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Exodus 5:3-5 New English Translation (NET Bible)

And they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Let us go a three-day journey[a] into the wilderness so that we may sacrifice[b] to the Lord our God, so that he does not strike us with plague or the sword.”[c] The king of Egypt said to them, “Moses and Aaron, why do you cause the people to refrain from their work?[d] Return to your labor!” Pharaoh was thinking,[e] “The people of the land are now many, and you are giving them rest from their labor.”

Footnotes:

  1. Exodus 5:3 tn The word “journey” is an adverbial accusative telling the distance that Moses wanted the people to go. It is qualified by “three days.” It is not saying that they will be gone three days, but that they will go a distance that will take three days to cover (see Gen 31:22-23; Num 10:33; 33:8).
  2. Exodus 5:3 tn The purpose clause here is formed with a second cohortative joined with a vav (ו): “let us go…and let us sacrifice.” The purpose of the going was to sacrifice.sn Where did Moses get the idea that they should have a pilgrim feast and make sacrifices? God had only said they would serve Him in that mountain. In the OT the pilgrim feasts to the sanctuary three times a year incorporated the ideas of serving the Lord and keeping the commands. So the words here use the more general idea of appearing before their God. They would go to the desert because there was no homeland yet. Moses later spoke of the journey as necessary to avoid offending Egyptian sensibilities (8:25-26).
  3. Exodus 5:3 sn The last clause of this verse is rather unexpected here: “lest he meet [afflict] us with pestilence or sword.” To fail to comply with the summons of one’s God was to invite such calamities. The Law would later incorporate many such things as the curses for disobedience. Moses is indicating to Pharaoh that there is more reason to fear Yahweh than Pharaoh.
  4. Exodus 5:4 sn The clause is a rhetorical question. Pharaoh is not asking them why they do this, but rather is accusing them of doing it. He suspects their request is an attempt to get people time away from their labor. In Pharaoh’s opinion, Moses and Aaron were “removing the restraint” (פָּרַע, paraʿ) of the people in an effort to give them rest. Ironically, under the Law the people would be expected to cease their labor when they went to appear before God. He would give them the rest that Pharaoh refused to give. It should be noted also that it was not Israel who doubted that Yahweh had sent Moses, as Moses had feared—but rather Pharaoh.
  5. Exodus 5:5 tn Heb “And Pharaoh said.” This is not the kind of thing that Pharaoh is likely to have said to Moses, and so it probably is what he thought or reasoned within himself. Other passages (like Exod 2:14; 3:3) show that the verb “said” can do this. (See U. Cassuto, Exodus, 67.)
New English Translation (NET)

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