Home  |  Old Testament Studies  |  Exodus Table of Contents  |  Previous Section   |  Next Section  |

EXODUS 6

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
God Promises Action Israel's Deliverance Assured (5:22-6:13) Moses Complains to the Lord (5:22-6:1)
6:1 The Call of Moses and the Appointment of Aaron (6:2-7:7) God Calls Moses Another Account of the Call of Moses
6:2-9 6:2-9 6:2-9 6:2-9 6:2-9
6:10-13 6:10-13 6:10-13 6:10-12 6:10-13
6:13
The Heads of Israel The Family of Moses and Aaron The Family Record of Moses and Aaron The Genealogy of Moses and Aaron
6:14-27 6:14-19 6:14-25 6:14-19 6:14
6:15
6:16
6:17
6:18
6:19
6:20-25 6:20-22 6:20
6:21
6:22
6:23-25 6:23
6:24
6:25
6:26-27 6:26-27 6:26-27 6:26-27
The Lord's Command to Moses and Aaron (6:28-7:7) The Narrative of Moses' Call Continued (6:28-7:6)
6:28-30 6:28-7:7 6:28-7:7 6:28-29 6:28-30
6:30

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Bible Interpretation Seminar")


FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

  1. First paragraph
  2. Second paragraph
  3. Third paragraph
  4. Etc.

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

  1. In some ways, Exodus 6 seems to repeat many of the things previously recorded.

  2. There are several theories why.
    1. They are from two different authors. This chapter is from a priestly source. The UBS Handbook (p. 129) says "scholars have noticed in this material significant differences in style, vocabulary, and theology that reflect a priestly point of view." See SPECIAL TOPIC: PENTATEUCH SOURCE CRITICISM.
    2. There are a number of "doublets" in the OT. They may reflect streams of oral traditions. See John H. Walton and D. Brent Sandy, The Lost World of Scripture, which discusses ANE oral sources.
      Brevard Childs, in his commentary on Exodus (p. 112), asserts "the nature of the similarities, as well as the differences, appear to me, better explained by positing a common oral tradition with a long period of independent development."

  3. Genealogies were important for the Israelites, especially the family tree of the priests/Levites and Kings (i.e., Ruth).

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 6:1
1Then the Lord said to Moses, "Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for under compulsion he will let them go, and under compulsion he will drive them out of his land."

6:1 "for under compulsion he will let them go" Exodus 6:1 should go with Exodus 5. Literally, this is "with a strong hand," and is used twice. This is historically described in Exod. 12:33,39. There is some play on the strong VERB literally "drive them out" (BDB 176, KB 204, Piel IMPERFECT), for this had occurred to Moses earlier (i.e., he was a stranger/sojourner in a foreign land, cf. Exod. 2:22).

NASB  "under compulsion"
NKJV, Peshitta  "with a strong hand"
NRSV, NJB, LXX  "with a mighty hand"
JPSOA  "a greater might"
REB  "will be compelled"
The MT is reflected in the NKJV (cf. Exod. 3:19-20; 13:3). See SPECIAL TOPIC: HAND.

▣ "he will drive them out of the land" This is reflected in Exod. 12:31,33,39; 13:3.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 6:2-9
2God spoke further to Moses and said to him, "I am the Lord; 3and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, Lord, I did not make Myself known to them. 4I also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they sojourned. 5Furthermore I have heard the groaning of the sons of Israel, because the Egyptians are holding them in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant. 6Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, 'I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 7Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8I will bring you to the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession; I am the Lord.'" 9So Moses spoke thus to the sons of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses on account of their despondency and cruel bondage.

6:2 "I am the Lord" Here again is a play on the name, YHWH, and its etymological relationship to the Hebrew VERB, "to be" (cf. Exod. 6:6,7,8,29). It denotes the character of Israel's God (cf. Exod. 34:6). For "the name" see the extensive note at Exod. 3:14-16 and SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY, D.

