Reading Plan 
Daily Bible Reading (daily) January 21
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Exodus 18:1--20:26

Context
The Advice of Jethro

18:1 1 Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard about all that God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, that 2  the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt. 3 

18:2 Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, took Moses’ wife Zipporah after he had sent her back, 18:3 and her two sons, one of whom was named Gershom (for Moses 4  had said, “I have been a foreigner in a foreign land”), 18:4 and the other Eliezer (for Moses had said, 5  “The God of my father has been my help 6  and delivered 7  me from the sword of Pharaoh”).

18:5 Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, together with Moses’ 8  sons and his wife, came to Moses in the desert where he was camping by 9  the mountain of God. 10  18:6 He said 11  to Moses, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you, along with your wife and her two sons with her.” 18:7 Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him; 12  they each asked about the other’s welfare, and then they went into the tent. 18:8 Moses told his father-in-law all that the Lord had done to Pharaoh and to Egypt for Israel’s sake, and all the hardship 13  that had come on them 14  along the way, and how 15  the Lord had delivered them.

18:9 Jethro rejoiced 16  because of all the good that the Lord had done for Israel, whom he had delivered from the hand of Egypt. 18:10 Jethro said, “Blessed 17  be the Lord who has delivered you from the hand of Egypt, and from the hand of Pharaoh, who has delivered the people from the Egyptians’ control! 18  18:11 Now I know that the Lord is greater than all the gods, for in the thing in which they dealt proudly against them he has destroyed them.” 19  18:12 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought 20  a burnt offering and sacrifices for God, 21  and Aaron and all the elders of Israel came to eat food 22  with the father-in-law of Moses before God.

18:13 On the next day 23  Moses sat to judge 24  the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning until evening. 18:14 When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this 25  that you are doing for the people? 26  Why are you sitting by yourself, and all the people stand around you from morning until evening?”

18:15 Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire 27  of God. 18:16 When they have a dispute, 28  it comes to me and I decide 29  between a man and his neighbor, and I make known the decrees of God and his laws.” 30 

18:17 Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What 31  you are doing is not good! 18:18 You will surely wear out, 32  both you and these people who are with you, for this is too 33  heavy a burden 34  for you; you are not able to do it by yourself. 18:19 Now listen to me, 35  I will give you advice, and may God be with you: You be a representative for the people to God, 36  and you bring 37  their disputes 38  to God; 18:20 warn 39  them of the statutes and the laws, and make known to them the way in which they must walk 40  and the work they must do. 41  18:21 But you choose 42  from the people capable men, 43  God-fearing, 44  men of truth, 45  those who hate bribes, 46  and put them over the people 47  as rulers 48  of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. 18:22 They will judge 49  the people under normal circumstances, 50  and every difficult case 51  they will bring to you, but every small case 52  they themselves will judge, so that 53  you may make it easier for yourself, 54  and they will bear the burden 55  with you. 18:23 If you do this thing, and God so commands you, 56  then you will be able 57  to endure, 58  and all these people 59  will be able to go 60  home 61  satisfied.” 62 

18:24 Moses listened to 63  his father-in-law and did everything he had said. 18:25 Moses chose capable men from all Israel, and he made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. 18:26 They judged the people under normal circumstances; the difficult cases they would bring 64  to Moses, but every small case they would judge themselves.

18:27 Then Moses sent his father-in-law on his way, 65  and so Jethro 66  went 67  to his own land. 68 

Israel at Sinai

19:1 69 In the third month after the Israelites went out 70  from the land of Egypt, on the very day, 71  they came to the Desert of Sinai. 19:2 After they journeyed 72  from Rephidim, they came to the Desert of Sinai, and they camped in the desert; Israel camped there in front of the mountain. 73 

19:3 Moses 74  went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, “Thus you will tell the house of Jacob, and declare to the people 75  of Israel: 19:4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt and how I lifted you on eagles’ wings 76  and brought you to myself. 77  19:5 And now, if you will diligently listen to me 78  and keep 79  my covenant, then you will be my 80  special possession 81  out of all the nations, for all the earth is mine, 19:6 and you will be to me 82  a kingdom of priests 83  and a holy nation.’ 84  These are the words that you will speak to the Israelites.”

19:7 So Moses came and summoned the elders of Israel. He set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him, 19:8 and all the people answered together, “All that the Lord has commanded we will do!” 85  So Moses brought the words of the people back to the Lord.

19:9 The Lord said to Moses, “I am going to come 86  to you in a dense cloud, 87  so that the people may hear when I speak with you and so that they will always believe in you.” 88  And Moses told the words of the people to the Lord.

19:10 The Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and sanctify them 89  today and tomorrow, and make them wash 90  their clothes 19:11 and be ready for the third day, for on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 19:12 You must set boundaries 91  for the people all around, saying, ‘Take heed 92  to yourselves not to go up on the mountain nor touch its edge. Whoever touches the mountain will surely be put to death! 19:13 No hand will touch him 93  – but he will surely be stoned or shot through, whether a beast or a human being; 94  he must not live.’ When the ram’s horn sounds a long blast they may 95  go up on the mountain.”

19:14 Then Moses went down from the mountain to the people and sanctified the people, and they washed their clothes. 19:15 He said to the people, “Be ready for the third day. Do not go near your wives.” 96 

19:16 On 97  the third day in the morning there was thunder and lightning and a dense 98  cloud on the mountain, and the sound of a very loud 99  horn; 100  all the people who were in the camp trembled. 19:17 Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their place at the foot of the mountain. 19:18 Now Mount Sinai was completely covered with smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire, and its smoke went up like the smoke of a great furnace, 101  and the whole mountain shook 102  violently. 19:19 When the sound of the horn grew louder and louder, 103  Moses was speaking 104  and God was answering him with a voice. 105 

19:20 The Lord came down on Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain, and the Lord summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. 19:21 The Lord said to Moses, “Go down and solemnly warn 106  the people, lest they force their way through to the Lord to look, and many of them perish. 107  19:22 Let the priests also, who approach the Lord, sanctify themselves, lest the Lord break through 108  against them.”

19:23 Moses said to the Lord, “The people are not able to come up to Mount Sinai, because you solemnly warned us, 109  ‘Set boundaries for the mountain and set it apart.’” 110  19:24 The Lord said to him, “Go, get down, and come up, and Aaron with you, but do not let the priests and the people force their way through to come up to the Lord, lest he break through against them.” 19:25 So Moses went down to the people and spoke to them. 111 

The Decalogue

20:1 112 God spoke all these words: 113 

20:2 “I, 114  the Lord, am your God, 115  who brought you 116  from the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery. 117 

20:3 “You shall have no 118  other gods before me. 119 

20:4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image 120  or any likeness 121  of anything 122  that is in heaven above or that is on the earth beneath or that is in the water below. 123  20:5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, 124  for I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous 125  God, responding to 126  the transgression of fathers by dealing with children to the third and fourth generations 127  of those who reject me, 128  20:6 and showing covenant faithfulness 129  to a thousand generations 130  of those who love me and keep my commandments.

