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Exodus 1:2-2:10 New English Translation (NET Bible)

Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. All the people[a] who were directly descended[b] from Jacob numbered seventy.[c] But Joseph was already in Egypt,[d] and in time[e] Joseph[f] and his brothers and all that generation died. The Israelites,[g] however,[h] were fruitful, increased greatly, multiplied, and became extremely strong,[i] so that the land was filled with them.

Then a new king,[j] who did not know about[k] Joseph, came to power[l] over Egypt. He said[m] to his people, “Look at[n] the Israelite people, more numerous and stronger than we are! 10 Come, let’s deal wisely[o] with them. Otherwise[p] they will continue to multiply,[q] and if[r] a war breaks out, they will ally themselves with[s] our enemies and fight against us and leave[t] the country.”

11 So they put foremen[u] over the Israelites[v] to oppress[w] them with hard labor. As a result[x] they built Pithom and Rameses[y] as store cities for Pharaoh. 12 But the more the Egyptians[z] oppressed them, the more they multiplied and spread.[aa] As a result the Egyptians loathed[ab] the Israelites, 13 and they[ac] made the Israelites serve rigorously.[ad] 14 They made their lives bitter[ae] by[af] hard service with mortar and bricks and by all kinds of service[ag] in the fields. Every kind of service the Israelites were required to give was rigorous.[ah]

15 The king of Egypt said[ai] to the Hebrew midwives,[aj] one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah,[ak] 16 [al] “When you assist[am] the Hebrew women in childbirth, observe at the delivery:[an] If it is a son, kill him,[ao] but if it is a daughter, she may live.”[ap] 17 But[aq] the midwives feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them; they let the boys live.[ar]

18 Then the king of Egypt summoned[as] the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this and let the boys live?”[at] 19 The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew[au] women are not like the Egyptian women—for the Hebrew women[av] are vigorous; they give birth before the midwife gets to them!”[aw] 20 So God treated the midwives well,[ax] and the people multiplied and became very strong. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he made[ay] households[az] for them.

22 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “All sons[ba] that are born you must throw[bb] into the river, but all daughters you may let live.”[bc]

The Birth of the Deliverer

[bd] A man from the household[be] of Levi married[bf] a woman who was a descendant of Levi.[bg] The woman became pregnant[bh] and gave birth to a son. When[bi] she saw that[bj] he was a healthy[bk] child, she hid him for three months. But when she was no longer able to hide him, she took a papyrus basket[bl] for him and sealed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and set it among the reeds along the edge of the Nile.[bm] His sister stationed herself[bn] at a distance to find out[bo] what would[bp] happen to him.

Then the daughter of Pharaoh[bq] came down to wash herself[br] by the Nile, while her attendants were walking alongside the river,[bs] and she saw the basket among the reeds. She sent one of her attendants,[bt] took it,[bu] opened it,[bv] and saw the child[bw]—a boy,[bx] crying![by]—and she felt compassion[bz] for him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.”

Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get[ca] a nursing woman[cb] for you from the Hebrews, so that she may nurse[cc] the child for you?” Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Yes, do so.”[cd] So the young girl[ce] went and got[cf] the child’s mother.[cg] Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child[ch] and nurse him for me, and I will pay your[ci] wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him.

10 When the child grew older[cj] she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son.[ck] She named him Moses, saying, “Because I drew him from the water.”[cl]

Footnotes:

  1. Exodus 1:5 tn The word נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) is often translated “soul.” But the word refers to the whole person, the body with the soul, and so “life” or “person” is frequently a better translation.
  2. Exodus 1:5 tn The expression in apposition to נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) literally says “those who went out from the loins of Jacob.” This distinguishes the entire company as his direct descendants.
  3. Exodus 1:5 sn Gen 46 describes in more detail Jacob’s coming to Egypt with his family. The Greek text of Exod 1:5 and of Gen 46:27 and two Qumran manuscripts, have the number as seventy-five, counting the people a little differently. E. H. Merrill in conjunction with F. Delitzsch notes that the list in Gen 46 of those who entered Egypt includes Hezron and Hamul, who did so in potentia, since they were born after the family entered Egypt. Joseph’s sons are also included, though they too were born in Egypt. “The list must not be pressed too literally” (E. H. Merrill, Kingdom of Priests, 49).