6:3 "and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty" This verse states that the Patriarchal name for Deity was El Shaddai; see SPECIAL TOPIC: THE ALMIGHTY (SHADDAI). It is used often in the early parts of Genesis, but so too, is YHWH (cf. Gen. 2:4; 4:26).

▣ "but by My name, Lord, I did not make Myself known to them" This is somewhat unusual in light of the use of the name in Genesis 1-3 and the specific reference in Gen. 4:26. Possible explanations are:

  1. that the Hebrews sometimes used this name for God but did not understand its full significance
  2. a later writer wrote this covenant name back into earlier accounts (anacronism)
See SPECIAL TOPIC: "THE NAME" OF YHWH (OT).

6:4 "I also established My covenant with them" This refers to the repeated covenant beginning with Abraham in Genesis 12; 15; 17; 22 and his children. See SPECIAL TOPIC: COVENANT.

▣ "to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they sojourned" Canaan was a "gift" (cf. Exod. 6:8) to YHWH's covenant people. This, of course, refers specifically to the promises in Gen. 15:16-18 and the subsequent history of Isaac and Jacob.

6:5 "I have heard the groanings of the sons of Israel" This refers to Exod. 2:24; 3:6,7.

▣ "I have remembered My covenant" This refers to the prophetic fulfillment, not only of the freedom from Egyptian bondage, but also of the deliverance described in Gen. 15:16 (i.e., the conquest). It has often been thought that God unfairly drove out the Canaanites and allowed the Hebrews to take their place. However, when one looks at the big picture, when the Hebrews continued in the same sins as the Canaanites, they too, were taken out of the land (i.e., the Assyrian and Babylonian exiles). God said that the immediate judgment of Canaan was not complete, but it had to wait until the sins of the Amorites were full (cf. Gen. 15:16). God is no respecter of persons.

6:6 "Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel" Here we have three specific promises that YHWH made to Abraham and his descendants.

  1. I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, Exod. 6:6
  2. I will take you for My people, Exod. 6:7
  3. I will bring you to the land that I swore to your fathers, Exod. 6:8

▣ "redeem" This term is etymologically related to the concept of a near kinsman purchasing a relative back from debt or captivity (i.e., go'el). By using this VERB for God we see the personal, intimate agency upon which the OT understanding of God is based. See SPECIAL TOPIC: RANSOM/REDEEM.

▣ "with an outstretched arm" This is an anthropomorphic metaphor because God does not have a physical body, but it is a human analogy to show God's power (cf. Deut. 4:34; 5:15; 26:8). See SPECIAL TOPIC: GOD DESCRIBED AS HUMAN (anthropomorphic language).

▣ "with great judgments" This phrase is used in Exod. 7:4; 12:12; Num. 33:4. It refers to God's great acts of deliverance, which also provided the opportunity to reveal the helplessness of the Egyptian deities.

6:7 "Then I will take you for My people" This is covenant language (cf. Exod. 19:5-6; Lev. 26:12; Deut. 4:20; Jer. 7:23; 11:4).
This is a formulaic statement in the ANE for marriage (i.e., Hosea 1-3). Here, it denotes an intimate covenant which is characterized by familial terminology (i.e., Hos. 11:1-4). See SPECIAL TOPIC: FATHER.
The term "know" (cf. Exod. 6:3) was also used of marriage (cf. Gen. 4:1; see SPECIAL TOPIC: KNOW).

▣ "I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians" This phrase becomes the central statement of the relationship between God and Israel (cf. Exod. 7:5; 16:6; 29:46). The exodus was seen as the tremendous act of God on behalf of the Jewish people (cf. Exod. 20:2). See SPECIAL TOPIC: KNOW.

6:8 This reflects Gen. 12:1-3; 15:12-21.

