3:1 Now Moses 1 was shepherding the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert 2 and came to the mountain of God, to Horeb. 3 3:2 The angel of the Lord 4 appeared 5 to him in 6 a flame of fire from within a bush. 7 He looked 8 – and 9 the bush was ablaze with fire, but it was not being consumed! 10 3:3 So Moses thought, 11 “I will turn aside to see 12 this amazing 13 sight. Why does the bush not burn up?” 14 3:4 When the Lord 15 saw that 16 he had turned aside to look, God called to him from within the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” 17 And Moses 18 said, “Here I am.” 3:5 God 19 said, “Do not approach any closer! 20 Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy 21 ground.” 22 3:6 He added, “I am the God of your father, 23 the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look 24 at God.
3:7 The Lord said, “I have surely seen 25 the affliction of my people who are in Egypt. I have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. 26 3:8 I have come down 27 to deliver them 28 from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up from that land to a land that is both good and spacious, 29 to a land flowing with milk and honey, 30 to the region of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. 31 3:9 And now indeed 32 the cry 33 of the Israelites has come to me, and I have also seen how severely the Egyptians oppress them. 34 3:10 So now go, and I will send you 35 to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”
3:11 Moses said 36 to God, 37 “Who am I, that I should go 38 to Pharaoh, or that I should bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” 3:12 He replied, 39 “Surely I will be with you, 40 and this will be the sign 41 to you that I have sent you: When you bring the people out of Egypt, you and they will serve 42 God on this mountain.”
3:14 God said to Moses, “I am that I am.” 47 And he said, “You must say this 48 to the Israelites, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” 3:15 God also said to Moses, “You must say this to the Israelites, ‘The Lord 49 – the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob – has sent me to you. This is my name 50 forever, and this is my memorial from generation to generation.’ 51
3:16 “Go and bring together 52 the elders of Israel and tell them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, 53 appeared 54 to me – the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – saying, “I have attended carefully 55 to you and to what has been done 56 to you in Egypt, 3:17 and I have promised 57 that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, 58 to a land flowing with milk and honey.”’
3:18 “The elders 59 will listen 60 to you, and then you and the elders of Israel must go to the king of Egypt and tell him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met 61 with us. So now, let us go 62 three days’ journey into the wilderness, so that we may sacrifice 63 to the Lord our God.’ 3:19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go, 64 not even under force. 65 3:20 So I will extend my hand 66 and strike Egypt with all my wonders 67 that I will do among them, and after that he will release you. 68
3:21 “I will grant this people favor with 69 the Egyptians, so that when 70 you depart you will not leave empty-handed. 3:22 Every 71 woman will ask her neighbor and the one who happens to be staying 72 in her house for items of silver and gold 73 and for clothing. You will put these articles on your sons and daughters – thus you will plunder Egypt!” 74
4:1 75 Moses answered again, 76 “And if 77 they do not believe me or pay attention to me, 78 but say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you’?” 4:2 The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff.” 79 4:3 The Lord 80 said, “Throw it to the ground.” So he threw it to the ground, and it became a snake, 81 and Moses ran from it. 4:4 But the Lord said to Moses, “Put out your hand and grab it by the tail” – so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand 82 – 4:5 “that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”
4:6 The Lord also said to him, “Put your hand into your robe.” 83 So he put his hand into his robe, and when he brought it out – there was his hand, 84 leprous like snow! 85 4:7 He said, “Put your hand back into your robe.” So he put his hand back into his robe, and when he brought it out from his robe – there it was, 86 restored 87 like the rest of his skin! 88 4:8 “If 89 they do not believe you or pay attention to 90 the former sign, then they may 91 believe the latter sign. 92 4:9 And if 93 they do not believe even these two signs or listen to you, 94 then take 95 some water from the Nile and pour it out on the dry ground. The water you take out of the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.” 96
4:10 Then Moses said to the Lord, 97 “O 98 my Lord, 99 I am not an eloquent man, 100 neither in the past 101 nor since you have spoken to your servant, for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” 102
4:11 The Lord said to him, “Who gave 103 a mouth to man, or who makes a person mute or deaf or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 104 4:12 So now go, and I will be with your mouth 105 and will teach you 106 what you must say.” 107
4:14 Then the Lord became angry with 111 Moses, and he said, “What about 112 your brother Aaron the Levite? 113 I know that he can speak very well. 114 Moreover, he is coming 115 to meet you, and when he sees you he will be glad in his heart. 116
4:15 “So you are to speak to him and put the words in his mouth. And as for me, I will be with your mouth 117 and with his mouth, 118 and I will teach you both 119 what you must do. 120 4:16 He 121 will speak for you to the people, and it will be as if 122 he 123 were your mouth 124 and as if you were his God. 125 4:17 You will also take in your hand this staff, with which you will do the signs.” 126
4:19 The Lord said to Moses in Midian, “Go back 127 to Egypt, because all the men who were seeking your life are dead.” 128
4:21 The Lord said 129 to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, 130 see that you 131 do before Pharaoh all the wonders I have put under your control. 132 But I will harden 133 his heart 134 and 135 he will not let the people go. 4:22 You must say 136 to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says 137 the Lord, “Israel is my son, my firstborn, 138 4:23 and I said to you, ‘Let my son go that he may serve 139 me,’ but since you have refused to let him go, 140 I will surely kill 141 your son, your firstborn!”’”
5:22 142 Moses returned 143 to the Lord, and said, “Lord, 144 why have you caused trouble for this people? 145 Why did you ever 146 send me? 5:23 From the time I went to speak to Pharaoh in your name, he has caused trouble 147 for this people, and you have certainly not rescued 148 them!” 149
6:1 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh, 150 for compelled by my strong hand 151 he will release them, and by my strong hand he will drive them out of his land.” 152
6:2 God spoke 153 to Moses and said to him, “I am the Lord. 154 6:3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as 155 God Almighty, 156 but by 157 my name ‘the Lord’ 158 I was not known to them. 159 6:4 I also established my covenant with them 160 to give them the land of Canaan, where they were living as resident foreigners. 161 6:5 I 162 have also heard 163 the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, 164 and I have remembered my covenant. 165 6:6 Therefore, tell the Israelites, ‘I am the Lord. I will bring you out 166 from your enslavement to 167 the Egyptians, I will rescue you from the hard labor they impose, 168 and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 6:7 I will take you to myself for a people, and I will be your God. 169 Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from your enslavement to 170 the Egyptians. 6:8 I will bring you to the land I swore to give 171 to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob – and I will give it to you 172 as a possession. I am the Lord!’”
6:9 173 Moses told this 174 to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him 175 because of their discouragement 176 and hard labor. 6:10 Then the Lord said to Moses, 6:11 “Go, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt that he must release 177 the Israelites from his land.” 6:12 But Moses replied to 178 the Lord, “If the Israelites did not listen to me, then 179 how will Pharaoh listen to me, since 180 I speak with difficulty?” 181
1 sn The vav (ו) disjunctive with the name “Moses” introduces a new and important starting point. The
3 sn “Horeb” is another name for Mount Sinai. There is a good deal of foreshadowing in this verse, for later Moses would shepherd the people of Israel and lead them to Mount Sinai to receive the Law. See D. Skinner, “Some Major Themes of Exodus,” Mid-America Theological Journal 1 (1977): 31-42.
