Sometimes I have material left over when I edit Comments down to fit the available space. This page presents notes that landed on the clipping room floor. Some may be useful to you. While I avoid technical language in the Comments (or explain special terms), Clippings may have unexplained jargon from time to time.
A hypertext Glossary of Terms is integrated with Clippings. Simply click on any highlighted word in the text and a pop-up window will appear with a definition. Bibliographic references are also integrated in the same way.
As part of his training, Moses experiences many of the events that will later happen to Israel. He prefigures Israel.
3:1: “beyond the wilderness”: In the middle of nowhere – almost like Jonah in the bowels of the boat or of the great fish. [ FoxMoses]
3:1: “the mountain of God”: In the Elohist (E) tradition and in Deuteronomy, it is called “Horeb”; in the Yahwist (J) and Priestly (P) traditions, it is called Sinai (see Exodus 19). [ NJBC] It appears that a later editor (known as the Deuteronomist) has edited this verse. CAB says that it has now been identified as the high peak in the southern part of the Sinai peninsula, but some scholars have proposed that it may actually have been a mountain in the northeastern section. It was probably a Midianite sacred place. [ NOAB]
3:2: “the angel of the Lord ”: As in Genesis 16:7 (the birth of Ishmael), the angel is not a heavenly being subordinate to God but Yahweh (NRSV: Lord) himself in earthly manifestation. Exodus 14:19 says “The angel of God who was going before the Israelite army moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and took its place behind them”. [ NOAB] Many sources indicate that Israel shared with the Midianites a holy place of God in the desert: see Judges 1:16; 4:17-22; 1 Samuel 15:6. [ CAB]
3:2: “fire”: It was conceived to be the form of the divine appearance. See also Genesis 15:17 (Abram’s vision); Exodus 19:18 ( Yahweh descends on Mount Sinai “in fire”); Psalm 104:3-4 (“flame and fire” are Yahweh’s messengers); Ezekiel 1:27 (Ezekiel’s throne chariot vision). [ NOAB]
3:2: “bush”: The bush (Hebrew seneh, a wordplay on Sinai) that burns but is not consumed mediates the divine voice. [ NJBC]
3:5: “Remove the sandals from your feet”: A form of respect still practised by Muslims.
3:6: “the God of your father”: As in Genesis 26:24 (Yahweh appears to Isaac) and 31:42 (Jacob to Laban), the God of the ancestors is not known in general or abstract terms but by concrete historical relationships with particular persons. [ NOAB]
3:6: “Moses hid his face ...”: The vision of God veiled in fire aroused dread (“you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live”, 33:20), for divine holiness was experienced as a mysterious power that threatened human existence (see 19:10-13). [ NOAB]
3:7-9: Vv. 7-8 from the Yahwist (J) source are duplicated by the Elohist (E) source in v. 9. God intervenes because he has seen and heard the cry of the suffering people (see also 2:23-25) and wishes to lead them out of Egypt. [ NJBC]
3:8: “a land flowing with milk and honey”: A description found often in the Pentateuch but not in Genesis. [ FoxMoses] The “milk” was from sheep or goats; the “honey” was grape juice reduced to a molasses-like syrup. It was usually fermented. These foods made it a paradise in the eyes of semi-nomads. [ NOAB]
3:8: “the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites”: The Canaanites were the inhabitants of a territory that included parts of what is now Israel (with the occupied territories) and Lebanon. The Hittites were an Indo-European people who established a strong kingdom in east central Asia Minor in the second millennium BC. Sometime around 1650 BC they began to expand their territory to include Syria and Lebanon. By 1200 BC they, in turn, had been conquered. While the Amorites are one of the primary people of the land in biblical tradition, they are particularly associated with what is now Jordan. From the biblical record, the Perizzites seem to have lived in the central highlands of Palestine. The Hivites inhabited the land around Shechem and Gibeon, and at the foot of Mount Hermon and on Mount Lebanon. The Jebusites seem to have lived in the Jerusalem area. [ HBD]
