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Numbers 12:6-8

Context

12:6 The Lord 1  said, “Hear now my words: If there is a prophet among you, 2  I the Lord 3  will make myself known to him in a vision; I will speak with him in a dream. 12:7 My servant 4  Moses is not like this; he is faithful 5  in all my house. 12:8 With him I will speak face to face, 6  openly, 7  and not in riddles; and he will see the form 8  of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?”

1 tn Heb “he.”

2 tn The form of this construction is rare: נְבִיאֲכֶם (nÿviakhem) would normally be rendered “your prophet.” The singular noun is suffixed with a plural pronominal suffix. Some commentators think the MT has condensed “a prophet” with “to you.”

3 tn The Hebrew syntax is difficult here. “The Lord” is separated from the verb by two intervening prepositional phrases. Some scholars conclude that this word belongs with the verb at the beginning of v. 6 (“And the Lord spoke”).

4 sn The title “my servant” or “servant of the Lord” is reserved in the Bible for distinguished personages, people who are truly spiritual leaders, like Moses, David, Hezekiah, and also the Messiah. Here it underscores Moses’ obedience.

5 tn The word “faithful” is נֶאֱמָן (neeman), the Niphal participle of the verb אָמַן (’aman). This basic word has the sense of “support, be firm.” In the Niphal it describes something that is firm, reliable, dependable – what can be counted on. It could actually be translated “trustworthy.”

6 tn The emphasis of the line is clear enough – it begins literally “mouth to mouth” I will speak with him. In human communication this would mean equality of rank, but Moses is certainly not equal in rank with the Lord. And yet God is here stating that Moses has an immediacy and directness with communication with God. It goes beyond the idea of friendship, almost to that of a king’s confidant.

7 tn The word מַרְאֶה (mareh) refers to what is seen, a vision, an appearance. Here it would have the idea of that which is clearly visible, open, obvious.

8 tn The word “form” (תְּמוּנָה, tÿmunah) means “shape, image, form.” The Greek text took it metaphorically and rendered it “the glory of the Lord.” This line expresses even more the uniqueness of Moses. The elders saw God on one special occasion (Exod 24:10), and the people never (Deut 4:12, 15), but Moses has direct and familiar contact with God.



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