Exodus 1-15 - Helmut Utzschneider - ebook

Exodus 1-15 ebook

Helmut Utzschneider

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On the one hand, the commentary interprets the final form of the traditional Hebrew text "synchronically" by means of form criticism and modern literary methods. On the other hand, it "diachronically" reconstructs the predecessors of the final form, from its origins in an exodus composition that opposes political domination to the text's final form as a dramatic narrative about the transfer of sovereignty from the Pharaoh to the God of Israel. Concluding syntheses examine the relationship between these two interpretive approaches while adding reflections on traditional and contemporary concerns.

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International Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament (IECOT)

 

Edited by

Walter Dietrich, David M. Carr,

Adele Berlin, Erhard Blum, Irmtraud Fischer,Shimon Gesundheit, Walter Groß, Gary Knoppers,Bernard M. Levinson, Ed Noort, Helmut Utzschneider andBeate Ego (Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical books)

 

 

Cover:

Top: Panel from a four-part relief on the “Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III” (859–824 BCE) depicting the Israelite king Jehu (845–817 BCE; 2 Kings 9f) paying obeisance to the Assyrian “King of Kings.” The vassal has thrown himself to the ground in front of his overlord. Royal servants are standing behind the Assyrian king whereas Assyrian officers are standing behind Jehu. The remaining picture panels portray thirteen Israelite tribute bearers carrying heavy and precious gifts. Photo © Z.Radovan/BibleLandPictures.com

 

Bottom left: One of ten reliefs on the bronze doors that constitute the eastern portal (the so-called “Gates of Paradise”) of the Baptistery of St. John of Florence, created 1424–1452 by Lorenzo Ghiberti (c. 1378–1455). Detail from the picture “Adam and Eve”; in the center is the creation of Eve: “And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.” (Gen 2:22) Photograph by George Reader

 

Bottom right: Detail of the Menorah in front of the Knesset in Jerusalem, created by Benno Elkan (1877–1960): Ezra reads the Law of Moses to the assembled nation (Neh 8). The bronze Menorah was created in London in 1956 and in the same year was given by the British as a gift to the State of Israel. A total of 29 reliefs portray scenes from the Hebrew bible and the history of the Jewish people.

Translated from German by Philip Sumpter

 

 

All rights reserved

© 2012 W. Kohlhammer GmbH Stuttgart

Production:

W. Kohlhammer Druckerei GmbH + Co. KG, Stuttgart

Printed in Germany

 

Print:

ISBN 978-3-17-022571-8

 

E-Book:

pdf: ISBN 978-3-17-025336-0

epub: ISBN 978-3-17-025337-7

This commentary interprets the first part of the book of Exodus, through 15:21. It features two approaches. On the one hand, the commentary interprets the final form of the traditional Hebrew text 'synchronically' by means of form criticism and modern literary methods. On the other hand, it 'diachronically' reconstructs the predecessors of the final form, from its origins in an exodus composition that opposes political domination to the text's final form as a dramatic narrative about the transfer of sovereignty from the Pharaoh to the God of Israel. Concluding syntheses examine the relationship between these two interpretive approaches while adding reflections on traditional and contemporary concerns.

 

Dr. Helmut Utzschneider is professor emeritus of Old Testament at the Augustana Hochschule Neuendettelsau. Dr. Wolfgang Oswald is associate professor of Old Testament at the University of Tübingen.