4 sn The designation “the angel of the
5 tn The verb וַיֵּרָא (vayyera’) is the Niphal preterite of the verb “to see.” For similar examples of רָאָה (ra’ah) in Niphal where the subject “appears,” that is, allows himself to be seen, or presents himself, see Gen 12:7; 35:9; 46:29; Exod 6:3; and 23:17. B. Jacob notes that God appears in this way only to individuals and never to masses of people; it is his glory that appears to the masses (Exodus, 49).
6 tn Gesenius rightly classifies this as a bet (ב) essentiae (GKC 379 §119.i); it would then indicate that Yahweh appeared to Moses “as a flame.”
7 sn Fire frequently accompanies the revelation of Yahweh in Exodus as he delivers Israel, guides her, and purifies her. The description here is unique, calling attention to the manifestation as a flame of fire from within the bush. Philo was the first to interpret the bush as Israel, suffering under the persecution of Egypt but never consumed. The Bible leaves the interpretation open. However, in this revelation the fire is coming from within the bush, not from outside, and it represents the
8 tn Heb “And he saw.”
9 tn The text again uses the deictic particle with vav, וְהִנֵּה (vÿhinneh), traditionally rendered “and behold.” The particle goes with the intense gaze, the outstretched arm, the raised eyebrow – excitement and intense interest: “look, over there.” It draws the reader into the immediate experience of the subject.
10 tn The construction uses the suffixed negative אֵינֶנּוּ (’enennu) to convey the subject of the passive verb: “It was not” consumed. This was the amazing thing, for nothing would burn faster in the desert than a thornbush on fire.
11 tn Heb “And Moses said.” The implication is that Moses said this to himself.
12 tn The construction uses the cohortative אָסֻרָה־נָּא (’asura-nna’) followed by an imperfect with vav (וְאֶרְאֶה, vÿ’er’eh) to express the purpose or result (logical sequence): “I will turn aside in order that I may see.”
13 tn Heb “great.” The word means something extraordinary here. In using this term Moses revealed his reaction to the strange sight and his anticipation that something special was about to happen. So he turned away from the flock to investigate.
14 tn The verb is an imperfect. Here it has the progressive nuance – the bush is not burning up.
15 tn The preterite with the vav (ו) is subordinated as a temporal clause to the main point of the verse, that God called to him. The language is anthropomorphic, as if God’s actions were based on his observing what Moses did.
16 tn The particle כִּי (ki, “that”) introduces the noun clause that functions as the direct object of the verb “saw” (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 81, §490).
17 sn The repetition of the name in God’s call is emphatic, making the appeal direct and immediate (see also Gen 22:11; 46:2). The use of the personal name shows how specifically God directed the call and that he knew this person. The repetition may have stressed even more that it was indeed he whom the
18 tn Heb “And he said”; the referent (Moses) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
19 tn Heb “And he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
20 sn Even though the
21 sn The word קֹדֶשׁ (qodesh, “holy”) indicates “set apart, distinct, unique.” What made a mountain or other place holy was the fact that God chose that place to reveal himself or to reside among his people. Because God was in this place, the ground was different – it was holy.
22 tn The causal clause includes within it a typical relative clause, which is made up of the relative pronoun, then the independent personal pronoun with the participle, and then the preposition with the resumptive pronoun. It would literally be “which you are standing on it,” but the relative pronoun and the resumptive pronoun are combined and rendered, “on which you are standing.”
23 sn This self-revelation by Yahweh prepares for the revelation of the holy name. While no verb is used here, the pronoun and the predicate nominative are a construction used throughout scripture to convey the “I
24 tn The clause uses the Hiphil infinitive construct with a preposition after the perfect tense: יָרֵא מֵהַבִּיט (yare’ mehabbit, “he was afraid from gazing”) meaning “he was afraid to gaze.” The preposition min (מִן) is used before infinitives after verbs like the one to complete the verb (see BDB 583 s.v. 7b).
25 tn The use of the infinitive absolute with the perfect tense intensifies the statement: I have surely seen – there is no doubt that I have seen and will do something about it.
26 sn Two new words are introduced now to the report of suffering: “affliction” and “pain/suffering.” These add to the dimension of the oppression of God’s people.
27 sn God’s coming down is a frequent anthropomorphism in Genesis and Exodus. It expresses his direct involvement, often in the exercise of judgment.
28 tn The Hiphil infinitive with the suffix is לְהַצִּילוֹ (lÿhatsilo, “to deliver them”). It expresses the purpose of God’s coming down. The verb itself is used for delivering or rescuing in the general sense, and snatching out of danger for the specific.
29 tn Heb “to a land good and large”; NRSV “to a good and broad land.” In the translation the words “that is both” are supplied because in contemporary English “good and” combined with any additional descriptive term can be understood as elative (“good and large” = “very large”; “good and spacious” = “very spacious”; “good and ready” = “very ready”). The point made in the Hebrew text is that the land to which they are going is both good (in terms of quality) and large (in terms of size).
30 tn This vibrant description of the promised land is a familiar one. Gesenius classifies “milk and honey” as epexegetical genitives because they provide more precise description following a verbal adjective in the construct state (GKC 418-19 §128.x). The land is modified by “flowing,” and “flowing” is explained by the genitives “milk and honey.” These two products will be in abundance in the land, and they therefore exemplify what a desirable land it is. The language is hyperbolic, as if the land were streaming with these products.
31 tn Each people group is joined to the preceding by the vav conjunction, “and.” Each also has the definite article, as in other similar lists (3:17; 13:5; 34:11). To repeat the conjunction and article in the translation seems to put more weight on the list in English than is necessary to its function in identifying what land God was giving the Israelites.
32 tn The particle הִנֵּה (hinneh) focuses attention on what is being said as grounds for what follows.
33 tn The word is a technical term for the outcry one might make to a judge. God had seen the oppression and so knew that the complaints were accurate, and so he initiated the proceedings against the oppressors (B. Jacob, Exodus, 59).
34 tn Heb “seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them.” The word for the oppression is now לַחַץ (lakhats), which has the idea of pressure with the oppression – squeezing, pressuring – which led to its later use in the Semitic languages for torture. The repetition in the Hebrew text of the root in the participle form after this noun serves to stress the idea. This emphasis has been represented in the translation by the expression “seen how severely the Egyptians oppress them.”
35 tn The verse has a sequence of volitives. The first form is the imperative לְכָה (lÿkha, “go”). Then comes the cohortative/imperfect form with the vav (ו), “and I will send you” or more likely “that I may send you” (וְאֶשְׁלָחֲךָ, vÿ’eshlakhakha), which is followed by the imperative with the vav, “and bring out” or “that you may bring out” (וְהוֹצֵא, vÿhotse’). The series of actions begins with Moses going. When he goes, it will be the
sn These instructions for Moses are based on the preceding revelation made to him. The deliverance of Israel was to be God’s work – hence, “I will send you.” When God commissioned people, often using the verb “to send,” it indicated that they went with his backing, his power, and his authority. Moses could not have brought Israel out without this. To name this incident a commissioning, then, means that the authority came from God to do the work (compare John 3:2).
36 tn Heb “And Moses said.”
