1:1 1 These 2 are the names 3 of the sons of Israel 4 who entered Egypt – each man with his household 5 entered with Jacob: 1:2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, 1:3 Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, 1:4 Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. 1:5 All the people 6 who were directly descended 7 from Jacob numbered seventy. 8 But Joseph was already in Egypt, 9 1:6 and in time 10 Joseph 11 and his brothers and all that generation died. 1:7 The Israelites, 12 however, 13 were fruitful, increased greatly, multiplied, and became extremely strong, 14 so that the land was filled with them.
1:8 Then a new king, 15 who did not know about 16 Joseph, came to power 17 over Egypt. 1:9 He said 18 to his people, “Look at 19 the Israelite people, more numerous and stronger than we are! 1:10 Come, let’s deal wisely 20 with them. Otherwise 21 they will continue to multiply, 22 and if 23 a war breaks out, they will ally themselves with 24 our enemies and fight against us and leave 25 the country.”
1:11 So they put foremen 26 over the Israelites 27 to oppress 28 them with hard labor. As a result 29 they built Pithom and Rameses 30 as store cities for Pharaoh. 1:12 But the more the Egyptians 31 oppressed them, the more they multiplied and spread. 32 As a result the Egyptians loathed 33 the Israelites, 1:13 and they 34 made the Israelites serve rigorously. 35 1:14 They made their lives bitter 36 by 37 hard service with mortar and bricks and by all kinds of service 38 in the fields. Every kind of service the Israelites were required to give was rigorous. 39
1:15 The king of Egypt said 40 to the Hebrew midwives, 41 one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 42 1:16 43 “When you assist 44 the Hebrew women in childbirth, observe at the delivery: 45 If it is a son, kill him, 46 but if it is a daughter, she may live.” 47 1:17 But 48 the midwives feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them; they let the boys live. 49
1:18 Then the king of Egypt summoned 50 the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this and let the boys live?” 51 1:19 The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew 52 women are not like the Egyptian women – for the Hebrew women 53 are vigorous; they give birth before the midwife gets to them!” 54 1:20 So God treated the midwives well, 55 and the people multiplied and became very strong. 1:21 And because the midwives feared God, he made 56 households 57 for them.
2:1 61 A man from the household 62 of Levi married 63 a woman who was a descendant of Levi. 64 2:2 The woman became pregnant 65 and gave birth to a son. When 66 she saw that 67 he was a healthy 68 child, she hid him for three months. 2:3 But when she was no longer able to hide him, she took a papyrus basket 69 for him and sealed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and set it among the reeds along the edge of the Nile. 70 2:4 His sister stationed herself 71 at a distance to find out 72 what would 73 happen to him.
2:5 Then the daughter of Pharaoh 74 came down to wash herself 75 by the Nile, while her attendants were walking alongside the river, 76 and she saw the basket among the reeds. She sent one of her attendants, 77 took it, 78 2:6 opened it, 79 and saw the child 80 – a boy, 81 crying! 82 – and she felt compassion 83 for him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.”
2:7 Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get 84 a nursing woman 85 for you from the Hebrews, so that she may nurse 86 the child for you?” 2:8 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Yes, do so.” 87 So the young girl 88 went and got 89 the child’s mother. 90 2:9 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child 91 and nurse him for me, and I will pay your 92 wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him.
2:11 96 In those days, 97 when 98 Moses had grown up, he went out to his people 99 and observed 100 their hard labor, and he saw an Egyptian man attacking 101 a Hebrew man, one of his own people. 102 2:12 He looked this way and that 103 and saw that no one was there, 104 and then he attacked 105 the Egyptian and concealed the body 106 in the sand. 2:13 When he went out 107 the next day, 108 there were 109 two Hebrew men fighting. So he said to the one who was in the wrong, 110 “Why are you attacking 111 your fellow Hebrew?” 112
2:14 The man 113 replied, “Who made you a ruler 114 and a judge over us? Are you planning 115 to kill me like you killed that 116 Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid, thinking, 117 “Surely what I did 118 has become known.” 2:15 When Pharaoh heard 119 about this event, 120 he sought to kill Moses. So Moses fled 121 from Pharaoh and settled in the land of Midian, 122 and he settled 123 by a certain well. 124
2:16 Now a priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came and began to draw 125 water 126 and fill 127 the troughs in order to water their father’s flock. 2:17 When some 128 shepherds came and drove them away, 129 Moses came up and defended them 130 and then watered their flock. 2:18 So when they came home 131 to their father Reuel, 132 he asked, “Why have you come home so early 133 today?” 2:19 They said, “An Egyptian man rescued us 134 from the shepherds, 135 and he actually 136 drew water for us and watered the flock!” 2:20 He said 137 to his daughters, “So where is he? 138 Why in the world 139 did you leave the man? Call him, so that he may eat 140 a meal 141 with us.”
2:21 Moses agreed 142 to stay with the man, and he gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage. 143 2:22 When she bore 144 a son, Moses 145 named him Gershom, for he said, “I have become a resident foreigner in a foreign land.” 146
2:23 147 During 148 that long period of time 149 the king of Egypt died, and the Israelites 150 groaned because of the slave labor. They cried out, and their desperate cry 151 because of their slave labor went up to God. 2:24 God heard their groaning, 152 God remembered 153 his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob, 2:25 God saw 154 the Israelites, and God understood…. 155
1 sn Chapter 1 introduces the theme of bondage in Egypt and shows the intensifying opposition to the fulfillment of promises given earlier to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The first seven verses announce the theme of Israel’s prosperity in Egypt. The second section (vv. 8-14) reports continued prosperity in the face of deliberate opposition. The third section (vv. 15-21) explains the prosperity as divine favor in spite of Pharaoh’s covert attempts at controlling the population. The final verse records a culmination in the developing tyranny and provides a transition to the next section – Pharaoh commands the open murder of the males. The power of God is revealed in the chapter as the people flourish under the forces of evil. However, by the turn of affairs at the end of the chapter, the reader is left with a question about the power of God – “What can God do?” This is good Hebrew narrative, moving the reader through tension after tension to reveal the sovereign power and majesty of the
2 tn Heb “now these” or “and these.” The vav (ו) disjunctive marks a new beginning in the narrative begun in Genesis.
