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Exodus 14:3-9

Context
14:3 Pharaoh will think 1  regarding the Israelites, ‘They are wandering around confused 2  in the land – the desert has closed in on them.’ 3  14:4 I will harden 4  Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after them. I will gain honor 5  because of Pharaoh and because of all his army, and the Egyptians will know 6  that I am the Lord.” So this is what they did. 7 

14:5 When it was reported 8  to the king of Egypt that the people had fled, 9  the heart of Pharaoh and his servants was turned against the people, and the king and his servants said, 10  “What in the world have we done? 11  For we have released the people of Israel 12  from serving us!” 14:6 Then he prepared 13  his chariots and took his army 14  with him. 14:7 He took six hundred select 15  chariots, and all the rest of the chariots of Egypt, 16  and officers 17  on all of them.

14:8 But the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he chased after the Israelites. Now the Israelites were going out defiantly. 18  14:9 The Egyptians chased after them, and all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh and his horsemen and his army overtook them camping by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth, before Baal-Zephon.

1 tn Heb “and Pharaoh will say.”

2 sn The word translated “wandering around confused” indicates that Pharaoh thought the Israelites would be so perplexed and confused that they would not know which way to turn in order to escape – and they would never dream of crossing the sea (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 115).

3 tn The expression has also been translated “the desert has shut [the way] for them,” and more freely “[the Israelites are] hemmed in by the desert.”

4 tn In this place the verb חָזַק (hazaq) is used; it indicates that God would make Pharaoh’s will strong or firm.

5 tn The form is וְאִכָּבְדָה (vÿikkavÿda), the Niphal cohortative; coming after the perfect tenses with vav (ו) consecutives expressing the future, this cohortative indicates the purpose of the hardening and chasing. Yahweh intended to gain glory by this final and great victory over the strength of Pharaoh. There is irony in this expression since a different form of the word was used frequently to describe Pharaoh’s hard heart. So judgment will not only destroy the wicked – it will reveal the glory and majesty of the sovereignty of God.

6 tn This is the perfect tense with the vav (ו) consecutive. But it announces the fulfillment of an long standing purpose – that they might know.

7 tn Heb “and they did so.”

8 tn Heb “and it was told.” The present translation uses “reported,” since this involves information given to a superior.

9 tn The verb must be given a past perfect translation because the fleeing occurred before the telling.

10 tn Heb “and they said.” The referent (the king and his servants) is supplied for clarity.

11 tn The question literally is “What is this we have done?” The demonstrative pronoun is used as an enclitic particle for emphasis (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 24, §118).

12 tn Heb “released Israel.” By metonymy the name of the nation is used collectively for the people who constitute it (the Israelites).

13 tn Heb “bound.”

14 tn Heb “his people.”

15 tn The passive participle of the verb “to choose” means that these were “choice” or superb chariots.

16 tn Heb “every chariot of Egypt.” After the mention of the best chariots, the meaning of this description is “all the other chariots.”

17 tn The word שָׁלִשִׁם (shalishim) means “officers” or some special kind of military personnel. At one time it was taken to mean a “three man chariot,” but the pictures of Egyptian chariots only show two in a chariot. It may mean officers near the king, “men of the third rank” (B. Jacob, Exodus, 394). So the chariots and the crew represented the elite. See the old view by A. E. Cowley that linked it to a Hittite word (“A Hittite Word in Hebrew,” JTS 21 [1920]: 326), and the more recent work by P. C. Craigie connecting it to Egyptian “commander” (“An Egyptian Expression in the Song of the Sea: Exodus XV.4,” VT 20 [1970]: 85).

18 tn Heb “with a high hand”; the expression means “defiantly,” “boldly,” or “with confidence.” The phrase is usually used for arrogant sin and pride, the defiant fist, as it were. The image of the high hand can also mean the hand raised to deliver a blow (Job 38:15). So the narrative here builds tension between these two resolute forces.



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