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16 “Go and bring together[a] the elders of Israel and tell them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers,[b] appeared[c] to me—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—saying, “I have attended carefully to[d] you and to what has been done[e] to you in Egypt, 17 and I have promised[f] that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites,[g] to a land flowing with milk and honey.”’

18 “The elders[h] will listen[i] to you, and then you and the elders of Israel must go to the king of Egypt and tell him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met[j] with us. So now, let us go[k] three days’ journey into the wilderness, so that we may sacrifice[l] to the Lord our God.’

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Footnotes

  1. Exodus 3:16 tn The form is the perfect tense with the sequential vav (ו) linking the nuance to the imperative that precedes it. Since the imperative calls for immediate action, this form either carries the same emphasis, or instructs action that immediately follows it. This applies likewise to “say,” which follows.
  2. Exodus 3:16 sn “The God of your fathers” is in simple apposition to the name “the Lord” (Heb “Yahweh”) as a recognizable identification. If the holy name were a new one to the Israelites, an explanation would have been needed. Meanwhile, the title “God of my/your/our father(s)” was widely used in the ancient Near East and also in Genesis (26:24; 28:13; 31:5, 29; 46:1, 3; N. M. Sarna, Exodus [JPSTC], 268).
  3. Exodus 3:16 tn The form is the Niphal perfect of the verb “to see.” See the note on “appeared” in 3:2.
  4. Exodus 3:16 tn The verb פָּקַד (paqad) has traditionally been rendered “to visit.” This only partially communicates the point of the word. When God “visited” someone, it meant that he intervened in their lives to change their circumstances or their destiny. When he visited the Amalekites, he destroyed them (1 Sam 15:2). When he visited Sarah, he provided the long awaited child (Gen 21:1). It refers to God’s active involvement in human affairs for blessing or for cursing. Here it would mean that God had begun to act to deliver the Israelites from bondage and give them the blessings of the covenant. The form is joined here with the infinitive absolute to underscore the certainty—“I have indeed visited you.” Some translate it “remember”; others say “watch over.” These do not capture the idea of intervention to bless, and often with the idea of vengeance or judgment on the oppressors. If God were to visit what the Egyptians did, he would stop the oppression and also bring retribution for it. The nuance of the perfect tense could be a perfect of resolve (“I have decided to visit”), or an instantaneous perfect (“I hereby visit”), or a prophetic perfect (“I have visited” = “I will visit”). The infinitive absolute reinforces the statement (so “carefully”), the rendering “attended to” attempts to convey the ideas of personal presence, mental awareness, and action, as when a nurse or physician “attends” a patient.sn The same word was used in the same kind of construction at the end of Genesis (50:24) when Joseph promised, “God will surely visit you” (but there the imperfect tense with the infinitive absolute). Here is another link to the patriarchal narratives. This work of Moses would be interpreted as a fulfillment of Joseph’s prophecy.
  5. Exodus 3:16 tn The second object for the verb is the passive participle הֶעָשׂוּי (heʿasuy). To say that God has visited the oppression (or “attended to” it) affirms that God has decided to judge the oppressing people as he blesses Israel.
  6. Exodus 3:17 tn Heb “And I said.”
  7. Exodus 3:17 tn See the note on this list in 3:8.
  8. Exodus 3:18 tn Heb “And they will listen”; the referent (the elders) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  9. Exodus 3:18 tn This is the combination of the verb שָׁמַע (shamaʿ) followed by לְקֹלֶךָ (leqolekha), an idiomatic formation that means “listen to your voice,” which in turn implies a favorable response.
  10. Exodus 3:18 tn The verb נִקְרָה (niqrah) has the idea of encountering in a sudden or unexpected way (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 25).
  11. Exodus 3:18 tn The form used here is the cohortative of הָלַךְ (halakh). It could be a resolve, but more likely before Pharaoh it is a request. sn Was this a deceptive request if they were not planning on coming back? Since no one knows what the intent was, that question is not likely to be resolved. The request may have been intended to test the waters, so to speak—How did Pharaoh feel about the Israelites? Would he let them go and worship their God as they saw fit? In any case, it gave him the opportunity to grant to the Israelites a permission that other groups are known to have received (N. M. Sarna, Exodus [JPSTC], 19).
  12. Exodus 3:18 tn Here a cohortative with a vav (ו) follows a cohortative; the second one expresses purpose or result: “let us go…in order that we may.”

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