Contents

CoverContentsEditors’ ForwardAuthor’s PrefaceIntroduction: The Exodus Narrative in Synchronic and Diachronic PerspectiveA. The Biblical Exodus Narrative – A Synchronic Analysis1. “Synchronic Interpretation” as Literary-Aesthetic Interpretation2. The Exodus Narrative in the Old Testament Narrative Traditions (Gen – 2 Kgs)3. The Exodus Story as a Unified Narrative3.1. The Narrative Beginning3.2. The Narrative Conclusion3.3. The System of Keywords and the “Spherical Integrity” of the Exodus Narrative4. Structure and Plot of the Biblical Exodus Narrative4.1. Basic Terms: Plot, Type, Scene, Episode, Narrative Phase 4.2. Scenes and Episodes4.3. Further Textual Forms4.4. The Phases of the Exodus Narrative4.5. The Biblical Exodus Narrative as an “Action Novel”5. Themes and Intentions of the Biblical Exodus Narrative5.1. Theonomy: The Exodus Narrative as a Political-Theological Didactic Narrative 5.2. Divine Service as a Sign of Freedom – the Exodus Narrative as the Cult Legend of the Passover-Matzot festival5.3. The Exodus Narrative as “Tehillah Narrative”B. The Literary History of the Book of Exodus1. Principles and Goals of the Commentary in Diachronic Perspective2. The Reconstructed Compositions 2.1. The Older Exodus Narrative2.2. The Exodus-Mountain of God Narrative (EM Narrative)2.3. The Deuteronomistic History (DtrH)2.4. The Priestly Composition (P Composition)2.5. The Torah CompositionSynthesisPrologue: Exod 1:1–7: In Egypt the Israelites Become a Great PeopleNotes on the Text and TranslationSynchronic AnalysisDiachronic AnalysisSynthesisFirst Narrative Phase: Exod 1:8 – 2:22: The Egyptians Oppress the Israelites with Forced Labor; the Childhood and Youth of MosesIntroduction to the First Narrative PhaseEpisode 1: Exod 1:8–14: The Egyptians Oppress Israel the People, Yet They Cannot Crush Their StrengthNotes on the Text and TranslationSynchronic AnalysisDiachronic AnalysisPithom and RamesesThe Origin of the Exodus TraditionIsrael in Egypt – Israel under EgyptSynthesisEpisode 2: Exod 1:15–22: The King of Egypt Vainly Incites Midwives to Murder Newborn Hebrew Boys; He Commands his People to Do SoNotes on the Text and TranslationSynchronic AnalysisDiachronic AnalysisSynthesisEpisode 3: Exod 2:1–10: Moses is Born as a Hebrew Child, Abandoned, and Adopted by Pharaoh’s DaughterNotes on the Text and Translation Synchronic AnalysisDiachronic AnalysisSynthesis and History of InterpretationEpisode 4: Exod 2:11–15 (Penultimate Sentence): The Young Man Moses Takes the Side of a Hebrew Forced Laborer, Kills an Egyptian Overseer, and Has to Flee from EgyptNotes on the Text and TranslationSynchronic AnalysisDiachronic AnalysisEpisode 5: Exod 2:15 (final clause)–22: The Adult Moses Meets the Daughters of the Priest of Midian and Receives One of Them as His WifeNotes on the Text and TranslationSynchronic AnalysisDiachronic AnalysisSynthesisSecond Narrative Phase: Exod 2:23–6:1: From the Mountain of God to EgyptIntroduction to the Synchronic InterpretationEpisode 1: Exod 2:23–25: God Becomes Aware of the Suffering of the IsraelitesNotes on the Text and TranslationSynchronic AnalysisDiachronic AnalysisEpisode 2: Exod 3:1–6: God Appears to Moses in the Thorn BushNotes on the Text and TranslationSynchronic AnalysisDiachronic AnalysisMountain of God – Horeb – Sinai – ZionThe God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of JacobSynthesisEpisode 3: Exod 3:7 – 4:17: Speeches and Dialogues: God Sends Moses to EgyptNotes on the Text and TranslationSynchronic AnalysisDiachronic AnalysisThe List of Foreign NationsGold and SilverSynthesisEpisode 4: Exod 4:18–31: The Journey to EgyptNotes on the Text and TranslationSynchronic AnalysisDiachronic AnalysisMoses’ Wife and SonsSynthesisEpisode 5: Exod 5:1–6:1: The Liberation FailsNotes on the Text and TranslationSynchronic AnalysisDiachronic AnalysisSynthesisThird Narrative Phase: Exod 6:2–7:13: Yhwh Associates the Liberation of the Israelites with His Name and Resends Moses and Aaron to PharaohIntroductionEpisode 1: Exod 6:2–8: Yhwh’s Speech: Yhwh Associates the Liberation of Israel with His NameNotes on the Text and TranslationSynchronic AnalysisDiachronic AnalysisEpisode 2: Narrative and Dialogue: Exod 6:9–12: The Israelites Do Not Listen to God’s Promise, Yhwh Sends Moses to PharaohNotes on the Text and TranslationSynchronic AnalysisTextual Notes and TranslationSynchronic AnalysisEpisode 4: Exod 7:1–7: Speech/Narrative: The Egyptians Are to Experience Yhwh’s NameNotes on the Text and TranslationSynchronic AnalysisDiachronic AnalysisMoses and AaronEpisode 5: Narrative: Exod 