5:1 1 Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “Thus says the Lord, 2 the God of Israel, ‘Release 3 my people so that they may hold a pilgrim feast 4 to me in the desert.’” 5:2 But Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord 5 that 6 I should obey him 7 by releasing 8 Israel? I do not know the Lord, 9 and I will not release Israel!” 5:3 And they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Let us go a three-day journey 10 into the desert so that we may sacrifice 11 to the Lord our God, so that he does not strike us with plague or the sword.” 12 5:4 The king of Egypt said to them, “Moses and Aaron, why do you cause the people to refrain from their work? 13 Return to your labor!” 5:5 Pharaoh was thinking, 14 “The people of the land are now many, and you are giving them rest from their labor.”
5:6 That same day Pharaoh commanded 15 the slave masters and foremen 16 who were 17 over the people: 18 5:7 “You must no longer 19 give straw to the people for making bricks 20 as before. 21 Let them go 22 and collect straw for themselves. 5:8 But you must require 23 of them the same quota of bricks that they were making before. 24 Do not reduce it, for they are slackers. 25 That is why they are crying, ‘Let us go sacrifice to our God.’ 5:9 Make the work harder 26 for the men so they will keep at it 27 and pay no attention to lying words!” 28
5:10 So the slave masters of the people and their foremen went to the Israelites and said, 29 “Thus says Pharaoh: ‘I am not giving 30 you straw. 5:11 You 31 go get straw for yourselves wherever you can 32 find it, because there will be no reduction at all in your workload.’” 5:12 So the people spread out 33 through all the land of Egypt to collect stubble for straw. 5:13 The slave masters were pressuring 34 them, saying, “Complete 35 your work for each day, just like when there was straw!” 5:14 The Israelite foremen whom Pharaoh’s slave masters had set over them were beaten and were asked, 36 “Why did you not complete your requirement for brickmaking as in the past – both yesterday and today?” 37
5:15 38 The Israelite foremen went and cried out to Pharaoh, “Why are you treating 39 your servants this way? 5:16 No straw is given to your servants, but we are told, 40 ‘Make bricks!’ Your servants are even 41 being beaten, but the fault 42 is with your people.”
5:17 But Pharaoh replied, 43 “You are slackers! Slackers! 44 That is why you are saying, ‘Let us go sacrifice to the Lord.’ 5:18 So now, get back to work! 45 You will not be given straw, but you must still produce 46 your quota 47 of bricks!” 5:19 The Israelite foremen saw 48 that they 49 were in trouble when they were told, 50 “You must not reduce the daily quota of your bricks.”
5:20 When they went out from Pharaoh, they encountered Moses and Aaron standing there to meet them, 51 5:21 and they said to them, “May the Lord look on you and judge, 52 because you have made us stink 53 in the opinion of 54 Pharaoh and his servants, 55 so that you have given them an excuse to kill us!” 56
5:22 57 Moses returned 58 to the Lord, and said, “Lord, 59 why have you caused trouble for this people? 60 Why did you ever 61 send me? 5:23 From the time I went to speak to Pharaoh in your name, he has caused trouble 62 for this people, and you have certainly not rescued 63 them!” 64
6:2 God spoke 68 to Moses and said to him, “I am the Lord. 69 6:3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as 70 God Almighty, 71 but by 72 my name ‘the Lord’ 73 I was not known to them. 74 6:4 I also established my covenant with them 75 to give them the land of Canaan, where they were living as resident foreigners. 76 6:5 I 77 have also heard 78 the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, 79 and I have remembered my covenant. 80 6:6 Therefore, tell the Israelites, ‘I am the Lord. I will bring you out 81 from your enslavement to 82 the Egyptians, I will rescue you from the hard labor they impose, 83 and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 6:7 I will take you to myself for a people, and I will be your God. 84 Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from your enslavement to 85 the Egyptians. 6:8 I will bring you to the land I swore to give 86 to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob – and I will give it to you 87 as a possession. I am the Lord!’”
6:9 88 Moses told this 89 to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him 90 because of their discouragement 91 and hard labor. 6:10 Then the Lord said to Moses, 6:11 “Go, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt that he must release 92 the Israelites from his land.” 6:12 But Moses replied to 93 the Lord, “If the Israelites did not listen to me, then 94 how will Pharaoh listen to me, since 95 I speak with difficulty?” 96
6:15 The sons of Simeon were Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jakin, Zohar, and Shaul, the son of a Canaanite woman. These were the clans of Simeon.
6:17 The sons of Gershon, by their families, were Libni and Shimei.
6:18 The sons of Kohath were Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. (The length of Kohath’s life was 133 years.)
6:19 The sons of Merari were Mahli and Mushi. These were the clans of Levi, according to their records.
6:21 The sons of Izhar were Korah, Nepheg, and Zikri.
6:22 The sons of Uzziel were Mishael, Elzaphan, and Sithri.
6:23 Aaron married Elisheba, the daughter of Amminadab and sister of Nahshon, and she bore him Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.
6:24 The sons of Korah were Assir, Elkanah, and Abiasaph. These were the Korahite clans.
6:25 Now Eleazar son of Aaron married one of the daughters of Putiel and she bore him Phinehas.
These are the heads of the fathers’ households 105 of Levi according to their clans.
6:26 It was the same Aaron and Moses to whom the Lord said, “Bring the Israelites out of the land of Egypt by their regiments.” 106 6:27 They were the men who were speaking to Pharaoh king of Egypt, in order to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. It was the same Moses and Aaron.
6:28 107 When 108 the Lord spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt, 6:29 he said to him, 109 “I am the Lord. Tell 110 Pharaoh king of Egypt all that 111 I am telling 112 you.” 6:30 But Moses said before the Lord, “Since I speak with difficulty, 113 why should Pharaoh listen to me?”
7:1 So the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God 114 to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. 115 7:2 You are to speak 116 everything I command you, 117 and your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh that he must release 118 the Israelites from his land. 7:3 But I will harden 119 Pharaoh’s heart, and although I will multiply 120 my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt, 7:4 Pharaoh will not listen to you. 121 I will reach into 122 Egypt and bring out my regiments, 123 my people the Israelites, from the land of Egypt with great acts of judgment. 7:5 Then 124 the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord, when I extend my hand 125 over Egypt and bring the Israelites out from among them.
7:8 The Lord said 126 to Moses and Aaron, 127 7:9 “When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Do 128 a miracle,’ and you say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down 129 before Pharaoh,’ it will become 130 a snake.” 7:10 When 131 Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh, they did so, just as the Lord had commanded them – Aaron threw 132 down his staff before Pharaoh and his servants and it became a snake. 133 7:11 Then Pharaoh also summoned wise men and sorcerers, 134 and the magicians 135 of Egypt by their secret arts 136 did the same thing. 7:12 Each man 137 threw down his staff, and the staffs became snakes. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. 7:13 Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard, 138 and he did not listen to them, just as the Lord had predicted.