20:7 “You shall not take 131  the name of the Lord your God in vain, 132  for the Lord will not hold guiltless 133  anyone who takes his name in vain.

20:8 “Remember 134  the Sabbath 135  day to set it apart as holy. 136  20:9 For six days 137  you may labor 138  and do all your work, 139  20:10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; on it 140  you shall not do any work, you, 141  or your son, or your daughter, or your male servant, or your female servant, or your cattle, or the resident foreigner who is in your gates. 142  20:11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them, and he rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.

20:12 “Honor 143  your father and your mother, that you may live a long time 144  in the land 145  the Lord your God is giving to you.

20:13 “You shall not murder. 146 

20:14 “You shall not commit adultery. 147 

20:15 “You shall not steal. 148 

20:16 “You shall not give 149  false testimony 150  against your neighbor.

20:17 “You shall not covet 151  your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that belongs to your neighbor.” 152 

20:18 All the people were seeing 153  the thundering and the lightning, and heard 154  the sound of the horn, and saw 155  the mountain smoking – and when 156  the people saw it they trembled with fear 157  and kept their distance. 158  20:19 They said to Moses, “You speak 159  to us and we will listen, but do not let God speak with us, lest we die.” 20:20 Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, 160  that the fear of him 161  may be before you so that you do not 162  sin.” 20:21 The people kept 163  their distance, but Moses drew near the thick darkness 164  where God was. 165 

The Altar

20:22 166 The Lord said 167  to Moses: “Thus you will tell the Israelites: ‘You yourselves have seen that I have spoken with you from heaven. 20:23 You must not make gods of silver alongside me, 168  nor make gods of gold for yourselves. 169 

20:24 ‘You must make for me an altar made of earth, 170  and you will sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, 171  your sheep and your cattle. In every place 172  where I cause my name to be honored 173  I will come to you and I will bless you. 20:25 If you make me an altar of stone, you must not build it 174  of stones shaped with tools, 175  for if you use your tool on it you have defiled it. 176  20:26 And you must not go up by steps to my altar, so that your nakedness is not exposed.’ 177 

1 sn This chapter forms the transition to the Law. There has been the deliverance, the testing passages, the provision in the wilderness, and the warfare. Any God who can do all this for his people deserves their allegiance. In chap. 18 the Lawgiver is giving advice, using laws and rulings, but then he is given advice to organize the elders to assist. Thus, when the Law is fully revealed, a system will be in place to administer it. The point of the passage is that a great leader humbly accepts advice from other godly believers to delegate responsibility. He does not try to do it all himself; God does not want one individual to do it all. The chapter has three parts: vv. 1-12 tell how Jethro heard and came and worshiped and blessed; vv. 13-23 have the advice of Jethro, and then vv. 24-27 tell how Moses implemented the plan and Jethro went home. See further E. J. Runions, “Exodus Motifs in 1 Samuel 7 and 8,” EvQ 52 (1980): 130-31; and also see for another idea T. C. Butler, “An Anti-Moses Tradition,” JSOT 12 (1979): 9-15.

2 tn This clause beginning with כִּי (ki) answers the question of what Jethro had heard; it provides a second, explanatory noun clause that is the object of the verb – “he heard (1) all that God had done… (2) that he had brought….” See R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 81, §490.

3 sn This is an important report that Jethro has heard, for the claim of God that he brought Israel out of bondage in Egypt will be the foundation of the covenant stipulations (Exod 20).

4 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Moses) has been specified in the translation for clarity (also in the following verse).

5 tn The referent (Moses) and the verb have been specified in the translation for clarity.

6 tn Now is given the etymological explanation of the name of Moses’ other son, Eliezer (אֱלִיעֶזֶר, ’eliezer), which means “my God is a help.” The sentiment that explains this name is אֱלֹהֵי אָבִי בְּעֶזְרִי (’eloheavi bÿezri, “the God of my father is my help”). The preposition in the sentiment is the bet (ב) essentiae (giving the essence – see GKC 379 §119.i). Not mentioned earlier, the name has become even more appropriate now that God has delivered Moses from Pharaoh again. The word for “help” is a common word in the Bible, first introduced as a description of the woman in the Garden. It means to do for someone what he or she cannot do for himself or herself. Samuel raised the “stone of help” (Ebenezer) when Yahweh helped Israel win the battle (1 Sam 7:12).

7 sn The verb “delivered” is an important motif in this chapter (see its use in vv. 8, 9, and 10 with reference to Pharaoh).

8 tn Heb “his”; the referent (Moses) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

9 tn This is an adverbial accusative that defines the place (see GKC 373-74 §118.g).

10 sn The mountain of God is Horeb, and so the desert here must be the Sinai desert by it. But chap. 19 suggests that they left Rephidim to go the 24 miles to Sinai. It may be that this chapter fits in chronologically after the move to Sinai, but was placed here thematically. W. C. Kaiser defends the present location of the story by responding to other reasons for the change given by Lightfoot, but does not deal with the travel locations (W. C. Kaiser, Jr., “Exodus,” EBC 2:411).

11 sn This verse may seem out of place, since the report has already been given that they came to the desert. It begins to provide details of the event that the previous verse summarizes. The announcement in verse 6 may have come in advance by means of a messenger or at the time of arrival, either of which would fit with the attention to formal greetings in verse 7. This would suit a meeting between two important men; the status of Moses has changed. The LXX solves the problem by taking the pronoun “I” as the particle “behold” and reads it this way: “one said to Moses, ‘Behold, your father-in-law has come….’”

12 sn This is more than polite oriental custom. Jethro was Moses’ benefactor, father-in-law, and a priest. He paid much respect to him. Now he could invite Jethro into his home (see B. Jacob, Exodus, 496).

13 tn A rare word, “weariness” of the hardships.

14 tn Heb “found them.”

15 tn Here “how” has been supplied.

16 tn The word חָדָה (khada) is rare, occurring only in Job 3:6 and Ps 21:6, although it is common in Aramaic. The LXX translated it “he shuddered.” U. Cassuto suggests that that rendering was based on the midrashic interpretation in b. Sanhedrin 94b, “he felt cuts in his body” – a wordplay on the verb (Exodus, 215-16).

17 tn This is a common form of praise. The verb בָּרוּךְ (barukh) is the Qal passive participle of the verb. Here must be supplied a jussive, making this participle the predicate: “May Yahweh be blessed.” The verb essentially means “to enrich”; in praise it would mean that he would be enriched by the praises of the people.

18 tn Heb “from under the hand of the Egyptians.”

19 tn The end of this sentence seems not to have been finished, or it is very elliptical. In the present translation the phrase “he has destroyed them” is supplied. Others take the last prepositional phrase to be the completion and supply only a verb: “[he was] above them.” U. Cassuto (Exodus, 216) takes the word “gods” to be the subject of the verb “act proudly,” giving the sense of “precisely (כִּי, ki) in respect of these things of which the gods of Egypt boasted – He is greater than they (עֲלֵיהֶם, ‘alehem).” He suggests rendering the clause, “excelling them in the very things to which they laid claim.”

