Posted by: mattcolvin | October 1, 2020

Notes on LXX Exodus 5-6

Burial chamber of Rechmirê, chief and vizier, scene: production of bricks (Wikimedia)

5:3 – πορευσόμεθα οὖν ὁδὸν τριῶν ἡμερῶν εἰς τὴν ἔρημον, ὅπως θύσωμεν τῷ θεῷ ἡμῶν, μήποτε συναντήσ μν θάνατος φόνος – “We will go three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to our God, lest death or murder encounter us.” Sarna takes this as a threat that the Lord may strike the Israelites with plague or sudden death as punishment for failing to worship Him. But it might also be a plan to be safely beyond the reach of vengeful Egyptians.

5:6 – The “taskmasters” (Heb. הַנֹּגְשִׂ֣ים) of the people are rendered by the LXX with the coinage ἐργοδιώκτης, “work-hounder” or “job-pursuer.”

5:9 – It is interesting that the LXX uses μεριμνάτωσαν ταῦτα, “let them worry about these things” (sc. the making of bricks and the gathering of straw for them) and μὴ μεριμνάτωσαν ἐν λόγοις κενοῖς, “let them not worry in empty words,” both phrases employing the same verb “to worry” that Jesus uses in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 6:25). Possibly this is not a strong connection, but it might bear investigating.

5:14-15 – The slavery inflicted by the Egyptians on the Hebrews is mediated through Hebrew officers (lit. “scribes,” γραμματεῖς), who are punished (ἐμαστιγώθησαν, “were whipped”) for their people’s failures to meet quota; these officers in turn complain, first to Pharaoh, and then to Moses and Aaron.

5:21 – “May God see you and judge, because you have made our smell abominable (ἐβδελύξατε τὴν ὀσμὴν ἡμῶν) in the sight of Pharaoh…”

5:22 – Moses’ complaint to God offers us another proximate theodicy, different in kind from the book of Job: διὰ τί ἐκάκωσας τὸν λαὸν τοῦτον, “What have you troubled this people?” In fact, the “trouble” is the prelude to deliverance, and it is the Egyptians who, though at this point untroubled, will soon be devastated by the judgment of God.

6:9 – Upon Moses’ explanation to the people of God’s identity and covenant promises to the patriarchs, we are told that “they did not hearken to Moses” out of ὀλιγοψυχία, “having too little ψύχη,” a word similar in formation to Jesus’ oft-repeated rebuke to his disciples, charging them with ὀλιγοπιστία, “having too little faith.”

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