  4. Exodus 1:5 tn Heb “and Joseph was in Egypt” (so ASV). The disjunctive word order in Hebrew draws attention to the fact that Joseph, in contrast to his brothers, did not come to Egypt at the same time as Jacob.
  5. Exodus 1:6 tn The text simply uses the vav (ו) consecutive with the preterite, “and Joseph died.” While this construction shows sequence with the preceding verse, it does not require that the death follow directly the report of that verse. In fact, readers know from the record in Genesis that the death of Joseph occurred after a good number of years. The statement assumes the passage of time in the natural course of events.
  6. Exodus 1:6 tn The verse has a singular verb, “and Joseph died, and all his brothers, and all that generation.” Typical of Hebrew style the verb need only agree with the first of a compound subject. sn Since the deaths of “Joseph and his brothers and all that generation” were common knowledge, their mention must serve some rhetorical purpose. In contrast to the flourishing of Israel, there is death. This theme will appear again: In spite of death in Egypt, the nation flourishes.
  7. Exodus 1:7 tn Heb “the sons of Israel.”
  8. Exodus 1:7 tn The disjunctive vav marks a contrast with the note about the deaths of the first generation.
  9. Exodus 1:7 tn Using מְאֹד (meʾod) twice intensifies the idea of their becoming strong (see GKC 431-32 §133.k).sn The text is clearly going out of its way to say that the people of Israel flourished in Egypt. The verbs פָּרָה (parah, “be fruitful”), שָׁרַץ (sharats, “swarm, teem”), רָבָה (ravah, “multiply”), and עָצַם (ʿatsam, “be strong, mighty”) form a literary link to the creation account in Genesis. The text describes Israel’s prosperity in the terms of God’s original command to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, to show that their prosperity was by divine blessing and in compliance with the will of God. The commission for the creation to fill the earth and subdue it would now begin to materialize through the seed of Abraham.
  10. Exodus 1:8 sn It would be difficult to identify who this “new king” might be, since the chronology of ancient Israel and Egypt is continually debated. Scholars who take the numbers in the Bible more or less at face value would place the time of Jacob’s going down to Egypt in about 1876 b.c. This would put Joseph’s experience in the period prior to the Hyksos control of Egypt (1720-1570’s), and everything in the narrative about Joseph points to a native Egyptian setting and not a Hyksos one. Joseph’s death, then, would have been around 1806 b.c., just a few years prior to the end of the 12th Dynasty of Egypt. This marked the end of the mighty Middle Kingdom of Egypt. The relationship between the Hyksos (also Semites) and the Israelites may have been amicable, and the Hyksos then might very well be the enemies that the Egyptians feared in Exodus 1:10. It makes good sense to see the new king who did not know Joseph as either the founder (Amosis, 1570-1546) or an early king of the powerful 18th Dynasty (like Thutmose I). Egypt under this new leadership drove out the Hyksos and reestablished Egyptian sovereignty. The new rulers certainly would have been concerned about an increasing Semite population in their territory (see E. H. Merrill, Kingdom of Priests, 49-55).
  11. Exodus 1:8 tn The relative clause comes last in the verse in Hebrew. It simply clarifies that the new king had no knowledge about Joseph. It also introduces a major theme in the early portion of Exodus, as a later Pharaoh will claim not to know who Yahweh is. The Lord, however, will work to make sure that Pharaoh and all Egypt will know that he is the true God.
  12. Exodus 1:8 tn Heb “arose.”
  13. Exodus 1:9 tn Heb “and he said.”
  14. Exodus 1:9 tn The particle הִנֵּה (hinneh) introduces the foundational clause for the exhortation to follow by drawing the listeners’ attention to the Israelites. In other words, the exhortation that follows is based on this observation.
  15. Exodus 1:10 tn The verb is the Hitpael cohortative of חָכַם (khakam, “to be wise”). This verb has the idea of acting shrewdly, dealing wisely. The basic idea in the word group is that of skill. So a skillful decision is required to prevent the Israelites from multiplying any more.sn Pharaoh’s speech invites evaluation. How wise did his plans prove to be?
  16. Exodus 1:10 tn The word פֶּן (pen) expresses fear or precaution and can also be translated “lest” or “else” (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 75-76, §461).
