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
14:24 In the morning watch 5 the Lord looked down 6 on the Egyptian army 7 through the pillar of fire and cloud, and he threw the Egyptian army 8 into a panic. 9
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.
5 tn The night was divided into three watches of about four hours each, making the morning watch about 2:00-6:00 a.m. The text has this as “the watch of the morning,” the genitive qualifying which of the night watches was meant.
6 tn This particular verb, שָׁקַף (shaqaf) is a bold anthropomorphism: Yahweh looked down. But its usage is always with some demonstration of mercy or wrath. S. R. Driver (Exodus, 120) suggests that the look might be with fiery flashes to startle the Egyptians, throwing them into a panic. Ps 77:17-19 pictures torrents of rain with lightning and thunder.
8 tn Heb “camp.”