Looking for a new criterion
of dividing the Book of Exodus 1-18.
Presentation of the research method sequence.

PhD dissertation: Part III (pp. 87-122) of chapter I

Wojciech Kosek

This translation was published first as a part of a PDF publication on 25 January 2020
on academia.edu website.

DOI of the version of the paper on academia.edu:

This paper is the translation of the first chapter of the doctoral dissertation:

Wojciech Kosek, Pierwotny ryt Paschy w świetle schematu literackiego Księgi Wyjścia 1-18,

[The original rite of the Passover in the light of the literary scheme of the Book of Exodus 1-18],

Kraków 2008

See also on academia.edu:


The present paper shows subsequent methodological steps to discover the division of the Book of Exodus into basic literary units according to the thought of its final writer-redactor, the one who arranged the text under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God.

In the first step, one ought to make a list of the more essential means of dividing this book, which occurred from the very beginning to our times. It concerns, of course, the version in the Hebrew language, and also its translations into different languages, including the Greek Septuagint and Latin Vulgate. One must take into account also the contribution of the contemporary biblicists done through their translations and scientific discussions and analyses resulting in books or articles in specialized magazines.

The comparative material collected in this way will answer the question about the criterion for the division of the text: is there visible an original logic in the contemporary editions of the Bible according to which the last editor-writer finally shaped this holy text? What is this original logic? Can this be discovered with scientific credibility?

The second step of the methodological looking for the original division of the Book of Exodus will be a through-out reading of the Hebrew text.

For providing the fulfillment of the requirement to read the text profoundly, one will involve the principle of theocentrism as the essential criterion for this task. Namely, to understand the sacred text, one should look especially for those places where God of Israel – יְהוָה – appears as the subject (dynamic center) of acts and simultaneously the grammatical subject of the biblical sentence.

As a result of such reading, one will discover the six-element literary structure of Ex 1-18 as the first main part of the Book of Exodus; its second part – Ex 19-40 – will not be analyzed in the present publication.

Table of contents of part III:

1.3.Looking for a new criterion of dividing the Book of Exodus 1-18.
 1.3.2.Exegesis of Ex 3:19.
 1.3.3.Exegesis of Ex 4:21. of various translations of Ex 4:21. of the meaning of the word רְאֵה of the meaning of the sequence: (infinitivus constructus + ל) + (suffix + infinitivus constructus + ב) of Ex 4:21 studies.
 1.3.4.Exegesis of the Book of Exodus 1:1-7:7. first part of God’s revelation outside Egypt: at Horeb (3:1-4:17). second part of God’s revelation outside Egypt: in Midian (4:19-23). third part of God’s revelation outside Egypt: on the way to Egypt (4:24-26). execution of the first two stages of God’s plan revealed near Horeb (4:27-31 and 5:1-6:1). first (6:2-9) and the second (6:10-12) parts of God’s revelation in Egypt. of Moses and Aaron (6:13-27) and the third part of God’s revelation in Egypt (6:28-7:5). fundamental conclusions from the analyses of Ex 1:1-7:7.
All main parts of the first chapter of this dissertation:
1.2.Presentation of previously discovered means of dividing the Book of Exodus.
1.3.Looking for a new criterion of dividing the Book of Exodus 1-18.
1.4.Looking for the main pericopes in Ex 1-18.
1.5.List of main pericopes in Ex 1-18.
1.6.The summary of the first chapter of the dissertation.

1.3. Looking for a new criterion of dividing the Book of Exodus 1-18.

1.3.1. Introduction.

This doctoral dissertation assumes the principle that in explaining similar biblical texts, one must pay attention to the following issues:

  • lexical and grammatical differences between them,
  • differences in the context of their placement in the Bible,

whereby such differences are considered relevant for further research:

  • which indicate another course of events than it would result from treating both texts as synonymous in terms of content,
  • which are probably a literary signal of the beginning or end of an important literary unit.

This principle is fundamental when reading the speeches of God because of the fact Who speaks.

As one shown in the previous point, biblical scholars generally claim that there is a double text in Ex 1-18 describing one (and only one) historical event: the call of Moses.

For example, in Biblia Tysiąclecia 4, the following texts received editorial mid-titles:

  • 2:23-4:31: The First Description of the Vocation of Moses
  • 6:2-7:13:   The Second Description of the Vocation of Moses

These texts contain speeches of God; therefore, following the research criterion laid down here, one should read them carefully and consider whether they differ indeed in such a way that they constitute a description of separate events.

One will carry out a thorough analysis of these texts after performing the necessary analysis of two small fragments of the Book of Exodus: 3:19f and 4:21f.

After considering this first significant problem, one will analyze the next fragments so that this study will finally result in discovering the main parts of Ex 1-18.

1.3.2. Exegesis of Ex 3:19.

וַאֲנִי יָדַעְתִּי כִּי לֹא־יִתֵּן אֶתְכֶם מֶלֶךְ מִצְרַיִם לַהֲלֹךְ וְלֹא בְּיָד חֲזָקָה׃

The exegetes translate the text in two different ways:

(1) Septuagint (LXX):

ἐγὼ δὲ οἶδα ὅτι οὐ προήσεται ὑμᾶς Φαραω βασιλεὺς Αἰγύπτου πορευθῆναι

ἐὰν μὴ μετὰ χειρὸς κραταιᾶς


• Biblia Tysiąclecia 4:

Ja zaś wiem, że król egipski pozwoli wam wyjść z Egiptu tylko wtedy, gdy będzie zmuszony ręką przemożną.

[I know, however, that the Egyptian king will only allow you to leave Egypt if he is compelled by a mighty hand.]

• Biblia Poznańska 3:

Wiem Ja, że król Egiptu nie pozwoli wam iść, jeżeli nie zostanie [przymuszony] mocną ręką.

[I know that the King of Egypt will not allow you to go unless he is compelled by a mighty hand.]

• English standard version (ESV) [131]:

But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand.

• New American Standard Bible (NAS) [132]

But I know that the king of Egypt will not permit you to go, except under compulsion

(2) The Holy Bible (ASV) [133]:

And I know that the king of Egypt will not give you leave to go, no, not by a mighty hand.


• The New King James Version (NKJV) [134]:

But I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not even by a mighty hand.

The highlighted words are a translation of וְלֹא, which we render literally as ‘and not.’

One should emphasize that:

  • although in all translations the essential thought of the whole context of the Hebrew text is understood in the same way: Pharaoh will not want to release the people, but God will force him to do it,
  • however, only the translations of the second group help the reader to correctly answer the question: does God announce here that he will immediately hit Pharaoh?

This question is essential for exegesis. That is why we will discuss it in the next sections of this work. To see the answer to this question here, one should note where the emphasis is in verse 19:

  • God characterizes the Pharaoh’s resistance here (this resistance will be so great that nothing can break it, even someone with “a strong hand” – according to the literal translation and the above English translation)
  • God does not announce here that if He knows Pharaoh’s heart as incapable of obeying Him, He will immediately step in with the power to defeat Him.

Only in light of the perceived emphasis of verse 19, one can correctly understand the meaning of the whole, consisting of this and the next verse:

• verse 19: Pharaoh may stubbornly continue to hold the Israelites in his country for some time because he has confidence that no one in the world is so strong to be able to break his resistance,
• verse 20:and then God will strike with His power that Pharaoh does not predict, and then, only in this situation, he will release the people.

Comparing verse 19 with verse 20, one should notice a significant contrast between:

  • the expression וְלֹא בְּיָד חֲזָקָה (and not by a strong hand – Ex 3:19)
  • and the expression וְשָׁלַחְתִּי אֶת־יָדִי (and I will stretch out My hand) [135] contained in the announcement of God’s intervention – in the next verse (Ex 3:20):

וְשָׁלַחְתִּי אֶת־יָדִי וְהִכֵּיתִי אֶת־מִצְרַיִם בְּכֹל נִפְלְאֹתַי אֲשֶׁר אֶעֱשֶׂה בְּקִרְבּוֹ וְאַחֲרֵי־כֵן יְשַׁלַּח אֶתְכֶם׃

And then I will reach out My hand (אֶת־יָדִי) and strike Egypt with various miracles that I will perform there. And after that (וְאַחֲרֵי־כֵן) he will let you go.

