Notes for Exodus 6:1LEB

The expression "I will do to Pharaoh" always refers to the plagues. Yahweh would first show his sovereignty over Pharaoh before defeating him.


The expression "with a strong hand" (וּבְיָד חֲזָקָה, uvéyad khazaqah) could refer (1) to Yahweh’s powerful intervention ("compelled by my strong hand") or (2) to Pharaoh’s forceful pursuit ("he will forcefully drive them out"). In Exod 3:20LEB Yahweh has summarized what his hand would do in Egypt, and that is probably what is intended here, as he promises that Moses will see what Yahweh will do. All Egypt ultimately desired that Israel be released (Exodus 12:33LEB), and when they were released Pharaoh pursued them to the sea, and so in a sense drove them out – whether that was his intention or not. But ultimately it was Yahweh’s power that was the real force behind it all. U. Cassuto (Exodus, 74) considers that it is unlikely that the phrase would be used in the same verse twice with the same meaning. So he thinks that the first "strong hand" is Yahweh’s, and the second "strong hand" is Pharaoh’s. It is true that if Pharaoh acted forcefully in any way that contributed to Israel leaving Egypt it was because Yahweh was acting forcefully in his life. So in an understated way, Yahweh is saying that when forced by Yahweh’s strong hand, Pharaoh will indeed release Yahweh’s people."


Or "and he will forcefully drive them out of his land," if the second occurrence of "strong hand" refers to Pharaoh’s rather than Yahweh’s (see the previous note).


In Exod 12:33LEB the Egyptians were eager to send (release) Israel away in haste, because they all thought they were going to die.


Notes for Exodus 6:2LEB

"And Yahweh spoke."


The announcement "I am the Lord" ("Yahweh") draws in the preceding revelation in Exod 3:15LEB. In that place Yahweh called Moses to this task and explained the significance of the name "Yahweh" by the enigmatic expression "I am that I am." "I am" (אֶהְיֶה, ’ehyeh) is not a name; "Yahweh" is. But the explanation of the name with this sentence indicates that Yahweh is the one who is always there, and that guarantees the future, for everything he does is consistent with his nature. He is eternal, never changing; he remains. Now, in Exodus 6, the meaning of the name "Yahweh" will be more fully unfolded.


Notes for Exodus 6:3LEB

The preposition bet (ב) in this construction should be classified as a bet essentiae, a bet of essence (see also GKC 379 §119.i).


The traditional rendering of the title as "Almighty" is reflected in LXX and Jerome. But there is still little agreement on the etymology and exact meaning of אֵל־שַׁדַּי (’el-shadday). Suggestions have included the idea of "mountain Yahweh," meaning the high Yahweh, as well as "the Yahweh with breasts." But there is very little evidence supporting such conclusions and not much reason to question the ancient versions.


The noun שְׁמִי (shémi, "my name," and "Yahweh" in apposition to it), is an adverbial accusative, specifying how the patriarchs "knew" him.


"Yahweh," traditionally rendered in English as "the Lord." The phrase has been placed in quotation marks in the translation to indicate it represents the tetragrammaton.


The verb is the Niphal form נוֹדַעְתִּי (nodati). If the text had wanted to say, "I did not make myself known," then a Hiphil form would have been more likely. It is saying, "but by my name Yahweh I was not known to them."