7:14 139 The Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is hard; 140 he refuses to release 141 the people. 7:15 Go to Pharaoh in the morning when 142 he goes out to the water. Position yourself 143 to meet him by the edge of the Nile, 144 and take 145 in your hand the staff 146 that was turned into a snake. 7:16 Tell him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to you to say, 147 “Release my people, that they may serve me 148 in the desert!” But until now 149 you have not listened. 150 7:17 Thus says the Lord: “By this you will know that I am the Lord: I am going to strike 151 the water of the Nile with the staff that is in my hand, and it will be turned into blood. 152 7:18 Fish 153 in the Nile will die, the Nile will stink, and the Egyptians will be unable 154 to drink water from the Nile.”’” 7:19 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over Egypt’s waters – over their rivers, over their canals, 155 over their ponds, and over all their reservoirs 156 – so that it becomes 157 blood.’ There will be blood everywhere in 158 the land of Egypt, even in wooden and stone containers.” 7:20 Moses and Aaron did so, 159 just as the Lord had commanded. Moses raised 160 the staff 161 and struck the water that was in the Nile right before the eyes 162 of Pharaoh and his servants, 163 and all the water that was in the Nile was turned to blood. 164 7:21 When the fish 165 that were in the Nile died, the Nile began 166 to stink, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. There was blood 167 everywhere in the land of Egypt! 7:22 But the magicians of Egypt did the same 168 by their secret arts, and so 169 Pharaoh’s heart remained hard, 170 and he refused to listen to Moses and Aaron 171 – just as the Lord had predicted. 7:23 And Pharaoh turned and went into his house. He did not pay any attention to this. 172 7:24 All the Egyptians dug around the Nile for water to drink, 173 because they could not drink the water of the Nile.
1 sn The enthusiasm of the worshipers in the preceding chapter turns sour in this one when Pharaoh refuses to cooperate. The point is clear that when the people of God attempt to devote their full service and allegiance to God, they encounter opposition from the world. Rather than finding instant blessing and peace, they find conflict. This is the theme that will continue through the plague narratives. But what makes chapter 5 especially interesting is how the people reacted to this opposition. The chapter has three sections: first, the confrontation between Moses and Pharaoh (vv. 1-5); then the report of the stern opposition of the king (vv. 6-14); and finally, the sad account of the effect of this opposition on the people (vv. 15-21).
2 tn Heb “Yahweh.”
3 tn The form שַׁלַּח (shallakh), the Piel imperative, has been traditionally translated “let [my people] go.” The Qal would be “send”; so the Piel “send away, release, dismiss, discharge.” B. Jacob observes, “If a person was dismissed through the use of this verb, then he ceased to be within the power or sphere of influence of the individual who had dismissed him. He was completely free and subsequently acted entirely on his own responsibility” (Exodus, 115).
4 tn The verb חָגַג (khagag) means to hold a feast or to go on a pilgrim feast. The Arabic cognate of the noun form is haj, best known for the pilgrim flight of Mohammed, the hajira. The form in the text (וְיָחֹגּוּ, vÿyakhoggu) is subordinated to the imperative and thus shows the purpose of the imperative.
5 tn Heb “Yahweh.” This is a rhetorical question, expressing doubt or indignation or simply a negative thought that Yahweh is nothing (see erotesis in E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 944-45). Pharaoh is not asking for information (cf. 1 Sam 25:5-10).
6 tn The relative pronoun introduces the consecutive clause that depends on the interrogative clause (see GKC 318-19 §107.u).
7 tn The imperfect tense here receives the classification of obligatory imperfect. The verb שָׁמַע (shama’) followed by “in the voice of” is idiomatic; rather than referring to simple audition – “that I should hear his voice” – it conveys the thought of listening that issues in action – “that I should obey him.”
sn The construction of these clauses is similar to (ironically) the words of Moses: “Who am I that I should go?” (3:11).
8 tn The Piel infinitive construct here has the epexegetical usage with lamed (ל); it explains the verb “obey.”
9 sn This absolute statement of Pharaoh is part of a motif that will develop throughout the conflict. For Pharaoh, the
10 tn The word “journey” is an adverbial accusative telling the distance that Moses wanted the people to go. It is qualified by “three days.” It is not saying that they will be gone three days, but that they will go a distance that will take three days to cover (see Gen 31:22-23; Num 10:33; 33:8).
11 tn The purpose clause here is formed with a second cohortative joined with a vav (ו): “let us go…and let us sacrifice.” The purpose of the going was to sacrifice.
sn Where did Moses get the idea that they should have a pilgrim feast and make sacrifices? God had only said they would serve Him in that mountain. In the OT the pilgrim feasts to the sanctuary three times a year incorporated the ideas of serving the
12 sn The last clause of this verse is rather unexpected here: “lest he meet [afflict] us with pestilence or sword.” To fail to comply with the summons of one’s God was to invite such calamities. The Law would later incorporate many such things as the curses for disobedience. Moses is indicating to Pharaoh that there is more reason to fear Yahweh than Pharaoh.
13 sn The clause is a rhetorical question. Pharaoh is not asking them why they do this, but rather is accusing them of doing it. He suspects their request is an attempt to get people time away from their labor. In Pharaoh’s opinion, Moses and Aaron were “removing the restraint” (פָּרַע, para’) of the people in an effort to give them rest. Ironically, under the Law the people would be expected to cease their labor when they went to appear before God. He would give them the rest that Pharaoh refused to give. It should be noted also that it was not Israel who doubted that Yahweh had sent Moses, as Moses had feared – but rather Pharaoh.
14 tn Heb “And Pharaoh said.” This is not the kind of thing that Pharaoh is likely to have said to Moses, and so it probably is what he thought or reasoned within himself. Other passages (like Exod 2:14; 3:3) show that the verb “said” can do this. (See U. Cassuto, Exodus, 67.)
15 tn Heb “and Pharaoh commanded on that day.”
16 tn The Greek has “scribes” for this word, perhaps thinking of those lesser officials as keeping records of the slaves and the bricks.
17 tn The phrase “who were” is supplied for clarity.
18 sn In vv. 6-14 the second section of the chapter describes the severe measures by the king to increase the labor by decreasing the material. The emphasis in this section must be on the harsh treatment of the people and Pharaoh’s reason for it – he accuses them of idleness because they want to go and worship. The real reason, of course, is that he wants to discredit Moses (v. 9) and keep the people as slaves.
19 tn The construction is a verbal hendiadys: לֹא תֹאסִפוּן לָתֵת (lo’ to’sifun latet, “you must not add to give”). The imperfect tense acts adverbially, and the infinitive becomes the main verb of the clause: “you must no longer give.”
20 tn The expression “for making bricks” is made of the infinitive construct followed by its cognate accusative: לִלְבֹּן הַלְּבֵנִים (lilbon hallÿvenim).
21 tn Heb “as yesterday and three days ago” or “as yesterday and before that.” This is idiomatic for “as previously” or “as in the past.”
22 tn The jussive יֵלְכוּ (yelÿkhu) and its following sequential verb would have the force of decree and not permission or advice. He is telling them to go and find straw or stubble for the bricks.