20 tn The verb is “and he took” (cf. KJV, ASV, NASB). It must have the sense of getting the animals for the sacrifice. The Syriac, Targum, and Vulgate have “offered.” But Cody argues because of the precise wording in the text Jethro did not offer the sacrifices but received them (A. Cody, “Exodus 18,12: Jethro Accepts a Covenant with the Israelites,” Bib 49 [1968]: 159-61).

21 sn Jethro brought offerings as if he were the one who had been delivered. The “burnt offering” is singular, to honor God first. The other sacrifices were intended for the invited guests to eat (a forerunner of the peace offering). See B. Jacob, Exodus, 498.

22 tn The word לֶחֶם (lekhem) here means the sacrifice and all the foods that were offered with it. The eating before God was part of covenantal ritual, for it signified that they were in communion with the Deity, and with one another.

23 tn Heb “and it was/happened on the morrow.”

24 sn This is a simple summary of the function of Moses on this particular day. He did not necessarily do this every day, but it was time now to do it. The people would come to solve their difficulties or to hear instruction from Moses on decisions to be made. The tradition of “sitting in Moses’ seat” is drawn from this passage.

25 tn Heb “what is this thing.”

26 sn This question, “what are you doing for the people,” is qualified by the next question. Sitting alone all day and the people standing around all day showed that Moses was exhibiting too much care for the people – he could not do this.

27 tn The form is לִדְרֹשׁ (lidrosh), the Qal infinitive construct giving the purpose. To inquire of God would be to seek God’s will on a matter, to obtain a legal decision on a matter, or to settle a dispute. As a judge Moses is speaking for God, but as the servant of Yahweh Moses’ words will be God’s words. The psalms would later describe judges as “gods” because they made the right decisions based on God’s Law.

28 tn Or “thing,” “matter,” “issue.”

29 tn The verb שָׁפַט (shafat) means “to judge”; more specifically, it means to make a decision as an arbiter or umpire. When people brought issues to him, Moses decided between them. In the section of laws in Exodus after the Ten Commandments come the decisions, the מִשְׁפָּטִים (mishppatim).

30 tn The “decrees” or “statutes” were definite rules, stereotyped and permanent; the “laws” were directives or pronouncements given when situations arose. S. R. Driver suggests this is another reason why this event might have taken place after Yahweh had given laws on the mountain (Exodus, 165).

31 tn Heb “the thing.”

32 tn The verb means “to fall and fade” as a leaf (Ps 1:3). In Ps 18:45 it is used figuratively of foes fading away, failing in strength and courage (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 166). Here the infinitive absolute construction heightens the meaning.

33 tn Gesenius lists the specialized use of the comparative min (מ) where with an adjective the thought expressed is that the quality is too difficult for the attainment of a particular aim (GKC 430 §133.c).

34 tn Here “a burden” has been supplied.

35 tn Heb “hear my voice.”

36 tn The line reads “Be you to the people before God.” He is to be their representative before God. This is introducing the aspect of the work that only Moses could do, what he has been doing. He is to be before God for the people, to pray for them, to appeal on their behalf. Jethro is essentially saying, I understand that you cannot delegate this to anyone else, so continue doing it (U. Cassuto, Exodus, 219-20).

37 tn The form is the perfect tense with the vav (ו) consecutive; following the imperative it will be instruction as well. Since the imperative preceding this had the idea of “continue to be” as you are, this too has that force.

38 tn Heb “words”; KJV, ASV “the causes”; NRSV “cases”; NLT “questions.”

39 tn The perfect tense with the vav (ו) continues the sequence of instruction for Moses. He alone was to be the mediator, to guide them in the religious and moral instruction.

40 tn The verb and its following prepositional phrase form a relative clause, modifying “the way.” The imperfect tense should be given the nuance of obligatory imperfect – it is the way they must walk.

41 tn This last part is parallel to the preceding: “work” is also a direct object of the verb “make known,” and the relative clause that qualifies it also uses an obligatory imperfect.

42 tn The construction uses the independent pronoun for emphasis, and then the imperfect tense “see” (חָזָה, khazah) – “and you will see from all….” Both in Hebrew and Ugaritic expressions of “seeing” are used in the sense of choosing (Gen 41:33). See U. Cassuto, Exodus, 220.

43 tn The expression is אַנְשֵׁי־חַיִל (’anshe khayil, “capable men”). The attributive genitive is the word used in expressions like “mighty man of valor.” The word describes these men as respected, influential, powerful people, those looked up to by the community as leaders, and those who will have the needs of the community in mind.

44 tn The description “fearers of God” uses an objective genitive. It describes them as devout, worshipful, obedient servants of God.

45 tn The expression “men of truth” (אַנְשֵׁי אֱמֶת, ’ansheemet) indicates that these men must be seekers of truth, who know that the task of a judge is to give true judgment (U. Cassuto, Exodus, 220). The word “truth” includes the ideas of faithfulness or reliability, as well as factuality itself. It could be understood to mean “truthful men,” men whose word is reliable and true.

46 tn Heb “haters of bribes.” Here is another objective genitive, one that refers to unjust gain. To hate unjust gain is to reject and refuse it. Their decisions will not be swayed by greed.

47 tn Heb “over them”; the referent (the people) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

48 sn It is not clear how this structure would work in a judicial setting. The language of “captains of thousands,” etc., is used more for military ranks. There must have been more detailed instruction involved here, for each Israelite would have come under four leaders with this arrangement, and perhaps difficult cases would be sent to the next level. But since the task of these men would also involve instruction and guidance, the breakdown would be very useful. Deut 1:9, 13 suggest that the choice of these people was not simply Moses’ alone.

49 tn The form is the perfect tense with the vav (ו) consecutive, making it equivalent to the imperfect of instruction in the preceding verse.

50 tn Heb “in every time,” meaning “in all normal cases” or “under normal circumstances.” The same phrase occurs in v. 26.

51 tn Heb “great thing.”

52 tn Heb “thing.”

53 tn The vav here shows the result or the purpose of the instructions given.

54 tn The expression וְהָקֵל מֵעָלֶיךָ (vÿhaqel mealeykha) means literally “and make it light off yourself.” The word plays against the word for “heavy” used earlier – since it was a heavy or burdensome task, Moses must lighten the load.

55 tn Here “the burden” has been supplied.

56 tn The form is a Piel perfect with vav (ו) consecutive; it carries the same nuance as the preceding imperfect in the conditional clause.

57 tn The perfect tense with vav (ו) consecutive now appears in the apodosis of the conditional sentence – “if you do this…then you will be able.”

58 tn Heb “to stand.” B. Jacob (Exodus, 501) suggests that there might be a humorous side to this: “you could even do this standing up.”