7:8–13: Moses and Aaron Prove themselves to Pharaoh by Performing a Miracle with the StaffNotes on the Text and TranslationSynchronic AnalysisDiachronic AnalysisSynthesisFourth Narrative Phase: Exod 7:14–11:10: The Plagues NarrativeIntroduction to the Synchronic Interpretation of the Plagues Narrative Boundaries and Plot of the Plagues NarrativeThe Structure of the Plagues NarrativeThe PlaguesThe HardeningThe Dynamic of LiberationIntroduction to the Diachronic Interpretation of the Plagues NarrativeFirst Cycle: Blood – Frogs – GnatsEpisode 1: Exod 7:14–24: Blood, Death of FishNotes on the Text and TranslationSynchronic AnalysisDiachronic AnalysisEpisode 2: Exod 7:25–8:10: FrogsNotes on the Text and TranslationSynchronic AnalysisDiachronic AnalysisEpisode 3: Exod 8:12–15: GnatsNotes on the Text and TranslationSynchronic AnalysisDiachronic AnalysisSecond Cycle: Exod 8:16–9:12: Vermin – Pestilence of Livestock – BoilsEpisode 4: Exod 8:16–28: VerminNotes on the Text and TranslationSynchronic AnalysisDiachronic AnalyseEpisode 5: Exod 9:1–7: Pestilence of LivestockNotes on the Text and TranslationSynchronic AnalysisDiachronic AnalysisEpisode 6: Exod 9:8–12: BoilsNotes on the Text and TranslationSynchronic AnalysisDiachronic AnalysisThird Cycle: Hail – Locusts – DarknessEpisode 7: Exod 9:13–35: HailNotes on the Text and TranslationSynchronic AnalysisDiachronic AnalysisEpisode 8: Exod 10:1–20: LocustsNotes on the Text and TranslationSynchronic AnalysisDiachronic AnalysisEpisode 9: Exod 10:21–29: DarknessNotes on the Text and TranslationSynchronic AnalysisDiachronic AnalysisEpisode 10 and Conclusion of the Plagues Narrative: Exod 11:1–10: Announcement of the Killing of the Egyptian FirstbornNotes on the Text and TranslationSynchronic AnalysisDiachronic AnalysisSynthesis and History of InterpretationIntroduction to the Synchronic InterpretationThe Twofold Temporal HorizonStatute, Narrative, Commentary: Text Types and OutlineIntroduction to the Diachronic InterpretationEpisode 1: Exod 12:1–20: God’s Speech before the Exodus Concerning the Regulation of Passover and MatzotNotes on the Text and TranslationSynchronic Analysis12:2 Calendar12:3–13 Passover Statutes 12:14 Memorial12:15–20 Matzot StatutesEpisode 2: 12:21–42: The Narrative of the Departure of the Israelites from EgyptNotes on the Text and TranslationSynchronic Analysis12:21–23 Moses’ Speech to the Elders: Protection and Passover12:24–27a as Commentary: Passover as Future “Service”12:29–39 The Day of Liberation and the Unleavened Bread12:40–42 Concluding RemarksEpisode 3: Exod 12:43–13:2: Divine Speeches after the Exodus Concerning Passover and the Dedication of the FirstbornNotes on the Text and TranslationSynchronic Analysis12:43–51 Passover Meal13:1–2 Divine Speech Concerning the FirstbornEpisode 4: Exod 13:3–16: Moses’ Speech to the People Concerning Matzot and the Dedication of the Firstborn in the LandNotes on the Text and TranslationSynchronic AnalysisDiachronic AnalysisThe Older Exodus Narrative and the EM NarrativePassover, Matzot and the Firstborn in the DtrHPassover and Matzot in the P CompositionPassover and Matzot in the Torah CompositionSynthesisSixth Narrative Phase: Exod 13:17–15:21: The Miracle of the SeaIntroduction to the Synchronic Interpretation of the Sixth Narrative Phase The Sea-miracle Narrative as an (Anti-)War NarrativeA Mythical Divine War?The Liminality of the Sea-miracle NarrativeIntroduction to the Diachronic Interpretation of the Sixth Narrative PhaseEpisode 1: Exod 13:17–22: The Israelites on Their JourneyNotes on the Text and TranslationSynchronic AnalysisDiachronic AnalysisThe Diachronic Transformation of the Location of the Sea MiracleEpisode 2: Exod 14:1–14: God Lets the Israelites Turn Around and Causes the Egyptians to Pursue Them (Day)Notes on the Text and TranslationSynchronic AnalysisDiachronic AnalysisEpisode 3: Exod 14:15–25: Egypt and the Israelites by and in the Sea (Night)Notes on the Text and TranslationSynchronic AnalysisDiachronic AnalysisEpisode 4: Exod 14:26–31: The Egyptian Army Drowns in the Sea – Yhwh Saves Israel in the MorningNotes on the Text and TranslationSynchronic AnalysisDiachronic AnalysisEpisode 5: Exod 15:1–21: The Morning Praise of the IsraelitesNotes on the Text and TranslationSynchronic AnalysisDiachronic AnalysisThe Song of MosesThe Miriam SceneSynthesis and Concluding ObservationsBibliographyText Editions and Translations Cited in Abbreviated FormReference Works Cited in Abbreviated FormSecondary LiteratureIndexesIndex of Hebrew WordsIndex of Key WordsIndex of CitationsIndex of Other Sources

