ha-Seifer ha-Tseiteinu mi-Mitsrayim /

The Book of Our Departure from Egypt

Sh'mot / Exodus

 

(for an explanation of the format, notes and conventions used in this translation, please see the page on The Translation of the Torah and the Prophets. For an explanation of my methodology, see the page on The Original Torah Project).

If you have any questions, please email me at: shmuliq.parzal@googlemail.com

words in italics without brackets - words not found in the traditional Masoretic text, but attested in one or more other Bible version (Samaritan Pentateuch [SP], Dead Sea Scrolls Bible [DSS], Greek Septuagint [LXX]).

[words in square brackets] - words inserted to help give the sense of the Hebrew words in natural, Modern English.

{words in brace brackets} - words not in any version of the biblical text, but inserted to help explain a cultural or historical detail that would have been implicitly understood by an ancient Hebrew, but which might not be by a modern reader; also, words inserted for narrative clarification (like a midrash to explain something vital to an understanding of the narrative, but which is unclear in the traditional text). These should be considered as 'in-text footnotes', rather than face accusations of 'adding to Torah', since one of the purposes of this translation is to clarify the narrative, in order to make the meaning of the story clearer.

{words in italics in brace brackets} - hypothetical, reconstructed words, theorised to have been in the original text; the second purpose of this translation is to try to reconstruct what might have been the original text of the Bible.

('words in italics in plain brackets') - translations of Hebrew names, the meanings of which are important to understand in English.

Page last updated on: 14th Jun 2019

(Exodus now: 61% translated)

 

Chapter 1: The Hebrews are Oppressed in Egypt

 

1:1 Now these are the names of the sons of Yiśrā’eil who came into Egypt with Ya`aqov their father; each one of them came with his entire [family and] household:

1:2 Rė’uvein, Shim`on, Leivī and Yėhudhāh;

1:3 Yiśśākhār, Zėvulūn and Binyāmīn;

1:4 Dān and Naftālī, Gādh and Āsheir.

1:5 All the individuals who were directly descended from Ya`aqov were seventy in number, but Yōseif was [already] in Egypt.

1:6 Now Yōseif died, along with all his brothers and that entire generation.

1:7 But the descendants of Yiśrā’eil were fruitful, and became teemingly abundant and plentiful; and they became so exceedingly numerous, that the land was filled with them.

1:8 Then a new king came to power in Egypt, one who did not [care to] know about Joseph.

1:9 And he said to his people, “Behold, the Israelite people have become far too numerous and powerful for us.

1:10 So come, we must deal shrewdly with [them], or else they will become [even] more numerous, and if war should break out, they will even join our enemies, wage war against us and so gain ascendency over the land.”

1:11 So they put slave-drivers over them to oppress them with forced labour, and they built Per Atum and Pi Ra’amses as storage cities for the Pharaoh.

1:12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they prospered and thus they spread further; and so [the Egyptians] came to dread the presence of the Israelites.

1:13 Thereafter, the Egyptians forced the Israelites to work under cruel conditions

1:14 they made their lives bitter with hard labour, by [forcing them to dig for] clay and [make] bricks, and by [making them do] all [kinds of] work out in the fields; {thus} [the Egyptians] worked them ruthlessly with all kinds of harsh labour.

Pharaoh gives order to kill all the newborn males among the Hebrews

1:15 Now the King of Egypt {summoned and} spoke to the [chief] Hebrew midwives – the name of the first was Shifrāh, and the name of the second was Pū`āh;

1:16 and he said [to them], ‘When [you help] the Hebrew women in childbirth, and you observe them on the squatting stones, if it is a boy, then you shall kill him; but if it is a girl, then let her live.”

1:17 However, the midwives had great reverence for God, and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them [to do]. Instead, they let the boys live.

1:18 So the king of Egypt [again] summoned the Hebrew midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this thing, and let the boys live?”

1:19 So the midwives said to the Pharaoh, “Because Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women, for they are vigorous; and before the midwives can arrive they have [already] given birth.”

1:20 So God dealt kindly with the midwives; and the people multiplied and became even more numerous.

1:21 And because the midwives had great reverence for God, [God] provided them with families [of their own].

1:22 Then the Pharaoh gave orders to all his people, saying, “Every boy that is born to the Hebrews you must throw into the Nile, but you shall let every girl live.”

Chapter 2: The Birth of Mosheh; the Pharaoh’s daughter finds the infant Mosheh

 

2:1 Now a certain man from the house of Leivī went and married a Levite woman.

2:2 Afterwards she conceived and gave birth to a son. When she looked upon him and saw how good he was, she hid him for three months.

2:3 But when she could no longer hide him, his mother got a small ark [made] of papyrus reeds for him, and coated it with bitumen and pitch. Then she placed the child in it, and laid it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile.

2:4 Then his sister positioned herself at a distance, in order to discover what would happen to him.

2:5 Presently, the Pharaoh’s daughter came down to bathe in the Nile, while her handmaidens were walking along the bank of the Nile. Then she caught sight of the little ark among the reeds, and sent her slave girl to get it.

2:6 When she opened it and saw the baby, the little boy was sobbing, and the daughter of the Pharaoh felt sorry for him. So she said “This must be one of the Hebrew babies.”

2:7 Then [the baby’s] sister {came forward and} said to the Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call a nursemaid for you from among the Hebrew women, so that she can nurse the baby for you?”

2:8 So the Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Yes, do so”. So the young girl went and summoned the baby’s mother.

2:9 Then the Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I myself will pay your wages.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him.

2:10 Then when the child was weaned, she presented him before the Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. [On that day] she named him Mosheh (‘Drawn’), saying, “[It is] because I drew him out of the water.”

 

Mosheh kills an Egyptian and flees from Egypt

 

2:11 Now it so happened after many years, when Mosheh had grown up, that he went out to [where] his kinsfolk the Israelites [were], and he saw [them engaged] in their heavy labour. Then he noticed an Egyptian man brutally beating a Hebrew man, one of his Israelite kinsfolk.

2:12 Glancing this way and that, and seeing that there was no one [else] around, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.

2:13 The next day he went out and was surprised to see two Hebrew men involved in a fight. So he said to the one in the wrong, “Why are you beating up your fellow [Hebrew]?”

2:14 [2:14a] But [the man] retorted, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me, just like you killed that Egyptian?”

2:15 [2:14b] Then Mosheh became afraid and thought, ‘Everyone knows what I’ve done – I’m sure of it.’

2:16 [2:15a] When the Pharaoh came to hear of this matter, he sought to have Mosheh put to death, so Mosheh fled beyond the Pharaoh’s reach, and went to settle in the land of Midian.

 

Mosheh settles in Midian, and marries into the family of the Chief Priest

 

2:17 [2:15b] Having entered into the land of Midian, [Mosheh] sat down by the [first] well {he came to}.

2:18 [2:16] Now the [chief] priest of {Yahh in} Midian had seven daughters, who tended to the flocks of their father Rė`ū’eil; and when they came {to this well} they drew water, and they began filling the troughs to water their father’s flocks.

2:19 [2:17] However, some shepherds came along and drove them away, but Mosheh rose [to their defense] and saved them; then he drew water for them, and watered their flocks.

2:20 [2:18] When they came [home] to their father Rė`ū’eil, he said to them, “Why have you come back so soon today?”

2:21 [2:19] So they said, “An Egyptian man delivered us from the hands of some shepherds – and what’s more, he even drew the water for us and watered our flocks!”

2:22 [2:20] Then [Rė`ū’eil] said to his daughters, “So where is he then? Why would you have left the man behind? {Go and} call him, so we can give him something to eat!”

2:23 [2:21] Thereafter, Mosheh agreed to stay with the man, and [in time] he gave his daughter Tsipporāh to Mosheh to [be his] wife.

2:24 [2:22] Eventually she conceived, and gave birth to a son, and [Mosheh] named him Geirshom (‘Sojourner There’), for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.”

2:25 [cf 18:4] {Then she conceived again, and gave birth to a second son, and Mosheh named him Eli`ezer (‘My God is help’), for he said, “The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of the Pharaoh.”}

2:26[2:23] Now it so happened during that long period that the king of Egypt died. Yet still the Israelites groaned in their slavery, and they cried out [for respite]; and their cry [for help] [for release] from slavery went up to God.

2:27[2:24] So God paid heed to their painful groans, and decided to take action on His covenant with Avraham, Yitschaq, and Ya`aqov.

2:28[2:25] So God looked [with concern] upon the Israelites, and God knew {what had to be done}.

Notes:

2:18 - 'Who tended to the flocks of their father Reueil' - it seems that Jethro's actual name was Reueil (pronounced ray-oo-AYL), and Yitro was his title, meaning 'His Eminence' (see MT Ex 4:17, where only the word 'Eminence' [Yeter] is used). Reueil was therefore not just any priest, but the chief priest of Yahh in Midian, probably a Kenite, who were known for their worhip of the same God as the Hebrews. Other Midianite tribes worshipped many gods, but the Kenites worshipped only Yahh.

Chapter 3: An Angel appears in a burning Bush; God speaks to Mosheh at the Foot of Mt Choreiv

 

3:1 Now Mosheh was pasturing the flocks of his father-in-law, His Eminence {Rė`ū’eil}, the [chief] priest of {Yahh in} Midian; and he was driving the flocks to the far side of the desert, and was coming towards Choreiv, a mountain of God.

3:2 Then an angel of Yahveh appeared ahead of him in a blaze of fire from within a broom bush. However, when he looked, he saw that although the bush was on fire, it was not consumed by it.

3:3 So Mosheh said, “I’ve got to go over to see this marvellous sight, just to see how come the bush doesn’t burn up.”

3:4 When Yahveh saw that he had changed course to take a [closer] look, God called to him from within the bush and said, “Mosheh! Mosheh!” And he said, “Here I am.”

3:5 Then [God] said, “Do not come any closer to this place; remove your sandals from off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”

3:6 Then [God went on to] say, “[It is] I, the God of your ancestors – the God of Avrāhām, the God of Yitschaq, and the God of Ya`aqov.” At this, Mosheh hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

3:7 Then Yahveh said, “I have truly seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt. I am heeding their outcry for help in the face of their oppressors, for I am concerned about their pains [and sorrows].

3:8 [3:8a] So I have come through to deliver them, away from under the control of the Egyptians, and to carry them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land overflowing in abundant natural bounty –

3:9 [3:8b] to the region of the Canaanites – the Cheytites and the Amorites, the Perizzites and the Girgashites, the Hivites and the Yevusites.

3:10 [3:9] So now look: the pleas of the Israelites [for help] have reached Me, and I am well aware of the harsh oppression that the Egyptians heap so cruelly upon them.

 

God gives Mosheh his Commission to speak to the Elders of Israel and to the Pharaoh

 

3:11 [3:10] So now, go; I am sending you to Pharaoh to lead My people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

3:12 [3:11] But Mosheh said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, or that I should lead the Israelites out of Egypt?”

3:13 [3:12] So [God] said, ‘I will surely be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I Myself who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will be offering divine worship on this mountain.”

3:14 [3:13] Then Mosheh said to God, “Look, suppose I am the one who goes to the Israelites, and I say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ then what shall I tell them?”

3:15 [3:14] So God said to Mosheh, “I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE”; then [God] said, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I WILL BE has sent me to you.’ ”

3:16 [3:15a] Furthermore, God said to Mosheh, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites: ‘Yahveh, the God of your patriarchs – the God of Avrāhām, the God of Yitschaq and the God of Ya`aqov – has sent me to you.’

3:17 [3:15b] This is My name forever; it is [the name by which I shall be] remembered from generation to generation.

3:18 [3:16] Go and assemble the elders of the Israelites and say to them, ‘Yahveh, the God of your patriarchs – the God of Avrāhām, the God of Yitschaq and the God of Ya`aqov – appeared to me and said, “I will most assuredly come to your aid, for I have seen what has been done to you in Egypt.

3:19 [3:17-18a] And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites – the Cheytites and the Amorites, the Perizzites and the Girgashites, the Hivites and the Yevusites – to a land overflowing in abundant natural bounty.”’ And [the elders] will heed what you say.

3:20 [3:18b] Then you shall go – you and the elders of Israel – to the king of Egypt, and you all shall say to him, ‘Yahveh, the God of the Hebrews, is coming to meet with us. Therefore, please let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness, so that we may offer sacrifices to Yahveh our God.’

3:21 [3:19] But I know [for certain] that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless [he is compelled] by a powerful force;

3:22 [3:20] so I will send forth My might, and I shall deliver My judgment upon {the false gods of} the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform in their midst. And after that, he will let you go.

3:23 [3:21] I will [even] cause the Egyptians to look favourably upon this people, so that it shall be that when you go, you will not go empty-handed.

3:24 [3:22] Instead, every woman shall ask of her neighbour – and of any woman who is staying in her house – for items of silver and items of gold, and [for] clothing; and you will put them on your sons and on your daughters. In this way you will strip the Egyptians.”

 

Chapter 4: God explains to Mosheh the Signs he is to perform before the Pharaoh

 

4:1 At that, Mosheh spoke up and said, “But what if they don’t believe me or listen to what I say? Because they might say, ‘Yahveh has not appeared to you’ – then what will I say to them?”

4:2 So Yahveh said to him, “What is that in your hand?” And [Mosheh] said, “A staff.”

4:3 Then [God] said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a snake; and Mosheh quickly backed away from it.

4:4 But then Yahveh said to Mosheh, “Stretch out your hand and take hold of it by its tail.” So he stretched out his hand and caught hold of it by its tail, and it became a staff again in his grasp.

4:5 “[This is] so that they may believe that Yahveh, the God of their patriarchs – the God of Avrāhām, the God of Yitschaq, and the God of Ya`aqov – has appeared to you.”

4:6 Yahveh furthermore said to him, “Now put your hand into [your tunic, next to] your chest.” So he put his hand into [his tunic, next to] his chest, and when he drew it away from his chest, he was shocked to see that his hand was diseased [and flaky], like snow.

4:7 Then [God] said, “Put your hand into [your tunic, next to] your chest again.” So he put his hand into [his tunic, next to] his chest again, and when he drew it away from his chest, he was surprised to see that it was restored like the rest of his flesh.

4:8 “If they will not believe you or pay heed to the evidence of the first sign, they may believe the evidence of the latter sign.

4:9 But if they will not believe even these two signs or pay heed to what you say, then you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water which you take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”

 

Mosheh doubts his abilities

 

4:10 However, Mosheh then said to Yahveh, “Please forgive me, My Sovereign, but I have never been a man of words, neither recently nor in days gone by, nor since You have begun speaking to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”

4:11 So Yahveh said to him, “Who gave human beings a mouth? Or who makes them mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, Yahveh?

4:12 So now go, and I Myself will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.”

4:13 But [still] [Mosheh] said, “Forgive me, My Sovereign, but by all means please send the message by whomever You will, {just not me}.”

4:14 At this, Yahveh felt altogether sorry for Mosheh, so [God] said, “Is not Aharon the Levite your brother? I know that he speaks most fluently. And what’s more, at this very moment, he is setting out to meet you himself; when he sees you, he will be most glad in his heart.

4:15 You are to speak to him, and you are to put the words {I have told you} in his mouth; but I Myself will be with your mouth and his mouth, and I will teach you [both] what you are to do.

4:16 Furthermore, he shall speak for you to the people; and he will act as a mouth-piece for you, and you will act as God to him.

4:17 And this staff – which turned into a snake – you shall take [it] along with you, and with it you shall perform the signs.”

4:18 [4:18a] Then Mosheh departed and returned to [His] Eminence, his father-in-law, and said to him, “Please, let me [have your permission to] go, so that I may return to my kinsfolk who are in Egypt, and see how they are doing.”

4:19 [4:18b] So His Eminence said to Mosheh, “Go in peace.”

Notes:

3:22 - The addition of {the false gods of} is from MT Ex 12:12 where it says, "and I will execute judgments against all the gods of Egypt"; God's judgment is therefore not against the ordinary Egyptians, who otherwise have done nothing wrong, but against their false gods, who have no power.

Chapter 5: Mosheh and his family depart for Egypt

 

5:1 [4:19] Now Yahveh had said to Mosheh in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who sought [to take] your life are dead.”

5:2 [4:20] So Mosheh took his wife and his [two] sons and mounted them on [his] donkeys, and he [set off to] return to the land of Egypt. And Mosheh took the staff of God along with him [as well].

5:3 [4:21] Now, Yahveh had [also] said to Mosheh, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you perform before the Pharaoh all the wonders which I have given you the power [to do]; but [it is] I [who] will toughen [the hardness of] his heart, since he will not let the people go.

5:4 [4:22] At the end of it all, you shall say to the Pharaoh, ‘Thus says Yahveh, “Israel is My son, My firstborn;

5:5 [4:23] [that is why] I have been saying to you, ‘Let My son go, so that he may serve Me’. But you refused to let him go, so behold, I Myself will kill your son – your firstborn.’’ ”

 

The Guardian Angel of Egypt comes as an Angel of Death to seek the Death of Mosheh’s Firstborn in the Desert

 

5:6 [4:24] Now it so happened along the way at a traveller’s camp, that an angel of Yahveh encountered {Mosheh’s firstborn son} and was on the verge of killing him.

5:7 [4:25] But Tsipporāh took a flint knife and she cut off the foreskin of her son, and she touched [it] to {the angel}’s loins and said, “Surely my son has been joined {to God} by the blood of the circumcision.”

5:8 [4:26] So {the angel} left [the boy] alone, because she had said, ‘Surely my son has been joined {to God} by the blood of the circumcision, {and that he was therefore under the protection of God’s Covenant with Israel}.

5:9 {After this, Mosheh and Tsipporāh decided to return with their children to Midian, where Tsipporāh and her sons would remain with her father His Eminence, until such time as Mosheh could return from Egypt;} {for she said, “In case this angel should seek the death of our sons again if they continue on to Egypt.”}

 

Mosheh convinces Aharon and the Israelite Elders of his Mission

 

5:10 [4:27] Now Yahveh had said to Aharon, “Go into the wilderness {of Midian} to meet Mosheh {at Mount Choreiv}.” So he went and met [his brother] at the mountain of God and kissed him.

5:11 [4:28] Then Mosheh related to Aharon all the words of Yahveh who had sent him, as well as all the signs that [God] had commanded him [to do].

5:12 [4:29] Then Mosheh and Aharon went {back to Egypt}, and they assembled all the elders of the Israelites;

5:13 [4:30] and Aharon spoke all the words which Yahveh had spoken to Mosheh. Then [Mosheh] performed the signs in the sight of [all] the people.

5:14 [4:31] [On seeing the signs,] the people were convinced and they rejoiced, because Yahveh was concerned about the Israelites and because [God] had seen their affliction; so they bowed low and worshipped.

 

Chapter 6: Mosheh and Aharon speak to the Pharaoh

 

6:1 [5:1] And afterwards, Mosheh and Aharon [both] went {up to the royal palace}, and they said to the Pharaoh, “Thus says Yahveh, the God of Israel: ‘Let My people go, so that they may [make a pilgrimage to] celebrate a feast with Me in the wilderness.’”

6:2 [5:2] But the Pharaoh said, “Who is [this] Yahveh that I should obey His orders to let Israel go? I do not [care to] know [this] Yahveh, and what’s more, I will not let Israel go.”

6:3 [5:3] Then they said to him, “The God of the Hebrews has arranged a meeting with us; please let us make a three days’ journey into the wilderness, so that we may make offerings to Yahveh our God. Otherwise pestilence and sword may befall us all!”

6:4 [5:4] But the king of Egypt said to them, “Why do you, Mosheh and Aharon, distract the people from their work? Get [back] to your hard labour!”

6:5 [5:5] Furthermore the Pharaoh said, “Look, [your people] are now [more] numerous than [our own] people [who work] the land, and yet you would have them take a rest from their hard labour!”

 

The Pharaoh increases the workload of the Israelites by making them find their own straw

 

6:6 [5:6] So on [that] same day, the Pharaoh gave strict instructions to the taskmasters over the people and their {Israelite} foremen, saying,

6:7 [5:7] “You are no longer to give the people straw to make bricks with, as you did in the past; let them go and gather straw for themselves.

6:8 [5:8] But you shall impose on them the [same] quota of bricks that they were making in the past; you are not to reduce any of it. [It’s] because they are slackers – that’s why they are crying out and saying, ‘Let us go and make sacrificial offerings to our God.’

6:9 [5:9] Let the labour be heavier on the men, and let them be [so] preoccupied with it, that they will [have no time to] pay attention to false words.”