59 tn Literally “this people.”

60 tn The verb is the simple imperfect, “will go,” but given the sense of the passage a potential nuance seems in order.

61 tn Heb “his place.”

62 tn Heb “in peace.”

sn See further T. D. Weinshall, “The Organizational Structure Proposed by Jethro to Moses (Ex. 18:17),” Public Administration in Israel and Abroad 12 (1972): 9-13; and H. Reviv, “The Traditions Concerning the Inception of the Legal System in Israel: Significance and Dating,” ZAW 94 (1982): 566-75.

63 tn The idiom “listen to the voice of” means “obey, comply with, heed.”

64 tn This verb and the verb in the next clause are imperfect tenses. In the past tense narrative of the verse they must be customary, describing continuous action in past time.

65 tn The verb וַיְשַׁלַּח (vayshallakh) has the same root and same stem used in the passages calling for Pharaoh to “release” Israel. Here, in a peaceful and righteous relationship, Moses sent Jethro to his home.

66 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Jethro) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

67 tn The prepositional phrase included here Gesenius classifies as a pleonastic dativus ethicus to give special emphasis to the significance of the occurrence in question for a particular subject (GKC 381 §119.s).

68 sn This chapter makes an excellent message on spiritual leadership of the people of God. Spiritually responsible people are to be selected to help in the work of the ministry (teaching, deciding cases, meeting needs), so that there will be peace, and so that leaders will not be exhausted. Probably capable people are more ready to do that than leaders are ready to relinquish control. But leaders have to be willing to take the risk, to entrust the task to others. Here Moses is the model of humility, receiving correction and counsel from Jethro. And Jethro is the ideal adviser, for he has no intention of remaining there to run the operation.

69 sn This chapter is essentially about mediation. The people are getting ready to meet with God, receive the Law from him, and enter into a covenant with him. All of this required mediation and preparation. Through it all, Israel will become God’s unique possession, a kingdom of priests on earth – if they comply with his Law. The chapter can be divided as follows: vv. 1-8 tell how God, Israel’s great deliverer promised to make them a kingdom of priests; this is followed by God’s declaration that Moses would be the mediator (v. 9); vv. 10-22 record instructions for Israel to prepare themselves to worship Yahweh and an account of the manifestation of Yahweh with all the phenomena; and the chapter closes with the mediation of Moses on behalf of the people (vv. 23-25). Having been redeemed from Egypt, the people will now be granted a covenant with God. See also R. E. Bee, “A Statistical Study of the Sinai Pericope,” Journal of the Royal Statistical Society 135 (1972): 406-21.

70 tn The construction uses the infinitive construct followed by the subjective genitive to form a temporal clause.

71 tn Heb “on this day.”

72 tn The form is a preterite with vav (ו) consecutive, “and they journeyed.” It is here subordinated to the next clause as a temporal clause. But since the action of this temporal clause preceded the actions recorded in v. 1, a translation of “after” will keep the sequence in order. Verse 2 adds details to the summary in v. 1.

73 sn The mountain is Mount Sinai, the mountain of God, the place where God had met and called Moses and had promised that they would be here to worship him. If this mountain is Jebel Musa, the traditional site of Sinai, then the plain in front of it would be Er-Rahah, about a mile and a half long by half a mile wide, fronting the mountain on the NW side (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 169). The plain itself is about 5000 feet above sea level. A mountain on the west side of the Arabian Peninsula has also been suggested as a possible site.

74 tn Heb “and Moses went up.”

75 tn This expression is normally translated as “Israelites” in this translation, but because in this place it is parallel to “the house of Jacob” it seemed better to offer a fuller rendering.

76 tn The figure compares the way a bird would teach its young to fly and leave the nest with the way Yahweh brought Israel out of Egypt. The bird referred to could be one of several species of eagles, but more likely is the griffin-vulture. The image is that of power and love.

77 sn The language here is the language of a bridegroom bringing the bride to the chamber. This may be a deliberate allusion to another metaphor for the covenant relationship.

78 tn Heb “listen to my voice.” The construction uses the imperfect tense in the conditional clause, preceded by the infinitive absolute from the same verb. The idiom “listen to the voice of” implies obedience, not just mental awareness of sound.

79 tn The verb is a perfect tense with vav (ו) consecutive; it continues the idea in the protasis of the sentence: “and [if you will] keep.”

80 tn The lamed preposition expresses possession here: “to me” means “my.”

81 tn The noun is סְגֻלָּה (sÿgullah), which means a special possession. Israel was to be God’s special possession, but the prophets will later narrow it to the faithful remnant. All the nations belong to God, but Israel was to stand in a place of special privilege and enormous responsibility. See Deut 7:6; 14:2; 26:18; Ps 135:4; and Mal 3:17. See M. Greenburg, “Hebrew sÿgulla: Akkadian sikiltu,” JAOS 71 (1951): 172ff.

82 tn Or “for me” (NIV, NRSV), or, if the lamed (ל) preposition has a possessive use, “my kingdom” (so NCV).

83 tn The construction “a kingdom of priests” means that the kingdom is made up of priests. W. C. Kaiser (“Exodus,” EBC 2:417) offers four possible renderings of the expression: 1) apposition, viz., “kings, that is, priests; 2) as a construct with a genitive of specification, “royal priesthood”; 3) as a construct with the genitive being the attribute, “priestly kingdom”; and 4) reading with an unexpressed “and” – “kings and priests.” He takes the latter view that they were to be kings and priests. (Other references are R. B. Y. Scott, “A Kingdom of Priests (Exodus xix. 6),” OTS 8 [1950]: 213-19; William L. Moran, “A Kingdom of Priests,” The Bible in Current Catholic Thought, 7-20). However, due to the parallelism of the next description which uses an adjective, this is probably a construct relationship. This kingdom of God will be composed of a priestly people. All the Israelites would be living wholly in God’s service and enjoying the right of access to him. And, as priests, they would have the duty of representing God to the nations, following what they perceived to be the duties of priests – proclaiming God’s word, interceding for people, and making provision for people to find God through atonement (see Deut 33:9,10).

84 tn They are also to be “a holy nation.” They are to be a nation separate and distinct from the rest of the nations. Here is another aspect of their duty. It was one thing to be God’s special possession, but to be that they had to be priestly and holy. The duties of the covenant will specify what it would mean to be a holy nation. In short, they had to keep themselves free from everything that characterized pagan people (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 171). So it is a bilateral covenant: they received special privileges but they must provide special services by the special discipline. See also H. Kruse, “Exodus 19:5 and the Mission of Israel,” North East Asian Journal of Theology 24/25 (1980): 239-42.

85 tn The verb is an imperfect. The people are not being presumptuous in stating their compliance – there are several options open for the interpretation of this tense. It may be classified as having a desiderative nuance: “we are willing to do” or, “we will do.”

86 tn The construction uses the deictic particle and the participle to express the imminent future, what God was about to do. Here is the first announcement of the theophany.

