Exod. 3:1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, priest of Midian, and he drove the flock to the farthest part of the wilderness and he came to Horeb, to the mountain of God.
Either Moses’ father-in-law had two names, Reuel and Jethro, or they were two different people. There is some conjecture that Jethro was Moses’ father-in-law and Reuel was his brother-in-law. In Exod. 18, we encounter Jethro again, and there he seems to be quite the father-in-law. In Numbers, we encounter Reuel again and he seems to be more like a brother-in-law (that is, seemingly more like a contemporary of Moses). It’s also possible that both names belonged to one man, the names being Hebrew and Midianite. [Return to Numb. 10:29]
וַיֵּרָא מַלְאַךְ יְהֹוָה אֵלָיו בְּלַבַּת־אֵשׁ מִתֹּוךְ הַסְּנֶה וַיַּרְא וְהִנֵּה הַסְּנֶה בֹּעֵר בָּאֵשׁ וְהַסְּנֶה אֵינֶנּוּ אֻכָּל 3:2
Exod. 3:2 And an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. And he looked, and behold, the bush was afire with flames, but the bush was not consumed.
וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אָסֻרָה־נָּא וְאֶרְאֶה אֶת־הַמַּרְאֶה הַגָּדֹל הַזֶּה מַדּוּעַ לֹא־יִבְעַר הַסְּנֶה 3:3
Exod. 3:3 And Moses said, “I will turn aside now and examine this great sight, why the bush would not be consumed.”
This verse contains an imperfect first-person verb with a non-inverting prefix. It is the fifth word, translated as and examine.
וַיַּרְא יְהוָה כִּי סָר לִרְאֹות וַיִּקְרָא אֵלָיו אֱלֹהִים מִתֹּוךְ הַסְּנֶה וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה מֹשֶׁה וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֵּנִי 3:4
Exod. 3:4 And the Lord observed that he turned aside to see, and God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”
וַיֹּאמֶר אַל־תִּקְרַב הֲלֹם שַׁל־נְעָלֶיךָ מֵעַל רַגְלֶיךָ כִּי הַמָּקֹום אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה עֹומֵד עָלָיו אַדְמַת־קֹדֶשׁ הוּא 3:5
Exod. 3:5 And He said, “You must not come near here. Slip off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing, it is holy ground.”
Exod. 3:6 Then He said, “I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face for he was afraid of looking toward He Who is God.
I wonder, did Moses know who Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were? I doubt it. He had no opportunity to learn of them. Just as he had no opportunity to learn Hebrew. If his mother taught him some Hebrew words as she nursed him, would he have remembered them as as adult? Again, I doubt it. See what I have to say relating to Exod.4:10.
וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה רָאֹה רָאִיתִי אֶת־עֳנִי עַמִּי אֲשֶׁר בְּמִצְרָיִם וְאֶת־צַעֲקָתָם שָׁמַעְתִּי מִפְּנֵי נֹגְשָׂיו כִּי יָדַעְתִּי 3:7
Exod. 3:7 And the Lord said, “Surely I consider the misery of my people that is in Egypt and I hear their cry because of its taskmasters, for I know its grief.”
וָאֵרֵד לְהַצִּילֹו מִיַּד מִצְרַיִם וּלְהַעֲלֹתֹו מִן־הָאָרֶץ הַהִוא אֶל־אֶרֶץ טֹובָה וּרְחָבָה אֶל־אֶרֶץ זָבַת חָלָב 3:8
וּדְבָשׁ אֶל־מְקֹום הַכְּנַעֲנִי וְהַחִתִּי וְהָאֱמֹרִי וְהַפְּרִזִּי וְהַחִוִּי וְהַיְבוּסִי
Exod. 3:8 “And I will come down to deliver it from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring it up from that land to a beautiful and large land, to a land gushing milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and of the Hittite and of the Amorite and of the Perizzite and of the Hivite and of the Jebusite.”
The first word dreaew", translated as And I will come down, is prefixed by a non-inverting vav, and the verb is first- person imperfect.