23 tn The verb is the Qal imperfect of שִׂים (sim, “place, put”). The form could be an imperfect of instruction: “You will place upon them the quota.” Or, as here, it may be an obligatory imperfect: “You must place.”
24 tn Heb “yesterday and three days ago” or “yesterday and before that” is idiomatic for “previously” or “in the past.”
25 tn Or “loafers.” The form נִרְפִּים (nirpim) is derived from the verb רָפָה (rafah), meaning “to be weak, to let oneself go.” They had been letting the work go, Pharaoh reasoned, and being idle is why they had time to think about going to worship.
26 tn Heb “let the work be heavy.”
27 tn The text has וְיַעֲשׂוּ־בָהּ (vÿya’asu-vah, “and let them work in it”) or the like. The jussive forms part of the king’s decree that the men not only be required to work harder but be doing it: “Let them be occupied in it.”
sn For a discussion of this whole section, see K. A. Kitchen, “From the Brickfields of Egypt,” TynBul 27 (1976): 137-47.
28 sn The words of Moses are here called “lying words” (דִבְרֵי־שָׁקֶר, divre-shaqer). Here is the main reason, then, for Pharaoh’s new policy. He wanted to discredit Moses. So the words that Moses spoke Pharaoh calls false and lying words. The world was saying that God’s words were vain and deceptive because they were calling people to a higher order. In a short time God would reveal that they were true words.
29 tn Heb “went out and spoke to the people saying.” Here “the people” has been specified as “the Israelites” for clarity.
30 tn The construction uses the negative particle combined with a subject suffix before the participle: אֵינֶנִּי נֹתֵן (’enenni noten, “there is not I – giving”).
31 tn The independent personal pronoun emphasizes that the people were to get their own straw, and it heightens the contrast with the king. “You – go get.”
32 tn The tense in this section could be translated as having the nuance of possibility: “wherever you may find it,” or the nuance of potential imperfect: “wherever you are able to find any.”
33 tn The verb וַיָּפֶץ (vayyafets) is from the hollow root פּוּץ (puts) and means “scatter, spread abroad.”
34 tn Or “pressed.”
35 tn כַּלּוּ (kallu) is the Piel imperative; the verb means “to finish, complete” in the sense of filling up the quota.
36 tn The quotation is introduced with the common word לֵאמֹר (le’mor, “saying”) and no mention of who said the question.
37 sn The idioms for time here are found also in 3:10 and 5:7-8. This question no doubt represents many accusations shouted at Israelites during the period when it was becoming obvious that, despite all their efforts, they were unable to meet their quotas as before.
38 sn The last section of this event tells the effect of the oppression on Israel, first on the people (15-19) and then on Moses and Aaron (20-21). The immediate reaction of Israel was to cry to Pharaoh – something they would learn should be directed to God. When Pharaoh rebuffed them harshly, they turned bitterly against their leaders.
39 tn The imperfect tense should be classified here with the progressive imperfect nuance, because the harsh treatment was a present reality.
40 tn Heb “[they] are saying to us,” the line can be rendered as a passive since there is no expressed subject for the participle.
41 tn הִנֵּה (hinneh) draws attention to the action reflected in the passive participle מֻכִּים (mukkim): “look, your servants are being beaten.”
42 tn The word rendered “fault” is the basic OT verb for “sin” – וְחָטָאת (vÿkhata’t). The problem is that it is pointed as a perfect tense, feminine singular verb. Some other form of the verb would be expected, or a noun. But the basic word-group means “to err, sin, miss the mark, way, goal.” The word in this context seems to indicate that the people of Pharaoh – the slave masters – have failed to provide the straw. Hence: “fault” or “they failed.” But, as indicated, the line has difficult grammar, for it would literally translate: “and you [fem.] sin your people.” Many commentators (so GKC 206 §74.g) wish to emend the text to read with the Greek and the Syriac, thus: “you sin against your own people” (meaning the Israelites are his loyal subjects).
43 tn Heb “And he said.”
44 tn Or “loafers.” The form נִרְפִּים (nirpim) is derived from the verb רָפָה (rafah), meaning “to be weak, to let oneself go.”
45 tn The text has two imperatives: “go, work.” They may be used together to convey one complex idea (so a use of hendiadys): “go back to work.”
46 tn The imperfect תִּתֵּנּוּ (tittennu) is here taken as an obligatory imperfect: “you must give” or “you must produce.”
47 sn B. Jacob is amazed at the wealth of this tyrant’s vocabulary in describing the work of others. Here, תֹכֶן (tokhen) is another word for “quota” of bricks, the fifth word used to describe their duty (Exodus, 137).
48 tn The common Hebrew verb translated “saw,” like the common English verb for seeing, is also used to refer to mental perception and understanding, as in the question “See what I mean?” The foremen understood how difficult things would be under this ruling.
49 tn The text has the sign of the accusative with a suffix and then a prepositional phrase: אֹתָם בְּרָע (’otam bÿra’), meaning something like “[they saw] them in trouble” or “themselves in trouble.” Gesenius shows a few examples where the accusative of the reflexive pronoun is represented by the sign of the accusative with a suffix, and these with marked emphasis (GKC 439 §135.k).
50 tn The clause “when they were told” translates לֵאמֹר (le’mor), which usually simply means “saying.” The thing that was said was clearly the decree that was given to them.
51 sn Moses and Aaron would not have made the appeal to Pharaoh that these Hebrew foremen did, but they were concerned to see what might happen, and so they waited to meet the foremen when they came out.
52 tn The foremen vented their anger on Moses and Aaron. The two jussives express their desire that the evil these two have caused be dealt with. “May Yahweh look on you and may he judge” could mean only that God should decide if Moses and Aaron are at fault, but given the rest of the comments it is clear the foremen want more. The second jussive could be subordinated to the first – “so that he may judge [you].”
53 tn Heb “you have made our aroma stink.”
54 tn Heb “in the eyes of.”
55 tn Heb “in the eyes of his servants.” This phrase is not repeated in the translation for stylistic reasons.
56 tn Heb “to put a sword in their hand to kill us.” The infinitive construct with the lamed (לָתֶת, latet) signifies the result (“so that”) of making the people stink. Their reputation is now so bad that Pharaoh might gladly put them to death. The next infinitive could also be understood as expressing result: “put a sword in their hand so that they can kill us.”
57 sn In view of the apparent failure of the mission, Moses seeks Yahweh for assurance. The answer from Yahweh not only assures him that all is well, but that there will be a great deliverance. The passage can be divided into three parts: the complaint of Moses (5:22-23), the promise of Yahweh (6:1-9), and the instructions for Moses (6:10-13). Moses complains because God has not delivered his people as he had said he would, and God answers that he will because he is the sovereign covenant God who keeps his word. Therefore, Moses must keep his commission to speak God’s word. See further, E. A. Martens, “Tackling Old Testament Theology,” JETS 20 (1977): 123-32. The message is very similar to that found in the NT, “Where is the promise of his coming?” (2 Pet 3:4). The complaint of Moses (5:22-23) can be worded with Peter’s “Where is the promise of his coming?” theme; the assurance from Yahweh (6:1-9) can be worded with Peter’s “The Lord is not slack in keeping his promises” (2 Pet 3:9); and the third part, the instructions for Moses (6:10-13) can be worded with Peter’s “Prepare for the day of God and speed its coming” (2 Pet 3:12). The people who speak for God must do so in the sure confidence of the coming deliverance – Moses with the deliverance from the bondage of Egypt, and Christians with the deliverance from this sinful world.
