32:11 But Moses sought the favor 1 of the Lord his God and said, “O Lord, why does your anger burn against your people, whom you have brought out from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 32:12 Why 2 should the Egyptians say, 3 ‘For evil 4 he led them out to kill them in the mountains and to destroy 5 them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger, and relent 6 of this evil against your people. 32:13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel your servants, to whom you swore by yourself and told them, ‘I will multiply your descendants 7 like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken about 8 I will give to your descendants, 9 and they will inherit it forever.’” 32:14 Then the Lord relented over the evil that he had said he would do to his people.
32:31 So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Alas, this people has committed a very serious sin, 13 and they have made for themselves gods of gold. 32:32 But now, if you will forgive their sin…, 14 but if not, wipe me out 15 from your book that you have written.” 16 32:33 The Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me – that person I will wipe out of my book. 32:34 So now go, lead the people to the place I have spoken to you about. See, 17 my angel will go before you. But on the day that I punish, I will indeed punish them for their sin.” 18
1 tn S. R. Driver (Exodus, 351) draws on Arabic to show that the meaning of this verb (חָלָה, khalah) was properly “make sweet the face” or “stroke the face”; so here “to entreat, seek to conciliate.” In this prayer, Driver adds, Moses urges four motives for mercy: 1) Israel is Yahweh’s people, 2) Israel’s deliverance has demanded great power, 3) the Egyptians would mock if the people now perished, and 4) the oath God made to the fathers.
2 tn The question is rhetorical; it really forms an affirmation that is used here as a reason for the request (see GKC 474 §150.e).
3 tn Heb “speak, saying.” This is redundant in English and has been simplified in the translation.
4 tn The word “evil” means any kind of life-threatening or fatal calamity. “Evil” is that which hinders life, interrupts life, causes pain to life, or destroys it. The Egyptians would conclude that such a God would have no good intent in taking his people to the desert if now he destroyed them.
5 tn The form is a Piel infinitive construct from כָּלָה (kalah, “to complete, finish”) but in this stem, “bring to an end, destroy.” As a purpose infinitive this expresses what the Egyptians would have thought of God’s motive.
6 tn The verb “repent, relent” when used of God is certainly an anthropomorphism. It expresses the deep pain that one would have over a situation. Earlier God repented that he had made humans (Gen 6:6). Here Moses is asking God to repent/relent over the judgment he was about to bring, meaning that he should be moved by such compassion that there would be no judgment like that. J. P. Hyatt observes that the Bible uses so many anthropomorphisms because the Israelites conceived of God as a dynamic and living person in a vital relationship with people, responding to their needs and attitudes and actions (Exodus [NCBC], 307). See H. V. D. Parunak, “A Semantic Survey of NHM,” Bib 56 (1975): 512-32.
7 tn Heb “your seed.”
8 tn “about” has been supplied.
9 tn Heb “seed.”
10 tn Heb “and it was on the morrow and Moses said to the people.”
11 tn The text uses a cognate accusative: “you have sinned a great sin.”
12 tn The form אֲכַפְּרָה (’akhappÿrah) is a Piel cohortative/imperfect. Here with only a possibility of being successful, a potential imperfect nuance works best.
13 tn As before, the cognate accusative is used; it would literally be “this people has sinned a great sin.”
14 tn The apodosis is not expressed; it would be understood as “good.” It is not stated because of the intensity of the expression (the figure is aposiopesis, a sudden silence). It is also possible to take this first clause as a desire and not a conditional clause, rendering it “Oh that you would forgive!”
15 tn The word “wipe” is a figure of speech indicating “remove me” (meaning he wants to die). The translation “blot” is traditional, but not very satisfactory, since it does not convey complete removal.
16 sn The book that is referred to here should not be interpreted as the NT “book of life” which is portrayed (figuratively) as a register of all the names of the saints who are redeemed and will inherit eternal life. Here it refers to the names of those who are living and serving in this life, whose names, it was imagined, were on the roster in the heavenly courts as belonging to the chosen. Moses would rather die than live if these people are not forgiven (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 356).
17 tn Heb “behold, look.” Moses should take this fact into consideration.
18 sn The Law said that God would not clear the guilty. But here the punishment is postponed to some future date when he would revisit this matter. Others have taken the line to mean that whenever a reckoning was considered necessary, then this sin would be included (see B. Jacob, Exodus, 957). The repetition of the verb traditionally rendered “visit” in both clauses puts emphasis on the certainty – so “indeed.”