Editors’ Forward

The International Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament (IECOT) offers a multi-perspectival interpretation of the books of the Old Testament to a broad, international audience of scholars, laypeople and pastors. Biblical commentaries too often reflect the fragmented character of contemporary biblical scholarship, where different geographical or methodological sub-groups of scholars pursue specific methodologies and/or theories with little engagement of alternative approaches. This series, published in English and German editions, brings together editors and authors from North America, Europe, and Israel with multiple exegetical perspectives.

From the outset the goal has been to publish a series that was “international, ecumenical and contemporary.” The international character is reflected in the composition of an editorial board with members from six countries and commentators representing a yet broader diversity of scholarly contexts.

The ecumenical dimension is reflected in at least two ways. First, both the editorial board and the list of authors includes scholars with a variety of religious perspectives, both Christian and Jewish. Second, the commentary series not only includes volumes on books in the Jewish Tanach/Protestant Old Testament, but also other books recognized as canonical parts of the Old Testament by diverse Christian confessions (thus including the Deuterocanonical Old Testament books).

When it comes to “contemporary,” one central distinguishing feature of this series is its attempt to bring together two broad families of perspectives in analysis of biblical books, perspectives often described as “synchronic” and “diachronic” and all too often understood as incompatible with each other. Historically, diachronic studies arose in Europe, while some of the better known early synchronic studies originated in North America and Israel. Nevertheless, historical studies have continued to be pursued around the world, and focused synchronic work has been done in an ever greater variety of settings. Building on these developments, we aim in this series to bring synchronic and diachronic methods into closer alignment, allowing these approaches to work in a complementary and mutually-informative rather than antagonistic manner.

