Lectionary Year A
September 29, 2002
Exodus 17:1-7

Initial Acquaintance/Rough Translation


This is a comparison of The Jerusalem Bible (Jer), the New English Bible (NEB), and the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV).
1Community sons of IsraelCommunityof Israelwhole congregation of the Israelites
2they grumbled against Mosesand a dispute arose between them and Mosesthe people quarreled with Moses
why do you grumble against me?why do you dispute with me?why do you quarrel with me?
put Yahweh to the testchallenge the Lordtest the Lord
3but tormented by thirstthere the people became so thirstybut the people thirsted there
complained against Moses/TD>raised an outcry against Mosescomplained against Moses
4Moses appealed to YahwehMoses cried to the LordSo Moses cried out to the Lord
a little more and they will stone me!in a moment they will be stoning me!they are almost ready to stone me.
6I shall be standing before you ther on the rock, at HorebYou will find me waiting for you there, by a rock in HorebI will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb
you must strike the rock, and water will flow from itstrike the rock; water will pour out of itstrike the rock, and water will come out of it
7because of the grumbling of the sons of Israelbecause the Israelites had disputed with himbecasue the Israelites quarreled
and because they put Yahweh to the test by saying, and challenged the Lord with their questionand tested the Lord, saying
is Yahweh with us or not?Is the Lord in our midst or not?Is the Lord among us or not?


The more significant redactions of several manuscripts would change the qal imperative plural verb in verse 2 to a singular. The printed form is a singular common form, that suffices to convey the intended sense of the subjects of the imperative verb, surely.
And, at the end of that verse (2) several more manuscripts, including Septuagent, Syriac and Targum would add a waw conjunctive to the final question in that verse. English language would appreciate adding the conjunction for emphasis sake.
In verse 3 it is suggested the pronoun possessing the people, their children and their cattle be suffixed plural rather than singular, evidently referring to Moses’ being concerned for only his self, his children and his cattle. For us corporationists, the change is advisable. Whether it was so originally, we know not.
In verse 5 Targum and Vulgate would change "your staff" to a verb form which means, “to reach”. Not likely. Then, in that same verse (5) the Pentateuchi textus hebraio-samaritanus wants the verb to have a t prefixed onto it to make it a Qal perfect rather than a Qal imperfect. Probably, since the longer would more than likely been the original.
In verse 6, Targum reads “sons of Israel” for “elders of Israel”. I think not; God told Moses in verse 5 to take with him to the rock some elders. Surely he obeyed or we would have been told.


1 And journeyed all the congregation of the sons of Israel from the wilderness of Sin they journeyed by stages according to the mouth of Yahweh and they encamped at Rephidim without water to drink the people. 2 Contended the people with Moses and they said, “Give to us water and we shall drink.” And said Moses to them, “Why do you contend with me? Why do you test Yahweh?” 3 But thirsted there the people for water and complained the people unto Moses and they said, “Why this departure from Egypt to kill me and my sons and my cattle of thirst?” 4 Cried Moses unto Yahweh saying, “What shall I do with this people while they will stone me?” 5 And Yahweh said unto Moses, “Go before me the people and take with you elders of Israel and your branch which you struck it the Nile take in your hand to have proceeded. 6 Behold I shall be standing before you there on the rock and you shall strike it and water shall gush out from it and shall drink the people from it and did so therefore Moses before the elders of Israel. 7 And he proclaimed the name of the place “Despair” and “Contention” on account of the struggle of the sons of Israel to test Yahweh and to say, “Is Yahweh among us or not?”

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