There are a number of important issues that need clarification in the interpretation of this section. First, it is important to note that "I am Yahweh" is not a new revelation of a previously unknown name. It would be introduced differently if it were. This is the identification of the covenant Yahweh as the one calling Moses – that would be proof for the people that their Yahweh had called him. Second, the title "El Shadday" is not a name, but a title. It is true that in the patriarchal accounts "El Shadday" is used six times; in Job it is used thirty times. Many conclude that it does reflect the idea of might or power. In some of those passages that reveal Yahweh as "El Shadday," the name "Yahweh" was also used. But Wellhausen and other proponents of the earlier source critical analysis used Exod 6:3LEB to say that P, the so-called priestly source, was aware that the name "Yahweh" was not known by them, even though J, the supposed Yahwistic source, wrote using the name as part of his theology. Third, the texts of Genesis show that Yahweh had appeared to the patriarchs (Gen 12:1LEB, 17:1, 18:1, 26:2, 26:24, 26:12, 35:1, 48:3), and that he spoke to each one of them (Gen 12:7LEB, 15:1, 26:2, 28:13, 31:3). The name "Yahweh" occurs 162 times in Genesis, 34 of those times on the lips of speakers in Genesis (W. C. Kaiser, Jr., "Exodus," EBC 2:340–41). They also made proclamation of Yahweh by name (Exodus 4:26LEB, Exodus 12:8LEB), and they named places with the name (Exodus 22:14LEB). These passages should not be ignored or passed off as later interpretation. Fourth, "Yahweh" is revealed as the Yahweh of power, the sovereign Yahweh, who was true to his word and could be believed. He would do as he said (Num 23:19LEB; Exodus 14:35LEB; Exod 12:25LEB; 22:24; 24:14; 36:36; 37:14). Fifth, there is a difference between promise and fulfillment in the way revelation is apprehended. The patriarchs were individuals who received the promises but without the fulfillment. The fulfillment could only come after the Israelites became a nation. Now, in Egypt, they are ready to become that promised nation. The two periods were not distinguished by not having and by having the name, but by two ways Yahweh revealed the significance of his name. "I am Yahweh" to the patriarchs indicated that he was the absolute, almighty, eternal Yahweh. The patriarchs were individuals sojourning in the land. Yahweh appeared to them in the significance of El Shadday. That was not his name. So Gen 17:1LEB says that "Yahweh appeared…and said, ‘I am El Shadday.’" See also Gen 35:11LEB, Gen 48:2LEB, Gen 28:3LEB. Sixth, the verb "to know" is never used to introduce a name which had never been known or experienced. The Niphal and Hiphil of the verb are used only to describe the recognition of the overtones or significance of the name (see Jer 16:21LEB, Isa 52:6LEB; Ps 83:17LEB ff; 1 Kgs 8:41LEB ff. [people will know his name when prayers are answered]). For someone to say that he knew Yahweh meant that Yahweh had been experienced or recognized (see Exod 33:6LEB; 1 Kgs 18:36LEB; Jer 28:9LEB; and Ps 76:2LEB). Seventh, "Yahweh" is not one of Yahweh’s names – it is his only name. Other titles, like "El Shadday," are not strictly names but means of revealing Yahweh. All the revelations to the patriarchs could not compare to this one, because Yahweh was now dealing with the nation. He would make his name known to them through his deeds (see Ezek 20:5LEB). So now they will "know" the "name." The verb יָדַע (yada’) means more than "aware of, be knowledgeable about"; it means "to experience" the reality of the revelation by that name. This harmonizes with the usage of שֵׁם (shem), "name," which encompasses all the attributes and actions of Yahweh. It is not simply a reference to a title, but to the way that Yahweh revealed himself – Yahweh gave meaning to his name through his acts. Yahweh is not saying that he had not revealed a name to the patriarchs (that would have used the Hiphil of the verb). Rather, he is saying that the patriarchs did not experience what the name Yahweh actually meant, and they could not without seeing it fulfilled. When Moses came to the elders, he identified his call as from Yahweh, the Yahweh of the fathers – and they accepted him. They knew the name. But, when they were delivered from bondage, then they fully knew by experience what that name meant, for his promises were fulfilled. U. Cassuto (Exodus, 79) paraphrases it this way: "I revealed Myself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in My aspect that finds expression in the name Shaddai…I was not known to them, that is, it was not given to them to recognize Me as One that fulfils his promises." This generation was about to "know" the name that their ancestors knew and used, but never experienced with the fulfillment of the promises. This section of Exodus confirms this interpretation, because in it Yahweh promised to bring them out of Egypt and give them the promised land – then they would know that he is Yahweh (Exodus 6:7LEB). This meaning should have been evident from its repetition to the Egyptians throughout the plagues – that they might know Yahweh (e.g., Exodus 7:5LEB). See further R. D. Wilson, "Yahweh [Jehovah] and Exodus Exodus 6:3LEB, " Classical Evangelical Essays in Old Testament Interpretation, 29–40; L. A. Herrboth, "Exodus Exodus 6:3LEBb: Was Yahweh Known to the Patriarchs as Jehovah?" CTM 4 (1931): 345-49; F. C. Smith, "Observation on the Use of the Names and Titles of Yahweh in Genesis," EvQ 40 (1968): 103-9.


