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Exodus 32:1-35

Context
The Sin of the Golden Calf

32:1 1 When the people saw that Moses delayed 2  in coming down 3  from the mountain, they 4  gathered around Aaron and said to him, “Get up, 5  make us gods 6  that will go before us. As for this fellow Moses, 7  the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what 8  has become of him!”

32:2 So Aaron said to them, “Break off the gold earrings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 9  32:3 So all 10  the people broke off the gold earrings that were on their ears and brought them to Aaron. 32:4 He accepted the gold 11  from them, 12  fashioned 13  it with an engraving tool, and made a molten calf. 14  Then they said, “These are your gods, 15  O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

32:5 When 16  Aaron saw this, 17  he built an altar before it, 18  and Aaron made a proclamation 19  and said, “Tomorrow will be a feast 20  to the Lord.” 32:6 So they got up early on the next day and offered up burnt offerings and brought peace offerings, and the people sat down to eat and drink, 21  and they rose up to play. 22 

32:7 The Lord spoke to Moses: “Go quickly, descend, 23  because your 24  people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have acted corruptly. 32:8 They have quickly turned aside 25  from the way that I commanded them – they have made for themselves a molten calf and have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt.’”

32:9 Then the Lord said to Moses: “I have seen this people. 26  Look 27  what a stiff-necked people they are! 28  32:10 So now, leave me alone 29  so that my anger can burn against them and I can destroy them, and I will make from you a great nation.”

32:11 But Moses sought the favor 30  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 31  should the Egyptians say, 32  ‘For evil 33  he led them out to kill them in the mountains and to destroy 34  them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger, and relent 35  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 36  like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken about 37  I will give to your descendants, 38  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.

32:15 Moses turned and went down from the mountain with 39  the two tablets of the testimony in his hands. The tablets were written on both sides – they were written on the front and on the back. 32:16 Now the tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets. 32:17 When Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, 40  he said to Moses, “It is the sound of war in the camp!” 32:18 Moses 41  said, “It is not the sound of those who shout for victory, 42  nor is it the sound of those who cry because they are overcome, 43  but the sound of singing 44  I hear.” 45 

32:19 When he approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses became extremely angry. 46  He threw the tablets from his hands and broke them to pieces at the bottom of the mountain. 47  32:20 He took the calf they had made and burned it in the fire, ground it 48  to powder, poured it out on the water, and made the Israelites drink it. 49 

32:21 Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you, that you have brought on them so great a sin?” 32:22 Aaron said, “Do not let your anger burn hot, my lord; 50  you know these people, that they tend to evil. 51  32:23 They said to me, ‘Make us gods that will go before us, for as for this fellow Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him.’ 32:24 So I said to them, ‘Whoever has gold, break it off.’ So they gave it 52  to me, and I threw it into the fire, and this calf came out.” 53 

32:25 Moses saw that the people were running wild, 54  for Aaron had let them get completely out of control, causing derision from their enemies. 55  32:26 So Moses stood at the entrance of the camp and said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come 56  to me.” 57  All the Levites gathered around him, 32:27 and he said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Each man fasten 58  his sword on his side, and go back and forth 59  from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and each one kill his brother, his friend, and his neighbor.’” 60 

32:28 The Levites did what Moses ordered, 61  and that day about three thousand men of the people died. 62  32:29 Moses said, “You have been consecrated 63  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.” 64 

32:30 The next day Moses said to the people, 65  “You have committed a very serious sin, 66  but now I will go up to the Lord – perhaps I can make atonement 67  on behalf of your sin.”

32:31 So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Alas, this people has committed a very serious sin, 68  and they have made for themselves gods of gold. 32:32 But now, if you will forgive their sin…, 69  but if not, wipe me out 70  from your book that you have written.” 71  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, 72  my angel will go before you. But on the day that I punish, I will indeed punish them for their sin.” 73 

32:35 And the Lord sent a plague on the people because they had made the calf 74  – the one Aaron made. 75 

Exodus 17:1--18:27

Context
Water at Massa and Meribah

17:1 76 The whole community 77  of the Israelites traveled on their journey 78  from the Desert of Sin according to the Lord’s instruction, and they pitched camp in Rephidim. 79  Now 80  there was no water for the people to drink. 81  17:2 So the people contended 82  with Moses, and they said, “Give us water to drink!” 83  Moses said to them, “Why do you contend 84  with me? Why do you test 85  the Lord?” 17:3 But the people were very thirsty 86  there for water, and they murmured against Moses and said, “Why in the world 87  did you bring us up out of Egypt – to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?” 88 

17:4 Then Moses cried out to the Lord, “What will I do with 89  this people? – a little more 90  and they will stone me!” 91  17:5 The Lord said to Moses, “Go over before the people; 92  take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile and go. 17:6 I will be standing 93  before you there on 94  the rock in Horeb, and you will strike 95  the rock, and water will come out of it so that the people may drink.” 96  And Moses did so in plain view 97  of the elders of Israel.

17:7 He called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the contending of the Israelites and because of their testing the Lord, 98  saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

Victory over the Amalekites

17:8 99 Amalek came 100  and attacked 101  Israel in Rephidim. 17:9 So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our 102  men and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.”

17:10 So Joshua fought against Amalek just as Moses had instructed him; 103 and Moses and Aaron and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 17:11 Whenever Moses would raise his hands, 104  then Israel prevailed, but whenever he would rest 105  his hands, then Amalek prevailed. 17:12 When 106  the hands of Moses became heavy, 107  they took a stone and put it under him, and Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side and one on the other, 108  and so his hands were steady 109  until the sun went down. 17:13 So Joshua destroyed 110  Amalek and his army 111  with the sword. 112 

17:14 The Lord said to Moses, “Write this as a memorial in the 113  book, and rehearse 114  it in Joshua’s hearing; 115  for I will surely wipe out 116  the remembrance 117  of Amalek from under heaven. 17:15 Moses built an altar, and he called it “The Lord is my Banner,” 118  17:16 for he said, “For a hand was lifted up to the throne of the Lord 119  – that the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.” 120 

The Advice of Jethro

18:1 121 Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard about all that God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, that 122  the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt. 123 

18:2 Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, took Moses’ wife Zipporah after he had sent her back, 18:3 and her two sons, one of whom was named Gershom (for Moses 124  had said, “I have been a foreigner in a foreign land”), 18:4 and the other Eliezer (for Moses had said, 125  “The God of my father has been my help 126  and delivered 127  me from the sword of Pharaoh”).