3 sn The name of the book of Exodus in the Hebrew Bible is שְׁמוֹת (shÿmot), the word for “Names,” drawn from the beginning of the book. The inclusion of the names at this point forms a literary connection to the book of Genesis. It indicates that the Israelites living in bondage had retained a knowledge of their ancestry, and with it, a knowledge of God’s promise.
4 tn The expression בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל (bÿne yisra’el, “sons of Israel”) in most places refers to the nation as a whole and can be translated “Israelites,” although traditionally it has been rendered “the children of Israel” or “the sons of Israel.” Here it refers primarily to the individual sons of the patriarch Israel, for they are named. But the expression is probably also intended to indicate that they are the Israelites (cf. Gen 29:1, “eastern people,” or “easterners,” lit., “sons of the east”).
5 tn Heb “a man and his house.” Since this serves to explain “the sons of Israel,” it has the distributive sense. So while the “sons of Israel” refers to the actual sons of the patriarch, the expression includes their families (cf. NIV, TEV, CEV, NLT).
6 tn The word נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) is often translated “soul.” But the word refers to the whole person, the body with the soul, and so “life” or “person” is frequently a better translation.
7 tn The expression in apposition to נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) literally says “those who went out from the loins of Jacob.” This distinguishes the entire company as his direct descendants.
8 sn Gen 46 describes in more detail Jacob’s coming to Egypt with his family. The Greek text of Exod 1:5 and of Gen 46:27 and two Qumran manuscripts, have the number as seventy-five, counting the people a little differently. E. H. Merrill in conjunction with F. Delitzsch notes that the list in Gen 46 of those who entered Egypt includes Hezron and Hamul, who did so in potentia, since they were born after the family entered Egypt. Joseph’s sons are also included, though they too were born in Egypt. “The list must not be pressed too literally” (E. H. Merrill, Kingdom of Priests, 49).
9 tn Heb “and Joseph was in Egypt” (so ASV). The disjunctive word order in Hebrew draws attention to the fact that Joseph, in contrast to his brothers, did not come to Egypt at the same time as Jacob.
10 tn The text simply uses the vav (ו) consecutive with the preterite, “and Joseph died.” While this construction shows sequence with the preceding verse, it does not require that the death follow directly the report of that verse. In fact, readers know from the record in Genesis that the death of Joseph occurred after a good number of years. The statement assumes the passage of time in the natural course of events.
11 tn The verse has a singular verb, “and Joseph died, and all his brothers, and all that generation.” Typical of Hebrew style the verb need only agree with the first of a compound subject.
sn Since the deaths of “Joseph and his brothers and all that generation” were common knowledge, their mention must serve some rhetorical purpose. In contrast to the flourishing of Israel, there is death. This theme will appear again: In spite of death in Egypt, the nation flourishes.
12 tn Heb “the sons of Israel.”
13 tn The disjunctive vav marks a contrast with the note about the deaths of the first generation.
14 tn Using מְאֹד (mÿ’od) twice intensifies the idea of their becoming strong (see GKC 431-32 §133.k).
sn The text is clearly going out of its way to say that the people of Israel flourished in Egypt. The verbs פָּרָה (parah, “be fruitful”), שָׁרַץ (sharats, “swarm, teem”), רָבָה (ravah, “multiply”), and עָצַם (’atsam, “be strong, mighty”) form a literary link to the creation account in Genesis. The text describes Israel’s prosperity in the terms of God’s original command to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, to show that their prosperity was by divine blessing and in compliance with the will of God. The commission for the creation to fill the earth and subdue it would now begin to materialize through the seed of Abraham.
15 sn It would be difficult to identify who this “new king” might be, since the chronology of ancient Israel and Egypt is continually debated. Scholars who take the numbers in the Bible more or less at face value would place the time of Jacob’s going down to Egypt in about 1876
16 tn The relative clause comes last in the verse in Hebrew. It simply clarifies that the new king had no knowledge about Joseph. It also introduces a major theme in the early portion of Exodus, as a later Pharaoh will claim not to know who Yahweh is. The
17 tn Heb “arose.”
18 tn Heb “and he said.”
19 tn The particle הִנֵּה (hinneh) introduces the foundational clause for the exhortation to follow by drawing the listeners’ attention to the Israelites. In other words, the exhortation that follows is based on this observation. The connection could be rendered “since, because,” or the like.
20 tn The verb is the Hitpael cohortative of חָכַם (khakam, “to be wise”). This verb has the idea of acting shrewdly, dealing wisely. The basic idea in the word group is that of skill. So a skillful decision is required to prevent the Israelites from multiplying any more.
sn Pharaoh’s speech invites evaluation. How wise did his plans prove to be?
21 tn The word פֶּן (pen) expresses fear or precaution and can also be translated “lest” or “else” (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 75-76, §461).
22 tn The verb can be translated simply “will multiply,” but since Pharaoh has already indicated that he is aware they were doing that, the nuance here must mean to multiply all the more, or to continue to multiply. Cf. NIV “will become even more numerous.”
23 tn The words וְהָיָה כִּי (vÿhayah ki) introduce a conditional clause – “if” (see GKC 335 §112.y).
24 tn Heb “and [lest] he [Israel] also be joined to.”
25 tn Heb “and go up from.” All the verbs coming after the particle פֶּן (pen, “otherwise, lest” in v. 10) have the same force and are therefore parallel. These are the fears of the Egyptians. This explains why a shrewd policy of population control was required. They wanted to keep Israel enslaved; they did not want them to become too numerous and escape.