  17. Exodus 1:10 tn The verb can be translated simply “will multiply,” but since Pharaoh has already indicated that he is aware they were doing that, the nuance here must mean to multiply all the more, or to continue to multiply. Cf. NIV “will become even more numerous.”
  18. Exodus 1:10 tn The words וְהָיָה כִּי (vehayah ki) introduce a conditional clause—“if” (see GKC 335 §112.y).
  19. Exodus 1:10 tn Heb “and [lest] he [Israel] also be joined to.”
  20. Exodus 1:10 tn Heb “and go up from.” All the verbs coming after the particle פֶּן (pen, “otherwise, lest” in v. 10) have the same force and are therefore parallel. These are the fears of the Egyptians. This explains why a shrewd policy of population control was required. They wanted to keep Israel enslaved; they did not want them to become too numerous and escape.
  21. Exodus 1:11 tn Heb “princes of work.” The word שָׂרֵי (sare, “princes”) has been translated using words such as “ruler,” “prince,” “leader,” “official,” “chief,” “commander,” and “captain” in different contexts. It appears again in 2:14 and 18:21 and 25. Hebrew מַס (mas) refers to a labor gang organized to provide unpaid labor, or corvée (Deut 20:11; Josh 17:13; 1 Kgs 9:15, 21). The entire phrase has been translated “foremen,” which combines the idea of oversight and labor. Cf. KJV, NAB, NASB, NRSV “taskmasters”; NIV “slave masters”; NLT “slave drivers.”
  22. Exodus 1:11 tn Heb “over them”; the referent (the Israelites) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  23. Exodus 1:11 sn The verb עַנֹּתוֹ (ʿannoto) is the Piel infinitive construct from עָנָה (ʿanah, “to oppress”). The word has a wide range of meanings. Here it would include physical abuse, forced subjugation, and humiliation. This king was trying to crush the spirit of Israel by increasing their slave labor. Other terms in the passage that describe this intent include “bitter” and “crushing.”
  24. Exodus 1:11 tn The form is a preterite with the vav (ו) consecutive, וַיִּבֶן (vayyiven). The sequence expressed in this context includes the idea of result.
  25. Exodus 1:11 sn Many scholars assume that because this city was named Rameses, the Pharaoh had to be Rameses II, and hence that a late date for the exodus (and a late time for the sojourn in Egypt) is proved. But if the details of the context are taken as seriously as the mention of this name, this cannot be the case. If one grants for the sake of discussion that Rameses II was on the throne and oppressing Israel, it is necessary to note that Moses is not born yet. It would take about twenty or more years to build the city, then eighty more years before Moses appears before Pharaoh (Rameses), and then a couple of years for the plagues—this man would have been Pharaoh for over a hundred years. That is clearly not the case for the historical Rameses II. But even more determining is the fact that whoever the Pharaoh was for whom the Israelites built the treasure cities, he died before Moses began the plagues. The Bible says that when Moses grew up and killed the Egyptian, he fled from Pharaoh (whoever that was) and remained in exile until he heard that that Pharaoh had died. So this verse cannot be used for a date of the exodus in the days of Rameses, unless many other details in the chapters are ignored. If it is argued that Rameses was the Pharaoh of the oppression, then his successor would have been the Pharaoh of the exodus. Rameses reigned from 1304 b.c. until 1236 and then was succeeded by Merneptah. That would put the exodus far too late in time, for the Merneptah stela refers to Israel as a settled nation in their land. One would have to say that the name Rameses in this chapter may either refer to an earlier king, or, more likely, reflect an updating in the narrative to name the city according to its later name (it was called something else when they built it, but later Rameses finished it and named it after himself [see B. Jacob, Exodus, 14]). For further discussion see G. L. Archer, “An 18th Dynasty Ramses,” JETS 17 (1974): 49-50; and C. F. Aling, “The Biblical City of Ramses,” JETS 25 (1982): 129-37. Furthermore, for vv. 11-14, see K. A. Kitchen, “From the Brick Fields of Egypt,” TynBul 27 (1976): 137-47.
