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The form in which Yahweh appeared to Moses and charged him to bring the Israelites out of Egypt.

Exodus 3:1-6 (NIV):

  1. Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.
  2. 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.
  3. So Moses thought, "I will go over and see this strange sight--why the bush does not burn up."
  4. When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!" And Moses said, "Here I am."
  5. "Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground."
  6. Then he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
Also known as the gas plant, Fraxinella, the false Dittany, and its Latin name, Dictamnus albus, this perennial grows from Southern Europe, through the Mediterranean area, through the Middle East, and into Northern China. It grows to be about a meter tall, and flowers in late spring with white, pink, or purple blossoms. Specialized glands in the plant's leaves and flowers release a citrus-scented oil that accumulates into waxy buildup that helps the plant conserve water. This wax also contains psoralens, which can cause nasty chemical burns when skin comes in contact with the wax and sunlight simultaneously.

Now for the interesting part: On cooler days, the volatile oil congeals into wax as stated above. However, when the temperature is warmer, it melts off the plant and inundates the air surrounding it. As it turns out, when the wind is still enough for a high concentration of this vapor to build up, it becomes highly flammable, to the extent that it will ignite with only a tiny spark, or even spontaneously now and again. Fortunately for the bush, hot blue flames consume all of the volatile oil in a matter of a few seconds, leaving its leaves and flowers basically unharmed.

Of course, the growth of such a plant in the Middle East begs the question of whether Moses witnessed a miracle, or simply a Dictamnus albus going off in the night. Indeed, in the NIV translation of Exodus 3-2 as quoted above we have Moses witnessing the bush on fire (but not consumed by it) from a distance, with no mention of the flames once he was closer to it -- this omission holds in the King James version as well. While the theory is pure conjecture, it's mentioned here and there in printed media and on the internet, and probably bears repetition here if only because it is such an interesting possibility.

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