58 tn Heb “and Moses returned.”
59 tn The designation in Moses’ address is “Lord” (אֲדֹנָי, ’adonay) – the term for “lord” or “master” but pointed as it would be when it represents the tetragrammaton.
60 tn The verb is הֲרֵעֹתָה (hare’otah), the Hiphil perfect of רָעַע (ra’a’). The word itself means “to do evil,” and in this stem “to cause evil” – but evil in the sense of pain, calamity, trouble, or affliction, and not always in the sense of sin. Certainly not here. That God had allowed Pharaoh to oppose them had brought greater pain to the Israelites.
sn Moses’ question is rhetorical; the point is more of a complaint or accusation to God, although there is in it the desire to know why. B. Jacob (Exodus, 139) comments that such frank words were a sign of the man’s closeness to God. God never has objected to such bold complaints by the devout. He then notes how God was angered by his defenders in the book of Job rather than by Job’s heated accusations.
61 tn The demonstrative pronoun serves for emphasis in the question (see R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 24, §118). This second question continues Moses’ bold approach to God, more chiding than praying. He is implying that if this was the result of the call, then God had no purpose calling him (compare Jeremiah’s similar complaint in Jer 20).
62 sn Now the verb (הֵרַע, hera’) has a different subject – Pharaoh. The ultimate cause of the trouble was God, but the immediate cause was Pharaoh and the way he increased the work. Meanwhile, the Israelite foremen have pinned most of the blame on Moses and Aaron. Moses knows all about the sovereignty of God, and as he speaks in God’s name, he sees the effect it has on pagans like Pharaoh. So the rhetorical questions are designed to prod God to act differently.
63 tn The Hebrew construction is emphatic: וְהַצֵּל לֹא־הִצַּלְתָּ (vÿhatsel lo’-hitsalta). The verb נָצַל (natsal) means “to deliver, rescue” in the sense of plucking out, even plundering. The infinitive absolute strengthens both the idea of the verb and the negative. God had not delivered this people at all.
64 tn Heb “your people.” The pronoun (“them”) has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons here, to avoid redundancy.
65 sn The expression “I will do to Pharaoh” always refers to the plagues. God would first show his sovereignty over Pharaoh before defeating him.
66 tn The expression “with a strong hand” (וּבְיָד חֲזָקָה, uvÿyad khazaqah) could refer (1) to God’s powerful intervention (“compelled by my strong hand”) or (2) to Pharaoh’s forceful pursuit (“he will forcefully drive them out”). In Exod 3:20 God has summarized what his hand would do in Egypt, and that is probably what is intended here, as he promises that Moses will see what God will do. All Egypt ultimately desired that Israel be released (12:33), and when they were released Pharaoh pursued them to the sea, and so in a sense drove them out – whether that was his intention or not. But ultimately it was God’s power that was the real force behind it all. U. Cassuto (Exodus, 74) considers that it is unlikely that the phrase would be used in the same verse twice with the same meaning. So he thinks that the first “strong hand” is God’s, and the second “strong hand” is Pharaoh’s. It is true that if Pharaoh acted forcefully in any way that contributed to Israel leaving Egypt it was because God was acting forcefully in his life. So in an understated way, God is saying that when forced by God’s strong hand, Pharaoh will indeed release God’s people.”
67 tn Or “and he will forcefully drive them out of his land,” if the second occurrence of “strong hand” refers to Pharaoh’s rather than God’s (see the previous note).
sn In Exod 12:33 the Egyptians were eager to send (release) Israel away in haste, because they all thought they were going to die.
68 tn Heb “And God spoke.”
69 sn The announcement “I am the
70 tn The preposition bet (ב) in this construction should be classified as a bet essentiae, a bet of essence (see also GKC 379 §119.i).
71 tn The traditional rendering of the title as “Almighty” is reflected in LXX and Jerome. But there is still little agreement on the etymology and exact meaning of אֵל־שַׁדַּי (’el-shadday). Suggestions have included the idea of “mountain God,” meaning the high God, as well as “the God with breasts.” But there is very little evidence supporting such conclusions and not much reason to question the ancient versions.
72 tn The noun שְׁמִי (shÿmi, “my name,” and “Yahweh” in apposition to it), is an adverbial accusative, specifying how the patriarchs “knew” him.
73 tn Heb “Yahweh,” traditionally rendered in English as “the
74 tn The verb is the Niphal form נוֹדַעְתִּי (noda’ti). If the text had wanted to say, “I did not make myself known,” then a Hiphil form would have been more likely. It is saying, “but by my name Yahweh I was not known to them.”