18:5 Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, together with Moses’ 128  sons and his wife, came to Moses in the desert where he was camping by 129  the mountain of God. 130  18:6 He said 131  to Moses, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you, along with your wife and her two sons with her.” 18:7 Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him; 132  they each asked about the other’s welfare, and then they went into the tent. 18:8 Moses told his father-in-law all that the Lord had done to Pharaoh and to Egypt for Israel’s sake, and all the hardship 133  that had come on them 134  along the way, and how 135  the Lord had delivered them.

18:9 Jethro rejoiced 136  because of all the good that the Lord had done for Israel, whom he had delivered from the hand of Egypt. 18:10 Jethro said, “Blessed 137  be the Lord who has delivered you from the hand of Egypt, and from the hand of Pharaoh, who has delivered the people from the Egyptians’ control! 138  18:11 Now I know that the Lord is greater than all the gods, for in the thing in which they dealt proudly against them he has destroyed them.” 139  18:12 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought 140  a burnt offering and sacrifices for God, 141  and Aaron and all the elders of Israel came to eat food 142  with the father-in-law of Moses before God.

18:13 On the next day 143  Moses sat to judge 144  the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning until evening. 18:14 When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this 145  that you are doing for the people? 146  Why are you sitting by yourself, and all the people stand around you from morning until evening?”

18:15 Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire 147  of God. 18:16 When they have a dispute, 148  it comes to me and I decide 149  between a man and his neighbor, and I make known the decrees of God and his laws.” 150 

18:17 Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What 151  you are doing is not good! 18:18 You will surely wear out, 152  both you and these people who are with you, for this is too 153  heavy a burden 154  for you; you are not able to do it by yourself. 18:19 Now listen to me, 155  I will give you advice, and may God be with you: You be a representative for the people to God, 156  and you bring 157  their disputes 158  to God; 18:20 warn 159  them of the statutes and the laws, and make known to them the way in which they must walk 160  and the work they must do. 161  18:21 But you choose 162  from the people capable men, 163  God-fearing, 164  men of truth, 165  those who hate bribes, 166  and put them over the people 167  as rulers 168  of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. 18:22 They will judge 169  the people under normal circumstances, 170  and every difficult case 171  they will bring to you, but every small case 172  they themselves will judge, so that 173  you may make it easier for yourself, 174  and they will bear the burden 175  with you. 18:23 If you do this thing, and God so commands you, 176  then you will be able 177  to endure, 178  and all these people 179  will be able to go 180  home 181  satisfied.” 182 

18:24 Moses listened to 183  his father-in-law and did everything he had said. 18:25 Moses chose capable men from all Israel, and he made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. 18:26 They judged the people under normal circumstances; the difficult cases they would bring 184  to Moses, but every small case they would judge themselves.

18:27 Then Moses sent his father-in-law on his way, 185  and so Jethro 186  went 187  to his own land. 188 

1 sn This narrative is an unhappy interlude in the flow of the argument of the book. After the giving of the Law and the instructions for the tabernacle, the people get into idolatry. So this section tells what the people were doing when Moses was on the mountain. Here is an instant violation of the covenant that they had just agreed to uphold. But through it all Moses shines as the great intercessor for the people. So the subject matter is the sin of idolatry, its effects and its remedy. Because of the similarities to Jeroboam’s setting up the calves in Dan and Bethel, modern critics have often said this passage was written at that time. U. Cassuto shows how the language of this chapter would not fit an Iron Age setting in Dan. Rather, he argues, this story was well enough known for Jeroboam to imitate the practice (Exodus, 407-10). This chapter can be divided into four parts for an easier exposition: idolatry (32:1-6), intercession (32:7-14), judgment (32:15-29), intercession again (32:30-33:6). Of course, these sections are far more complex than this, but this gives an overview. Four summary statements for expository points might be: I. Impatience often leads to foolish violations of the faith, II. Violations of the covenant require intercession to escape condemnation, III. Those spared of divine wrath must purge evil from their midst, and IV. Those who purge evil from their midst will find reinstatement through intercession. Several important studies are available for this. See, among others, D. R. Davis, “Rebellion, Presence, and Covenant: A Study in Exodus 32-34,” WTJ 44 (1982): 71-87; M. Greenberg, “Moses’ Intercessory Prayer,” Ecumenical Institute for Advanced Theological Studies (1978): 21-35; R. A. Hamer, “The New Covenant of Moses,” Judaism 27 (1978): 345-50; R. L. Honeycutt, Jr., “Aaron, the Priesthood, and the Golden Calf,” RevExp 74 (1977): 523-35; J. N. Oswalt, “The Golden Calves and the Egyptian Concept of Deity,” EvQ 45 (1973): 13-20.

2 tn The meaning of this verb is properly “caused shame,” meaning cause disappointment because he was not coming back (see also Judg 5:28 for the delay of Sisera’s chariots [S. R. Driver, Exodus, 349]).

3 tn The infinitive construct with the lamed (ל) preposition is used here epexegetically, explaining the delay of Moses.

4 tn Heb “the people.”

5 tn The imperative means “arise.” It could be serving here as an interjection, getting Aaron’s attention. But it might also have the force of prompting him to get busy.

6 tn The plural translation is required here (although the form itself could be singular in meaning) because the verb that follows in the relative clause is a plural verb – that they go before us).

7 tn The text has “this Moses.” But this instance may find the demonstrative used in an earlier deictic sense, especially since there is no article with it.

