Brian W. Davidson

sharing things I enjoy

I’m struck tonight the wording of Israel’s complaint against Moses in Exodus 14:11. They just escaped Egypt and are encamped by the Red Sea when they see Pharaoh and his army coming over the hill.

They cry out against Moses,

הַמִבְּלִי אֵין־קְבָרִים בְּמִצְרַיִם לְקַחְתָּנוּ לָמוּת בַּמִּדְבָּר מַה־זֹּאת עָשִׂיתָ לָּנוּ לְהוֹצִיאָנוּ מִמִּצְרָיִם׃

Is it because there are no graves in Egypt to bury us in? Is the purpose for us to die in the wilderness? What is this that you have done to us, bringing us out of Egypt?

That wording jumps off the page because in my mind it echoes the voice of Yahweh in the Garden. When Yahweh confronts Eve, his first words are מַה־זֹּאת עָשִׂית, What is this that you have done?

Intentional? I don’t know. The same wording shows up in complaints several other times (Gen. 12:18; 26:10; 29:25; 42:28; Ex. 14:5; Judg. 2:2; 15:11; Jonah 1:10).

Nevertheless, hearing Israel’s complaint with an echo of God’s words in the garden adds some serious, albeit twisted, gravitas to the scene.