Only when one remembers the above-indicated emphasis in verse 3:19 on Pharaoh’s resistance, one can settle at the following version of the literal translation of this verse:

“And I know that the Egyptian king will not let you go if he is not forced by a strong hand.”

We will present a little further – in the framework of analyses of the description of this entire revelation to which verses 19 and 20 belong – the importance of exegesis of Ex 3:19 and the significance of perceiving the difference between the content of verses 19 and 20.

1.3.3. Exegesis of Ex 4:21.

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה בְּלֶכְתְּךָ לָשׁוּב מִצְרַיְמָה רְאֵה כָּל־הַמֹּפְתִים אֲשֶׁר־שַׂמְתִּי בְיָדֶךָ וַעֲשִׂיתָם לִפְנֵי פַרְעֹה וַאֲנִי אֲחַזֵּק אֶת־לִבּוֹ וְלֹא יְשַׁלַּח אֶת־הָעָם׃

One of the main tasks of an exegete trying to reach the meaning of God’s Word in the analyzed text is to check the grammatical correctness of its translations [136]. The author of this paper undertook this task in order to indicate the need to improve translations of Ex 4:21. Presentation of various translations of Ex 4:21.

Translators render this text as follows:

LXX – Septuagint:

εἶπεν δὲ κύριος πρὸς Μωυσῆν πορευομένου σου καὶ ἀποστρέφοντος εἰς Αἴγυπτον ὅρα πάντα τὰ τέρατα ἃ ἔδωκα ἐν ταῖς χερσίν σου ποιήσεις αὐτὰ ἐναντίον Φαραω ἐγὼ δὲ σκληρυνῶ τὴν καρδίαν αὐτοῦ καὶ οὐ μὴ ἐξαποστείλῃ τὸν λαόν

In literal translation [137]: The Lord said to Moses: going you [138] and returning to Egypt see/remember all those signs that I gave to your hands; you will make them before Pharaoh, and I will harden his heart, and he will not let the people go.

MGK – Greek Vamvas Bible [139]:

Ὅταν ὑπάγῃς καὶ ἐπιστρέψῃς εἰς Αἴγυπτον, ἰδὲ νὰ κάμῃς ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ Φαραὼ πάντα τὰ θαυμάσια, τὰ ὁποῖα ἔδωκα εἰς τὴν χεῖρά σου˙

[When you go and return to Egypt, look!…]

BTP – Biblia Tysiąclecia 4:

Gdy będziesz zbliżał się do Egiptu, pamiętaj o władzy czynienia wszelkich cudów, jaką ci dałem do ręki, i okaż ją przed faraonem.

[As you approach Egypt, remember the power of doing all the miracles I have given you in your hand, and show it before Pharaoh.]

RST – The Russian Synodal Text of the Bible [140]

Kогда пойдешь и возвратишься в Египет, смотри, все чудеса, которые Я поручил тебе, сделай пред лицем фараона …

[When you go and return to Egypt, look, all the miracles I have given you, do before Pharaoh…]

Examples of newer English translations:

NLT – Holy Bible [141]:

When you arrive back in Egypt, go to Pharaoh and perform all the miracles I have empowered you to do.

NAB – The New American Bible [142]:

On your return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have put in your power.

ESV – English Standard Version [143]:

When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power.

The main problem in understanding the Hebrew text Ex 4:21 and its translations is to explain the meaning of the following phrase:

בְּלֶכְתְּךָ לָשׁוּב מִצְרַיְמָה רְאֵה כָּל־הַמֹּפְתִים

and understand the word רְאֵה, which is the predicate of this sentence.

In the translation of LXX, the phrase is understood as: “At the time of your returning to Egypt, see/remember (ὅρα) [144] all the signs (πάντα τὰ τέρατα – in the accusative).” The translator did not decide here what the meaning of the word ὅρα (the translation of Hebrew רְאֵה) might mean here, and thanks to this indeterminateness, he did not change the Hebrew text. The meaning of the whole verse is probably such that the accent is placed on Moses looking for / remembering / guarding the signs of God during his returning to Egypt.

The other translations, on the other hand, pin down the understanding of Hebrew רְאֵה as: remember about / make sure that you. At the same time, the understanding of the highlighted phrase is – in light of footnotes as commentaries to the entire following passage – different from the Hebrew text and the Septuagint: the emphasis is upon Moses’ remembering, upon his arrival in Egypt, to show these signs to the Pharaoh.

In order to thoroughly examine the thoughts of the Biblical writer, one will first analyze the meaning of the word רְאֵה and then the meaning of the phrase mentioned above. Explanation of the meaning of the word רְאֵה

רְאֵה – is the verb in the imperative form. The following verses in Ex 1-18 contain this form [145]: 4:21; 7:1; 10:10; 14:13; 16:29.

It is worth looking at the meaning of these sentences [146]:

Ex 4:21

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה בְּלֶכְתְּךָ לָשׁוּב מִצְרַיְמָה רְאֵה כָּל־הַמֹּפְתִים אֲשֶׁר־שַׂמְתִּי בְיָדֶךָ וַעֲשִׂיתָם לִפְנֵי פַרְעֹה וַאֲנִי אֲחַזֵּק אֶת־לִבּוֹ וְלֹא יְשַׁלַּח אֶת־הָעָם

LXX εἶπεν δὲ κύριος πρὸς Μωυσῆν Πορευομένου σου καὶ ἀποστρέφοντος εἰς Αἴγυπτον ὅρα πάντα τὰ τέρατα, ἃ ἔδωκα ἐν ταῖς χερσίν σου ποιήσεις αὐτὰ ἐναντίον Φαραω˙ ἐγὼ δὲ σκληρυνῶ τὴν καρδίαν αὐτοῦ, καὶ οὐ μὴ ἐξαποστείλῃ τὸν λαόν.

NAB The Lord said to him, ‘On your return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have put in your power. I will make him obstinate, however, so that he will not let the people go.’


Ex 7:1

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה רְאֵה נְתַתִּיךָ אֱלֹהִים לְפַרְעֹה וְאַהֲרֹן אָחִיךָ יִהְיֶה נְבִיאֶךָ

LXX καὶ εἶπεν κύριος πρὸς Μωυσῆν λέγων ἰδοὺ δέδωκά σε θεὸν Φαραω καὶ Ααρων ὁ ἀδελφός σου ἔσται σου προφήτης

NAB The Lord answered him, ‘See! I have made you as God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall act as your prophet.’


Ex 10:10

וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵהֶם יְהִי כֵן יְהוָה עִמָּכֶם כַּאֲשֶׁר אֲשַׁלַּח אֶתְכֶם וְאֶת־טַפְּכֶם רְאוּ כִּי רָעָה נֶגֶד פְּנֵיכֶם

LXX καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς Ἔστω οὕτως, κύριος μεθ᾽ ὑμῶν˙ καθότι ἀποστέλλω ὑμᾶς, μὴ καὶ τὴν ἀποσκευὴν ὑμῶν; ἴδετε ὅτι πονηρία πρόκειται ὑμῖν.

NAU Then he said to them, ‘Thus may the Lord be with you, if ever I let you and your little ones go! Take heed, for evil is in your mind.’

Ex 14:13

וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֶל־הָעָם אַל־תִּירָאוּ הִתְיַצְבוּ וּרְאוּ אֶת־יְשׁוּעַת יְהוָה אֲשֶׁר־יַעֲשֶׂה לָכֶם הַיּוֹם כִּי אֲשֶׁר רְאִיתֶם אֶת־מִצְרַיִם הַיּוֹם לֹא תֹסִיפוּ לִרְאֹתָם עוֹד עַד־עוֹלָם

LXX εἶπεν δὲ Μωυσῆς πρὸς τὸν λαόν Θαρσεῖτε˙ στῆτε καὶ ὁρᾶτε τὴν σωτηρίαν τὴν παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ, ἣν ποιήσει ἡμῖν σήμερον˙ ὃν τρόπον γὰρ ἑωράκατε τοὺς Αἰγυπτίους σήμερον, οὐ προσθήσεσθε ἔτι ἰδεῖν αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα χρόνον

NAB But Moses answered the people, ‘Fear not! Stand your ground, and you will see the victory the Lord will win for you today. These Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again.’