sn There are a number of important issues that need clarification in the interpretation of this section. First, it is important to note that “I am Yahweh” is not a new revelation of a previously unknown name. It would be introduced differently if it were. This is the identification of the covenant God as the one calling Moses – that would be proof for the people that their God had called him. Second, the title “El Shadday” is not a name, but a title. It is true that in the patriarchal accounts “El Shadday” is used six times; in Job it is used thirty times. Many conclude that it does reflect the idea of might or power. In some of those passages that reveal God as “El Shadday,” the name “Yahweh” was also used. But Wellhausen and other proponents of the earlier source critical analysis used Exod 6:3 to say that P, the so-called priestly source, was aware that the name “Yahweh” was not known by them, even though J, the supposed Yahwistic source, wrote using the name as part of his theology. Third, the texts of Genesis show that Yahweh had appeared to the patriarchs (Gen 12:1, 17:1, 18:1, 26:2, 26:24, 26:12, 35:1, 48:3), and that he spoke to each one of them (Gen 12:7, 15:1, 26:2, 28:13, 31:3). The name “Yahweh” occurs 162 times in Genesis, 34 of those times on the lips of speakers in Genesis (W. C. Kaiser, Jr., “Exodus,” EBC 2:340-41). They also made proclamation of Yahweh by name (4:26, 12:8), and they named places with the name (22:14). These passages should not be ignored or passed off as later interpretation. Fourth, “Yahweh” is revealed as the God of power, the sovereign God, who was true to his word and could be believed. He would do as he said (Num 23:19; 14:35; Exod 12:25; 22:24; 24:14; 36:36; 37:14). Fifth, there is a difference between promise and fulfillment in the way revelation is apprehended. The patriarchs were individuals who received the promises but without the fulfillment. The fulfillment could only come after the Israelites became a nation. Now, in Egypt, they are ready to become that promised nation. The two periods were not distinguished by not having and by having the name, but by two ways God revealed the significance of his name. “I am Yahweh” to the patriarchs indicated that he was the absolute, almighty, eternal God. The patriarchs were individuals sojourning in the land. God appeared to them in the significance of El Shadday. That was not his name. So Gen 17:1 says that “Yahweh appeared…and said, ‘I am El Shadday.’” See also Gen 35:11, 48:2, 28:3. Sixth, the verb “to know” is never used to introduce a name which had never been known or experienced. The Niphal and Hiphil of the verb are used only to describe the recognition of the overtones or significance of the name (see Jer 16:21, Isa 52:6; Ps 83:17ff; 1 Kgs 8:41ff. [people will know his name when prayers are answered]). For someone to say that he knew Yahweh meant that Yahweh had been experienced or recognized (see Exod 33:6; 1 Kgs 18:36; Jer 28:9; and Ps 76:2). Seventh, “Yahweh” is not one of God’s names – it is his only name. Other titles, like “El Shadday,” are not strictly names but means of revealing Yahweh. All the revelations to the patriarchs could not compare to this one, because God was now dealing with the nation. He would make his name known to them through his deeds (see Ezek 20:5). So now they will “know” the “name.” The verb יָדַע (yada’) means more than “aware of, be knowledgeable about”; it means “to experience” the reality of the revelation by that name. This harmonizes with the usage of שֵׁם (shem), “name,” which encompasses all the attributes and actions of God. It is not simply a reference to a title, but to the way that God revealed himself – God gave meaning to his name through his acts. God is not saying that he had not revealed a name to the patriarchs (that would have used the Hiphil of the verb). Rather, he is saying that the patriarchs did not experience what the name Yahweh actually meant, and they could not without seeing it fulfilled. When Moses came to the elders, he identified his call as from Yahweh, the God of the fathers – and they accepted him. They knew the name. But, when they were delivered from bondage, then they fully knew by experience what that name meant, for his promises were fulfilled. U. Cassuto (Exodus, 79) paraphrases it this way: “I revealed Myself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in My aspect that finds expression in the name Shaddai…I was not known to them, that is, it was not given to them to recognize Me as One that fulfils his promises.” This generation was about to “know” the name that their ancestors knew and used, but never experienced with the fulfillment of the promises. This section of Exodus confirms this interpretation, because in it God promised to bring them out of Egypt and give them the promised land – then they would know that he is Yahweh (6:7). This meaning should have been evident from its repetition to the Egyptians throughout the plagues – that they might know Yahweh (e.g., 7:5). See further R. D. Wilson, “Yahweh [Jehovah] and Exodus 6:3,” Classical Evangelical Essays in Old Testament Interpretation, 29-40; L. A. Herrboth, “Exodus 6:3b: Was God Known to the Patriarchs as Jehovah?” CTM 4 (1931): 345-49; F. C. Smith, “Observation on the Use of the Names and Titles of God in Genesis,” EvQ 40 (1968): 103-9.
75 tn The statement refers to the making of the covenant with Abraham (Gen 15 and following) and confirming it with the other patriarchs. The verb הֲקִמֹתִי (haqimoti) means “set up, establish, give effect to, conclude” a covenant agreement. The covenant promised the patriarchs a great nation, a land – Canaan, and divine blessing. They lived with those promises, but now their descendants were in bondage in Egypt. God’s reference to the covenant here is meant to show the new revelation through redemption will start to fulfill the promises and show what the reality of the name Yahweh is to them.
76 tn Heb “the land of their sojournings.” The noun מְגֻרִים (mÿgurim) is a reminder that the patriarchs did not receive the promises. It is also an indication that those living in the age of promise did not experience the full meaning of the name of the covenant God. The “land of their sojournings” is the land of Canaan where the family lived (גּרוּ, garu) as foreigners, without owning property or having the rights of kinship with the surrounding population.
77 tn The addition of the independent pronoun אֲנִי (’ani, “I”) emphasizes the fact that it was Yahweh himself who heard the cry.
78 tn Heb “And also I have heard.”
79 tn The form is the Hiphil participle מַעֲבִדִים (ma’avidim, “causing to serve”). The participle occurs in a relative clause that modifies “the Israelites.” The clause ends with the accusative “them,” which must be combined with the relative pronoun for a smooth English translation. So “who the Egyptians are enslaving them,” results in the translation “whom the Egyptians are enslaving.”
81 sn The verb וְהוֹצֵאתִי (vÿhotse’ti) is a perfect tense with the vav (ו) consecutive, and so it receives a future translation – part of God’s promises. The word will be used later to begin the Decalogue and other covenant passages – “I am Yahweh who brought you out….”
82 tn Heb “from under the burdens of” (so KJV, NASB); NIV “from under the yoke of.”
83 tn Heb “from labor of them.” The antecedent of the pronoun is the Egyptians who have imposed slave labor on the Hebrews.
84 sn These covenant promises are being reiterated here because they are about to be fulfilled. They are addressed to the nation, not individuals, as the plural suffixes show. Yahweh was their God already, because they had been praying to him and he is acting on their behalf. When they enter into covenant with God at Sinai, then he will be the God of Israel in a new way (19:4-6; cf. Gen 17:7-8; 28:20-22; Lev 26:11-12; Jer 24:7; Ezek 11:17-20).
85 tn Heb “from under the burdens of” (so KJV, NASB); NIV “from under the yoke of.”
86 tn Heb “which I raised my hand to give it.” The relative clause specifies which land is their goal. The bold anthropomorphism mentions part of an oath-taking ceremony to refer to the whole event and reminds the reader that God swore that he would give the land to them. The reference to taking an oath would have made the promise of God sure in the mind of the Israelite.
87 sn Here is the twofold aspect again clearly depicted: God swore the promise to the patriarchs, but he is about to give what he promised to this generation. This generation will know more about him as a result.
88 sn The final part of this section focuses on instructions for Moses. The commission from God is the same – he is to speak to Pharaoh and he is to lead Israel out. It should have been clear to him that God would do this, for he had just been reminded how God was going to lead out, deliver, redeem, take the people as his people, and give them land. It was God’s work of love from beginning to end. Moses simply had his task to perform.
89 tn Heb “and Moses spoke thus.”
90 tn Heb “to Moses.” The proper name has been replaced by the pronoun (“him”) in the translation for stylistic reasons.
91 tn The Hebrew מִקֹּצֶּר רוּחַ (miqqotser ruakh) means “because of the shortness of spirit.” This means that they were discouraged, dispirited, and weary – although some have also suggested it might mean impatient. The Israelites were now just not in the frame of mind to listen to Moses.
92 tn The form וִישַׁלַּח (vishallakh) is the Piel imperfect or jussive with a sequential vav; following an imperative it gives the imperative’s purpose and intended result. They are to speak to Pharaoh, and (so that as a result) he will release Israel. After the command to speak, however, the second clause also indirectly states the content of the speech (cf. Exod 11:2; 14:2, 15; 25:2; Lev 16:2; 22:2). As the next verse shows, Moses doubts that what he says will have the intended effect.