Notes for Exodus 6:4LEB

The statement refers to the making of the covenant with Abraham (Gen 15 and following) and confirming it with the other patriarchs. The verb הֲקִמֹתִי (haqimoti) means "set up, establish, give effect to, conclude" a covenant agreement. The covenant promised the patriarchs a great nation, a land – Canaan, and divine blessing. They lived with those promises, but now their descendants were in bondage in Egypt. Yahweh’s reference to the covenant here is meant to show the new revelation through redemption will start to fulfill the promises and show what the reality of the name Yahweh is to them.


"the land of their sojournings." The noun מְגֻרִים (mégurim) is a reminder that the patriarchs did not receive the promises. It is also an indication that those living in the age of promise did not experience the full meaning of the name of the covenant Yahweh. The "land of their sojournings" is the land of Canaan where the family lived (גּרוּ, garu) as foreigners, without owning property or having the rights of kinship with the surrounding population.


Notes for Exodus 6:5LEB

The addition of the independent pronoun אֲנִי (’ani, "I") emphasizes the fact that it was Yahweh himself who heard the cry.


"And also I have heard."


The form is the Hiphil participle מַעֲבִדִים (maavidim, "causing to serve"). The participle occurs in a relative clause that modifies "the Israelites." The clause ends with the accusative "them," which must be combined with the relative pronoun for a smooth English translation. So "who the Egyptians are enslaving them," results in the translation "whom the Egyptians are enslaving."


As in Exod 2:24LEB, this remembering has the significance of Yahweh’s beginning to act to fulfill the covenant promises.


Notes for Exodus 6:6LEB

The verb וְהוֹצֵאתִי (véhotseti) is a perfect tense with the vav (ו) consecutive, and so it receives a future translation – part of Yahweh’s promises. The word will be used later to begin the Decalogue and other covenant passages – "I am Yahweh who brought you out…."


"from under the burdens of" (so KJV, NASB); NIV "from under the yoke of."


"from labor of them." The antecedent of the pronoun is the Egyptians who have imposed slave labor on the Hebrews.


Notes for Exodus 6:7LEB

These covenant promises are being reiterated here because they are about to be fulfilled. They are addressed to the nation, not individuals, as the plural suffixes show. Yahweh was their Yahweh already, because they had been praying to him and he is acting on their behalf. When they enter into covenant with Yahweh at Sinai, then he will be the Yahweh of Israel in a new way (Exodus 19:4–6LEB; cf. Gen 17:7–8LEB; Gen 28:20–22LEB; Lev 26:11–12LEB; Jer 24:7LEB; Ezek 11:17–20).


"from under the burdens of" (so KJV, NASB); NIV "from under the yoke of."


Notes for Exodus 6:8LEB

"which I raised my hand to give it." The relative clause specifies which land is their goal. The bold anthropomorphism mentions part of an oath-taking ceremony to refer to the whole event and reminds the reader that Yahweh swore that he would give the land to them. The reference to taking an oath would have made the promise of Yahweh sure in the mind of the Israelite.


Here is the twofold aspect again clearly depicted: Yahweh swore the promise to the patriarchs, but he is about to give what he promised to this generation. This generation will know more about him as a result.


Notes for Exodus 6:9LEB

The final part of this section focuses on instructions for Moses. The commission from Yahweh is the same – he is to speak to Pharaoh and he is to lead Israel out. It should have been clear to him that Yahweh would do this, for he had just been reminded how Yahweh was going to lead out, deliver, redeem, take the people as his people, and give them land. It was Yahweh’s work of love from beginning to end. Moses simply had his task to perform.


"and Moses spoke thus."


"to Moses." The proper name has been replaced by the pronoun ("him") in the translation for stylistic reasons.


The Hebrew מִקֹּצֶּר רוּחַ (miqqotser ruakh) means "because of the shortness of spirit." This means that they were discouraged, dispirited, and weary – although some have also suggested it might mean impatient. The Israelites were now just not in the frame of mind to listen to Moses.


Notes for Exodus 6:11LEB

The form וִישַׁלַּח (vishallakh) is the Piel imperfect or jussive with a sequential vav; following an imperative it gives the imperative’s purpose and intended result. They are to speak to Pharaoh, and (so that as a result) he will release Israel. After the command to speak, however, the second clause also indirectly states the content of the speech (cf. Exod 11:2LEB; Exodus 14:2LEB, 15; Exodus 25:2LEB; Lev 16:2LEB; 22:2). As the next verse shows, Moses doubts that what he says will have the intended effect.