8 tn The interrogative is used in an indirect question (see GKC 443-44 §137.c).

9 sn B. Jacob (Exodus, 937-38) argues that Aaron simply did not have the resolution that Moses did, and wanting to keep peace he gave in to the crowd. He also tries to explain that Aaron was wanting to show their folly through the deed. U. Cassuto also says that Aaron’s request for the gold was a form of procrastination, but that the people quickly did it and so he had no alternative but to go through with it (Exodus, 412). These may be right, since Aaron fully understood what was wrong with this, and what the program was all about. The text gives no strong indication to support these ideas, but there are enough hints from the way Aaron does things to warrant such a conclusion.

10 tn This “all” is a natural hyperbole in the narrative, for it means the large majority of the people.

11 tn Here “the gold” has been supplied.

12 tn Heb “from their hand.”

13 tn The verb looks similar to יָצַר (yatsar), “to form, fashion” by a plan or a design. That is the verb used in Gen 2:7 for Yahweh God forming the man from the dust of the ground. If it is here, it is the reverse, a human – the dust of the ground – trying to form a god or gods. The active participle of this verb in Hebrew is “the potter.” A related noun is the word יֵצֶּר (yetser), “evil inclination,” the wicked designs or intent of the human heart (Gen 6:5). But see the discussion by B. S. Childs (Exodus [OTL], 555-56) on a different reading, one that links the root to a hollow verb meaning “to cast out of metal” (as in 1 Kgs 7:15).

14 sn The word means a “young bull” and need not be translated as “calf” (although “calf” has become the traditional rendering in English). The word could describe an animal three years old. Aaron probably made an inner structure of wood and then, after melting down the gold, plated it. The verb “molten” does not need to imply that the image was solid gold; the word is used in Isa 30:22 for gold plating. So it was a young bull calf that was overlaid with gold, and the gold was fashioned with the stylus.

15 tn The word could be singular here and earlier; here it would then be “this is your god, O Israel.” However, the use of “these” indicates more than one god was meant by the image. But their statement and their statue, although they do not use the holy name, violate the first two commandments.

16 tn The preterite with the vav (ו) consecutive is subordinated as a temporal clause to the next preterite.

17 tn The word “this” has been supplied.

18 tn “Before it” means before the deity in the form of the calf. Aaron tried to redirect their worship to Yahweh, but the people had already broken down the barrier and were beyond control (U. Cassuto, Exodus, 413).

19 tn Heb “called.”

20 sn The word is חַג (khag), the pilgrim’s festival. This was the word used by Moses for their pilgrimage into the wilderness. Aaron seems here to be trying to do what Moses had intended they do, make a feast to Yahweh at Sinai, but his efforts will not compete with the idol. As B. Jacob says, Aaron saw all this happening and tried to rescue the true belief (Exodus, 941).

21 tn The second infinitive is an infinitive absolute. The first is an infinitive construct with a lamed (ל) preposition, expressing the purpose of their sitting down. The infinitive absolute that follows cannot take the preposition, but with the conjunction follows the force of the form before it (see GKC 340 §113.e).

22 tn The form is לְצַחֵק (lÿtsakheq), a Piel infinitive construct, giving the purpose of their rising up after the festal meal. On the surface it would seem that with the festival there would be singing and dancing, so that the people were celebrating even though they did not know the reason. W. C. Kaiser says the word means “drunken immoral orgies and sexual play” (“Exodus,” EBC 2:478). That is quite an assumption for this word, but is reflected in some recent English versions (e.g., NCV “got up and sinned sexually”; TEV “an orgy of drinking and sex”). The word means “to play, trifle.” It can have other meanings, depending on its contexts. It is used of Lot when he warned his sons-in-law and appeared as one who “mocked” them; it is also used of Ishmael “playing” with Isaac, which Paul interprets as mocking; it is used of Isaac “playing” with his wife in a manner that revealed to Abimelech that they were not brother and sister, and it is used by Potiphar’s wife to say that her husband brought this slave Joseph in to “mock” them. The most that can be gathered from these is that it is playful teasing, serious mocking, or playful caresses. It might fit with wild orgies, but there is no indication of that in this passage, and the word does not mean it. The fact that they were festive and playing before an idol was sufficient.

23 tn The two imperatives could also express one idea: “get down there.” In other words, “Make haste to get down.”

24 sn By giving the people to Moses in this way, God is saying that they have no longer any right to claim him as their God, since they have shared his honor with another. This is God’s talionic response to their “These are your gods who brought you up.” The use of these pronoun changes also would form an appeal to Moses to respond, since Moses knew that God had brought them up from Egypt.

25 tn The verb is a perfect tense, reflecting the present perfect nuance: “they have turned aside” and are still disobedient. But the verb is modified with the adverb “quickly” (actually a Piel infinitive absolute). It has been only a matter of weeks since they heard the voice of God prohibiting this.

26 sn This is a bold anthropomorphism; it is as if God has now had a chance to get to know these people and has discovered how rebellious they are. The point of the figure is that there has been discernible evidence of their nature.

27 tn Heb “and behold” or “and look.” The expression directs attention in order to persuade the hearer.

28 sn B. Jacob says the image is that of the people walking before God, and when he called to them the directions, they would not bend their neck to listen; they were resolute in doing what they intended to do (Exodus, 943). The figure describes them as refusing to submit, but resisting in pride.

29 tn The imperative, from the word “to rest” (נוּחַ, nuakh), has the sense of “leave me alone, let me be.” It is a directive for Moses not to intercede for the people. B. S. Childs (Exodus [OTL], 567) reflects the Jewish interpretation that there is a profound paradox in God’s words. He vows the severest punishment but then suddenly conditions it on Moses’ agreement. “Let me alone that I may consume them” is the statement, but the effect is that he has left the door open for intercession. He allows himself to be persuaded – that is what a mediator is for. God could have slammed the door (as when Moses wanted to go into the promised land). Moreover, by alluding to the promise to Abraham God gave Moses the strongest reason to intercede.

30 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.