Ex 16:29

רְאוּ כִּי־יְהוָה נָתַן לָכֶם הַשַּׁבָּת עַל־כֵּן הוּא נֹתֵן לָכֶם בַּיּוֹם הַשִּׁשִּׁי לֶחֶם יוֹמָיִם שְׁבוּ אִישׁ תַּחְתָּיו אַל־יֵצֵא אִישׁ מִמְּקֹמוֹ בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי׃

LXX ἴδετε, ὁ γὰρ κύριος ἔδωκεν ὑμῖν τὴν ἡμέραν ταύτην τὰ σάββατα˙ διὰ τοῦτο αὐτὸς ἔδωκεν ὑμῖν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ ἕκτῃ ἄρτους δύο ἡμερῶν˙ καθήσεσθε ἕκαστος εἰς τοὺς οἴκους ὑμῶν, μηδεὶς ἐκπορευέσθω ἐκ τοῦ τόπου αὐτοῦ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ ἑβδόμῃ.

NAB Take note! The Lord has given you the sabbath. That is why on the sixth day he gives you food for two days. On the seventh day everyone is to stay home and no one is to go out.

The verses from Septuagint and Biblia Tysiąclecia 4 show that the word רְאֵה is translated as follows:



in Septuagint




in Biblia Tysiąclecia4

Ex 4:21ὁράωsee somethingremember aboutemphasis
Ex 7:1ἰδού [147]emphasishereemphasis
Ex 10:10ὁράωwarninglookreminder: ‘watch out!”
Ex 14:13ὁράωsee with eyesseesee with eyes
Ex 16:29ὁράωreminderlookreminder

Conclusion: The word רְאֵה in Ex 4:21 can be translated not only as “to remember about” but also as “to see with one’s eyes something that is about to happen” – such a meaning is unambiguously present in Ex 14:31:

Moses, addressing the Israelites terrified at the sight of the nearing Egyptians, foretells that the Lord, their God, will immediately save them, and they will see His saving intervention: “Look at the salvation of the Lord that He will do for you today. Because those whom you see, the Egyptians, [whom you see] today, you will not be able to see them forever [148]! Explanation of the meaning of the sequence: (infinitivus constructus + ל) + (suffix + infinitivus constructus + ב)

In light of various, quoted above, translations of the Ex 4:21 sentence, one can see how necessary it is to resolve the meaning of the Hebrew sequence presented in the title of this work point.

One will do the research using BibleWorks 6.0.

Fields in boxes: *@v?c+*, ל@*, *v?c+S{123}*, ב@*:

The first scheme of the research in BibleWorks 6.0

Scheme 1.

One obtained the following 12 verses [149] that meet the given criterion:

Gen 30:38; Ex 4:21; 34:24; Lev 16:17; 1Sam 9:9; 2Sam 3:13; 4:4; 8:3; 1Chr 18:3; Isa 2:19; 2:21; Ezek 43:3.

Gen 30:38

וַיַּצֵּג אֶת־הַמַּקְלוֹת אֲשֶׁר פִּצֵּל בָּרֳהָטִים בְּשִׁקֲתוֹת הַמָּיִם אֲשֶׁר תָּבֹאןָ הַצֹּאן לִשְׁתּוֹת לְנֹכַח הַצֹּאן וַיֵּחַמְנָה בְּבֹאָן לִשְׁתּוֹת

The rods that he had thus peeled he then set upright in the watering troughs so that they would be in front of the animals that drank from the troughs. And they mated at the time when they come in order to drink.

literally:in order to drinkin the coming of themand they mated
more smoothly:in order to drinkat the time of their arrivaland they mated
even more smoothly:in order to drinkat the time when they comeand they mated


Ex 4:21

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה בְּלֶכְתְּךָ לָשׁוּב מִצְרַיְמָה רְאֵה כָּל־הַמֹּפְתִים אֲשֶׁר־שַׂמְתִּי בְיָדֶךָ וַעֲשִׂיתָם לִפְנֵי פַרְעֹה וַאֲנִי אֲחַזֵּק אֶת־לִבּוֹ וְלֹא יְשַׁלַּח אֶת־הָעָם

The Lord said to him, “In your going to return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have put in your power. I will make him obstinate, however, so that he will not let the people go.

all these wonderslook forto Egyptto come backin your going


Ex 34:24

כִּי־אוֹרִישׁ גּוֹיִם מִפָּנֶיךָ וְהִרְחַבְתִּי אֶת־גְּבוּלֶךָ וְלֹא־יַחְמֹד אִישׁ אֶת־אַרְצְךָ בַּעֲלֹתְךָ לֵרָאוֹת אֶת־פְּנֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ שָׁלֹשׁ פְּעָמִים בַּשָּׁנָה׃

NAB Since I will drive out the nations before you to give you a large territory, there will be no one to covet your land when you go up three times a year to appear before the Lord, your God.

literally:the Lordto seein your goingno-onehe will not covet
smoothly:the Lordto seewhen you are goingno-onehe will not covet


Lev 16:17

וְכָל־אָדָם לֹא־יִהְיֶה בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד בְּבֹאוֹ לְכַפֵּר בַּקֹּדֶשׁ עַד־צֵאתוֹ וְכִפֶּר בַּעֲדוֹ וּבְעַד בֵּיתוֹ וּבְעַד כָּל־קְהַל יִשְׂרָאֵל׃

NAB No one else may be in the meeting tent from the time he enters the sanctuary to make atonement until he departs. When he has made atonement for himself and his household, as well as for the whole Israelite community.

literally:until his departingfor propitiationin his goingin the tentwill not beeverybody
smoothly:until his departingfor propitiationwhen he is walkingin the tentwill not beeverybody


1Sam 9:9

לְפָנִים בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל כֹּה־אָמַר הָאִישׁ בְּלֶכְתּוֹ לִדְרוֹשׁ אֱלֹהִים לְכוּ וְנֵלְכָה עַד־הָרֹאֶה כִּי לַנָּבִיא הַיּוֹם יִקָּרֵא לְפָנִים הָרֹאֶה׃

NAB In former times in Israel, anyone who went to consult God used to say, “Come, let us go to the seer.” For he who is now called prophet was formerly called seer.

literally:‘Let’s go’Godfor askingin his walkingeverybodyhe said so
smoothly:‘Let’s go’Godfor askingwhen he was walkingeverybodyhe said so


2Sam 3:13

וַיֹּאמֶר טוֹב אֲנִי אֶכְרֹת אִתְּךָ בְּרִית אַךְ דָּבָר אֶחָד אָנֹכִי שֹׁאֵל מֵאִתְּךָ לֵאמֹר לֹא־תִרְאֶה אֶת־פָּנַי כִּי אִם־לִפְנֵי הֱבִיאֲךָ אֵת מִיכַל בַּת־שָׁאוּל בְּבֹאֲךָ לִרְאוֹת אֶת־פָּנָי׃ ס

NAB He replied, “Very well, I will make an agreement with you. But one thing I require of you. You must not appear before me unless you bring back Michal, Saul’s daughter, when you come to present yourself to me.

literally:my faceto seein your comingMichalbring back
smoothly:my faceto seewhen you comeMichalbring back