  26. Exodus 1:12 tn Heb “they”; the referent (the Egyptians) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  27. Exodus 1:12 tn The imperfect tenses in this verse are customary uses, expressing continual action in past time (see GKC 315 §107.e). For other examples of כַּאֲשֶׁר (kaʾasher) with כֵּן (ken) expressing a comparison (“just as…so”) see Gen 41:13; Judg 1:7; Isa 31:4.sn Nothing in the oppression caused this, of course. Rather, the blessing of God (Gen 12:1-3) was on Israel in spite of the efforts of Egypt to hinder it. According to Gen 15 God had foretold that there would be this period of oppression (עָנָה [ʿanah] in Gen 15:13). In other words, God had decreed and predicted both their becoming a great nation and the oppression to show that he could fulfill his promise to Abraham in spite of the bondage.
  28. Exodus 1:12 tn Heb “they felt a loathing before/because of”; the referent (the Egyptians) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  29. Exodus 1:13 tn Heb “the Egyptians.” For stylistic reasons this has been replaced by the pronoun “they” in the translation.
  30. Exodus 1:13 tn Heb “with rigor, oppression.”
  31. Exodus 1:14 sn The verb מָרַר (marar) anticipates the introduction of the theme of bitterness in the instructions for the Passover.
  32. Exodus 1:14 tn The preposition bet (ב) in this verse has the instrumental use: “by means of” (see GKC 380 §119.o).
  33. Exodus 1:14 tn Heb “and in all service.”
  34. Exodus 1:14 tn The line could be more literally translated, “All their service in which they served them [was] with rigor.” This takes the referent of בָּהֶם (bahem) to be the Egyptians. The pronoun may also resume the reference to the kinds of service and so not be needed in English: “All their service in which they served [was] with rigor.”
  35. Exodus 1:15 tn Heb “and the king of Egypt said.”
  36. Exodus 1:15 sn The word for “midwife” is simply the Piel participle of the verb יָלַד (yalad, “to give birth”). So these were women who assisted in the childbirth process. It seems probable that given the number of the Israelites in the passage, these two women could not have been the only Hebrew midwives, but they may have been over the midwives (Rashi). Moreover, the LXX and Vulgate do not take “Hebrew” as an adjective, but as a genitive after the construct, yielding “midwives of/over the Hebrews.” This leaves open the possibility that these women were not Hebrews. This would solve the question of how the king ever expected Hebrew midwives to kill Hebrew children. And yet, the two women have Hebrew names.
  37. Exodus 1:15 tn Heb “who the name of the first [was] Shiphrah, and the name of the second [was] Puah.”
  38. Exodus 1:16 tn The verse starts with the verb that began the last verse; to read it again seems redundant. Some versions render it “spoke” in v. 15 and “said” in v. 16. In effect, Pharaoh has been delayed from speaking while the midwives are named.
  39. Exodus 1:16 tn The form is the Piel infinitive construct serving in an adverbial clause of time. This clause lays the foundation for the next verb, the Qal perfect with a vav consecutive: “when you assist…then you will observe.” The latter carries an instructional nuance (= the imperfect of instruction), “you are to observe.”
  40. Exodus 1:16 tn Heb “at the birthstool” (cf. ASV, NASB, NRSV), but since this particular item is not especially well known today, the present translation simply states “at the delivery.” Cf. NIV “delivery stool.”
  41. Exodus 1:16 sn The instructions must have been temporary or selective, otherwise the decree from the king would have ended the slave population of Hebrews. It is also possible that the king did not think through this, but simply took steps to limit the population growth. The narrative is not interested in supplying details, only in portraying the king as a wicked fool bent on destroying Israel.
  42. Exodus 1:16 tc The last form וָחָיָה (vakhayah) in the verse is unusual; rather than behaving as a III-He form, it is written as a geminate but without the dagesh forte in pause (GKC 218 §76.i). In the conditional clause, following the parallel instruction (“kill him”), this form should be rendered “she may live” or “let her live.” The Samaritan Pentateuch records the normal spelling וְחָיְתָה (vekhayetah).
  43. Exodus 1:17 tn Heb “and they [feminine plural] feared”; the referent (the midwives) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  44. Exodus 1:17 tn The verb is the Piel preterite of חָיָה (khayah, “to live”). The Piel often indicates a factitive nuance with stative verbs, showing the cause of the action. Here it means “let live, cause to live.” The verb is the exact opposite of Pharaoh’s command for them to kill the boys.