31 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).

32 tn Heb “speak, saying.” This is redundant in English and has been simplified in the translation.

33 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.

34 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.

35 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.

36 tn Heb “your seed.”

37 tn “about” has been supplied.

38 tn Heb “seed.”

39 tn The disjunctive vav (ו) serves here as a circumstantial clause indicator.

40 sn See F. C. Fensham, “New Light from Ugaritica V on Ex, 32:17 (br’h),” JNSL 2 (1972): 86-7.

41 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Moses) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

42 tn Heb “the sound of the answering of might,” meaning it is not the sound of shouting in victory (U. Cassuto, Exodus, 418).

43 tn Heb “the sound of the answering of weakness,” meaning the cry of the defeated (U. Cassuto, Exodus, 415).

44 tn Heb “answering in song” (a play on the twofold meaning of the word).

45 sn See A. Newman, “Compositional Analysis and Functional Ambiguity Equivalence: Translating Exodus 32, 17-18,” Babel 21 (1975): 29-35.

46 tn Heb “and the anger of Moses burned hot.”

47 sn See N. M. Waldham, “The Breaking of the Tablets,” Judaism 27 (1978): 442-47.

48 tn Here “it” has been supplied.

49 tn Here “it” has been supplied.

sn Pouring the ashes into the water running from the mountain in the brook (Deut 9:21) and making them drink it was a type of the bitter water test that tested the wife suspected of unfaithfulness. Here the reaction of the people who drank would indicate guilt or not (U. Cassuto, Exodus, 419).

50 sn “My lord” refers to Moses.

51 tn Heb “that on evil it is.”

52 tn Here “it” has been supplied.

53 sn Aaron first tried to blame the people, and then he tried to make it sound like a miracle – was it to sound like one of the plagues where out of the furnace came life? This text does not mention it, but Deut 9:20 tells how angry God was with Aaron. Only intercession saved his life.

54 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.

55 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).

56 tn “come” is not in the text, but has been supplied.

57 tn S. R. Driver suggests that the command was tersely put: “Who is for Yahweh? To me!” (Exodus, 354).

58 tn Heb “put.”

59 tn The two imperatives form a verbal hendiadys: “pass over and return,” meaning, “go back and forth” throughout the camp.

60 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.

61 tn Heb “did according to the word of Moses.”

62 tn Heb “fell.”

63 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.

64 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.”

65 tn Heb “and it was on the morrow and Moses said to the people.”

66 tn The text uses a cognate accusative: “you have sinned a great sin.”

67 tn The form אֲכַפְּרָה (’akhappÿrah) is a Piel cohortative/imperfect. Here with only a possibility of being successful, a potential imperfect nuance works best.

68 tn As before, the cognate accusative is used; it would literally be “this people has sinned a great sin.”

69 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!”

70 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.

71 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).

72 tn Heb “behold, look.” Moses should take this fact into consideration.

73 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.”

74 tn The verse is difficult because of the double reference to the making of the calf. The NJPS’s translation tries to reconcile the two by reading “for what they did with the calf that Aaron had made.” B. S. Childs (Exodus [OTL], 557) explains in some detail why this is not a good translation based on syntactical grounds; he opts for the conclusion that the last three words are a clumsy secondary addition. It seems preferable to take the view that both are true, Aaron is singled out for his obvious lead in the sin, but the people sinned by instigating the whole thing.

75 sn Most commentators have difficulty with this verse. W. C. Kaiser says the strict chronology is not always kept, and so the plague here may very well refer to the killing of the three thousand (“Exodus,” EBC 2:481).

76 sn This is the famous story telling how the people rebelled against Yahweh when they thirsted, saying that Moses had brought them out into the wilderness to kill them by thirst, and how Moses with the staff brought water from the rock. As a result of this the name was called Massa and Meribah because of the testing and the striving. It was a challenge to Moses’ leadership as well as a test of Yahweh’s presence. The narrative in its present form serves an important point in the argument of the book. The story turns on the gracious provision of God who can give his people water when there is none available. The narrative is structured to show how the people strove. Thus, the story intertwines God’s free flowing grace with the sad memory of Israel’s sins. The passage can be divided into three parts: the situation and the complaint (1-3), the cry and the miracle (4-6), and the commemoration by naming (7).

77 tn Or “congregation” (KJV, ASV, NASB, NRSV).

78 tn The text says that they journeyed “according to their journeyings.” Since the verb form (and therefore the derived noun) essentially means to pull up the tent pegs and move along, this verse would be saying that they traveled by stages, or, from place to place.

79 sn The location is a bit of a problem. Exod 19:1-2 suggests that it is near Sinai, whereas it is normally located near Kadesh in the north. Without any details provided, M. Noth concludes that two versions came together (Exodus [OTL], 138). S. R. Driver says that the writer wrote not knowing that they were 24 miles apart (Exodus, 157). Critics have long been bothered by this passage because of the two names given at the same place. If two sources had been brought together, it is not possible now to identify them. But Noth insisted that if there were two names there were two different locations. The names Massah and Meribah occur alone in Scripture (Deut 9:22, and Num 20:1 for examples), but together in Ps 95 and in Deut 33:8. But none of these passages is a clarification of the difficulty. Most critics would argue that Massah was a secondary element that was introduced into this account, because Exod 17 focuses on Meribah. From that starting point they can diverge greatly on the interpretation, usually having something to do with a water test. But although Num 20 is parallel in several ways, there are major differences: 1) it takes place 40 years later than this, 2) the name Kadesh is joined to the name Meribah there, and 3) Moses is punished there. One must conclude that if an event could occur twice in similar ways (complaint about water would be a good candidate for such), then there is no reason a similar name could not be given.

80 tn The disjunctive vav introduces a parenthetical clause that is essential for this passage – there was no water.

81 tn Here the construction uses a genitive after the infinitive construct for the subject: “there was no water for the drinking of the people” (GKC 353-54 §115.c).

