Exodus 19:1-19

Exodus 19:1-19
Pentecost Vigil – A Women’s Lectionary


On the thirdI new moonII after the IsraelitesIII had goneIV out of the landV of Egypt,VI

Notes on verse 1a

I “third” = shelishi. From shalosh (three, fork, triad). This is third or one-third of something.
II “new moon” = chodesh. From chadash (to renew, repair). This refers to a new moon. It can also mean monthly.
III “Israelites” = ben + Yisrael. Literally, “children of Israel.” Ben is from banah (to build or obtain children). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense. Yisrael is from sarah (to persist, exert oneself, contend, persevere, wrestle, prevail) + el (God or god). This is Israel, meaning 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.
IV “gone” = yatsa. This is to go or come out, bring forth, appear. It is to go out in a literal or figurative sense.
V “land” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
VI “Egypt” = Mitsrayim. 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 Egypt.

on that very day,VII they cameVIII into the wildernessIX of Sinai.X 

Notes on verse 1b

VII “day” = yom. Root may mean being hot. This is the day in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean birth, age, daylight, continually or other references to time.
VIII “came” = bo. This is to enter, come in, advance, fulfill, bring offerings, enter to worship, attack. It can also have a sexual connotation.
IX “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.
X “Sinai” = Sinay. Probably from the same as Sin (Sin, a city meaning “clay” or “bush);{perhaps from asam (to gather, store) OR from seneh (thorn bush) OR related to Aramaic siyn (a god called Sin) OR perhaps Hebrew siyn (related to mud or clay)}. This is Sinai – a place whose name may mean “bush of the Lord” or “muddy.” See https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Sinai.html

They had journeyedXI from Rephidim,XII enteredXIII the wilderness of Sinai, and campedXIV in the wilderness; Israel camped there in frontXV of the mountain.XVI 

Notes on verse 2

XI “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.
XII “Rephidim” = Rephidim. 5x in OT. From raphad (to spread, make a bed, refresh, comfort). This is Rephidim, meaning supports.
XIII “entered” = bo. Same as “came” in v1. See note VIII above.
XIV “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.
XV “front” = neged. From nagad (to declare, make conspicuous, stand in front, manifest, predict, explain). This is in front of, opposite to. It can refer to a counterpart or partner, one corresponding to or in the sight of.
XVI “mountain” = har. From harar (hill or mountain). This is mountain, hill, hilly region.

Then MosesXVII went upXVIII to God;XIX the LordXX calledXXI to him from the mountain,

Notes on verse 3a

XVII “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.
XVIII “went up” = alah. This is to go up, approach, ascend, be high, be a priority; to arise in a literal or figurative sense.
XIX “God” = Elohim. Related to “Israelite” in v1. See note III above.
XX “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.
XXI “called” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth.

saying, “Thus you shall say to the houseXXII of Jacob,XXIII and tellXXIV the Israelites: You have seenXXV what I didXXVI to the Egyptians,XXVII

Notes on verses 3b-4a

XXII “house” = bayit. Related to “Israelites” in v1. Probably from banah (see note III above). This is house, court, family, palace, temple.
XXIII “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.
XXIV “tell” = nagad. Related to “front” in v2. See note XV above.
XXV “seen” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
XXVI “did” = asah. This is to make, do, act, appoint, become in many senses.
XXVII “Egyptians” = Mitsri. Related to “Egypt” in v1. From the same as Mitsrayim (see note VI above). This is Egyptian.

and how I boreXXVIII you on eagles’XXIX wingsXXX and broughtXXXI you to myself. 

Notes on verse 4b

XXVIII “bore” = nasa. This is 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.
XXIX “eagles’” = nesher. This is an eagle or vulture – some kind of large bird of prey. Its root may mean lacerate.
XXX “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.
XXXI “brought” = bo. Same as “came” in v1. See note VIII above.

Now therefore, if you obeyXXXII my voiceXXXIII and keepXXXIV my covenant,XXXV

Notes on verse 5a

XXXII “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.”
XXXIII “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.
XXXIV “keep” = shamar. This is to keep, watch, or preserve. It means to guard something or to protect it as a thorny hedge protects something.
XXXV “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.

you shall beXXXVI my treasured possessionXXXVII out of allXXXVIII the peoples.XXXIX Indeed, the wholeXL earthXLI is mine,

Notes on verse 5b

XXXVI “be” = hayah. Related to “Lord” in v3. See note XX above.
XXXVII “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.
XXXVIII “all” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
XXXIX “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.
XL “whole” = kol. Same as “all” in v5. See note XXXVIII above.
XLI “earth” = erets. Same as “land” in v1. See note V above.


but you shall be for me a priestlyXLII kingdomXLIII and a holyXLIV nation.XLV These are the wordsXLVI that you shall speakXLVII to the Israelites.”