6:10 [5:10] So the taskmasters of the people and their foremen went out and spoke to the people, saying, “Thus says the Pharaoh: ‘I am not going to give you any straw.

6:11 [5:11] [It is] you [who] must go and get straw for yourselves wherever you can find it, but nothing from your work will be reduced in any way.’ ”

6:12 [5:12] So the people scattered throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw.

6:13 [5:13] However, the taskmasters continued pressing them, saying, “You must complete your assigned work – your work-quotas for each and every day – just like when straw was being given to you.”

6:14 [5:14] Moreover, the foremen of the Israelites, whom the Pharaoh’s taskmasters had set over them, were flogged and were asked, “Why have you not completed your required quota in making bricks either yesterday or today, like [you did] previously?”

6:15 [5:15] Then the foremen of the Israelites came and appealed to the Pharaoh, saying, “Why do you deal this way with your servants?

6:16 [5:16] No straw is given at all to your servants, yet they keep saying to us, ‘Make bricks!’ And behold, your servants are being flogged; but the fault [is with] your [own] people.”

6:17 [5:17] But [the Pharaoh] said, “Slackers are what you [all] are – slackers! That’s why you keep saying, ‘Let us go and make sacrificial offerings to our God.’

6:16 [5:18] So be off now to [your] work! There’ll be no straw given to you, yet still you must deliver the [same] quota of bricks!”

6:19 [5:19] With that, the foremen of the Israelites realised [how much] trouble they were in when they were told, “You must not reduce your daily amount of bricks!”

 

The Israelites blame Mosheh and Aharon for their increased misery

 

6:20 [5:20] When [the foremen] came out from [their audience] with the Pharaoh, they came upon Mosheh and Aharon, [since] they had been standing {there} waiting for them {outside}.

6:21 [5:21] So they said to them, “May Yahveh look upon you and judge you for putting a sword in his hand to kill us, for you have made us an odious stench before Pharaoh and before his courtiers!”

6:22 [5:22] With that, Mosheh returned to Yahveh and said, “O my Sovereign, why have You brought harm to this people? And why did You send me [to do] this?

6:23 [5:23] Because ever since I came to the Pharaoh to speak in Your Name, he has done [nothing but] harm to this people, and You have not delivered Your people at all!”

6:24 [6:1] However, Yahveh said to Mosheh, “Now you shall see what I will do to the Pharaoh; for under compulsion he will let them go, and under compulsion he will drive them out from his country.”

 

Notes:

5:3 - 'but it is I who will toughen the hardness of his heart' - the Hebrew literally says, 'I will harden his heart'. My alternative translation comes from the fact that God is not a puppetmaster who directs human will like a puppetmaster pulls a puppet's strings (for God would then be an unjust God who punishes someone for a fault that God Himself caused); what God did was present the Pharaoh with situations which would lay bare the natural obstinacy of his heart, in the vein of 'give people enough rope and they will hang themselves with it'.

5:6-8 (the encounter with the Guardian Angel of Egypt) - The Hebrew in these three verses is ambiguous. The traditional interpretation means that these verses have no connection whatsoever with the verses before or after it. However, acccording to ancient Israelite belief, each nation / ethnic group has their own guardian angel which looks out for their interests (and whether we accept this belief ourselves or not, that is what they used to believe). The guardian angel of Edom fought Jacob at the Jabbok river; here, since God has threatened the firstborn of Egypt, the guardian angel of Egypt threatens Mosheh's firstborn with a potentially fatal illness.

          Personally, I do not believe that guardian angels behave like this, because it would mean that they can oppose the will of God and fight with one another (which in Yahwist theology they can't). Rather, I think this story comes from a time after the ancient Hebrews dispensed with the belief that demons caused disease, but from a time when they believed that disease was caused by God and God's agents, the angels (but it isn't; illness is not a punishment or judgment from God, illness just happens).

          I think the raggedness of the Hebrew in this episode comes from the discomfort of ancient Jews with the belief in guardian angels who strive against one another; over time, the finer details and purpose of the story were lost.

5:9 (Tsipporah returns with her 2 sons to Midian) - this is reconstructed from MT Exodus ch. 18, where Tsipporah is portrayed as still being in Midian with her children; the narrative has no details of her ever returning there. She may have gone back to Midian, in the belief that the angel of Egypt would further harm her sons if they continued.

6:5 - 'your people are now more numerous than our own people who work the land' - in the Samaritan text, it says in Hebrew, 'behold [they]-many now than-people-of land; a number of modern translations interpret this as being a comparison between 'your people' (the Israelites) and the common native people of the land (the ordinary Egyptian workforce), both of whom work on the land. The term 'people of the land' has the sense of 'common working folk' in Hebrew.

Chapter 7: God reassures Mosheh that the Israelites will be redeemed from Egypt

 

7:1 [6:2] So God spoke [further] to Mosheh and said to him, “I am Yahveh.

7:2 [6:3] Now, I was experienced by Avrāhām, by Yitschaq and by Ya`aqov as Eil Shadday, but [by] My name of Yahveh, I did not make Myself known to them.

7:3 [6:4] I also established My covenant with them, to give to them the land of Canaan – the land of their sojourning in which they dwelt as aliens.

7:4 [6:5] Furthermore I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are holding in servitude, and I have decided to take action on My covenant with you.

7:5 [6:6] Go therefore and speak to the Israelites and say, ‘I am Yahveh, and I will bring you [all] out from under the heavy yoke of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their servitude. I will also redeem you with mighty displays of power and with great [acts of] judgment {upon the false gods of the Egyptians}.

7:6 [6:7] Thereafter I will take you to Myself as a people, and I will be your God; then you shall know that I am Yahveh your God, who brought you out from under the heavy yoke of the Egyptians.

7:7 [6:8] I will bring you [all] to the land which I swore on oath to give to Avrāhām, to Yitschaq, and to Ya`aqov, and I will give it to you [all] as an [eternal] inheritance; I am Yahveh {and I shall do this}!’ ”

7:8 [6:9] So Mosheh spoke thus to the Israelites, but they did not listen to Mosheh on account of their dejected spirits and cruel servitude;

7:9 [cf 14:12] for they were saying to Mosheh, “Just leave us alone, and we will carry on working for the Egyptians; because it’s better to work for the Egyptians than face certain death in the desert.”

7:10 [6:10] Therefore Yahveh spoke to Mosheh, saying,

7:11 [6:11] “Come, speak {before} the Pharaoh, king of Egypt, so that he might let the Israelites go from his land.”

7:12 [6:12] But [instead], Mosheh protested before Yahveh, saying, “Behold, [if] the Israelites have not listened to me, how then will the Pharaoh listen to me, since I’m [always] fumbling for words?”

7:13 [6:13] So Yahveh spoke to Mosheh and to Aharon, and gave them strict instructions [with regard] to the Israelites and the Pharaoh king of Egypt, about bringing the Israelites out of the land of Egypt.

 

The Genealogy of Mosheh and Aharon

 

7:14 [6:14] Now these are the [eldest] progenitors of the ancestral houses {of the Israelites}: the sons of Rė’uvein, Yisraeil’s firstborn: Chanōkh and Pallū, Chetsrōn and Karmī; these are the clans of {the} Reuben{ites}.

7:15 [6:15] The sons of Shim`ōn: Yėmu’eil and Yāmīn and Ohadh and Yākhīn and Tsochar, and [also] Shā’ūl the son of a Canaanite woman; these are the clans of the Simeonites.

7:16 [6:16] And these are the names of the sons of Leivī, [listed] according to their descendants: Geirshōn, Qohāth and Mėrārī; and the [total] span of Leivī’s life [was] one hundred and thirty-seven years.

7:17 [6:17] Now, the sons of Geirshōn [were] Livnī and Shim`ī, [corresponding] to their clans.

7:18 [6:18] And the sons of Qohāth [were] `Amrām and Yitzhār, Chevrōn and `Uzzī’eil; and the [total] span of Qohāth’s life was one hundred and thirty-three years.

7:19 [6:19] And the sons of Mėrārī [were] Machlī and Mūshī. These are the [ancestral] clans of the Levites, [listed according] to their descendants.

7:20 [6:20] Now {these are the clans and descendants of the sons of Qohāth}: `Amrām took Yōkhévedh, the daughter of his father’s sister, to be his wife; and she bore him Aharon and Mosheh, and Miryām their sister. And the [total] span of `Amrām’s life was one hundred and thirty-seven years.

7:21 [6:21] And the sons of Yitzhār [were] Qorach and Néfegh and Zikhrī.

7:22 {And the sons of Chevrōn were} {Chashav’eil and Yėrī’eil}.

7:23 [6:22] And the sons of `Uzzī’eil [were] Mīshā’eil and Eltsāfān and Sithrī.

7:24 [6:23] Now, Aharon took Elísheva`, {a Judahite,} the daughter of `Ammīnādhāv and sister of Nachshōn, to be his wife; and she bore him Nādhāv and Avīhū, El`āzār and Īthāmār.

7:25 [6:24] And the sons of Qorach [were] Assīr and Elqānāh and Avīāsāf; these are the clans of the Qorachites.

7:26 [6:25a] And Aharon’s son El`āzār took one of the daughters of Pūţī’eil to be his wife, and she bore him Pinchās.

7:27 [6:25b] These [then] are the progenitors of the ancestral houses of the Levites, [listed] according to their clans.

 

A Refrain about Mosheh and Aharon

 

7:28 [6:26]

It was he, Aharon, along with Mosheh,

     to whom Yahveh said,

“Bring the Israelites out from the land of Egypt

     according to their divisions.”

7:29 [6:27a]

It was they who spoke to the Pharaoh, king of Egypt,

     to bring the Israelites out from Egypt,

     {just as Yahveh had instructed them}.

7:30 [6:27b, 6:26aii, 7:5b]

It was he, Mosheh along with Aharon,

     {to whom YHVH said,

“I will bring down the full force of My power on Egypt,

     and I will lead the Israelites out from their midst.”}

7:31 [6:28]

And [this] is what happened on the day

     when Yahveh spoke

     to {Aharon and} Mosheh in the land of Egypt.

 

Chapter 8: God repeats His Commission to Mosheh

 

8:1 [6:29] Now Yahveh spoke to Mosheh, saying, “I am Yahveh; speak to the Pharaoh king of Egypt [and tell him] everything that I declare to you.”

8:2 [6:30] But Mosheh objected before Yahveh, [saying], “Behold, I’m [always] fumbling for words; how then will the Pharaoh listen to me?”

8:3 [7:1] Then Yahveh said to Mosheh, “Consider [this]: I shall make you as God to the Pharaoh, and your brother Aharon shall be your prophet.

8:4 [7:2] You yourself shall relay [to him] everything that I command you [to say], and your brother Aharon shall speak to the Pharaoh {and demand} that he let the Israelites go from his land.

8:5 [7:3] But I will harden [the stubbornness of] the Pharaoh’s heart, so that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt.

8:6 [7:4] When the Pharaoh does not listen to you, then I will bring down the full force of My power on Egypt, and I will lead out My divisions – My people the Israelites – from the land of Egypt with great [acts of] judgment {upon the false gods of the Egyptians}.

8:7 [7:5] Then all the Egyptians shall know that I am Yahveh, when I bring down the full force of My power on Egypt, and lead out the Israelites from their midst.”

8:8 [7:6] So Mosheh and Aharon did [as God had told them]; just as Yahveh had commanded them, so they did.

8:9 [7:7] Now Mosheh was eighty years old and Aharon eighty-three, when they delivered their message to the Pharaoh.

 

Aaron’s Staff is turned into a snake in the presence of the Pharaoh and his Courtiers

 

8:10 [7:8] Now Yahveh spoke to Mosheh and Aharon, saying,

8:11 [7:9] “When the Pharaoh speaks to [the two of] you, saying, ‘Perform a sign or a miracle for us,’ then you shall say to Aharon, ‘Take your staff and throw it down on the ground before the Pharaoh, and it shall become a large serpent.’

8:12 [7:10] So Mosheh and Aharon came {to the royal palace} [for an audience] before the Pharaoh and his court officials, and this is what they did, just as Yahveh had commanded; and Aharon threw his staff down before the Pharaoh and his court officials, and it became a large serpent.

8:13 [7:11] But then in response, the Pharaoh called together [his own] wise men and court magicians, and they also – the pyromancers of Egypt – did [exactly] the same with their flashy secret arts;

8:14 [7:12] for each one threw down his staff and they [also] turned into large serpents. But Aharon’s staff swallowed up their staffs.

8:15 [7:13] And so the Pharaoh hardened his heart, and did not listen to them, just as Yahveh had asserted.

 

Notes:

7:5 - The addition of {upon the false gods of the Egyptians} is from MT Ex 12:12 where it says, "and I will execute judgments against all the gods of Egypt"; God's judgment is therefore not against the ordinary Egyptians, who otherwise have done nothing wrong, but against their false gods, who have no power.

7:9 - this verse comes from the Samaritan Text, which includes it as a precursor to MT/SP 14:12

7:12 - 'since I’m [always] fumbling for words' - the Hebrew literally says, and I am uncircumcised of lips'.

7:22 - 'the sons of Chevron' - this reconstucted verse fills in for missing material. Although Numbers and Chronicles mention the Hebronites as an important Levite clan along with the Yitzharites and the Uzzielites, they are notably missing from this genealogy, which otherwise lists all the sons of Qohath;

           'Chashav’eil and Yeri’eil' - the names of Chevron's sons are unknown to us. In order to have a couple of names to symbolically represent the missing names of Chevron's sons, I have adapted the post-Sinai names of 2 of his known descendants, chieftains called Hashavyah (1Chr 26.30) and Yeriyah (1Chr 26.31), and amended their names to give pre-Sinai forms ending in -eil.

7:28-31 - (Refrain about Mosheh and Aharon) - In most translations, MT v. 6.28 is immediately followed by 6.29 without pause. However, this verse belongs thematically to the preceding 2 verses (as an ending to 6.27). Together, they form an obvious poem or refrain in style, summarising what is about to happen. The reconstructed words fill out the otherwise sparse line from 6.27b

8:5 - 'I will lay harden the stubbornness of the Pharaoh’s heart' - in Hebrew, this literallly says, 'I will harden Pharaoh's heart'. This gives the unfortunate and false impression that God directs human will like a puppetmaster pulls a puppet's strings (for God would then be an unjust God who punishes someone for a fault that God Himself caused). Rather, God is putting Pharoah into situations which will bring out the natural stubbornness of his heart; this is done with the philosophy of, 'Give a man enough rope and he will hang himself with it.'

8:6 - for an explanation of the addition of {upon the false gods of the Egyptians}, see previous note to HTT Ts 7:5

8:11 - the word used for 'serpent' (tannin rather than the more usual nachash) implies a very large snake, such as a big python, rather than the small cobra which is usually depicted in films.

8:13 'with their flashy secret arts' - the Hebrew word is literally, 'flames'. This implies that the magicians hide the hidden exchange of rods with serpents with a flash of smoke and flame.

Chapter 9: The First Plague – the Waters of the Nile are turned into Blood

 

9:1 [7:14] Then Yahveh spoke to Mosheh, {saying,} “The Pharaoh’s heart is stubborn; he refuses to let the people go.

9:2 [7:15] Go {and prepare to speak} to the Pharaoh in the morning; station yourself to meet him on the bank of the Nile, and look out for when he himself goes out to the water; and you shall take along with you the staff that was turned into a snake {at Choreiv}.

9:3 [7:16] {Then, when he comes} you shall say to him, ‘Yahveh, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you, saying, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness.” But behold, you have not listened up to now.

9:4 [7:17] So this is what Yahveh says, “By this you shall know that I am Yahveh: behold, I Myself will strike a blow upon the waters that [are] in the Nile with the staff that is in my hand, and they will be turned into blood.

9:5 [7:18] Then [all] the fish that are in the Nile will die, and the Nile will become foul-smelling, and the Egyptians will be loath to drink any water from the Nile.”

9:6 So Mosheh and Aharon came before the Pharaoh {in the presence of his court officials}, and spoke to him {all the words that Yahveh had commanded them to say; but the Pharaoh’s heart was unmoved}.

9:7 [7:19] So then Yahveh said to Mosheh, “Say to your brother Aharon, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt – over their rivers, over their canals, and over their reservoirs, and over all their collections of water – so that they may become blood; and there will be blood throughout all the land of Egypt – even in [their] wooden {offering bowls} and stone {libation jars}.’ ”

9:8 [7:20] So that is what Mosheh and Aharon did, just as Yahveh had commanded. And [Aharon] lifted up the staff {of God} and struck the waters that [were] in the Nile, in the sight of the Pharaoh and in the sight of his court officials; and all the waters that [were] in the Nile were turned into blood.

9:9 [7:21] Then [all] the fish that were in the Nile died, and the Nile became foul-smelling, so that the Egyptians were unable to drink any water from the Nile. And the blood was [found] throughout all the land of Egypt.

9:10 [7:22] But the pyromancers of Egypt did exactly the same with their flashy secret arts; as a result the Pharaoh hardened his heart, and he did not listen to them, just as Yahveh had spoken.

9:11 [7:23] Then the Pharaoh turned away and went into his palace; for his heart was unmoved even by this:  

9:12 [7:24] that afterwards, all the Egyptians were having to dig around the Nile [for] water to drink, because they were unable to drink from the waters of the Nile;

9:13 [7:25] so when seven full days had passed after Yahveh struck the Nile, {God returned all the waters to how they were before, so that the people of Egypt could again drink water from the Nile}.

 

Chapter 10: The Second Plague – Frogs

 

10:1 [J: 7:26, C: 8:1] Then Yahveh said to Mosheh, “Go to the Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says Yahveh, “Let My people go, so that they may serve Me.

10:2 [J: 7:27, C: 8:2] But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will afflict your whole territory with frogs.

10:3 [J: 7:28, C: 8:3] So the Nile will bring forth abundant swarms of frogs, which will come up and go into your houses, and into the rooms [where you] lie down [to sleep], and onto your beds, and into the homes of your court officials and onto your people, and into your ovens, and into your kneading bowls, and into your dough.

10:4 [J: 7:29, C: 8:4] Thus the frogs will come up onto you and onto your court officials and onto all your people.”

10:5 So Mosheh and Aharon came before the Pharaoh {in the presence of his court officials}, and spoke to him {all the words which Yahveh had commanded them to say; but still the Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites go.}

10:6 [J: 8:1, C: 8:5] So Yahveh said to Mosheh, “Say to your brother Aharon, ‘Stretch out your hand with your staff over the rivers, over the canals and over the reservoirs, and make frogs come up upon the land of Egypt.’ ”

10:7 So Mosheh spoke to Aharon, {just as Yahveh had commanded him to do.}

10:8 [J: 8:2, C: 8:6] And Aharon stretched out his hand {with his staff} over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt.

10:9 [J: 8:3, C: 8:7] Then the pyromancers of Egypt did exactly the same with their flashy secret arts, and caused [yet more of] the frogs to come up upon the land of Egypt.

 

The Pharaoh initially relents but then goes back on his word

 

10:10 [J: 8:4, C: 8:8] With that, the Pharaoh called for Mosheh and Aharon and said, “Make supplication to Yahveh, that He might remove the frogs from me and from my people; and then I shall let the [Israelite] people go, so that they may offer sacrifices to Yahveh.”

10:11 [J: 8:5, C: 8:9] So Mosheh said to the Pharaoh, “Now is your chance to prevail over me: when I intercede for you and your court officials and your people – {tell me exactly when you wish} for the frogs to be eliminated from your home and from the homes of your people, so that they may only be left alive in the Nile.”

10:12 [J: 8:6, C: 8:10] So he said, “Tomorrow.” Then Mosheh said, “[Let it be precisely] according to your word, so that you may know that there is no {god} like Yahveh our God.

10:13 [J: 8:7, C: 8:11] At that time, the frogs will start dying off in your palace, and in the homes of your court officials and of your people, and in the open streets; they will only be left alive in the Nile.”

10:14 [J: 8:8, C: 8:12] Then Mosheh and Aharon went out from [the presence of] the Pharaoh; and Mosheh cried out to Yahveh with regard to the frogs which [God] had inflicted [upon] the Pharaoh.

10:15 [J: 8:9, C: 8:13] Accordingly, Yahveh did what Mosheh asked, and {the following day} the frogs died off in [people’s] houses, in the open streets, and in the fields.