93 tn Heb “And Moses spoke before.”
94 sn This analogy is an example of a qal wahomer comparison. It is an argument by inference from the light (qal) to the heavy (homer), from the simple to the more difficult. If the Israelites, who are Yahwists, would not listen to him, it is highly unlikely Pharaoh would.
95 tn The final clause begins with a disjunctive vav (ו), a vav on a nonverb form – here a pronoun. It introduces a circumstantial causal clause.
96 tn Heb “and [since] I am of uncircumcised lips.” The “lips” represent his speech (metonymy of cause). The term “uncircumcised” makes a comparison between his speech and that which Israel perceived as unacceptable, unprepared, foreign, and of no use to God. The heart is described this way when it is impervious to good impressions (Lev 26:41; Jer 9:26) and the ear when it hears imperfectly (Jer 6:10). Moses has here returned to his earlier claim – he does not speak well enough to be doing this.
97 tn Heb “And Yahweh spoke.”
98 tn The term וַיְצַוֵּם (vayÿtsavvem) is a Piel preterite with a pronominal suffix on it. The verb צָוָה (tsavah) means “to command” but can also have a much wider range of meanings. In this short summary statement, the idea of giving Moses and Aaron a commission to Israel and to Pharaoh indicates that come what may they have their duty to perform.
99 sn This list of names shows that Moses and Aaron are in the line of Levi that came to the priesthood. It helps to identify them and authenticate them as spokesmen for God within the larger history of Israel. As N. M. Sarna observes, “Because a genealogy inherently symbolizes vigor and continuity, its presence here also injects a reassuring note into the otherwise despondent mood” (Exodus [JPSTC], 33).
100 tn The expression is literally “the house of their fathers.” This expression means that the household or family descended from a single ancestor. It usually indicates a subdivision of a tribe, that is, a clan, or the subdivision of a clan, that is, a family. Here it refers to a clan (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 46).
101 tn Or “descendants.”
102 tn Or “families,” and so throughout the genealogy.
103 tn Or “generations.”
106 tn Or “by their hosts” or “by their armies.” Often translated “hosts” (ASV, NASB) or “armies” (KJV), צְבָאוֹת (tsÿva’ot) is a military term that portrays the people of God in battle array. In contemporary English, “regiment” is perhaps more easily understood as a force for battle than “company” (cf. NAB, NRSV) or “division” (NIV, NCV, NLT), both of which can have commercial associations. The term also implies an orderly departure.
107 sn From here on the confrontation between Yahweh and Pharaoh will intensify until Pharaoh is destroyed. The emphasis at this point, though, is on Yahweh’s instructions for Moses to speak to Pharaoh. The first section (6:28-7:7) ends (v. 6) with the notice that Moses and Aaron did just as (כַּאֲשֶׁר, ka’asher) Yahweh had commanded them; the second section (7:8-13) ends with the note that Pharaoh refused to listen, just as (כַּאֲשֶׁר) Yahweh had said would be the case.
108 tn The beginning of this temporal clause does not follow the normal pattern of using the preterite of the main verb after the temporal indicator and prepositional phrase, but instead uses a perfect tense following the noun in construct: וַיְהִי בְּיוֹם דִּבֶּר (vayÿhi bÿyom dibber). See GKC 422 §130.d. This verse introduces a summary (vv. 28-30) of the conversation that was interrupted when the genealogy began.
109 tn Heb “and Yahweh spoke to Moses saying.” This has been simplified in the translation as “he said to him” for stylistic reasons.
110 tn The verb is דַּבֵּר (dabber), the Piel imperative. It would normally be translated “speak,” but in English that verb does not sound as natural with a direct object as “tell.”
111 tn The clause begins with אֵת כָּל־אֲשֶׁר (’et kol-’asher) indicating that this is a noun clause functioning as the direct object of the imperative and providing the content of the commanded speech.
112 tn דֹּבֵר (dover) is the Qal active participle; it functions here as the predicate in the noun clause: “that I [am] telling you.” This one could be rendered, “that I am speaking to you.”
114 tn The word “like” is added for clarity, making explicit the implied comparison in the statement “I have made you God to Pharaoh.” The word אֱלֹהִים (’elohim) is used a few times in the Bible for humans (e.g., Pss 45:6; 82:1), and always clearly in the sense of a subordinate to GOD – they are his representatives on earth. The explanation here goes back to 4:16. If Moses is like God in that Aaron is his prophet, then Moses is certainly like God to Pharaoh. Only Moses, then, is able to speak to Pharaoh with such authority, giving him commands.
115 tn The word נְבִיאֶךָ (nÿvi’ekha, “your prophet”) recalls 4:16. Moses was to be like God to Aaron, and Aaron was to speak for him. This indicates that the idea of a “prophet” was of one who spoke for God, an idea with which Moses and Aaron and the readers of Exodus are assumed to be familiar.
116 tn The imperfect tense here should have the nuance of instruction or injunction: “you are to speak.” The subject is singular (Moses) and made emphatic by the presence of the personal pronoun “you.”
117 tn The phrase translated “everything I command you” is a noun clause serving as the direct object of the verb “speak.” The verb in the clause (אֲצַוֶּךָ, ’atsavvekha) is the Piel imperfect. It could be classified as a future: “everything that I will command you.” A nuance of progressive imperfect also fits well: “everything that I am commanding you.”
sn The distinct emphasis is important. Aaron will speak to the people and Pharaoh what Moses tells him, and Moses will speak to Aaron what God commands him. The use of “command” keeps everything in perspective for Moses’ position.
118 tn The form is וְשִׁלַּח (vÿshillakh), a Piel perfect with vav (ו) consecutive. Following the imperfects of injunction or instruction, this verb continues the sequence. It could be taken as equal to an imperfect expressing future (“and he will release”) or subordinate to express purpose (“to release” = “in order that he may release”).
119 tn The clause begins with the emphatic use of the pronoun and a disjunctive vav (ו) expressing the contrast “But as for me, I will harden.” They will speak, but God will harden.
sn The imperfect tense of the verb קָשָׁה (qasha) is found only here in these “hardening passages.” The verb (here the Hiphil for “I will harden”) summarizes Pharaoh’s resistance to what God would be doing through Moses – he would stubbornly resist and refuse to submit; he would be resolved in his opposition. See R. R. Wilson, “The Hardening of Pharaoh’s Heart,” CBQ 41 (1979): 18-36.
120 tn The form beginning the second half of the verse is the perfect tense with vav (ו) consecutive, הִרְבֵּיתִי (hirbeti). It could be translated as a simple future in sequence after the imperfect preceding it, but the logical connection is not obvious. Since it carries the force of an imperfect due to the sequence, it may be subordinated as a temporal clause to the next clause that begins in v. 4. That maintains the flow of the argument.
121 tn Heb “and Pharaoh will not listen.”
122 tn Heb “put my hand into.” The expression is a strong anthropomorphism to depict God’s severest judgment on Egypt. The point is that neither the speeches of Moses and Aaron nor the signs that God would do will be effective. Consequently, God would deliver the blow that would destroy.
