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Exodus 32:30-32

Context

32:30 The next day Moses said to the people, 1  “You have committed a very serious sin, 2  but now I will go up to the Lord – perhaps I can make atonement 3  on behalf of your sin.”

32:31 So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Alas, this people has committed a very serious sin, 4  and they have made for themselves gods of gold. 32:32 But now, if you will forgive their sin…, 5  but if not, wipe me out 6  from your book that you have written.” 7 

1 tn Heb “and it was on the morrow and Moses said to the people.”

2 tn The text uses a cognate accusative: “you have sinned a great sin.”

3 tn The form אֲכַפְּרָה (’akhappÿrah) is a Piel cohortative/imperfect. Here with only a possibility of being successful, a potential imperfect nuance works best.

4 tn As before, the cognate accusative is used; it would literally be “this people has sinned a great sin.”

5 tn The apodosis is not expressed; it would be understood as “good.” It is not stated because of the intensity of the expression (the figure is aposiopesis, a sudden silence). It is also possible to take this first clause as a desire and not a conditional clause, rendering it “Oh that you would forgive!”

6 tn The word “wipe” is a figure of speech indicating “remove me” (meaning he wants to die). The translation “blot” is traditional, but not very satisfactory, since it does not convey complete removal.

7 sn The book that is referred to here should not be interpreted as the NT “book of life” which is portrayed (figuratively) as a register of all the names of the saints who are redeemed and will inherit eternal life. Here it refers to the names of those who are living and serving in this life, whose names, it was imagined, were on the roster in the heavenly courts as belonging to the chosen. Moses would rather die than live if these people are not forgiven (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 356).



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