10:16 [J: 8:10, C: 8:14] So [the Egyptians] {gathered them all together and} piled them up {outside} in massive heaps, and the [whole] country stank.

10:17 [J: 8:11, C: 8:15] However, when the Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not listen to them, just as Yahveh had spoken.

Notes:

9:6 (and similar verses throughout the stories of the Ten Plagues) - In both the Samaritan text and the Dead Sea Scrolls, there are lengthy embellishments where not only is Moses told what to say, but the text adds that he then actually goes before Pharaoh (a detail otherwise missing in the MT accounts of the plagues) and he also says it; essentially, the same verses are repeated. I have adapted this by inserting a summary of these lengthy embellishments, as at 9:6 and 10:5, and elsewhere.

9:13 - Most translations join this verse to the start of the next section. However, the SP and the MT have a division in the text after this verse; scholars interpret this as meaning that the plague of blood ended after 7 days.

            As for the words in brace brackets: In HTT Ts 9:11-12, the Pharaoh is unmoved even by the plight of his own people - at the struggle they have with finding drinkable water. These words in brace brackets are therefore an explanatory midrash, aimed at showing the compassion that God would have felt for the trouble that ordinary Egyptians were having (otherwise how long would God have left the ordinary people of Egypt to go without water? If even their Pharaoh doesn't care about them, then the God of the Hebrews will).

10:11 'Now is your chance to prevail over me' - that is, by setting God a goal that the Pharaoh thinks cannot be fulfilled - the exact time when the frogs will start dying off.

Chapter 11: The Third Plague – Gnats

 

11:1 [J: 8:12, C: 8:16] Then Yahveh said to Mosheh, “Say to Aharon, ‘Stretch out your staff with your hand and strike the dust of the land, so that it may turn into gnats throughout all the land of Egypt.’”

11:2 [J: 8:13, C: 8:17] And that is what they did; Aharon stretched out his staff with his hand, and struck the dust of the land, {and it turned into gnats}; and there were gnats on [both] man and beast. All the dust of the land became gnats throughout all the land of Egypt.

11:3 [J: 8:14, C: 8:18] Then this is what the pyromancers [tried] to do with their flashy secret arts – to make the gnats leave, but they could not; so the gnats remained on [both] man and beast.

11:4 [J: 8:15, C: 8:19] So the pyromancers said to the Pharaoh, “This may perhaps be the doing of {the} God {of the Hebrews}.” But the Pharaoh hardened his heart, and he did not listen to them, just as Yahveh had spoken.

 

The Fourth Plague – Horseflies

 

11:5 [J: 8:16, C: 8:20] Then Yahveh said to Mosheh, “Rise early in the morning and station yourself [ready to stand] before the Pharaoh; watch for him as he comes out to the waters {of the Nile}, and then say to him, ‘Thus says Yahveh, “Let My people go, so that they may serve Me.

11:6 [J: 8:17, C: 8:21] For if you refuse to send away My people, behold, I will send swarms of horseflies against you and against your court officials, and against your people and against your houses; and the houses of Egypt will be full of the swarms of horseflies; even the soil on which they {stand will be thick with horseflies}.

11:7 [J: 8:18, C: 8:22] But on that day I shall set apart the region of Goshen, where My people are living, so that there will be no swarms of horseflies upon it, in order that you may know that I am Yahveh, [even] in the midst of the land [of Egypt]!

11:8 [J: 8:19, C: 8:23] I will [therefore] make a distinction between My people and your people. Tomorrow this sign will occur.”’”

11:9 So Mosheh and Aharon came before the Pharaoh {in the presence of his court officials}, and spoke to him {all the words which Yahveh had commanded them to say. But once again, the heart of the Pharaoh was stubborn, and he refused to let the Israelite people go.}

11:10 [J: 8:20, C: 8:24] So Yahveh did [just as He said He would do]. And there came exceedingly thick swarms of horseflies into the palace of the Pharaoh and into the homes of his court officials, and throughout all the land of Egypt; and so the country was brought to ruin by the presence of the horseflies.

11:11 [J: 8:21, C: 8:25] So the Pharaoh summoned Mosheh and Aharon and said, “Go, make sacrificial offerings to your God, [but] within the land [of Egypt].”

11:12 [J: 8:22, C: 8:26] So Mosheh said, “It would not be right to do so, for we will be sacrificing to Yahveh our God that which is taboo for the Egyptians. If we sacrifice what is taboo for the Egyptians right where they can see, will they not then stone us?

11:13 [J: 8:23, C: 8:27] We have to make a three days’ journey into the wilderness, so that we can make sacrificial offerings to Yahveh our God [there], just as [God] instructs us.”

11:14 [J: 8:24, C: 8:28] So the Pharaoh said, “I myself will send you off, so that you may make sacrificial offerings to Yahveh your God in the wilderness; only be sure you don’t go too far away. Go – make supplication [to your God] on my behalf.”

11:15 [J: 8:25, C: 8:29] Then Mosheh said, “Look, I’m going to leave you now, and I shall make supplication to Yahveh – that the swarms of horseflies may depart from Pharaoh, from his court officials, and from his people tomorrow; only do not let Pharaoh toy [with us] again by not letting the people go to make sacrificial offerings to Yahveh.”

11:16 [J: 8:26, C: 8:30] So Mosheh went out from the Pharaoh[’s presence] and made supplication to Yahveh.

11:17 [J: 8:27, C: 8:31] And Yahveh did as Mosheh asked, by removing the swarms of horseflies from the Pharaoh, from his court officials and from his people; not one remained.

11:18 [J: 8:28, C: 8:32] But the Pharaoh hardened his heart this time as well, and he did not let the [Israelite] people go.

 

Chapter 12: The Fifth Plague – the Death of all the Egyptian Livestock

 

12:1 [9:1] Then Yahveh said to Mosheh, “Go to the Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says Yahveh, God of the Hebrews, “Let My people go, so that they may serve Me.

12:2 [9:2] For if you refuse to let them go, and continue to exert your control over them,

12:3 [9:3] behold, the might of Yahveh is [about to descend] upon your livestock which is [outside] in the field – on the horses, on the donkeys, on the camels, on the cattle, and on the sheep and goats; [it will be] a very severe pestilence.

12:4 [9:4] But Yahveh will make a wondrous distinction between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt, so that not a thing that belongs to the Israelites will die.” ’ ”

12:5 [9:5] Then Yahveh set a definite time by saying, “{And tell him,} ‘Tomorrow Yahveh will perform this deed upon the land.’

12:6 So Mosheh and Aharon came before Pharaoh {in the presence of his court officials}, and spoke to him {all the words that Yahveh had commanded them to say. But his heart was stubborn, and he refused to let the Israelite people go.}

12:7 [9:6] So Yahveh performed this deed the following day, and all the livestock of Egypt died; but of the livestock of the Israelites, not one thing died.

12:8 [9:7a] And the Pharaoh [even] sent {out his officials to survey the land, to see if what Mosheh and Aharon had said was true}, and behold, not even one thing among the livestock of the Israelites had died.

12:9 [9:7b] Nevertheless, the Pharaoh hardened his heart, and he did not let the {Israelite} people go.

 

The Sixth Plague – Boils

 

12:10 [9:8] Then Yahveh said to Mosheh and Aharon, “Take for yourselves handfuls of soot from a kiln, and let Mosheh throw it towards the skies before the Pharaoh’s [very] eyes.

12:11 [9:9] Then it will become a fine dust over all the land of Egypt, and turn into festering boils on man and beast throughout all the land of Egypt.”

12:12 [9:10] So they took soot from a kiln, and stood before the Pharaoh; and Mosheh threw it towards the skies, and it became festering boils on man and beast.

12:13 [9:11] Even the pyromancers were unable to stand up before Mosheh because of the boils, for the boils were on the pyromancers as well as on all the [rest of] Egypt.

12:14 [9:12] And thus Yahveh toughened [the hardness of] the Pharaoh’s heart; for he did not listen to them, just as Yahveh had spoken to Mosheh.

 

Chapter 13: The Seventh Plague – Fiery Hail

 

13:1 [9:13] Then Yahveh said to Mosheh, “Rise up early in the morning and station yourself before the Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says Yahveh, God of the Hebrews: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me.

13:2 [9:14] For this time I will send {the full force of} all My plagues upon your {stubborn} heart, and upon your court officials and upon your people, so that you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth.

13:3 [9:15] For by now I could have sent forth {the full force of} My power, and struck you and your people with a pestilence {so great}, that it would have wiped you off [the face of] the earth.

13:4 [9:16] However, this is the very reason I have allowed you to remain alive – in order to show you My power, and so that {stories of} My reputation may be recounted throughout all the earth.

13:5 [9:17] Yet still you lay siege to My people by not letting them go;

13:6 [9:18] so behold, about this time tomorrow I will send down the very worst hailstorm, the likes of which have not been seen in Egypt from the day it was founded until now.

13:7 [9:19] Therefore, give the order now to bring your livestock and whatever you own outside in the field to safety. Every man and beast that is found out in the field and is not brought inside, then when the hail comes down on them, they will die.” ’ ”

13:8 So Mosheh and Aharon came before the Pharaoh {in the presence of his court officials}, and spoke to him {all the words which Yahveh had commanded them to say. But in spite of all the terrible warnings, the heart of the Pharaoh was unmoved.}

13:9 [9:20] [However,] those among Pharaoh’s court officials who feared the message of Yahveh hurried to bring [their] slaves and [their] livestock inside {for safety};

13:10 [9:21] but those who cared nothing for the message of Yahveh left [their] slaves and [their] livestock {outside} in the field.

13:11 [9:22] Thereupon Yahveh said to Mosheh, “Stretch out {your staff with} your hand towards the skies, that hail may [rain down] on all the land of Egypt – on man and beast, and on every plant out in the field throughout the land of Egypt.”

13:12 [9:23] When Mosheh stretched out his staff {with his hand} towards the skies, Yahveh sent down thunder and hail, and fire flashed down to the earth; thus Yahveh rained down hail {and fire} upon the land of Egypt.

13:13 [9:24] So there was hail, and tempestuous fire mixed in amongst the hail; and the hail was very severe, the likes of which had not been [seen] in all the land of Egypt since it had become a nation.

13:14 [9:25] And the hail struck everything that was {outside} in the field throughout all the land of Egypt, both man and beast; the hail also struck all the ripe plants [outside in] the fields, and shattered every tree [that was in] the fields.

13:15 [9:31] Now the flax and the barley were ruined, for the barley was ripe in the ear, and the flax was just coming into bud.

13:16 [9:32] But neither the wheat nor the emmer [crops] were ruined, for they are [both] late crops.

13:17 [9:26] Only in the region of Goshen, where the Israelites were, there was no hail.

13:18 [9:27] So the Pharaoh sent for and summoned Mosheh and Aharon, and said to them, “I was at fault this time; Yahveh is the one in the right, and I and my people are the guilty ones.

13:19 [9:28] Make supplication to Yahveh for me, for there has been enough of God’s thunder and hail and fire; then I will let you go, and you shall remain no longer.”

13:20 [9:29] So Mosheh said to him, “As soon as I go out of the city, I will spread out my hands to Yahveh; the thunder and rain will cease, and there will no longer be any hail {or fire on the earth}, so that you may know that {the heavens and} the earth are Yahveh’s.

13:21 [9:30-32] But as for you and your court officials, I know [full well] that you still do not have any [genuine] reverence for Yahveh God. {However, whereas the barley and the flax harvests have been ruined, the wheat and the emmer crops may yet be saved.”}

13:22 [9:33] So Mosheh went out from the Pharaoh {and left} the city; then he spread out his hands to Yahveh, and the thunder and rain ceased, and the hail {and fire} no longer poured down upon the earth.

13:23 [9:34] But when the Pharaoh saw that the hail {and fire} and the thunder and rain had ceased, he continued in his offence and hardened his heart – [both] he and his court officials.

13:24 [9:35] Thus the Pharaoh hardened his heart, and he did not let the Israelites go, just as Yahveh had spoken through Mosheh.

Notes:

11:4 - 'This may perhaps be the doing of ....' - Hebrew literally says, 'This [is the] finger of...' However, the implications of this statement don't come over with a literal translation. Previously in Hebrew, there has been mention of 'hand' and 'arm' - both metaphorical symbols of power. However, even though the Egyptian magicians are willing to admit that this is no magic, but the doing of the Hebrew God, they are not willing to ascribe to a foreign God the same power that the Hebrews do, so instead of 'arm' they say 'finger'. I have therefore tried to put across this begrudging admittal in my translation.

           {the} God {of the Hebrews}' - The Egyptians use the word elohim, which from the mouths of pagans can only mean the God of the Hebrews.

12:3 - 'on the camels' - this is an anachronism. This story takes place in the 15th century BCE, but camels were not used in Egypt until much later, in the 7th century BCE. These words would therefore have been added by 6th Jewish century scribes, thinking that they were being thorough.

Chapter 14: The Eighth Plague – Locusts

 

14:1 [10:1] Then Yahveh said to Mosheh, “Go to the Pharaoh, for I Myself have strengthened the stubbornness of his heart and the hearts of his court officials, so that I may perform these signs of Mine among [them],

14:2 [10:2] and so that you may recount in the hearing of your children, and of your grandchildren, what I did to make a mockery of {the gods of} Egypt; and about My signs which I performed among [the Egyptians], so that you may know that I am Yahveh.”

14:3 {Then Yahveh spoke to Mosheh all the words he was to say in the presence of the Pharaoh.}

14:4 [10:3] Thereafter, Mosheh came with Aharon before the Pharaoh {in the presence of his court officials}, and they said to him, “Thus says Yahveh, the God of the Hebrews: ‘How long will you refuse to accede to My [greater] authority? Let My people go, so that they may serve Me.

14:5 [10:4] For if you refuse to let My people go, behold, tomorrow at this hour I will bring a great abundance of locusts into your territory.

14:6 [10:5] And they shall cover the visible surface of the [whole] country, so that no one will be able to see the ground. They will also eat the remnant of what escaped [the storms] – whatever is left to you from the hail; and they will eat up every ripe plant and every tree that you have growing outside in the fields.

14:7 [10:6a] Then they shall fill your palaces, and the homes of all your court officials and the homes of all the Egyptians – [something] which neither your fathers nor your grandfathers have [ever] seen, from the day that they were [born] on [this] soil until this day.’

14:8 [10:6b] Then {when he had finished speaking Yahveh’s words,} [they] turned and went out from the Pharaoh[’s presence].

14:9 [10:7] With that, the Pharaoh’s court officials said to him, “How long will this [contemptuous fellow] be a snare to us? [Just] let the men go, so that they may worship Yahveh their God. Do you not yet realise that Egypt has been brought to [the brink of] ruin?”

14:10 [10:8] So Mosheh and Aharon were brought back to the Pharaoh, and he said to them, “Go, worship Yahveh your God! {But just} who exactly will be the ones that are going?”

14:11 [10:9] So Mosheh said, “We shall go with our young and with our old; with our sons and with our daughters; we shall go with our sheep and with our cattle, for we [must hold] a feast to Yahveh our God.”

14:12 [10:10] But [the Pharaoh] said to them, “May Yahveh [help] you, if ever I should let you go along with your [womenfolk and] little ones! Have a care – clearly you are bent on evil!

14:13 [10:11] No way is that going to happen! Go now – [just] the adult males among you – and serve Yahveh; for isn’t that what you have been asking for [all along]!” With that they were expelled from the Pharaoh’s presence.

14:14 [10:12] After that, Yahveh said to Mosheh, “Stretch out {your staff with} your hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts [to appear], so that they may come up over the land of Egypt and eat up every ripe plant across the land, and all the fruit on the trees – everything that the hail has left behind.”

14:15 [10:13] So Mosheh stretched out his staff {with his hand} over the land of Egypt, {and} Yahveh directed an east wind across the land all that day and all that night; and when it was morning, so it was that the east wind brought the [hordes of] locusts.

14:16 [10:14a] So the locusts came up over all the land of Egypt, and they came to rest in great abundance on the whole territory of Egypt.

14:17 [10:14b, 15a] There had never been so many locusts like that before, nor would there be so many again after that; for they covered the visible surface of the whole country, so that the ground [itself] was darkened.

14:18 [10:15b] And they ate up every ripe plant [across] the land, as well as all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left behind. Thus nothing green was left on any tree or ripe plant [outside in] the fields throughout the whole land of Egypt.

14:19 [10:16] As a result, the Pharaoh hurriedly called for Mosheh and Aharon, and he said, “I have sinned against Yahveh your God and against you!

14:20 [10:17] So therefore, please forgive my sin just this once, and make supplication to Yahveh your God, if He would only remove this death from me!”

14:21 [10:18] So [Mosheh] went out from the Pharaoh and made supplication to Yahveh.

14:22 [10:19] Thereupon Yahveh changed the wind into a very strong west wind which picked up the locusts, and they were [all] cast into the Sea of Reeds; not one locust was left in the whole territory of Egypt.

14:23 [10:20] But Yahveh toughened [the hardness of] the Pharaoh’s heart, for he did not let the Israelites go.

 

Chapter 15: The Ninth Plague – Darkness

 

15:1 [10:21] Then Yahveh said to Mosheh, “Stretch out your hands towards the skies, so that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt – a darkness which can be felt.”

15:2 [10:22] So Mosheh stretched out his hands towards the skies, and there was a thick darkness across the whole land of Egypt for three days.

15:3 [10:23] For three days, no one was able to see even the person right next to them, and no one could rise from where they sat; however, all the Israelites had light in their dwellings.

15:4 [10:24] Then the Pharaoh called to Mosheh and to Aharon, and said, “Be off now to [your] worship of Yahveh – even your [womenfolk and] little ones may go with you; only leave your sheep and your cattle behind.”

15:5 [10:25] But Mosheh said, “So then are you yourself going to provide for us [the animals for our] sacrifices and burnt offerings – so that we may offer worship [to] Yahveh our God?

15:6 [10:26] On the contrary, our livestock is also going with us – not a hoof shall remain behind, for we shall make use of some of them to worship Yahveh our God. And until we get there, even we ourselves do not know with what [animals] we shall offer worship to Yahveh.”

15:7 [10:27] But Yahveh toughened [the hardness of] Pharaoh’s heart, for he was not willing to let them go.

15:8 [10:28] Then the Pharaoh said to him, “Get away from me! But have a care – do not come into my presence again, for on the day you see my face [again] you shall die!”

15:9 [10:29] So Mosheh said, “You have spoken correctly: I shall never again see your face!”

 

Chapter 16: The Tenth Plague – Mosheh warns of the Death of the Firstborn of Egypt

 

16:1 [11:1] However, {as he was leaving the presence of the Pharaoh}, Yahveh said to Mosheh, “One more affliction I will bring upon the Pharaoh and on Egypt; and after that he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will forcibly drive you out from here completely.

16:2 [11:2] Speak therefore [secretly] in the hearing of the [Israelite] people, [and instruct them] that each man shall ask from his neighbour and each woman from her neighbour for articles of silver and articles of gold, as well as for clothing.”

16:3 [11:3] [This was because] Yahveh would cause the Egyptians to look upon the [Israelite] people favourably. Furthermore, the man Mosheh himself would become greatly [respected] in the land of Egypt, [both] in the sight of the Pharaoh’s court officials and in the sight of the [ordinary] people [of Egypt].

16:4 {Then Mosheh called to mind the words that Yahveh had spoken to him when he first departed from Midian to come to Egypt.}

16:5 So Mosheh {turned back to the Pharaoh and his court officials and} said to him, “Thus says Yahveh: ‘Israel is My son, My firstborn; [that is why] I have been saying to you, ‘Let My son go, so that he may serve Me’. But you refused to let him go, so behold, Yahveh is going to kill your son – your firstborn.’”

16:6 [11:4] Then Mosheh {spoke as Yahveh was speaking to him, and} said to the Pharaoh, “Thus says Yahveh: ‘At about midnight I am going out into the midst of Egypt,

16:7 [11:5] and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, right down to the firstborn of the slave girl who [sits] behind [her] pair of millstones; [even] all the firstborn of the livestock [shall die].

16:8 [11:6] Moreover, there shall be a great cry {of distress to the heavens} throughout all the land of Egypt, the like of which there has never been [before], and the like of which there shall never be again.

16:9 [11:7] But against the Israelites not even a dog will snarl – neither at [our] people nor even [our] animals – so that you may all realise how great a distinction Yahveh makes between Egypt and Israel.’

16:10 [11:8] Then, all these your court officials will come down to me and bow themselves before me, saying, ‘Get out – you and all the people who follow you!’ and after that I will depart.” Then he went out from the Pharaoh in burning anger.