26 tn Heb “princes of work.” The word שָׂרֵי (sare, “princes”) has been translated using words such as “ruler,” “prince,” “leader,” “official,” “chief,” “commander,” and “captain” in different contexts. It appears again in 2:14 and 18:21 and 25. Hebrew מַס (mas) refers to a labor gang organized to provide unpaid labor, or corvée (Deut 20:11; Josh 17:13; 1 Kgs 9:15, 21). The entire phrase has been translated “foremen,” which combines the idea of oversight and labor. Cf. KJV, NAB, NASB, NRSV “taskmasters”; NIV “slave masters”; NLT “slave drivers.”
27 tn Heb “over them”; the referent (the Israelites) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
28 sn The verb עַנֹּתוֹ (’annoto) is the Piel infinitive construct from עָנָה (’anah, “to oppress”). The word has a wide range of meanings. Here it would include physical abuse, forced subjugation, and humiliation. This king was trying to crush the spirit of Israel by increasing their slave labor. Other terms in the passage that describe this intent include “bitter” and “crushing.”
29 tn The form is a preterite with the vav (ו) consecutive, וַיִּבֶן (vayyiven). The sequence expressed in this context includes the idea of result.
30 sn Many scholars assume that because this city was named Rameses, the Pharaoh had to be Rameses II, and hence that a late date for the exodus (and a late time for the sojourn in Egypt) is proved. But if the details of the context are taken as seriously as the mention of this name, this cannot be the case. If one grants for the sake of discussion that Rameses II was on the throne and oppressing Israel, it is necessary to note that Moses is not born yet. It would take about twenty or more years to build the city, then eighty more years before Moses appears before Pharaoh (Rameses), and then a couple of years for the plagues – this man would have been Pharaoh for over a hundred years. That is clearly not the case for the historical Rameses II. But even more determining is the fact that whoever the Pharaoh was for whom the Israelites built the treasure cities, he died before Moses began the plagues. The Bible says that when Moses grew up and killed the Egyptian, he fled from Pharaoh (whoever that was) and remained in exile until he heard that that Pharaoh had died. So this verse cannot be used for a date of the exodus in the days of Rameses, unless many other details in the chapters are ignored. If it is argued that Rameses was the Pharaoh of the oppression, then his successor would have been the Pharaoh of the exodus. Rameses reigned from 1304
31 tn Heb “they”; the referent (the Egyptians) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
32 tn The imperfect tenses in this verse are customary uses, expressing continual action in past time (see GKC 315 §107.e). For other examples of כַּאֲשֶׁר (ka’asher) with כֵּן (ken) expressing a comparison (“just as…so”) see Gen 41:13; Judg 1:7; Isa 31:4.
sn Nothing in the oppression caused this, of course. Rather, the blessing of God (Gen 12:1-3) was on Israel in spite of the efforts of Egypt to hinder it. According to Gen 15 God had foretold that there would be this period of oppression (עָנָה [’anah] in Gen 15:13). In other words, God had decreed and predicted both their becoming a great nation and the oppression to show that he could fulfill his promise to Abraham in spite of the bondage.
33 tn Heb “they felt a loathing before/because of”; the referent (the Egyptians) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
34 tn Heb “the Egyptians.” For stylistic reasons this has been replaced by the pronoun “they” in the translation.
35 tn Heb “with rigor, oppression.”
36 sn The verb מָרַר (marar) anticipates the introduction of the theme of bitterness in the instructions for the Passover.
37 tn The preposition bet (ב) in this verse has the instrumental use: “by means of” (see GKC 380 §119.o).
38 tn Heb “and in all service.”
39 tn The line could be more literally translated, “All their service in which they served them [was] with rigor.” This takes the referent of בָּהֶם (bahem) to be the Egyptians. The pronoun may also resume the reference to the kinds of service and so not be needed in English: “All their service in which they served [was] with rigor.”
40 tn Heb “and the king of Egypt said.”
41 sn The word for “midwife” is simply the Piel participle of the verb יָלַד (yalad, “to give birth”). So these were women who assisted in the childbirth process. It seems probable that given the number of the Israelites in the passage, these two women could not have been the only Hebrew midwives, but they may have been over the midwives (Rashi). Moreover, the LXX and Vulgate do not take “Hebrew” as an adjective, but as a genitive after the construct, yielding “midwives of/over the Hebrews.” This leaves open the possibility that these women were not Hebrews. This would solve the question of how the king ever expected Hebrew midwives to kill Hebrew children. And yet, the two women have Hebrew names.
42 tn Heb “who the name of the first [was] Shiphrah, and the name of the second [was] Puah.”
43 tn The verse starts with the verb that began the last verse; to read it again seems redundant. Some versions render it “spoke” in v. 15 and “said” in v. 16. In effect, Pharaoh has been delayed from speaking while the midwives are named.
44 tn The form is the Piel infinitive construct serving in an adverbial clause of time. This clause lays the foundation for the next verb, the Qal perfect with a vav consecutive: “when you assist…then you will observe.” The latter carries an instructional nuance (= the imperfect of instruction), “you are to observe.”
45 tn Heb “at the birthstool” (cf. ASV, NASB, NRSV), but since this particular item is not especially well known today, the present translation simply states “at the delivery.” Cf. NIV “delivery stool.”
46 sn The instructions must have been temporary or selective, otherwise the decree from the king would have ended the slave population of Hebrews. It is also possible that the king did not think through this, but simply took steps to limit the population growth. The narrative is not interested in supplying details, only in portraying the king as a wicked fool bent on destroying Israel.
47 tn The last form וָחָיָה (vakhaya) in the verse is unusual; rather than behaving as a III-Hey form, it is written as a geminate but without the daghesh forte in pause (GKC 218 §76.i). In the conditional clause, following the parallel instruction (“kill him”), this form should be rendered “she may live” or “let her live.”
48 tn Heb “and they [fem. pl.] feared”; the referent (the midwives) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
49 tn The verb is the Piel preterite of חָיָה (khaya, “to live”). The Piel often indicates a factitive nuance with stative verbs, showing the cause of the action. Here it means “let live, cause to live.” The verb is the exact opposite of Pharaoh’s command for them to kill the boys.