82 tn The verb וַיָּרֶב (vayyarev) is from the root רִיב (riv); it forms the basis of the name “Meribah.” The word means “strive, quarrel, be in contention” and even “litigation.” A translation “quarrel” does not appear to capture the magnitude of what is being done here. The people have a legal dispute – they are contending with Moses as if bringing a lawsuit.

83 tn The imperfect tense with the vav (ו) follows the imperative, and so it carries the nuance of the logical sequence, showing purpose or result. This may be expressed in English as “give us water so that we may drink,” but more simply with the English infinitive, “give us water to drink.”

sn One wonders if the people thought that Moses and Aaron had water and were withholding it from the people, or whether Moses was able to get it on demand. The people should have come to Moses to ask him to pray to God for water, but their action led Moses to say that they had challenged God (B. Jacob, Exodus, 476).

84 tn In this case and in the next clause the imperfect tenses are to be taken as progressive imperfects – the action is in progress.

85 tn The verb נָסָה (nasah) means “to test, tempt, try, prove.” It can be used of people simply trying to do something that they are not sure of (such as David trying on Saul’s armor), or of God testing people to see if they will obey (as in testing Abraham, Gen 22:1), or of people challenging others (as in the Queen of Sheba coming to test Solomon), and of the people in the desert in rebellion putting God to the test. By doubting that God was truly in their midst, and demanding that he demonstrate his presence, they tested him to see if he would act. There are times when “proving” God is correct and required, but that is done by faith (as with Gideon); when it is done out of unbelief, then it is an act of disloyalty.

86 tn The verbs and the pronouns in this verse are in the singular because “the people” is singular in form.

87 tn The demonstrative pronoun is used as the enclitic form for special emphasis in the question; it literally says, “why is this you have brought us up?” (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 24, §118).

88 sn Their words deny God the credit for bringing them out of Egypt, impugn the integrity of Moses and God by accusing them of bringing the people out here to die, and show a lack of faith in God’s ability to provide for them.

89 tn The preposition lamed (ל) is here specification, meaning “with respect to” (see R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 49, §273).

90 tn Or “they are almost ready to stone me.”

91 tn The perfect tense with the vav (ו) consecutive almost develops an independent force; this is true in sentences where it follows an expression of time, as here (see GKC 334 §112.x).

92 tn “Pass over before” indicates that Moses is the leader who goes first, and the people follow him. In other words, לִפְנֵי (lifney) indicates time and not place here (B. Jacob, Exodus, 477-78).

93 tn The construction uses הִנְנִי עֹמֵד (hinniomed) to express the futur instans or imminent future of the verb: “I am going to be standing.”

sn The reader has many questions when studying this passage – why water from a rock, why Horeb, why strike the rock when later only speak to it, why recall the Nile miracles, etc. B. Jacob (Exodus, 479-80) says that all these are answered when it is recalled that they were putting God to the test. So water from the rock, the most impossible thing, cleared up the question of his power. Doing it at Horeb was significant because there Moses was called and told he would bring them to this place. Since they had doubted God was in their midst, he would not do this miracle in the camp, but would have Moses lead the elders out to Horeb. If people doubt God is in their midst, then he will choose not to be in their midst. And striking the rock recalled striking the Nile; there it brought death to Egypt, but here it brought life to Israel. There could be little further doubting that God was with them and able to provide for them.

94 tn Or “by” (NIV, NLT).

95 tn The form is a Hiphil perfect with the vav (ו) consecutive; it follows the future nuance of the participle and so is equivalent to an imperfect tense nuance of instruction.

96 tn These two verbs are also perfect tenses with vav (ו) consecutive: “and [water] will go out…and [the people] will drink.” But the second verb is clearly the intent or the result of the water gushing from the rock, and so it may be subordinated.

sn The presence of Yahweh at this rock enabled Paul to develop a midrashic lesson, an analogical application: Christ was present with Israel to provide water for them in the wilderness. So this was a Christophany. But Paul takes it a step further to equate the rock with Christ, for just as it was struck to produce water, so Christ would be struck to produce rivers of living water. The provision of bread to eat and water to drink provided for Paul a ready analogy to the provisions of Christ in the gospel (1 Cor 10:4).

97 tn Heb “in the eyes of.”

98 sn The name Massah (מַסָּה, massah) means “Proving”; it is derived from the verb “test, prove, try.” And the name Meribah (מְרִיבָה, mÿrivah) means “Strife”; it is related to the verb “to strive, quarrel, contend.” The choice of these names for the place would serve to remind Israel for all time of this failure with God. God wanted this and all subsequent generations to know how unbelief challenges God. And yet, he gave them water. So in spite of their failure, he remained faithful to his promises. The incident became proverbial, for it is the warning in Ps 95:7-8, which is quoted in Heb 3:15: “Oh, that today you would listen as he speaks! Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of testing in the wilderness. There your fathers tested me and tried me, and they saw my works for forty years.” The lesson is clear enough: to persist in this kind of unbelief could only result in the loss of divine blessing. Or, to put it another way, if they refused to believe in the power of God, they would wander powerless in the wilderness. They had every reason to believe, but they did not. (Note that this does not mean they are unbelievers, only that they would not take God at his word.)

99 sn This short passage gives the first account of Israel’s holy wars. The war effort and Moses’ holding up his hands go side by side until the victory is won and commemorated. Many have used this as an example of intercessory prayer – but the passage makes no such mention. In Exodus so far the staff of God is the token of the power of God; when Moses used it, God demonstrated his power. To use the staff of God was to say that God did it; to fight without the staff was to face defeat. Using the staff of God was a way of submitting to and depending on the power of God in all areas of life. The first part of the story reports the attack and the preparation for the battle (8,9). The second part describes the battle and its outcome (10-13). The final section is the preservation of this event in the memory of Israel (14-16).

100 tn Heb “and Amalek came”; NIV, NCV, TEV, CEV “the Amalekites.”

101 tn Or “fought with.”

