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Bible Speaks Today—OT
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Comment on Exodus 6:2-3
The past: a great revelation (6:2–4)

God told Moses that I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as [in the character of] God [El] [who is] Almighty [Shaddai] (3). The meaning of Shaddai is still unknown, although many suggestions have been made. If, however, we bypass dictionary discussions and look at the contexts in Genesis in which this great title occurs, we find that a satisfactory meaning emerges. El Shaddai is revealed there as the God who is sufficient for personal inadequacies, as when the childless Abram became Abraham the ‘father of many nations’ (Gen. 17:1); the God who is sufficient for our helplessness against overwhelming odds, as when Jacob, sending his sons into the power of Joseph, the capricious ruler of Egypt, commended them to El Shaddai (Gen. 43:14); the God who is sufficient for the unknown future, as when Jacob left Canaan for Egypt on the strength of promises that God would go with him and bring him back (Gen. 48:3); and the God of miraculous transformation, when Joseph, who suffered unjust imprisonment, as a slave without remission or appeal, became in one bound second in command under Pharaoh (Gen. 49:25). In its actual use in Genesis, therefore, El Shaddai is predominantly the God who is sufficient—for his peoples’ needs, for keeping his promises. When they are at their weakest, he is at his most potent.

Comment on Matthew 24:34:
The fall of Jerusalem

Jesus clearly foresees this terrible event as the anticipation in their lifetime of the end of all things (34). Verses 15–22 are particularly concerned with the fall of Jerusalem. It was a terrible siege, lasting nearly four years, and it involved unimaginable hardships. The city was hard to capture, and was defended with fanatical zeal. The Romans made a sustained attempt to starve its inhabitants into submission. Parents were reduced to cannibalism. There was indeed unparalleled affliction, as Jesus had predicted (21). In AD 70 the troops determined as a last resort to storm the city and the temple, and so they did. The temple, one of the greatest architectural masterpieces of antiquity, made of marble and faced with gold, was smashed to pieces. The city was reduced to rubble. The carnage and slaughter were terrible. More than a million Jews died in the operation, and Josephus, who was there, tells us that more than 97,000 Jews were taken captive. The Romans were so pleased and relieved at the satisfactory solution of the Jewish problem (as they thought) that they erected Titus’ Arch in the Forum at Rome to celebrate the victory.

Just as Antiochus Epiphanes had brought the abomination that causes desolation (15) into the temple in 168 BC when he sacrificed swine’s flesh on the altar and turned the rooms of the temple into brothels in a determined attempt to stamp out the Jewish faith, so history would repeat itself. Titus would desolate the holy site even more efficiently by razing it to the ground, and the reader would understand (15) how thoroughly Daniel’s prophecy had been fulfilled. That is the time to flee the city and make for the hill country of Judea (16). They should pray that their flight be not impeded by its taking place in winter storms or on the Sabbath day (20; the law allowed only a very short journey on the Sabbath; moreover, gates would be shut and provisions unobtainable). Pregnant women and mothers with young children would face particular traumas (19), as television pictures of refugees in Kosovo, Chechnya and Mozambique brought home to us. And the air would be thick with talk of messianic pretenders and their marvellous credentials (4–6, 23–26), and of wars and rumours of wars, with nation rising up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom (6–7). They must not be alarmed (6). They must not be deceived (23, 26). They must not be surprised: this must happen (6) before the longed-for return of the Son of Man.

All this came true. The years AD 68–70 saw the Roman world tottering on the edge of total ruin from internal wars and rumours of wars. After the death of Nero in AD 68, the next year or so saw no fewer than four contestants for the supreme office of emperor fighting it out. It was a period in which, so Roman writers tell us, people were widely expecting the end of the world. That is what was happening on the broad international front.

On the Jewish front, there were the siege and capture of Jerusalem, accompanied by false messiahs, horrors and devastation. But even this was not the end of the world, though many thought it would be. There is a link between this (the events of v. 2) and the end of the age (3), but it is not the link of straight chronological sequence. ‘The end is still to come’ (6) . . .