50 tn The verb קָרָא (qara’) followed by the lamed (ל) preposition has here the nuance of “summon.” The same construction is used later when Pharaoh summons Moses.
51 tn The second verb in Pharaoh’s speech is a preterite with a vav (ו) consecutive. It may indicate a simple sequence: “Why have you done…and (so that you) let live?” It could also indicate that this is a second question, “Why have you done …[why] have you let live?”
52 sn See further N. Lemche, “‘Hebrew’ as a National Name for Israel,” ST 33 (1979): 1-23.
53 tn Heb “they”; the referent (the Hebrew women) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
54 tn Heb “before the midwife comes to them (and) they give birth.” The perfect tense with the vav consecutive serves as the apodosis to the preceding temporal clause; it has the frequentative nuance (see GKC 337-38 §112.oo).
sn The point of this brief section is that the midwives respected God above the king. They simply followed a higher authority that prohibited killing. Fearing God is a basic part of the true faith that leads to an obedient course of action and is not terrified by worldly threats. There probably was enough truth in what they were saying to be believable, but they clearly had no intention of honoring the king by participating in murder, and they saw no reason to give him a straightforward answer. God honored their actions.
55 tn The verb וַיֵּיטֶב (vayyetev) is the Hiphil preterite of יָטַב (yatav). In this stem the word means “to cause good, treat well, treat favorably.” The vav (ו) consecutive shows that this favor from God was a result of their fearing and obeying him.
56 tn The temporal indicator וַיְהִי (vayÿhi) focuses attention on the causal clause and lays the foundation for the main clause, namely, “God made households for them.” This is the second time the text affirms the reason for their defiance, their fear of God.
57 tn Or “families”; Heb “houses.”
58 tn The substantive כֹּל (kol) followed by the article stresses the entirety – “all sons” or “all daughters” – even though the nouns are singular in Hebrew (see GKC 411 §127.b).
59 tn The form includes a pronominal suffix that reiterates the object of the verb: “every son…you will throw it.”
60 tn The first imperfect has the force of a definite order, but the second, concerning the girls, could also have the nuance of permission, which may fit better. Pharaoh is simply allowing the girls to live.
sn Verse 22 forms a fitting climax to the chapter, in which the king continually seeks to destroy the Israelite strength. Finally, with this decree, he throws off any subtlety and commands the open extermination of Hebrew males. The verse forms a transition to the next chapter, in which Moses is saved by Pharaoh’s own daughter. These chapters show that the king’s efforts to destroy the strength of Israel – so clearly a work of God – met with failure again and again. And that failure involved the efforts of women, whom Pharaoh did not consider a threat.
61 sn The chapter records the exceptional survival of Moses under the decree of death by Pharaoh (vv. 1-10), the flight of Moses from Pharaoh after killing the Egyptian (vv. 11-15), the marriage of Moses (vv. 16-22), and finally a note about the
62 tn Heb “house.” In other words, the tribe of Levi.
63 tn Heb “went and took”; NASB “went and married.”
64 tn Heb “a daughter of Levi.” The word “daughter” is used in the sense of “descendant” and connects the new account with Pharaoh’s command in 1:22. The words “a woman who was” are added for clarity in English.
sn The first part of this section is the account of hiding the infant (vv. 1-4). The marriage, the birth, the hiding of the child, and the positioning of Miriam, are all faith operations that ignore the decree of Pharaoh or work around it to preserve the life of the child.
65 tn Or “conceived” (KJV, ASV, NAB, NASB, NRSV).
66 tn A preterite form with the vav consecutive can be subordinated to a following clause. What she saw stands as a reason for what she did: “when she saw…she hid him three months.”
67 tn After verbs of perceiving or seeing there are frequently two objects, the formal accusative (“she saw him”) and then a noun clause that explains what it was about the child that she perceived (“that he was healthy”). See GKC 365 §117.h.
68 tn Or “fine” (טוֹב, tov). The construction is parallel to phrases in the creation narrative (“and God saw that it was good,” Gen 1:4, 10, 12, 17, 21, 25, 31). B. Jacob says, “She looked upon her child with a joy similar to that of God upon His creation (Gen 1.4ff.)” (Exodus, 25).
69 sn See on the meaning of this basket C. Cohen, “Hebrew tbh: Proposed Etymologies,” JANESCU 9 (1972): 36-51. This term is used elsewhere only to refer to the ark of Noah. It may be connected to the Egyptian word for “chest.”
70 sn The circumstances of the saving of the child Moses have prompted several attempts by scholars to compare the material to the Sargon myth. See R. F. Johnson, IDB 3:440-50; for the text see L. W. King, Chronicles concerning Early Babylonian Kings, 2:87-90. Those who see the narrative using the Sargon story’s pattern would be saying that the account presents Moses in imagery common to the ancient world’s expectations of extraordinary achievement and deliverance. In the Sargon story the infant’s mother set him adrift in a basket in a river; he was loved by the gods and destined for greatness. Saying Israel used this to invent the account in Exodus would undermine its reliability. But there are other difficulties with the Sargon comparison, not the least of which is the fact that the meaning and function of the Sargon story are unclear. Second, there is no outside threat to the child Sargon. The account simply shows how a child was exposed, rescued, nurtured, and became king (see B. S. Childs, Exodus [OTL], 8-12). Third, other details do not fit: Moses’ father is known, Sargon’s is not; Moses is never abandoned, since he is never out of the care of his parents, and the finder is a princess and not a goddess. Moreover, without knowing the precise function and meaning of the Sargon story, it is almost impossible to explain its use as a pattern for the biblical account. By itself, the idea of a mother putting a child by the river if she wants him to be found would have been fairly sensible, for that is where the women of the town would be washing their clothes or bathing. If someone wanted to be sure the infant was discovered by a sympathetic woman, there would be no better setting (see R. A. Cole, Exodus [TOTC], 57). While there need not be a special genre of storytelling here, it is possible that Exodus 2 might have drawn on some of the motifs and forms of the other account to describe the actual event in the sparing of Moses – if they knew of it. If so it would show that Moses was cast in the form of the greats of the past.