87 tn Heb “the thickness of the cloud”; KJV, ASV, NASB, NCV, TEV, CEV, NLT “in a thick cloud.”

88 tn Since “and also in you” begins the clause, the emphasis must be that the people would also trust Moses. See Exod 4:1-9, 31; 14:31.

89 tn This verb is a Piel perfect with vav (ו) consecutive; it continues the force of the imperative preceding it. This sanctification would be accomplished by abstaining from things that would make them defiled or unclean, and then by ritual washings and ablutions.

90 tn The form is a perfect 3cpl with a vav (ו) consecutive. It is instructional as well, but now in the third person it is like a jussive, “let them wash, make them wash.”

91 tn The verb is a Hiphil perfect (“make borders”) with vav (ו) consecutive, following the sequence of instructions.

92 tn The Niphal imperative (“guard yourselves, take heed to yourselves”) is followed by two infinitives construct that provide the description of what is to be avoided – going up or touching the mountain.

93 sn There is some ambiguity here. The clause either means that no man will touch the mountain, so that if there is someone who is to be put to death he must be stoned or shot since they could not go into the mountain region to get him, or, it may mean no one is to touch the culprit who went in to the region of the mountain.

94 tn Heb “a man.”

95 tn The nuance here is permissive imperfect, “they may go up.” The ram’s horn would sound the blast to announce that the revelation period was over and it was permitted then to ascend the mountain.

96 tn Heb “do not go near a woman”; NIV “Abstain from sexual relations.”

sn B. Jacob (Exodus, 537) notes that as the people were to approach him they were not to lose themselves in earthly love. Such separations prepared the people for meeting God. Sinai was like a bride, forbidden to anyone else. Abstinence was the spiritual preparation for coming into the presence of the Holy One.

97 tn Heb “and it was on.”

98 tn Heb “heavy” (כָּבֵד, kaved).

99 tn Literally “strong” (חָזָק, khazaq).

100 tn The word here is שֹׁפָר (shofar), the normal word for “horn.” This word is used especially to announce something important in a public event (see 1 Kgs 1:34; 2 Sam 6:15). The previous word used in the context (v. 16) was יֹבֵל (yovel, “ram’s horn”).

101 sn The image is that of a large kiln, as in Gen 19:28.

102 tn This is the same word translated “trembled” above (v. 16).

103 tn The active participle הוֹלֵךְ (holekh) is used to add the idea of “continually” to the action of the sentence; here the trumpet became very loud – continually. See GKC 344 §113.u.

104 tn The two verbs here (“spoke” and “answered”) are imperfect tenses; they emphasize repeated action but in past time. The customary imperfect usually is translated “would” or “used to” do the action, but here continuous action in past time is meant. S. R. Driver translates it “kept speaking” and “kept answering” (Exodus, 172).

105 tn The text simply has בְּקוֹל (bÿqol); it could mean “with a voice” or it could mean “in thunder” since “voice” was used in v. 16 for thunder. In this context it would be natural to say that the repeated thunderings were the voice of God – but how is that an answer? Deut 4:12 says that the people heard the sound of words. U. Cassuto (Exodus, 232-33) rightly comments, “He was answering him with a loud voice so that it was possible for Moses to hear His words clearly in the midst of the storm.” He then draws a parallel from Ugaritic where it tells that one of the gods was speaking in a loud voice.

106 tn The imperative הָעֵד (haed) means “charge” them – put them under oath, or solemnly warn them. God wished to ensure that the people would not force their way past the barriers that had been set out.

107 tn Heb “and fall”; NAB “be struck down.”

108 tn The verb יִפְרֹץ (yifrots) is the imperfect tense from פָּרַץ (parats, “to make a breach, to break through”). The image of Yahweh breaking forth on them means “work destruction” (see 2 Sam 6:8; S. R. Driver, Exodus, 174).

109 tn The construction is emphatic: “because you – you solemnly warned us.” Moses’ response to God is to ask how they would break through when God had already charged them not to. God knew them better than Moses did.

110 tn Heb “sanctify it.”

111 sn The passage has many themes and emphases that could be developed in exposition. It could serve for meditation: the theology drawn from the three parts could be subordinated to the theme of holiness: God is holy, therefore adhere to his word for service, approach him through a mediator, and adore him in purity and fearful reverence. A developed outline for the exposition could be: I. If the people of God will obey him, they will be privileged to serve in a unique way (1-8); II. If the people of God are to obey, they must be convinced of the divine source of their commands (9); and finally, III. If the people of God are convinced of the divine approval of their mediator, and the divine source of their instructions, they must sanctify themselves before him (vv. 10-25). In sum, the manifestation of the holiness of Yahweh is the reason for sanctification and worship. The correlation is to be made through 1 Peter 2 to the church. The Church is a kingdom of priests; it is to obey the Word of God. What is the motivation for this? Their mediator is Jesus Christ; he has the approval of the Father and manifests the glory of God to his own; and he declares the purpose of their calling is to display his glory. God’s people are to abstain from sin so that pagans can see their good works and glorify God.

112 sn This chapter is the heart of the Law of Israel, and as such is well known throughout the world. There is so much literature on it that it is almost impossible to say anything briefly and do justice to the subject. But the exposition of the book must point out that this is the charter of the new nation of Israel. These ten commands (words) form the preamble; they will be followed by the decisions (judgments). And then in chap. 24 the covenant will be inaugurated. So when Israel entered into covenant with God, they entered into a theocracy by expressing their willingness to submit to his authority. The Law was the binding constitution for the nation of Israel under Yahweh their God. It was specifically given to them at a certain time and in a certain place. The Law legislated how Israel was to live in order to be blessed by God and used by him as a kingdom of priests. In the process of legislating their conduct and their ritual for worship, the Law revealed God. It revealed the holiness of Yahweh as the standard for all worship and service, and in revealing that it revealed or uncovered sin. But what the Law condemned, the Law (Leviticus) also made provision for in the laws of the sacrifice and the feasts intended for atonement. The NT teaches that the Law was good, and perfect, and holy. But it also teaches that Christ was the end (goal) of the Law, that it ultimately led to him. It was a pedagogue, Paul said, to bring people to Christ. And when the fulfillment of the promise came in him, believers were not to go back under the Law. What this means for Christians is that what the Law of Israel revealed about God and his will is timeless and still authoritative over faith and conduct, but what the Law regulated for Israel in their existence as the people of God has been done away with in Christ. The Ten Commandments reveal the essence of the Law; the ten for the most part are reiterated in the NT because they reflect the holy and righteous nature of God. The NT often raises them to a higher standard, to guard the spirit of the Law as well as the letter.