  45. Exodus 1:18 tn The verb קָרָא (qaraʾ) followed by the lamed (ל) preposition has here the nuance of “summon.” The same construction is used later when Pharaoh summons Moses.
  46. Exodus 1:18 tn The second verb in Pharaoh’s speech is a preterite with a vav (ו) consecutive. It may indicate a simple sequence: “Why have you done…and (so that you) let live?” It could also indicate that this is a second question, “Why have you done…[why] have you let live?”
  47. Exodus 1:19 sn See further N. Lemche, “‘Hebrew’ as a National Name for Israel,” ST 33 (1979): 1-23.
  48. Exodus 1:19 tn Heb “they”; the referent (the Hebrew women) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  49. Exodus 1:19 tn Heb “before the midwife comes to them (and) they give birth.” The perfect tense with the vav consecutive serves as the apodosis to the preceding temporal clause; it has the frequentative nuance (see GKC 337-38 §112.oo).sn The point of this brief section is that the midwives respected God above the king. They simply followed a higher authority that prohibited killing. Fearing God is a basic part of the true faith that leads to an obedient course of action and is not terrified by worldly threats. There probably was enough truth in what they were saying to be believable, but they clearly had no intention of honoring the king by participating in murder, and they saw no reason to give him a straightforward answer. God honored their actions.
  50. Exodus 1:20 tn The verb וַיֵּיטֶב (vayyetev) is the Hiphil preterite of יָטַב (yatav). In this stem the word means “to cause good, treat well, treat favorably.” The vav (ו) consecutive shows that this favor from God was a result of their fearing and obeying him.
  51. Exodus 1:21 tn The temporal indicator וַיְהִי (vayehi) focuses attention on the causal clause and lays the foundation for the main clause, namely, “God made households for them.” This is the second time the text affirms the reason for their defiance, their fear of God.
  52. Exodus 1:21 tn Or “families”; Heb “houses.”
  53. Exodus 1:22 tn The substantive כֹּל (kol) followed by the article stresses the entirety—“all sons” or “all daughters”—even though the nouns are singular in Hebrew (see GKC 411 §127.b).
  54. Exodus 1:22 tn The form includes a pronominal suffix that reiterates the object of the verb: “every son…you will throw it.”
  55. Exodus 1:22 tn The first imperfect has the force of a definite order, but the second, concerning the girls, could also have the nuance of permission, which may fit better. Pharaoh is simply allowing the girls to live.sn Verse 22 forms a fitting climax to the chapter, in which the king continually seeks to destroy the Israelite strength. Finally, with this decree, he throws off any subtlety and commands the open extermination of Hebrew males. The verse forms a transition to the next chapter, in which Moses is saved by Pharaoh’s own daughter. These chapters show that the king’s efforts to destroy the strength of Israel—so clearly a work of God—met with failure again and again. And that failure involved the efforts of women, whom Pharaoh did not consider a threat.
  56. Exodus 2:1 sn The chapter records the exceptional survival of Moses under the decree of death by Pharaoh (vv. 1-10), the flight of Moses from Pharaoh after killing the Egyptian (vv. 11-15), the marriage of Moses (vv. 16-22), and finally a note about the Lord’s hearing the sighing of the people in bondage (vv. 23-25). The first part is the birth. The Bible has several stories about miraculous or special births and deliverances of those destined to lead Israel. Their impact is essentially to authenticate the individual’s ministry. If the person’s beginning was providentially provided and protected by the Lord, then the mission must be of divine origin too. In this chapter the plot works around the decree for the death of the children—a decree undone by the women. The second part of the chapter records Moses’ flight and marriage. Having introduced the deliverer Moses in such an auspicious way, the chapter then records how this deliverer acted presumptuously and had to flee for his life. Any deliverance God desired had to be supernatural, as the chapter’s final note about answering prayer shows.
  57. Exodus 2:1 tn Heb “house.” In other words, the tribe of Levi.
  58. Exodus 2:1 tn Heb “went and took”; NASB “went and married.”
  59. Exodus 2:1 tn Heb “a daughter of Levi.” The word “daughter” is used in the sense of “descendant” and connects the new account with Pharaoh’s command in 1:22. The words “a woman who was” are added for clarity in English.sn The first part of this section is the account of hiding the infant (vv. 1-4). The marriage, the birth, the hiding of the child, and the positioning of Miriam, are all faith operations that ignore the decree of Pharaoh or work around it to preserve the life of the child.
