Posted by: mattcolvin | September 6, 2020

Notes on LXX Exodus 3-4


Hard-hearted Pharaoh is not impressed with your snake trick.

Notes on LXX Exodus 3-4

3:6 – Moses “turned away his face.” This foreshadows the revelation of God’s glory to Moses in the cleft of the rock, as well as fitting well with Paul’s statements in 2 Cor. 3.

3:8 – “and I have come down (κατέβην) to rescue them…” The last time God “came down” was to see what the men of Babel were building.

3:8 – εἰς τὸν τόπον τῶν Χαναναίων καὶ Χετταίων καὶ Αμορραίων καὶ Φερεζαίων καὶ Γεργεσαίων καὶ Ευαίων καὶ Ιεβουσαίων. The polysyndeton and the length of the list (7 names of tribes) serve to magnify the number of peoples that God will displace when he brings Israel into the land.

3:14 – God’s answer to Moses’ question about his name is, in the LXX, Ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν – “I am the one who is.” Note that this rendering makes the Lord’s answer more unambiguously about his personal identity than the English translation, “I am what I am.”

3:15 – “This is my eternal (αἰώνιον) and memorable (μνημόσυνον) name unto generations of generations (γενεῶν γενεαῖς).” The idea seems to be that the name is both to be called upon as a matter of covenant remembrance (זִכְרִ֖י) and that it is to be so used forever (γενεῶν γενεαῖς = לְדֹ֥ר דֹּֽר).

3:16 – Note that the gathered elders of the people are referred to by the term γερουσία. They are to accompany Moses on his first embassy to Pharaoh, presumably to demonstrate that he has the support of the people.

3:19 – Pharaoh’s resistance is predicted: “But I know that Pharaoh king of Egypt will not let you go, except with a strong hand.”

4:3 – The changing of Moses’ staff into a snake is offered as a demonstration of the authenticating power of a miracle: “If the people don’t believe you, do this, and they will.” But it has the comical effect of terrifying Moses: “and Moses fled from it.”

4:4 – The Lord kindly specifies where Moses is to grab the snake: ἐπιλαβοῦ τῆς κέρκου – “Take hold of it by the tail.”

4:6-7 – It is curious that the Lord instructs Moses to “put your hand into your bosom,” as though it were important to conceal the moment of change from healthy to leprous and back again.

4:10 – Having objected that the Israelites will not believe that the Lord appeared to him, and having been given two signs to guarantee their persuasion, Moses now moves to a new objection: that he is ἰσχνόφωνος καὶ βραδύγλωσσος, “with a speech impediment and slow of tongue.”

4:11 – The Lord’s response is reminiscent of his answer to Job: he asserts his authority as the Creator of man’s mouth and tongue, and thus as the bestower of gifts of speech.

4:16 – “and he [Aaron] shall be your mouth, and you shall be to him the things concerning God.”

4:18 – “And Jethro said to Moses, ‘Go, being healthy’ (βάδιζε ὑγιαίνων).”

4:19 – “After those many days, the King of Egypt died.” An instance of waiting for the death of a hostile king in the Bible: cf. Jesus’ family fleeing to Egypt until the death of Herod (Mt. 2:15).

4:25 – “Zipporah, taking up a small stone (ψῆφον) circumcised the foreskin of her son and threw it at the feet and said…” The Greek does not make clear that the foreskin is thrown at Moses’ feet.

Zipporah’s utterance when she throws the foreskin at his feet is an odd one in Greek: Ἔστη τὸ αἷμα τῆς περιτομῆς τοῦ παιδίου μου – “The blood of the circumcision of my child has stood” – using the intransitive root aorist ἔστη rather than a transitive first aorist ἔστησε.

4:27 – Aaron’s meeting with Moses and their kissing of each other is reminiscent of other reunions of long-separated siblings, e.g. Jacob and Esau or Joseph and Benjamin.


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