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Exodus 4:17-18

Context
4:17 You will also take in your hand this staff, with which you will do the signs.” 1 

The Return of Moses

4:18 2 So Moses went back 3  to his father-in-law Jethro and said to him, “Let me go, so that I may return 4  to my relatives 5  in Egypt and see 6  if they are still alive.” Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.”

1 sn Mention of the staff makes an appropriate ending to the section, for God’s power (represented by the staff) will work through Moses. The applicable point that this whole section is making could be worded this way: The servants of God who sense their inadequacy must demonstrate the power of God as their sufficiency.

2 sn This last section of the chapter reports Moses’ compliance with the commission. It has four parts: the decision to return (18-20), the instruction (21-23), the confrontation with Yahweh (24-26), and the presentation with Aaron (27-31).

3 tn The two verbs form a verbal hendiadys, the second verb becoming adverbial in the translation: “and he went and he returned” becomes “and he went back.”

4 tn There is a sequence here with the two cohortative forms: אֵלְכָה נָּא וְאָשׁוּבָה (’elÿkhah nnavÿashuva) – “let me go in order that I may return.”

5 tn Heb “brothers.”

6 tn This verb is parallel to the preceding cohortative and so also expresses purpose: “let me go that I may return…and that I may see.”



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