  60. Exodus 2:2 tn Or “conceived” (KJV, ASV, NAB, NASB, NRSV).
  61. Exodus 2:2 tn A preterite form with the vav consecutive can be subordinated to a following clause. What she saw stands as a reason for what she did: “when she saw…she hid him three months.”
  62. Exodus 2:2 tn After verbs of perceiving or seeing there are frequently two objects, the formal accusative (“she saw him”) and then a noun clause that explains what it was about the child that she perceived (“that he was healthy”). See GKC 365 §117.h.
  63. Exodus 2:2 tn Or “fine” (טוֹב, tov). The construction is parallel to phrases in the creation narrative (“and God saw that it was good,” Gen 1:4, 10, 12, 17, 21, 25, 31). B. Jacob says, “She looked upon her child with a joy similar to that of God upon His creation (Gen 1.4ff.)” (Exodus, 25).
  64. Exodus 2:3 sn See on the meaning of this basket C. Cohen, “Hebrew tbh: Proposed Etymologies,” JANESCU 9 (1972): 36-51. This term is used elsewhere only to refer to the ark of Noah. It may be connected to the Egyptian word for “chest.”
  65. Exodus 2:3 sn The circumstances of the saving of the child Moses have prompted several attempts by scholars to compare the material to the Sargon myth. See R. F. Johnson, IDB 3:440-50; for the text see L. W. King, Chronicles concerning Early Babylonian Kings, 2:87-90. Those who see the narrative using the Sargon story’s pattern would be saying that the account presents Moses in imagery common to the ancient world’s expectations of extraordinary achievement and deliverance. In the Sargon story the infant’s mother set him adrift in a basket in a river; he was loved by the gods and destined for greatness. Saying Israel used this to invent the account in Exodus would undermine its reliability. But there are other difficulties with the Sargon comparison, not the least of which is the fact that the meaning and function of the Sargon story are unclear. Second, there is no outside threat to the child Sargon. The account simply shows how a child was exposed, rescued, nurtured, and became king (see B. S. Childs, Exodus [OTL], 8-12). Third, other details do not fit: Moses’ father is known, Sargon’s is not; Moses is never abandoned, since he is never out of the care of his parents, and the finder is a princess and not a goddess. Moreover, without knowing the precise function and meaning of the Sargon story, it is almost impossible to explain its use as a pattern for the biblical account. By itself, the idea of a mother putting a child by the river if she wants him to be found would have been fairly sensible, for that is where the women of the town would be washing their clothes or bathing. If someone wanted to be sure the infant was discovered by a sympathetic woman, there would be no better setting (see R. A. Cole, Exodus [TOTC], 57). While there need not be a special genre of storytelling here, it is possible that Exodus 2 might have drawn on some of the motifs and forms of the other account to describe the actual event in the sparing of Moses—if they knew of it. If so it would show that Moses was cast in the form of the greats of the past.
  66. Exodus 2:4 tn Or “stood.” The verb is the Hitpael preterite of יָצַב (yatsav), although the form is anomalous and perhaps should be spelled as in the Samaritan Pentateuch (see GKC 193 §71). The form yields the meaning of “take a stand, position or station oneself.” His sister found a good vantage point to wait and see what might become of the infant.
  67. Exodus 2:4 tn Heb “to know”; many English versions have “to see.”
  68. Exodus 2:4 tn The verb is a Niphal imperfect; it should be classified here as a historic future, future from the perspective of a point in a past time narrative.
  69. Exodus 2:5 sn It is impossible, perhaps, to identify with certainty who this person was. For those who have taken a view that Rameses was the pharaoh, there were numerous daughters for Rameses. She is named Tharmuth in Jub. 47:5; Josephus spells it Thermouthis (Ant. 2.9.5 [2.224]), but Eusebius has Merris (Praep. Ev. ix. 27). E. H. Merrill (Kingdom of Priests, 60) makes a reasonable case for her identification as the famous Hatshepsut, daughter of Thutmose I. She would have been there about the time of Moses’ birth, and the general picture of her from history shows her to be the kind of princess with enough courage to countermand a decree of her father.