113 sn The Bible makes it clear that the Law was the revelation of God at Mount Sinai. And yet study has shown that the law code’s form follows the literary pattern of covenant codes in the Late Bronze Age, notably the Hittite codes. The point of such codes is that all the covenant stipulations are appropriate because of the wonderful things that the sovereign has done for the people. God, in using a well-known literary form, was both drawing on the people’s knowledge of such to impress their duties on them, as well as putting new wine into old wineskins. The whole nature of God’s code was on a much higher level. For this general structure, see M. G. Kline, Treaty of the Great King. For the Ten Commandments specifically, see J. J. Stamm and M. E. Andrew, The Ten Commandments in Recent Research (SBT). See also some of the general articles: M. Barrett, “God’s Moral Standard: An Examination of the Decalogue,” BV 12 (1978): 34-40; C. J. H. Wright, “The Israelite Household and the Decalogue: The Social Background and Significance of Some Commandments,” TynBul 30 (1979): 101-24; J. D. Levenson, “The Theologies of Commandment in Biblical Israel,” HTR 73 (1980): 17-33; M. B. Cohen and D. B. Friedman, “The Dual Accentuation of the Ten Commandments,” Masoretic Studies 1 (1974): 7-190; D. Skinner, “Some Major Themes of Exodus,” Mid-America Theological Journal 1 (1977): 31-42; M. Tate, “The Legal Traditions of the Book of Exodus,” RevExp 74 (1977): 483-509; E. C. Smith, “The Ten Commandments in Today’s Permissive Society: A Principleist Approach,” SwJT 20 (1977): 42-58; and D. W. Buck, “Exodus 20:1-17,” Lutheran Theological Journal 16 (1982): 65-75.

114 sn The revelation of Yahweh here begins with the personal pronoun. “I” – a person, a living personality, not an object or a mere thought. This enabled him to address “you” – Israel, and all his people, making the binding stipulations for them to conform to his will (B. Jacob, Exodus, 544).

115 tn Most English translations have “I am Yahweh your God.” But the preceding chapters have again and again demonstrated how he made himself known to them. Now, the emphasis is on “I am your God” – and what that would mean in their lives.

116 tn The suffix on the verb is second masculine singular. It is this person that will be used throughout the commandments for the whole nation. God addresses them all as his people, but he addresses them individually for their obedience. The masculine form is not, thereby, intended to exclude women.

117 tn Heb “the house of slaves” meaning “the land of slavery.”

sn By this announcement Yahweh declared what he had done for Israel by freeing them from slavery. Now they are free to serve him. He has a claim on them for gratitude and obedience. But this will not be a covenant of cruel slavery and oppression; it is a covenant of love, as God is saying “I am yours, and you are mine.” This was the sovereign Lord of creation and of history speaking, declaring that he was their savior.

118 tn The possession is expressed here by the use of the lamed (ל) preposition and the verb “to be”: לֹא־יִהְיֶה לְךָ (loyihyeh lÿkha, “there will not be to you”). The negative with the imperfect expresses the emphatic prohibition; it is best reflected with “you will not” and has the strongest expectation of obedience (see GKC 317 §107.o). As an additional way of looking at this line, U. Cassuto suggests that the verb is in the singular in order to say that they could not have even one other god, and the word “gods” is plural to include any gods (Exodus, 241).

119 tn The expression עַל־פָּנָי (’al-panay) has several possible interpretations. S. R. Driver suggests “in front of me,” meaning obliging me to behold them, and also giving a prominence above me (Exodus, 193-94). W. F. Albright rendered it “You shall not prefer other gods to me” (From the Stone Age to Christianity, 297, n. 29). B. Jacob (Exodus, 546) illustrates it with marriage: the wife could belong to only one man while every other man was “another man.” They continued to exist but were not available to her. The point is clear from the Law, regardless of the specific way the prepositional phrase is rendered. God demands absolute allegiance, to the exclusion of all other deities. The preposition may imply some antagonism, for false gods would be opposed to Yahweh. U. Cassuto adds that God was in effect saying that anytime Israel turned to a false god they had to know that the Lord was there – it is always in his presence, or before him (Exodus, 241).

120 tn A פֶּסֶל (pesel) is an image that was carved out of wood or stone. The Law was concerned with a statue that would be made for the purpose of worship, an idol to be venerated, and not any ordinary statue.

121 tn The word תְּמוּנָה (tÿmunah) refers to the mental pattern from which the פֶּסֶל (pesel) is constructed; it is a real or imagined resemblance. If this is to stand as a second object to the verb, then the verb itself takes a slightly different nuance here. It would convey “you shall not make an image, neither shall you conceive a form” for worship (B. Jacob, Exodus, 547). Some simply make the second word qualify the first: “you shall not make an idol in the form of…” (NIV).

122 tn Here the phrase “of anything” has been supplied.

123 tn Heb “under the earth” (so KJV, ASV, NASB, NRSV).

124 tn The combination of these two verbs customarily refers to the worship of pagan deities (e.g., Deut 17:3: 30:17; Jer 8:2; see J. J. Stamm and M. E. Andrew, The Ten Commandments in Recent Research [SBT], 86). The first verb is לאֹ־תִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה (lotishtakhaveh), now to be classified as a hishtaphel imperfect from חָוָה (khavah; BDB 1005 s.v. שׁחה), “to cause oneself to be low to the ground.” It is used of the true worship of God as well. The second verb is וְלֹא תָעָבְדֵם (vÿlotoovdem). The two could be taken as a hendiadys: “you will not prostrate yourself to serve them.” In an interesting side comment U. Cassuto (Exodus, 242) offers an explanation of the spelling of the second verb: he suggests that it was spelled with the qamets khatuf vowel to show contempt for pagan worship, as if their conduct does not even warrant a correct spelling of the word “serve.” Gesenius says that the forms like this are anomalous, but he wonders if they were pointed as if the verb was a Hophal with the meaning “you shall not allow yourself to be brought to worship them” (GKC 161 §60.b). But this is unlikely.

125 sn The word “jealous” is the same word often translated “zeal” or “zealous.” The word describes a passionate intensity to protect or defend something that is jeopardized. The word can also have the sense of “envy,” but in that case the object is out of bounds. God’s zeal or jealousy is to protect his people or his institutions or his honor. Yahweh’s honor is bound up with the life of his people.

126 tn Verses 5 and 6 are very concise, and the word פָּקַד (paqad) is difficult to translate. Often rendered “visiting,” it might here be rendered “dealing with” in a negative sense or “punishing,” but it describes positive attention in 13:19. When used of God, it essentially means that God intervenes in the lives of people for blessing or for cursing. Some would simply translate the participle here as “punishing” the children for the sins of the fathers (cf. Lev 18:25; Isa 26:21; Jer 29:32; 36:31; Hos 1:4; Amos 3:2). That is workable, but may not say enough. The verse may indicate that those who hate Yahweh and do not keep his commandments will repeat the sins their fathers committed and suffer for them. Deut 24:16 says that individuals will die for their own sins and not their father’s sins (see also Deut 7:10 and Ezek 18). It may have more to do with patterns of sin being repeated from generation to generation; if the sin and the guilt were not fully developed in the one generation, then left unchecked they would develop and continue in the next. But it may also indicate that the effects of the sins of the fathers will be experienced in the following generations, especially in the case of Israel as a national entity (U. Cassuto, Exodus, 243). God is showing here that his ethical character is displayed in how he deals with sin and righteousness, all of which he describes as giving strong motivation for loyalty to him and for avoiding idolatry. There is a justice at work in the dealings of God that is not present in the pagan world.