16:11 [11:9] Then Yahveh said to Mosheh, “The Pharaoh will not listen to you, so that My wonders will be multiplied in the land of Egypt.”

16:12 [11:10] Now Mosheh and Aharon had performed all these wonders before the Pharaoh; yet Yahveh had toughened [the hardness of] the Pharaoh’s heart, for he would not let the Israelites go out of his country.

 

Chapter 17: The Passover and Ordinances for the Sacrifice of the Spare-Offering

 

17:1 [12:1] Now Yahveh instructed Mosheh and Aharon in the land of Egypt, saying,

17:2 [12:2] “This month shall be the beginning of [the] months for you; it is [to be the] first of the months of the year for you.

17:3 [12:3] Speak then to all the assembled leaders of the Israelites, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one [of them] to take a lamb or a kid for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household.

17:4 [12:4] Now if the household is too small for a [whole] lamb, then they shall share it with the household of their nearest neighbour, taking into account the number in each household, and determining how much of the lamb or kid each person will eat.

17:5 [12:5] You shall have a lamb or a kid – an unblemished male, one year old. You may take it from amongst the sheep or the goats.

17:6 [12:6] And it shall be with you for safekeeping until the fourteenth day of this month. Then they shall slaughter it – the whole assembled people of the community of Israelites – between first twilight and deep twilight.

17:7 [12:7] Furthermore, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.

17:8 [12:8] They shall eat the meat that [same] night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

17:9 [12:9] You shall not eat any of it raw or cooked by boiling it in water. Rather it shall only be roasted over fire – with head, legs and inner parts intact.

17:10 [12:10] And you shall not leave any of it over until morning, but if there is any left over from it in the morning, you shall burn it in fire.

17:11 [12:11] Now this is how you shall eat it: with your tunic gathered up {and tucked in at your waist}, your sandals on your feet, and your staffs ready in your hands. Thus you shall eat it in haste – it is a spare-offering to Yahveh.

17:12 [12:12] For I will go right across the land of Egypt on this night, and I will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and I will execute [My] judgments against all the {false} gods of Egypt – I am Yahveh.

17:13 [12:13] The blood shall be a sign for you, there on the houses where you [dwell]; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and there shall be no [deathly] plague among you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

17:14 [12:14] And this day is to be for you an active reminder, and you shall celebrate it, a festival to Yahveh throughout all your generations; you shall celebrate [this pilgrim-festival] as an eternal ordinance.

 

Notes:

14:3 - for the first time, the MT text does not record what Mosheh is told to say; we learn what God told Moses to say only when he actually says it. However, both the SP & DSS have at this point additional material which begins with, 'And you shall say to Pharaoh...', and continues with a repetition of MT verses 10.3-6

14:4 - 'to accede to My authority' - Heb: 'to be bowed from my presence'

14:6 - 'and they shall cover the visible surface of the [whole] country' - Heb: 'and it shall cover the eye of the land'

14:12 (and also 15:4) - '[womenfolk and] little ones' - some say that the Hebrew word taf includes women, and its implied meaning is 'anyone who is not an adult male'.

14:13 - 'No way is that going to happen' - Heb: 'not thus'.

15:3 - 'no one was able to see even the person right next to them' - Heb: 'they did not see a man his brother'

16:1 - '{as he was leaving the presence of the Pharaoh} - the Pharaoh has said that Moses will not see his face again, so what comes next, logically, is said to the Pharaoh before Moses leaves.

16:4-5 - adapted from the Samaritan text; at MT 4:22-23, God says that Moses will say these words at the end of all the wonders, but the MT does not indicate that Moses then went on to ever say them.

16:8 - 'a great cry [of distress to the heavens]' - the Hebrew word tse`aqah indicates 'a cry of distress to God for help'

17:11 - 'with your tunic gathered up and tucked in at your waist' - Heb: 'your hips belted'.

Chapter 18: Ordinances for the Festival of Unleavened Bread

 

18:1 [12:1a, 15] {Then Yahveh said to Mosheh and Aharon,} “Now, [for] seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but by the first day you shall have [completely] removed [all] leaven from your houses; for whoever eats anything leavened from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.

18:2 [12:16] On the first day you shall have a holy convocation, and on the seventh day [another] holy convocation; no regular work at all may be done on them, except [to prepare] what is eaten by each person – that alone may be done by you.

18:3 [12:17] So you shall observe the [Festival of] Unleavened Bread, for on this very same day I brought your battalions out of the land of Egypt; therefore you shall observe and do this day throughout your generations as an eternal ordinance.

18:4 [12:18] In the first [month], on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first [day] of the month in the evening.

18:5 [12:19] [For] seven days there shall be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eats what is leavened, that person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be an alien or a native of the Land.

18:6 [12:20] You shall not eat anything leavened [at all]; in all your settlements you shall eat [only] unleavened bread.’”

 

Mosheh relates the ordinances to the Elders of the Israelites in Preparation for the Passover

 

18:7 [12:21] Then Mosheh called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go immediately and select for yourselves lambs according to [the size of] your families, and slaughter the spare-offering.

18:8 [12:22] Then you shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply [it] to the lintel and the two doorposts [using] the blood that is in the basin; and not a single person shall go outside the door of their house until morning.

18:9 [12:23] For Yahveh will go across [the land] to strike down the Egyptians; but when [God] sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, Yahveh will pass over the door, and will not allow the Destroyer to come in to your houses to strike you down.

18:10 [12:24] And you shall commemorate this event as an ordinance for you and for your children forever.

18:11 [12:25] And so it shall be, that when you enter the Land which Yahveh will give you, just as [God] has spoken, you shall observe this ritual.

18:12 [12:26] And so it shall be, that when your children say to you, ‘What does this ritual [mean] to you?’

18:13 [12:27a] you shall say to them, ‘This sacrifice of a spare-offering, it is for Yahveh who passed over the homes of the Israelites in Egypt, when [God] struck down the Egyptians but delivered our homes [from death].’”

18:14 [12:27b] Then the people bowed low and prostrated themselves in worship.

18:15 [12:28] And the Israelites went and did so; just as Yahveh had commanded Mosheh and Aharon, so they did.

 

Notes:

18:3 - 'therefore you shall observe and do this day throughout your generations' - both the SP & LXX add the words 'and do', in the sense of 'repeat, act out'.

18:7 - 'Go immediately and select' - the Hebrew verb mashakh (literaly, 'pull', 'drag') has an idiomatic use here, having the sense of 'hurry', 'hasten'.

Chapter 19: The Death of the Firstborn of Egypt

 

19:1 [12:29] Now it so happened at midnight that Yahveh struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of the Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the prisoner who [sat] in the dungeon, as well as all the firstborn of the livestock.

19:2 [12:30] So the Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his court officials and all the Egyptians, and there was a great cry {of distress to the heavens} in Egypt, for there was no household where there was not someone dead.

 

The Egyptians urge the Israelites to leave Egypt

 

19:3 [12:31] Then the Pharaoh called for Mosheh and Aharon at night and said, “Pack up [and] get out from among my people, both you and the Israelites; and go, worship Yahveh, just as you have [both] been demanding.

19:4 [12:32] Take both your sheep and your cattle – just as you’ve been demanding – and go; but you must bless me as well.”

19:5 [12:33] So the Egyptians strongly urged the [Israelite] people, sending them out of the country in haste, for they said, “We’re all going to die!”

19:6 [12:34] So the people took their dough before it was leavened, with their kneading bowls wrapped up [tightly] in their mantles over their shoulders.

19:7 [12:35] Now the Israelites had done exactly as Mosheh had instructed, for they had requested from the Egyptians articles of silver and articles of gold, as well as clothing;

19:8 [12:36] and Yahveh Himself had caused the Egyptians to look favourably on the [Israelite] people, so that they granted their requests. Thus they stripped the Egyptians.

 

The Exodus from Egypt: the Israelites journey to Sukkoth

 

19:9 [12:37] Now the Israelites journeyed from Ra`mėsēs to Sukkoth – about six hundred thousand fighting men on foot, apart from the {women and} young children.

19:10 [12:38] Moreover, a mixed multitude {of non-Hebrews and people of mixed descent} also went up with them, along with [their] sheep, goats and cattle – a very large number of livestock.

19:11 [12:39] They baked the dough which they had brought out of Egypt into flat rounds of unleavened bread, because it had not [had time] to leaven – since they were driven out of Egypt and could not delay, nor had they [time] to prepare any provisions for themselves.

19:12 [12:40] Now the length of time that the Israelites dwelt in the land of Cana`an and in the land of Egypt was four hundred and thirty years.

19:13 [12:41] And it so happened that at the end of four hundred and thirty years, to the very day, all the battalions of Yahveh went out from the land of Egypt.

19:14 [12:42] Since on this night, Yahveh observed [His] promises by bringing them out of the land of Egypt, this same night shall be a night when all Israelites observe [their] promises, throughout their generations to come.

 

Specifying who may eat of the Spare-Offering

 

19:15 [12:43] Yahveh said to Mosheh and Aharon, “This is the ordinance of the spare-offering: no foreigner is to eat of it;

19:16 [12:44] But any slave – a man bought with money – he may eat of it if you have him circumcised.

19:17 [12:45] A temporary resident or a hired worker may not eat of it.

19:18 [12:46] It shall be eaten in one house. You shall not take any of the meat outside from the house, and you shall not break any bone in it.

19:19 [12:47] The whole congregation of Israel shall do this.

19:20 [12:48] And if there is a foreigner resident with you, and they want to make the spare-offering to Yahveh, then circumcise him – every male – and then he may draw near [to the sanctuary] to make it, and he will be like one native born. But anyone who is uncircumcised may not eat of it.

19:21 [12:49] The same law shall apply to the native as to the alien who sojourns among you.”

19:22 [12:50] Then all the Israelites did so; they did just as Yahveh had commanded Mosheh and Aharon.

19:23 [12:51] And on that same day Yahveh brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt according to their battalions.

 

Notes:

19:9 - 'six hundred thousand fighting men on foot' - this is an impossibly huge figure, which would make the Israelites number about 2 million - highly unlikely, given the Egyptian population at this time was only about 2.5 million. I think a more likely figure to have been sixty thousand men, resulting in a total Israelite population of about 200,000;

            'apart from the {women and} young children' - the Hebrew word taf implies both women and children.

Chapter 20: Remembering the Festival of Unleavened Bread throughout the generations to come

 

20:1 [13:1] Then Yahveh spoke to Mosheh, saying,

20:2 [13:2] “Sanctify to Me every firstborn – the first offspring of every womb among the Israelites, both of man and beast, [for] it belongs to Me.”

 

Further Ordinances for the Festival of Unleavened Bread

 

20:3 [13:3a] So Mosheh said to the people, “Remember this day in which you went out from the land of Egypt, from a state of slavery; for with powerful displays of might, Yahveh brought you out from this place;

20:4 [13:3b-4] therefore, nothing leavened shall be eaten [among you], [for] today in the month of Ripe Barley you left [Egypt].

20:5 [13:5] And so it shall be [that] when Yahveh your God brings you into the land of the Canaanites – the Cheytites and the Amorites, the Perizzites and the Girgashites, the Hivites and the Yevusites – which [God] swore to your ancestors to give you, a land overflowing in abundant natural bounty, that you shall observe this custom in this month:

20:6 [13:6] for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a {holy convocation} to Yahveh.

20:7 [13:7] Unleavened bread shall be eaten throughout the seven days; and nothing leavened shall be seen among you, nor shall any leaven be seen among you anywhere in your territory.

20:8 [13:8] And you shall explain [it thus] to your children on that day, saying, ‘It is because of what Yahveh did for me when I came out of Egypt.’

20:9 [13:9] And it shall be for you like an [indelible] sign on your hand, and like a [jewelled] reminder between your eyes, so that the teaching of Yahveh may be in your mouth; for with mighty displays of power, Yahveh brought you out of Egypt.

20:10 [13:10] Therefore, you shall keep this ordinance at its appointed time from year to year.

 

The reason for the Consecration of the Firstborn to God

 

20:11 [13:11] “Now when Yahveh your God brings you into the land of the Canaanites, just as [God] swore to you and to your ancestors, and gives it to you,

20:12 [13:12] then you shall give over to Yahveh the first offspring of every womb, along with the first offspring of every animal that you own; you shall [also] consecrate [all] the [firstborn] males to Yahveh.

20:13 [13:13] But every first offspring of a donkey you shall buy back with a lamb, but if you do not buy it back, then you shall break its neck; but as for human beings, every firstborn among your children you must buy back.

20:14 [13:14] And so it shall be, that when your children ask you in the future, saying, ‘What [does] this [mean]?’ then you shall say to them, ‘With powerful displays of might, Yahveh brought us out of Egypt, from a state of slavery.

20:15 [13:15] For it so happened, that when the Pharaoh was stubborn about letting us go, that Yahveh killed every firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of human beings through to the firstborn of the animals. Therefore, I offer up to Yahveh the first offspring of every womb, [as well as] the [firstborn] males, but every firstborn of my children I must buy back.’

20:16 [13:16] So [this practice] shall be {for you} like an [indelible] sign on your hand, and like [bejewelled] frontlets between your eyes, for with powerful displays of might, Yahveh brought you out of Egypt.”

Chapter 21: The Israelites journey as far as the Sea of Reeds

 

21:1 [13:17] Now it so happened when the Pharaoh let the people go, that God did not lead them [by the] road [which went through the] land of the Pelishtites, even though it was nearer; for as God said [to Himself], “In case the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.”

21:2 [13:18] Therefore, God led the people round [by] way of the wilderness, [taking them to the] Sea of Reeds; and thus the Israelites went up in orderly ranks from the land of Egypt.

21:3 [13:19] Now Mosheh had taken the bones of Yōseif with him, for Yōseif had put the sons of Yisra’eil under a solemn oath, saying, “God will surely take care of you, if you make sure to carry my bones from here with you.”

21:4 [13:20] Then they [pulled up camp] and journeyed from Sukkoth, and set up camp in Eithām on the edge of the wilderness.

21:5 [13:21] Now Yahveh Himself would proceed before them in a pillar of cloud by day to guide them on [their] way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, [so that they could] travel [both] by day and by night.

21:6 [13:22] The pillar of cloud never left its place at the head of the people by day, nor the pillar of fire by night.

21:7 [14:1] Then Yahveh spoke to Mosheh, saying,

21:8 [14:2] “Speak to the Israelites, and [instruct them to] turn back and camp opposite Pī-Hachīroth, between Mighdol and the sea; you shall camp opposite Ba`al-Tsėfon – within direct sight of it, right by the sea.

21:9 [14:3] For the Pharaoh will say of the Israelites, ‘They are wandering aimlessly around the land; the wilderness has closed them in.’

21:10 [14:4a] In this way, I will toughen [the hardness of] the Pharaoh’s heart so that he will go in pursuit after them; and My [reputation] will be given greater weight through the Pharaoh and all his army, and so all the Egyptians will come to know that I am Yahveh.”

21:11 [14:4b] {So Mosheh spoke to the Israelites}, and that is what they did.

 

Chapter 22: The Egyptians pursue the Israelites across the Sea of Reeds

 

22:1 [14:5] When the king of Egypt was informed that the people had fled {and were not coming back}, the Pharaoh and his court officials had a change of heart against the [Israelite] people, and they said, “What is this we have done – released [the people of] Israel from serving us?”

22:2 [14:6] So he harnessed his chariot and took his troops with him;

22:3 [14:7] he took six hundred of his best chariots, along with all the charioteers of Egypt, [setting trained] officers over all of them.

22:4 [14:8] Thus Yahveh toughened [the hardness of] the heart of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, so that he chased after the Israelites as the Israelites strode boldly out [of Egypt].

22:5 [14:9] So the Egyptians went in pursuit after them with all the horses and chariots of the Pharaoh – his horsemen and his army – and they overtook [the Israelites] as they were camped by the sea beside Pī-Hachīroth, opposite Ba`al-Tsėfon.

22:6 [14:10] Then as the Pharaoh drew closer, the Israelites looked up, and when they saw that the Egyptians were riding after them, they became very afraid; and in that moment the Israelites cried out to Yahveh.

22:7 [14:11] Then they said to Mosheh, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you took us away to die in the wilderness? Why did you do this to us – bring us out of Egypt [just to die]?

22:8 [14:12] Is this not the very thing that we spoke to you about in Egypt, when we said, ‘Just leave us alone, and we’ll carry on working for the Egyptians; because it’s better to serve the Egyptians than die out in the desert.”

22:9 [14:13] But Mosheh said to the people, “Don’t be afraid! Stay where you are, and behold the salvation of Yahveh which [God] will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them ever again.

22:10 [14:14] Yahveh Himself will fight for you, if you [for your part] can just stay calm.”

 

God divides the Sea of Reeds

 

22:11 [14:15] Then Yahveh said to Mosheh, “Why do you cry out to Me [in such distress]? Tell the Israelites to [pull up camp and] set out.

22:12 [14:16] And as for you, raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and split it apart; in this way the Israelites shall go through the midst of the sea on dry ground.

22:13 [14:17] As for Me, behold, I will toughen [the hardness of] the hearts of the Egyptians when they go in after them; and so My [reputation] will gain great weight through the Pharaoh and his whole army – through [the actions of] his charioteers and his horsemen.

22:14 [14:18] Then all the Egyptians will know that I am Yahveh, when I have gained honour through the Pharaoh, through his charioteers and his horsemen.”

22:15 [14:19] Then the angel of God, who had been going ahead of the camp of Israel, [changed position] – it moved and went behind them; and then the pillar of cloud [also] changed from [where it was] in front of them, and moved to take up position behind them.

22:16 [14:20] Thus [the pillar of cloud] came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel. And so it was that throughout the night, the cloud [brought] darkness [to the one side], and yet gave light [to the other]. Because of this, the one could not come near the other all night long.

22:17 [14:21] Then Mosheh stretched out his hand over the sea; and Yahveh pushed back the sea with a strong east wind all through the night, until it had turned the sea into bone-dry land; and in this way the waters were split apart.

22:18 [14:22] So the Israelites went through the middle of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were like a [solid] wall to them, on [both] their right side and on their left.

22:19 [14:23] Then the Egyptians took up their pursuit; and all the Pharaoh’s horses, his charioteers and his horsemen went in after [the Israelites] into the middle of the [dried-up] sea.

22:20 [14:24] And so it was, that at the morning watch, Yahveh peered out upon the Egyptian forces through the pillar of fire and cloud, and threw the Egyptian forces into confusion;

22:21 [14:25] for [God] caused their chariot wheels to veer and swerve, so that they could [only] be driven with difficulty. As a result the Egyptians said, “Let’s get away from [the people of] Israel, because Yahveh is fighting for them against Egypt!”

22:22 [14:26] Then Yahveh said to Mosheh, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the waters may come back over the Egyptians – over their charioteers and their horsemen.”

22:23 [14:27] So Mosheh stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to full flood at daybreak, as the Egyptians hurtled towards it. Thus Yahveh swept the Egyptians into the midst of the sea.

22:24 [14:28] And so the waters returned, covering [every] charioteer and [every] horseman, until the whole of Pharaoh’s army that had gone into the sea after them [was drowned]; not a single one of them remained.

22:25 [14:29] However, as for the Israelites, they had walked on dry land through the midst of the sea, and the waters had remained for them like a [solid] wall on their right side and on their left.

22:26 [14:30] In this way, Yahveh saved Israel on that day from the clutches of the Egyptians, and [the people of] Israel saw the Egyptians [lying] dead on the seashore.

22:27 [14:31] When Israel saw the great power which Yahveh had used against the Egyptians, the people trembled in awe before Yahveh, and they put their trust in Yahveh and in His servant Mosheh.


Chapter 23: The Israelites’ Song to God’s Victory

 

23:1 [15:20] Then Miryām the prophetess, Aharon’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with [the music of] timbrels and with dancing.

23:2 [15:21] Then Miryām called out to everyone in song, [saying],

 

“Sing a song to Yahveh, for [God] has swelled and surged;
The horse and its rider [God] has hurled into the sea!”

 

23:3 [15:1] Then Mosheh and [all] the Israelites joined in with this song to Yahveh, and sang,

 

23:4 [15:1b] “I shall sing a song to Yahveh, for [God] has swelled and surged;
                                                                       The horse and its rider [God] has hurled into the sea!
23:5 [15:2a] Yahh is my strength and my song of power;

                                                                       God has become my salvation!
23:6 [15:2b] This is my God – I will glorify Him;

                                                                       The God of my ancestors – I will extol Him!
23:7 [15:3] Yahveh is a mighty warrior;
                                                                       Yahveh is [God’s] name!
.