▣ "land" The Abrahamic promise involved

  1. descendants
  2. a homeland
Canaan was "YHWH's land" (cf. Lev. 25:23). In a sense, all lands were YHWH's (cf. Exod. 19:5), but Canaan was the special place where "His name would dwell."

▣ "which I swore" This is literally "lifted My hand." It was an oath-taking gesture (cf. Gen. 14:22; Num. 14:30; Ezek. 20:5). It theologically points toward the unconditional promises of Gen. 15:12-21. Israel's deliverance from Egypt had a wider purpose (see SPECIAL TOPIC: YHWH'S ETERNAL REDEMPTIVE PLAN).

6:9 "but they did not listen to Moses on account of their despondency and cruel bondage" Discouragement (i.e., "shortness of spirit," cf. Pro. 14:29) is infectious. It happens to even the best of God's children (cf. 1 Kings 19-20).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 6:10-13
10Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 11"Go, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the sons of Israel go out of his land." 12But Moses spoke before the Lord, saying, "Behold, the sons of Israel have not listened to me; how then will Pharaoh listen to me, for I am unskilled in speech?" 13Then the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, and gave them a charge to the sons of Israel and to Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt.

6:11 This verse has

  1. two IMPERATIVES
    1. go - BDB 97, KB 112, Qal
    2. tell - BDB 180, KB 210, Piel
  2. JUSSIVE, "let the sons of Israel go out of his land" - BDB 1018, KB 1511, Piel IMPERFECT used in a JUSSIVE sense
No longer is Pharaoh to let them go for a short period (cf. Exod. 3:18; 5:1,3; 8:27), but for good (cf. Exod. 6:13; 7:2). The time for Oriental bargaining is over.

6:12 This verse could refer to

  1. Moses' first attempt to help his people in Exod. 2:11-15
  2. Moses' fear expressed in Exod. 4:1
  3. the people believed in Exod. 4:31 but not after Pharaoh's extra burden, i.e., Exod. 5:21, which discouraged Moses (Exod. 5:22-23)
  4. simply a doublet of the account in Exodus 3
  5. what is referred to in Exod. 6:9

▣ "for I am unskilled in speech" This is literally "uncircumsized of lips" (also Exod. 6:30). The Bible often used the concept of a part of the human body being uncircumsized to show relationships and rebellion (i.e., the uncircumsized heart or ear, cf. Deut. 10:16; 30:6; Jer. 4:4; 6:10). Even OT faith was meant to be a personal relationship, not just a series of rules (cf. Jer. 9:26). See SPECIAL TOPIC: BELIEVE, TRUST, FAITH, AND FAITHFULNESS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT .
Moses, like all humans, was a man of faith and doubt.

6:13 "gave them a charge" This VERB (BDB 845, KB 1010, Piel IMPERFECT with waw) denotes an authoritative command to deliver a message (cf. Exod. 25:22; Lev. 27:34; Esther 3:12; 8:9).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 6:14-27
14These are the heads of their fathers' households. The sons of Reuben, Israel's firstborn: Hanoch and Pallu, Hezron and Carmi; these are the families of Reuben. 15The sons of Simeon: Jemuel and Jamin and Ohad and Jachin and Zohar and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman; these are the families of Simeon. 16These are the names of the sons of Levi according to their generations: Gershon and Kohath and Merari; and the length of Levi's life was one hundred and thirty-seven years. 17The sons of Gershon: Libni and Shimei, according to their families. 18The sons of Kohath: Amram and Izhar and Hebron and Uzziel; and the length of Kohath's life was one hundred and thirty-three years. 19The sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi. These are the families of the Levites according to their generations. 20Amram married his father's sister Jochebed, and she bore him Aaron and Moses; and the length of Amram's life was one hundred and thirty-seven years. 21The sons of Izhar: Korah and Nepheg and Zichri. 22The sons of Uzziel: Mishael and Elzaphan and Sithri. 23Aaron married Elisheba, the daughter of Amminadab, the sister of Nahshon, and she bore him Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. 24The sons of Korah: Assir and Elkanah and Abiasaph; these are the families of the Korahites. 25Aaron's son Eleazar married one of the daughters of Putiel, and she bore him Phinehas. These are the heads of the fathers' households of the Levites according to their families. 26It was the same Aaron and Moses to whom the Lord said, "Bring out the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt according to their hosts." 27They were the ones who spoke to Pharaoh king of Egypt about bringing out the sons of Israel from Egypt; it was the same Moses and Aaron.

