is a poor speaker. Then I will bring Brevard Childs into the picture. He throws more light onto the issue and suggests that the reason for Moses’ previous failure was the suffering of the Israelites. He believes that they did not have any interest in Moses or God because of their situation. However, Moses resisted the command of speaking to Pharaoh himself, claiming that if the people of Israel did not listen to him, why would Pharaoh listen to him.
In contrary to these notions, I will also include different view points such as The New Interpreter’s Bible which describes that it could be that Moses thought that his lips were not adequate to take on the charge. It also claims that it may also mean that Moses thought that he is a foreigner to Pharaoh. To describe more about the idea of being foreigner to Pharaoh, I will bring Jeffry H. Tigay forward who leans towards the same school of thought by expressing that Moses' speech issue was more of a language problem rather than a disability which took place because of Moses’ fleeing away from Egypt to Median.
In my defense, I plan to mention some very different schools of thoughts as well. For instance, Matthew Henry in his commentary claims that Moses was not a gifted orator. This was the reason that he was hesitant to talk to Pharaoh. Henry also suggests that sometimes God likes to choose people with disadvantages and use them by granting them grace to get through their deficiencies. The interesting thing is that The Harper Collins Bible commentary...