23:8 [15:4a] The Pharaoh’s chariots and his army

                                                                       [God] has cast into the sea;
23:9 [15:4b] And the elite of his [trained] officers

                                                                       are drowned in the Sea of Reeds.
23:10 [15:5] The [waters of] the abyss covered over them;
                                                                       They sank into the depths like a stone.
23:11 [15:6] Your righteous might, O Yahveh, is majestic in power!
                                                                     Your righteous might, O Yahveh, has shattered the enemy!
23:12 [15:7a] And in the swelling of Your great surge

                                                                       You have thrown down Your assailants;
23:13 [15:7b] You sent forth Your burning anger,

                                                                       and it consumed them like chaff.
.

23:14 [15:8a] One blast of Your angry breath and the waters piled up;
                                                                       The flowing waters stacked up like a dam;
23:15 [15:8b] and [the waters of] the abyss became solid,

                                                                       in the [very] heart of the sea.
23:16 [15:9a] The enemy said, ‘I will pursue [them],

                                                                       I will overtake [them], and I will divide the spoils;
23:17 [15:9b] My throat will have its fill of them;
                                                                       I will draw my sword; my hands will finish them off.’
23:18 [15:10] [But] You blew with Your breath – the sea covered over them;
                                                                       They sank like lead in the mighty waters.
.

23:19 [15:11a] Who is like You among the pagan gods, O Yahveh?
23:20 [15:11b] Who is like You –  

                                                                       majestic in holiness,
                                                                                          awesome in splendour,

                                                                                                          working wonders?
23:21 [15:12] You put forth Your righteous might;
                                                                       the earth swallowed them up.
23:22 [15:13a] In Your lovingkindness You will lead them –

                                                                       this people whom You have redeemed;
23:23 [15:13b] In Your strength You will guide them

                                                                       to [the place of] Your holy habitation.
.

23:24 [15:14] Peoples shall hear [of Your reputation] and tremble;
                                                                       Anguish shall grip the inhabitants of Pėléshet.
23:25 [15:15a] Then the chiefs of Edhom shall be dismayed;
                                                                       The princes of Moab – panic shall seize them;
23:26 [15:15b-16a] All the inhabitants of Cana`an shall melt away;
                                                                       terror and dread shall fall upon them!
23:27 [15:16b] As the greatness of Your might looms large,

                                                                       they shall be as still as stone,
23:28 [15:16c] Until Your people pass by, O Yahveh,
                                                                       Until the people You have ransomed pass by.
.

23:29 [15:17a] You will gather them in,

                                                                       and plant them on the mountain of Your inheritance –
23:30 [15:17b] in the place, O Yahveh, You have wrought for Your dwelling;
                                                                       The sanctuary, O Yahveh, You have firmly established.
23:31 [15:18] Yahveh shall reign forever and ever!”

.

23:32 [15:19] For the horses of the Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen went into the sea, and Yahveh brought back the waters of the sea over them, but the Israelites walked on dry land through the midst of the sea.

 

Notes:

23:1-2 (MT 15:20-21) - In all versions of this chapter, these 2 verses appear at the end of this section - it almost seems like Miryam's actions are an afterthought (that she decides to repeat the first couple of lines of the song, and no more), and Moses is the one who leads everyone in song. However, culturally it was more common for women to instigate and lead the songs of victory. It is therefore more likely that, in the very earliest versions of this chapter, Miryam - as a prophetess in her own right - invited the Israelites to join her in song; she starts off the song, and becomes the very instigator of the Israelites' song of rejoicing in this restored interpretation.

             In the final redaction, for some reason, these 2 verse were removed and placed at the end (perhaps the redactor felt that it was better for Moses to be the instigator of the song rather than Miryam, but there is no explanation of why she only sings the first 2 lines, why her invitation to sing comes only after everyone has finished singing, or why the women only start the timbrel playing and dancing at the end of the song).

23:2 & 23:4 - 'has swelled and surged' - the verb ga'ah normally means 'to triumph', but it is also used of the surging of the sea (see Robert Alter's translation of the Hebrew Bible, Vol 1, p.273 footnotes)

Chapter 24: The Israelites complain to Mosheh at Mārāh

 

24:1 [15:22] Then Mosheh made Israel set out from the Sea of Reeds, and brought them out into the wilderness of Shūr; but they travelled three days in the wilderness without finding any water.

24:2 [15:23] When they came to Mārāh, they could not drink the waters of Mārāh, for they were bitter; that is why it had been named Mārāh (‘Bitterness’ / ‘Rebellion’).

24:3 [15:24] Then the people complained bitterly at Mosheh, saying, “What are we going to drink?”

24:4 [15:25a] So Mosheh cried out to Yahveh [for help], and Yahveh showed him a [large wooden] log; so he threw it into the waters, and the waters became drinkable.

24:5 [15:25b] There [God] had laid on them [certain] statutes and regulations, and there [God] had tested them.

24:6 [15:26] Then [God] said, “If you will take the voice of Yahveh your God seriously, and do what I consider to be upright; [if you will] give ear to and carry out [My] commandments, and keep all [My] statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I put on the Egyptians; for I, Yahveh, am your Healer.”

24:7 [15:27] Then they came to Eylīm where there were twelve springs of water and seventy date palms, and they camped there beside the waters.

 

God provides Manna and Quails for the Israelites to eat

 

24:8 [16:1] Then they set out from Eylīm, and the entire community of Israelites came to the wilderness of Sīn, which is between Eylīm and Sīnai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departure from the land of Egypt.

24:9 [16:2] Then the whole community of Israelites complained bitterly against Mosheh and Aharon in the wilderness.

24:10 [16:3] And the Israelites said to them, “Would that we had died {of old age} by Yahveh’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the {steaming} pots of {boiled} meat, and we could eat bread until we had had our fill; because you have brought us out here into this wilderness to kill this entire assembly with hunger.”

24:11 [16:4] So Yahveh then said to Mosheh, “Behold, I am going to rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s ration on each day – that I may test them, [to see] whether or not they will act according to My Teaching.

24:12 [16:5] But it shall be [that] on the sixth day, when they prepare what they have brought in, that it will be twice as much as they [normally] gather each day.”

24:13 [16:6] So Mosheh and Aharon said to all the Israelites, “Come the evening, and you will know that it is Yahveh who has brought you out of the land of Egypt;

24:14 [16:7] then come the morning, and you will see the Glory of Yahveh; for [God] has been listening to your murmurings [of discontent] against Yahveh; but what are we, that you should complain against us?”

24:15 [16:8] Then Mosheh said, “This [is what] will happen when Yahveh gives you meat to eat in the evening, and bread until you have had your fill in the morning; for Yahveh has been listening to your bitter murmurings which you have directed against us. But what are we? Your murmurings are not against us, but rather against Yahveh.”

24:16 [16:9] Then Mosheh said to Aharon, “Say to the whole community of the Israelites, ‘Come near before Yahveh, for [God] has heard your bitter murmurings.’”

24:17 [16:10] And so it came about as Aharon spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, that they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the Glory of Yahveh appeared in the cloud.

24:18 [16:11] And Yahveh spoke to Mosheh, saying,

24:19 [16:12] “I have heard the murmurings of the Israelites; between first twilight and nightfall you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; and thus you shall know that I am Yahveh your God.’”

24:20 [16:13] So it came about at evening that the quails came up and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp.

24:21 [16:14] And when the layer of dew evaporated, behold, on the surface of the desert[-floor] there was a fine, flake-like substance, thin as hoarfrost on the ground.

24:22 [16:15] When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. So Mosheh said to them, “It is the bread which Yahveh has given you to eat.

24:23 [16:16] This is the edict that Yahveh has commanded: ‘Every person is to gather up from it as much as they need to eat; you are to collect one omer per head, according to the number of persons each of you has in their tent.’”

24:24 [16:17] And this is what the Israelites did; and some gathered a large amount and some a little.

24:25 [16:18] But when they measured it with an omer-basket, the one who had gathered much had no excess, and the one who had gathered little had no lack; every person had gathered exactly what [was sufficient for their household] to eat.

24:26 [16:19] Mosheh said to them, “Let no person leave any of it until morning.”

24:27 [16:20] But they did not listen to Mosheh, and some [of them] left part of it over until morning. Consequently, it was infested with maggots and became foul-smelling; and Mosheh became angry with them.

24:28 [16:21] As a result of this, they would gather it every morning, each person [only] as much as they needed to eat; because by the time the sun grew hottest, it would melt.

Chapter 25: Collecting enough Manna on the Sixth day for the Sabbath

 

25:1 [16:22] Now it so happened on the sixth day [that] [the Israelites] [ended up] gathering twice [as much] bread – two omers for each [person]. {They became troubled about this}, so all the leaders of the community came and informed Mosheh [about it].

25:2 [16:23] At that point [Mosheh] explained to them, “That is [precisely] what Yahveh has decreed, [for] tomorrow shall be a day of rest – a holy Sabbath [dedicated] to Yahveh. Bake whatever you [need to] bake {for today}, and boil whatever you [need to] boil {for today}; and everything that is left, put aside for yourselves, to be kept over until the morning.”

25:3 [16:24] So they put it aside until the morning, just as Mosheh had ordered, and [this time] it did not become foul-smelling, nor were there any maggots in it.

25:4 [16:25] {Then, when morning came on the Sabbath}, Mosheh said, “Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath [dedicated] to Yahveh; today you will not find it [anywhere] outside.

25:5 [16:26] Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day – a Sabbath – there will be nothing [found] outside.”

25:6 [16:27] However, it so happened on the seventh day that some of the people [still] went out to gather [manna], but they did not find [any].

25:7 [16:28] So Yahveh said to Mosheh, “{Say to these people}, ‘How long will you refuse to keep My commandments and My instructions?

25:8 [16:29] See how Yahveh has given you the Sabbath; it is for this reason that on the sixth day, God will be giving you [sufficient] bread for two days. Every person should remain where they are; let no one go out from their locality on the seventh day.’

25:9 [16:30] Thereafter, the people kept the Sabbath on the seventh day.

 

A Jar with an Omer of Manna is to be kept before the Ark throughout every Generation

 

25:10 [16:31] Now the house of Israel named [the bread] ‘maan’ (‘manna’); it[s appearance] was like [powdered] coriander seed, [but] white; and its taste was like wafers in honey.

25:11 [16:32] Then Mosheh said, “This is the decree that Yahveh has commanded: ‘Let an omerful of it be kept throughout your generations, so that they may see the bread that I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out from the land of Egypt.’”

25:12 [16:33] So Mosheh said to Aharon, “Take one [clay] jar, and place an omerful of manna inside it; then set it aside, to be kept before Yahveh {as a permanent witness} throughout your generations [of descendants].”

25:13 [16:34] Just as Yahveh commanded Mosheh, so Aharon {did}; he set it aside to be kept before the [Ark of] Testimony.

25:14 [16:35] Thus the Israelites ate the manna for forty years, until they came to the Land they were to settle in; they ate the manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan.

25:15 [16:36] Incidentally, an omer is a tenth of an ephah.

Notes:

24:5 - 'There God had laid on them certain statutes and regulations, and there God had tested them' - exactly what these statutes and regulations (or 'judicial rulings') were, is not recorded; presumably they formed the basis of civic law that became Hebrew customary law - the laws that Moses later used to make rulings in civil disputes among the people at MT Ex 18:13, but before the revelation at Sinai. By tradition, it is said that God gave these laws while the people were encamped by the Sea of |reeds, and the people only half-heartedly listened to them. So God decided to test them by instructing Moses to make the people leave the Sea of Reeds to a place where there was little water, to see how they would react - would they still agree to God's teachings in times of difficulty?

24:20 - The quails were probably a one-off event, since they are never mentioned again.

24:21 / 25:10 - When the manna first appears on the ground, once the dew has evaporated, its appearance is like crusty flakes. However, once it is broken up and gathered, it becomes a white, powdery substance. Powdered coriander seed is a grey-brown colour, hence the qualifier in the text that it was white. Incidentally, if you have ever seen powdered quinoa, it was probably closest to that.

25:8 - 'let no one go out from their locality on the seventh day' - 'locality' is normally understood to mean one's village, town, or district/borough within a city.

 

Chapter 26: The People complain again, and God instructs Mosheh to produce Water from a Rock

 

26:1 [17:1] Then the whole community of the Israelites [pulled up camp, and] journeyed by stages from the wilderness of Sīn as Yahveh directed; and they [eventually] camped at Rėfīdīm, {which was close to Mount Choreiv}. However, there was no water [there] for the people to drink.

26:2 [17:2a] Therefore the people [began to] quarrel with Mosheh [in an ugly and hostile manner], and said, “Give us water, so that we may [have something to] drink { – is Yahveh among us or not?}”

26:3 [17:2b] So Mosheh said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? And why do you put Yahveh to the test?”

26:4 [17:3] But the people [remained] there, thirsting for water; and they protested against Mosheh and said, “Why [are you doing] this? Have you brought us up from Egypt [only] to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”

26:5 [17:4] So Mosheh cried out to Yahveh, saying, “What shall I do with this people? A little more and they will stone me to death!”

26:6 [17:5] So Yahveh said to Mosheh, “Pass before the people, but take with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile; then set out {for Choreiv}.

26:7 [17:6] For behold, I will be stationed before you there on the rock at Choreiv; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” And Mosheh did so in the sight of the elders of Israel {at Choreiv}.

26:8 [17:7] He therefore named the site {where the Israelites were camped} Massāh (‘Testing’) and Mėrīvāh (‘Contention’), because of the hostile quarrel of the Israelites, and because they tested Yahveh, saying, “Is Yahveh among us, or not?”

 

The Amāleiqites attack the Israelites

 

26:9 [17:8] Now Amāleiq came and fought against Israel at Rėfīdīm.

26:10 [17:9] So Mosheh said to Yėhoshúa`, “Choose some able-bodied men for us to go out and fight against Amāleiq tomorrow. I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”

26:11 [17:10] So Yėhoshúa` did as Mosheh told him, and {on the following day} he {went out} to fight against Amāleiq; and Mosheh, Aharon, and Chūr went up on the top of the hill.

26:12 [17:11] Now it so happened that as long as Mosheh held his hands up, Israel prevailed; and whenever he let his hands down to rest, Amāleiq prevailed.

26:13 [17:12] But Mosheh’s hands weighed heavily {with the staff}. So [his companions] took a rock and placed it under him, and he sat on it; then Aharon and Chūr supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. And so it was that his hands [remained] steady until the sun went down.

26:14 [17:13] Consequently, Yėhoshúa` was able to incapacitate Amāleiq and his people with the bite of [their] swords.

26:15 [17:14] Then Yahveh said to Mosheh, “Write this in a scroll as a memorial, and recite it in Yėhoshúa`’s hearing – that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amāleiq from under heaven.”

26:16 [17:15] Afterwards, Mosheh built an altar and named it, ‘Yahveh is My Banner’;

26:17 [17:16] and he [explained it by] saying, “For Yahh has sworn on His own Kingship: Yahveh will wage war against Amāleiq from generation to generation.”

 

Notes:

26:17 'For Yahh has sworn on His own Kingship' - Hebrew literally says, 'for hand upon throne Yahh' - the presumed implication is that God has sworn an oath on his position as Israel's King; some translations read keis (throne) as neis (banner).

Chapter 27: Mosheh’s father-in-law comes to meet with him

 

27:1 [18:1] Now His Eminence {Rė`ū’eil}, the [chief] priest of {Yahh in} Midian – Mosheh’s father-in-law – heard of everything that God had done for Mosheh and for Israel His people – how Yahveh had brought Israel out of Egypt.

27:2 [18:2-3a] Previously His Eminence, Mosheh’s father-in-law, had taken in Mosheh’s wife Tsipporāh after [Mosheh] had sent her away, along with her two sons, {for their safety}.

27:3 [18:3b] The name of the first one was Geirshom (‘A Stranger there’), for Mosheh had said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.”

27:4 [18:4] And the name of the other one was Elī`ézer (‘My God is a Help’), for he had said, “The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of the Pharaoh.”

27:5 [18:5] So His Eminence, Mosheh’s father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife to Mosheh – into the wilderness, where he was encamped at the mountain of God.

27:6 [18:6] So word was sent to Mosheh, saying, “Behold, your father-in-law, His Eminence, is coming to [see] you; and your wife and her two sons are with him.”

27:7 [18:7] So Mosheh went out to meet his father-in-law; he bowed low and then kissed him, and they inquired about each other’s well-being; then he brought them [all] into his tent.

27:8 [18:8] Then Mosheh recounted to his father-in-law everything that Yahveh had done to the Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for the sake of Israel, and all the hardship that had befallen them along the way, and [how] Yahveh had delivered them.

27:9 [18:9] Then His Eminence rejoiced over all the good things which Yahveh had done for Israel, in delivering them from the hands of the Egyptians.

27:10 [18:10] So His Eminence said, “Blessed be Yahveh, who delivered you from the hands of the Egyptians and from the hand of the Pharaoh, and who delivered the people [of Israel] from under the grip of the Egyptians!

27:11 [18:11] Now I know that Yahveh is greater than all the [pagan] gods; for in the matter where [the Egyptians sought to] conspire against [Israel], {Yahveh triumphed over them and their gods instead}.”

27:12 [18:12] Then His Eminence, Mosheh’s father-in-law, took a burnt offering and [other] sacrifices for God. Afterwards, Aharon came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Mosheh’s father-in-law in the presence of God.

 

Rė`ū’eil offers Advice to Mosheh on the Appointment of Judges

 

27:13 [18:13] Now it so happened on the following day, that Mosheh sat to deliver judgments for the people; and the people stood {their turn to see} Mosheh from the morning until the evening.

27:14 [18:14] However, when Mosheh’s father-in-law saw everything that he was doing for the people, he said, “What [are you trying to accomplish by] doing this thing for the people [all by] yourself? Why do you alone sit [as judge], while all the people stand in line [to see] you from morning until evening?”

27:15 [18:15] So Mosheh said to his father-in-law, “Because the people are coming to me to seek God[’s rulings];

27:16 [18:16] for whenever they have a dispute they come to me, and I adjudicate between each person and their neighbour; and thus I make known the ordinances of God and [God’s] laws.”

27:17 [18:17] So Mosheh’s father-in-law said to him, “The way you are going about all this [by] yourself is not good.

27:18 [18:18] You will surely wear [yourself] out – not just you, but also these people who are [standing here waiting for] you; for the task is too heavy for you – you cannot do it alone.

27:19 [18:19] Therefore listen to what I have to say: I will give you advice, and God be with you {in whatever you decide}. Now, you act {as an intermediary} for the people before God, and you bring [their] words to God;

27:20 [18:20] and you teach them the ordinances and laws [of God], and make known to them the Way in which they are to walk, and the deeds they are to do.

27:21 [18:21] However, you yourself should select out of all the people capable men who have reverence for God – men of truth who hate ill-gotten gain; and you should place [these men] over [the people] as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens.

27:22 [18:22] Then let them act as judges for the people in every case; and let it so be, that every major dispute they shall bring to you, but every minor dispute they will judge themselves. In this way things will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you.

27:23 [18:23] If you conduct matters in this way, then God will strengthen you, and you will be able to endure; and also, this entire nation will arrive at their [destination] in peace.”

 

Mosheh takes his Father-in-Law’s Advice and appoints Judges

 

27:24 [18:24] And Mosheh listened to his father-in-law, and did everything that he had said.

27:25 [cf Dt 1:9] So Mosheh spoke to the people, saying, “I am not able to bear the burden of you alone.

27:26 [cf Dt 1:10] It is Yahveh your God who has multiplied you, and here you are today in great numbers, like the stars of the skies!

27:27 [cf Dt 1:11] May that same Yahveh, the God of your ancestors, increase you a thousand-fold more than you are [even now], and bless you, just as [God] has promised you!

27:28 [cf Dt 1:12] [But] how can I alone bear your problems, your burdens and your quarrels?

27:29 [cf Dt 1:13] Select for yourselves wise, discerning and erudite men from your tribes, and I will commission them as your chiefs.”

27:30 [cf Dt 1:14] Then [the people] answered and said, “The process which you have described to be done is good.”

27:31 [18:25, cf Dt 1:15] So the people picked wise, discerning and erudite men out of all their tribes, and [Mosheh] commissioned them as chiefs over the people, as well as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens, and as police officers for their tribes.