Notes on verse 6

XLII “priestly” = kohen. This is literally the one who officiates i.e. the priest. This is where the Jewish last name “Cohen” (and its variants) comes from.
XLIII “kingdom” = mamlakah. From the same as melek (king, royal). This is kingdom, dominion, sovereignty, rule. It can also refer to the realm.
XLIV “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).
XLV “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.
XLVI “words” = dabar. Related to “wilderness” in v1. From dabar (see note IX 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.
XLVII “speak” = dabar. Related to “wilderness” in v1 & “words” in v6. See note IX above.

So Moses came, summonedXLVIII the eldersXLIX of the people, and setL beforeLI them all these words that the Lord had commandedLII him. 

Notes on verse 7

XLVIII “summoned” = qara. Same as “called” in v3. See note XXI above.
XLIX “elders” = zaqen. From the same as zaqan (beard or chin – the beard represents old age). This is old, aged, or elder.
L “set” = sum. This is to put or place in a literal or figurative sense. It can be appoint, care, change, make, and may other things.
LI “before” = paneh. From panah (to turn, face, appear). This is face in a literal or figurative sense. It could be face, presence, anger, respect. It can also be used of God to indicate divine favor or presence.
LII “commanded” = tsavah. This is to charge, command, order, appoint, or enjoin. This is the root that the Hebrew word for “commandment” comes from (mitsvah).

The people all answeredLIII as one:LIV “EverythingLV that the Lord has spoken we will do.” Moses reportedLVI the words of the people to the Lord. 

Notes on verse 8

LIII “answered” = anah. This is answer, respond, announce, sing, shout, or testify. It means to pay attention, which implies responding and, by extension, starting to talk. Used in a specific sense for singing, shouting, testifying, etc.
LIV “one” = yachad. From yachad (to join, be united). This is a unit, both, altogether, unitedness, alike.
LV “everything” = kol. Same as “all” in v5. See note XXXVIII above.
LVI “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.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “LVIII am going to come to you in a denseLVIII cloud,LIX in order thatLX the people may hearLXI when I speak with you and so trustLXII you ever after.”LXIII

Notes on verse 9a

LVII {untranslated} = hinneh. From hen (lo! Behold! If, though; an expression of surprise). This is to draw attention, show suddenness or surprise, or to emphasize the importance of the coming statement. See! Lo! Behold!
LVIII “dense” = ab. Perhaps from uwb (to be a think or dark cloud, a cloud covering). This is a dark or thick cloud that can envelope in darkness. It can also refer to a copse or to clay.
LIX “cloud” = anan. May be from anan (cover, cloud over; figuratively, acting in a secret way, practicing magic or soothsaying). This is a cloud as something that covers the sky.
LX “in order that” = abur. From abar (to pass over, pass through, or pass by; cross over or to alienate; used for transitions). This is for, so that, on account of. Properly, it means crossed.
LXI “hear” = shama. Same as “obey” in v5. See note XXXII above.
LXII “trust” = aman. This is to believe, endure, fulfill, confirm, support, be faithful. It is to put one’s trust in, be steadfast. Figuratively, this is to be firm, steadfast, or faithful, trusting, believing, being permanent, morally solid. This is where the word “amen” comes from.
LXIII “ever after” = olam. This is a long scope of time whether in the past (antiquity, ancient time) or in the future (eternal, everlasting).

When Moses had told the words of the people to the Lord, 10 the Lord said to Moses: “GoLXIV to the people and consecrateLXV them todayLXVI and tomorrow.LXVII

Notes on verses 9b-10a

LXIV “go” = halak. This is go, come, walk. It is walk literally and figuratively and includes people and animals. It can be used figuratively for one’s moral life – how we walk according to God’s way or against it. It can also refer to the walk of life as in the course one’s life takes, the choices we make, etc.
LXV “consecrate” = qadash. Related to “holy” in v6. See note XLIV above.
LXVI “today” = yom. Same as “day” in v1. See note VII above.
LXVII “tomorrow” = machar. Perhaps from achar (to be behind, delay, be late, procrastinate, continue). This is tomorrow or later. It is some kind of deferred time, so it could also mean indefinitely or refer to the time to come.

Have them washLXVIII their clothesLXIX 11 and prepareLXX for the third day, because on the third day the Lord will come downLXXI upon MountLXXII Sinai in the sightLXXIII of all the people. 