Since these terms are used in varying ways within biblical studies, it makes sense to specify how they are understood in this series. Within IECOT we understand “synchronic” to embrace a variety of types of study of a biblical text in one given stage of its development, particularly its final stage(s) of development in existing manuscripts. “Synchronic” studies embrace non-historical narratological, reader-response and other approaches along with historically-informed exegesis of a particular stage of a biblical text. In contrast, we understand “diachronic” to embrace the full variety of modes of study of a biblical text over time.

This diachronic analysis may include use of manuscript evidence (where available) to identify documented pre-stages of a biblical text, judicious use of clues within the biblical text to reconstruct its formation over time, and also an examination of the ways in which a biblical text may be in dialogue with earlier biblical (and non-biblical) motifs, traditions, themes, etc. In other words, diachronic study focuses on what might be termed a “depth dimension” of a given text – how a text (and its parts) has journeyed over time up to its present form, making the text part of a broader history of traditions, motifs and/or prior compositions. Synchronic analysis focuses on a particular moment (or moments) of that journey, with a particular focus on the final, canonized form (or forms) of the text. Together they represent, in our view, complementary ways of building a textual interpretation.

Of course, each biblical book is different, and each author or team of authors has different ideas of how to incorporate these perspectives into the commentary. The authors will present their ideas in the introduction to each volume. In addition, each author or team of authors will highlight specific contemporary methodological and hermeneutical perspectives – e.g. gender-critical, liberation-theological, reception-historical, social-historical – appropriate to their own strengths and to the biblical book being interpreted. The result, we hope and expect, will be a series of volumes that display a range of ways that various methodologies and discourses can be integrated into the interpretation of the diverse books of the Old Testament.

 

Fall 2012

The Editors

Authors’ Preface

The undersigned have been constantly aware of the honor of being permitted to write one of the first two “pilot volumes” of the series Internationaler Exegetischer Kommentar zum Alten Testament/International Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament. Over the years of our collaborative work we have become increasingly aware of the challenges that such a project brings with it. The Editors’ Forward informs the reader about the goals and principles of this undertaking. Our own specific interpretation of these goals and principles as they relate to the interpretation of the book of Exodus can be found in the introduction to this volume. Above all it remains for us to express our gratitude here for all the support that we have received while working on this project.

It would have been impossible to complete this commentary in the brief period of six years if we had not received such generous material support from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. Between 2009 and 2012, the DFG financed Wolfgang Oswald’s work by providing him with a temporary position at the University of Tübingen. This support also enabled Helmut Utzschneider to take a semester’s leave. This semester was then extended by a further free semester, taken in advance, to an entire year of research due to the kind cooperation of the Lutheran Church in Bavaria. In the meantime, Jutta Krispenz filled his position at the Augustana-Hochschule.

In addition to this, the material assistance provided by the DFG helped support the “Colloquium on the Theory of Exegesis” that was held in the Old Testament department of the Augustana-Hochschule during the years 2008–2012. This colloquium was exclusively dedicated to texts and themes from the exodus narrative. We were able to invite many colleagues who are also involved in interpreting the book of Exodus to this “exodus academy.” We would like to express our particular gratitude for the contributions of Rainer Albertz, Christoph Berner, Erhard Blum, Georg Fischer, Shimon Gesundheit, Thomas Krüger, Dominik Markl, and Frank Polak.

We have also received much encouragement and inspiration from the editors of IECOT. In particular, we will remember with great fondness two intensive weeks in Jerusalem, 2011, where we were able to discuss large swathes of our manuscript with Shimon Gesundheit, the volume editor. The discussions took place in the Faculty Club of the Hebrew University and the library of the Church of the Redeemer during a block seminar that was part of the “Studium in Israel” program.