3:11-12: God's word will be confirmed by a sign (as it is in Isaiah 7:10-17), i.e. the return of Israel to Sinai for worship. A sign may be an extraordinary wonder (4.1-9) or an ordinary phenomenon. What makes it significant, therefore miraculous, is that God's presence and power are disclosed to the eyes of faith. [ NOAB]
3:12: Ordinary prophets received a sign from God before being empowered by God; Moses is alone in the Bible in receiving a sign after empowerment from God to carry out his mission. [ NJBC]
3:13-15: Moses' second question assumes a polytheistic environment; thus he must know the identity of the God who is dealing with him. [ NOAB]
3:13-15: Moses' second objection is that the people will not believe that he speaks for God; hence, he asks for the name of the mysterious voice. The divine name manifests God to the worshipper; the old name, God of the father, is not adequate for the new age. [ NJBC]
3:14: “I AM WHO I AM”: I AM WHO I AM is an etymology of the cultic name for the God of Israel, YHWH, probably pronounced Yahweh. (The NRSV, following ancient synagogue practice, substitutes the Lord.) YHWH is treated as a verbal form derived from to be and formulated in the first person because God is the speaker. Actually YHWH is a third person form and may mean He causes to be . The name does not indicate God's eternal being but God's action presence in historical affairs. [ NOAB]
The etymology of the name Yahweh is disputed. It is surely a form of the verb to be and probably the causative form, cause to be, create. Some scholars suggest that it is a shortened form of a sentence name, (God who) creates (the heavenly host). [ NJBC]
The NRSV footnote offers the following other translations: I AM WHAT I AM and I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE.
3:15: “The Lord”: The name is here introduced for the first time; however the tradition in Genesis 4:26b traces the worship of Yahweh back to the time of Adam’s grandson Seth. This contrasts with other traditions that claim that the sacred name was introduced in the time of Moses. [ NOAB] 6:2-3 says: “God ... spoke to Moses ...: ‘I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name ‘The Lord' I did not make myself known to them’”. According to NJBC, Genesis 4:26b is from the Yahwist (J) tradition and Exodus 6:2-3 from the Priestly (P) tradition.
3:16: “the elders”: Holders of political power in such a tribal society. [ FoxMoses]
3:18: The initial request made of Pharaoh is not for emancipation but to observe a religious festival. [ FoxMoses]
3:18: “sacrifice”: i.e. make animal sacrifices. [ FoxMoses]
3:21-22: “you will not go empty-handed”: There is probably a legal background of furnishing a freed slave with provisions, but it looks like the booty of war! [ FoxMoses] In a sense, Yahweh defeats Pharaoh. [ NJBC] See also 12:35-36.
Yahweh’s victorious people will plunder the defeated Egyptians; these verses are a witty adaptation of the victor's taking the clothing and jewelry of a defeated army (see also Joshua 7:21; Judges 5:30; 2 Chronicles 20:25). It is also compensation for their unpaid labour. [ NJBC]
4:2-9: God responds with three signs, demonstrations of the divine power that Moses can count on in the future. The staff-turned-snake and the Nile-turned-bloody anticipate the first plague in 7:8-24 and his leprous hand looks forward to Moses' vindication as leader in Numbers 12. [ NJBC]
4:3: See also 7:8-12. Serpent magic was practised in Egypt from ancient times. The sign was the reverse of a trick whereby a snake is made rigid by hypnotism, so that it can be picked up by the tail. [ NOAB] Converting his staff into a snake is a symbol of power. The snake was a Canaanite symbol of fertility. [ CAB]
4:9: The Nile was understood to be the bearer of life. [ CAB] The Nile was regarded as divine to the Egyptians, so not only would such a plague be miraculous and devastating, it would also be a direct swipe at Egyptian religion. [ FoxMoses]
4:10: The nature of Moses’ speech impediment is unclear. Stuttering is more likely than stammering.