6:14-25 This genealogy seems to break into the context of the account until one realizes the extreme significance of genealogies in the Hebrew mindset (NIDOTTE, vol. 4, pp. 654-664). This was a way of introducing both Aaron and Moses (i.e., but particularly Aaron, the High Priest to be). It would also set the stage for some events that would happen in the lives of some of these men and women. This is only a partial listing but it begins with the first son of Jacob, Reuben, and the second son, Simeon. Then it moves to a detailed listing of the third son, Levi (which is the theological purpose of the list). It is only a selected list of descendants from Jacob's first three sons to Aaron's day.

6:14 "the heads" See SPECIAL TOPIC: HEAD.

6:16 "Merari" This term (BDB 601 I) and the term "Assir" (BDB 64) of Exod. 6:24 and "Phinehas" (BDB 810) in 6:25, are all Egyptian names. Also, the word "Putiel" (BDB 806) of 6:25 is half-Egyptian and half- Hebrew. This implies the intermarriage of this period.

▣ "one hundred thirty-seven years" There are three direct ancestors of Aaron whose length of life is given.

  1. Levi - 137 years, Exod. 6:16
  2. Kohath - 133 years, Exod. 6:18
  3. Amram - 137 years, Exod. 6:20
The length of their lives is very similar. Possibly it denoted a "full" life or a "blessed" life.

6:20 "Amram married his father's sister Jochebed" This is later forbidden in Lev. 18:12-13, but it shows the historicity of this account, that it was included here in the important genealogy of the Levites Moses and Aaron. The LXX changes this phrase to "the daughter of his father's brother."

6:21 "Korah" His story will be developed further in the rebellion of Korah (BDB 901) in Numbers 16:1ff.

6:22 Mishael (BDB 567) and Elzaphan (BDB 45) are mentioned in Lev. 10:4-5.

6:25 "Aaron's son Eleazar" The older two boys, Nadab and Abihu, lose their lives in Lev. 10:1-5. Eleazar (BDB 46) will function as Aaron's successor (cf. Num. 20:26-28).

▣ "Phinehas" His son, Eleazar, is used by YHWH to punish the people in Num. 25:1-13.

6:26-27 A later editor/scribe/presenter gives this concluding summary.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 6:28-30
28Now it came about on the day when the Lord spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt, 29that the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "I am the Lord; speak to Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I speak to you." 30But Moses said before the Lord, "Behold, I am unskilled in speech; how then will Pharaoh listen to me?"

6:28-30 Many have seen this as a duplicate of Exod. 3:10-13 or 6:10-13. However, it seems to be a reaffirmation and not a duplicate. If one is looking for duplicates so as to identify written sources, the mindset determines the text. See a new book on orality in the ANE by John H. Walton and D. Brent Sandy, The Lost World of Scripture.

6:28 Moses is YHWH's channel of revelation to Pharaoh. It is not his revelation but YHWH's. Moses is to pass it on just as he received it, all of it!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

  1. Is Exodus 6 a repeat of Exodus 3?
  2. Why is the term "YHWH" found in the early parts of Genesis if His people never called Him by that name (Gen. 6:3)?
  3. How does Exodus 6 reflect God's covenant promise to Abraham?
  4. Why does a genealogy break into the historical context of Exodus 6?

Home  |  Old Testament Studies  |  Exodus Table of Contents  |  Previous Section   |  Next Section  |