2Sam 4:4

וְלִיהוֹנָתָן בֶּן־שָׁאוּל בֵּן נְכֵה רַגְלָיִם בֶּן־חָמֵשׁ שָׁנִים הָיָה בְּבֹא שְׁמֻעַת שָׁאוּל וִיהוֹנָתָן מִיִּזְרְעֶאל וַתִּשָּׂאֵהוּ אֹמַנְתּוֹ וַתָּנֹס וַיְהִי בְּחָפְזָהּ לָנוּס וַיִּפֹּל וַיִּפָּסֵחַ וּשְׁמוֹ מְפִיבֹשֶׁת׃

Jonathan, the son of Saul, had a son who was crippled in his feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel, and his nurse took him up and fled, and it came to pass in her hasting to flee, that he fell, and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth.

literally:fellto run awayin her hurry
smoothly:fellto run awaywhen she was in a hurry


2Sam 8:3

וַיַּךְ דָּוִד אֶת־הֲדַדְעֶזֶר בֶּן־רְחֹב מֶלֶךְ צוֹבָה בְּלֶכְתּוֹ לְהָשִׁיב יָדוֹ בִּנְהַר

NAB Next David defeated Hadadezer, son of Rehob, king of Zobah, when he went to reestablish his dominion at the Euphrates River.

literally:his handto reestablishin his walkingHadadezerDavidand defeated
smoothly:his dominationto reestablishwhen he wentHadadezerDavidand defeated


1Chr 18:3

וַיַּךְ דָּוִיד אֶת־הֲדַדְעֶזֶר מֶלֶךְ־צוֹבָה חֲמָתָה בְּלֶכְתּוֹ לְהַצִּיב יָדוֹ בִּנְהַר־פְּרָת

NAS David also defeated Hadadezer king of Zobah as far as Hamath, as he went to establish his rule to the Euphrates River.

literally:his handto set upin his walkingHadadezerDavidand defeated
smoothly:his dominationto set upwhen he wentHadadezerDavidand defeated


Isa 2:19

וּבָאוּ בִּמְעָרוֹת צֻרִים וּבִמְחִלּוֹת עָפָר מִפְּנֵי פַּחַד יְהוָה וּמֵהֲדַר גְּאוֹנוֹ בְּקוּמוֹ לַעֲרֹץ הָאָרֶץ

NAB Men will go into caves in the rocks and into holes in the earth, From the terror of the Lord and the splendor of his majesty, when he arises to overawe the earth.

literally:the earthto overawein his arisingof the Lordterrorbeforewill go
smoothly:the earthto overawewhen he arisesof the Lordterrorbeforewill go


Isa 2:21

לָבוֹא בְּנִקְרוֹת הַצֻּרִים וּבִסְעִפֵי הַסְּלָעִים מִפְּנֵי פַּחַד יְהוָה וּמֵהֲדַר גְּאוֹנוֹ בְּקוּמוֹ לַעֲרֹץ הָאָרֶץ

NAB They go into caverns in the rocks and into crevices in the cliffs, From the terror of the Lord and the splendor of his majesty, when he arises to overawe the earth.

literally:the earthto overawein his arisingof the Lordterrorbeforeto go
smoothly:the earthto overawewhen he arisesof the Lordterrorbeforeto go


Ezek 43:3

וּכְמַרְאֵה הַמַּרְאֶה אֲשֶׁר רָאִיתִי כַּמַּרְאֶה אֲשֶׁר־רָאִיתִי בְּבֹאִי לְשַׁחֵת אֶת־הָעִיר וּמַרְאוֹת כַּמַּרְאֶה אֲשֶׁר רָאִיתִי אֶל־נְהַר־כְּבָר וָאֶפֹּל אֶל־פָּנָי

The vision was like that which I had seen when I came to destroy the city, and like that which I had seen by the river Chebar. I fell on my face.

literally:the cityto destroyin my goingwhich I sawthe vision
smoothly:the cityto destroywhen I camewhich I sawthe vision

The presented examples illustrate the significance of the analyzed sequence, so important for the understanding of the sentence from Ex 4:21.

This sequence in the sentence has the function of an adverbial of time and an adverbial of purpose [150]: “at the time when you do this for this purpose.

In Ex 4:21: “While you are going to go back to Egypt.

However, before the biblical writer’s thought in Ex 4:21 can be read in a new way, it is worth examining in which cases the analyzed Hebrew phrase was translated by the Septuagint’s translator using the Greek syntax genetivus absolutus, [151] which serves as an adverbial of time in the sentence.

For this task, one have constructed the following research scheme in BibleWorks 6.0:

Fields in boxes: upper branch as in scheme 1, lower branch: *@{nr}g*, *@vp??g*, NOT o@*, *@r?g?*, *@vp??g*, NOT o@*:

The second scheme of the research in BibleWorks 6.0

Scheme 2.

We have obtained 6 verses that meet the given criterion: Gen 30:38; Ex 4:21; Lev 16:17; 2Sam 3:13; 8:3; 1Chr 18:3. It turns out that in Septuagint the half of the verses containing the analyzed Hebrew phrase is translated using genetivus absolutus.

The remaining verses contain:

♦ 1Sam 9:9:

ἔλεγενἕκαστοςἐντῷ πορεύεσθαιἐπερωτᾶντὸν θεόν
literally:saidevery oneinthe goingto askGod
smoothly:saidevery onewhilewas goingto askGod





It means that it is almost a literal translation of the Hebrew phrase.

According to Greek grammar [152], the infinitive preceded by the preposition ἐν expresses the adverbial of time; if it is infinitive of the present time (infinitivus praesentis), it signifies an act which is simultaneous with the predicate.

Infinitivus finalis [153] – is an infinitive after verbs expressing movement; it serves to express the purpose for which the move was undertaken.

These grammatical features show that the translator of Septuagint understood the analyzed Hebrew phrase as a description of an action simultaneous with the predicate.

If Ex 4:21 were translated according to the same Greek syntax as 1 Sam 9:9, its understanding would be as follows:

At the same time, as you go to return to Egypt, simultaneously see …”

This understanding is identical to the understanding of the genetivus absolutus syntax used in Septuagint for Ex 4:21.

♦ 2Sam 4:4:

It has a structure similar to 1Sam 9:9, only here καί + the infinitive occurs instead of the infinitive final (infinitivus finalis). However, the sentence meaning, what is essential for this analysis, is identical here: “at the same time, when she was hurrying and running away, he fell.”

♦ temporal clauses:

Ex 34:24ἡνίκα + ἂν+subjunctive
Isa 2:19; 2:21ὅταν+subjunctive
Ezek 43:3


when / as / while

+imperfect indicative

These are temporal clauses [154], where ἂν + subjunctive means that it is a repeating or intended action, while indicative – a real action.

These sentences have the following logic: at the same time, when the action expressed by the predicate of the main clause takes place, the action expressed by the predicate of the temporal clause takes place simultaneously. Summary of Ex 4:21 studies.

After examining verses containing the word רְאֵה, which occurs in Ex 4:21, it was found that these verses can be translated not only as “remember about something” but also as “see with one’s eyes on something that will soon come” (cf. Ex 14:31).

After examining twelve verses containing the Hebrew sequence

(infinitivus constructus + ל) + (suffix + infinitivus constructus + ב)

and after examining the translations of those verses in Septuagint, one discovered the following grammatical rule: the action communicated by the predicate of the main sentence is simultaneous with the action communicated by this sequence.

In light of the investigations carried out, one should translate Ex 4:21 as follows:
At the same time as you go to return to Egypt,

simultaneously see/observe/experience all the signs that I have given to your hand
that you may perform them before Pharaoh.

One will fully show the significance of this translation during the analysis of Ex 4:21-26 as part of the description of the first three revelations [155] of God to Moses (2:23-4:26).

1.3.4. Exegesis of the Book of Exodus 1:1-7:7.

The analysis of a larger part of the Book of Exodus than in the previous points of the work will now be carried out. One should pay close attention to text 2:23-7:7, for it depicts six times the revelation of God to Moses.

This particular text is preceded by a description (1:1-2:21) [156] of the tragic change in the situation of Israel in Egypt after the death of Joseph and the entire contemporary generation. The ruler was Pharaoh, who not only did not know Joseph and his merits for Egypt but out of fear of Israel’s numerical superiority over his nation, he took cruel action to eliminate that superiority: he ordered to oppress the Israelites with work exceeding their strength and to kill their nascent sons.