Expositor’s Bible Commentary-Revised (EBC-R)
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Comment on Exodus 6:2–3:
3-5 Once again God reminded Moses that he was the God who had promised the land of Canaan to the patriarchs and that he had also seen the affliction of his chosen people (vv.3-5). Moreover, whereas in the past the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, had known him in the character and in his capacity as El Shaddai (see Notes on the beth essentiae in be’el shadday ), the name that disclosed his power to impart life, to increase the goods of life, and to deal with all unrighteousness, now he would be known as Yahweh. The name El Shaddai appears six times in the patriarchal narrative: Genesis 17:1; 28:3; 35:11; 43:14; 48:3; and in part in 49:3. In Job it is used thirty times. Whether Shaddai reflects the Hebrew shd (“breast”) or the Ugaritic th dy (“mountain”) is not clear; hence we cannot say for certain whether El Shaddai is “God the Nourisher” or “God of the Mountain.” But it is certain that the name does reflect the might and power of God to work miracles. The LXX rendered El Shaddai in Job as ho pantokrator (“the All-Ruler” or “Almighty”; see Kaiser, Theology pp. 97-99, 101, 106).

Moses and Israel (and even the Egyptians later) would shortly know what “I am the LORD” means. This would not be the first instance of the use of that name, for already it had occurred some 162 times in Genesis, with 34 of those examples on the lips of speakers in Genesis. Significantly, men “began to call on the name of the LORD [Yahweh]“ as early as Genesis 4:26; and the place where he almost sacrificed Isaac, Abraham named “The LORD Will Provide [Yahweh-Yireh]“ (Gen 22:14). Similarly, the names Jochebed and Joshua are theophoric, i.e., have Yahweh elements in them. It is difficult to claim these all are later modernizations for the older name of God.

Yahweh is the God who would personally, dynamically, and faithfully be present to fulfill the covenant he had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The patriarchs had only the promises, not the things promised. The fullness of time had come when God was to be known in the capacity and character of his name Yahweh/Jehovah as he fulfilled what he had promised and did what he had decreed. These deeds may now be further enumerated and spelled out in the following seven promises of vv.6-8: “Therefore, say.”

Comment on Matthew 24:34:
34 “I tell you the truth” emphasizes the importance of what it introduces. “This generation” (see on 11:16; 12:41-42; 23:36; cf. 10:23; 16:28) can only with the greatest difficulty be made to mean anything other than the generation living when Jesus spoke. Even if “generation” by itself can have a slightly larger semantic range, to make “this generation” refer to all believers in every age, or the generation of believers alive when eschatological events start to happen, is highly artificial. Yet it does not follow that Jesus mistakenly thought the Parousia would occur within his hearers’ lifetime. If our interpretation of this chapter is right, all that v.34 demands is that the distress of vv.4-28, including Jerusalem’s fall, happen within the lifetime of the generation then living. This does not mean that the distress must end within that time but only that “all these things” must happen within it. Therefore v.34 sets a terminus a quo for the Parousia: it cannot happen till the events in vv.4-28 take place, all within a generation of A.D. 30. But there is no terminus ad quem to this distress other than the Parousia itself, and “only the Father” knows when it will happen (v.36).

Holman Bible Commentary
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Comment on Exodus 6:2–3:
6:1–8. God reassured Moses by reaffirming his promise that he would bring his people out of captivity and into the land of Canaan. Many hardships awaited Moses on this long journey to Canaan, and he needed to learn the strong consoling name of Yahweh was all he needed. Moses would need to lift up the hearts of thousands of travelers in the coming decades, and he would have to learn where to find encouragement in times of distress. He would also learn more and more about the God he now served. Part of this knowledge comes through knowing the names of God, which signified more than mere attributes but revealed something of the character of God.

But now the time of deliverance drew near. Now you will see, the Lord said to Moses, what he would do to Pharaoh. He would not only yield to the Lord’s command and let the people go but would drive them out himself. God further encouraged his prophet by pointing out his original covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He did not reveal himself as fully to them as he would to Moses.

Although God did reveal his covenant name to Abraham (Gen. 15:7), he was primarily known to them as a God of power and might. With Moses he would more fully disclose his name and character, as the self-existing faithful God who would bring rest to the tired people of his covenant. The patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob wandered through the land of Canaan as aliens, but Moses would lead the people to the brink of the land of permanent dwelling. The self-existing God of the covenant cared for his afflicted people and heard the groaning of the Israelites.