102 tn This could be rendered literally “choose men for us.” But the lamed (ל) preposition probably indicates possession, “our men,” and the fact that Joshua was to choose from Israel, as well as the fact that there is no article on “men,” indicates he was to select some to fight.

103 tn The line in Hebrew reads literally: And Joshua did as Moses had said to him, to fight with Amalek. The infinitive construct is epexegetical, explaining what Joshua did that was in compliance with Moses’ words.

104 tn The two verbs in the temporal clauses are by וְהָיָה כַּאֲשֶׁר (vÿhaya kaasher, as long as or, “and it was that whenever”). This indicates that the two imperfect tenses should be given a frequentative translation, probably a customary imperfect.

105 tn Or “lower.”

106 tn Literally “now the hands of Moses,” the disjunctive vav (ו) introduces a circumstantial clause here – of time.

107 tn The term used here is the adjective כְּבֵדִים (kÿvedim). It means “heavy,” but in this context the idea is more that of being tired. This is the important word that was used in the plague stories: when the heart of Pharaoh was hard, then the Israelites did not gain their freedom or victory. Likewise here, when the staff was lowered because Moses’ hands were “heavy,” Israel started to lose.

108 tn Heb “from this, one, and from this, one.”

109 tn The word “steady” is אֱמוּנָה (’emuna) from the root אָמַן (’aman). The word usually means “faithfulness.” Here is a good illustration of the basic idea of the word – firm, steady, reliable, dependable. There may be a double entendre here; on the one hand it simply says that his hands were stayed so that Israel might win, but on the other hand it is portraying Moses as steady, firm, reliable, faithful. The point is that whatever God commissioned as the means or agency of power – to Moses a staff, to the Christians the Spirit – the people of God had to know that the victory came from God alone.

110 tn The verb means “disabled, weakened, prostrated.” It is used a couple of times in the Bible to describe how man dies and is powerless (see Job 14:10; Isa 14:12).

111 tn Or “people.”

112 tn Heb “mouth of the sword.” It means as the sword devours – without quarter (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 159).

113 tn The presence of the article does not mean that he was to write this in a book that was existing now, but in one dedicated to this purpose (book, meaning scroll). See GKC 408 §126.s.

114 tn The Hebrew word is “place,” meaning that the events were to be impressed on Joshua.

115 tn Heb “in the ears of Joshua.” The account should be read to Joshua.

116 tn The construction uses the infinitive absolute and the imperfect tense to stress the resolution of Yahweh to destroy Amalek. The verb מָחָה (makhah) is often translated “blot out” – but that is not a very satisfactory image, since it would not remove completely what is the object. “Efface, erase, scrape off” (as in a palimpsest, a manuscript that is scraped clean so it can be reused) is a more accurate image.

117 sn This would seem to be defeated by the preceding statement that the events would be written in a book for a memorial. If this war is recorded, then the Amalekites would be remembered. But here God was going to wipe out the memory of them. But the idea of removing the memory of a people is an idiom for destroying them – they will have no posterity and no lasting heritage.

118 sn Heb “Yahweh-nissi” (so NAB), which means “Yahweh is my banner.” Note that when Israel murmured and failed God, the name commemorated the incident or the outcome of their failure. When they were blessed with success, the naming praised God. Here the holding up of the staff of God was preserved in the name for the altar – God gave them the victory.

119 tn The line here is very difficult. The Hebrew text has כִּי־יָד עַל־כֵּס יָהּ (ki yadal kes yah, “for a hand on the throne of Yah”). If the word is “throne” (and it is not usually spelled like this), then it would mean Moses’ hand was extended to the throne of God, showing either intercession or source of power. It could not be turned to mean that the hand of Yah was taking an oath to destroy the Amalekites. The LXX took the same letters, but apparently saw the last four (כסיה) as a verbal form; it reads “with a secret hand.” Most scholars have simply assumed that the text is wrong, and כֵּס should be emended to נֵס (nes) to fit the name, for this is the pattern of naming in the OT with popular etymologies – some motif of the name must be found in the sentiment. This would then read, “My hand on the banner of Yah.” It would be an expression signifying that the banner, the staff of God, should ever be ready at hand when the Israelites fight the Amalekites again.

120 sn The message of this short narrative, then, concerns the power of God to protect his people. The account includes the difficulty, the victory, and the commemoration. The victory must be retained in memory by the commemoration. So the expositional idea could focus on that: The people of God must recognize (both for engaging in warfare and for praise afterward) that victory comes only with the power of God. In the NT the issue is even more urgent, because the warfare is spiritual – believers do not wrestle against flesh and blood. So only God’s power will bring victory.

121 sn This chapter forms the transition to the Law. There has been the deliverance, the testing passages, the provision in the wilderness, and the warfare. Any God who can do all this for his people deserves their allegiance. In chap. 18 the Lawgiver is giving advice, using laws and rulings, but then he is given advice to organize the elders to assist. Thus, when the Law is fully revealed, a system will be in place to administer it. The point of the passage is that a great leader humbly accepts advice from other godly believers to delegate responsibility. He does not try to do it all himself; God does not want one individual to do it all. The chapter has three parts: vv. 1-12 tell how Jethro heard and came and worshiped and blessed; vv. 13-23 have the advice of Jethro, and then vv. 24-27 tell how Moses implemented the plan and Jethro went home. See further E. J. Runions, “Exodus Motifs in 1 Samuel 7 and 8,” EvQ 52 (1980): 130-31; and also see for another idea T. C. Butler, “An Anti-Moses Tradition,” JSOT 12 (1979): 9-15.

122 tn This clause beginning with כִּי (ki) answers the question of what Jethro had heard; it provides a second, explanatory noun clause that is the object of the verb – “he heard (1) all that God had done… (2) that he had brought….” See R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 81, §490.

123 sn This is an important report that Jethro has heard, for the claim of God that he brought Israel out of bondage in Egypt will be the foundation of the covenant stipulations (Exod 20).

124 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Moses) has been specified in the translation for clarity (also in the following verse).

125 tn The referent (Moses) and the verb have been specified in the translation for clarity.

