I realise that this is very improbable but I thought that I might as well ask it.

Exodus 3:12: He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” (ESV)

Would the original Hebrew (or Septuagint) allow for the text to be interpreted as:

He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you that I have sent you. When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” (ESV modified)

(I removed a comma and replaced the colon with a full stop)

I.e. The sign for Moses that he had been sent by God was, that God would be with him (in Egypt), and not that they would later serve God on the mountain.

The other Bible translations which I have looked at are similar to the ESV text above, so I would not be surprised to find out that the answer is No. Just wish to know since I am having difficulty interpreting this text. Thanks!

  • 1
    I ham having trouble telling the difference between the your version #1 (ESV) and version #2 (ESV modified).
    – Dottard
    Jul 25 '20 at 7:24
  • @Dottard edited it to make it more clear.
    – David
    Jul 25 '20 at 8:43

I am assuming the ambiguity is the problem.

There is an ambiguity (in the ESV translation) between a sign being sent 'for' (for the possession of) Moses that Moses may be re-assured of his being sent to Israel : and a sign being sent 'for' (on behalf of) Moses that Israel may see the sign and realise that God has sent Moses to them.

Removing the comma does not remove the ambiguity. It does (slightly) shift the emphasis but not enough for the context to be made certain.

Robert Young removes the ambiguity by making it plain that the sign is sent 'to' Moses to confirm with him that God has sent him :

this is to thee the sign that I have sent thee: [YLT]

The KJV also removes the ambiguity :

and this shall be a token unto thee [KJV]

Biblehub also shows לְּךָ֣ , leka, as being 'to' you.

  • I have edited my question to remove the ambiguity. Your answer clears up some other things which I was thinking about, so thanks! If you could also answer the modified question that would be great.
    – David
    Jul 25 '20 at 8:47
  • 1
    @David Replacing the colon with a full stop does not, in any way, alter the meaning. I think you need to edit your question and explain what you are trying to do grammatically. I have answered the question in that the ESV mistranslates the preposition and introduces an ambiguity.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 25 '20 at 13:05
  • If you look at my last edit, you'll see that I also added in an extra line as an explanation. Hopefully it'll be helpful in understanding the question (and explaining my grammar modifications). I'll also edit it again to make the explanation more clear.
    – David
    Jul 25 '20 at 15:43

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