Comment on Matthew 24:34:
24:34-35. Jesus alerted his disciples to the importance of his next statement with I tell you the truth. He promised that this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.

Jesus underscored the faithfulness and reliability of his teaching (24:35). His words will stand even after heaven and earth … pass away. Jesus’ words are firmer than earth’s bedrock, more sound than the foundations of heaven (cf. Ps. 119:89-90; Isa. 40:6-8). Christ’s words are more certain than even the existence of the universe.

The disciples would put their lives repeatedly on the line. Jesus knew they needed strong assurance that his review of future history was accurate and that their hardship for his sake would be worth the cost.

JPS Torah Commentary
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Comment on Exodus 6:2–3:
2–3. Were this statement to mean that a previously unknown divine Name—YHVH—is now to be revealed for the first time, the effect of the “I am” formula would be vitiated, the credibility of a promise is undermined, not enhanced, if it is issued by one whose name is unfamiliar. Furthermore, the phrase “I am YHVH” appears scores of times in the Bible and is widespread in corresponding form in Northwest Semitic royal inscriptions, such as “I am Mesha,” “I am Shalmaneser,” “I am Esarhaddon.” It cannot, therefore, reflect the introduction of a new name. On the contrary, precisely because the bearer of the name is well known, and its mention evokes such emotions as awe, reverence, honor, and fear, its use as the source and sanction of a law or edict reinforces its authority and encourages compliance. In the present context the invocation of a hitherto unknown divine name would hardly serve to counteract the widespread demoralization— which is, after all, the very function of God’s declaration.

In light of these considerations, the meaning of this verse needs to be reexamined. In the ancient Near Eastern world names in general, and the name of a god in particular, possessed a dynamic quality and were expressive of character, or attributes, and potency. The names of gods were immediately identified with their nature, status, and function, so that to say, “I did not make myself known to them by My name YHVH,” is to state that the patriarchs did not experience the essential power associated with the name YHVH. The promises made to them belonged to the distant future. The present reiteration of those promises exclusively in the name of YHVH means that their fulfillment is imminent. This, indeed, is how Rashi, Rashbam, Bekhor Shor, and others construed verses 2–3.

Support for the understanding that “knowing the name of YHVH” means witnessing or being made to experience the display of divine might is found in several biblical passages. 4 The two most illuminating are Isaiah 52:6 and Jeremiah 16:21. The first reads: “Assuredly, My people shall learn [Heb. yeda’] My name, / Assuredly [they shall learn] on that day / That I, the One who promised, / Am now at hand.” The second passage states: “Assuredly, I will teach them [Heb. modi’am], / Once and for all I will teach them [Heb. ‘odi’em] / My power and My might. / And they shall learn [Heb. ve-yade’u] that My name is Lord [YHVH].”

El Shaddai The reference is to Genesis 17:1–8 and 35:11–12. Although this divine Name is usually translated “God Almighty,” there are no convincing traditions as to its meaning and little etymological justification for that particular rendering. With the advent of Moses, El Shaddai became obsolete; it is preserved only in poetic texts. See Excursus 4.

MacArthur NT Commentary
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Comment on Matthew 24:34:
Giving further application, Jesus said, Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. As explained in chapter 2 of this volume, this generation refers to the generation living during the end time. The signs of Matthew 24-25 will be experienced within one generation, the generation living when Christ returns.

This generation cannot refer to the disciples’ generation, as many interpreters have maintained. Some who hold that view believe Jesus simply made a human guess and was mistaken. “After all,” they argue, “didn’t Jesus say that ‘of that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone’?” (Mark 13:32). But that is a spurious argument. Jesus does not here specify the historical time of His coming but rather the events that will identify it. And it is one thing to recognize that it was in God’s sovereign plan for the Son not to have certain knowledge during His incarnation, so that He did not know the exact timetable and knew He did not know it. It is quite another thing to contend that He was capable of bad guesses and liable to propagating an idea He had no idea was wrong or questionable. If Jesus was wrong about the time of His coming, He could have been wrong about any or every other thing He taught. His temporary, divinely-imposed limitations during His time of humiliation in no way imply that what He taught may have been less than perfectly truthful or authoritative.

