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The Jewish Study Bible Contextualizes the Hebrew Bible with accompanying scholarly text on Jewish traditions and history.

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Commentary on Exodus

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Commentary spanning earlier chapters

1.1–2.22 :

Prologue. These chs set the stage for the exodus by telling how the family of Jacob grew into a people in Egypt and fell into bondage (as God foretold in Gen. 15.13 ), and how Moses, the human agent of their deliverance, arose. It is composed of a combination of early narrative sources (JE) and P material.

2.1–22 :

The origins of Moses.

2.1–10 :

Moses' infancy. The story of Moses' birth and Pharaoh's attempted infanticide may be a relatively late addition to the tradition; the following narratives about the exodus show no awareness of them (e.g., 2.23 and 6.6 are aware only of bondage), and they are never mentioned elsewhere in the Bible. This story has parallels in birth legends of other heroes, some of which pre‐date the Bible, such as Sargon of Akkad who in infancy was born in secret and exposed in a river in a reed basket sealed with pitch, but was found and later became king. In an Egyptian story, the god Horus was endangered as an infant by the god Seth and was hidden (but not abandoned) in a papyrus thicket of the Nile delta by his mother Isis to save him. In the biblical story, Moses is exposed as a ruse.

1 :

Moses' parents, nameless here, are identified in a different source ( 6.16–20 ; P) as Amram and his aunt Jochebed.

2–4 :

The woman conceived and bore a son: As the subsequent narrative indicates, this was not the couple's first child. This episode knows of an older sister, (v. 4ff.), and other passages recognize an older brother, Aaron (e.g., 4.14; 6.20; 7.7 ). All the actions to thwart Pharaoh's decree are taken by women—Moses' mother and sister, the midwives ( 1.17 ), and Pharaoh's daughter ( 2.5–10 ); the Hebrew men have been reduced to inactivity.

4 :

His sister, elsewhere named Miriam ( 15.20; Num. 26.59 ).

7–9 :

This sister contrives to return Moses temporarily to his mother's care by means of a wetnursing agreement (such agreements are known from ancient Near Eastern documents).

10 :

Moses is an Egyptian name meaning “gave birth”; it is a shortened form of names compounded with names of deities, such as Thut‐mose and Rameses, mean‐ ing “Thut/Ra gave birth (to this child).” Here, in a popular etymology typical of biblical and other ancient Near Eastern literature, it is interpreted as if it were derived from Heb “m‐sh‐h,” “draw out” (cf. Isa. 63.11 ).

2.11–22 :

Moses' young adulthood. In the first two episodes (vv. 11–12, 13–14 ) Moses plays the royal role of defending his people and adjudicating among them (cf. 1 Sam. 8.5, 20 ), and in the third he defends foreigners and strangers (vv. 16–17 ), showing that his passion for justice makes no distinctions between nations.

11 :

An Egyptian, presumably one of the taskmasters ( 1.11 ).

15 :

Midian, a region in northwest Arabia.

18 :

Their father Reuel, Moses' father‐in‐law is called Jethro in 3.1 (Jether in 4.18 ) and elsewhere, and Hobab son of Reuel in Num. 10.29 and Judg. 4.11 . These different names reflect different ancient traditions.

19 :

An Egyptian, so Moses must have seemed because of his clothing and speech.

22 :

Since Moses was raised as an Egyptian, it is only in Midian that he begins to feel the sense of alienness that his kinsfolk have experienced in Egypt.

2.23–25 :

Prelude to redemption.Pharaoh's death clears the way for Moses' return to Egypt ( 4.19 ). The Israelites' outcry rises up to God, who takes note of it and remembers His commitments to their ancestors. His covenant refers both to God's promise of nationhood and territory in Canaan and the promise to free Israel after a long period of servitude ( 12.1–3; 15.13–20; 17.1–14; Gen. 26.2–5; 46.3–4 ). God's resolve to carry out these commitments is put into effect immediately, starting with His appearance to Moses in the burning bush ( 3.7–10 ).

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