In this scenery, the biblical writer showed the birth of Moses, his miraculous rescue and adoption by the Pharaoh’s daughter, and then the necessity of his escape as a mature man to a foreign land when he killed an Egyptian abusing one Israelite. In this foreign land, Midian, Moses married Sephora, daughter of Jethro, a priest, and his two sons were born there.

In Fragment 2:23-25, the biblical writer [157] begins his description of Moses’ vocation as leader of Israel: just died the Pharaoh, under whose yoke Israel moaned, and at the same time God, faithful to his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the ancestors of Israel, looked upon them with mercy, intending to liberate the allied people.

When Moses tended the flock of Jethro and approached God’s mountain Horeb, God revealed Himself to him in a burning bush. Ex 3:1-4:17 shows how God calls Moses and what function gives him [158]. The first part of God’s revelation outside Egypt: at Horeb (3:1-4:17).


3:1-6God presented Himself as the Holy One [159].
3:7-9 [160]God announced that He knew the oppression of Israel in Egypt and that He would take Israel from the hand of the oppressors and lead her to the land of the nations in Canaan.
3:10-12God, in dialogue with Moses, assured him that the way out of Egypt was certain because He would be with him.
3:13-15God has revealed the name יְהוָה, with which the Israelites are to call Him from now on forever.
3:16-22God presented a plan to lead the people out of Egypt.
3:16-18aMoses is to gather Israel’s elders, tell them about God’s decision to lead them out of captivity; God announced that they would believe the truth of these words.
  3:18b-19Moses is to ask Pharaoh to let the people go out for three days in order to offer a sacrifice to God who has revealed Himself to him; God has announced that Pharaoh will not agree.
  3:20-22God will strike the Egyptians by miracles signs so that they will release Israel, lend them vessels and clothing [161].
4:1-9God equipped Moses with three miracles so that He could convince Israel’s elders by them.
4:10-16God gave Aaron to Moses to help him in his mission to the people.
4:17God ended this revelation under God’s mountain Horeb with a command that Moses should take the staff with him.


One should note that God reveals the course of events to Moses in a specific way: His announcement first has a general character, so that the details could be conveyed in the next stage: either in the same speech or in a new revelation [162]. This characteristic is fundamental to notice that God expands the revelation for Moses of stages of His plan in subsequent speeches. Thanks to the discovery of this feature, it will be possible to distinguish the revelations of chapters 3-4 from those of chapter 6.

The revelation that Moses received at the foot of God’s mountain Horeb (3:1-4:17) integrally connects itself both with that revelation which took place, after his return to Jethro (4:18), in Midian (4:19-23), as well as with that which took place on the way back to Egypt (4:24-26). The second part of God’s revelation outside Egypt: in Midian (4:19-23).


4:19-20God revealed Himself and commanded Moses to go to Egypt. Moses obeyed God’s command: he set his wife and sons on a donkey and headed for Egypt.

The biblical writer also pointed out that Moses took the rod of God. In such a way – since the word rod crowned the previous revelation – he emphasized a connection between the revelation in Midian and the previous one at the foot of Horeb.

4:21-23God revealed the details of that part of the plan against Pharaoh, which He revealed at the foot of Horeb only in general in 3:20-21, viz details of the future events that are to come after the events that He announced in 3:16-19
4:21Moses will perform before Pharaoh those successive signs which God will prior reveal to him while his returning to Egypt [163]; God will harden Pharaoh’s heart; Pharaoh will not consent [164] to the release of the people. It will continue until the whole arsenal of miracles that God wants to perform through Moses [165] is exhausted.
4:22-23After all the miracles have been performed, Moses as a prophet of God [166] will have to solemnly announce to Pharaoh that no further delay is possible: “Behold, I will surely kill [167] (הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי הֹרֵג) your firstborn son if you refuse to let Israel, my firstborn son, leave.”

One should pay attention to the solemn form of sentence 4:22 and its beginning:

וְאָמַרְתָּ אֶל־פַּרְעֹה כֹּה אָמַר יְהוָה בְּנִי בְכֹרִי יִשְׂרָאֵל׃

The sentence begins with the verb אמר in perfectum, preceded by ו consecutivum; therefore, the whole construction expresses the future action to be taken after the action ordered in the previous sentence [168]. Moses, therefore, knows that the word of this poignant warning is to be uttered only when is fulfilled the last of the miraculous signs. The killing of the firstborn son of Pharaoh is, therefore, a sign which qualitatively belongs to a different category than the other miracle signs preceding that final sign. Moses, however, does not yet know whether this sign will be introduced into the struggle against Pharaoh or not: if the warning impels him to release the people, it will not be fulfilled. Only the events described in chapter 11 will reveal what solution Pharaoh has opted.

One should pay attention to the extraordinary importance of this revelation:

  • If in light of words spoken by God at the foot of Horeb Moses was able to get the impression that an intervention ‘with a strong hand’ would take place immediately after Pharaoh refused to release the people for three days’ way,
  • then now Moses should know that it is not going to happen. The scenario of events in God’s design is not as expects man interpreting His words according to the logic of immediate effect.

Does Moses know indeed that God will not immediately strike Pharaoh? No, Moses only begins to get to know the importance of God’s words; he does not know what the words mean. It is the reason why the biblical writer will note an extremely dramatic scene at the end of the stage of presenting to the Pharaoh a request for three days’ journey:

Moses again had recourse to the Lord and said, “Lord, why do you treat this people so badly? And why did you send me on such a mission? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has maltreated this people of yours, and you have done nothing to rescue them” (5:22-23).

Because Moses does not precisely know what he as God’s messenger should know, God will renew this information in a new revelation (cf. 6:28-7:5) that will directly carry him and us – the readers of the Book of Exodus – into a new stage, the stage of miracles and the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart [169]. However, before this happens, there will be other events. The third part of God’s revelation outside Egypt: on the way to Egypt (4:24-26).

Biblical scholars find the text 4:24-26 particularly difficult to understand [170]: in light of this fragment, God wants to kill Moses at the time when he, on the journey to Egypt, is in a place where they all are to spend the night. God resigned and departed from him on request of Zipporah: in the situation of the mortal danger of her husband, she circumcised their son and touched Moses’s feet with the obtained foreskin saying the words, “You are a bridegroom of blood to me.” She supplemented this announcement after God left, “You are the bridegroom of blood by circumcision” [171].

One must read this event in light of the previous analysis of the text which constitutes the literary context for Ex 4:24-26: God, in a way unexpectedly dramatic for Moses, revealed [172] here the last of the signs which He gave in his hand to do them before the Pharaoh (cf. 4:21) [173] – for here God completed that revelation whom first part He announced at the moment of Moses’ departure to Egypt.

One should note that the way the biblical writer made known these signs to reader is different than in the first revelation (cf. 4:1-9): he did not want him to know immediately, what calamities would affect Egypt, and therefore did not permit him to accompany Moses on the way when God was acquainting him with them. The writer decided that just the time of successive performing of signs before the Pharaoh and his people (cf. 7:8-10:29) is the proper one to presents them also before our eyes.

However, the biblical writer has now introduced the reader to one of these signs – the last.

The revealed sign of death and circumcision – the crowning of all signs – on the one hand, is integrally connected with the words of the prophetic threat of killing the firstborn son of Pharaoh, being the crowning of the first part of the plan of God from the previous revelation. On the other hand, this sign brings out the importance, in God’s eyes, of the commandment of circumcision [174]. It is thanks to such a shocking experience that Moses could well understand and remember how absolutely necessary it is to circumcise the children of Israel: at a time when God will be punishing Egypt at night, those who bear this sign of the covenant with Him will survive.

If the revelation immediately preceding the events of the Passover night, described in chapter 12, reveals the importance of the lamb and its blood for the salvation of the firstborn children of Israel, Moses must not forget that this blood will be effective and potent only if the Israelites observe covenant condition of circumcision.