126 tn Now is given the etymological explanation of the name of Moses’ other son, Eliezer (אֱלִיעֶזֶר, ’eliezer), which means “my God is a help.” The sentiment that explains this name is אֱלֹהֵי אָבִי בְּעֶזְרִי (’eloheavi bÿezri, “the God of my father is my help”). The preposition in the sentiment is the bet (ב) essentiae (giving the essence – see GKC 379 §119.i). Not mentioned earlier, the name has become even more appropriate now that God has delivered Moses from Pharaoh again. The word for “help” is a common word in the Bible, first introduced as a description of the woman in the Garden. It means to do for someone what he or she cannot do for himself or herself. Samuel raised the “stone of help” (Ebenezer) when Yahweh helped Israel win the battle (1 Sam 7:12).

127 sn The verb “delivered” is an important motif in this chapter (see its use in vv. 8, 9, and 10 with reference to Pharaoh).

128 tn Heb “his”; the referent (Moses) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

129 tn This is an adverbial accusative that defines the place (see GKC 373-74 §118.g).

130 sn The mountain of God is Horeb, and so the desert here must be the Sinai desert by it. But chap. 19 suggests that they left Rephidim to go the 24 miles to Sinai. It may be that this chapter fits in chronologically after the move to Sinai, but was placed here thematically. W. C. Kaiser defends the present location of the story by responding to other reasons for the change given by Lightfoot, but does not deal with the travel locations (W. C. Kaiser, Jr., “Exodus,” EBC 2:411).

131 sn This verse may seem out of place, since the report has already been given that they came to the desert. It begins to provide details of the event that the previous verse summarizes. The announcement in verse 6 may have come in advance by means of a messenger or at the time of arrival, either of which would fit with the attention to formal greetings in verse 7. This would suit a meeting between two important men; the status of Moses has changed. The LXX solves the problem by taking the pronoun “I” as the particle “behold” and reads it this way: “one said to Moses, ‘Behold, your father-in-law has come….’”

132 sn This is more than polite oriental custom. Jethro was Moses’ benefactor, father-in-law, and a priest. He paid much respect to him. Now he could invite Jethro into his home (see B. Jacob, Exodus, 496).

133 tn A rare word, “weariness” of the hardships.

134 tn Heb “found them.”

135 tn Here “how” has been supplied.

136 tn The word חָדָה (khada) is rare, occurring only in Job 3:6 and Ps 21:6, although it is common in Aramaic. The LXX translated it “he shuddered.” U. Cassuto suggests that that rendering was based on the midrashic interpretation in b. Sanhedrin 94b, “he felt cuts in his body” – a wordplay on the verb (Exodus, 215-16).

137 tn This is a common form of praise. The verb בָּרוּךְ (barukh) is the Qal passive participle of the verb. Here must be supplied a jussive, making this participle the predicate: “May Yahweh be blessed.” The verb essentially means “to enrich”; in praise it would mean that he would be enriched by the praises of the people.

138 tn Heb “from under the hand of the Egyptians.”

139 tn The end of this sentence seems not to have been finished, or it is very elliptical. In the present translation the phrase “he has destroyed them” is supplied. Others take the last prepositional phrase to be the completion and supply only a verb: “[he was] above them.” U. Cassuto (Exodus, 216) takes the word “gods” to be the subject of the verb “act proudly,” giving the sense of “precisely (כִּי, ki) in respect of these things of which the gods of Egypt boasted – He is greater than they (עֲלֵיהֶם, ‘alehem).” He suggests rendering the clause, “excelling them in the very things to which they laid claim.”

140 tn The verb is “and he took” (cf. KJV, ASV, NASB). It must have the sense of getting the animals for the sacrifice. The Syriac, Targum, and Vulgate have “offered.” But Cody argues because of the precise wording in the text Jethro did not offer the sacrifices but received them (A. Cody, “Exodus 18,12: Jethro Accepts a Covenant with the Israelites,” Bib 49 [1968]: 159-61).

141 sn Jethro brought offerings as if he were the one who had been delivered. The “burnt offering” is singular, to honor God first. The other sacrifices were intended for the invited guests to eat (a forerunner of the peace offering). See B. Jacob, Exodus, 498.

142 tn The word לֶחֶם (lekhem) here means the sacrifice and all the foods that were offered with it. The eating before God was part of covenantal ritual, for it signified that they were in communion with the Deity, and with one another.

143 tn Heb “and it was/happened on the morrow.”

144 sn This is a simple summary of the function of Moses on this particular day. He did not necessarily do this every day, but it was time now to do it. The people would come to solve their difficulties or to hear instruction from Moses on decisions to be made. The tradition of “sitting in Moses’ seat” is drawn from this passage.

145 tn Heb “what is this thing.”

146 sn This question, “what are you doing for the people,” is qualified by the next question. Sitting alone all day and the people standing around all day showed that Moses was exhibiting too much care for the people – he could not do this.

147 tn The form is לִדְרֹשׁ (lidrosh), the Qal infinitive construct giving the purpose. To inquire of God would be to seek God’s will on a matter, to obtain a legal decision on a matter, or to settle a dispute. As a judge Moses is speaking for God, but as the servant of Yahweh Moses’ words will be God’s words. The psalms would later describe judges as “gods” because they made the right decisions based on God’s Law.

148 tn Or “thing,” “matter,” “issue.”

149 tn The verb שָׁפַט (shafat) means “to judge”; more specifically, it means to make a decision as an arbiter or umpire. When people brought issues to him, Moses decided between them. In the section of laws in Exodus after the Ten Commandments come the decisions, the מִשְׁפָּטִים (mishppatim).

150 tn The “decrees” or “statutes” were definite rules, stereotyped and permanent; the “laws” were directives or pronouncements given when situations arose. S. R. Driver suggests this is another reason why this event might have taken place after Yahweh had given laws on the mountain (Exodus, 165).

151 tn Heb “the thing.”