Notes for Exodus 6:12LEB

"And Moses spoke before."


This analogy is an example of a qal wahomer comparison. It is an argument by inference from the light (qal) to the heavy (homer), from the simple to the more difficult. If the Israelites, who are Yahwists, would not listen to him, it is highly unlikely Pharaoh would.


The final clause begins with a disjunctive vav (ו), a vav on a nonverb form – here a pronoun. It introduces a circumstantial causal clause.


"and [since] I am of uncircumcised lips." The "lips" represent his speech (metonymy of cause). The term "uncircumcised" makes a comparison between his speech and that which Israel perceived as unacceptable, unprepared, foreign, and of no use to Yahweh. The heart is described this way when it is impervious to good impressions (Lev 26:41LEB; Jer 9:26LEB) and the ear when it hears imperfectly (Jer 6:10LEB). Moses has here returned to his earlier claim – he does not speak well enough to be doing this.


Notes for Exodus 6:13LEB

"And Yahweh spoke."


The term וַיְצַוֵּם (vayétsavvem) is a Piel preterite with a pronominal suffix on it. The verb צָוָה (tsavah) means "to command" but can also have a much wider range of meanings. In this short summary statement, the idea of giving Moses and Aaron a commission to Israel and to Pharaoh indicates that come what may they have their duty to perform.


Notes for Exodus 6:14LEB

This list of names shows that Moses and Aaron are in the line of Levi that came to the priesthood. It helps to identify them and authenticate them as spokesmen for Yahweh within the larger history of Israel. As N. M. Sarna observes, "Because a genealogy inherently symbolizes vigor and continuity, its presence here also injects a reassuring note into the otherwise despondent mood" (Exodus [JPSTC], 33).


The expression is literally "the house of their fathers." This expression means that the household or family descended from a single ancestor. It usually indicates a subdivision of a tribe, that is, a clan, or the subdivision of a clan, that is, a family. Here it refers to a clan (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 46).


Or "descendants."


Or "families," and so throughout the genealogy.


Notes for Exodus 6:16LEB

Or "generations."


Notes for Exodus 6:20LEB

"took for a wife" (also in vv. 23, 25).


Notes for Exodus 6:25LEB

"heads of the fathers" is taken as an abbreviation for the description of "households" in v. 14.


Notes for Exodus 6:26LEB

Or "by their hosts" or "by their armies." Often translated "hosts" (ASV, NASB) or "armies" (KJV), צְבָאוֹת (tsévaot) is a military term that portrays the people of Yahweh in battle array. In contemporary English, "regiment" is perhaps more easily understood as a force for battle than "company" (cf. NAB, NRSV) or "division" (NIV, NCV, NLT), both of which can have commercial associations. The term also implies an orderly departure.


Notes for Exodus 6:28LEB

From here on the confrontation between Yahweh and Pharaoh will intensify until Pharaoh is destroyed. The emphasis at this point, though, is on Yahweh’s instructions for Moses to speak to Pharaoh. The first section (6:28–7:7) ends (v. 6) with the notice that Moses and Aaron did just as (כַּאֲשֶׁר, kaasher) Yahweh had commanded them; the second section (Exodus 7:8–13LEB) ends with the note that Pharaoh refused to listen, just as (כַּאֲשֶׁר) Yahweh had said would be the case.


The beginning of this temporal clause does not follow the normal pattern of using the preterite of the main verb after the temporal indicator and prepositional phrase, but instead uses a perfect tense following the noun in construct: וַיְהִי בְּיוֹם דִּבֶּר (vayéhi béyom dibber). See GKC 422 §130.d. This verse introduces a summary (vv. 28–30) of the conversation that was interrupted when the genealogy began.


Notes for Exodus 6:29LEB

"and Yahweh spoke to Moses saying." This has been simplified in the translation as "he said to him" for stylistic reasons.


The verb is דַּבֵּר (dabber), the Piel imperative. It would normally be translated "speak," but in English that verb does not sound as natural with a direct object as "tell."


The clause begins with אֵת כָּל־אֲשֶׁר (’et kol-asher) indicating that this is a noun clause functioning as the direct object of the imperative and providing the content of the commanded speech.


דֹּבֵר(dover) is the Qal active participle; it functions here as the predicate in the noun clause: "that I [am] telling you." This one could be rendered, "that I am speaking to you."


Notes for Exodus 6:30LEB

See note on Exod 6:12.