Some of those who believe Jesus was speaking of the disciples’ generation claim the terrible events He mentions here refer to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70. But as we have noted before, the events of Matthew 24 are much too universal and cataclysmic to represent the dreadful but geographically limited devastation of Jerusalem. That did not involve “famines and earthquakes” (Matt. 24:7), believers’ being “hated by all nations” (v. 9), false Christs and false prophets (vv. 5, 11), the preaching of the gospel to the whole world (v. 14), or the abomination of desolation (v. 15). Nor were the sun darkened, the moon extinguished, or the stars dislodged from their places (v. 29). Most important of all, Jesus certainly did not appear then. It is strange logic to argue that Jesus could accurately foretell the destruction of Jerusalem some forty years hence but be mistaken about His returning at that time. Or if, as some suggest, the teaching here was merely symbolic and allegorical, with the limited destruction of Jerusalem representing the vastly greater destruction of the end time, what event in A.D. 70 could possibly have symbolized Jesus’ return, which is the main subject of the discourse?

Those who hold that the fig tree is Israel usually affirm that this generation refers to the Jewish people, indicating they would not pass away as a race until these things take place. That idea is true, and the perpetuity of the Jews is clearly taught elsewhere in Scripture, but it does not seem to fit this context. All Jews firmly believed in God’s promise of an everlasting kingdom of David, and for Jesus to have meant that the Jews would survive until the Messiah ushered in His kingdom would have been superfluous and pointless. And if Jesus had intended that meaning, He could easily have referred to the Jews as “My people,” “God’s people,” or the like. To allude to them as this generation would seem obtuse and confusing.

Another interpretation is that this generation refers to the Christ-rejecting people of Jesus’ day. In that case Jesus would have been saying that ungodly, rebellious mankind would survive until the Messiah’s coming. Genea (generation) was sometimes used to represent a particular kind of people. In the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) the term is used to refer to a righteous people as well as an unrighteous people. But again, although that interpretation is linguistically possible, it does not fit the context and also would have been superfluous and pointless, because no Jew doubted that many unbelieving, ungodly people would be alive to be judged when the Messiah came. In the minds of most Jews, the essential work of the Messiah would be to deliver Israel from its ungodly oppressors. He could hardly judge the nations and put His enemies under His feet if they had already been eradicated.

We are left then with the simple and most reasonable interpretation that the leaves of the fig tree represent the birth pains and the other signs of His coming Jesus has mentioned in this chapter and that this generation refers to the people living at the end time who will view those signs. In partial answer to the disciples’ question concerning the when of His coming, Jesus said that it will occur very soon after those signs are witnessed, before the generation who sees them has time to pass away. He is speaking to the same prophetically distant “you” He has been addressing throughout the chapter (see vv. 4, 6, 9, 15, 25). As mentioned previously, Jesus was speaking as some of the Old Testament prophets often spoke, as if they were standing directly before future generations (see, e.g., Isa. 33:17-24; 66:10-14; Zech. 9:9).

Matthew 24:34 is an explanation of the parable of the fig tree. The idea is that, just as the budding of fig leaves means it is not long until summer, so the generation alive when the signs occur will not have long to wait for Christ’s appearance. Those who witness the birth pains will witness the birth. As the books of Daniel and Revelation make clear, the total time of the Tribulation will be but seven years, and the period of the Great Tribulation, in which the signs will appear, will only be three and a half years (cf. Dan. 12:7; Rev. 11:2-3; 12:6).

Among those who believe that this generation refers to those who will be alive during the end time, there are two basic views as to the makeup of that future people. . .