71 tn Or “stood.” The verb is the Hitpael preterite of יָצַב (yatsav), although the form is anomalous and perhaps should be spelled as in the Samaritan Pentateuch (see GKC 193 §71). The form yields the meaning of “take a stand, position or station oneself.” His sister found a good vantage point to wait and see what might become of the infant.
72 tn Heb “to know”; many English versions have “to see.”
73 tn The verb is a Niphal imperfect; it should be classified here as a historic future, future from the perspective of a point in a past time narrative.
74 sn It is impossible, perhaps, to identify with certainty who this person was. For those who have taken a view that Rameses was the pharaoh, there were numerous daughters for Rameses. She is named Tharmuth in Jub. 47:5; Josephus spells it Thermouthis (Ant. 2.9.5 [2.224]), but Eusebius has Merris (Praep. Ev. ix. 27). E. H. Merrill (Kingdom of Priests, 60) makes a reasonable case for her identification as the famous Hatshepsut, daughter of Thutmose I. She would have been there about the time of Moses’ birth, and the general picture of her from history shows her to be the kind of princess with enough courage to countermand a decree of her father.
75 tn Or “bathe.”
76 sn A disjunctive vav initiates here a circumstantial clause. The picture is one of a royal entourage coming down to the edge of a tributary of the river, and while the princess was bathing, her female attendants were walking along the edge of the water out of the way of the princess. They may not have witnessed the discovery or the discussion.
77 tn The word here is אָמָה (’amah), which means “female slave.” The word translated “attendants” earlier in the verse is נַעֲרֹת (na’arot, “young women”), possibly referring here to an assortment of servants and companions.
78 tn The verb is preterite, third person feminine singular, with a pronominal suffix, from לָקַח (laqakh, “to take”). The form says literally “and she took it,” and retains the princess as the subject of the verb.
79 tn Heb “and she opened.”
80 tn The grammatical construction has a pronominal suffix on the verb as the direct object along with the expressed object: “and she saw him, the child.” The second object defines the previous pronominal object to avoid misunderstanding (see GKC 425 §131.m).
81 tn The text has נַעַר (na’ar, “lad, boy, young man”), which in this context would mean a baby boy.
82 tn This clause is introduced with a disjunctive vav and the deictic particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, “behold” in the KJV). The particle in this kind of clause introduces the unexpected – what Pharaoh’s daughter saw when she opened the basket: “and look, there was a baby boy crying.” The clause provides a parenthetical description of the child as she saw him when she opened the basket and does not advance the narrative. It is an important addition, however, for it puts readers in the position of looking with her into the basket and explains her compassion.
83 tn The verb could be given a more colloquial translation such as “she felt sorry for him.” But the verb is stronger than that; it means “to have compassion, to pity, to spare.” What she felt for the baby was strong enough to prompt her to spare the child from the fate decreed for Hebrew boys. Here is part of the irony of the passage: What was perceived by many to be a womanly weakness – compassion for a baby – is a strong enough emotion to prompt the woman to defy the orders of Pharaoh. The ruler had thought sparing women was safe, but the midwives, the Hebrew mother, the daughter of Pharaoh, and Miriam, all work together to spare one child – Moses (cf. 1 Cor 1:27-29).
84 sn The text uses קָרָא (qara’), meaning “to call” or “summon.” Pharaoh himself will “summon” Moses many times in the plague narratives. Here the word is used for the daughter summoning the child’s mother to take care of him. The narratives in the first part of the book of Exodus include a good deal of foreshadowing of events that occur in later sections of the book (see M. Fishbane, Biblical Text and Texture).
85 tn The object of the verb “get/summon” is “a woman.” But מֵינֶקֶת (meneqet, “nursing”), the Hiphil participle of the verb יָנַק (yanaq, “to suck”), is in apposition to it, clarifying what kind of woman should be found – a woman, a nursing one. Of course Moses’ mother was ready for the task.
86 tn The form וְתֵינִק (vÿteniq) is the Hiphil imperfect/jussive, third feminine singular, of the same root as the word for “nursing.” It is here subordinated to the preceding imperfect (“shall I go”) and perfect with vav (ו) consecutive (“and summon”) to express the purpose: “in order that she may.”
sn No respectable Egyptian woman of this period would have undertaken the task of nursing a foreigner’s baby, and so the suggestion by Miriam was proper and necessary. Since she was standing a small distance away from the events, she was able to come forward when the discovery was made.
87 tn Heb “Go” (so KJV, ASV); NASB “Go ahead”; TEV “Please do.”
88 sn The word used to describe the sister (Miriam probably) is עַלְמָה (’alma), the same word used in Isa 7:14, where it is usually translated either “virgin” or “young woman.” The word basically means a young woman who is ripe for marriage. This would indicate that Miriam is a teenager and so about fifteen years older than Moses.
89 tn Heb קָרָא (qara’, “called”).
90 sn During this period of Egyptian history the royal palaces were in the northern or Delta area of Egypt, rather than up the Nile as in later periods. The proximity of the royal residences to the Israelites makes this and the plague narratives all the more realistic. Such direct contact would have been unlikely if Moses had had to travel up the Nile to meet with Pharaoh. In the Delta area things were closer. Here all the people would have had access to the tributaries of the Nile near where the royal family came, but the royal family probably had pavilions and hunting lodges in the area. See also N. Osborn, “Where on Earth Are We? Problems of Position and Movement in Space,” BT 31 (1980): 239-42.
91 tn The verb is the Hiphil imperative of the verb הָלַךְ (halakh), and so is properly rendered “cause to go” or “take away.”
92 tn The possessive pronoun on the noun “wage” expresses the indirect object: “I will pay wages to you.”
93 tn The verb is the preterite of גָּדַל (gadal), and so might be rendered “and he became great.” But the context suggests that it refers to when he was weaned and before he was named, perhaps indicating he was three or four years old (see Gen 21:8).