Therefore, in the second revelation of that night, God will remind Moses about circumcision [175] (cf. 12:43-49), and in the third one (13:1-2; cf. 13:12-16) He will emphasize the importance of sacrificing the firstborn animals to Him, and of redeeming the firstborn sons with a lamb [176]. The execution of the first two stages of God’s plan revealed near Horeb (4:27-31 and 5:1-6:1).

By describing the three-stage apparition (at Horeb, Midian, on the way to Egypt), the biblical writer prepared the reader to become acquainted with the events that followed in consequence of this apparition:


Aaron came on God’s order to meet Moses [177], his brother. Moses acquainted him with the whole of revelation and the division of functions given to each of them by God in his plan of delivering Israel.


Moses and Aaron went to the elders of Israel, and through the signs and words given in the first revelation convinced them that the God of the fathers had come down to deliver them.

The Israelites believed as God foretold under Horeb [178].


Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh asking for the release of the people for three days’ journey so that the people would offer their sacrifices to God, who, during the apparition, commanded them to present this request (cf. 3:18 and 4:3).

Pharaoh did not allow the people to leave, as God foretold at Horeb.

Pharaoh ordered a radical intensification of the oppression. The Israelites moaned and attributed the blame to Moses and Aaron for this.

5:22-6:1In a moving complaint to God, Moses told Him how tragically his mission to the Pharaoh ended. Responding to Moses, God repeated the promise of an extremely robust intervention against the Pharaoh, as promised in the first revelation (cf. 3:20 and 6:1).

One should note that the biblical scholars [179] repeatedly confronted the request for permission to go only ‘for three days’ with the announcement of Israel’s departure from Egypt forever:

Since God cares about every man, including the Pharaoh, so, following St. Augustine, one can understand the request for three days’ journey as the putting to Pharaoh a request easier to fulfill than that about an immediate release of the Israelites from captivity. Only successively repeated requests would have to lead to the presentation of that about the final release of Israelites [180].

Others, on the other hand, mistakenly believe that Moses is ordered by God to lie (that he will return soon) to Pharaoh because, in this situation, ‘the ethic of war’ is in force. Others perceive that Moses simply does not say that he will not return after making a sacrifice and that Pharaoh rather does not believe that slaves could escape effectively. The others claim that this request is the first stage in God’s plan, a stage to reveal the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart and to somehow legitimize the sending of a series of severe plagues onto Egypt.

Others, on the other hand, mistakenly believe that Moses is ordered by God to lie to Pharaoh (that he will return soon) because ‘the ethic of war’ [181] is in force in this situation. Others [182] perceive that simply Moses does not say that he will not return after making a sacrifice and that Pharaoh rather does not believe that slaves could escape effectively. The others [183] claim that this request is the first stage in God’s plan, a stage to reveal the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart and somehow legitimize the sending of a series of severe plagues onto Egypt.

The analysis of the whole Ex 1-18 will show that God is holy, powerful, wields everything, does not have to use lies, and abhors them. This and other places in Scripture [184] talk about it: Num 23:19: “God is not man that he should speak falsely, nor human, that he should change his mind. Is he one to speak and not act, to decree and not fulfill?” 1 Sa 15:28f: “So Samuel said to him: ‘The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day, and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you. The Glory of Israel neither retracts nor repents, for He is not man that He should repent.’”

Assigning lies to God is a grave sin and leads to erroneous exegesis [185].

Reading, listening, and commenting on God’s word requires humble patience because God’s plan develops gradually, and man does not immediately see its effectiveness, as evidenced by the Ex 5:22-6:1 dialogue, which concludes the first stage (Ex 2:23-6:1) of Moses’ vocation [186]. The first (6:2-9) and the second (6:10-12) parts of God’s revelation in Egypt.

Ex 6:2-7:7 – is called the second description of Moses’ vocation: many biblical scholars believe it to be a parallel description to the first, complementary to it; scientists emphasize that the final editor, responsible for the final shape of the inspired text of the Book of Exodus, left both fragments because of the respect given to both ancient versions of the description of the same event. Two descriptions, but one historical event – it is the crucial characteristic of the contemporary point of view about the relationship between these two fragments.

The following analysis will demonstrate the need to verify this position [187].

In this second fragment, one should distinguish the following parts:

6:2-9: The first part of God’s revelation in Egypt.

6:2-5: God turns to Moses, recalling the history of the revelations and covenants with the Fathers and the fact that he heard the moaning of Israel in Egypt.

In terms of the content of God’s promises to Israel, this fragment is quite similar to the revelation at Horeb (cf. Ex 2:23-3:1; 3:7-9; 16-17; and Ex 6:5-8), seems to be merely a repetition of the description of that event. But this is not the case: for here God reminds the entire history of His revelations, both the old and the new; these new began from the moment when He mentioned His old covenant and appeared to Moses at Horeb to redeem Israel (cf. 2:23ff), at the same time showing what should be new in His relationship to Israel.

God indicated first that although as now to Moses, He also appeared to the Fathers. However, the Fathers knew God only as בְּאֵל שַׁדָּי  [188] because He did not let them know [189] His name יְהוָה:

וּשְׁמִי יְהוָה לֹא נוֹדַעְתִּי לָהֶם (6:3).

One should not understand it, that the Fathers did not hear this name [190] at all. The Hebrew verb נוֹדַעְתִּי serves to express the thought that God has not yet given anyone to experience [191], what does it mean that He is יְהוָה. The Israelites will experience it in the time when He led them out of Egyptian captivity (וִידַעְתֶּם כִּי־אֲנִי יְהוָה – 6:7; 16:12). The new phase of this particular time has just begun: the description of the plagues will reveal the meaning of the name יְהוָה, as emphasized by the repeated warnings to the Pharaoh: וִידַעְתֶּם כִּי־אֲנִי יְהוָה / תֵּדַע (7:17; 8:18; 10:2) or the analogous words strengthening Moses: יָדְעוּ מִצְרַיִם כִּי־אֲנִי יְהוָה (7:5; 14:4.18) [192].

The description of the successive miraculous signs – ‘plagues’ – will show how reliable it is to address to God by the name יְהוָה: Moses and Aaron used to call to Him by this name and asked Him to send the plague or withdraw it on a particular day, and He responded effectively. It is worth noting the same effectiveness already in the previous stage: in Ex 4:29-39, the people believed thanks to the miracles performed by the power of God through His messengers, Moses and Aaron. Announcement of this surprisingly effective presence (Ex 3:12: “I will be with you”: כִּי־אֶהְיֶה עִמָּךְ), contained in the Name of God (Ex 3:14: I am Who I am: אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה), was given to Moses near the burning bush (Ex 3:12-18a) [193]!

Based on this relationship between the meaning of God’s Name and His active presence with Moses and Aaron as performers of miraculous signs, we conclude that there is a thematic connection between 6:2-7 and the plagues’ description beginning with 7:8!

6:6-8God has commanded Moses to assure the people about imminent deliverance.
6:9 Moses fulfilled God’s command, but the people did not accept these words.
6:10-12The second part of God’s revelation in Egypt.
6:10-11God commanded Moses to tell Pharaoh to let the people go.
6:12Moses refused God to obey His word, justifying it this way: because the people did not obey him, more the Pharaoh will not listen to him. Genealogy of Moses and Aaron (6:13-27) and the third part of God’s revelation in Egypt (6:28-7:5).

6:13-27: Genealogy of Moses and Aaron.

The very genealogy of Moses and Aaron is enframed by the literary inclusion [194] of verses 13 and 26-27.

What is the meaning of this genealogy if, taking into account the beauty of the narrative, it seems to be harmful to its fluidity? If text 6:28ff had been immediately after 6:2-12, the mere account of the events leading to the liberation of Israel would not have lost anything.

