Aaron appears on the scene from nowhere. In Exodus 4:14 the narrator tells us that he is coming to meet Moses, his Levite brother (#95), in Midian without having previously introduced the character of Aaron. We can only surmise: Did he too escape Pharaoh’s decree to kill all the firstborns (#83)?
Yet Exodus 4:27 would seem to be a doublet, narrating a second time Aaron’s coming. Except now Aaron is commanded by Yahweh to meet Moses at the mountain of the god.
These are some of the seams or fractures scholars identify in the composite text which suggest that multiple textual traditions have been stitched together. Granted this example is by no means among the best. But even here we can detect inconsistencies in the final form of the narrative that suggest it was formed by stitching together different versions of the same story.
- In Exodus 4:14 Moses is at God’s mountain conversing with the deity when Yahweh states that Aaron is coming: “here he is coming out toward you!”
- In Exodus 4:18 Moses returns to Jethro, his father-in-law, i.e., according to one tradition (#85). And Jethro bids him farewell on his return to Egypt. There is some interesting stuff going on in verse 19, but we will look at that at contradiction #99.
- Exodus 4:24-26 presents Moses journeying on his way back to Egypt, where he meets Yahweh in quite a gruesome affair. I’ll let you read this one on your own.
- Where’s Aaron? He came out and met Moses at God’s mountain in Exodus 4:14, but there has been no further mention of him, not in Exodus 4:18 nor in 4:24-26.
- Well here he is. In Exodus 4:27 Yahweh now commands Aaron to meet Moses, a second time, at the mountain of the god. But Moses has already departed and is heading back to Egypt. And Aaron had already met Moses, supposedly, in Exodus 4:14.
These inconsistencies, or seams and fractures in the narrative, as some of my colleagues like to say, are none other than a byproduct of having edited together different versions of the story.