94 tn The idiomatic expression literally reads: “and he was to her for a son.” In this there are two prepositions lamed. The first expresses possession: “he was to her” means “she had.” The second is part of the usage of the verb: הָיָה (haya) with the lamed (ל) preposition means “to become.”
95 sn The naming provides the climax and summary of the story. The name of “Moses” (מֹשֶׁה, mosheh) is explained by “I have drawn him (מְשִׁיתִהוּ, mÿshitihu) from the water.” It appears that the name is etymologically connected to the verb in the saying, which is from מָשָׁה (mashah, “to draw out”). But commentators have found it a little difficult that the explanation of the name by the daughter of Pharaoh is in Hebrew when the whole background is Egyptian (U. Cassuto, Exodus, 20). Moreover, the Hebrew spelling of the name is the form of the active participle (“the one who draws out”); to be a precise description it should have been spelled מָשׁוּי (mashuy), the passive participle (“the one drawn out”). The etymology is not precise; rather, it is a wordplay (called paronomasia). Either the narrator merely attributed words to her (which is unlikely outside of fiction), or the Hebrew account simply translated what she had said into Hebrew, finding a Hebrew verb with the same sounds as the name. Such wordplays on names (also popular etymology) are common in the Bible. Most agree that the name is an Egyptian name. Josephus attempted to connect the biblical etymology with the name in Greek, Mouses, stating that Mo is Egyptian for water, and uses means those rescued from it (Ant. 2.9.6 [2.228]; see also J. Gwyn Griffiths, “The Egyptian Derivation of the Name Moses,” JNES 12 : 225). But the solution to the name is not to be derived from the Greek rendering. Due to the estimation Egyptians had of the Nile, the princess would have thought of the child from the river as a supernatural provision. The Egyptian hieroglyphic ms can be the noun “child” or the perfective verb “be born.” This was often connected with divine elements for names: Ptah-mose, “Ptah is born.” Also the name Rameses (R’-m-sw) means “[the god] Re’ is he who has born him.” If the name Moses is Egyptian, there are some philological difficulties (see the above article for their treatment). The significance of all this is that when the child was named by the princess, an Egyptian word related to ms was used, meaning something like “child” or “born.” The name might have even been longer, perhaps having a theophoric element (divine name) with it – “child of [some god].” The name’s motivation came from the fact that she drew him from the Nile, the source of life in Egypt. But the sound of the name recalled for the Hebrews the verb “to draw out” in their own language. Translating the words of the princess into Hebrew allowed for the effective wordplay to capture the significance of the story in the sound of the name. The implication for the Israelites is something to this effect: “You called him ‘born one’ in your language and after your custom, but in our language that name means ‘drawing out’ – which is what was to become of him. You drew him out of the water, but he would draw us out of Egypt through the water.” So the circumstances of the story show Moses to be a man of destiny, and this naming episode summarizes how divine providence was at work in Israel. To the Israelites the name forever commemorated the portent of this event in the early life of the great deliverer (see Isa 63:11).
96 sn Chapter 1 described how Israel was flourishing in spite of the bondage. Chapter 2 first told how God providentially provided the deliverer, but now when this deliverer attempted to deliver one of his people, it turned out badly, and he had to flee for his life. This section makes an interesting study in the presumption of the leader, what Christian expositors would rightly describe as trying to do God’s work by the flesh. The section has two parts to it: the flight from Egypt over the failed attempt to deliver (vv. 11-15), and Moses’ introduction to life as the deliverer in Midian (vv. 16-22).
97 sn The expression “those days” refers to the days of bondage.
98 tn The preterite with the vav (ו) consecutive is here subordinated to the next and main idea of the verse. This is the second use of this verb in the chapter. In v. 10 the verb had the sense of “when he began to grow” or “when he got older,” but here it carries the nuance of “when he had grown up.”
99 tn Heb “brothers.” This term does not require them to be literal siblings, or even close family members. It simply refers to fellow Hebrews, people with whom Moses has begun to feel close ties of kinship. They are “brothers” in a broad sense, ultimately fellow members of the covenant community.
100 tn The verb רָאָה (ra’a, “to see”) followed by the preposition bet (ב) can indicate looking on something as an overseer, or supervising, or investigating. Here the emphasis is on Moses’ observing their labor with sympathy or grief. It means more than that he simply saw the way his fellow Hebrews were being treated (cf. 2:25).
sn This journey of Moses to see his people is an indication that he had become aware of his destiny to deliver them. This verse says that he looked on their oppression; the next section will say that the
101 tn The verb מַכֶּה (makkeh) is the Hiphil participle of the root נָכָה (nakha). It may be translated “strike, smite, beat, attack.” It can be used with the sense of killing (as in the next verse, which says Moses hid the body), but it does not necessarily indicate here that the Egyptian killed the Hebrew.
102 tn Heb “brothers.” This kinship term is used as a means of indicating the nature of Moses’ personal concern over the incident, since the appositional clause adds no new information.
103 tn The text literally says, “and he turned thus and thus” (וַיִּפֶן כֹּה וָכֹה, vayyifen koh vakhoh). It may indicate that he turned his gaze in all directions to ascertain that no one would observe what he did. Or, as B. Jacob argues, it may mean that he saw that there was no one to do justice and so he did it himself (Exodus, 37-38, citing Isa 59:15-16).
104 tn Heb “he saw that there was no man.”
105 sn The verb וַיַּךְ (vayyakh) is from the root נָכָה (nakhah, “to smite, attack”) which is used in v. 11. This new attack is fatal. The repetition of the verb, especially in Exodus, anticipates the idea of “eye for eye, tooth for tooth.” The problem is, however, that Moses was not authorized to take this matter into his own hands in this way. The question the next day was appropriate: “Who made you a ruler and a judge over us?” The answer? No one – yet.
106 tn Heb “him”; for stylistic reasons the referent has been specified as “the body.”
107 tn The preterite with the vav consecutive is subordinated to the main idea of the verse.
