1:14 They made their lives bitter 1 by 2 hard service with mortar and bricks and by all kinds of service 3 in the fields. Every kind of service the Israelites were required to give was rigorous. 4
2:23 5 During 6 that long period of time 7 the king of Egypt died, and the Israelites 8 groaned because of the slave labor. They cried out, and their desperate cry 9 because of their slave labor went up to God.
5:9 Make the work harder 10 for the men so they will keep at it 11 and pay no attention to lying words!” 12
5:11 You 13 go get straw for yourselves wherever you can 14 find it, because there will be no reduction at all in your workload.’”
1 sn The verb מָרַר (marar) anticipates the introduction of the theme of bitterness in the instructions for the Passover.
2 tn The preposition bet (ב) in this verse has the instrumental use: “by means of” (see GKC 380 §119.o).
3 tn Heb “and in all service.”
4 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.”
5 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
6 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.
7 tn Heb “in those many days.”
8 tn Heb “the sons of Israel.”
9 tn “They cried out” is from זָעַק (za’aq), and “desperate cry” is from שַׁוְעָה (shava’h).
10 tn Heb “let the work be heavy.”
11 tn The text has וְיַעֲשׂוּ־בָהּ (vÿya’asu-vah, “and let them work in it”) or the like. The jussive forms part of the king’s decree that the men not only be required to work harder but be doing it: “Let them be occupied in it.”
sn For a discussion of this whole section, see K. A. Kitchen, “From the Brickfields of Egypt,” TynBul 27 (1976): 137-47.
12 sn The words of Moses are here called “lying words” (דִבְרֵי־שָׁקֶר, divre-shaqer). Here is the main reason, then, for Pharaoh’s new policy. He wanted to discredit Moses. So the words that Moses spoke Pharaoh calls false and lying words. The world was saying that God’s words were vain and deceptive because they were calling people to a higher order. In a short time God would reveal that they were true words.
13 tn The independent personal pronoun emphasizes that the people were to get their own straw, and it heightens the contrast with the king. “You – go get.”
14 tn The tense in this section could be translated as having the nuance of possibility: “wherever you may find it,” or the nuance of potential imperfect: “wherever you are able to find any.”
15 sn The final part of this section focuses on instructions for Moses. The commission from God is the same – he is to speak to Pharaoh and he is to lead Israel out. It should have been clear to him that God would do this, for he had just been reminded how God was going to lead out, deliver, redeem, take the people as his people, and give them land. It was God’s work of love from beginning to end. Moses simply had his task to perform.
16 tn Heb “and Moses spoke thus.”
17 tn Heb “to Moses.” The proper name has been replaced by the pronoun (“him”) in the translation for stylistic reasons.
18 tn The Hebrew מִקֹּצֶּר רוּחַ (miqqotser ruakh) means “because of the shortness of spirit.” This means that they were discouraged, dispirited, and weary – although some have also suggested it might mean impatient. The Israelites were now just not in the frame of mind to listen to Moses.