2They had journeyedA from Rephidim,B entered the wildernessC of Sinai, and campedD in the wilderness; IsraelE camped there in front of the mountain.
Notes on verse 2
A “journeyed” = nasa. This is properly pulling up as when one pulls up tent pegs or stakes. This would imply striking tents in order to start a journey. So this could be bring, pullout, set out, journey, or cause to go away. B “Rephidim” = rephidim. 5x in OT. From raphad (to spread, make a bed, refresh, comfort). This is Rephidim, meaning supports. C “wilderness” = midbar. From dabar (to speak, command, declare). This is mouth or speech. It can also be desert or wilderness. Additionally, it can be used for a pasture to which one drives cattle. D “camped” = chanah. This is decline, bending down, or living in tents. It can be camping to create a home or camping as a part of battle. E “Israel” = yisrael. From sarah (to persist, exert oneself, contend, persevere, wrestle, prevail) + el (God or god). This is God strives or one who strives with God; new name for Jacob and for his offspring. This refers to the people and to the land.
3Then MosesF went up to God;G the LordH calledI to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the houseJ of Jacob,K and tell the Israelites:L
Notes on verse 3
F “Moses” = mosheh. From mashah (to pull out in a literal or figurative sense, to draw out) OR from Egyptian mes or mesu (child, son i.e. child of…). This is Moses – the one drawn out from the water, which is to say, rescued. If derived from the Egyptian, his name would share a root with Rameses and Thutmose. G “God” = Elohim. H “Lord” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place. I “called” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth. J “house” = bayit. Probably from banah (to build, make, set up, obtain children; to build literally or figuratively). This is house, court, family, palace, temple. K “Jacob” = yaaqob. From the same as aqeb (heel, hind part, hoof, rear guard of an army, one who lies in wait, usurper). This is Isaac’s son and his descendants. The name means heel-catcher or supplanter. L “Israelites” = ben + yisrael. Literally “children of Israel.”
4You have seen what I did to the Egyptians,M and how I boreN you on eagles’O wingsP and brought you to myself.
Notes on verse 4
M “Egyptians” = mitsri. From the same as mitsrayim (Egypt); perhaps from matsor (besieged or fortified place, bulwark, entrenchment; something hemmed in; a siege or distress or fastness); from tsur (to confine, besiege, to cramp). This is Egyptian. N “bore” = nasa. Different from “journeyed” in v2. This to lift in a broad sense, literally and figuratively. So it could be to carry, take, or arise. It could also be bring forth, advance, accept. O “eagles’” = nesher. This is an eagle or vulture – some kind of large bird of prey. Its root may mean lacerate. P “wings” = kanaph. This is wing, edge, corner, extremity. It can also be a flap or fold of a garment or the pinnacle of a building.
5Now therefore, if you obeyQ my voiceR and keepS my covenant,T you shall be my treasured possessionU out of all the peoples.V Indeed, the whole earth is mine,
Notes on verse 5
Q “obey” = shama + shama. This is to hear, call, consent, or consider. It implies listening intelligently, giving attention, and, because of these two factors, obedience and action are often implied. The word is repeated twice – the first time as an Infinitive Absolute. The Infinitive Absolute serves to emphasize the sentiment of the word. It is rather like Foghorn Leghorn’s speech pattern, “I said, I said.” R “voice” = qol. This is a sound, used often for human voices. Also used when God speaks or angels, animals or instruments. It can be a cry or a noise, thunder or earthquakes and so on. S “keep” = shamar. This is to keep, watch, or preserve. It means to guard something or to protect it as a thorny hedge protects something. T “covenant” = berit. Perhaps from barah (to eat, choose, make clear); perhaps from bar (grain, wheat); from bara (to select, purify, cleanse, test, brighten, polish). This is a compact, covenant, alliance, treaty, or league. U “treasured possession” = segullah. 8x in OT. Root may mean to shut up – as treasure or wealth that is kept. Could be property, jewel, or any possession. V “peoples” = am. From amam (to darken, hide, associate; creating shadows by huddling together). This is people or nation. It can be used specifically for a tribe, collectively of troops or armies, or figuratively to refer to a flock of animals.
6 but you shall be for me a priestly kingdomW and a holyX nation.Y These are the wordsZ that you shall speak to the Israelites.”
Notes on verse 6
W “kingdom” = mamlakah. From the same as melek (king, royal). This is kingdom, dominion, sovereignty, rule. It can also refer to the realm. X “holy” = qadosh. From qodesh (set apart and so sacred; God is different from us and so God is holy/set apart; things we dedicate to God’s service are set apart for God and so they, too, are holy); related to qadash (set apart, consecrated, hallowed, sanctified; something or someone set apart for a holy purpose or use – ceremonially or morally clean). This is sacred or holy in a ritual or moral sense. As a noun, it refers to a holy one (like a saint or angel), a holy place (the sanctuary), or God (the Holy One). Y “nation” = goy. From the same root as gevah (the back, person, or body); related to gev (among); related to gaah (to rise up). This is nation or people. Often used to refer to Gentiles or foreign nations. It can also be used figuratively for a group of animals. This is where the Yiddish “goy” comes from. Z “words” = dabar. Related to “wilderness” in v2. From dabar (see note C above). This is speech, a word, a matter, an affair, charge, command, message, promise, purpose, report, request. It is a word, which implies things that are spoken of in a wide sense.
7So Moses came, summoned the eldersAA of the people, and set before themBB all these words that the Lord had commandedCC him.
8 The people all answered as one: “Everything that the Lord has spoken we will do.”
Moses reportedDD the words of the people to the Lord.
Notes on verses 7-8
AA “elders” = zaqen. From the same as zaqan (beard or chin – the beard represents old age). This is old, aged, or elder. BB “before them” = paneh. Literally “before their faces.” CC “commanded” = tsavah. This is to charge, command, order, appoint, or enjoin. This is the root that the Hebrew word for “commandment” comes from (mitsvah). DD “reported” = shub. To turn back, return, turn away – literally or figuratively. Doesn’t necessarily imply going back to where you started from. This is also the root verb for the Hebrew word for repentance “teshubah.”
Image credit: “Aquila Heliaca Flying in Iran” by Abolfazl Fallahzadeh