New American Commentary (NAC)
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Comment on Exodus 6:2–3:
6:2–5 God’s reassurance to Moses continues with covenant language, reminding him that he is Yahweh (v. 2), the God of the patriarchs, that the patriarchs worshiped him by that name, and that the patriarchal promises included their descendants’ possession of Canaan. To possess Canaan required leaving Egypt, and therefore the patriarchal covenant was always, implicitly, also an exodus promise. This is the first time in Exodus that God says “I am Yahweh” (NIV “I am the LORD”). He had said these words (‘anî yahweh) only twice before, in Gen 15:7 to Abraham and in Gen 28:13 to Jacob, each time in connection with the promise of the land to their descendants. Again here the promise of the land follows. On the theological significance of this statement, see comments on v. 8.
In v. 3 God explains to Moses something else that up to this point had been only implicit:

He, Yahweh, was the El Shaddai (“God the Mountain One”; the NIV, following LXX tradition, God Almighty) referred to in the patriarchal stories (Gen 17:1; 28:3; 35:11; 43:14; 48:3; cf. also the early use of the name in Job 8:5; 13:3; 15:25, and the later use in Ezek 10:5). Thus Moses should assume full continuity between the promises to the patriarchs and the need for confidence in the present difficulties. Those promises held central the eventual gift of the land to the descendants of Abraham after their being enslaved in a foreign land and mistreated but liberated and enriched in the process—in other words, the whole exodus story in a very compact form:

Then the LORD said to him, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” (Gen 15:13–16)

What the patriarchs trusted would one day happen was now underway, and God encouraged Moses here to believe that fact.

Comment on Matthew 24:34:
24:32-35 So what about the perennial desire of disciples for signs to specify when Christ’s return is near? Like tender fig tree branches and new leaves that portend the arrival of summer, all the events of Matt 24 point to the nearness of Christ’s return (vv. 32-33). But nearness simply implies that nothing more in God’s plan of redemption must occur before the end can come. Verse 34 does not imply that Christ will return within the lifetime of his hearers or within some later period of thirty to forty years during which all the signs occur. Nor is it necessary to follow the NIV margin and translate genea as “race,” referring to Israel, a much less likely rendering of the Greek than “generation.” Rather, “all these things” in v. 34 must refer to “all these things” of v. 33, which show that Christ’s return is near and which therefore cannot include Christ’s return itself. “All these things” will then refer to everything described in 24:1-26 but will not include the Parousia itself (described in vv. 27-31).

New International Greek Testament Commentary (NIGTC)
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Comment on Matthew 24:34:
24:34. Matthew reproduces Mark’s language without significant change. He is happy to reproduce the emphatic ‘Amen, I say to you’, which he likes so much (discussed at 5:18). When the phrase is taken with the following ‘will not pass away’ and ‘until all . . . [things] happen’ (ἕως ἂν πάντα γένηται, which is translated in 5:18 as ‘until it has all happened’), a very significant set of words is repeated in identical Greek from 5:18; this one can add the close similarity between ‘heaven and earth will pass away’ in 24:34 and ‘until heaven and earth pass away’ in 5:18. What are we to make of this very powerful echo? Syntactically ‘this generation’ in 24:34 and ‘my word’ in v. 35 each take the place of the reference in 5:18 to the smallest detail of the law: Jesus asserts the fate of this generation as confidently as he insists on the continuing validity of every detail of the Mosaic Law; and Jesus’ own word is given the same enduring validity as the Mosaic Law.

Matthew uses γενεά here for the tenth time. Though his use of the term has a range of emphases, it consistently refers to (the time span of) a single human generation. All the alternative senses proposed here (the Jewish people; humanity; the generation of the end-time signs; wicked people) are artificial and based on the need to protect Jesus from error. ‘This generation’ is the generation of Jesus’ contemporaries.

At several points in our exploration of Mt. 24 we have already had reason to note the difficulties of taking the text as a straightforward account of (future) historical events (see at vv. 15, 17–18, 21). I have commented elsewhere on the tension involved here between prediction and event in Luke’s version of Mt. 24.

As the prophets before him had regularly done, the Gospel Jesus presents as part of a single development things that belong together in principle but turn out to be separated chronologically in a manner that he did not anticipate. (Caird [Language and Imagery, 243–71] has argued forcefully that, at least in part, this involved a deliberate use in a metaphorical manner of end-of-the-world language in connection with what the prophets well knew was not the end of the world. The present and immediately future events were to be seen in the light of and somehow as participating in the reality of what would one day be fully true eschatologically. His insights are pertinent to the present discussion [and have been widely followed] but are not capable in themselves of eliminating the difficulty over timing.) The fundamental driving force for the sentiment expressed . . . is the conviction that Jesus’ Jewish contemporaries in Palestine (“this generation”) were to find themselves at a climax point in the purposes of God in judgment (cf. esp. [Luke] 11:49–51), just as they had been experiencing a climax point of God’s saving purposes in the ministry of Jesus. As with the earlier prophets, the anticipation of the future was first and foremost an interpretation, in the light of a knowledge of God, of the significance of the present and of the nature of its development out of the past.

