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Exodus 14:19-20

Context

14:19 The angel of God, who was going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them, and the pillar 1  of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them. 14:20 It came between the Egyptian camp and the Israelite camp; it was a dark cloud 2  and it lit up the night so that one camp did not come near the other 3  the whole night. 4 

1 sn B. Jacob (Exodus, 400-401) makes a good case that there may have been only one pillar, one cloud; it would have been a dark cloud behind it, but in front of it, shining the way, a pillar of fire. He compares the manifestation on Sinai, when the mountain was on fire but veiled by a dark cloud (Deut 4:11; 5:22). See also Exod 13:21; Num 14:14; Deut 1:33; Neh 9:12, 19; Josh 24:7; Pss 78:14; 105:39.

2 tn The two nouns “cloud” and “darkness” form a nominal hendiadys: “and it was the cloud and the darkness” means “and it was the dark cloud.” Perhaps this is what the Egyptians saw, preventing them from observing Moses and the Israelites.

3 tn Heb “this to this”; for the use of the pronouns in this reciprocal sense of “the one to the other,” see GKC 448 §139.e, n. 3.

4 tc The LXX reads very differently at the end of this verse: “and there was darkness and blackness and the night passed.” B. S. Childs (Exodus [OTL], 218) summarizes three proposals: (1) One takes the MT as it stands and explains it along the lines of the Targum and Jewish exegesis, that there was one cloud that was dark to one group and light to the other. (2) Another tries to reconstruct a verb from the noun “darkness” or make some use of the Greek verb. (3) A third seeks a different meaning for the verb “lit,” “gave light” by comparative philology, but no consensus has been reached. Given that there is no easy solution apart from reconstructing the text, and given that the MT can be interpreted as it is, the present translation follows the MT.



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