37 sn When he was younger, Moses was confident and impulsive, but now that he is older the greatness of the task makes him unsure. The remainder of this chapter and the next chapter record the four difficulties of Moses and how the
38 tn The imperfect tense אֵלֵךְ (’elekh) carries the modal nuance of obligatory imperfect, i.e., “that I should go.” Moses at this point is overwhelmed with the task of representing God, and with his personal insufficiency, and so in honest humility questions the choice.
39 tn Heb “And he said”; the word “replied” clarifies for English readers that speaker is God.
40 tn The particle כִּי (ki) has the asseverative use here, “surely, indeed,” which is frequently found with oaths (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 73, §449). The imperfect tense אֶהְיֶה (’ehyeh) could be rendered as the future tense, “I will be” or the present tense “I am” with you. The future makes the better sense in this case, since the subject matter is the future mission. But since it is a stative verb, the form will also lend itself nicely to explaining the divine name – he is the One who is eternally present – “I am with you always.”
sn Here is the introduction of the main motif of the commission, which will be the explanation of the divine name. It will make little difference who the servant is or what that servant’s abilities might be, if God is present. The mention of God’s presence is not a simple catch-phrase; it represents abundant provisions to the believer (see below on v. 14).
41 sn In view of Moses’ hesitancy, a sign is necessary to support the promise. A sign is often an unusual or miraculous event that introduces, authenticates, or illustrates the message. One expects a direct connection between the sign and the message (for a helpful discussion, see S. Porúbcan, “The Word ’OT in Isaia 7,14,” CBQ 22 : 144-49). In this passage the sign is a confirming one, i.e., when Israel worships at the mountain that will be the proof that God delivered them from Egypt. Thus, the purpose of the exodus that makes possible the worship will be to prove that it was God who brought it about. In the meantime, Moses will have to trust in Yahweh.
42 tn The verb תַּעַבְדוּן (ta’avdun, “you will serve”) is one of the foremost words for worship in the Torah. Keeping the commandments and serving Yahweh usually sum up the life of faith; the true worshiper seeks to obey him. The highest title anyone can have in the OT is “the servant of Yahweh.” The verb here could be rendered interpretively as “worship,” but it is better to keep it to the basic idea of serving because that emphasizes an important aspect of worship, and it highlights the change from Israel’s serving Egypt, which has been prominent in the earlier chapters. The words “and they” are supplied to clarify for English readers that the subject of the verb is plural (Moses and the people), unlike the other second person forms in vv. 10 and 12, which are singular.
sn This sign is also a promise from God – “you will serve God on this mountain.” It is given to Moses here as a goal, but a goal already achieved because it was a sign from God. Leading Israel out of Egypt would not be completed until they came to this mountain and served God. God does not give Moses details of what will take place on the road to Sinai, but he does give him the goal and glimpses of the defeat of Pharaoh. The rest will require Moses and the people to trust in this God who had a plan and who had the power to carry it out.
43 tn Heb “And Moses said.”
44 tn The particle הִנֵּה (hinneh) in this clause introduces the foundation for what comes later – the question. Moses is saying, “Suppose I do all this and they ask this question – what should I say?”
45 sn There has been considerable debate about the name of Yahweh in the Pentateuch, primarily because of theories that have maintained that the name Yahweh was not known in antiquity (see also 6:3 and notes there). The argument of this whole section nullifies that view. The idea that God’s name was revealed only here raises the question of what he was called earlier. The word “God” is not a name. “El Shaddai” is used only a few times in Genesis. But Israel would not have had a nameless deity – especially since Genesis says that from the very beginning people were making proclamation of the name of Yahweh (Gen 4:26; 12:8). It is possible that they did not always need a name if they were convinced that only he existed and there was no other God. But probably what Moses was anticipating was the Israelites’ wanting to be sure that Moses came with a message from their God, and that some sign could prove it. They would have known his name (Yahweh), and they would have known the ways that he had manifested himself. It would do no good for Moses to come with a new name for God, for that would be like introducing them to a new God. That would in no way authenticate to them Moses’ call, only confuse; after all, they would not be expecting a new name – they had been praying to their covenant God all along. They would want to be sure that their covenant God actually had sent Moses. To satisfy the Israelites Moses would have had to have been familiar with the name Yahweh – as they were – and know that he appeared to individuals. They would also want to know if Yahweh had sent Moses, how this was going to work in their deliverance, because they had been crying to him for deliverance. As it turned out, the Israelites had less problem with this than Moses anticipated – they were delighted when he came. It is likely that much of this concern was Moses’ own need for assurance that this was indeed the God of the fathers and that the promised deliverance was now to take place.
46 tn The imperfect tense here has a deliberative nuance (“should”), for Moses is wondering what would be best to say when the Israelites want proof of the calling.
47 tn The verb form used here is אֶהְיֶה (’ehyeh), the Qal imperfect, first person common singular, of the verb הָיָה (haya, “to be”). It forms an excellent paronomasia with the name. So when God used the verb to express his name, he used this form saying, “
48 tn Or “Thus you shall say” (also in the following verse). The word “must” in the translation conveys the instructional and imperatival force of the statement.
49 sn Heb “Yahweh,” traditionally rendered “the
50 sn The words “name” and “memorial” are at the heart of the two parallel clauses that form a poetic pair. The Hebrew word “remembrance” is a poetical synonym for “name” (cf. Job 18:17; Ps 135:13; Prov 10:7; Isa 26:8) and conveys the idea that the nature or character of the person is to be remembered and praised (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 24).
51 tn The repetition of “generation” in this expression serves as a periphrasis for the superlative: “to the remotest generation” (GKC 432 §133.l).
52 tn The form is the perfect tense with the sequential vav (ו) linking the nuance to the imperative that precedes it. Since the imperative calls for immediate action, this form either carries the same emphasis, or instructs action that immediately follows it. This applies likewise to “say,” which follows.
53 sn “The God of your fathers” is in simple apposition to the name “the
55 tn The verb פָּקַד (paqad) has traditionally been rendered “to visit.” This only partially communicates the point of the word. When God “visited” someone, it meant that he intervened in their lives to change their circumstances or their destiny. When he visited the Amalekites, he destroyed them (1 Sam 15:2). When he visited Sarah, he provided the long awaited child (Gen 21:1). It refers to God’s active involvement in human affairs for blessing or for cursing. Here it would mean that God had begun to act to deliver the Israelites from bondage and give them the blessings of the covenant. The form is joined here with the infinitive absolute to underscore the certainty – “I have indeed visited you.” Some translate it “remember”; others say “watch over.” These do not capture the idea of intervention to bless, and often with the idea of vengeance or judgment on the oppressors. If God were to visit what the Egyptians did, he would stop the oppression and also bring retribution for it. The nuance of the perfect tense could be a perfect of resolve (“I have decided to visit”), or an instantaneous perfect ( “I hereby visit”), or a prophetic perfect (“I have visited” = “I will visit”). The infinitive absolute reinforces the statement (so “carefully”), the rendering “attended to” attempts to convey the ideas of personal presence, mental awareness, and action, as when a nurse or physician “attends” a patient.
sn The same word was used in the same kind of construction at the end of Genesis (50:24) when Joseph promised, “God will surely visit you” (but there the imperfect tense with the infinitive absolute). Here is another link to the patriarchal narratives. This work of Moses would be interpreted as a fulfillment of Joseph’s prophecy.
56 tn The second object for the verb is the passive participle הֶעָשׂוּי (he’asuy). To say that God has visited the oppression (or “attended to” it) affirms that God has decided to judge the oppressing people as he blesses Israel.