27:32 [cf Dt 1:16] Then he charged their judges, saying, “Hear the cases among your kinsfolk, and judge righteously between each person and their neighbour, or between the alien who is resident among them.

27:33 [cf Dt 1:17a] You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small and the great alike. Nor should you fear the status of any individual, for {if the judgment is just, then} the judgment is God’s.

27:34 [cf Dt 1:17b] However, any case that is too hard for you, you shall bring to me, and I will hear it.”

27:35 [cf Dt 1:18] In this way, [Mosheh] charged them with all the things that they were to do.

27:36 [18:26] Thus they judged the people at all times; the difficult disputes they would bring to Mosheh, but every minor dispute they would judge themselves.

27:37 [18:27] Then Mosheh bade his father-in-law farewell, and he went on his way back to his own country.

Chapter 28: The Israelites reach Mount Choreiv, and God promises a Covenant with the People of Israel

 

28:1 [19:1] On the third New Moon after the Israelites had gone out of the land of Egypt – on that [very] day – they came [to] the wilderness of Sīnai.

28:2 [19:2] Having set out from Rėfīdīm, they came [to] the wilderness of Sīnai, and they set up camp in the wilderness; there Israel set up camp right in front of the mountain.

28:3 [19:3] Now Mosheh had gone up to the Mountain of God, and Yahveh called to him from the mountain, saying, “This is what you shall say to the house of Ya`aqov, and make known to the Israelites:

28:4 [19:4] ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you up on eagles’ wings, and brought you [here] to Myself.

28:5 [19:5] So now therefore, if you will diligently obey My voice and keep My Covenant, then you shall become My own special possession among all the peoples [of the earth] – for the whole earth is Mine;

28:6 [19:6] and you shall be for Me a dominion of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall declare to the Israelites.”

28:7 [19:7] So Mosheh came [down] and summoned the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which Yahveh had commanded him [to say].

28:8 [19:8] Then all the people answered with one accord and said, “All that Yahveh has spoken we will do!” And Mosheh brought back the words of the people to Yahveh.

 

God instructs Mosheh on how to prepare the Israelites to encounter Yahveh safely at Mount Choreiv

 

28:9 [19:9] Then Yahveh said to Mosheh, “Behold, I Myself will come to you in thickest cloud, in order that the people may hear [Me safely] when I speak with you, and also [so that they] may trust in you{r words} forever.” Then Mosheh reported the words of the people to Yahveh.

28:10 [19:10] Now Yahveh also said to Mosheh, “Go to the people and warn them to remain pure today and tomorrow, and have them wash their garments;

28:11 [19:11] and have them be ready for the third day, for on the third day Yahveh will come down in the sight of all the people upon Mount Sīnai.

28:12 [19:12] Therefore, you shall set a cordon for the people all around the mountain {and consecrate it}; and you shall speak to the people, saying, ‘Take care that you do not go up onto the mountain or touch the borders of it; for whoever touches the mountain is doomed to die.

28:13 [19:13b] [Only] when the great shofar sounds a long blast, [then] they [whom I will choose alone] shall come up to the mountain.”

28:14 [19:14] So Mosheh went down from the mountain to the people and sanctified the people, and they washed their garments.

28:15 [19:15a, 19:12b] Then he said to the people, “Whoever touches the mountain will be doomed to die.

28:16 [19:13a] No hand shall touch [the offender], but he shall surely be stoned [to death] or shot through {with an arrow}; whether beast or man, he shall not live.

28:17 [19:15b] And be ready {for the third day}; [so] for the three days, do not approach [one another] {to have sexual relations}.”

 

The Theophany on Mount Choreiv

 

28:18 [19:16] Now it so happened on the third day, as morning was breaking, that there were [peels of] thunder and [flashes of] lightning; and [there was] a heavy cloud upon the mountain, and the sound of an exceedingly loud shofar, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled.

28:19 [19:17] So Mosheh brought the people out of the camp to encounter God, and they positioned themselves at the very foot of the mountain.

28:20 [19:18] By this time Mount Sīnai was completely [shrouded] in smoke, because Yahveh had descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently.

28:21 [19:19] Then as the blast from the shofar sounded, and grew louder and louder, it was Mosheh who spoke [first], and then God who answered him with an [audible] Voice.

28:22 [19:20] In this way, Yahveh came down upon Mount Sīnai, to the top of the mountain; and Yahveh summoned Mosheh to the top of the mountain, and so Mosheh went up.

28:23 [19:21] Then Yahveh spoke to Mosheh, saying, “Go down [and] warn the people, so that they do not break through [the cordon] to gaze at Yahveh[’s Glory] – otherwise many of them will die.

28:24 [19:22] Also, let the clan-ministers who attend Yahveh consecrate themselves, in case {the Glory of} Yahveh should break out against them.”

28:25 [19:23] So Mosheh said to Yahveh, “The people cannot come up to Mount Sīnai [anyway], for You Yourself warned us, saying, ‘Set a cordon around the mountain and consecrate it.’”

28:26 [19:24] So Yahveh said to him, “Go down and come up again, you and Aharon with you; but do not let the clan-ministers or [any of] the people break through to come up to Yahveh, in case {the Glory of God} should burst forth against them.”

28:27 [19:25] So Mosheh went down from the mountain to the people, and told them [what God had said].

28:28 {And it was while Mosheh was still at the foot of the mountain, that the people heard the Voice of God}.

 

Chapter 29: The Ten Proclamations

 

29:1 [20:1] And God pronounced all these proclamations, saying,

29:2 [20:2] “I am Yahveh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from a state of slavery.

29:3 [20:3] You shall have no other gods besides Me.

29:4 [20:4] You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form or image of anything in the skies above, or on the earth below, or in the waters beneath the earth.

29:5 [20:5-6] You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I, Yahveh your God, am a zealous God, pursuing the iniquity of parents down to the children of the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me {and despise My ways}, but showing lovingkindness to [the] thousandth [generation] of those who love Me and keep My commandments.

29:6 [20:7] You shall not use the name of Yahveh your God for false, deceptive or evil purposes, for Yahveh will not acquit the one who misuses [God’s] name.

29:7 [20:8-10a] Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, {just as Yahveh your God has commanded you}. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath [dedicated] to Yahveh your God.

29:8 [20:10b] On it you shall not do any work – neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the foreigner resident [among you] within your city-gates, {so that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as you do}.

29:9 [20:11] For six days Yahveh was making the skies and the land, the sea and all that is in them, but on the seventh day [God] rested. For this reason, Yahveh blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

29:10 [20:12] Honour your father and your mother, {just as Yahveh your God has commanded you}, so that things may go well for you, and so that you may endure a long time upon the land Yahveh your God is giving you.

29:11 [20:13] You shall not commit murder.

29:12 [J: 20:13b / X: 20:14] You shall not commit adultery.

29:13 [J: 20:13c / X: 20:15] You shall not steal.

29:14 [J: 20:13d / X: 20:16] You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour.

29:15 [J: 20:14 / X: 20:17] You shall not covet your neighbour’s household – you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife or land, his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey or any of his animals, nor anything that belongs to your neighbour.”

 

The People see the Thunder, Lightning and Smoke, and appoint Mosheh to hear God on their Behalf

 

29:16 [J: 20:15 / X: 20:18] Now, all the people witnessed the sounds [of thunder] and the [flashes of] lightning, and the sound of the shofar and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance.

29:17 [J: 20:16a / X: 20:19a, cf Dt 5:24] Then they said to Mosheh, “Behold, surely Yahveh our God has shown us His Glory and His greatness, and we have heard [God’s] Voice from the midst of the fire; on this day we have seen that God can speak with human beings, and yet we are still alive.

29:18 [cf Dt 5:25] Now then, why should we die? For this great fire will consume us; if we carry on listening to the Voice of Yahveh our God any longer, then we will [surely] die.

29:19 [cf Dt 5:26] For who is there out of all flesh who has heard the voice of the living God speaking from the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?

29:20 [cf Dt 5:27] You approach [the fire] therefore, and hear everything that Yahveh our God might say; then recount back to us everything that Yahveh our God has spoken to you; we will hear and do it,

29:21 [J: 20:16b / X: 20:19b] but let not God speak with us [directly], in case we die.”

29:22 [J: 20:17 / X: 20:20] So Mosheh said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come through in order to test you, and in order that the reverent awe of [God] may remain with you, so that you may not sin.”

29:23 [J: 20:18 / X: 20:21] So the people stood at a distance, while Mosheh drew closer to the thick cloud where God was.

 

Instructions for making an Altar of Offerings

 

29:24 [J: 20:19 / X: 20:22] Then Yahveh spoke to Mosheh, saying, “ This is what you shall say to the house of Ya`aqov, and make known to the Israelites: ‘You yourselves have witnessed how I have spoken to you from heaven.

29:25 [J: 20:20 / X: 20:23] You shall not make {for yourselves} [any idols to worship] alongside Me – gods of silver or gods of gold; nor shall you make for yourselves gods of wood or gods of stone.

29:26 [J: 20:21a / X: 20:24a] You shall [instead] make an altar of earth for Me, and you shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen;

29:27 [J: 20:21b / X: 20:24b] in every place where I cause My name to be memorialised, there I will come to you and bless you.

29:28 [J: 20:22 / X: 20:25] Now if you make an altar of stone for Me, you shall not build it of hewn stones; for if you use your metal weapons on it, you will profane it.

29:29 [J: 20:23 / X: 20:26] And you shall not go up to My altar using steps, so that your nakedness will not be exposed on it.

Notes:

27:11‘for in the matter where [the Egyptians sought to] conspire against [Israel], {Yahveh triumphed over them and their gods instead}” – the Hebrew says, ‘for in the matter where they conspired against them…’ and then the sentence stops abruptly. Most scholars conclude that there is a gap in the text; the ancient Aramaic Targum Onqelos even tries to reconstruct the text with its own interpretation of what the missing words might be.

27:23‘this entire nation will arrive at their [destination] in peace’ – the Hebrew literally says, ‘all this people will come upon his place in peace’. One interpretation is that this means, ‘the people, having received sound and just rulings, will return to their tents contented’. The interpretation I have gone with, is that ‘if the people continue to receive sound and just rulings from these appointed judges, then they will become a nation at peace with itself, ready to inhabit the land that God has prepared for them’.

27:25-35 – these verses come from the Samaritan Torah and the Dead Sea Scrolls Bible. Both these versions have these additional verses, which have probably been taken and adapted from Deuteronomy 1:9-18. I have decided to include them, given that 2 independent and otherwise unconnected versions include these additional verses.

28:12‘whoever touches the mountain is doomed to die’ – the Hebrew literally says, ‘all those touching on the mountain to die shall die’. The hofal form of the verb mut (to die) means, ‘to die a premature or unexpected death’.

28:16 – whereas this verse immediately follows on in the Miqra from the abovementioned verse, they cannot be God’s words. The Glory of God (the fire of God’s Divine Radiance) is going to kill anyone and anything that goes near it anyway – that is the very nature of it – so the threat to then execute anyone who goes past the cordon is utterly superfluous. In which case, these words can only be the words of Moses, who as yet does not fully comprehend the power or nature of God’s Glory; he interprets God's statement that ‘anyone who approaches the mountain is doomed to die’ as an instruction to put anyone who approaches the mountain to death. This is why in this reconstructed text, they have become Moses’s words, instead of God’s.

28:24-26‘clan-ministers’ – the Hebrew literally says, ‘priests’ (kohanim), but this cannot be referring to the Levite/Aaronic priesthood, as they have not been constituted as yet. It may be at this point that ‘kohein’ used to be a term applied to men who are elsewhere called na`arim. These were the adult, firstborn males within each clan, who were traditionally appointed to serve God as ministers or ‘priests’ during this period of Hebrew history. Their position would later be abolished, and superceded by the exclusive appointment of the sons of Aaron as priests.

29:1-15 – The format of the Commandments in the Samaritan text agrees more with the wording of the Commandments in Deuteronomy, so that there is very little difference between the two, with the exception of Dt 5:15 (which interprets the Sabbath as a reminder of the Exodus, rather than as a reminder of Creation, as in the Book of Exodus).

29:5‘pursuing the iniquity of parents down to the children of the third and fourth generations’ – the verb paqad can mean ‘to go after someone for the purposes of bringing them to account’. What this is referring to is that, if successive generations excuse or defend their ancestors’ sins (what is called, ‘Justification of the Wicked’ – see Prov 17:15), or indeed, if they copy the sinful ways of their ancestors, then God will pursue the guilt of these sins throughout every generation where the sins are defended or copied; it does not mean that children inherit their ancestors’ sins, or that the innocent will be punished for the sins of their ancestors.

29:6‘You shall not use the name of Yahveh your God for false, deceptive or evil purposes’ - the Hebrew word shav can mean ‘falsehood’, ‘deception’, ‘evil’, or even ‘common use’. What this implies is that we cannot use God’s Holy Name to swear false oaths, deceive others, justify evil actions, or use the Holy Name as if it were a common, everyday word.

29:17-20 - these verses come from the Samaritan Torah and the Dead Sea Scrolls Bible. Both these versions have these additional verses, which have probably been taken and adapted from Deuteronomy 5:24-27. I have decided to include them, given that 2 independent versions include these additional verses.

29:25‘nor shall you make for yourselves gods of wood or gods of stone’ – the Hebrew literally says, ‘You shall not make with me gods of silver or gods of gold; you shall not make for yourselves …’ and then cuts off. In Dt 4:28, 28:36 & 28:64, the text mentions ‘golds of wood and gods of stone’, which is where the reconstruction has been taken from.

29:28‘for if you use your metal weapons on it, you will profane it’ – the Hebrew uses the word for ‘sword’ – cherev, although most other translations render this with the word ‘tool’. The implication is that metal implements are not to be used when making something out of stone for God – something used to kill should not be used to make something holy. At this time, iron in the Middle East was used mostly to make weapons and tools of war.

The Scroll of the Covenant

 

Chapter 30: The Laws on Keeping Male Slaves

30:1 [21:1] Now these are the judicial rulings which you are to set before [the people of Israel]:

30:2 [21:2] If you acquire a Hebrew slave, he shall [only] serve you for six years; then in the seventh he shall depart [from your service] as a free man, without any compensation [being paid to you].

30:3 [21:3] If he comes [into your service] alone, then alone he shall depart; if he is [already] the husband of a wife, then his wife shall depart [from your service] with him.

30:4 [21:4] If his master gives him a wife, and she [subsequently] bears him sons or daughters, [then] the wife and her children shall belong to his master, and he shall depart [from your service] alone.

30:5 [21:5] However, if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out as a free man,’

30:6 [21:6a] then his master shall bring him before God[’s judges], and he shall bring him to the gate or the door-post;

30:7 [21:6b] and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and then he shall serve him permanently. 

The Laws on the Treatment of Female Slaves

30:8 [21:7] Now if an [Israelite] man sells his daughter as a female slave, she shall not be released [from service] in the same way [that] the male slaves [are].

30:9 [21:8] If she is [somehow] displeasing in the eyes of her master who betrothed her to himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. In no way does he have any authority to sell her to outsiders, since he has broken faith with her.

30:10 [21:9] And if he betroths her to his son, he shall deal with her according to the custom of [free] daughters.

30:11 [21:10] Now, if he takes to himself another woman, then neither her meals, her [allowance of] clothing, or her conjugal rights shall he stint on.

30:12 [21:11] And if he will not maintain [any one of] these three things for her, then she shall [be allowed to] depart [from his household] for free, without [the need for] payment of money [to redeem her]. 

The Laws on Homicide and Capital Punishment

30:13 [21:12] Anyone who strikes another person so that they die shall surely be put to death.

30:14 [21:13] However, if [the offender] did not lie in wait for them, but it was [unforeseen circumstances] that caused [the victim] to fall before their hand, then I will appoint for you a place to which they may flee.

30:15 [21:14] But if, however, someone acts premeditatively toward their neighbour – so that they actually plotted to kill them – you are to take them [even] from My altar to put them to death.

30:16 [21:16] Anyone who kidnaps another person, whether they sell [that person], or [the victim] is found [to be still] in their clutches, shall surely be put to death.

30:17 [21:15] Whosoever strikes their father or their mother shall surely be put to death.

30:18 [21:17] Whosoever curses their father or their mother shall surely be put to death. 

The Laws on Blows and Wounds caused by Human Beings

30:19 [21:18] If [two] men have a [physical] quarrel, and [one] man strikes the other with a stone or with his fist, and he does not die but is confined to bed,

30:20 [21:19] if [the latter] [is able to] get up and walk around outside [supported] by his stick, then he who struck him shall not suffer punishment; he shall only pay for [the latter’s] loss of earnings, and shall provide for him until he has completely recuperated.

30:21 [21:22] If [two] men are brawling with each other, and they [accidentally] strike a pregnant woman, so that her child is born [prematurely], even though there is no [other] injury [to the woman], {the one who struck the blow} shall surely be fined as much as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay whatever [the judges decide] in damages.

30:22 [21:23-25] However, if there is any further injury, then you shall require as a penalty {no more than} life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, and bruise for bruise.

30:23 [21:20] Now, if a man strikes his male or female slave with a staff, and they die [there and then] by his hand, he shall surely be punished.

30:24 [21:21] If they survive a day or two, no punishment shall be given; for they are his property.

30:25 [21:26] However, if a man strikes the eye of his male or female slave, and damages it, he shall let them go free on account of [the loss of] their eye.

30:26 [21:27] Or if, {for example}, he knocks out a tooth from his male or female slave, he shall let them go free on account of [the loss of] their tooth. 

The Laws on Injuries caused by an Ox

30:27 [21:28] Now if an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox shall surely be stoned [to death], and its flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be held innocent.

30:28 [21:29] If, however, the ox was previously in the habit of goring [people], and its owner has been warned, yet has not properly restrained it, and it goes on to kill a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned [to death], and also its owner shall be put to death.

30:29 [21:30] If a ransom is imposed on him {in lieu of the death penalty}, then he shall pay whatever is demanded of him for the redemption of his life.

30:30 [21:31] [Regardless of] whether it gores a son or a daughter, he shall be dealt [the same punishment] according to this [same] rule.

30:31 [21:32] If the ox gores a male or female slave, the owner shall give their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned [to death].

30:32 [21:35] However, if one man’s ox injures his neighbour’s ox so that it dies, then [the court] shall sell the surviving ox and divide the funds equally; and also they shall divide the dead ox equally.

30:33 [21:36] Or if it is known that the ox was previously in the habit of goring [other animals], and yet its owner did not properly restrain it, he shall surely pay ox for ox, and the dead animal shall remain the full property of its owner. 

Chapter 31: The Laws on Theft

31:1 [J: 21:37 / X: 22:1] Now, if a man steals an ox or a sheep [or a goat], and slaughters it or sells it, he shall pay five oxen [in compensation] for the ox, and four sheep [or goats] for the sheep [or goats].

31:2 [J: 22:3 / X: 22:4] If what he stole is actually found {alive} in his possession, whether [it be] an ox or a donkey or a sheep, or any other animal, for each he shall pay double.

31:3 [J: 22:2b / X: 22:3b] He shall surely make full restitution; if he lacks sufficient means, then [the thief] shall be sold for his theft.

31:4 [J: 22:1 / X: 22:2] If a thief is caught while breaking in {during the night}, and is struck so that he dies, there will be no bloodguilt on account [of his death].

31:5 [J: 22:2a / X: 22:3a] But if the sun has risen on him {and then he is struck so that he dies}, there will be bloodguilt on account [of his death]. 

The Laws on Tort and Compensation

31:6 [21:33-34] Now if a man opens a pit, or if a man digs a pit and does not cover it over, and an ox or a donkey falls into it, the owner of the pit shall make good by paying compensation to [the animal’s] owner, and the dead animal shall remain [the full property of its owner].

31:7 [J: 22:4a / X: 22:5a] Now if a man allows a field or vineyard {not his own} to be ravaged, by letting his animal loose so that it grazes in another [man’s] field, he shall surely make restitution from his own field for what has been grazed.

31:8 [J: 22:4b / X: 22:5b] And if the entire field has been ravaged {and grazed bare}, then he shall make restitution from the best of his [own] field and the best of his [own] vineyard.

31:9 [J: 22:5 / X: 22:6] If a fire breaks out and spreads to thorn bushes, so that stacked grain or the standing grain or the [entire] field [itself] is consumed, the one who started the fire that ravaged [the field and its grain] shall surely make full restitution.