וְעַתָּה הִנֵּה צַעֲקַת בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל בָּאָה אֵלָי וְגַם־רָאִיתִי אֶת־הַלַּחַץ אֲשֶׁר מִצְרַיִם לֹחֲצִים אֹתָם 3:9
Exod. 3:9 “And now, behold, the cry of the children of Israel comes to Me and I also see the oppression with which the Egyptians are afflicting them.”
וְעַתָּה לְכָה וְאֶשְׁלָחֲךָ אֶל־פַּרְעֹה וְהֹוצֵא אֶת־עַמִּי בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל מִמִּצְרָיִם 3:10
Exod. 3:10 “So now come and I will send you to Pharoah. Then bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”
The third word in this verse, ^x]l'v.a,w, translated as and I will send you, is prefixed by a non-inverting vav, and the verb is first-person imperfect.
וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֶל־הָאֱלֹהִים מִי אָנֹכִי כִּי אֵלֵךְ אֶל־פַּרְעֹה וְכִי אֹוצִיא אֶת־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מִמִּצְרָיִם 3:11
Exod. 3:11 But Moses said to He Who is God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharoah and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
וַיֹּאמֶר כִּי־אֶהְיֶה עִמָּךְ וְזֶה־לְּךָ הָאֹות כִּי אָנֹכִי שְׁלַחְתִּיךָ בְּהֹוצִיאֲךָ אֶת־הָעָם מִמִּצְרַיִם תַּעַבְדוּן אֶת־ 3:12
הָאֱלֹהִים עַל הָהָר הַזֶּה
Exod. 3:12 And He said, “Surely I will be with you. And this will be the sign for you that I have sent you. With your bringing the people out of Egypt, you shall serve He Who is God on this mountain.”
In the word !Wdb.[;T, “you shall serve,” the next-to-the-last word in the first line, the you is plural, implying either that all the people will be serving God here or that later Moses will have company in serving God (Aaron? Joshua?). Later we will learn that Moses served God on the mountain alone. So to what could this verse be referring? I’m at a loss for options.
וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֶל־הָאֱלֹהִים הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי בָא אֶל־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתִּי לָהֶם אֱלֹהֵי אֲבֹותֵיכֶם שְׁלָחַנִי 3:13
אֲלֵיכֶם וְאָמְרוּ־לִי מַה־שְּׁמֹו מָה אֹמַר אֲלֵהֶם
Exod. 3:13 And Moses said to He Who is God, “If I will be coming to the children of Israel and I say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?”
Exod. 3:14 And God said to Moses, “I Will Be Whom I Will Be.” And He said, “Thus shall you say to the children of Israel: I Will Be sent me to you.”
Many bibles translate the name God pronounces as “I Am That I Am,” and later “I Am.” But the three first-person verbs, hy<h.a, in this verse are all imperfect in tense, and should be more accurately translated as above.
וַיֹּאמֶר עֹוד אֱלֹהִים אֶל־מֹשֶׁה כֹּה־תֹאמַר אֶל־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי אֲבֹתֵיכֶם אֱלֹהֵי אַבְרָהָם אֱלֹהֵי 3:15
יִצְחָק וֵאלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב שְׁלָחַנִי אֲלֵיכֶם זֶה־שְּׁמִי לְעֹלָם וְזֶה זִכְרִי לְדֹר דֹּר
Exod. 3:15 And God said further to Moses, “Thus shall you say to the children of Israel: ‘The Lord, God of your fathers, God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever and this is My memorial for every generation.”
We have here two possibilities: The name of God that will be forever is either “I Will Be Whom I Will Be” or “The Lord, God of Your Fathers, God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob.” Perpetual memorial, indeed! God’s promise has been fulfilled up to this day, and will surely be until the end of time. I believe that this is one of the signs that the children of Israel will always be in existence. We will never disappear from the face of the earth, no matter how hard some may try to accomplish that. God has promised it, not only here but in many other places in the bible.
If, as many people believe, the scribe made this story up (or transcribed it from legend), the sheer audacity of this verse would be truly stunning.