57 tn Heb “And I said.”
59 tn Heb “And they will listen”; the referent (the elders) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
60 tn This is the combination of the verb שָׁמַע (shama’) followed by לְקֹלֶךָ (lÿqolekha), an idiomatic formation that means “listen to your voice,” which in turn implies a favorable response.
61 tn The verb נִקְרָה (niqra) has the idea of encountering in a sudden or unexpected way (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 25).
62 tn The form used here is the cohortative of הָלַךְ (halakh). It could be a resolve, but more likely before Pharaoh it is a request.
sn Was this a deceptive request if they were not planning on coming back? Since no one knows what the intent was, that question is not likely to be resolved. The request may have been intended to test the waters, so to speak – How did Pharaoh feel about the Israelites? Would he let them go and worship their God as they saw fit? In any case, it gave him the opportunity to grant to the Israelites a permission that other groups are known to have received (N. M. Sarna, Exodus [JPSTC], 19).
63 tn Here a cohortative with a vav (ו) follows a cohortative; the second one expresses purpose or result: “let us go…in order that we may.”
64 tn After verbs of perception, as with “I know” here, the object may be a noun clause introduced with the particle כִּי (ki) – “I know that….” Gesenius observes that the object clause may have a kind of accusative and an infinitive construction (especially after נָתַן [natan] with the idea of “allow”): “he will not permit you to go” (see GKC 491 §157.b, n. 2).
65 tn Heb “and not with a mighty hand.” This expression (וְלֹא בְּיָד חֲזָקָה, vÿlo’ vÿyad khazaqa) is unclear, since v. 20 says that God will stretch out his hand and do his wonders. Some have taken v. 19b to refer to God’s mighty hand also, meaning that the king would not let them go unless a mighty hand compels him (NIV). The expression “mighty hand” is used of God’s rescuing Israel elsewhere (Exod 6:1, 13:9, 32:11; but note also Num 20:20). This idea is a rather general interpretation of the words; it owes much to the LXX, which has “except by a mighty hand,” though “and not with” does not have the meaning of “except” or “unless” in other places. In view of these difficulties, others have suggested that v. 19b means “strong [threats]” from the Israelites (as in 4:24ff. and 5:3; see B. Jacob, Exodus, 81). This does not seem as convincing as the first view. Another possibility is that the phrase conveys Pharaoh’s point of view and intention; the Lord knows that Pharaoh plans to resist letting the Israelites go, regardless of the exercise of a strong hand against him (P. Addinall, “Exodus III 19B and the Interpretation of Biblical Narrative,” VT 49 : 289-300; see also the construction “and not with” in Num 12:8; 1 Sam 20:15 and elsewhere). If that is the case, v. 20 provides an ironic and pointed contradiction to Pharaoh’s plans as the Lord announces the effect that his hand will have. At any rate, Pharaoh will have to be forced to let Israel go.
67 tn The word נִפְלְאֹתַי (niflÿ’otay) does not specify what the intervention will be. As the text unfolds it will be clear that the plagues are intended. Signs and portents could refer to things people might do, but “wonders” only God could do. The root refers to that which is extraordinary, surpassing, amazing, difficult to comprehend. See Isa 9:6; Gen 18:14; Ps 139:6.
68 sn The two uses of the root שָׁלָח (shalakh) in this verse contribute to its force. When the Lord “sends” (Qal) his hand, Pharaoh will “send” (Piel) the Israelites out of Egypt.
69 tn Heb “in the eyes of.” This idiom usually means that someone will be treated well by the observer. It is unlikely that it means here that the Egyptians will like the Hebrews. Rather, it means that the Egyptians will give things to the Hebrews free – gratis (see 12:35-36). Not only will God do mighty works to make the king yield, but also he will work in the minds of the Egyptian people so that they will be favorably disposed to give Israel wealth.
70 tn The temporal indicator (here future) with the particle ki (וְהָיָה כִּי, vÿhaya ki) introduces a temporal clause.
71 tn Heb “a woman,” one representing all.
72 tn Heb “from the sojourner.” Both the “neighbor” and the “sojourner” (“one who happens to be staying in her house”) are feminine. The difference between them seems to be primarily that the second is temporary, “a lodger” perhaps or “visitor,” while the first has permanent residence.
73 tn Heb “vessels of silver and vessels of gold.” These phrases both use genitives of material, telling what the vessels are made of.
74 sn It is clear that God intended the Israelites to plunder the Egyptians, as they might a defeated enemy in war. They will not go out “empty.” They will “plunder” Egypt. This verb (וְנִצַּלְתֶּם [vÿnitsaltem] from נָצַל [natsal]) usually means “rescue, deliver,” as if plucking out of danger. But in this stem it carries the idea of plunder. So when the text says that they will ask (וְשָׁאֲלָה, vÿsha’alah) their neighbors for things, it implies that they will be making many demands, and the Egyptians will respond like a defeated nation before victors. The spoils that Israel takes are to be regarded as back wages or compensation for the oppression (see also Deut 15:13). See further B. Jacob, “The Gifts of the Egyptians, a Critical Commentary,” Journal of Reformed Judaism 27 (1980): 59-69; and T. C. Vriezen, “A Reinterpretation of Exodus 3:21-22 and Related Texts,” Ex Oriente Lux 23 (1975): 389-401.
75 sn In chap. 3, the first part of this extensive call, Yahweh promises to deliver his people. At the hesitancy of Moses, God guarantees his presence will be with him, and that assures the success of the mission. But with chap. 4, the second half of the call, the tone changes sharply. Now Moses protests his inadequacies in view of the nature of the task. In many ways, these verses address the question, “Who is sufficient for these things?” There are three basic movements in the passage. The first nine verses tell how God gave Moses signs in case Israel did not believe him (4:1-9). The second section records how God dealt with the speech problem of Moses (4:10-12). And finally, the last section records God’s provision of a helper, someone who could talk well (4:13-17). See also J. E. Hamlin, “The Liberator’s Ordeal: A Study of Exodus 4:1-9,” Rhetorical Criticism [PTMS], 33-42.
76 tn Heb “and Moses answered and said.”
77 tn Or “What if.” The use of הֵן (hen) is unusual here, introducing a conditional idea in the question without a following consequence clause (see Exod 8:22 HT [8:26 ET]; Jer 2:10; 2 Chr 7:13). The Greek has “if not” but adds the clause “what shall I say to them?”
78 tn Heb “listen to my voice,” so as to respond positively.
79 tn Or “rod” (KJV, ASV); NCV, CEV “walking stick”; NLT “shepherd’s staff.”
sn The staff appears here to be the shepherd’s staff that he was holding. It now will become the instrument with which Moses will do the mighty works, for it is the medium of the display of the divine power (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 27; also, L. Shalit, “How Moses Turned a Staff into a Snake and Back Again,” BAR 9 : 72-73).
80 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the
81 sn The details of the verse are designed to show that there was a staff that became a snake. The question is used to affirm that there truly was a staff, and then the report of Moses running from it shows it was a genuine snake. Using the serpent as a sign would have had an impact on the religious ideas of Egypt, for the sacred cobra was one of their symbols.
