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17 You will also take in your hand this staff, with which you will do the signs.”[a]

The Return of Moses

18 [b] So Moses went back[c] to his father-in-law Jethro and said to him, “Let me go, so that I may return[d] to my relatives[e] in Egypt and see[f] if they are still alive.” Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.” 19 The Lord said to Moses in Midian, “Go back[g] to Egypt, because all the men who were seeking your life are dead.”[h]

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Footnotes

  1. Exodus 4:17 sn Mention of the staff makes an appropriate ending to the section, for God’s power (represented by the staff) will work through Moses. The applicable point that this whole section is making could be worded this way: The servants of God who sense their inadequacy must demonstrate the power of God as their sufficiency.
  2. Exodus 4:18 sn This last section of the chapter reports Moses’ compliance with the commission. It has four parts: the decision to return (18-20), the instruction (21-23), the confrontation with Yahweh (24-26), and the presentation with Aaron (27-31).
  3. Exodus 4:18 tn The two verbs form a verbal hendiadys, the second verb becoming adverbial in the translation: “and he went and he returned” becomes “and he went back.”
  4. Exodus 4:18 tn There is a sequence here with the two cohortative forms: אֵלְכָה נָּא וְאָשׁוּבָה (ʾelekhah nnaʾ veʾashuva)—“let me go in order that I may return.”
  5. Exodus 4:18 tn Heb “brothers.”
  6. Exodus 4:18 tn This verb is parallel to the preceding cohortative and so also expresses purpose: “let me go that I may return…and that I may see.”
  7. Exodus 4:19 tn The text has two imperatives, “Go, return”; if these are interpreted as a hendiadys (as in the translation), then the second is adverbial.
  8. Exodus 4:19 sn The text clearly stated that Pharaoh sought to kill Moses; so this seems to be a reference to Pharaoh’s death shortly before Moses’ return. Moses was forty years in Midian. In the 18th dynasty, only Pharaoh Thutmose III had a reign of the right length (1504-1450 b.c.) to fit this period of Moses’ life. This would place Moses’ returning to Egypt near 1450 b.c., in the beginning of the reign of Amenhotep II, whom most conservatives identify as the pharaoh of the exodus. Rameses II, of course, had a very long reign (1304-1236). But if he were the one from whom Moses fled, then he could not be the pharaoh of the exodus, but his son would be—and that puts the date of the exodus after 1236, a date too late for anyone. See E. H. Merrill, Kingdom of Priests, 62.

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