31:10 [J: 22:8 / X: 22:9] For every case of ownership dispute, whether it is over an ox, a donkey, a sheep, [a goat], an item of clothing, or over any misappropriated item about which one [party] alleges, ‘This is [mine],’ the case of both parties shall come before God[’s judges]; he whom God[’s judges] condemn shall pay double for each [disputed] item to his neighbour.

31:11 [J: 22:6 / X: 22:7] Now if a man gives his neighbour money or goods for safekeeping, and it is stolen from the man’s house, if the thief is caught, he shall pay double {what was stolen}.

31:12 [J: 22:7 / X: 22:8] But if the thief is not found, then the owner of the house shall appear before God[’s judges], [to determine] whether or not he had a hand [in the loss of] his neighbour’s property.

31:13 [J: 22:9 / X: 22:10] And if a man gives his neighbour a donkey, an ox, a sheep, [a goat], or any [other] animal for safekeeping, and it dies or is maimed or is carried off without any witnesses,

31:14 [J: 22:10a / X: 22:11a] an oath shall be made in Yahveh[’s Name] by the two of them [to determine] whether or not he had a hand [in the loss of] his neighbour’s property;

31:15 [J: 22:10b / X: 22:11b] {if the person who had been given temporary charge of the animal is deemed innocent}, then its owner shall accept it, and [the one who was in temporary charge of the animal] shall not [be required to] make restitution.

31:16 [J: 22:11 / X: 22:12] However, if {the person given temporary charge of the animal} [actually] stole {the animal} from [its rightful owner], he shall make restitution to its owner.

31:17 [J: 22:12 / X: 22:13] If [the animal in question] has been completely torn apart by wild animals, let him bring {its flesh} as evidence; [the one who was in temporary charge of the animal] shall not [be required to] make restitution for what has been torn apart {by wild animals}.

31:18 [J: 22:13 / X: 22:14] And if a man borrows any [animal] from his neighbour, and it is injured or dies while its owner is not with it, [the borrower] shall make full restitution {to its owner}.

31:19 [J: 22:14 / X: 22:15] [However], if its owner is with it, [the borrower] shall not [be required to] make restitution, {because the owner is still in charge of the animal}; moreover, if it was a hired [animal], then it{’s compensation shall be deemed to have} come [in] its hir[ing fee]. 

The Laws on the Violation of a Virgin

31:20 [J: 22:15 / X: 22:16] Now, if a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed, and lies with her, he must definitely pay the full bride-price to [her father] [for her] to [be his] wife.

31:21 [J: 22:16 / X: 22:17] However, if her father absolutely refuses to give her to him [as a wife], [the seducer] shall [still be required to] pay a sum of money equal to the bride-price for virgins. 

The Laws against following the ways of other gods

31:22 [J: 22:17 / X: 22:18] You shall not allow a sorceress to live.

31:23 [J: 22:18 / X: 22:19] Whoever lies with an animal shall surely be put to death.

31:24 [J: 22:19 / X: 22:20] Whoever makes sacrificial offerings to the [pagan] gods shall be [put to death, and all their goods and property shall be completely destroyed]; only to Yahveh alone [shall you make sacrificial offerings]. 

The Laws on the Treatment of the Poor, the Alien and the Widow

31:25 [J: 22:20 / X: 22:21] Now, you shall not ill-treat a resident foreigner or oppress them, for you were [once] foreigners resident in the land of Egypt.

31:26 [J: 22:21 / X: 22:22] You shall not inflict hardship on any widow or orphan;

31:27 [J: 22:22 / X: 22:23] because if you do afflict them in any way, so that they cry out in desperation to Me, I will surely hear their cries;

31:28 [J: 22:23 / X: 22:24] and My [righteous] anger will be kindled, and I will cause you to die by the sword, and then your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.

31:29 [J: 22:24 / X: 22:25] Whenever you lend money to My people – [especially] to those who are poor among you – you are not to act as a creditor to them; you shall not charge them interest.

31:30 [J: 22:25 / X: 22:26] If you ever take your neighbour’s cloak as security [for a loan], then before the sun sets you must return it to him,

31:31 [J: 22:26 / X: 22:27] for that is his only covering; it is the [only] cloak [he has with which to cover] his body. What [else] shall he sleep in? And so it shall be, that when he cries out to Me, I will hear him, for I will take pity [on him].

31:32 [J: 22:27 / X: 22:28] You shall not revile God, nor curse a leader among your people, {by oppressing the poor or the disadvantaged among you}.

Chapter 32: The Laws on First-fruits and Firstborn

32:1 [J: 22:28a / X: 22:29a] {Once you have settled in the Land}, you shall not delay [to give Me] the offering [of the first-fruits] from your threshing-floor or your wine-vats.

32:2 [J: 22:28b / X: 22:29b] [However], the firstborn of {the womb and of} your sons you shall give to Me {henceforth}.

32:3 [J: 22:29 / X: 22:30] You shall do the same with [the firstborn of] your oxen and of your sheep [and goats], and of your donkeys. [For] seven days it shall be with its mother, and on the eighth day you shall give it to Me.

The Law against Consuming the Flesh of an Animal that has been killed by another Animal

32:4 [J: 22:30 / X: 22:31] Now, you shall be holy men [and women] to Me; therefore, you shall not eat any flesh torn to pieces {by wild animals} out in the field; [instead], to the [wild] dogs you shall throw it.

The Laws on Justice

32:5 [23:1] You shall not bear a false report; do not join forces with a wicked person to become a malicious witness.

32:6 [23:2a] You shall not follow the majority when they do wrong;

32:7 [23:2b] nor shall you testify in a dispute [in such a way that it] subverts [the outcome] in favour of the powerful, and so pervert [justice].

32:8 [23:3] You shall not show partiality to a poor person in their dispute.

32:9 [23:6] [However, neither] shall you pervert the justice due to your most needy in their dispute.

32:10 [23:7a] So keep your distance from a false charge;

32:11 [23:7b] you shall not execute the guiltless or the innocent, nor acquit the guilty in exchange for gifts, for I [Myself] will not acquit the guilty.

32:12 [23:8] You shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the clear-minded, and subverts the pronouncements of the just.

The Laws on Right Thought and Right Action

32:13 [23:9] You shall not oppress a resident foreigner, since you yourselves know how it feels to be an alien – for aliens [are what] you were in the land of Egypt.

32:14 [23:4] If you come across your rival’s ox or his donkey, or any of his animals when they have gone astray, be sure to return it to him.

32:15 [23:5] If you see that the donkey of one who hates you has collapsed under its load, and you [are inclined to] refrain from giving him any assistance, nevertheless you must be sure to help him {to get it back on its feet}.

The Laws on the Sabbatical Year and the Sabbath

32:16 [23:10] {Once you have entered the Land}, for six years you shall sow your land and gather in its produce,

32:17 [23:11a] but in the seventh year you shall release it [from use] and let it lie fallow; {you shall not sow the land, nor shall you harvest its natural growth of that year or sell it}, so that the most needy among your people may eat {of its natural growth};

32:18 [23:11b] and whatever [the needy] leave behind {in that year}, the wild animals may eat.

32:19 [23:11c] You are to do the same with your vineyards and your olive groves.

32:20 [23:12] Six days you are to do your work, but on the seventh day you shall cease from labour, so that your ox and your donkey may rest; and so that your bonded slave, as well as your resident foreign [workers], may take a breather [and relax].

The Laws on the Three Pilgrim Festivals

32:21 [23:13] Now concerning everything that I have said to you, be on your guard; and do not mention the names of other gods, neither let them be heard from your mouth.

32:22 [23:14] [On] three occasions a year you shall celebrate a pilgrim festival to Me:

32:23 [23:15a] You shall observe the Festival of Unleavened Bread; for seven days you are to eat unleavened bread, just as I commanded you, at the appointed time in the month of Ripe Barley, for in [that month] you came out of Egypt.

32:24 [23:16a] Also, {once you have settled in the Land}, you shall observe a Festival of the Harvest of the first-fruits of your labours from what you sow in the field;

32:25 [23:16b] also the Festival of the Ingathering as the year [starts to] go out, when you have gathered in [the fruit of] your labours from the field.

32:26 [23:17] Three times a year, all your males shall appear before the Sovereign {of the Land} - Yahveh,

32:27 [23:15b] and none shall appear before Me empty-handed.

32:28 [23:18] You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifices with anything containing leaven; nor is the fat of My festival[-offerings] to remain overnight until morning.

32:29 [23:19] The choicest first-fruits of your soil you shall bring into the house of Yahveh your God, but you shall not boil a young goat in the milk of its mother.”

Epilogue: God’s Promises and Instructions for the Entry into Cana`an

32:30 [23:20] {Then Yahveh said}, Behold, I Myself am going to send My angel before you to guard you along the way, and to bring you into the place which I have prepared.

32:31 [23:21] Be on your guard before it and obey its voice; do not provoke it [to anger], for it will not pardon your transgressions {against My holiness}, since {the holiness of} My Name is within it.

32:32 [23:22] But if you truly do obey its voice and do everything that I declare to you, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and an adversary to your adversaries;

32:33 [23:23] for My angel will go before you, and bring you in to [the land of] the Canaanites – the Amorites [and] the Cheytites, the Perizzites and the Girgashites, the Hivites and the Yevusites; and I will wipe them out.

32:34 [23:24a] Do not bow down [in worship] to their gods nor serve them, nor follow any of their practices;

32:35 [23:24b] but rather you must completely tear down [their idols], totally smash their Baal-stones into pieces, {and cut down their Asherah-poles and burn them in the fire}.

32:36 [23:25] In contrast, [if] you will serve Yahveh your God, then [I] will bless your food and your water; and I will remove sicknesses from your midst.

32:37 [23:26] There shall be no [woman] in your land who miscarries or is infertile; [and] I will give you the full length of your [allotted lifespan].

32:38 [23:27] I will send the dread of Me ahead of you, and all the people into [whose lands] you come I will throw into a panic; and I will make all your enemies turn tail {and run from} you.

32:39 [23:28] I will send {the dread of Me like} hornets ahead of you, so that [it] will drive out the Canaanites from before you – the Cheytites and the Amorites, the Perizzites and the Girgashites, the Hivites and the Yevusites.

32:40 [23:29] [However], I will not drive them out before you in just one year, in case the land becomes desolate, and the wild beasts become too numerous against you.

32:41 [23:30] Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you become fruitful and take [full] possession of the land.

32:42 [23:31] I will fix your boundaries from the [Red] Sea to the [Mediterranean] Sea, and from the [Negev] desert to [the source of] the River [Jordan]; for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hands, and you will drive them out before you.

32:43 [23:32] You shall make no covenant with them or with their gods.

32:44 [23:33] They shall not dwell in your land, otherwise they will make you sin against Me; for if you serve their gods, they will surely be a snare to you.”

32:45 [cf 21:1] {And these were all the judicial rulings, ordinances and pronouncements which Yahveh instructed Mosheh to set before the people of Israel.}

 

Notes:

A number of laws appear to be out of place (see note on HTT 31:3 below). Most of the laws seem to follow on from each other thematically, or by some connection in word or phrase (eg HTT 31:7-9, where the connection is the 'ravaging' of a field either by an animal or a fire). However, in certain places there is no apparent connection. Nevertheless, by relocation of several verses, the connection is re-established (eg MT Ex 21:20-21 to MT Ex 21:26-27), and the relevance of certain other verses become much clearer (eg MT Ex 22:3b).

30:22 ( the law of an eye for an eye - 'Lex Talionis' - this law was not intended to legislate for the taking of the exact equivalent in compensation for what was lost or injured; it was intended to limit what can be taken or injured i.e. that you can only take up to the equivalent of an eye for an eye, and no more.

30:23-26 - At first, it appears that verses 23-24 allow a master to beat their slave with impunity. However, the relocation of MT Ex 21:26-27 to follow on immediately after, shows that this is not the case. With the knowledge that any beating could result in permanent injury to a slave, and therefore to their loss of service, a master is less likely to resort to beating their slave (it is like how, in the 'Merchant of Venice', Shylock is permitted to have his pound of flesh, but he is not permitted to take even one drop of blood with it). The cases quoted of the loss of an eye or tooth are only examples; tradition extended this to the loss of any part of the slave's body, or to any permanent injury.

31:3 - It has been been commented for centuries (eg Abraham ibn Ezra, 1089–c.1167 CE, and other commentators) that this part of the verse applies to the theft of animals in 22:1, hence its relocation in this translation.

31:24 - 'Whoever makes sacrificial offerings to the pagan gods shall be put to death, and all their goods and property shall be completely destroyed' - The Hebrew literally says, 'Sacrificer to gods shall be proscribed'; I felt that the rather long-winded translation was necessary, because very few people know what 'proscribed' actually means in practice. Proscription meant the death of the person, and a ban on their goods and property, which was to be utterly destroyed in order to put it beyond use.

31:32 - In the Israelite mindset, to oppress the poor and less privileged in society was to revile God; furthermore, this oppression would curse the reputation of a leader, to the extent that it becomes a millstone around their legacy.

32:1‘{Once you have settled in the Land} – explanatory words inserted to indicate that this law applies only to produce grown in the Land of Israel, and not while they are wandering in the desert. However, the laws of the firstborn applied immediately. Similarly with 32:16, 32:24.

32:14-15 – In the Masoretic text, these laws are out of place in a section that otherwise deals with justice in a court of law. In this attempt to reconstruct the original text, these laws have been relocated to their present position.

32:27‘and none shall appear before Me empty-handed’ – oddly, in all the Torah versions, this clause appears straight after the commandment about the Passover; normally, it appears after the full list of festivals (see Dt 16:16). I can only assume that the dislocation of this clause must have occurred very early on in its transmission.

32:35‘Baal-stones’ – Hebrew: matseivah. This was a large, flat stone that could either be stood up, or laid flat on the ground. Whereas a wooden pole or pillar represented the female goddess Asherah, the male god was represented by this stone (matseivah).

              ‘{and cut down their Asherah-poles and burn them in the fire}’ – this clause always appears elsewhere, whenever there is a commandment about smashing the Baal-stones (see Ex 34:13, Dt 7:5, Dt 12:3).

32:42 - 'Red Sea' - in Hebrew, 'Sea of Reeds'. However, this cannot be the Sea where the waters divided (since salt water does not have reeds), and the Sea of Reeds is located somewhere to the north-east of Egypt. This has to refer to the Red Sea (specifically the Gulf of Aqaba) at the southern end of Israel. Whereas 'the Sea of Reeds' is vocalised as yam suf in Hebrew, this could be vocalised as yam sof: the 'End Sea', since the Red Sea lies at the end of the Land.

             'Mediterranean Sea' - In Hebrew, 'Sea of the Philistines'. I avoided using this term, as the Philistines did not as yet exist. This may have been a later Iron Age name for the Mediterranean (and in the time of the prophet Yeshua`, it was called 'the Great Sea').

             'Negev desert' - the Hebrew merely says, 'the Desert'.

             'the source of the River Jordan' - the Hebrew merely says, 'the River'. Most translations interpret this as meaning the River Euphrates, but this cannot be the case; the Euphrates is on the far eastern side of Syria and central Iraq, and runs into Turkey - the borders of Israel have never extended that far, nor will they ever. Rather, I believe that 'the River' refers to the River Jordan, which is a natural border of Israel - and a divinely appointed one.

32:45 – If the original text of Torah was well-written and well-edited (which I believe it to have once been – a beautiful, cohesive and easily understandable text), then inevitably it would have had some literary device to indicate that the 'Book of the Covenant' had come to a close, and that another section was beginning. In ancient Hebrew, for example, writing ‘saying’ or ‘to say’ usually indicates that someone is about to speak, and takes the place of inverted commas in modern languages; and ‘And YHVH spoke to Mosheh, saying ... ’ usually indicates that a new section has begun. Ancient Hebrew normally has these literary devices to show that there is a break in the text, and a ‘new paragraph’ or section has begun.

Chapter 33: The Ratification of the Covenant

 

33:1 [24:1] Then [Yahveh] {spoke} [further] to Mosheh, saying, “Come up to Yahveh – you and Aharon, Nādhāv and Avīhū, Elė`āzār and Īthāmār, along with seventy of the elders of Israel – but you may [only] prostrate [in worship] from a distance.

33:2 [24:2] However, [you] Mosheh alone [shall draw near] to Yahveh, but they shall not draw near, nor shall the people come up with them.”

33:3 [24:3a] Then Mosheh came and recounted to the people all the pronouncements of Yahveh, along with all the rulings {and ordinances};

33:4 [24:3b] and all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which Yahveh has spoken we will do!”

33:5 [24:4a] So Mosheh wrote down all the words of Yahveh {in a scroll}.

33:6 [24:4b] {The next day} he arose early in the morning, and built an altar {of rocks} at the foot of the mountain, and {he set up} twelve standing-stones for the twelve tribes of Israel.

33:7 [24:5] Then he deputised some of the clan-ministers among the Israelites; and they offered up [whole] burnt-offerings, and sacrificed young bulls as sacrificial offerings of fellowship to Yahveh.

33:8 [24:6] Then Mosheh took half of the blood and put it in basins, and the [other] half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar.

33:9 [24:7] Then he took the Scroll of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “Everything that Yahveh has spoken we will obediently do!”

33:10 [24:8] So Mosheh took the blood and sprinkled it over the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the Covenant, which Yahveh has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

33:11 [24:9] Then Mosheh went {part way} up {the mountain} with Aharon, Nādhāv and Avīhū, Elė`āzār and Īthāmār, and seventy of the elders of Israel,

33:12 [24:10] and they had a vision of {a heavenly doorway to the Glory of the} God of Israel; and at its base [there seemed to be something] like a paved structure [made] of sapphire, but it had the appearance of the sky [itself] in its purity.

33:13 [24:11] Yet [God] did not send forth the power {of His Glory} against the distinguished leaders of the Israelites; for [after] having beheld a vision {of the Glory} of God, they [still went on to] eat and drink.

33:14 [24:12] After that, Yahveh said to Mosheh, “Come [higher] up to Me on the mountain and remain there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the teachings and the Commandments which I have written for their instruction.”

33:15 [24:13] So Mosheh [got ready] with Yėhoshúa` his assistant, and Mosheh went higher up the mountain of God.

33:16 [24:14] But {before he set off}, to the elders he said, “Wait for us in this [location] until we return to you. And [in any case], look – Aharon and Chūr are with you; whoever has any legal matters [to be decided on], let him approach them.”

33:17 [24:15] Then Mosheh and Yėhoshúa` went higher up the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain.

33:18 [24:16] Then the Glory of Yahveh came to rest upon Mount Sīnai, and the cloud covered it for six days; and on the seventh day [God] called to Mosheh from the midst of the cloud.

33:19 [24:17] Now, to the eyes of the Israelites, the appearance of the Glory of Yahveh was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain.

33:20 [24:18] Then Mosheh entered {by himself} into the midst of the cloud as he went {higher and higher} up the mountain; and so it was that Mosheh was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.

 

Notes:

33:7‘clan-ministers – the Hebrew here employs the more usual word used to describe these individuals: ‘ne`arim’ (cf at HTT 28:24 & 26, where the Hebrew word kohein {priest} is used of them). This literally means, ‘young man’, and elsewhere can also mean ‘servant-boy’, but here it specifically refers to the adult firstborn males of each clan. Before the institution of the Aaronic priesthood, it was these ne`arim who officiated over the rituals and ceremonies of Hebrew religion.

33:12‘and they had a vision of a heavenly doorway to the Glory of the God of Israel’ – the Hebrew literally says, ‘and they saw the God of Israel’. The reason for my expanded, explanatory translation is threefold: a) this cannot literally refer to ‘seeing’ God, but rather something akin to having a vision; b) what they saw cannot have been God Himself, since God cannot be seen – they must have beheld something of God’s Glory (God’s Divine Radiance); c) however, it cannot have been the full Glory of God - for who can see God and live – and therefore it must have been rather a glimpse of something like an opening or doorway to heaven, giving the leaders a glimpse of God’s Glory. My theory is that this doorway was like an interface between heaven and our earthly realm, and so would have appeared something like a perfect ring of very bright light.

             ‘and at its base there seemed to be something like a paved structure made of sapphire’ – the Hebrew literally says, ‘and under His feet like a work of paving of the sapphire’; since God does not have actual feet, it must refer instead to the base of what the leaders saw – in my view, some kind of doorway. The 'paved structure itself was likely a horizontal sheet of sky-blue light, sloping downwards from the doorway. However, it is described in terms of a paved structure, to symbolise kingship - some Middle Eastern kings had thrones atop bases made of tiles of lapis lazuli.