82 sn The signs authenticated Moses’ ministry as the
83 tn The word חֵיק (kheq), often rendered “bosom,” refers to the front of the chest and a fold in the garment there where an item could be placed for carrying (see Prov 6:27; 16:33; 21:14). So “into your robe” should be understood loosely here and in v. 7 as referring to the inside of the top front of Moses’ garment. The inside chest pocket of a jacket is a rough modern equivalent.
84 tn The particle הִנֵּה (hinneh) points out the startling or amazing sight as if the reader were catching first glimpse of it with Moses.
85 sn This sudden skin disease indicated that God was able to bring such diseases on Egypt in the plagues and that only he could remove them. The whitening was the first stage of death for the diseased (Num 12:10; 2 Kgs 5:27). The Hebrew words traditionally rendered “leprous” or “leprosy,” as they are used in Lev 13 and 14, encompass a variety of conditions, not limited to the disease called leprosy and identified as Hansen’s disease in modern times.
86 tn The particle הִנֵּה (hinneh) points out the startling or amazing sight as if the reader were catching first glimpse of it with Moses.
87 tn Heb “it returned.”
88 tn Heb “like his flesh.”
89 tn Heb “and it will be if.”
90 tn Heb “listen to the voice of,” meaning listen so as to respond appropriately.
91 tn The nuance of this perfect tense with a vav (ו) consecutive will be equal to the imperfect of possibility – “they may believe.”
92 tn Heb “believe the voice of the latter sign,” so as to understand and accept the meaning of the event.
93 tn Heb “and it will be if.”
94 tn Heb “listen to your voice.”
95 tn The verb form is the perfect tense with the vav (ו) consecutive; it functions then as the equivalent of the imperfect tense – here as an imperfect of instruction.
96 sn This is a powerful sign, for the Nile was always known as the source of life in Egypt, but now it will become the evidence of death. So the three signs were alike, each consisting of life and death. They would clearly anticipate the struggle with Egypt through the plagues. The point is clear that in the face of the possibility that people might not believe, the servants of God must offer clear proof of the power of God as they deliver the message of God. The rest is up to God.
97 sn Now Moses took up another line of argumentation, the issue of his inability to speak fluently (vv. 10-17). The point here is that God’s servants must yield themselves as instruments to God, the Creator. It makes no difference what character traits they have or what weaknesses they think they have (Moses manages to speak very well) if God is present. If the sovereign God has chosen them, then they have everything that God intended them to have.
98 tn The word בִּי (bi) is a particle of entreaty; it seeks permission to speak and is always followed by “my lord” or “my Lord.” Often rendered “please,” it is “employed in petitions, complaints and excuses” (W. H. C. Propp, Exodus 1–18 [AB], 213).
99 tn The designation in Moses’ address is אֲדֹנָי (’adonay), a term of respect and deference such as “lord, master, sir” but pointed as it would be when it represents the tetragrammaton. B. Jacob says since this is the first time Moses spoke directly to Yahweh, he did so hesitatingly (Exodus, 87).
100 tn When a noun clause is negated with לֹא (lo’), rather than אֵין (’en), there is a special emphasis, since the force of the negative falls on a specific word (GKC 479 §152.d). The expression “eloquent man” is אִישׁ דְּבָרִים (’ish dÿvarim, “a man of words”). The genitive may indicate a man characterized by words or a man who is able to command or control words. Moses apparently is resigned to the fact that he can do the signs, but he knows the signs have to be explained.
101 tn Heb “also from yesterday also from three days ago” or “neither since yesterday nor since before that” is idiomatic for “previously” or “in the past.”
102 tn The two expressions are כְבַד־פֶּה (khÿvad peh, “heavy of mouth”), and then כְבַד לָשׁוֹן (khÿvad lashon, “heavy of tongue”). Both use genitives of specification, the mouth and the tongue being what are heavy – slow. “Mouth” and “tongue” are metonymies of cause. Moses is saying that he has a problem speaking well. Perhaps he had been too long at the other side of the desert, or perhaps he was being a little dishonest. At any rate, he has still not captured the meaning of God’s presence. See among other works, J. H. Tigay, “‘Heavy of Mouth’ and ‘Heavy of Tongue’: On Moses’ Speech Difficulty,” BASOR 231 (1978): 57-67.
103 tn The verb שִׂים (sim) means “to place, put, set”; the sentence here more precisely says, “Who put a mouth into a man?”
sn The argumentation by Moses is here met by Yahweh’s rhetorical questions. They are intended to be sharp – it is reproof for Moses. The message is twofold. First, Yahweh is fully able to overcome all of Moses’ deficiencies. Second, Moses is exactly the way that God intended him to be. So the rhetorical questions are meant to prod Moses’ faith.
104 sn The final question obviously demands a positive answer. But the clause is worded in such a way as to return to the theme of “I AM.” Isaiah 45:5-7 developed this same idea of God’s control over life. Moses protests that he is not an eloquent speaker, and the
105 sn The promise of divine presence always indicates intervention (for blessing or cursing). Here it means that God would be working through the organs of speech to help Moses speak. See Deut 18:18; Jer 1:9.
106 sn The verb is וְהוֹרֵיתִיךָ (vÿhoretikha), the Hiphil perfect with a vav (ו) consecutive. The form carries the instructional meaning because it follows the imperative “go.” In fact, there is a sequence at work here: “go…and/that I may teach you.” It is from יָרָה (yara), the same root behind תּוֹרָה (torah, “law”). This always referred to teaching either wisdom or revelation. Here Yahweh promises to teach Moses what to say.
107 tn The form is the imperfect tense. While it could be taken as a future (“what you will say”), an obligatory imperfect captures the significance better (“what you must say” or “what you are to say”). Not even the content of the message will be left up to Moses.
108 tn Heb “And he said”; the referent (Moses) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
109 tn The word בִּי (bi) is a particle of entreaty; it seeks permission to speak and is always followed by “Lord” or “my Lord.”
110 tn The text has simply שְׁלַח־נָא בְּיַד־תִּשְׁלָח (shÿlakh-na’ bÿyad tishlakh, “send by the hand you will send”). This is not Moses’ resignation to doing God’s will – it is his final attempt to avoid the call. It carries the force of asking God to send someone else. This is an example of an independent relative clause governed by the genitive: “by the hand of – whomever you will send” (see GKC 488-89 §155.n).
111 tn Heb “and the anger of Yahweh burned against.”
sn Moses had not dared openly to say “except me” when he asked God to send whomever he wanted to send. But God knew that is what he meant. Moses should not have resisted the call or pleaded such excuses or hesitated with such weak faith. Now God abandoned the gentle answer and in anger brought in a form of retribution. Because Moses did not want to do this, he was punished by not having the honor of doing it alone. His reluctance and the result are like the refusal of Israel to enter the land and the result they experienced (see U. Cassuto, Exodus, 49-50).
112 tn Heb “Is not” or perhaps “Is [there] not.”
113 sn S. R. Driver (Exodus, 29) suggests that the term “Levite” may refer to a profession rather than ancestry here, because both Moses and Aaron were from the tribe of Levi and there would be little point in noting that ancestry for Aaron. In thinking through the difficult problem of the identity of Levites, he cites McNeile as saying “the Levite” referred to one who had had official training as a priest (cf. Judg 17:7, where a member of the tribe of Judah was a Levite). If it was the duty of the priest to give “torah” – to teach – then some training in the power of language would have been in order.