127 tn The Hebrew word for “generations” is not found in v. 5 or 6. The numbers are short for a longer expression, which is understood as part of the description of the children already mentioned (see Deut 7:9, where “generation” [דּוֹר, dor] is present and more necessary, since “children” have not been mentioned).

128 tn This is an important qualification to the principle. The word rendered “reject” is often translated “hate” and carries with it the idea of defiantly rejecting and opposing God and his word. Such people are doomed to carry on the sins of their ancestors and bear guilt with them.

129 tn Literally “doing loyal love” (עֹשֶׂה חֶסֶד, ’oseh khesed). The noun refers to God’s covenant loyalty, his faithful love to those who belong to him. These are members of the covenant, recipients of grace, the people of God, whom God will preserve and protect from evil and its effects.

130 tn Heb “to thousands” or “to thousandth.” After “tenth,” Hebrew uses cardinal numbers for ordinals also. This statement is the antithesis of the preceding line. The “thousands” or “thousandth [generation]” are those who love Yahweh and keep his commands. These are descendants from the righteous, and even associates with them, who benefit from the mercy that God extends to his people. S. R. Driver (Exodus, 195) says that this passage teaches that God’s mercy transcends his wrath; in his providence the beneficial consequences of a life of goodness extend indefinitely further than the retribution that is the penalty for persisting in sin. To say that God’s loyal love extends to thousands of generations or the thousandth generation is parallel to saying that it endures forever (Ps. 118). See also Exod 34:7; Deut 5:10; 7:9; Ps 18:51; Jer 32:18.

131 tn Or “use” (NCV, TEV); NIV, CEV, NLT “misuse”; NRSV “make wrongful use of.”

132 tn שָׁוְא (shav’, “vain”) describes “unreality.” The command prohibits use of the name for any idle, frivolous, or insincere purpose (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 196). This would include perjury, pagan incantations, or idle talk. The name is to be treated with reverence and respect because it is the name of the holy God.

133 tn Or “leave unpunished.”

134 tn The text uses the infinitive absolute זָכוֹר (zakhor) for the commandment for the Sabbath day, which is the sign of the Sinaitic Covenant. The infinitive absolute functions in place of the emphatic imperative here (see GKC 346 §113.bb); the absolute stresses the basic verbal idea of the root – remembering. The verb includes the mental activity of recalling and pondering as well as the consequent actions for such remembering.

135 tn The word “Sabbath” is clearly connected to the verb שָׁבַת (shavat, “to cease, desist, rest”). There are all kinds of theories as to the origin of the day, most notably in the Babylonian world, but the differences are striking in so far as the pagan world had these days filled with magic. Nevertheless, the pagan world does bear witness to a tradition of a regular day set aside for special sacrifices. See, for example, H. W. Wolff, “The Day of Rest in the Old Testament,” LTQ 7 (1972): 65-76; H. Routtenberg, “The Laws of Sabbath: Biblical Sources,” Dor le Dor 6 (1977): 41-43, 99-101, 153-55, 204-6; G. Robinson, “The Idea of Rest in the OT and the Search for the Basic Character of Sabbath,” ZAW 92 (1980): 32-42; and M. Tsevat, “The Basic Meaning of the Biblical Sabbath,” ZAW 84 (1972): 447-59.

136 tn The Piel infinitive construct provides the purpose of remembering the Sabbath day – to set it apart, to make it distinct from the other days. Verses 9 and 10 explain in part how this was to be done. To set this day apart as holy taught Israel the difference between the holy and the profane, that there was something higher than daily life. If an Israelite bent down to the ground laboring all week, the Sabbath called his attention to the heavens, to pattern life after the Creator (B. Jacob, Exodus, 569-70).

137 tn The text has simply “six days,” but this is an adverbial accusative of time, answering how long they were to work (GKC 374 §118.k).

138 tn The imperfect tense has traditionally been rendered as a commandment, “you will labor.” But the point of this commandment is the prohibition of work on the seventh day. The permission nuance of the imperfect works well here.

139 tn This is the occupation, or business of the work week.

140 tn The phrase “on it” has been supplied for clarity.

141 sn The wife is omitted in the list, not that she was considered unimportant, nor that she was excluded from the rest, but rather in reflecting her high status. She was not man’s servant, not lesser than the man, but included with the man as an equal before God. The “you” of the commandments is addressed to the Israelites individually, male and female, just as God in the Garden of Eden held both the man and the woman responsible for their individual sins (see B. Jacob, Exodus, 567-68).

142 sn The Sabbath day was the sign of the Sinaitic Covenant. It required Israel to cease from ordinary labors and devote the day to God. It required Israel to enter into the life of God, to share his Sabbath. It gave them a chance to recall the work of the Creator. But in the NT the apostolic teaching for the Church does not make one day holier than another, but calls for the entire life to be sanctified to God. This teaching is an application of the meaning of entering into the Sabbath of God. The book of Hebrews declares that those who believe in Christ cease from their works and enter into his Sabbath rest. For a Christian keeping Saturday holy is not a requirement from the NT; it may be a good and valuable thing to have a day of rest and refreshment, but it is not a binding law for the Church. The principle of setting aside time to worship and serve the Lord has been carried forward, but the strict regulations have not.

143 tn The verb כַּבֵּד (kabbed) is a Piel imperative; it calls for people to give their parents the respect and honor that is appropriate for them. It could be paraphrased to say, give them the weight of authority that they deserve. Next to God, parents were to be highly valued, cared for, and respected.

144 tn Heb “that your days may be long.”

145 sn The promise here is national rather than individual, although it is certainly true that the blessing of life was promised for anyone who was obedient to God’s commands (Deut 4:1, 8:1, etc.). But as W. C. Kaiser (“Exodus,” EBC 2:424) summarizes, the land that was promised was the land of Canaan, and the duration of Israel in the land was to be based on morality and the fear of God as expressed in the home (Deut 4:26, 33, 40; 32:46-47). The captivity was in part caused by a breakdown in this area (Ezek 22:7, 15). Malachi would announce at the end of his book that Elijah would come at the end of the age to turn the hearts of the children and the parents toward each other again.

146 tn The verb רָצַח (ratsakh) refers to the premeditated or accidental taking of the life of another human being; it includes any unauthorized killing (it is used for the punishment of a murderer, but that would not be included in the prohibition). This commandment teaches the sanctity of all human life. See J. H. Yoder, “Exodus 20,13: ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill’,” Int 34 (1980): 394-99; and A. Phillips, “Another Look at Murder,” JJS 28 (1977): 105-26.

