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Exodus 18:7-16

Context
18:7 Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him; 1  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 2  that had come on them 3  along the way, and how 4  the Lord had delivered them.

18:9 Jethro rejoiced 5  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 6  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! 7  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.” 8  18:12 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought 9  a burnt offering and sacrifices for God, 10  and Aaron and all the elders of Israel came to eat food 11  with the father-in-law of Moses before God.

18:13 On the next day 12  Moses sat to judge 13  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 14  that you are doing for the people? 15  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 16  of God. 18:16 When they have a dispute, 17  it comes to me and I decide 18  between a man and his neighbor, and I make known the decrees of God and his laws.” 19 

Exodus 33:7-11

Context
The Presence of the Lord

33:7 20 Moses took 21  the tent 22  and pitched it outside the camp, at a good distance 23  from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. Anyone 24  seeking 25  the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting that was outside the camp.

33:8 And when Moses went out 26  to the tent, all the people would get up 27  and stand at the entrance to their tents 28  and watch 29  Moses until he entered the tent. 30  33:9 And 31  whenever Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord 32  would speak with Moses. 33  33:10 When all the people would see the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people, each one at the entrance of his own tent, would rise and worship. 34  33:11 The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, 35  the way a person speaks 36  to a friend. Then Moses 37  would return to the camp, but his servant, Joshua son of Nun, a young man, did not leave the tent. 38 

1 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).

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

3 tn Heb “found them.”

4 tn Here “how” has been supplied.

5 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).

6 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.

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

8 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.”

9 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).

10 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.

11 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.

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

13 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.

14 tn Heb “what is this thing.”

15 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.

16 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.

17 tn Or “thing,” “matter,” “issue.”

18 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).

19 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).

20 sn This unit of the book could actually include all of chap. 33, starting with the point of the Lord’s withdrawal from the people. If that section is not part of the exposition, it would have to be explained as the background. The point is that sinfulness prevents the active presence of the Lord leading his people. But then the rest of chap. 33 forms the development. In vv. 7-11 there is the gracious provision: the Lord reveals through his faithful mediator. The Lord was leading his people, but now more remotely because of their sin. Then, in vv. 12-17 Moses intercedes for the people, and the intercession of the mediator guarantees the Lord’s presence. The point of all of this is that God wanted the people to come to know that if he was not with them they should not go. Finally, the presence of the Lord is verified to the mediator by a special revelation (18-23). The point of the whole chapter is that by his grace the Lord renews the promise of his presence by special revelation.

21 tn Heb “and Moses took.”

22 sn A widespread contemporary view is that this section represents a source that thought the tent of meeting was already erected (see S. R. Driver, Exodus, 359). But the better view is that this is a temporary tent used for meeting the Lord. U. Cassuto explains this view very well (Exodus, 429-30), namely, that because the building of the tabernacle was now in doubt if the Lord was not going to be in their midst, another plan seemed necessary. Moses took this tent, his tent, and put some distance between the camp and it. Here he would use the tent as the place to meet God, calling it by the same name since it was a surrogate tent. Thus, the entire section was a temporary means of meeting God, until the current wrath was past.

23 tn The infinitive absolute is used here as an adverb (see GKC 341 §113.h).

24 tn The clause begins with “and it was,” the perfect tense with the vav conjunction. The imperfect tenses in this section are customary, describing what used to happen (others describe the verbs as frequentative). See GKC 315 §107.e.

25 tn The form is the Piel participle. The seeking here would indicate seeking an oracle from Yahweh or seeking to find a resolution for some difficulty (as in 2 Sam 21:1) or even perhaps coming with a sacrifice. B. Jacob notes that the tent was even here a place of prayer, for the benefit of the people (Exodus, 961). It is not known how long this location was used.

26 tn The clause is introduced again with “and it was.” The perfect tense here with the vav (ו) is used to continue the sequence of actions that were done repeatedly in the past (see GKC 331-32 §112.e). The temporal clause is then formed with the infinitive construct of יָצָא (yatsa’), with “Moses” as the subjective genitive: “and it was according to the going out of Moses.”

27 tn Or “rise up.”

28 tn The subject of this verb is specified with the individualizing use of “man”: “and all Israel would station themselves, each person (man) at the entrance to his tent.”

29 tn The perfect tense with the vav (ו) continues the sequence of the customary imperfect. The people “would gaze” (after) Moses until he entered the tent.

30 tn This is a temporal clause using an infinitive construct with a suffixed subject.

31 tn Heb “and it was when.”

32 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

33 tn Both verbs, “stand” and “speak,” are perfect tenses with vav (ו) consecutive.

34 tn All the main verbs in this verse are perfect tenses continuing the customary sequence (see GKC 337 §112.kk). The idea is that the people would get up (rise) when the cloud was there and then worship, meaning in part bow down. When the cloud was not there, there was access to seek God.

35 tn “Face to face” is circumstantial to the action of the verb, explaining how they spoke (see GKC 489-90 §156.c). The point of this note of friendly relationship with Moses is that Moses was “at home” in this tent speaking with God. Moses would derive courage from this when he interceded for the people (B. Jacob, Exodus, 966).

36 tn The verb in this clause is a progressive imperfect.

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

38 sn Moses did not live in the tent. But Joshua remained there most of the time to guard the tent, it seems, lest any of the people approach it out of curiosity.



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