  70. Exodus 2:5 tn Or “bathe.”
  71. Exodus 2:5 sn A disjunctive vav initiates here a circumstantial clause. The picture is one of a royal entourage coming down to the edge of a tributary of the river, and while the princess was bathing, her female attendants were walking along the edge of the water out of the way of the princess. They may not have witnessed the discovery or the discussion.
  72. Exodus 2:5 tn The word here is אָמָה (ʾamah), which means “female slave.” The word translated “attendants” earlier in the verse is נַעֲרֹת (naʿarot, “young women”), possibly referring here to an assortment of servants and companions.
  73. Exodus 2:5 tn The verb is preterite, third person feminine singular, with a pronominal suffix, from לָקַח (laqakh, “to take”). The form says literally “and she took it,” and retains the princess as the subject of the verb.
  74. Exodus 2:6 tn Heb “and she opened.”
  75. Exodus 2:6 tn The grammatical construction has a pronominal suffix on the verb as the direct object along with the expressed object: “and she saw him, the child.” The second object defines the previous pronominal object to avoid misunderstanding (see GKC 425 §131.m).
  76. Exodus 2:6 tn The text has נַעַר (naʿar, “lad, boy, young man”), which in this context would mean a baby boy.
  77. Exodus 2:6 tn This clause is introduced with a disjunctive vav and the deictic particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, “behold” in the KJV). The particle in this kind of clause introduces the unexpected—what Pharaoh’s daughter saw when she opened the basket: “and look, there was a baby boy crying.” The clause provides a parenthetical description of the child as she saw him when she opened the basket and does not advance the narrative. It is an important addition, however, for it puts readers in the position of looking with her into the basket and explains her compassion.
  78. Exodus 2:6 tn The verb could be given a more colloquial translation such as “she felt sorry for him.” But the verb is stronger than that; it means “to have compassion, to pity, to spare.” What she felt for the baby was strong enough to prompt her to spare the child from the fate decreed for Hebrew boys. Here is part of the irony of the passage: What was perceived by many to be a womanly weakness—compassion for a baby—is a strong enough emotion to prompt the woman to defy the orders of Pharaoh. The ruler had thought sparing women was safe, but the midwives, the Hebrew mother, the daughter of Pharaoh, and Miriam, all work together to spare one child—Moses (cf. 1 Cor 1:27-29).
  79. Exodus 2:7 sn The text uses קָרָא (qaraʾ), meaning “to call” or “summon.” Pharaoh himself will “summon” Moses many times in the plague narratives. Here the word is used for the daughter summoning the child’s mother to take care of him. The narratives in the first part of the book of Exodus include a good deal of foreshadowing of events that occur in later sections of the book (see M. Fishbane, Biblical Text and Texture).
  80. Exodus 2:7 tn The object of the verb “get/summon” is “a woman.” But מֵינֶקֶת (meneqet, “nursing”), the Hiphil participle of the verb יָנַק (yanaq, “to suck”), is in apposition to it, clarifying what kind of woman should be found—a woman, a nursing one. Of course Moses’ mother was ready for the task.
  81. Exodus 2:7 tn The form וְתֵינִק (veteniq) is the Hiphil imperfect/jussive, third feminine singular, of the same root as the word for “nursing.” It is here subordinated to the preceding imperfect (“shall I go”) and perfect with vav (ו) consecutive (“and summon”) to express the purpose: “in order that she may.”sn No respectable Egyptian woman of this period would have undertaken the task of nursing a foreigner’s baby, and so the suggestion by Miriam was proper and necessary. Since she was standing a small distance away from the events, she was able to come forward when the discovery was made.
  82. Exodus 2:8 tn Heb “Go” (so KJV, ASV); NASB “Go ahead”; TEV “Please do.”
  83. Exodus 2:8 sn The word used to describe the sister (Miriam probably) is עַלְמָה (ʿalma), the same word used in Isa 7:14, where it is usually translated either “virgin” or “young woman.” The word basically means a young woman who is ripe for marriage. This would indicate that Miriam is a teenager and so about fifteen years older than Moses.