152 tn The verb means “to fall and fade” as a leaf (Ps 1:3). In Ps 18:45 it is used figuratively of foes fading away, failing in strength and courage (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 166). Here the infinitive absolute construction heightens the meaning.

153 tn Gesenius lists the specialized use of the comparative min (מ) where with an adjective the thought expressed is that the quality is too difficult for the attainment of a particular aim (GKC 430 §133.c).

154 tn Here “a burden” has been supplied.

155 tn Heb “hear my voice.”

156 tn The line reads “Be you to the people before God.” He is to be their representative before God. This is introducing the aspect of the work that only Moses could do, what he has been doing. He is to be before God for the people, to pray for them, to appeal on their behalf. Jethro is essentially saying, I understand that you cannot delegate this to anyone else, so continue doing it (U. Cassuto, Exodus, 219-20).

157 tn The form is the perfect tense with the vav (ו) consecutive; following the imperative it will be instruction as well. Since the imperative preceding this had the idea of “continue to be” as you are, this too has that force.

158 tn Heb “words”; KJV, ASV “the causes”; NRSV “cases”; NLT “questions.”

159 tn The perfect tense with the vav (ו) continues the sequence of instruction for Moses. He alone was to be the mediator, to guide them in the religious and moral instruction.

160 tn The verb and its following prepositional phrase form a relative clause, modifying “the way.” The imperfect tense should be given the nuance of obligatory imperfect – it is the way they must walk.

161 tn This last part is parallel to the preceding: “work” is also a direct object of the verb “make known,” and the relative clause that qualifies it also uses an obligatory imperfect.

162 tn The construction uses the independent pronoun for emphasis, and then the imperfect tense “see” (חָזָה, khazah) – “and you will see from all….” Both in Hebrew and Ugaritic expressions of “seeing” are used in the sense of choosing (Gen 41:33). See U. Cassuto, Exodus, 220.

163 tn The expression is אַנְשֵׁי־חַיִל (’anshe khayil, “capable men”). The attributive genitive is the word used in expressions like “mighty man of valor.” The word describes these men as respected, influential, powerful people, those looked up to by the community as leaders, and those who will have the needs of the community in mind.

164 tn The description “fearers of God” uses an objective genitive. It describes them as devout, worshipful, obedient servants of God.

165 tn The expression “men of truth” (אַנְשֵׁי אֱמֶת, ’ansheemet) indicates that these men must be seekers of truth, who know that the task of a judge is to give true judgment (U. Cassuto, Exodus, 220). The word “truth” includes the ideas of faithfulness or reliability, as well as factuality itself. It could be understood to mean “truthful men,” men whose word is reliable and true.

166 tn Heb “haters of bribes.” Here is another objective genitive, one that refers to unjust gain. To hate unjust gain is to reject and refuse it. Their decisions will not be swayed by greed.

167 tn Heb “over them”; the referent (the people) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

168 sn It is not clear how this structure would work in a judicial setting. The language of “captains of thousands,” etc., is used more for military ranks. There must have been more detailed instruction involved here, for each Israelite would have come under four leaders with this arrangement, and perhaps difficult cases would be sent to the next level. But since the task of these men would also involve instruction and guidance, the breakdown would be very useful. Deut 1:9, 13 suggest that the choice of these people was not simply Moses’ alone.

169 tn The form is the perfect tense with the vav (ו) consecutive, making it equivalent to the imperfect of instruction in the preceding verse.

170 tn Heb “in every time,” meaning “in all normal cases” or “under normal circumstances.” The same phrase occurs in v. 26.

171 tn Heb “great thing.”

172 tn Heb “thing.”

173 tn The vav here shows the result or the purpose of the instructions given.

174 tn The expression וְהָקֵל מֵעָלֶיךָ (vÿhaqel mealeykha) means literally “and make it light off yourself.” The word plays against the word for “heavy” used earlier – since it was a heavy or burdensome task, Moses must lighten the load.

175 tn Here “the burden” has been supplied.

176 tn The form is a Piel perfect with vav (ו) consecutive; it carries the same nuance as the preceding imperfect in the conditional clause.

177 tn The perfect tense with vav (ו) consecutive now appears in the apodosis of the conditional sentence – “if you do this…then you will be able.”

178 tn Heb “to stand.” B. Jacob (Exodus, 501) suggests that there might be a humorous side to this: “you could even do this standing up.”

179 tn Literally “this people.”

180 tn The verb is the simple imperfect, “will go,” but given the sense of the passage a potential nuance seems in order.

181 tn Heb “his place.”

182 tn Heb “in peace.”

sn See further T. D. Weinshall, “The Organizational Structure Proposed by Jethro to Moses (Ex. 18:17),” Public Administration in Israel and Abroad 12 (1972): 9-13; and H. Reviv, “The Traditions Concerning the Inception of the Legal System in Israel: Significance and Dating,” ZAW 94 (1982): 566-75.

183 tn The idiom “listen to the voice of” means “obey, comply with, heed.”

184 tn This verb and the verb in the next clause are imperfect tenses. In the past tense narrative of the verse they must be customary, describing continuous action in past time.

185 tn The verb וַיְשַׁלַּח (vayshallakh) has the same root and same stem used in the passages calling for Pharaoh to “release” Israel. Here, in a peaceful and righteous relationship, Moses sent Jethro to his home.

186 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Jethro) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

187 tn The prepositional phrase included here Gesenius classifies as a pleonastic dativus ethicus to give special emphasis to the significance of the occurrence in question for a particular subject (GKC 381 §119.s).

188 sn This chapter makes an excellent message on spiritual leadership of the people of God. Spiritually responsible people are to be selected to help in the work of the ministry (teaching, deciding cases, meeting needs), so that there will be peace, and so that leaders will not be exhausted. Probably capable people are more ready to do that than leaders are ready to relinquish control. But leaders have to be willing to take the risk, to entrust the task to others. Here Moses is the model of humility, receiving correction and counsel from Jethro. And Jethro is the ideal adviser, for he has no intention of remaining there to run the operation.



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