32:25 Moses saw that the people were running wild, 1 for Aaron had let them get completely out of control, causing derision from their enemies. 2 32:26 So Moses stood at the entrance of the camp and said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come 3 to me.” 4 All the Levites gathered around him, 32:27 and he said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Each man fasten 5 his sword on his side, and go back and forth 6 from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and each one kill his brother, his friend, and his neighbor.’” 7
32:28 The Levites did what Moses ordered, 8 and that day about three thousand men of the people died. 9 32:29 Moses said, “You have been consecrated 10 today for the Lord, for each of you was against his son or against his brother, so he has given a blessing to you today.” 11
1 tn The word is difficult to interpret. There does not seem to be enough evidence to justify the KJV’s translation “naked.” It appears to mean something like “let loose” or “lack restraint” (Prov 29:18). The idea seems to be that the people had broken loose, were undisciplined, and were completely given over to their desires.
2 tn The last two words of the verse read literally “for a whispering among those who rose up against them.” The foes would have mocked and derided them when they heard that they had abandoned the God who had led them out of Egypt (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 354).
3 tn “come” is not in the text, but has been supplied.
4 tn S. R. Driver suggests that the command was tersely put: “Who is for Yahweh? To me!” (Exodus, 354).
5 tn Heb “put.”
6 tn The two imperatives form a verbal hendiadys: “pass over and return,” meaning, “go back and forth” throughout the camp.
7 tn The phrases have “and kill a man his brother, and a man his companion, and a man his neighbor.” The instructions were probably intended to mean that they should kill leaders they knew to be guilty because they had been seen or because they failed the water test – whoever they were.
8 tn Heb “did according to the word of Moses.”
9 tn Heb “fell.”
10 tn Heb “Your hand was filled.” The phrase “fill your hands” is a familiar expression having to do with commissioning and devotion to a task that is earlier used in 28:41; 29:9, 29, 33, 35. This has usually been explained as a Qal imperative. S. R. Driver explains it “Fill your hand today,” meaning, take a sacrifice to God and be installed in the priesthood (Exodus, 355). But it probably is a Piel perfect, meaning “they have filled your hands today,” or, “your hand was filled today.” This was an expression meant to say that they had been faithful to God even though it turned them against family and friends – but God would give them a blessing.
11 tn The text simply has “and to give on you today a blessing.” Gesenius notes that the infinitive construct seems to be attached with a vav (ו; like the infinitive absolute) as the continuation of a previous finite verb. He reads the verb “fill” as an imperative: “fill your hand today…and that to bring a blessing on you, i.e., that you may be blessed” (see GKC 351 §114.p). If the preceding verb is taken as perfect tense, however, then this would also be perfect – “he has blessed you today.”