In the final stages of our work we received generous support from various quarters. Our colleague Stefan Seiler carefully reviewed the translation – we naturally bear responsibility for any mistakes that remain. No less our thanks go to Philip Sumpter for the sensitive translation and especially to David Carr, the American IECOT chief editor, and to Ulrike Guthrie (IECOT work site in New York) for the careful redaction, copy-editing and proofreading of the English edition. Our student colleagues from the Augustana-Hochschule Michael Rummel and Bernhard Schröder, along with the reliable Mrs Andrea Siebert, helped us with general corrections. Last but not least, Walter Dietrich, the chief editor, and his colleagues in Bern, Sara Kipfer and Heidi Stucki, accepted the manuscript. Jürgen Schneider and Florian Specker of Kohlhammer Publishing House were our constant and understanding contact persons. To all these people, we express our warmest gratitude.

 

Neuendettelsau/Tubingen in the summer of 2014

Wolfgang Oswald and Helmut Utzschneider

Introduction: The Exodus Narrative in Synchronic and Diachronic Perspective

The IECOT commentary series has set itself the goal of combining, to the greatest possible degree, diachronic and synchronic perspectives in its exegesis of the Old Testament. The starting point and reference point for both perspectives is the traditional text that has been transmitted in the Biblia Hebraica. We have decided to call chapters 1–15 the subject matter of this commentary, the “biblical exodus narrative.” In this commentary, separate authors have treated the two interpretive perspectives – Helmut Utzschneider the synchronic perspective and Wolfgang Oswald the diachronic.

In this commentary, the two different interpretive perspectives will initially be treated separately in the sub-sections “synchrony” and “diachrony,” both part of the section called “text analysis.” Their common basis will be the translation, which is provided with notes. In the section entitled “synthesis,” moments of convergence and divergence between the two perspectives will be related to each other. The “dialogue” between the two interpretive perspectives aims to deepen theological understanding and clarify the degree to which the respective hermeneutical presuppositions bring about different interpretations.

The following introductions each have their own research goals and scope of analysis. The introduction from a synchronic perspective offers a broad view of the exodus narrative (Exod 1:1–15:21), in accordance with the scope of this commentary. The introduction from a diachronic perspective, on the other hand, treats the entire book of Exodus. This is because the stages that underlie the final form of the text consist of compositions that are not limited to the first part of the book of Exodus. In some cases, the decisive evidence for the presence of a layer of literary extension is found in Exod 16–40; as such, a comprehensive view of the text is required in order to successfully sketch the literary history of the book.

A. The Biblical Exodus Narrative – A Synchronic Analysis

1. “Synchronic Interpretation” as Literary-Aesthetic Interpretation

The term “synchronic” is firmly anchored yet only vaguely defined in biblical scholarship. Though we cannot repeat the debate here,1 it is nevertheless necessary to give a brief account of the way this commentary understands the term.

Synchronic Interpretation in Exodus Commentaries

In addition to this, it is helpful to cast a glance next at the significance of synchronic interpretation for more recent commentaries on the book of Exodus.2 Synchronic interpretation has now firmly established itself in the discipline; nevertheless, the understanding of this perspective is variously accentuated and often is defined in contrast to a diachronic perspective (cf. section B.1. of this introduction for the diachronically oriented commentaries).

Of these commentaries, the first to be mentioned is Das Buch Exodus by the Jewish scholar and Rabbi Benno Jacob. This comprehensive book was written in German between 1934 and 1944. Because its author had to flee Nazi Germany it has only been accessible in a restored German edition since 1997. The commentator orients himself towards the extant Hebrew text, which he analyzes in light of an intimate knowledge of the classical Jewish interpretive literature and with great linguistic precision. Benno Jacob’s primary concern is to work out the “religious thoughts and intentions” of the Torah, “according to which the narrative has been shaped in the way it has and not in some other way.”3 This point of view is combined with a healthy scepticism towards historically analytical biblical scholarship that has its source in Christian Protestantism. In particular, Jacob vehemently rejects the theory of literary sources, which at the time of his writing was almost the only dominant theory.

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