114 tn The construction uses the Piel infinitive absolute and the Piel imperfect to express the idea that he spoke very well: דַבֵּר יְדַבֵּר (dabber yÿdabber).
sn Now Yahweh, in condescending to Moses, selects something that Moses (and God) did not really need for the work. It is as if he were saying: “If Moses feels speaking ability is so necessary (rather than the divine presence), then that is what he will have.” Of course, this golden-tongued Aaron had some smooth words about how the golden calf was forged!
115 tn The particle הִנֵּה (hinneh) with the participle points to the imminent future; it means “he is about to come” or “here he is coming.”
116 sn It is unlikely that this simply means that as a brother he will be pleased to see Moses, for the narrative has no time for that kind of comment. It is interested in more significant things. The implication is that Aaron will rejoice because of the revelation of God to Moses and the plan to deliver Israel from bondage (see B. Jacob, Exodus, 93).
117 tn Or “I will help you speak.” The independent pronoun puts emphasis (“as for me”) on the subject (“I”).
118 tn Or “and will help him speak.”
119 tn The word “both” is supplied to convey that this object (“you”) and the subject of the next verb (“you must do”) are plural in the Hebrew text, referring to Moses and Aaron. In 4:16 “you” returns to being singular in reference to Moses.
120 tn The imperfect tense carries the obligatory nuance here as well. The relative pronoun with this verb forms a noun clause functioning as the direct object of “I will teach.”
121 tn The word “he” represents the Hebrew independent pronoun, which makes the subject emphatic.
122 tn The phrase “as if” is supplied for clarity.
123 tn Heb “and it will be [that] he, he will be to you for a mouth,” or more simply, “he will be your mouth.”
124 tn Heb “he will be to you for a mouth.”
125 tn The phrase “as if” is supplied for clarity. The word “you” represents the Hebrew independent pronoun, which makes the subject emphatic.
sn Moses will be like God to Aaron, giving him the words to say, inspiring him as God would inspire a prophet. The whole process had now been removed one step. Instead of God speaking to Moses and Moses telling the people, Aaron would be the speaker for a while. But God was still going to work through Moses.
126 sn Mention of the staff makes an appropriate ending to the section, for God’s power (represented by the staff) will work through Moses. The applicable point that this whole section is making could be worded this way: The servants of God who sense their inadequacy must demonstrate the power of God as their sufficiency.
127 tn The text has two imperatives, “Go, return”; if these are interpreted as a hendiadys (as in the translation), then the second is adverbial.
128 sn The text clearly stated that Pharaoh sought to kill Moses; so this seems to be a reference to Pharaoh’s death shortly before Moses’ return. Moses was forty years in Midian. In the 18th dynasty, only Pharaoh Thutmose III had a reign of the right length (1504-1450
129 tn Heb “And Yahweh said.”
130 tn The construction may involve a verbal hendiadys using the two infinitive forms: “when you go to return” (בְּלֶכְתְּךָ לָשׁוּב, bÿlekhtÿkha lashuv). The clause is temporal, subordinated to the instruction to do the signs. Therefore, its focus cannot be on going to return, i.e., preparing or beginning to return.
131 tn The two verb forms in this section are the imperative (רְאֵה, rÿ’eh) followed by the perfect with the vav (וַעֲשִׂיתָם, va’asitam). The second could be coordinated and function as a second command: “see…and [then] do”; or it could be subordinated logically: “see…so that you do.” Some commentators who take the first option suggest that Moses was supposed to contemplate these wonders before doing them before Pharaoh. That does not seem as likely as the second interpretation reflected in the translation.
132 tn Or “in your power”; Heb “in your hand.”
133 tn Heb “strengthen” (in the sense of making stubborn or obstinate). The text has the expression וַאֲנִי אֲחַזֵּק אֶת־לִבּוֹ (va’ani ’akhazzeq ’et-libbo), “I will make strong his will,” or “I will strengthen his resolve,” recognizing the “heart” as the location of decision making (see Prov 16:1, 9).
134 sn Here is the first mention of the hardening of the heart of Pharaoh. God first tells Moses he must do the miracles, but he also announces that he will harden Pharaoh’s heart, as if working against Moses. It will help Moses to know that God is bringing about the resistance in order to bring a greater victory with greater glory. There is a great deal of literature on this, but see among the resources F. W. Danker, “Hardness of Heart: A Study in Biblical Thematic,” CTM 44 (1973): 89-100; R. R. Wilson, “The Hardening of Pharaoh’s Heart,” CBQ 41 (1979): 18-36; and R. B. Chisholm Jr., “Divine Hardening in the Old Testament,” BSac 153 (1996): 410-34.
135 tn Or “so that.”
136 tn The sequence of the instruction from God uses the perfect tense with vav (ו), following the preceding imperfects.
137 tn The instantaneous use of the perfect tense fits well with the prophetic announcement of what Yahweh said or says. It shows that the words given to the prophet are still binding.
138 sn The metaphor uses the word “son” in its connotation of a political dependent, as it was used in ancient documents to describe what was intended to be a loyal relationship with well-known privileges and responsibilities, like that between a good father and son. The word can mean a literal son, a descendant, a chosen king (and so, the Messiah), a disciple (in Proverbs), and here, a nation subject to God. If the people of Israel were God’s “son,” then they should serve him and not Pharaoh. Malachi reminds people that the Law said “a son honors his father,” and so God asked, “If I am a father, where is my honor?” (Mal 1:6).
139 tn The text uses the imperative, “send out” (שַׁלַּח, shallakh) followed by the imperfect or jussive with the vav (ו) to express purpose.
140 tn The Piel infinitive serves as the direct object of the verb, answering the question of what Pharaoh would refuse to do. The command and refusal to obey are the grounds for the announcement of death for Pharaoh’s son.
141 tn The construction is very emphatic. The particle הִנֵּה (hinneh) gives it an immediacy and a vividness, as if God is already beginning to act. The participle with this particle has the nuance of an imminent future act, as if God is saying, “I am about to kill.” These words are not repeated until the last plague.
142 sn In view of the apparent failure of the mission, Moses seeks Yahweh for assurance. The answer from Yahweh not only assures him that all is well, but that there will be a great deliverance. The passage can be divided into three parts: the complaint of Moses (5:22-23), the promise of Yahweh (6:1-9), and the instructions for Moses (6:10-13). Moses complains because God has not delivered his people as he had said he would, and God answers that he will because he is the sovereign covenant God who keeps his word. Therefore, Moses must keep his commission to speak God’s word. See further, E. A. Martens, “Tackling Old Testament Theology,” JETS 20 (1977): 123-32. The message is very similar to that found in the NT, “Where is the promise of his coming?” (2 Pet 3:4). The complaint of Moses (5:22-23) can be worded with Peter’s “Where is the promise of his coming?” theme; the assurance from Yahweh (6:1-9) can be worded with Peter’s “The Lord is not slack in keeping his promises” (2 Pet 3:9); and the third part, the instructions for Moses (6:10-13) can be worded with Peter’s “Prepare for the day of God and speed its coming” (2 Pet 3:12). The people who speak for God must do so in the sure confidence of the coming deliverance – Moses with the deliverance from the bondage of Egypt, and Christians with the deliverance from this sinful world.
143 tn Heb “and Moses returned.”
