Exodus 3:14 again (long)

Trevor & Julie Peterson 06peterson at cua.edu
Sat Jul 21 16:47:40 EDT 2001


TP:  Well, since I was directly cited, I suppose I ought to say something
here :-)  Good to hear from you on this topic again, Stoney.  I might not be
completely convinced, but you certainly give a lot to think about.

SB:  those nonce-names are compounds which combine a "context-driven"
epithet with either _YHWH_ or _)L_  real names which are used independently
and repeatedly.  _)HYH_, by contrast, is . . . never used before this
occurrence, which suggests that it couldn't satisfy Moses' "contextually
relevant" need for a recognized divine name which might provide him
credentials.

TP:  Ah, but if the point is to provide the etiology of YHWH, this specific
form doesn't need to occur elsewhere.  The name to look for elsewhere is the
derived name.  That would apply before and after.

SB:  At any rate, the argument for continuous instruction seem to me to
founder on the interposed _WY)MR (WD )LHYM )L-MSH_.  A quick survey of
Exodus shows no other instance where _WY)MR_ interrupts a continuous speech
by the Deity.

TP:  Maybe it's just me, but I find it interesting that WaYYoo)MeR (OD
(where (OD goes specifically with the verb of speech, not as part of the
quote that follows) never seems to appear elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible.  (I
didn't look very hard--maybe I just missed it somewhere.)  How can we say
anything conclusive about what the construction says or does not say about
the continuity of the passage.  And even if it does show a break or a pause,
what is that break or pause meant to indicate?

SB:  In fairness, I must mention a mediaeval reading cited by Propp which
accommodates both the break and the continuity: that the Deity, having
Himself defined His name in the first person, interrupts himself to provide
a third-person equivalent which Moses and the Israelites may use with
propriety.  This is very sensible reading, however, doesn't contribute much
to the dramatic context.

TP:  But who says that everything has to contribute *much* to the dramatic
context (or anything, for that matter)?  Do you think the original
composition was for pure entertainment value, or did it serve a function?
(For that matter, I suppose we don't have to isolate that question to the
original composition--we need only concern ourselves with the composition
from whatever point it began to include this particular exchange.)  If the
point of this bit of dialogue (or at least part of the point) is to explain
where YHWH's name comes from, I don't see how we can rule out a possible
meaning on solely dramatic grounds.

SB:  but His phrasing betrays his pique: not just _)HYH (MT_ but _KY )HYH
(MT_.   I don't see any translation for that particle  quotation marks,
"certainly," or "because"  which so materially modifies the sense of the
clause it introduces that its inclusion must be regarded as obligatory.
It's a stylistic choice by the author, and the strict syntactic parallel
with Moses' question cannot be accidental: _KY )LK_ . . . _WKY )WCY_ . . .
_KY  )HYH_.  There has to be at least a whiff of this meaning:

        "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring out
the sons of Israel from Egypt?"
        " that I should be with you?" . . .

TP:  While I agree that I don't see any reason the KI would be obligatory, I
don't know that it has to be as you suggest.  There is a fairly
well-attested use to give solemn declaration, and I think that use fits as
well as anything in this context.  It's less likely, but I suppose the
adversative might even be considered here.  In any event, I found this
paragraph a bit awkward to follow.  I think I figured out most of it, but
could you clarify what you think is going on with this question?  Is it
"(who are you) that I should be with you?" as in, God suggesting that Moses
doesn't deserve God's presence any more than these other things?

Trevor




More information about the b-hebrew mailing list