124 tn The emphasis on sequence is clear because the form is the perfect tense with the vav consecutive.
sn The use of the verb “to know” (יָדַע, yada’) underscores what was said with regard to 6:3. By the time the actual exodus took place, the Egyptians would have “known” the name Yahweh, probably hearing it more than they wished. But they will know – experience the truth of it – when Yahweh defeats them.
125 sn This is another anthropomorphism, parallel to the preceding. If God were to “put” (נָתַן, natan), “extend” (נָטָה, nata), or “reach out” (שָׁלַח, shalakh) his hand against them, they would be destroyed. Contrast Exod 24:11.
126 tn Heb “And Yahweh said.”
127 tn Heb “said to Moses and Aaron, saying.”
128 tn The verb is תְּנוּ (tÿnu), literally “give.” The imperative is followed by an ethical dative that strengthens the subject of the imperative: “you give a miracle.”
129 tn Heb “and throw it.” The direct object, “it,” is implied.
130 tn The form is the jussive יְהִי ( yÿhi). Gesenius notes that frequently in a conditional clause, a sentence with a protasis and apodosis, the jussive will be used. Here it is in the apodosis (GKC 323 §109.h).
131 tn The clause begins with the preterite and the vav (ו) consecutive; it is here subordinated to the next clause as a temporal clause.
132 tn Heb “and Aaron threw.”
133 tn The noun used here is תַּנִּין (tannin), and not the word for “serpent” or “snake” used in chap. 4. This noun refers to a large reptile, in some texts large river or sea creatures (Gen 1:21; Ps 74:13) or land creatures (Deut 32:33). This wonder paralleled Moses’ miracle in 4:3 when he cast his staff down. But this is Aaron’s staff, and a different miracle. The noun could still be rendered “snake” here since the term could be broad enough to include it.
134 sn For information on this Egyptian material, see D. B. Redford, A Study of the Biblical Story of Joseph (VTSup), 203-4.
135 tn The חַרְטֻּמִּים (kharttummim) seem to have been the keepers of Egypt’s religious and magical texts, the sacred scribes.
136 tn The term בְּלַהֲטֵיהֶם (bÿlahatehem) means “by their secret arts”; it is from לוּט (lut, “to enwrap”). The Greek renders the word “by their magic”; Tg. Onq. uses “murmurings” and “whispers,” and other Jewish sources “dazzling display” or “demons” (see further B. Jacob, Exodus, 253-54). They may have done this by clever tricks, manipulation of the animals, or demonic power. Many have suggested that Aaron and the magicians were familiar with an old trick in which they could temporarily paralyze a serpent and then revive it. But here Aaron’s snake swallows up their snakes.
137 tn The verb is plural, but the subject is singular, “a man – his staff.” This noun can be given a distributive sense: “each man threw down his staff.”
138 tn This phrase translates the Hebrew word חָזַק (khazaq); see S. R. Driver, Exodus, 53.
sn For more on this subject, see B. Jacob, Exodus, 241-49. S. R. Driver (Exodus, 53) notes that when this word (חָזַק) is used it indicates a will or attitude that is unyielding and firm, but when כָּבֵד (kaved) is used, it stresses the will as being slow to move, unimpressionable, slow to be affected.
139 sn With the first plague, or blow on Pharaoh, a new section of the book unfolds. Until now the dominant focus has been on preparing the deliverer for the exodus. From here the account will focus on preparing Pharaoh for it. The theological emphasis for exposition of the entire series of plagues may be: The sovereign Lord is fully able to deliver his people from the oppression of the world so that they may worship and serve him alone. The distinct idea of each plague then will contribute to this main idea. It is clear from the outset that God could have delivered his people simply and suddenly. But he chose to draw out the process with the series of plagues. There appear to be several reasons: First, the plagues are designed to judge Egypt. It is justice for slavery. Second, the plagues are designed to inform Israel and Egypt of the ability of Yahweh. Everyone must know that it is Yahweh doing all these things. The Egyptians must know this before they are destroyed. Third, the plagues are designed to deliver Israel. The first plague is the plague of blood: God has absolute power over the sources of life. Here Yahweh strikes the heart of Egyptian life with death and corruption. The lesson is that God can turn the source of life into the prospect of death. Moreover, the Nile was venerated; so by turning it into death Moses was showing the superiority of Yahweh.
140 tn Or “unresponsive” (so HALOT 456 s.v. I כָּבֵד).
141 tn The Piel infinitive construct לְשַׁלַּח (lÿshallakh) serves as the direct object of מֵאֵן (me’en), telling what Pharaoh refuses (characteristic perfect) to do. The whole clause is an explanation (like a metonymy of effect) of the first clause that states that Pharaoh’s heart is hard.
142 tn The clause begins with הִנֵּה (hinneh); here it provides the circumstances for the instruction for Moses – he is going out to the water so go meet him. A temporal clause translation captures the connection between the clauses.
143 tn The instruction to Moses continues with this perfect tense with vav (ו) consecutive following the imperative. The verb means “to take a stand, station oneself.” It seems that Pharaoh’s going out to the water was a regular feature of his day and that Moses could be there waiting to meet him.
144 sn The Nile, the source of fertility for the country, was deified by the Egyptians. There were religious festivals held to the god of the Nile, especially when the Nile was flooding. The Talmud suggests that Pharaoh in this passage went out to the Nile to make observations as a magician about its level. Others suggest he went out simply to bathe or to check the water level – but that would not change the view of the Nile that was prevalent in the land.
145 tn The verb תִּקַּח (tiqqakh), the Qal imperfect of לָקַח (laqakh), functions here as the imperfect of instruction, or injunction perhaps, given the word order of the clause.
146 tn The final clause begins with the noun and vav disjunctive, which singles this instruction out for special attention – “now the staff…you are to take.”
147 tn The form לֵאמֹר (le’mor) is the Qal infinitive construct with the lamed (ל) preposition. It is used so often epexegetically that it has achieved idiomatic status – “saying” (if translated at all). But here it would make better sense to take it as a purpose infinitive. God sent him to say these words.
148 tn The imperfect tense with the vav (וְיַעַבְדֻנִי, vÿya’avduni) following the imperative is in volitive sequence, showing the purpose – “that they may serve me.” The word “serve” (עָבַד, ’avad) is a general term to include religious observance and obedience.
149 tn The final עַד־כֹּה (’ad-koh, “until now”) narrows the use of the perfect tense to the present perfect: “you have not listened.” That verb, however, involves more than than mere audition. It has the idea of responding to, hearkening, and in some places obeying; here “you have not complied” might catch the point of what Moses is saying, while “listen” helps to maintain the connection with other uses of the verb.
150 tn Or “complied” (שָׁמַעְתָּ, shama’ta).
151 tn The construction using הִנֵּה (hinneh) before the participle (here the Hiphil participle מַכֶּה, makkeh) introduces a futur instans use of the participle, expressing imminent future, that he is about to do something.
