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Exodus 34:15-16

Context
34:15 Be careful 1  not to make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, for when 2  they prostitute themselves 3  to their gods and sacrifice to their gods, and someone invites you, 4  you will eat from his sacrifice; 34:16 and you then take 5  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 sentence begins simply “lest you make a covenant”; it is undoubtedly a continuation of the imperative introduced earlier, and so that is supplied here.

2 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.

3 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.

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

5 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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