108 tn Heb “the second day” (so KJV, ASV).
109 tn The deictic particle is used here to predicate existence, as in “here were” or “there were.” But this use of הִנֵּה (hinneh) indicates also that what he encountered was surprising or sudden – as in “Oh, look!”
110 tn The word רָשָׁע (rasha’) is a legal term, meaning the guilty. This guilty man rejects Moses’ intervention for much the same reason Pharaoh will later (5:2) – he does not recognize his authority. Later Pharaoh will use this term to declare himself as in the wrong (9:27) and God in the right.
111 tn This is the third use of the verb נָכָה (nakha) in the passage; here it is the Hiphil imperfect. It may be given a progressive imperfect nuance – the attack was going on when Moses tried to intervene.
112 sn Heb “your neighbor.” The word רֵעֶךָ (re’ekha) appears again in 33:11 to describe the ease with which God and Moses conversed. The Law will have much to say about how the Israelites were to treat their “neighbors, fellow citizens” (Exod 20:16-17; 21:14, 18, 35; 22:7-11, 14, 26; cf. Luke 10:25-37).
113 tn Heb “And he”; the referent (the man) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
115 tn The line reads “[is it] to kill me you are planning?” The form אֹמֵר (’omer) is the active participle used verbally; it would literally be “[are you] saying,” but in this context it conveys the meaning of “thinking, planning.” The Qal infinitive then serves as the object of this verbal form – are you planning to kill me?
116 tn Heb “the Egyptian.” Here the Hebrew article functions in an anaphoric sense, referring back to the individual Moses killed.
117 tn The verb form is “and he said.” But the intent of the form is that he said this within himself, and so it means “he thought, realized, said to himself.” The form, having the vav consecutive, is subordinated to the main idea of the verse, that he was afraid.
118 tn The term הַדָּבָר (haddavar, “the word [thing, matter, incident]”) functions here like a pronoun to refer in brief to what Moses had done. For clarity this has been specified in the translation with the phrase “what I did.”
119 tn The form with the vav consecutive is here subordinated to the main idea that Pharaoh sought to punish Moses.
120 tn Heb הַדָּבָר (haddavar, “the word [thing, matter, incident]”) functions here like a pronoun to refer in brief to what Moses had done.
121 tn The vav (ו) consecutive with the preterite shows result – as a result of Pharaoh’s search for him, he fled.
122 sn The location of Midyan or Midian is uncertain, but it had to have been beyond the Egyptian borders on the east, either in the Sinai or beyond in the Arabah (south of the Dead Sea) or even on the east side of the Gulf of Aqaba. The Midianites seem to have traveled extensively in the desert regions. R. A. Cole (Exodus [TOTC], 60) reasons that since they later were enemies of Israel, it is unlikely that these traditions would have been made up about Israel’s great lawgiver; further, he explains that “Ishmaelite” and “Kenite” might have been clan names within the region of Midian. But see, from a different point of view, G. W. Coats, “Moses and Midian,” JBL 92 (1973): 3-10.
123 tn The verb reads “and he sat” or “and he lived.” To translate it “he sat by a well” would seem anticlimactic and unconnected. It probably has the same sense as in the last clause, namely, that he lived in Midian, and he lived near a well, which detail prepares for what follows.
124 tn The word has the definite article, “the well.” Gesenius lists this use of the article as that which denotes a thing that is yet unknown to the reader but present in the mind under the circumstances (GKC 407-8 §126.q-r). Where there was a well, people would settle, and as R. A. Cole says it, for people who settled there it was “the well” (Exodus [TOTC], 60).
125 tn The preterites describing their actions must be taken in an ingressive sense, since they did not actually complete the job. Shepherds drove them away, and Moses watered the flocks.
126 tn The object “water” is not in the Hebrew text, but is implied.
127 tn This also has the ingressive sense, “began to fill,” but for stylistic reasons is translated simply “fill” here.
128 tn The definite article here is the generic use; it simply refers to a group of shepherds.
129 tn The actions of the shepherds are subordinated to the main statement about what Moses did.
sn The verb is וַיְגָרְשׁוּם (vaygorshum). Some shepherds came and drove the daughters away. The choice of this verb in the narrative has a tie with the name of Moses’ first son, Gershom. Moses senses very clearly that he is a sojourner in a strange land – he has been driven away.
130 sn The verb used here is וַיּוֹשִׁעָן (vayyoshi’an, “and he saved them”). The word means that he came to their rescue and delivered them. By the choice of words the narrator is portraying Moses as the deliverer – he is just not yet ready to deliver Israel from its oppressors.
131 tn The verb means “to go, to come, to enter.” In this context it means that they returned to their father, or came home.
132 sn The name “Reuel” is given here. In other places (e.g., chap. 18) he is called Jethro (cf. CEV, which uses “Jethro” here). Some suggest that this is simply a confusion of traditions. But it is not uncommon for ancients, like Sabean kings and priests, to have more than one name. Several of the kings of Israel, including Solomon, did. “Reuel” means “friend of God.”
133 tn The sentence uses a verbal hendiadys construction: מִהַרְתֶּן בֹּא (miharten bo’, “you have made quick [to] come”). The finite verb functions as if it were an adverb modifying the infinitive, which becomes the main verb of the clause.
sn Two observations should be made at this point. First, it seems that the oppression at the well was a regular part of their routine because their father was surprised at their early return, and their answer alluded to the shepherds rather automatically. Secondly, the story is another meeting-at-the-well account. Continuity with the patriarchs is thereby kept in the mind of the reader (cf. Gen 24; 29:1-12).
134 sn Continuing the theme of Moses as the deliverer, the text now uses another word for salvation (נָצַל, natsal, “to deliver, rescue”) in the sense of plucking out or away, snatching out of danger.
135 tn Heb “from the hand of the shepherds” (so NASB); NAB “saved us from the interference of the shepherds.” Most recent English versions translate simply “from the shepherds.”