Pillar New Testament Commentary
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Comment on Matthew 24:34:
34. The solemn “Truly I tell you” (see on 5:18) introduces an important statement. Unfortunately there are problems relating to the meaning of this statement, the most important being the significance we should attach to the words this generation, the generation that will not pass away until the occurrence of all the things of which Jesus has been speaking. On the surface of it, the meaning is that he will be returning in glory during the lifetime of people then living, and indeed some exegetes hold to this view, claiming that Jesus thought that he would reappear on earth not so long after his death, perhaps at the fall of Jerusalem, to usher in the end of the world, which, of course, means that he was mistaken. In view of the fact that two sentences later he says that he does not know when it will occur (v. 36), this appears to be an erroneous interpretation of the words. A better view is that all these things refers to the distress indicated in verses 4–28, which must occur before Jesus comes again but which does not mean that his coming will follow immediately. A difficulty with this view is that it is not easy to see why all these things should include the events of verses 4–28, but not those of verses 29–31. So others have suggested that the generation is the Jewish nation (it means “not just the first generation after Jesus but all the generations of Judaism that reject him,” Schweizer, p. 458; so also Ryle, Hendriksen, and others) and point to its continuation through the centuries. Others think that the reference is to the human race, but this view has little to be said for it.

We should notice that in the Old Testament the term is sometimes used for a kind of person, as when we read of “the generation of the righteous” (Ps. 14:5) or “the generation of those who seek him” (Ps. 24:6). From passages like this some have taken Jesus to mean that the church will survive to the end (e.g., Green). But the term is used also of the wicked, as when the Psalmist prays, “guard us ever from this generation” (Ps. 12:7); or it may refer to “the generation of his wrath” (Jer. 7:29). If this is its meaning, Jesus is saying that this kind of person, “this generation,” will not cease until the fulfilment of his words. It is perhaps relevant to notice that a little earlier Jesus said of people to whom he was speaking, “you killed” Zechariah (23:35), a statement that implies the solidarity of the race through the years. Mounce draws attention to the phenomenon of multiple fulfilment. He points out that the “abomination of desolation” had one fulfilment in the desecration effected by Antiochus Epiphanes and another in the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman armies. “In a similar way, the events of the immediate period leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem portend a greater and more universal catastrophe when Christ returns in judgment at the end of time.” Right up to the time when all these things happen there will be people of the same stamp as those who rejected Jesus while he lived on earth.

Tyndale Commentary
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Comment on Exodus 6:2–3:
6:2–13. Renewed calling by God. Some scholars regard this as a second account of Moses’ initial calling: but certainly in the present context it fits well as renewed encouragement and reassurance of call, at a moment when Moses is most conscious of failure.

2. I am YHWH. The speech begins and ends (verse 8) with this sonorous declaration, which guarantees all the contents. I appeared. This is to assert that the patriarchal experience of God was just as valid as that of Moses. It also asserts, in spite of some modern views, that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all worshipped one and the same God. Further, it is to assert the identity of the God worshipped by the patriarchs with the God experienced by Moses at Sinai. This is fundamental to the understanding of the Mosaic revelation.

3. God almighty (Heb. ‘el shadday). The use of this name or title for God in patriarchal days can be proved independently, from the occurrence of archaic proper names like Ammi-shaddai (Num. 1:12) alongside Ammiel (Num. 13:12). The name was not used later, except in poetry as a conscious archaism, so its very meaning was forgotten. Later Hebrew orthodoxy translated it as ‘the all-sufficient One’, but this is impossible philologically. It appears to be an old Mesopotamian divine title, connected with the root ‘mountain’: compare the way in which ‘rock’ is often used as God’s title in early days (Deut. 32:4), perhaps as a symbol of stability and as a place of safety. In view of patriarchal origins in Mesopotamia, such a linguistic ‘fossil’ is not surprising