144 tn The designation in Moses’ address is “Lord” (אֲדֹנָי, ’adonay) – the term for “lord” or “master” but pointed as it would be when it represents the tetragrammaton.
145 tn The verb is הֲרֵעֹתָה (hare’otah), the Hiphil perfect of רָעַע (ra’a’). The word itself means “to do evil,” and in this stem “to cause evil” – but evil in the sense of pain, calamity, trouble, or affliction, and not always in the sense of sin. Certainly not here. That God had allowed Pharaoh to oppose them had brought greater pain to the Israelites.
sn Moses’ question is rhetorical; the point is more of a complaint or accusation to God, although there is in it the desire to know why. B. Jacob (Exodus, 139) comments that such frank words were a sign of the man’s closeness to God. God never has objected to such bold complaints by the devout. He then notes how God was angered by his defenders in the book of Job rather than by Job’s heated accusations.
146 tn The demonstrative pronoun serves for emphasis in the question (see R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 24, §118). This second question continues Moses’ bold approach to God, more chiding than praying. He is implying that if this was the result of the call, then God had no purpose calling him (compare Jeremiah’s similar complaint in Jer 20).
147 sn Now the verb (הֵרַע, hera’) has a different subject – Pharaoh. The ultimate cause of the trouble was God, but the immediate cause was Pharaoh and the way he increased the work. Meanwhile, the Israelite foremen have pinned most of the blame on Moses and Aaron. Moses knows all about the sovereignty of God, and as he speaks in God’s name, he sees the effect it has on pagans like Pharaoh. So the rhetorical questions are designed to prod God to act differently.
148 tn The Hebrew construction is emphatic: וְהַצֵּל לֹא־הִצַּלְתָּ (vÿhatsel lo’-hitsalta). The verb נָצַל (natsal) means “to deliver, rescue” in the sense of plucking out, even plundering. The infinitive absolute strengthens both the idea of the verb and the negative. God had not delivered this people at all.
149 tn Heb “your people.” The pronoun (“them”) has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons here, to avoid redundancy.
150 sn The expression “I will do to Pharaoh” always refers to the plagues. God would first show his sovereignty over Pharaoh before defeating him.
151 tn The expression “with a strong hand” (וּבְיָד חֲזָקָה, uvÿyad khazaqah) could refer (1) to God’s powerful intervention (“compelled by my strong hand”) or (2) to Pharaoh’s forceful pursuit (“he will forcefully drive them out”). In Exod 3:20 God has summarized what his hand would do in Egypt, and that is probably what is intended here, as he promises that Moses will see what God will do. All Egypt ultimately desired that Israel be released (12:33), and when they were released Pharaoh pursued them to the sea, and so in a sense drove them out – whether that was his intention or not. But ultimately it was God’s power that was the real force behind it all. U. Cassuto (Exodus, 74) considers that it is unlikely that the phrase would be used in the same verse twice with the same meaning. So he thinks that the first “strong hand” is God’s, and the second “strong hand” is Pharaoh’s. It is true that if Pharaoh acted forcefully in any way that contributed to Israel leaving Egypt it was because God was acting forcefully in his life. So in an understated way, God is saying that when forced by God’s strong hand, Pharaoh will indeed release God’s people.”
152 tn Or “and he will forcefully drive them out of his land,” if the second occurrence of “strong hand” refers to Pharaoh’s rather than God’s (see the previous note).
sn In Exod 12:33 the Egyptians were eager to send (release) Israel away in haste, because they all thought they were going to die.
153 tn Heb “And God spoke.”
154 sn The announcement “I am the
155 tn The preposition bet (ב) in this construction should be classified as a bet essentiae, a bet of essence (see also GKC 379 §119.i).
156 tn The traditional rendering of the title as “Almighty” is reflected in LXX and Jerome. But there is still little agreement on the etymology and exact meaning of אֵל־שַׁדַּי (’el-shadday). Suggestions have included the idea of “mountain God,” meaning the high God, as well as “the God with breasts.” But there is very little evidence supporting such conclusions and not much reason to question the ancient versions.
157 tn The noun שְׁמִי (shÿmi, “my name,” and “Yahweh” in apposition to it), is an adverbial accusative, specifying how the patriarchs “knew” him.
158 tn Heb “Yahweh,” traditionally rendered in English as “the
159 tn The verb is the Niphal form נוֹדַעְתִּי (noda’ti). If the text had wanted to say, “I did not make myself known,” then a Hiphil form would have been more likely. It is saying, “but by my name Yahweh I was not known to them.”
sn There are a number of important issues that need clarification in the interpretation of this section. First, it is important to note that “I am Yahweh” is not a new revelation of a previously unknown name. It would be introduced differently if it were. This is the identification of the covenant God as the one calling Moses – that would be proof for the people that their God had called him. Second, the title “El Shadday” is not a name, but a title. It is true that in the patriarchal accounts “El Shadday” is used six times; in Job it is used thirty times. Many conclude that it does reflect the idea of might or power. In some of those passages that reveal God as “El Shadday,” the name “Yahweh” was also used. But Wellhausen and other proponents of the earlier source critical analysis used Exod 6:3 to say that P, the so-called priestly source, was aware that the name “Yahweh” was not known by them, even though J, the supposed Yahwistic source, wrote using the name as part of his theology. Third, the texts of Genesis show that Yahweh had appeared to the patriarchs (Gen 12:1, 17:1, 18:1, 26:2, 26:24, 26:12, 35:1, 48:3), and that he spoke to each one of them (Gen 12:7, 15:1, 26:2, 28:13, 31:3). The name “Yahweh” occurs 162 times in Genesis, 34 of those times on the lips of speakers in Genesis (W. C. Kaiser, Jr., “Exodus,” EBC 2:340-41). They also made proclamation of Yahweh by name (4:26, 12:8), and they named places with the name (22:14). These passages should not be ignored or passed off as later interpretation. Fourth, “Yahweh” is revealed as the God of power, the sovereign God, who was true to his word and could be believed. He would do as he said (Num 23:19; 14:35; Exod 12:25; 22:24; 24:14; 36:36; 37:14). Fifth, there is a difference between promise and fulfillment in the way revelation is apprehended. The patriarchs were individuals who received the promises but without the fulfillment. The fulfillment could only come after the Israelites became a nation. Now, in Egypt, they are ready to become that promised nation. The two periods were not distinguished by not having and by having the name, but by two ways God revealed the significance of his name. “I am Yahweh” to the patriarchs indicated that he was the absolute, almighty, eternal God. The patriarchs were individuals sojourning in the land. God appeared to them in the significance of El Shadday. That was not his name. So Gen 17:1 says that “Yahweh appeared…and said, ‘I am El Shadday.’” See also Gen 35:11, 48:2, 28:3. Sixth, the verb “to know” is never used to introduce a name which had never been known or experienced. The Niphal and Hiphil of the verb are used only to describe the recognition of the overtones or significance of the name (see Jer 16:21, Isa 52:6; Ps 83:17ff; 1 Kgs 8:41ff. [people will know his name when prayers are answered]). For someone to say that he knew Yahweh meant that Yahweh had been experienced or recognized (see Exod 33:6; 1 Kgs 18:36; Jer 28:9; and Ps 76:2). Seventh, “Yahweh” is not one of God’s names – it is his only name. Other titles, like “El Shadday,” are not strictly names but means of revealing Yahweh. All the revelations to the patriarchs could not compare to this one, because God was now dealing with the nation. He would make his name known to them through his deeds (see Ezek 20:5). So now they will “know” the “name.” The verb יָדַע (yada’) means more than “aware of, be knowledgeable about”; it means “to experience” the reality of the revelation by that name. This harmonizes with the usage of שֵׁם (shem), “name,” which encompasses all the attributes and actions of God. It is not simply a reference to a title, but to the way that God revealed himself – God gave meaning to his name through his acts. God is not saying that he had not revealed a name to the patriarchs (that would have used the Hiphil of the verb). Rather, he is saying that the patriarchs did not experience what the name Yahweh actually meant, and they could not without seeing it fulfilled. When Moses came to the elders, he identified his call as from Yahweh, the God of the fathers – and they accepted him. They knew the name. But, when they were delivered from bondage, then they fully knew by experience what that name meant, for his promises were fulfilled. U. Cassuto (Exodus, 79) paraphrases it this way: “I revealed Myself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in My aspect that finds expression in the name Shaddai…I was not known to them, that is, it was not given to them to recognize Me as One that fulfils his promises.” This generation was about to “know” the name that their ancestors knew and used, but never experienced with the fulfillment of the promises. This section of Exodus confirms this interpretation, because in it God promised to bring them out of Egypt and give them the promised land – then they would know that he is Yahweh (6:7). This meaning should have been evident from its repetition to the Egyptians throughout the plagues – that they might know Yahweh (e.g., 7:5). See further R. D. Wilson, “Yahweh [Jehovah] and Exodus 6:3,” Classical Evangelical Essays in Old Testament Interpretation, 29-40; L. A. Herrboth, “Exodus 6:3b: Was God Known to the Patriarchs as Jehovah?” CTM 4 (1931): 345-49; F. C. Smith, “Observation on the Use of the Names and Titles of God in Genesis,” EvQ 40 (1968): 103-9.
