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Wednesday, June 19th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 6

Peake's Commentary on the BiblePeake's Commentary

Verse 1

Exodus 5:1 to Exodus 6:1 ( Exodus 5:1 f. and Exodus 5:4 E, the rest J). Pharaoh’ s first refusal to let Israel go, and his increase of their burdens.— The bulk of the story is taken from J, but part of the opening shows that E told it too. One spoke of “ the God of Israel,” the other of “ the God of the Hebrews” : both related the demand for leave of absence in order to worship. Observe in J the primitive dread of an approach of the Divine Being unless an acceptable offering be at hand ( Exodus 5:3, cf. Numbers 23:3, “ met him,” as here; and Judges 13:15 f.).

Exodus 5:1-5 . In Exodus 5:1, “ hold a feast” (Heb. hag) is, more exactly, “ make a pilgrimage” to a sanctuary, as pious Mohammedans make the haj to Mecca ( cf. Exodus 23:14 ff. and p. 103). The Pharaoh, who by the custom of the time was often approached by suitors with private grievances, professes blank ignorance of Yahweh, and treats the request as a mere pretext for a holiday.

Exodus 5:6-19 . Increase of Burdens.— The brickmaking was organised by Egyptian “ taskmasters” working under Pharaoh, very much as a “ clerk of the works” superintends a building in progress to watch the interests of the owner and to see the instructions of the architect fulfilled. These in turn chose Hebrew “ officers” or foremen who were responsible for the work of their gangs. At Pithom ( Exodus 1:11) some of the bricks that have been dug up contained chopped straw and some did not. But elsewhere such use of straw is unusual. Perhaps it was needed, Petrie suggests, to separate the soft bricks. In any case the refusal to provide a necessary imposed more work. Driver (CB, p. 39) reproduces illustrations from the monuments of the processes of brickmaking and building by Asiatic captives under supervision, and quotes an inscription (p. 31), “ The taskmaster says to his labourers, ‘ The stick is in my hand, be not idle.’” The Nile mud had to be dug, carried in baskets, kneaded with water, moulded, dried, carried to the site, and built into the walls. Numbers 11:5 warns us that, for slaves, “ the Hebrews were on the whole well treated” (M‘ Neile).

Exodus 5:8 . tale: i.e. set amount. To “ tell” used to mean to “ count” ( Genesis 15:5 *).

Exodus 5:9 . Read (with LXX, Sam., Pesh.) “ that they may attend to it (their work), and not attend to lying words.”

Exodus 5:14 . task: in this verse should be “ prescribed portion.”

Exodus 5:16. Read (with LXX, Pesh.) “ and thou shalt sin against thy people.” The Heb. is corrupt, and the EV is false to the facts.

Exodus 5:20 to Exodus 6:1 . Moses, reproached for the failure of the appeal to Pharaoh, casts himself on God, and wins promise of effectual aid. Dawn follows the darkest hour.

Exodus 5:21 . “ Ye have brought us into ill odour with Pharaoh” would be a more modern rendering.

Exodus 5:22 . evil entreated: i.e. ill-treated.

Verses 2-12

Exodus 6:2-12 . P’ s Second Account of Moses’ s Call.— Till the method of Hebrew compilers was understood, it was natural to take this as the account of a second call. It is now seen to be the account of his call in the latest source, as written by priestly annalists after the Exile. Moreover, it was this passage which put in the hands of the French physician, Jean Astruc (p. 122), the clue to the criticism of the Mosaic books. For the writer who says that God was known to the patriarchs as “ God Almighty” (El Shaddai, Genesis 17:1 *, Joel 1:15 *), but was not known to them by His name Yahweh, could not be the same who declared ( Genesis 4:26) that man began to call upon the name of Yahweh in the days of Seth, and who used it freely in connexion with all the patriarchs. Observe that the analysis which began with distinguishing the Divine Name has revealed so many fresh clues as to become virtually independent of its original starting-point (p. 123). The great idea of a Divine covenant, a Testament conditional upon moral and spiritual terms, is dominant in P (Genesis 17*). It involved remembrance ( Exodus 6:5), redemption ( Exodus 6:6, cf. Isaiah 41:14, etc.), fellowship ( Exodus 6:7 a) , and the assurance of faith ( Exodus 6:7 b) , as well as the settlement in Canaan ( Exodus 6:8). The summary of the Divine programme closes with “ I am Yahweh,” the “ Everlasting Yea” which sounds out again and again, like the deep boom of a church bell, in the Law of Holiness ( Leviticus 18:5, etc.). But the people ( Exodus 6:9) “ hearkened not for impatience” ( mg.) . Here the priestly abridgment disregards the first expressions of popular conviction in Exodus 4:31 J, and Moses ( Exodus 6:12) quails before the harder task of making Pharaoh hear (contrast Exodus 4:10 J).

Exodus 6:8 . The covenant had been confirmed by an oath m Genesis 24:7—” I lifted up my hand” ( cf. Genesis 14:22, Numbers 14:30), the hand being raised to heaven by one taking an oath.

Exodus 6:12 . uncircumcised lips: as though needing a surgical operation for dumbness.

Verses 13-30

Exodus 6:13-30 . An insertion by the editor, who in Exodus 6:13 anticipates the mention of Aaron ( Exodus 7:1 f.), and in Exodus 6:14-27 compresses a wider genealogy to give the pedigree of Moses and Aaron, and in Exodus 6:28-30 recapitulates Exodus 6:1-12. From Genesis 5 onwards genealogies, original and inserted, abound in P, reflecting the post-exilic interest in pedigrees (Ch., Ezr., Neh.). A Canaanite strain is indicated for Simeon ( Exodus 6:15), as well as for Judah (Genesis 38), by the mention of Shaul’ s Canaanite mother. The post-exilic tradition found sanction for the current distribution of duties about the Temple among certain hereditary guilds in tracing back their descent to Levi ( Exodus 6:16-19), and their appointment to Moses ( Numbers 3:11 to Numbers 4:49 *), their duties being revised by David ( 1 Chronicles 23:6-24 *). For the writer’ s purpose Kohath’ s descendants are important. To his first son, Amram, “ Aaron and Moses” ( Numbers 26:59; Numbers 26:1 MS, Sam., LXX, Syr. here add “ and Miriam their sister” ) were born ( Exodus 6:20), Jochebed his wife ( Exodus 6:22 *) being his aunt. As Leviticus 18:12 forbids such a marriage, we may infer that an old tradition is here preserved.

Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Exodus 6". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/exodus-6.html. 1919.
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