The insertion of genealogy in this place serves to highlight the importance of this stage of revelation, which began in 6:2: since the revelation of the power of the name יְהוָה will be achieved through a series of plagues against the ruthless Pharaoh and his people; therefore God’s orders to Moses and Aaron will henceforth concern actions directed to the Pharaoh, but not to Israel.

In order to indicate, that now begins something that not only quantitatively, viz only in time, but qualitatively moved the action forward, the biblical writer placed here this genealogy, putting it between verses of the significant inclusion 6:13 and 6:26-27. The change of addressee of actions is already signaled by verses of the inclusion: 6:13 speaks about the command for the Israelites and the Pharaoh, and 6:26-27 about the command only for the Pharaoh:

NAB Ex 6:13: Still, the Lord, to bring the Israelites out of Egypt, spoke to Moses and Aaron and gave them His orders regarding both the Israelites and Pharaoh, king of Egypt.

NAB Ex 6:26-27: This is the Aaron and this the Moses to whom the Lord said, “Lead the Israelites from the land of Egypt, company by company.” These are the ones who spoke to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, to bring the Israelites out of Egypt – the same Moses and Aaron.

It turns out that this narrowing of the addressees of God’s orders transmitted through Moses and Aaron is not an insignificant detail but characterizes the narrative beginning with the next verse up to chapter 11. The people of Israel are from now as if in the background of the events. The struggle will be for them, but no order will be given to them at that time, nor will they be shown to be acting.

6:28-7:5: The third part of God’s revelation in Egypt.

As in the second revelation outside Egypt God announced that He would carry out the stage of the intervention “with a strong hand” as not a one-off act, but a two-phase act, so now God resembles the words spoken there:

6:28-7:3: In the first phase, Moses and Aaron will speak to Pharaoh, God will multiply his miracles and at the same time harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will not be willing to listen to Moses and Aaron, he will not let the people go. All the miraculous signs will be revealed to Pharaoh one by one, and he will not listen to God’s messengers

7:4-5: God will reveal the novelty of the second phase of this stage – He will strike so effectively that Pharaoh will release the people.

God reminded Moses this point (cf. 4:20) in the plan of bringing the Israelites out of Egypt, which He had already announced in the first revelation outside Egypt (2:23-4:27), and which has not yet been realized.

One should note that both in the entire revelation in Egypt and the Moses’ execution of the commands contained in it, there are no longer these points of the plan revealed by God outside Egypt (cf. 3:16-18a, 3:18b-19), which were fulfilled (cf. 4:29-31, 5:1-5) before the revelation in Egypt took place, namely:

  • to the Israelites, Moses speaks only the words of God, and no longer works any miracle to convince them (cf. 6:2-9 as different from 3:16-18a; 4:1-9; 4:29-31),
  • to the Pharaoh, Moses will not limit himself to submitting a request for the release of the people but will convince him through miraculous signs that the God of the Hebrews is here and acts (cf. 7:1-5 as a repetition of 4:21-27, and different from 3:18b-19; 5:1-5).

It is vital to notice that God has not yet done any miracle to Pharaoh and that He has not yet started to realize the announced intervention “with a strong hand.” At the same time, however, one must note that the time of intervention is coming since, according to God’s plan, the preceding phase has taken place: the Pharaoh indeed did not allow the people to leave for three days’ way, he intensified the oppression.

One should also pay attention to significant novelty compared to the Horeb apparition:

When Moses presented to God the difficulties in speaking, God gave him Aaron to help and so divided the functions among them:

4:16: Aaron shall speak to the people for you: he shall be your spokesman, and you shall be as God to him.

In turn, in the revelation in Egypt, God replied to an analogous difficulty in the following manner:

7:1-2: See! I have made you as God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall act as your prophet. You shall tell him all that I command you. In turn, your brother Aaron shall tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave his land.

The novelty lies, above all, in the direction of the whole mission: not to the people, but the Pharaoh, the words and deeds of the two brothers, the representatives of God, will be addressed. If verses 6:26-27 compared to 6:13 narrow the recipients of Moses’ actions, verses 7:1-2 confirm this narrowing. The editor’s intention is, therefore, to tool up the text with a deliberate measure indicating a change in the situation, a landmark step in the development of the narrated action. It is not the purpose here to enrich the speech by choosing different words or their order. No, here the goal regards the content, not the form: the action has moved on, God begins a new stage – the intervention “with a strong hand.”

This novelty is emphasized by two verses (7:6-7), crowning the three revelations in Egypt (6:2-7:5) and simultaneously linking them to the description of the realization of this new stage (7:8-11:29):

NAB Moses and Aaron did as the Lord had commanded them. Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh (7:6-7).

In the first sentence, the biblical writer assures the reader that Moses and Aaron have fulfilled the Lord’s orders. The reader may not notice that the biblical writer states it though he has not yet described to the reader any of these particular acts of fulfillment. So the reader may erroneously understand that this is not about what is to come, but about what he has described so far. However, the Hebrew syntax of this sentence is unambiguous:

וַיַּעַשׂ מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהוָה אֹתָם כֵּן עָשׂוּ׃

The verb עשׂה in the imperfect tense at the beginning of the sentence is preceded by ו consecutive, so whole construction expresses a past action performed after the action of the previous sentence [195]. In the analyzed fragment the biblical writer showed that God spoke to Moses, communicated him the arrival of a new stage of the plan of Israelites’ liberation, reminded him the way of realizing this stage, “and then they did, Moses and Aaron, as יְהוָה ordered them – they so did” (translating literally). In such a solemn manner, repeating the same verb twice (at the beginning and end of this sentence), the inspired author indicated, that the plan of God described here was perfectly fulfilled. If the reader with Moses could get the impression that the Pharaoh was the master of the situation (cf. chapter 6, verses 9 and 12), then he now has good news – God’s plan has succeeded, and the apparent failures were a stage in this plan.

It is also worth using the analyses of the next sentence, made by biblical scholars [196]: providing the number of years of Moses and Aaron is an editorial way of communicating to the reader that one crucial stage has ended and a new one begins. On this basis, one can understand the statement of the next sentence as confirming the orientation of thoughts towards the future: the time to prepare the stage of miracles has come to its end; now, it begins what God prepared – the miracles’ stage [197].

At this point, however, it should be noted that drawing the border between the main pericopes in point [198] 7:7/7:8 does not fully correspond to the biblical writer’s thought. Proper reasoning is already part of the next point of the work. The fundamental conclusions from the analyses of Ex 1:1-7:7.

The analyses carried out have shown that of the six revelations of God described so far, the first three are one group, and the next three are the other.

These two groups are usually understood to be parallel and complementary. In light of the made analyses, it turns out that it is not valid:

After closing the description of the apparitions of the first group, the biblical writer presents the course of the first two stages of God’s plan. One noted in analyses that God in the apparitions belonging to the next group will no longer mention those points of the plan, which were just fulfilled now – what is described just here.

After the presentation of the apparitions of the second group, the biblical writer also describes the events that were the realization of God’s plan but omits the two stages that had already taken place after the apparitions of the first group. The proof of this thesis bases on several observations:

  • The analysis of the first apparition showed that performing wonders before the Pharaoh was reserved for the third stage, while the second stage was limited to submitting a demand to the Pharaoh,
  • In the text 7:8-10:29, there is a series of ten miracles [199] that Moses and Aaron present to Pharaoh, not to the people. One pointed out that one cannot confuse these miracles with that given by God to Moses’ hand to convince the people, and which he had already performed successfully (cf. Ex 4:29-31) before the revelations of the second group.

One can conclude that revelations of the first group with the description of the realization of the first two stages of God’s plan form one whole, while revelations of the second group with the description of the realization of the third stage of God’s plan form another whole. Therefore, the boundary separating the pericopes is at 6:1/6:2.

If the border is at 6:1/6:2, there must be the possibility to demonstrate the internal thematic coherence of the pericope text. It is, therefore, necessary to find out the second border point for each pericope.

However, before one discovers such boundaries, it is worth noting the consistency of text 6:2-11:10 as parallel to text 3:1-6:1; this parallelism uncovers when one compares the editorial structure of content layout in both these texts. One should emphasize that thanks to the result of previous analyses, one rejects the content parallelism itself. However, the parallelism of the structure, the similarity of the structures of these two fragments, is possible.