136 tn The construction is emphatic with the use of the perfect tense and its infinitive absolute: דָלָה דָּלֹה (daloh dalah). B. Jacob says, “They showed their enthusiasm through the use of the infinitive absolute – And think of that, he even drew water for us; a man did this for us girls” (Exodus, 41).
137 tn Heb “And he said.”
138 tn The conjunction vav (ו) joins Reuel’s question to what the daughters said as logically following with the idea, “If he has done all that you say, why is he not here for me to meet?” (see GKC 485 §154.b).
139 tn This uses the demonstrative pronoun as an enclitic, for emphasis (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 24, §118). The question reads more literally, “Why [is] this [that] you left him?”
140 tn The imperfect tense coming after the imperative indicates purpose.
141 tn Heb “bread,” i.e., “food.”
142 tn Or “and Moses was willing” to stay with Reuel. The Talmud understood this to mean that he swore, and so when it came time to leave he had to have a word from God and permission from his father-in-law (Exod 4:18-19).
143 tn The words “in marriage” are implied, and have been supplied in the translation for clarity.
144 tn The preterite with the vav (ו) consecutive is subordinated to the next clause, which reports the naming and its motivation.
145 tn Heb “and he called”; the referent (Moses) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
146 sn Like the naming of Moses, this naming that incorporates a phonetic wordplay forms the commemorative summary of the account just provided. Moses seems to have settled into a domestic life with his new wife and his father-in-law. But when the first son is born, he named him גֵּרְשֹׁם (gerÿshom). There is little information available about what the name by itself might have meant. If it is linked to the verb “drive away” used earlier (גָרַשׁ, garash), then the final mem (מ) would have to be explained as an enclitic mem. It seems most likely that that verb was used in the narrative to make a secondary wordplay on the name. The primary explanation is the popular etymology supplied by Moses himself. He links the name to the verb גּוּר (gur, “to sojourn, to live as an alien”). He then adds that he was a sojourner (גֵּר, ger, the participle) in a foreign land. The word “foreign” (נָכְרִיּה, nokhriyyah) adds to the idea of his being a resident alien. The final syllable in the name would then be connected to the adverb “there” (שָׁם, sham). Thus, the name is given the significance in the story of “sojourner there” or “alien there.” He no doubt knew that this was not the actual meaning of the name; the name itself had already been introduced into the family of Levi (1 Chr 6:1, 16). He chose the name because its sounds reflected his sentiment at that time. But to what was Moses referring? In view of naming customs among the Semites, he was most likely referring to Midian as the foreign land. If Egypt had been the strange land, and he had now found his place, he would not have given the lad such a name. Personal names reflect the present or recent experiences, or the hope for the future. So this naming is a clear expression by Moses that he knows he is not where he is supposed to be. That this is what he meant is supported in the NT by Stephen (Acts 7:29). So the choice of the name, the explanation of it, and the wordplay before it, all serve to stress the point that Moses had been driven away from his proper place of service.
147 sn The next section of the book is often referred to as the “Call of Moses,” and that is certainly true. But it is much more than that. It is the divine preparation of the servant of God, a servant who already knew what his destiny was. In this section Moses is shown how his destiny will be accomplished. It will be accomplished because the divine presence will guarantee the power, and the promise of that presence comes with the important “I AM” revelation. The message that comes through in this, and other “I will be with you” passages, is that when the promise of God’s presence is correctly appropriated by faith, the servant of God can begin to build confidence for the task that lies ahead. It will no longer be, “Who am I that I should go?” but “I AM with you” that matters. The first little section, 2:23-25, serves as a transition and introduction, for it records the
148 tn The verse begins with the temporal indicator “And it was” (cf. KJV, ASV “And it came to pass”). This has been left untranslated for stylistic reasons.
149 tn Heb “in those many days.”
150 tn Heb “the sons of Israel.”
151 tn “They cried out” is from זָעַק (za’aq), and “desperate cry” is from שַׁוְעָה (shava’h).
153 sn The two verbs “heard” and “remembered,” both preterites, say far more than they seem to say. The verb שָׁמַע (shama’, “to hear”) ordinarily includes responding to what is heard. It can even be found in idiomatic constructions meaning “to obey.” To say God heard their complaint means that God responded to it. Likewise, the verb זָכַר (zakhar, “to remember”) means to begin to act on the basis of what is remembered. A prayer to God that says, “Remember me,” is asking for more than mere recollection (see B. S. Childs, Memory and Tradition in Israel [SBT], 1-8). The structure of this section at the end of the chapter is powerful. There are four descriptions of the Israelites, with a fourfold reaction from God. On the Israelites’ side, they groaned (אָנַח [’anakh], נְאָקָה [nÿ’aqah]) and cried out (זָעַק [za’aq], שַׁוְעָה [shav’ah]) to God. On the divine side God heard (שָׁמָע, shama’) their groaning, remembered (זָכַר, zakhar) his covenant, looked (רָאָה, ra’ah) at the Israelites, and took notice (יָדַע, yada’) of them. These verbs emphasize God’s sympathy and compassion for the people. God is near to those in need; in fact, the deliverer had already been chosen. It is important to note at this point the repetition of the word “God.” The text is waiting to introduce the name “Yahweh” in a special way. Meanwhile, the fourfold repetition of “God” in vv. 24-25 is unusual and draws attention to the statements about his attention to Israel’s plight.
154 tn Heb “and God saw.”
155 tn Heb “and God knew” (יָדַע, yada’). The last clause contains a widely used verb for knowing, but it leaves the object unexpressed within the clause, so as to allow all that vv. 23-24 have described to serve as the compelling content of God’s knowing. (Many modern English versions supply an object for the verb following the LXX, which reads “knew them.”) The idea seems to be that God took personal knowledge of, noticed, or regarded them. In other passages the verb “know” is similar in meaning to “save” or “show pity.” See especially Gen 18:21, Ps 1:6; 31:7, and Amos 3:2. Exodus has already provided an example of the results of not knowing in 1:8 (cf. 5:2).