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Exodus 10:7-10

Context

10:7 Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long 1  will this man be a menace 2  to us? Release the people so that they may serve the Lord their God. Do you not know 3  that Egypt is destroyed?”

10:8 So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh, and he said to them, “Go, serve the Lord your God. Exactly who is going with you?” 4  10:9 Moses said, “We will go with our young and our old, with our sons and our daughters, and with our sheep and our cattle we will go, because we are to hold 5  a pilgrim feast for the Lord.”

10:10 He said to them, “The Lord will need to be with you 6  if I release you and your dependents! 7  Watch out! 8  Trouble is right in front of you! 9 

1 sn The question of Pharaoh’s servants echoes the question of Moses – “How long?” Now the servants of Pharaoh are demanding what Moses demanded – “Release the people.” They know that the land is destroyed, and they speak of it as Moses’ doing. That way they avoid acknowledging Yahweh or blaming Pharaoh.

2 tn Heb “snare” (מוֹקֵשׁ, moqesh), a word used for a trap for catching birds. Here it is a figure for the cause of Egypt’s destruction.

3 tn With the adverb טֶרֶם (terem), the imperfect tense receives a present sense: “Do you not know?” (See GKC 481 §152.r).

4 tn The question is literally “who and who are the ones going?” (מִי וָמִי הַהֹלְכִים, mi vami haholÿkhim). Pharaoh’s answer to Moses includes this rude question, which was intended to say that Pharaoh would control who went. The participle in this clause, then, refers to the future journey.

5 tn Heb “we have a pilgrim feast (חַג, khag) to Yahweh.”

6 sn Pharaoh is by no means offering a blessing on them in the name of Yahweh. The meaning of his “wish” is connected to the next clause – as he is releasing them, may God help them. S. R. Driver says that in Pharaoh’s scornful challenge Yahweh is as likely to protect them as Pharaoh is likely to let them go – not at all (Exodus, 80). He is planning to keep the women and children as hostages to force the men to return. U. Cassuto (Exodus, 125) paraphrases it this way: “May the help of your God be as far from you as I am from giving you permission to go forth with your little ones.” The real irony, Cassuto observes, is that in the final analysis he will let them go, and Yahweh will be with them.

7 tn The context of Moses’ list of young and old, sons and daughters, and the contrast with the word for strong “men” in v. 11 indicates that טַפְּכֶם (tappÿkhem), often translated “little ones” or “children,” refers to dependent people, noncombatants in general.

8 tn Heb “see.”

9 tn Heb “before your face.”

sn The “trouble” or “evil” that is before them could refer to the evil that they are devising – the attempt to escape from Egypt. But that does not make much sense in the sentence – why would he tell them to take heed or look out about that? U. Cassuto (Exodus, 126) makes a better suggestion. He argues that Pharaoh is saying, “Don’t push me too far.” The evil, then, would be what Pharaoh was going to do if these men kept making demands on him. This fits the fact that he had them driven out of his court immediately. There could also be here an allusion to Pharaoh’s god Re’, the sun-deity and head of the pantheon; he would be saying that the power of his god would confront them.



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