The first triplet




The first part of God’s revelation outside Egypt. Is there hope for liberation?
B4:18Moses’ return to his father-in-law Jethro.
C4:19-26The second and third part of God’s revelation outside Egypt: the revelation of the third and fourth stage of the plan, the emphasis on the miracles for the Pharaoh – they will not be performed before the second triplet of revelations!
D4:27-6:1Fulfillment of the first and second stages of God’s plan revealed at Horeb.

The second triplet




The first and the second part of God’s revelation in Egypt the ineffectiveness of God’s words!?
B6:13-27Genealogy of Moses and Aaron.
C6:28-7:7The third part of God’s revelation in Egypt – the reminder of the third and fourth stage of the plan, the emphasis on miracles for the Pharaoh – they will be done immediately after this revelation!
D7:8-11:10Fulfillment of the third and fourth stages of God’s plan revealed at Horeb, elaborated in details in the Midian,

The subsequent stages of the plan are as follows:

firstConvincing the people through miracles
secondWithout showing any miracle, the submission of a request to Pharaoh to let out the people for three days’ way
thirdConvincing the Pharaoh through a series of miracles; God’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart; the Pharaoh’ refusal to free the people
fourthThe prophetic warning to Pharaoh about the immediate death penalty of his firstborn son

The presented list shows the role that the genealogy of Moses and Aaron plays in the structure, only seemingly placed thoughtlessly: this role is analogous to the role played by the time-space distance in the first triplet of revelations, separating the revelation at Horeb from the next two revelations (verse 4:18 briefly reports the course of events, so it is easy to overlook it):

In the first triplet, the disclosure of the third and fourth stages of the plan was separated by God from the revelation of the first and second stages.

Analogously the description of the revelation renewing the content of the third and fourth stages of plan was separated by the biblical writer from the description of the revelations of the first and second triplets.

In the first triplet: after Moses passed the way from Horeb to Jethro, God revealed what was to happen after a time of some suspension of action, necessary for announcing by God the events of the second triplet.

In the second triplet: on the other hand, the biblical writer forced the reader to pass a long way in the genealogy text before familiarizing him with God’s revelation about the events which were undoubtedly to happen immediately.

The separation of revelations has an essential purpose: it exposes the design of God to realize later the stages revealed later. In other words:

The separation of revelations of the tasks by God points out that it is God’s design to separate the fulfillment of the revealed tasks.

One should complement this reasoning by the question: What is the purpose of God’s design to separate the tasks? What is more, why does Israel’s liberation stop for a time, one might say, wasted time?

To answer this question is necessary to note in the biblical text an analogous delay but carried out on an even larger scale. There, for Moses calling to God, who does not seem to remember about the task of leading the people with a strong hand (cf. 5: 22-23), God indeed replies that this is the time of His intervention (6:1), but – contrary to the expectation of an immediate hit – it is not here where God begins to send the announced plagues, but much later – in the situation described in the text beginning from the verse 7:8!

However, what did it happen in light of the text 6:2-7:7? The exegete is astonished by discovering that what happened here seems to be a high delay when looking from the rapidity of military action point of view!

  • Although God revealed Himself here three times, none of these revelations brought new detail to the plan of departure,
  • The orders given by God in the first two revelations did not bring any progress in the action, namely:
  • After the first Egyptian revelation, the people did not want to listen to the words of the promise because they were depressed (cf. 6:9), and therefore the goal was not achieved to strengthen the people and forme them in closeness to God. Such formation, after all, was essential for them in the situation of coming departure and burdensome test of trust in God, associated with events that were to come in the nearest future.
  • After the second revelation, Moses refused (!) God to carry out His command, arguing that if the people did not want to listen to him, the more the Pharaoh (cf. 6:12). The people’s representative does not want to listen to God who saves – is it not a situation that threatens the whole action plan to fail, and to stop it definitively?

The exegete should notice the dissonance between the delay in action, mentioned above, and the rapidity of the expressive style of Moses’ dialogue with God (5:22-6:1): reading the words thus uttered, one gets the impression that they will be crowned by an immediate, absolutely effective intervention of God:

When Moses finishes his speech, “And you do nothing for the salvation of the people,” he uses the verb נצל, preceded by the infinitivus absolutus of that verb. This construction serves to emphasize the truthfulness of the speaker’s words and expresses his emotional involvement in the statement: “And you indeed do nothing for the salvation of the people” [200]:

Ex 5:23

וְהַצֵּל לֹא־הִצַּלְתָּ אֶת־עַמֶּךָ

God responds equally expressively: “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh. Forced by my mighty hand, he will send them away; forced by my mighty hand, he will drive them from his land.”

Ex 6:1

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה עַתָּה תִרְאֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶעֱשֶׂה לְפַרְעֹה כִּי בְיָד חֲזָקָה יְשַׁלְּחֵם וּבְיָד חֲזָקָה יְגָרְשֵׁם מֵאַרְצוֹ׃ ס

The biblical author achieved this emphasis by the following means in particular:

  • The word עַתָּה – now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh – now, not any time later!
  • The distinguished verbs used in the intensive Piel conjugation; the second verb is the more dynamic term for the action of ‘sending away,’ expressed by the first verb. This growing dynamics of the description of acts gives the impression that the next moments will bring even more violent implementation of the words announcing it.
  • Repeated בְיָד חֲזָקָה sequence (forced by a strong hand).

These verbs and this sequence refer to the plan of God revealed at Horeb (3:19-20).

Ex 3:19

וַאֲנִי יָדַעְתִּי כִּי לֹא־יִתֵּן אֶתְכֶם מֶלֶךְ מִצְרַיִם לַהֲלֹךְ וְלֹא בְּיָד חֲזָקָה׃

Yet I know that the king of Egypt will not allow you to go unless he is forced by a strong hand.

Ex 3:20

וְשָׁלַחְתִּי אֶת־יָדִי וְהִכֵּיתִי אֶת־מִצְרַיִם בְּכֹל נִפְלְאֹתַי אֲשֶׁר אֶעֱשֶׂה בְּקִרְבּוֹ וְאַחֲרֵי־כֵן יְשַׁלַּח אֶתְכֶם׃

I will stretch out my hand, therefore, and smite Egypt by doing all kinds of wondrous deeds there. After that he will send you away.

This comparison shows how logical consequence of the dialogue between Moses and God (5:22-6:1) should be the immediate “smiting of Egypt with all miracles” (in the wording of 3:20). However, this smiting did not occur immediately. How is this other logic to be understood?

When undertaking the extremely challenging task of interpreting the events described here, the exegete must remember who directs the development of events. It is God who is the first performer; He is also the one who knows everything, knows every reaction to His call, as well as that belonging to the future (cf. 3:18a.19). If so, God giving orders to Moses knows their ineffectiveness. Therefore, not their effectiveness was the purpose of His design! If not this, then what? The answer seems simple: this delay in the development of the action is precisely the goal here.

Biblical writer-editor noticed this suspension of the military action development, and in order to emphasize the importance of this fact, he placed in the text the genealogy of Moses and Aaron, also pointless from the development of the action point of view!

It is precisely this stoppage of action [201] and its meaningful importance, that should be noticed and interpreted by an exegete, since God, in the revelation to Moses and the inspiration given to the biblical writer, expresses this radical change of pace of action.

One should conclude that the text 6:2-7:7 is a record of God’s sign which indicates through a radical change in the pace of action the start of a radically new phase of God’s action and a radically new phase in the biblical description of this action.

Changing the pace of the action – it is quite probably “the sign of the structure” (“Struktursignal” [202]), a sign allowing the exegete to recognize the main stages of the events, recorded in Ex 1-18. Importantly, God Himself designed these stages.

Precise identification of these important stages, as well as of main parts of the description, corresponding to these stages and separated by this sign of structure, will be the subject of research in the next point.