Notes on verses 10b-11

LXVIII “wash” = kabas. This is to trample – washing by stomping feet. It can be fulling in a literal or figurative sense.
LXIX “clothes” = simlah. Perhaps from semel (image, figure, likeness). This is mantle, clothes, wrapper.
LXX “prepare” = hayah + kun. Hayah is the same as “be” in v5. See note XXXVI above. Kun is properly, in a perpendicular position. So, it is set up in a literal sense – establish, fix, fasten, prepare. In a figurative sense, it is certainty, to be firm, faithfulness, render sure or prosperous.
LXXI “come down” = yarad. This is to go down, descend; going down in a literal or figurative sense. It can be going to the shore or a boundary, bringing down an enemy.
LXXII “Mount” = har. Same as “mountain” in v2. See note XVI above.
LXXIII “sight” = ayin. This is eye in a literal or figurative sense so eye, appearance, favor, or a fountain (the eye of the landscape).

12 You shall set limitsLXXIV for the people all around,LXXV saying, ‘Be carefulLXXVI not to go up the mountain or to touchLXXVII the edgeLXXVIII of it.

Notes on verse 12a

LXXIV “set limits” = gabal. 5x in OT. Perhaps from gebul (boundary, limit, coast, space; properly, a line that is twisted, which implies a boundary and, by extension, the boundaries of a territory or other enclosed space). This is to border, set a boundary. Its most basic meaning may refer to a line that is twisted and used as a boundary line.
LXXV “all around” = sabib. From sabab (turning around, going around; to surround, cast, walk, fetch; to revolve or border in a literal or figurative sense). This is a circuit or a circle. It could refer to an environment, one’s neighbors, or a circular path round about.
LXXVI “be careful” = shamar. Same as “keep” in v5. See note XXXIV above.
LXXVII “touch” = naga. This is touch, reach, arrive, come near, strike. This is touching for any reason including sexual or violent.
LXXVIII “edge” = qatseh. From qatsah (to cut off, cut short; figuratively, to destroy). This is end, brink, border, edge, frontier. It can refer to that which is within set boundaries.

AnyLXXIX who touch the mountain shall be put to death.LXXX 13 No handLXXXI shall touch them, but they shall be stonedLXXXII or shotLXXXIII with arrows; 

Notes on verses 12b-13a

LXXIX “any” = kol. Same as “all” in v5. See note XXXVIII above.
LXXX “put to death” = mut + mut. This is to die in a literal or figurative sense. It can also refer to being a dead body. 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.”
LXXXI “hand” = yad. This is hand, ability, power. Hand in a literal sense, but also what one can do or the means by which one does it.
LXXXII “be stoned” = saqal + saqal. Properly, this means being weighty. However, it is used for stoning someone (to death) or for removing stones. 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.”
LXXXIII “shot” = yarah + yarah. This is to throw, shoot, be stunned. It is to flow as water so figuratively to instruct or teach. This is the same root that “Jerusalem” and “Torah” draw from. 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.”

whether animalLXXXIV or human being,LXXXV they shall not live.’LXXXVI When the trumpetLXXXVII sounds a long blast,LXXXVIII they may go up on the mountain.” 

14 So Moses went down from the mountain to the people. He consecrated the people, and they washed their clothes. 15 And he said to the people, “Prepare for the thirdLXXXIX day; do not goXC near a woman.”XCI

Notes on verses 13b-15

LXXXIV “animal” = behemah. This is animal or cattle. It is often used of large quadrupeds.
LXXXV “human being” = ish. Perhaps from enosh (human, humankind, mortal); from anash (to be weak, sick, or frail). This is man, husband, another, or humankind.
LXXXVI “live” = chayah. This is to live or keep alive in a literal or figurative sense. So, it an be revive, nourish, or save.
LXXXVII “trumpet” = yobel. From yabal (to bring, carry, flow, lead forth). This is a horn – whether a ram’s horn or a silver trumpet. It can also refer to the jubilee or the beginning of a festival.
LXXXVIII “sounds a long blast” = mashak. This is to draw, drag, or pull. It can mean sow, march, remove, draw along, continue, extend, or prolong.
LXXXIX “third” = shalosh. Related to “third” in v1. See note I above.
XC “go” = nagash. This is to draw, bring, or come near. It is approaching for any reason – as an attack on an enemy, in order to worship, to make an argument. It can also be used as a euphemism for sex.
XCI “woman” = ishshah. Related to “human being” in v13. From ish (see note LXXXV above). This is woman, wife, or female.

