Exodus 3:19 reads:
וַאֲנִ֣י יָדַ֔עְתִּי כִּ֠י לֹֽא־יִתֵּ֥ן אֶתְכֶ֛ם מֶ֥לֶךְ מִצְרַ֖יִם לַהֲלֹ֑ךְ וְלֹ֖א בְּיָ֥ד חֲזָקָֽה׃ (WLC)
But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. (ESV)
I’m interested in the last part:
וְלֹ֖א בְּיָ֥ד חֲזָקָֽה
literally: and not in|with|by a mighty hand.
ESV: unless compelled by a mighty hand.
Most other translations also seem to have arrived at something like unless or except (also LXX: ἐὰν μὴ = except), and they generally expand it with some statement of “compulsion”, which seems to fill out the metaphor with acceptable English. The latter I understand, but I’m not accustomed to the waw conjunction meaning unless. Hebrew has other ways to say that.
- Is this a valid translation of the MT as written, or are the translations that use ‘unless’ or ‘except’ emending the Hebrew according to the LXX (or whatever)?
(The meaning seems pretty obvious if indeed ‘unless’ is the best interpretation, but if anybody has a way to make sense of it otherwise, I’m interested.)