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Exodus 14:12-13

Context
14:12 Isn’t this what we told you 1  in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone so that we can serve the Egyptians, 2  because it is better for us to serve 3  the Egyptians than to die in the desert!’” 4 

14:13 Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! 5  Stand firm 6  and see 7  the salvation 8  of the Lord that he will provide 9  for you today; for the Egyptians that you see today you will never, ever see again. 10 

1 tn Heb “Is not this the word that we spoke to you.”

2 sn U. Cassuto (Exodus, 164) explains this statement by the people as follows: “The question appears surprising at first, for we have not read previously that such words were spoken to Moses. Nor is the purport of the protest of the Israelite foremen (v 21 [5:21]) identical with that of the words uttered now. However, from a psychological standpoint the matter can be easily explained. In the hour of peril the children of Israel remember that remonstrance, and now it seems to them that it was of a sharper character and flowed from their foresight, and that the present situation justifies it, for death awaits them at this moment in the desert.” This declaration that “we told you so,” born of fright, need not have been strictly accurate or logical.

3 tn Heb “better for us to serve.”

4 tn Since Hebrew does not use quotation marks to indicate the boundaries of quotations, there is uncertainty about whether the Israelites’ statement in Egypt includes the end of v. 12 or consists solely of “leave us alone so that we can serve the Egyptians.” In either case, the command to Moses to leave them alone rested on the assumption, spoken or unspoken, that serving Egypt would be less risky than what Moses was proposing. Now with the Egyptian army on the horizon, the Israelites are sure that their worst predictions are about to take place.

5 tn The use of אַל (’al) with the jussive has the force of “stop fearing.” It is a more immediate negative command than לֹא (lo’) with the imperfect (as in the Decalogue).

6 tn The force of this verb in the Hitpael is “to station oneself” or “stand firm” without fleeing.

7 tn The form is an imperative with a vav (ו). It could also be rendered “stand firm and you will see” meaning the result, or “stand firm that you may see” meaning the purpose.

8 tn Or “victory” (NAB) or “deliverance” (NIV, NRSV).

9 tn Heb “do,” i.e., perform or accomplish.

10 tn The construction uses a verbal hendiadys consisting of a Hiphil imperfect (“you will not add”) and a Qal infinitive construct with a suffix (“to see them”) – “you will no longer see them.” Then the clause adds “again, for ever.”

sn U. Cassuto (Exodus, 164) notes that the antithetical parallelism between seeing salvation and seeing the Egyptians, as well as the threefold repetition of the word “see” cannot be accidental; so too the alliteration of the last three words beginning with ayin (ע).



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