  84. Exodus 2:8 tn Heb קָרָא (qaraʾ, “called”).
  85. Exodus 2:8 sn During this period of Egyptian history the royal palaces were in the northern or Delta area of Egypt, rather than up the Nile as in later periods. The proximity of the royal residences to the Israelites makes this and the plague narratives all the more realistic. Such direct contact would have been unlikely if Moses had had to travel up the Nile to meet with Pharaoh. In the Delta area things were closer. Here all the people would have had access to the tributaries of the Nile near where the royal family came, but the royal family probably had pavilions and hunting lodges in the area. See also N. Osborn, “Where on Earth Are We? Problems of Position and Movement in Space,” BT 31 (1980): 239-42.
  86. Exodus 2:9 tn The verb is the Hiphil imperative of the verb הָלַךְ (halakh), and so is properly rendered “cause to go” or “take away.”
  87. Exodus 2:9 tn The possessive pronoun on the noun “wage” expresses the indirect object: “I will pay wages to you.”
  88. Exodus 2:10 tn The verb is the preterite of גָּדַל (gadal), and so might be rendered “and he became great.” But the context suggests that it refers to when he was weaned and before he was named, perhaps indicating he was three or four years old (see Gen 21:8).
  89. Exodus 2:10 tn The idiomatic expression literally reads: “and he was to her for a son.” In this there are two prepositions lamed. The first expresses possession: “he was to her” means “she had.” The second is part of the usage of the verb: הָיָה (hayah) with the ל (lamed) preposition means “to become.”
  90. Exodus 2:10 sn The naming provides the climax and summary of the story. The name of “Moses” (מֹשֶׁה, mosheh) is explained by “I have drawn him (מְשִׁיתִהוּ, meshitihu) from the water.” It appears that the name is etymologically connected to the verb in the saying, which is from מָשָׁה (mashah, “to draw out”). But commentators have found it a little difficult that the explanation of the name by the daughter of Pharaoh is in Hebrew when the whole background is Egyptian (U. Cassuto, Exodus, 20). Moreover, the Hebrew spelling of the name is the form of the active participle (“the one who draws out”); to be a precise description it should have been spelled מָשׁוּי (mashuy), the passive participle (“the one drawn out”). The etymology is not precise; rather, it is a wordplay (called paronomasia). Either the narrator merely attributed words to her (which is unlikely outside of fiction), or the Hebrew account simply translated what she had said into Hebrew, finding a Hebrew verb with the same sounds as the name. Such wordplays on names (also popular etymology) are common in the Bible. Most agree that the name is an Egyptian name. Josephus attempted to connect the biblical etymology with the name in Greek, Mōusēs, stating that Mo is Egyptian for water, and uses means those rescued from it (Ant. 2.9.6 [2.228]; see also J. Gwyn Griffiths, “The Egyptian Derivation of the Name Moses,” JNES 12 [1953]: 225). But the solution to the name is not to be derived from the Greek rendering. Due to the estimation Egyptians had of the Nile, the princess would have thought of the child from the river as a supernatural provision. The Egyptian hieroglyphic ms can be the noun “child” or the perfective verb “be born.” This was often connected with divine elements for names: Ptah-mose, “Ptah is born.” Also the name Rameses (R’-m-sw) means “[the god] Re’ is he who has born him.” If the name Moses is Egyptian, there are some philological difficulties (see the above article for their treatment). The significance of all this is that when the child was named by the princess, an Egyptian word related to ms was used, meaning something like “child” or “born.” The name might have even been longer, perhaps having a theophoric element (divine name) with it—“child of [some god].” The name’s motivation came from the fact that she drew him from the Nile, the source of life in Egypt. But the sound of the name recalled for the Hebrews the verb “to draw out” in their own language. Translating the words of the princess into Hebrew allowed for the effective wordplay to capture the significance of the story in the sound of the name. The implication for the Israelites is something to this effect: “You called him ‘born one’ in your language and after your custom, but in our language that name means ‘drawing out’—which is what was to become of him. You drew him out of the water, but he would draw us out of Egypt through the water.” So the circumstances of the story show Moses to be a man of destiny, and this naming episode summarizes how divine providence was at work in Israel. To the Israelites the name forever commemorated the portent of this event in the early life of the great deliverer (see Isa 63:11).
New English Translation (NET)

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