4:14: Having responded patiently to each of Moses' objections up to this point, Yahweh finally is angered by Moses' attempt to push the mission onto someone else. [ NJBC]
4:17: “staff”: This is the staff Moses will use to initiate plagues. Moses and Aaron act for God as well as speaking for him. [ NJBC]
Verse 11: “serve the Lord”: Some manuscripts have kairo (time, in the sense of opportune time) rather than kyrio (Lord), leading to the translation serve the hour and the interpretation meet the demands of the time in which you live. [ NJBC]
Verse 13: “Contribute to the needs of the saints”: There is possibly a hint here to support the impoverished members of the Jerusalem church. [ NJBC]
Verse 14: “who persecute you”: This verse echoes Jesus’ words in Luke 6:27-28. Some important manuscripts (including P46) omit “you”, thus giving the verse a more general sense: bless (all) persecutors. There is no reason to think that Paul knew of official persecution in the Roman church when he wrote. [ NJBC] See also 1 Corinthians 4:12; James 3:9-12; 1 Peter 2:23.
Verse 16: “associate with the lowly”: This translation assumes that tapeinos (“lowly”) is masculine, but if it is neuter the translation is give yourselves to lowly tasks. [ NJBC] Paul may have intended the ambiguity. [ BlkRom]
Verse 17: “take thought ...”: In 1 Corinthians 10:32, Paul advises: “Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God”. See also 2 Corinthians 4:2; 8:21; 1 Timothy 5:14; 1 Peter 2:12, 15; 3:16.
Verse 19: “never avenge”: NJBC offers never look for revenge. Even desiring revenge is outside Christian conduct.
Verse 21: This verse summarizes vv. 14-21.
Verse 21: For Jerusalem as the city where prophets are put to death by the religious authorities, see 23:29-39. There Jesus accuses the religious leaders of showing that they “are descendants of those who murdered the prophets”. [ NJBC] Only one such murder is mentioned in the Old Testament (see 2 Chronicles 24:20-22), but Jewish legend had added others to the list of national martyrs. [ NOAB]
Verse 21: “the elders and chief priests and scribes”: The three groups of leaders compose the Sanhedrin; elders were lay leaders. Note that the Pharisees are not explicitly mentioned. [ NJBC]
Verse 22: “rebuke”: Peter wants only a theology of grace and glory; he wants to separate Christ from the cross. [ NJBC]
Verses 24-28: These verses contain five sayings. The first three can be understood as a commentary on the great commandment in Deuteronomy 6:5: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” as it was understood by early rabbis:
Verse 24: “cross”: In Jesus’ day, the cross was proverbial for suffering and cruelty, so this is unlikely to be a reference to Jesus’ crucifixion. [ NJBC] Crucifixion was a Roman means of execution in which the condemned carried the cross (actually the cross-arm) to the scene of death. Jesus sees that acceptance of his message with its promise also may bring destruction. Only those who in faith accept the threat of destruction will find life. See also Matthew 5:11-12; 10:38-39; Mark 10:29-31; Luke 14:27; 17:33; John 12:25. [ NOAB]
Verse 26: “life”: Life here is not mere physical existence, but the higher or spiritual life, the real self. In Luke 12:15, Jesus says: “‘... Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions’”. [ NOAB]
Verses 27-28: Two sayings which paint end-time rewards of discipleship. The “Son of Man” will come as judge; the Kingdom will be his. [ NJBC]
Verse 27: In Psalm 62:12, a psalmist says of God: “... you repay to all according to their work”. In Matthew 10:33, Jesus says: “... whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven”.
Verse 28: In Mark 9:1, Jesus says: “... there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power”. In 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18, Paul tells of those already dead and those still alive meeting “the Lord in the air”. James 5:7 advises readers to be “patient, ... until the coming of the Lord”. Revelation 1:7 says: “... He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be ...”.
Verse 28: “taste death”: i.e. become personally acquainted with death. [ NOAB]
Verse 28: Comments: some today see the Transfiguration (which follows in Chapter 17) as fulfilment of this prophecy : Note that mention of the Transfiguration as a “vision” (see 17:9) fits with seeing “the Son of Man coming”. [ NJBC][an error occurred while processing this directive]
Web page maintained by
Christ Church Cathedral
Last Updated: 20140819
If you are already on that page, you will be taken to the top.