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Exodus 20:18-19

Context

20:18 All the people were seeing 1  the thundering and the lightning, and heard 2  the sound of the horn, and saw 3  the mountain smoking – and when 4  the people saw it they trembled with fear 5  and kept their distance. 6  20:19 They said to Moses, “You speak 7  to us and we will listen, but do not let God speak with us, lest we die.”

1 tn The participle is used here for durative action in the past time (GKC 359 §116.o).

2 tn The verb “to see” (רָאָה, raah) refers to seeing with all the senses, or perceiving. W. C. Kaiser suggests that this is an example of the figure of speech called zeugma because the verb “saw” yokes together two objects, one that suits the verb and the other that does not. So, the verb “heard” is inserted here to clarify (“Exodus,” EBC 2:427).

3 tn The verb “saw” is supplied here because it is expected in English (see the previous note on “heard”).

4 tn The preterite with vav (ו) consecutive is here subordinated as a temporal clause to the following clause, which receives the prominence.

5 tn The meaning of נוּעַ (nua’) is “to shake, sway to and fro” in fear. Compare Isa 7:2 – “and his heart shook…as the trees of the forest shake with the wind.”

6 tn Heb “and they stood from/at a distance.”

7 tn The verb is a Piel imperative. In this context it has more of the sense of a request than a command. The independent personal pronoun “you” emphasizes the subject and forms the contrast with God’s speaking.



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