16 XCIIOn the morningXCIII of theXCIV third day there was thunderXCV and lightning,XCVI

Notes on verse 16a

XCII {untranslated} = hayah. Same as “be” in v5. See note XXXVI above.
XCIII “morning” = boqer. From baqar (to seek, plow, break forth, admire, care for). This refers to the break of day. So it is dawn, early, morning, or morrow.
XCIV {untranslated} = hayah. Same as “be” in v5. See note XXXVI above.
XCV “thunder” = qol. Same as “voice” in v5. See note XXXIII above.
XCVI “lightening” = baraq. From baraq (to flash, a flash of lightning). This is lightning. Figuratively, it could be a gleaming or glittering. Concretely, it could be a flashing sword.

as well as a thickXCVII cloud on the mountain, and a blastXCVIII of a trumpetXCIX

Notes on verse 16b

XCVII “thick” = kabed. From kabad (to be heavy, weighty, burdensome). This is heavy, grievous, sore. It can also be weighty in the sense of gravitas. The word for “glory” in Hebrew comes from this root (kabod).
XCVIII “blast” = qol. Same as “voice” in v5. See note XXXIII above.
XCIX “trumpet” = shophar. From shaphar (being beautiful or lovely). This is a ram’s horn, trumpet, or cornet. A shofar is still blown at Jewish festivals such as Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish new year celebration).

soC loudCI that all the people who were in the campCII trembled.CIII 

Notes on verse 16c

C “so” = meod. Perhaps from the same as uwd (firebrand, a poker). This is very, greatly, exceedingly. It can also mean vehemence, force, abundance.
CI “loud” = chazaq. From chazaq (to strengthen, seize, be courageous, repair, bind, heal, conquer, harden). This is strong, hard, powerful, loud, bold, violent, impudent. It is usually strong in a negative sense.
CII “camp” = machaneh. Related to “camped” in v2. From chanah (see note XIV above). This is an encampment, whether of people traveling together or soldiers. So, it can be a camp band, or company as well as an army of soldiers. Also can be used of other groups like animals, angels or stars.
CIII “trembled” = charad. This is trembling, being afraid, or being terrified. It can also refer to moving quickly due to anxiety.

17 Moses broughtCIV the people out of the camp to meetCV God. They took their standCVI at the footCVII of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was wrappedCVIII in smoke,CIX because the Lord had descendedCX upon it in fire;CXI

Notes on verses 17-18a

CIV “brought” = yatsa. Same as “gone” in v1. See note IV above.
CV “meet” = qirah. From the same as qara (to happen, meet, bring about). This is any kind of encounter, whether peaceful, hostile, or incidental. It can also mean help or seek.
CVI “took their stand” = yatsab. This is to set oneself, take a stand, remain, continue, to station or set something in place.
CVII “foot” = tachti. 19x in OT. From tachat (underneath, below, the bottom, instead of). This is beneath, the depths, foot of a mountain, a pit, the womb.
CVIII “wrapped” = kol + paneh. Kol is the same as “all” in v5. See note XXXVIII above. Paneh is the same as “before” in v7. See note LI above.
CIX “smoke” = ashan. 6x in OT. From ashan (smoke, vapor, dust, or anger). This is to smoke or burn in a literal or figurative sense; to be angry.
CX “descended” = yarad. Same as “come down” in v11. See note LXXI above.
CXI “fire” = esh. This is fire, burning, flaming, hot. It is fire in a literal or figurative sense.

the smokeCXII went up like the smokeCXIII of a kiln,CXIV while the whole mountain shookCXV violently.CXVI  19 CXVIIAs the blast of the trumpetCXVIII grewCXIX

Notes on verses 18b-19a

CXII “smoke” = ashan. Related to “smoke” in v18. See note CIX above.
CXIII “smoke” = ashan. Same as “smoke” in v18. See note CXII above.
CXIV “kiln” = kibshan. 4x in OT. From kabash (to subdue, tread down, trample, disregard, violate, assault, or conquer). This is a kiln or furnace – especially one used to smelt metals.
CXV “shook” = charad. Same as “trembled” in v16. See note CIII above.
CXVI “violently” = meod. Same as “so” in v16. See note C above.
CXVII {untranslated} = hayah. Same as “be” in v5. See note XXXVI above.
CXVIII “trumpet” = shophar. Same as “trumpet” in v16. See note XCIX above.
CXIX “grew” = halak. Same as “go” in v10. See note LXIV above.

louder and louder,CXX, CXXI Moses would speak and God would answer him in thunder. 

Notes on verse 19b

CXX “louder and louder” = chazeq. Related to “loud” in v16. 2x in OT. From chazaq (see note CI above). This is louder, powerful.
CXXI {untranslated} = meod. Same as “so” in v16. See note C above.

Image credit: “Moses’s Mountain” by Mohammed Moussa, 2013.

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