152 sn W. C. Kaiser summarizes a view that has been adopted by many scholars, including a good number of conservatives, that the plagues overlap with natural phenomena in Egypt. Accordingly, the “blood” would not be literal blood, but a reddish contamination in the water. If there was an unusually high inundation of the Nile, the water flowed sluggishly through swamps and was joined with the water from the mountains that washed out the reddish soil. If the flood were high, the water would have a deeper red color. In addition to this discoloration, there is said to be a type of algae which produce a stench and a deadly fluctuation of the oxygen level of the river that is fatal to fish (see W. C. Kaiser, Jr., “Exodus,” EBC 2:350; he cites Greta Hort, “The Plagues of Egypt,” ZAW 69 : 84-103; same title, ZAW 70 : 48-59). While most scholars would agree that the water did not actually become blood (any more than the moon will be turned to literal blood [Joel 2:31]), many are not satisfied with this kind of explanation. If the event was a fairly common feature of the Nile, it would not have been any kind of sign to Pharaoh – and it should still be observable. The features that would have to be safeguarded are that it was understood to be done by the staff of God, that it was unexpected and not a mere coincidence, and that the magnitude of the contamination, color, stench, and death, was unparalleled. God does use natural features in miracles, but to be miraculous signs they cannot simply coincide with natural phenomena.
153 tn The definite article here has the generic use, indicating the class – “fish” (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 19, §92).
154 tn The verb לָאָה (la’a), here in the Niphal perfect with a vav consecutive, means “be weary, impatient.” The Niphal meaning is “make oneself weary” in doing something, or “weary (strenuously exert) oneself.” It seems always to indicate exhausted patience (see BDB 521 s.v.). The term seems to imply that the Egyptians were not able to drink the red, contaminated water, and so would expend all their energy looking for water to drink – in frustration of course.
155 tn Or “irrigation rivers” of the Nile.
156 sn The Hebrew term means “gathering,” i.e., wherever they gathered or collected waters, notably cisterns and reservoirs. This would naturally lead to the inclusion of both wooden and stone vessels – down to the smallest gatherings.
157 tn The imperfect tense with vav (ו) after the imperative indicates the purpose or result: “in order that they [the waters] be[come] blood.”
158 tn Or “in all.”
159 sn Both Moses and Aaron had tasks to perform. Moses, being the “god” to Pharaoh, dealt directly with him and the Nile. He would strike the Nile. But Aaron, “his prophet,” would stretch out the staff over the rest of the waters of Egypt.
160 tn Heb “And he raised”; the referent (Moses) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
161 tn Gesenius calls the preposition on “staff” the בְּ (bet) instrumenti, used to introduce the object (GKC 380-81 §119.q). This construction provides a greater emphasis than an accusative.
162 tn The text could be rendered “in the sight of,” or simply “before,” but the literal idea of “before the eyes of” may stress how obvious the event was and how personally they were witnesses of it.
163 sn U. Cassuto (Exodus, 98) notes that the striking of the water was not a magical act. It signified two things: (1) the beginning of the sign, which was in accordance with God’s will, as Moses had previously announced, and (2) to symbolize actual “striking,” wherewith the Lord strikes Egypt and its gods (see v. 25).
164 sn There have been various attempts to explain the details of this plague or blow. One possible suggestion is that the plague turned the Nile into “blood,” but that it gradually turned back to its normal color and substance. However, the effects of the “blood” polluted the water so that dead fish and other contamination left it undrinkable. This would explain how the magicians could also do it – they would not have tried if all water was already turned to blood. It also explains why Pharaoh did not ask for the water to be turned back. This view was put forward by B. Schor; it is summarized by B. Jacob (Exodus, 258), who prefers the view of Rashi that the blow affected only water in use.
165 tn The first clause in this verse begins with a vav disjunctive, introducing a circumstantial clause to the statement that the water stank. The vav (ו) consecutive on the next verb shows that the smell was the result of the dead fish in the contaminated water. The result is then expressed with the vav beginning the clause that states that they could not drink it.
166 tn The preterite could be given a simple definite past translation, but an ingressive past would be more likely, as the smell would get worse and worse with the dead fish.
167 tn Heb “and there was blood.”
168 tn Heb “thus, so.”
169 tn The vav consecutive on the preterite introduces the outcome or result of the matter – Pharaoh was hardened.
170 tn Heb “and the heart of Pharaoh became hard.” This phrase translates the Hebrew word חָזַק (khazaq; see S. R. Driver, Exodus, 53). In context this represents the continuation of a prior condition.
171 tn Heb “to them”; the referents (Moses and Aaron) have been specified in the translation for clarity.
172 tn The text has וְלֹא־שָׁת לִבּוֹ גַּם־לָזֹאת (vÿlo’-shat libbo gam-lazo’t), which literally says, “and he did not set his heart also to this.” To “set the heart” to something would mean “to consider it.” This Hebrew idiom means that he did not pay attention to it, or take it to heart (cf. 2 Sam 13:20; Ps 48:13; 62:10; Prov 22:17; 24:32). Since Pharaoh had not been affected by this, he did not consider it or its implications further.
173 sn The text stresses that the water in the Nile, and Nile water that had been diverted or collected for use, was polluted and undrinkable. Water underground also was from the Nile, but it had not been contaminated, certainly not with dead fish, and so would be drinkable.
174 sn An attempt to connect this plague with the natural phenomena of Egypt proposes that because of the polluted water due to the high Nile, the frogs abandoned their normal watery homes (seven days after the first plague) and sought cover from the sun in homes wherever there was moisture. Since they had already been exposed to the poisonous water, they died very suddenly. The miracle was in the announcement and the timing, i.e., that Moses would predict this blow, and in the magnitude of it all, which was not natural (Greta Hort, “The Plagues of Egypt,” ZAW 69 : 95-98). It is also important to note that in parts of Egypt there was a fear of these creatures as embodying spirits capable of great evil. People developed the mentality of bowing to incredibly horrible idols to drive away the bad spirits. Evil spirits are represented in the book of Revelation in the forms of frogs (Rev 16:13). The frogs that the magicians produced could very well have been in the realm of evil spirits. Exactly how the Egyptians thought about this plague is hard to determine, but there is enough evidence to say that the plague would have made them spiritually as well as physically uncomfortable, and that the death of the frogs would have been a “sign” from God about their superstitions and related beliefs. The frog is associated with the god Hapi, and a frog-headed goddess named Heqet was supposed to assist women at childbirth. The plague would have been evidence that Yahweh was controlling their environment and upsetting their beliefs for his own purpose.
175 tn The text literally has “and seven days were filled.” Seven days gave Pharaoh enough time to repent and release Israel. When the week passed, God’s second blow came.
176 tn This is a temporal clause made up of the preposition, the Hiphil infinitive construct of נָכָה (nakhah), הַכּוֹת (hakkot), followed by the subjective genitive YHWH. Here the verb is applied to the true meaning of the plague: Moses struck the water, but the plague was a blow struck by God.