לֵךְ וְאָסַפְתָּ אֶת־זִקְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי אֲבֹתֵיכֶם נִרְאָה אֵלַי אֱלֹהֵי אַבְרָהָם יִצְחָק 3:16
וְיַעֲקֹב לֵאמֹר פָּקֹד פָּקַדְתִּי אֶתְכֶם וְאֶת־הֶעָשׂוּי לָכֶם בְּמִצְרָיִם
Exod. 3:16 “Go, and you will gather the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘The Lord, God of your fathers, appeared to me, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘Surely I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt,’
וָאֹמַר אַעֲלֶה אֶתְכֶם מֵעֳנִי מִצְרַיִם אֶל־אֶרֶץ הַכְּנַעֲנִי וְהַחִתִּי וְהָאֱמֹרִי וְהַפְּרִזִּי וְהַחִוִּי וְהַיְבוּסִי אֶל־אֶרֶץ 3:17
זָבַת חָלָב וּדְבָשׁ
Exod. 3:17 and I can say I will bring you up from the oppression of the Egyptians to the land of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, to a land gushing milk and honey.’”
There is a verb in this verse with a non-inverting vav prefix. It is the first word, rm;aow">, translated as and I can say. The verb is first-person imperfect.
נִקְרָה עָלֵינוּ וְעַתָּה נֵלֲכָה־נָּא דֶּרֶךְ שְׁלֹשֶׁת יָמִים בַּמִּדְבָּר וְנִזְבְּחָה לַיהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ
Exod. 3:18 “And they will listen to your voice and you shall come, you and the elders of Israel, to the king of Egypt and you shall say to him, ‘The Lord, God of the Hebrews, has met with us. So now please let us go a journey of three days into the wilderness and sacrifice to the Lord, our God.’”
Please notice that in this verse the Lord instructs Moses to take the elders of Israel with him to see Pharoah, but as far as we are told later in Exod. 5:4, only Aaron goes with him. If you have read the Preface to the Torah, you are aware that I am challenging Moses, believing that he sometimes exaggerated or altered the Lord’s commandments because of his anger of, and frustration with, the Israelites, and perhaps other reasons of which we have no knowledge. This verse could be part of the first example of his not strictly following the Lord’s instructions, as we shall find out later. [Return to Exod. 5:1] [Return to Exod. 5:4] [Return to Exod. 9:23]
There is also a word in this verse with a non-inverting vav prefix. The word is third from the end, hx'B.z>nIw>, translated as and sacrifice. The verb is first-person imperfect.
וַאֲנִי יָדַעְתִּי כִּי לֹא־יִתֵּן אֶתְכֶם מֶלֶךְ מִצְרַיִם לַהֲלֹךְ וְלֹא בְּיָד חֲזָקָה 3:19
Exod. 3:19 “Now I know that the king of Egypt will not allow you to leave except by a mighty hand.”
וְשָׁלַחְתִּי אֶת־יָדִי וְהִכֵּיתִי אֶת־מִצְרַיִם בְּכֹל נִפְלְאֹתַי אֲשֶׁר אֶעֱשֶׂה בְּקִרְבֹּו וְאַחֲרֵי־כֵן יְשַׁלַּח אֶתְכֶם 3:20
Exod. 3:20 “So I will put forth My hand and I will strike the Egyptians with all My miracles that I will perform in the midst of them. Then after that he will send you away.”
וְנָתַתִּי אֶת־חֵן הָעָם־הַזֶּה בְּעֵינֵי מִצְרָיִם וְהָיָה כִּי תֵלֵכוּן לֹא תֵלְכוּ רֵיקָם 3:21
Exod. 3:21 “And I shall give this people favor in the eyes of the Egyptians. So it shall be, when you go, you shall not go empty.”
וְשָׁאֲלָה אִשָּׁה מִשְּׁכֶנְתָּהּ וּמִגָּרַת בֵּיתָהּ כְּלֵי־כֶסֶף וּכְלֵי זָהָב וּשְׂמָלֹת וְשַׂמְתֶּם עַל־בְּנֵיכֶם וְעַל־בְּנֹתֵיכֶם 3:22
Exod.3:22 “But every woman shall ask from her neighbor, and from any sojourner of her house, jewels of silver and jewels of gold, and raiment. And you shall put them on your sons and on your daughters and you shall spoil the Egyptians.”