Question: "Did Moses stutter?"

Answer: Stuttering may have been a problem for Moses, although it is unknown what speech difficulty the prophet had. Moses’ own description of himself is that he had trouble speaking, and God allowed his brother Aaron to act as spokesman for him (Exodus 4:14–16; 7:1–6). At the burning bush, Moses told the LORD, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue” (Exodus 4:10). Some scholars take Moses’ words as simply an excuse to avoid carrying out God’s instructions, but it is possible that Moses did have some type of speech disfluency. It may have been a stutter, although there’s no way to know for sure.

Moses says he is “slow” of speech; in Hebrew, the word carries the meaning of “heavy; oppressing; weighty; difficult; dull, unresponsive; thick” (Logos Bible Word Study). This could imply that speech was difficult for him or that he had a speech pathology. Twice in Exodus 6, Moses tells the Lord, “I speak with faltering lips” (verses 12 and 30). Could the “faltering lips” (literally, “uncircumcised lips”) be a reference to stuttering? Possibly. But there are other possibilities: an articulation disorder, a phonological process disorder, or speech apraxia, for example. Or it could be that Moses lacked confidence due to what he considered a lack of proficiency in formal speaking.

Some scholars argue that Moses was merely minimizing his speech abilities. In the New Testament, Stephen states that Moses “was powerful in speech and action” (Acts 7:22), a description that would seem to lend weight to the idea that Moses downplayed his own ability. Others point to a lack of confidence on Moses’ part, and feelings of inadequacy were certainly involved. The theory that Moses was only trying to get out of his assigned mission cannot be ruled out, however. Whatever the truth behind Moses’ self-described slowness of tongue, God did not let Moses off the hook; in fact, “the LORD’s anger burned against Moses” for his continued hesitancy (Exodus 4:14).

Despite Moses’ stuttering, if that’s what it was, God used Moses in great ways, showing that He is sovereign over everything, including speech difficulties. As the Lord declares in Exodus 4:11–12, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” God’s glory would not have been as evident if Moses had been a powerful orator who naturally captivated crowds with eloquent words. Instead, “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians 1:27). He can use any of our difficulties, disabilities, or setbacks for His glory and purpose.