147 sn This is a sin against the marriage of a fellow citizen – it destroys the home. The Law distinguished between adultery (which had a death penalty) and sexual contact with a young woman (which carried a monetary fine and usually marriage if the father was willing). So it distinguished fornication and adultery. Both were sins, but the significance of each was different. In the ancient world this sin is often referred to as “the great sin.”

148 sn This law protected the property of the Israelite citizen. See D. Little, “Exodus 20,15: ‘Thou Shalt Not Steal’,” Int 34 (1980): 399-405.

149 tn Heb “answer” as in a court of law.

150 tn The expression עֵד שָׁקֶר (’ed shaqer) means “a lying witness” (B. S. Childs, Exodus [OTL], 388). In this verse the noun is an adverbial accusative, “you will not answer as a lying witness.” The prohibition is against perjury. While the precise reference would be to legal proceedings, the law probably had a broader application to lying about other people in general (see Lev 5:1; Hos 4:2).

151 tn The verb חָמַד (khamad) focuses not on an external act but on an internal mental activity behind the act, the motivation for it. The word can be used in a very good sense (Ps 19:10; 68:16), but it has a bad connotation in contexts where the object desired is off limits. This command is aimed at curtailing the greedy desire for something belonging to a neighbor, a desire that leads to the taking of it or the attempt to take it. It was used in the story of the Garden of Eden for the tree that was desired.

152 sn See further G. Wittenburg, “The Tenth Commandment in the Old Testament,” Journal for Theology in South Africa 21 (1978): 3-17: and E. W. Nicholson, “The Decalogue as the Direct Address of God,” VT 27 (1977): 422-33.

153 tn The participle is used here for durative action in the past time (GKC 359 §116.o).

154 tn The verb “to see” (רָאָה, raah) refers to seeing with all the senses, or perceiving. W. C. Kaiser suggests that this is an example of the figure of speech called zeugma because the verb “saw” yokes together two objects, one that suits the verb and the other that does not. So, the verb “heard” is inserted here to clarify (“Exodus,” EBC 2:427).

155 tn The verb “saw” is supplied here because it is expected in English (see the previous note on “heard”).

156 tn The preterite with vav (ו) consecutive is here subordinated as a temporal clause to the following clause, which receives the prominence.

157 tn The meaning of נוּעַ (nua’) is “to shake, sway to and fro” in fear. Compare Isa 7:2 – “and his heart shook…as the trees of the forest shake with the wind.”

158 tn Heb “and they stood from/at a distance.”

159 tn The verb is a Piel imperative. In this context it has more of the sense of a request than a command. The independent personal pronoun “you” emphasizes the subject and forms the contrast with God’s speaking.

160 tn נַסּוֹת (nassot) is the Piel infinitive construct; it forms the purpose of God’s coming with all the accompanying phenomena. The verb can mean “to try, test, prove.” The sense of “prove” fits this context best because the terrifying phenomena were intended to put the fear of God in their hearts so that they would obey. In other words, God was inspiring them to obey, not simply testing to see if they would.

161 tn The suffix on the noun is an objective genitive, referring to the fear that the people would have of God (GKC 439 §135.m).

162 tn The negative form לְבִלְתִּי (lÿvilti) is used here with the imperfect tense (see for other examples GKC 483 §152.x). This gives the imperfect the nuance of a final imperfect: that you might not sin. Others: to keep you from sin.

163 tn Heb “and they stood”; the referent (the people) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

164 sn The word עֲרָפֶל (’arafel) is used in poetry in Ps 18:9 and 1 Kgs 8:12; and it is used in Deut 4:11, 5:22 [19].

165 sn It will not be hard to expound the passage on the Ten Commandments once their place in scripture has been determined. They, for the most part, are reiterated in the NT, in one way or another, usually with a much higher standard that requires attention to the spirit of the laws. Thus, these laws reveal God’s standard of righteousness by revealing sin. No wonder the Israelites were afraid when they saw the manifestation of God and heard his laws. When the whole covenant is considered, preamble and all, then it becomes clear that the motivation for obeying the commands is the person and the work of the covenant God – the one who redeemed his people. Obedience then becomes a response of devotion and adoration to the Redeemer who set them free. It becomes loyal service, not enslavement to laws. The point could be worded this way: God requires that his covenant people, whom he has redeemed, and to whom he has revealed himself, give their absolute allegiance and obedience to him. This means they will worship and serve him and safeguard the well-being of each other.

166 sn Based on the revelation of the holy sovereign God, this pericope instructs Israel on the form of proper worship of such a God. It focuses on the altar, the centerpiece of worship. The point of the section is this: those who worship this holy God must preserve holiness in the way they worship – they worship where he permits, in the manner he prescribes, and with the blessings he promises. This paragraph is said to open the Book of the Covenant, which specifically rules on matters of life and worship.

167 tn Heb “and Yahweh said.”

168 tn The direct object of the verb must be “gods of silver.” The prepositional phrase modifies the whole verse to say that these gods would then be alongside the one true God.

169 tn Heb “neither will you make for you gods of gold.”

sn U. Cassuto explains that by the understanding of parallelism each of the halves apply to the whole verse, so that “with me” and “for you” concern gods of silver or gods of gold (Exodus, 255).

170 sn The instructions here call for the altar to be made of natural things, not things manufactured or shaped by man. The altar was either to be made of clumps of earth or natural, unhewn rocks.

171 sn The “burnt offering” is the offering prescribed in Lev 1. Everything of this animal went up in smoke as a sweet aroma to God. It signified complete surrender by the worshiper who brought the animal, and complete acceptance by God, thereby making atonement. The “peace offering” is legislated in Lev 3 and 7. This was a communal meal offering to celebrate being at peace with God. It was made usually for thanksgiving, for payment of vows, or as a freewill offering.

172 tn Gesenius lists this as one of the few places where the noun in construct seems to be indefinite in spite of the fact that the genitive has the article. He says בְּכָל־הַמָּקוֹם (bÿkhol-hammaqom) means “in all the place, sc. of the sanctuary, and is a dogmatic correction of “in every place” (כָּל־מָקוֹם, kol-maqom). See GKC 412 §127.e.

173 tn The verb is זָכַר (zakhar, “to remember”), but in the Hiphil especially it can mean more than remember or cause to remember (remind) – it has the sense of praise or honor. B. S. Childs says it has a denominative meaning, “to proclaim” (Exodus [OTL], 447). The point of the verse is that God will give Israel reason for praising and honoring him, and in every place that occurs he will make his presence known by blessing them.

174 tn Heb “them” referring to the stones.

175 tn Heb “of hewn stones.” Gesenius classifies this as an adverbial accusative – “you shall not build them (the stones of the altar) as hewn stones.” The remoter accusative is in apposition to the nearer (GKC 372 §117.kk).

176 tn The verb is a preterite with vav (ו) consecutive. It forms the apodosis in a conditional clause: “if you lift up your tool on it…you have defiled it.”

177 tn Heb “uncovered” (so ASV, NAB).



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