             ‘made of sapphire, but it had the appearance of the sky itself in its purity’ – the Hebrew word sappīr normally means lapis lazuli, which is a dark blue in colour, with thin veins of white running through it. However, the Hebrew also mentions that the tiled pavement is ‘like the skies in its purity’; I assume that this means that it was sky-blue instead of dark blue. Now, sapphire is also usually a medium to dark blue in colour, but Ceylon sapphires have the reputation of being sky blue in colour. Therefore, instead of ‘lapis lazuli’, the English word ‘sapphire’ is more appropriate here.

33:13 – Nowhere in the Hebrew is the word ‘Glory’ used, but given the nature of the danger being described, that is what is being referred to – hence the words in brace brackets. Whenever the Hebrew word kavodh refers to splendour or magnificence, I will use a small ‘g’. However, when it refers to the purifying, sanctifying, cleansing and evil-annihilating fire of God’s Divine Radiance, I will use a capital ‘G’. At full strength, God’s Glory is always a danger to mortals – that is the very nature of what the Glory is – ‘a consuming fire’ (see MT Ex 24:17).

Instructions for the Construction of the Tabernacle

 

Chapter 34: Contributions for the Tabernacle

 

34:1 [25:1] Then Yahveh spoke to Mosheh, saying,

34:2 [25:2] “Tell the Israelites to raise donations for Me; from every person, as their heart moves them, you shall raise donations [for] Me.

34:3 [25:3] Now, these are the [kinds of] donations which you are to raise from them: gold, and silver and bronze,

34:4 [25:4] and yarn of indigo blue, and purple and scarlet, and {thread of} fine {white} linen, as well as {black} goats’ [hair];

34:5 [25:5] and rams’ skins dyed red, and suede-skins {made of ox-hide, dyed jacinth-orange}, and acacia wood,

34:6 [25:6] and oil for lighting, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense,

34:7 [25:7] and {black} onyx stones for the eifodh, and {semi-precious} setting-stones for the breastplate.

34:8 [25:8] And you shall construct a sanctuary for Me, so that I may dwell among you.

34:9 [25:9] According to everything that I am about to show you [in visions] on the mountain, concerning the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, that is [exactly] how you shall construct it.

 

Instructions for making the Ark of the Covenant

 

34:10 [25:10] Now, an ark shall be constructed of acacia wood, two and a half cubits long, and one and a half cubits wide, and one and a half cubits high.

34:11 [25:11] You shall overlay it with pure gold – inside and out you shall overlay it – and you shall make for it a [decorative] gold moulding [to go] right round it, {rim and base}.

34:12 [25:12] You shall cast four gold rings for it, and fasten them on its four feet; two rings [shall be fastened] on the [right] side, and two rings on the [left] side.

34:13 [25:13] You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold.

34:14 [25:14] You shall pass the poles through the rings on the sides of the ark, to carry the ark with them – {one pole on the right side, and one pole on the left side}.

34:15 [25:15] In the rings of the ark shall the poles remain {permanently}; they shall not be removed from [them].

34:16 [25:16] Then you shall put into the ark {the tablets of} the testimony, which I will give you.

 

The Mercy-Seat as a Cover for the Ark

 

34:17 [25:17] Now, you shall make a mercy-seat of pure gold, two and a half cubits long and one and a half cubits wide.

34:18 [25:18] You shall make two kheruv-angels of gold; of hammered work you shall make them, and at the two {opposite} ends of the mercy-seat you shall put them;

34:19 [25:19] you shall put one kheruv-angel at the one end, and one kheruv-angel at the other end; and you shall make the kheruv-angels of one piece with the mercy-seat at its two ends.

34:20 [25:20] The kheruv-angels shall face each other; they shall have their wings spread out upwards, covering the mercy-seat with their wings; and the faces of the kheruv-angels are to be {bowed down} toward {the centre of} the mercy-seat.

34:21 [25:21] Then you shall put the mercy-seat on top of the ark, after having put into the ark {the tablets of} the testimony which I will give to you.

34:22 [25:22] And there I will meet with you [personally]; and I will speak to you [alone] from above the mercy-seat – from between the two kheruv-angels which are upon the Ark of the Testimony – concerning everything that I am about to give you as commandments for the Israelites.

 

The Eternal Lamp

 

34:23 [cf 27:20-21] {Then you shall fashion a gold lamp which is} to burn continuously; {and you shall place it} in the tent of meeting, to burn continuously in the presence of Yahveh.

 

The Table for the Bread of the Presence

 

34:24 [25:23] Then you shall make a table of acacia wood, two cubits long and one cubit wide and one and a half cubits high.

34:25 [25:24] You shall overlay it with pure gold, and you shall make a [decorative] gold moulding right around it –  

34:26 [25:25] that is, you shall make for it a rim of a handbreadth around it, and you shall make a [decorative] gold moulding for the rim right around it.

34:27 [25:26] You shall make four gold rings for it, and put the rings on the four corners, to which its four legs [are attached].

34:28 [25:27] Close to the rim shall be the rings, as holders for the poles to carry the table.

34:29 [25:28] You shall make the poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold, so that with them the table may be carried.

34:30 [25:29] Then you shall make its platters and its trays, along with its offering-bowls and [the] libation-pitchers with which you will pour drink-offerings; you shall make them [all] of pure gold.

34:31 [25:30] You shall keep [loaves of] showbread on the table in My presence at all times.

 

Chapter 35: The Golden Menorah

 

35:1 [25:31a] “Then you shall make a branched lampstand of pure gold.

35:2 [25:31b] The [entire] menorah shall be made of hammered work; its legs and its [central] stem, its flower-cups – its calyxes and its [open] flowers – shall be of one piece with it.

35:3 [25:32] Six branches shall go out from its sides; three branches of the menorah from one side of it, and three branches of the menorah from the [other] side of it.

35:4 [25:33] Three flower-cups shall be fashioned {like} almond blossoms on one branch {on one side} – a calyx and an[open] flower; and three flower-cups shall be fashioned {like} almond blossoms on [the opposite] branch – a calyx and an [open] flower; and [so on] for [all] six branches going out from the {central stem of the} menorah;

35:5 [25:34] but on {the central stem of} the menorah {itself}, {you shall fashion} four flower-cups shaped like almond blossoms – their calyxes and their [open] flowers.

35:6 [25:35] A blossom [shall sit] under the [first] pair of branches coming out of it, and a blossom under the [second] pair of branches coming out of it, and a blossom under the [third] pair of branches coming out of it; {blossoms are to sit beneath} all six branches coming out of the {central stem of the} menorah; {and the fourth blossom is to sit right at the top of the stem}.

35:7 [25:36] The blossoms and the branches {of the menorah} shall be of one piece with it; all of it [shall be] one piece of hammered work of pure gold.

35:8 [25:37] Then you shall make its lamps [separately] – seven [in number]; and you shall mount its lamps {on the uppermost blossom of each branch}, [in such a way] that they will shed light on the space in front of [the menorah].

35:9 [25:38] Their wick-trimmers and their snuffers shall be [made of] pure gold.

35:10 [25:39] An [entire] talent-weight of pure gold shall it [all] be made [from], inclusive of all these utensils.

35:11 [25:40] See that you make them after the pattern for them, which you yourself were shown [in visions] on the mountain.

 

The Altar of Burnt Incense

 

35:12 [30:1] Then you shall make an altar for burning incense; of acacia wood you shall make it.

35:13 [30:2] A cubit [shall be] its length, and a cubit its width – it shall be square; and two cubits [shall be] its height. Its [four] horns [shall be] of one piece with it.

35:14 [30:3] And you shall overlay it – its top and its [outer] sides – with pure gold all around; and as for its horns, you shall make for them a [decorative] gold moulding [to go] right around [the base of them].

35:15 [30:4] Then you shall make two gold rings for it [to go] under its moulding; you shall put them on its two side walls – on opposite sides – and they shall be holders for the poles with which to carry [the altar].

35:16 [30:5] You shall make the poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold.

35:17 [cf 25:9, 25;40] {See that you make this altar also after the pattern which I showed you in the visions I gave you on the mountain}.

 

Chapter 36: The Tabernacle – The Inner Curtains

 

36:1 [26:1a] “Then you shall make the tabernacle itself, with ten curtains of twisted, fine [white] linen [thread], and indigo blue, purple and scarlet [yarn];

36:2 [26:1b] you shall weave them with kheruv-angels, the work of skilled artisans.

36:3 [26:2] The length of each curtain shall be twenty-eight cubits, and the drop of each curtain four cubits; all the curtains shall have the same measurements.

36:4 [26:3] Now five of the curtains shall be joined to each other {end to end}, and the [other] five curtains shall [likewise] be joined to each other.

36:5 [26:4] You shall make loops of indigo blue [yarn] along the outermost selvedge of the first set of curtains, and you shall do likewise on the outer selvedge of the curtain in the second set.

36:6 [26:5] You shall make fifty [of these] loops in the [first set of] curtains, and you shall make fifty loops on the selvedge of the curtain that is in the second set – the loops {in each set of curtains} being opposite each other.

36:7 [26:6] Then you shall make fifty clasps of gold, and join the [two sets of] curtains to each other, with the clasps {joining the opposing loops together}, so that {the two sets of curtains} form one [single unit] {around the} inside {of} the tabernacle.

 

The Outer Coverings of the Tabernacle

 

36:8 [26:7] Then you shall make sheets of [black] goats’ hair for a tent over the tabernacle; you shall make eleven sheets of them [in total].

36:9 [26:8] The length of each sheet [shall be] thirty cubits, and [their] width four cubits; [all] eleven sheets shall have the exact same measurements.

36:10 [26:9] You shall join five sheets by themselves, and the other six sheets by themselves; and you shall fold back the sixth sheet {of the second set} at the very front of the tent.

36:11 [26:10] You shall make fifty loops {of pleated goats’ hair} on the selvedge of the outermost sheet in the first set, and fifty loops you shall make on the selvedge of the {outermost} sheet in the second set.

36:12 [26:11] Then you shall make fifty clasps of bronze, and you shall pass the clasps through the {pairs of} loops, and join the tent together so that it will become one [single unit].

36:13 [26:12] Now, the overhang that is surplus in the sheets of the tent – the half sheet {of the first five joined sheets} that is surplus – shall overlap {and hang down} at the back of the tabernacle.

36:14 [26:13] The {length of} cubits on one side and the {length of} cubits on the other, of what is surplus in the length of the sheets of the tent, shall hang down over the sides of the tabernacle on one side and on the other, to {completely} cover it.

36:15 [26:14, cf 27:19b] You shall make a {second} covering for the tent of rams’ skins dyed red {above that}, and a {further} covering of suede-skins {dyed jacinth-orange} above {that} {both to be fastened to the ground with bronze tent-pegs}.

 

The Wooden Framework of the Tabernacle: the Upright Posts

 

36:16 [26:15] “Then you shall make the posts for the tabernacle of acacia wood, [to be] stood upright.

36:17 [26:16] Ten cubits shall be the length of each post, and one and a half cubits the width of each post, {and one cubit the thickness of each post}.

36:18 [26:17] There shall be two tenons on {the top of} each post, parallel to each other; the same thing you shall do for all the posts of the tabernacle.

36:19 [26:18] Of the posts for the tabernacle, you shall place twenty posts on the southernmost side.

36:20 [26:19] You shall insert [a total of] forty silver mortises at the bottom end of the twenty posts; [there shall be] two mortises under the first post [corresponding] to its two tenons, and two mortises under each subsequent post [corresponding] to their two tenons;

36:21 [26:20] and on the second side of the tabernacle – on the north side – you shall place twenty posts {as well},

36:22 [26:21] along with their forty silver mortises; two mortises under the first post, and two mortises under each [subsequent] post.

36:23 [26:22] For the rear of the tabernacle, to the west, you shall make six posts.

36:24 [26:23] You shall place two posts on the [very] corners of the tabernacle at the rear.

36:25 [26:24] They shall be joined [as a pair] at the bottom, and together at the top {with connecting beams} – they shall form a perfect {square}; {then they shall be joined} by the first rings, {tenons and holes on the adjacent posts and beams on the south and north sides}; thus it shall be with both of them: they shall form the two corners.

 

The Beams to join the Posts of the Tabernacle

 

36:26 [cf 26:25a] Then there shall be eight {larger, horizontal} beams {of acacia wood for the bases of the two sides of the Tabernacle – the south and the north}.

36:27 [cf 26:25a] {There shall be two tenons at one end of each beam, and two silver mortises at the other end} – sixteen mortises; {and they shall slot together by their tenons and mortises, to form two long beams along the length of each side of the Tabernacle, south and north}.

36:28 [cf 26:25a] {You shall make the beams with parallel pairs of tenons along the upper side of their lengths, carved into a recess into which each post will sit; then you shall place the beams in two rows of four beams on the ground; you shall place each post into the recess, and slot the silver mortises at the bottom of the posts over the tenons on each side – the south and the north}.

36:29 [cf 26:25a] {Then you shall make twenty upper beams}, with their {parallel} silver mortises {along the underside of each upper beam, placed at both ends of each beam, to sit on top of the tenons on the posts of both sides; each upper beam shall connect one post on the south side to one post on the north side}.

36:30 [cf 26:25a] In this way {you shall have eight lower beams with their tenons above, and twenty upper beams with} their silver mortises {below}; {and you shall overlay all the beams with gold}.

36:31 [cf 26:25b] {Each post shall slot into the recess for it, and the} two silver mortises under the first post {shall sit on top of the first parallel set of tenons on the upper side of the lower beams, and so on for each subsequent post};

36:32 [cf 26:25b] and {the first set of} two silver mortises under {the upper beams shall sit on top of the tenons at the top of the first post, and likewise for} each [subsequent] post, {connecting the posts on the south side and the north side}.

 

The Cross-poles to join the Posts of the Tabernacle

 

36:33 [26:26a] Then you shall make {fifteen} cross-poles of acacia wood;

36:34 [26:26b-27] five {cross-poles} for the posts of {the south} side of the tabernacle, and five cross-poles for the posts of the {north} side of the tabernacle, and five cross-poles for the posts [on the] side of the tabernacle {which is on} the rear side, to the west.

36:35 [26:28] The middle cross-pole {of each set} shall pass through {a hole} in the centre of the posts from end to end, {and right through the corner posts}.

36:36 [26:29] You shall overlay the {vertical} posts with gold, and make rings of gold as holders for the cross-poles, {and set their gold rings on the inner side of each post – four on each post}; and you shall overlay the cross-poles with gold.

36:37 [26:30] Then you shall erect the tabernacle according to its plan which you have been shown [in visions] on the mountain.

 

Notes:

The whole section on the design and plan of the Tabernacle Sanctuary presents a number of editorial problems. In this particular section:

a) Elsewhere in Exodus, all these items are given a very specific order, but here several items are missing, or out of sequence.

b) The oil for the eternal lamp is mentioned elsewhere (MT Ex 27:20-21), but nowhere is the actual making of the lamp recorded or commanded.

c) The section on the Altar of Incense has a completely different position in the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Dead Sea Scrolls Bible.

d) None of the texts of any of the four extant versions of the Bible give any indication of how the posts of the Tabernacle were supposed to remain standing, or what their tenons and mortises were supposed to slot into.

        In my reconstruction, I have tried to resolve some of these issues. My reasoning is explained among the notes below at their relevant points.

34:5‘suede-skins {made of ox-hide, dyed jacinth-orange}’ – traditional translations translate the Hebrew tachashim as the skins of a non-kosher sea-creature, such as seals, dolphins or dugongs. However, this cannot be so – using non-kosher animal products is absolutely forbidden by Torah, and cannot possibly have been used in the construction of such a holy object as the Tabernacle of God. We are specifically told not to even handle the dead bodies of non-kosher animals (which you would have to do if you were going to make use of their skins - Lev 11:8, 11; Dt 14:8), or use any product that comes from them (Lev 11:24, 26, 36).

          There are clues however, to what tachash might be. In Ezek 16:10, it is stated that women’s shoes were made out of them; the skin is mentioned in a list of very expensive and fine clothing. One can therefore assume that tachash is a very expensive form of leather (perhaps like real suede). Secondly, ancient translations of the word, such as the Torah of the Greek Septuagint (which was very precise), the Aramaic Targums, and the Syriac Peshitta, all state that the colour of this leather is either jacinth – a reddish-orange, or hyacinth – a blue-purple. My guess is that tachash is therefore a leather made from a kosher animal (maybe oxen, since the covering underneath is of rams’ skins), prepared and finished in a particular way that makes it very expensive, and that it is of a particular colour. The word tachash therefore likely refers to the preparation-method and colour of the leather, not the animal it has come from.

34:14the position of the poles on the ark: In some artistic reconstructions of the Ark, the carrying poles are on the front and the back of the ark. However, MT Ex 37:5 says that the poles were on the sides of the ark, not on the back and the front. The Ark was meant to be like carried like a throne, and if you consider how the portable thrones of kings and queens once were, you will remember the carrying poles were along the sides, not the front and back. In the description of the position of the Ark in the Temple of Solomon, it is stated that the poles of the Ark protruded through the veil in front of the Holy of Holies (2Chr 5:9); also, if the Glory of God comes through between the Kheruv-angels (MT Ex 25:22), then both Kheruv-angels must be visible at the same time. The only way both these things can be true, is if the poles were on the sides of the Ark, not the front and back.

34:23the eternal lamp: Although MT 27:20-21 mentions the oil of the lamp, nowhere is the making of the lamp actually commanded or recorded. Given its placement and position inside the Tabernacle, this is an appropriate place in the reconstructed HTT text to record it. It would have been made of gold (given what everything else inside the Tabernacle was made from or plated in), and it would have stood on a single-stem lampstand, to the right of the altar of incense (our left).

35:2the legs of the Menorah: Most modern depictions of the Menorah are based on the single carving of the Herodian Menorah on the Arch of Titus in Rome – with a stepped base. However, the description here of the Sinai Menorah mentions ‘legs’. In some ancient drawings of the Menorah, it is shown with a tripod base of three legs. It is therefore this tripod Sinai Menorah which has become the unofficial symbol of the Talmidi Israelite faith, as a symbol of our mission to restore what is best and most noble about the Israelite faith – which we believe was the very mission of the prophet Yeshua`, to restore the best values and ideals of the Israelite faith.

35:12-17the Altar of Incense: Given the sequence of the articles in which the altar of incense appears elsewhere (always after the menorah and before the Tabernacle's inner curtains - see MT Ex 30:27, 31:8, 37:25-28 & 40:5), the verses about the construction of the altar (MT Ex 30:1-5) are placed here after MT Ex 25:40; the verse about its placement (MT Ex 30:6) appears at HTT Ts 37:7; and the verses about the priests' duties with regard to the Altar of Incense (MT Ex 30:7-10) are kept where they are in the MT.

36:25the corner posts at the back of the Tabernacle: The wording of this whole verse is enigmatic - no one is really quite sure what it is trying to say, or what the ‘first rings’ refer to. I think it means that the corner posts are to be joined together with connecting beams to form a perfect square (which is what the tammim may refer to - tammim means ‘perfect’).

36:26-32the connecting beams of the Tabernacle: With the text as it stands, no one is quite sure how the posts of the Tabernacle were supposed to remain standing, nor quite why there were tenons on top of the posts, or why there were mortises at the bottom of each post - there is nothing mentioned that would suggest what these tenons and mortises are supposed to slot into (why mention them, if they are not used)? However, MT Ex 26.25 does mention ‘beams’, which may be what held the posts together. I have therefore expanded the text to give a tentative, reconstructed explanation for how the posts and beams would have slotted together – which was almost like lego. Together with the cross-poles, these horizontal beams are what may have held the posts of the Tabernacle together (8 at the bottom and 20 across the top).

36:29 - the twenty upper beams: I had originally thought that a row of 8 beams, similar to the 8 base-beams, ran along the top of the posts, parallel to the beams at the base. However, without a solid roof, the immense weight of the sheets over the whole structure would eventually sag, pull on the two sides and cause the two sides of the tabernacle to cave in. There has to be something solid to keep the two sides apart, and also to prevent the inner tent-covering from sagging. These problems are solved with wooden beams connecting opposing posts on the north and south sides.

 

   
Site Content © Shmuliq Parzal 2004-2018 contact us | site map | site terms