160 tn The statement refers to the making of the covenant with Abraham (Gen 15 and following) and confirming it with the other patriarchs. The verb הֲקִמֹתִי (haqimoti) means “set up, establish, give effect to, conclude” a covenant agreement. The covenant promised the patriarchs a great nation, a land – Canaan, and divine blessing. They lived with those promises, but now their descendants were in bondage in Egypt. God’s reference to the covenant here is meant to show the new revelation through redemption will start to fulfill the promises and show what the reality of the name Yahweh is to them.
161 tn Heb “the land of their sojournings.” The noun מְגֻרִים (mÿgurim) is a reminder that the patriarchs did not receive the promises. It is also an indication that those living in the age of promise did not experience the full meaning of the name of the covenant God. The “land of their sojournings” is the land of Canaan where the family lived (גּרוּ, garu) as foreigners, without owning property or having the rights of kinship with the surrounding population.
162 tn The addition of the independent pronoun אֲנִי (’ani, “I”) emphasizes the fact that it was Yahweh himself who heard the cry.
163 tn Heb “And also I have heard.”
164 tn The form is the Hiphil participle מַעֲבִדִים (ma’avidim, “causing to serve”). The participle occurs in a relative clause that modifies “the Israelites.” The clause ends with the accusative “them,” which must be combined with the relative pronoun for a smooth English translation. So “who the Egyptians are enslaving them,” results in the translation “whom the Egyptians are enslaving.”
166 sn The verb וְהוֹצֵאתִי (vÿhotse’ti) is a perfect tense with the vav (ו) consecutive, and so it receives a future translation – part of God’s promises. The word will be used later to begin the Decalogue and other covenant passages – “I am Yahweh who brought you out….”
167 tn Heb “from under the burdens of” (so KJV, NASB); NIV “from under the yoke of.”
168 tn Heb “from labor of them.” The antecedent of the pronoun is the Egyptians who have imposed slave labor on the Hebrews.
169 sn These covenant promises are being reiterated here because they are about to be fulfilled. They are addressed to the nation, not individuals, as the plural suffixes show. Yahweh was their God already, because they had been praying to him and he is acting on their behalf. When they enter into covenant with God at Sinai, then he will be the God of Israel in a new way (19:4-6; cf. Gen 17:7-8; 28:20-22; Lev 26:11-12; Jer 24:7; Ezek 11:17-20).
170 tn Heb “from under the burdens of” (so KJV, NASB); NIV “from under the yoke of.”
171 tn Heb “which I raised my hand to give it.” The relative clause specifies which land is their goal. The bold anthropomorphism mentions part of an oath-taking ceremony to refer to the whole event and reminds the reader that God swore that he would give the land to them. The reference to taking an oath would have made the promise of God sure in the mind of the Israelite.
172 sn Here is the twofold aspect again clearly depicted: God swore the promise to the patriarchs, but he is about to give what he promised to this generation. This generation will know more about him as a result.
173 sn The final part of this section focuses on instructions for Moses. The commission from God is the same – he is to speak to Pharaoh and he is to lead Israel out. It should have been clear to him that God would do this, for he had just been reminded how God was going to lead out, deliver, redeem, take the people as his people, and give them land. It was God’s work of love from beginning to end. Moses simply had his task to perform.
174 tn Heb “and Moses spoke thus.”
175 tn Heb “to Moses.” The proper name has been replaced by the pronoun (“him”) in the translation for stylistic reasons.
176 tn The Hebrew מִקֹּצֶּר רוּחַ (miqqotser ruakh) means “because of the shortness of spirit.” This means that they were discouraged, dispirited, and weary – although some have also suggested it might mean impatient. The Israelites were now just not in the frame of mind to listen to Moses.
177 tn The form וִישַׁלַּח (vishallakh) is the Piel imperfect or jussive with a sequential vav; following an imperative it gives the imperative’s purpose and intended result. They are to speak to Pharaoh, and (so that as a result) he will release Israel. After the command to speak, however, the second clause also indirectly states the content of the speech (cf. Exod 11:2; 14:2, 15; 25:2; Lev 16:2; 22:2). As the next verse shows, Moses doubts that what he says will have the intended effect.
178 tn Heb “And Moses spoke before.”
179 sn This analogy is an example of a qal wahomer comparison. It is an argument by inference from the light (qal) to the heavy (homer), from the simple to the more difficult. If the Israelites, who are Yahwists, would not listen to him, it is highly unlikely Pharaoh would.
180 tn The final clause begins with a disjunctive vav (ו), a vav on a nonverb form – here a pronoun. It introduces a circumstantial causal clause.
181 tn Heb “and [since] I am of uncircumcised lips.” The “lips” represent his speech (metonymy of cause). The term “uncircumcised” makes a comparison between his speech and that which Israel perceived as unacceptable, unprepared, foreign, and of no use to God. The heart is described this way when it is impervious to good impressions (Lev 26:41; Jer 9:26) and the ear when it hears imperfectly (Jer 6:10). Moses has here returned to his earlier claim – he does not speak well enough to be doing this.
182 tn Heb “And Yahweh spoke.”
183 tn The term וַיְצַוֵּם (vayÿtsavvem) is a Piel preterite with a pronominal suffix on it. The verb צָוָה (tsavah) means “to command” but can also have a much wider range of meanings. In this short summary statement, the idea of giving Moses and Aaron a commission to Israel and to Pharaoh indicates that come what may they have their duty to perform.