But Moses said, “That would not be the right thing to do, 1 for the sacrifices we make 2 to the Lord our God would be an abomination 3 to the Egyptians. 4 If we make sacrifices that are an abomination to the Egyptians right before their eyes, 5 will they not stone us? 6
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1 tn The clause is a little unusual in its formation. The form נָכוֹן (nakhon) is the Niphal participle from כּוּן (kun), which usually means “firm, fixed, steadfast,” but here it has a rare meaning of “right, fitting, appropriate.” It functions in the sentence as the predicate adjective, because the infinitive לַעֲשּׂוֹת (la’asot) is the subject – “to do so is not right.”
2 tn This translation has been smoothed out to capture the sense. The text literally says, “for the abomination of Egypt we will sacrifice to Yahweh our God.” In other words, the animals that Israel would sacrifice were sacred to Egypt, and sacrificing them would have been abhorrent to the Egyptians.
3 tn An “abomination” is something that is off-limits, something that is tabu. It could be translated “detestable” or “loathsome.”
4 sn U. Cassuto (Exodus, 109) says there are two ways to understand “the abomination of the Egyptians.” One is that the sacrifice of the sacred animals would appear an abominable thing in the eyes of the Egyptians, and the other is that the word “abomination” could be a derogatory term for idols – we sacrifice what is an Egyptian idol. So that is why he says if they did this the Egyptians would stone them.
5 tn Heb “if we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians [or “of Egypt”] before their eyes.”
6 tn The interrogative clause has no particle to indicate it is a question, but it is connected with the conjunction to the preceding clause, and the meaning of these clauses indicate it is a question (GKC 473 §150.a).