2:17 When some 1 shepherds came and drove them away, 2 Moses came up and defended them 3 and then watered their flock.
2:22 When she bore 4 a son, Moses 5 named him Gershom, for he said, “I have become a resident foreigner in a foreign land.” 6
11:1 10 The Lord said to Moses, “I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt; after that he will release you from this place. When he releases you, 11 he will drive you out completely 12 from this place.
1 tn The definite article here is the generic use; it simply refers to a group of shepherds.
2 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.
3 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.
4 tn The preterite with the vav (ו) consecutive is subordinated to the next clause, which reports the naming and its motivation.
5 tn Heb “and he called”; the referent (Moses) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
6 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.
7 sn The expression “I will do to Pharaoh” always refers to the plagues. God would first show his sovereignty over Pharaoh before defeating him.
8 tn The expression “with a strong hand” (וּבְיָד חֲזָקָה, uvÿyad khazaqah) could refer (1) to God’s powerful intervention (“compelled by my strong hand”) or (2) to Pharaoh’s forceful pursuit (“he will forcefully drive them out”). In Exod 3:20 God has summarized what his hand would do in Egypt, and that is probably what is intended here, as he promises that Moses will see what God will do. All Egypt ultimately desired that Israel be released (12:33), and when they were released Pharaoh pursued them to the sea, and so in a sense drove them out – whether that was his intention or not. But ultimately it was God’s power that was the real force behind it all. U. Cassuto (Exodus, 74) considers that it is unlikely that the phrase would be used in the same verse twice with the same meaning. So he thinks that the first “strong hand” is God’s, and the second “strong hand” is Pharaoh’s. It is true that if Pharaoh acted forcefully in any way that contributed to Israel leaving Egypt it was because God was acting forcefully in his life. So in an understated way, God is saying that when forced by God’s strong hand, Pharaoh will indeed release God’s people.”
9 tn Or “and he will forcefully drive them out of his land,” if the second occurrence of “strong hand” refers to Pharaoh’s rather than God’s (see the previous note).
sn In Exod 12:33 the Egyptians were eager to send (release) Israel away in haste, because they all thought they were going to die.
10 sn The last plague is the most severe; it is that for which all the others were preliminary warnings. Up to this point Yahweh had been showing his power to destroy Pharaoh, and now he would begin to do so by bringing death to the Egyptians, a death that would fulfill the warning of talionic judgment – “let my son go, or I will kill your son.” The passage records the announcement of the judgment first to Moses and then through Moses to Pharaoh. The first two verses record the word of God to Moses. This is followed by a parenthetical note about how God had elevated Moses and Israel in the eyes of Egypt (v. 3). Then there is the announcement to Pharaoh (vv. 4-8). This is followed by a parenthetical note on how God had hardened Pharaoh so that Yahweh would be elevated over him. It is somewhat problematic here that Moses is told not to see Pharaoh’s face again. On the one hand, given the nature of Pharaoh to blow hot and cold and to change his mind, it is not impossible for another meeting to have occurred. But Moses said he would not do it (v. 29). One solution some take is to say that the warning in 10:28 originally stood after chapter 11. A change like that is unwarranted, and without support. It may be that vv. 1-3 are parenthetical, so that the announcement in v. 4 follows closely after 10:29 in the chronology. The instruction to Moses in 11:1 might then have been given before he left Pharaoh or even before the interview in 10:24-29 took place. Another possibility, supported by usage in Akkadian, is that the expression “see my face” (and in v. 29 “see your face”) has to do with seeking to have an official royal audience (W. H. C. Propp, Exodus 1–18 [AB], 342). Pharaoh thinks that he is finished with Moses, but as 11:8 describes, Moses expects that in fact Moses will soon be the one in a position like that of royalty granting an audience to Egyptians.
11 tn The expression כְּשַּׂלְּחוֹ כָּלָה (kÿsallÿkho kalah) is difficult. It seems to say, “as/when he releases [you] altogether.” The LXX has “and when he sends you forth with everything.” Tg. Onq. and modern translators make kala adverbial, “completely” or “altogether.” B. S. Childs follows an emendation to read, “as one sends away a bride” (Exodus [OTL], 130). W. C. Kaiser prefers the view of Yaron that would render it “in the manner of one’s sending away a kallah [a slave purchased to be one’s daughter-in-law]” (“Exodus,” EBC 2:370). The last two readings call for revising the vocalization and introducing a rare word into the narrative. The simplest approach is to follow a meaning “when he releases [you] altogether,” i.e., with all your people and your livestock.
12 tn The words are emphatic: גָּרֵשׁ יְגָרֵשׁ (garesh yÿgaresh). The Piel verb means “to drive out, expel.” With the infinitive absolute it says that Pharaoh “will drive you out vigorously.” He will be glad to be rid of you – it will be a total expulsion.