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Exodus 34:12-16

Context
34:12 Be careful not to make 1  a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it become a snare 2  among you. 34:13 Rather you must destroy their altars, smash their images, and cut down their Asherah poles. 3  34:14 For you must not worship 4  any other god, 5  for the Lord, whose name 6  is Jealous, is a jealous God. 34:15 Be careful 7  not to make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, for when 8  they prostitute themselves 9  to their gods and sacrifice to their gods, and someone invites you, 10  you will eat from his sacrifice; 34:16 and you then take 11  his daughters for your sons, and when his daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will make your sons prostitute themselves to their gods as well.

1 tn The exact expression is “take heed to yourself lest you make.” It is the second use of this verb in the duties, now in the Niphal stem. To take heed to yourself means to watch yourself, be sure not to do something. Here, if they failed to do this, they would end up making entangling treaties.

2 sn A snare would be a trap, an allurement to ruin. See Exod 23:33.

3 tn Or “images of Asherah”; ASV, NASB “their Asherim”; NCV “their Asherah idols.”

sn Asherah was a leading deity of the Canaanite pantheon, wife/sister of El and goddess of fertility. She was commonly worshiped at shrines in or near groves of evergreen trees, or, failing that, at places marked by wooden poles. These were to be burned or cut down (Deut 12:3; 16:21; Judg 6:25, 28, 30; 2 Kgs 18:4).

4 tn Heb “bow down.”

5 sn In Exod 20:3 it was “gods.”

6 sn Here, too, the emphasis on God’s being a jealous God is repeated (see Exod 20:5). The use of “name” here is to stress that this is his nature, his character.

7 tn The sentence begins simply “lest you make a covenant”; it is undoubtedly a continuation of the imperative introduced earlier, and so that is supplied here.

8 tn The verb is a perfect with a vav consecutive. In the literal form of the sentence, this clause tells what might happen if the people made a covenant with the inhabitants of the land: “Take heed…lest you make a covenant…and then they prostitute themselves…and sacrifice…and invite…and you eat.” The sequence lays out an entire scenario.

9 tn The verb זָנָה (zanah) means “to play the prostitute; to commit whoredom; to be a harlot” or something similar. It is used here and elsewhere in the Bible for departing from pure religion and engaging in pagan religion. The use of the word in this figurative sense is fitting, because the relationship between God and his people is pictured as a marriage, and to be unfaithful to it was a sin. This is also why God is described as a “jealous” or “impassioned” God. The figure may not be merely a metaphorical use, but perhaps a metonymy, since there actually was sexual immorality at the Canaanite altars and poles.

10 tn There is no subject for the verb. It could be rendered “and one invites you,” or it could be made a passive.

11 tn In the construction this verb would follow as a possible outcome of the last event, and so remain in the verbal sequence. If the people participate in the festivals of the land, then they will intermarry, and that could lead to further involvement with idolatry.



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