By my name YHWH I did not make myself known to them. This seems a very clear statement that the name YHWH had not been used by the patriarchs as a title for God. This is borne out by the fact that YAH or YO (in either case the shortened form of YHWH) does not appear as a formative element in Israel’s personal names before the time of Moses (with the one possible exception of the name of Moses’ mother, Jochebed, Exod. 6:20). In the generation after Moses, such names appear only slowly, but religious conservatism could account for the continued use of ‘El’. An example is Hoshea, son of Nun, whose name was deliberately changed by Moses to Joshua, thus containing the new name YHWH (Num. 13:16). From then onwards, such forms are increasingly common in the Old Testament, convincing proof of the date of introduction of the new title. But if this is so, how do we explain the use of YHWH as a divine name from Genesis 2:5 onwards, whether by itself or in connection with Elohim, the more general word for God? or what appears to be the specific statement of Genesis 4:26 that, in the primeval days of Enoch, the name YHWH was first used? The first is not a serious question: it would be natural to use the later name when telling the earlier story. Indeed, even had it been done consciously, it might be seen as an assertion of the identity of the God worshipped in early days with the God of the Mosaic revelation (see Hyatt, p. 80, for a possible explanation of the combination of the two names). The common critical division of the Pentateuchal material into the so-called ‘sources’ J and E derives from the belief that one recorder of tradition (J) prefers the later ‘particularized’ name, even when its use is strictly an anachronism, while the other (E) uses the ‘generalized’ and earlier name throughout. Even the most extreme critic would admit that both J and E knew the later name since, on his count, both lived well after Moses. Genesis 4:26 is a problem of more substance: it seems to say that, in the primeval days of Seth or Enosh, men began to ‘call upon the name of YHWH’. Either it means that the name was known from a very early age, but not in Israel (only a tiny fraction of Enosh’s descendants being reckoned as Israel), or the phrase ‘call on the name of YHWH’ must be used in its later and general sense (Ps. 116:17) meaning ‘pray’. In that case, the reference might simply be to the origins of organized worship, known to be of vast age, here attributed to the time of Seth and Enosh. (See Hyatt, p. 79, for possible use of similar forms to the divine name among early Amorites, presumably related to Israel.)

Comment on Matthew 24:34:
34. The time of this catastrophic event is now even more closely specified, and the solemn Truly, I say to you marks this out as a pronouncement to be noted. Those who interpret this passage as referring to the parousia must therefore either conclude that it proved to be untrue, or that this generation does not here carry its normal meaning. It has, for instance, been taken to mean ‘the Jewish race’, or ‘unbelieving Judaism’. It is unlikely that such an improbable meaning for the noun would have been suggested at all without the constraint of apologetic embarrassment! Nor can all these things easily be taken to exclude the events described in the immediately preceding verses. On the natural understanding of this verse either Jesus was wrong (or Matthew has misunderstood him), or the discourse has not yet taken up directly the question of v. 3b, the ‘sign of your parousia and of the close of the age’, but has rather concentrated entirely so far on the first part of the disciples’ question, ‘When will these things (the destruction of the temple) be?’

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Coverage: All of the Old Testament in 36 volumes; Most of New Testament in 25 volumes (Lacks Acts, 1 Corinthians, Colossians/Philemon)

Comment on Exodus 6:2–3:
2–3 Pharaoh must consider the command absurd. He has no experience of any Yahweh, thus no reason to pay any mind to what he says, and of all the actions he is likely to undertake, sending out Israel is not one of them. This king of Egypt is presented as a no-nonsense ruler, completely sure of himself, whose time is being wasted.

The first result of Pharaoh’s decisive and unyielding response, however, is the demoralization of Moses and Aaron. Whatever the original reference of v 3, if in fact the verse is older than its present context, it has been marvelously woven into this sequence as the chagrined reply of the erstwhile deliverer and his assistant. They are outclassed and overwhelmed by this Pharaoh: since he knows no Yahweh, they now refer to “the God of the Hebrews” (see Comment on 1:19); apologetically they explain that the command to pilgrimage was quite unexpected; they return to the three-day limit for the trip; and they plead fear of Yahweh’s reprisal, which would of course mean a loss to Pharaoh greater than the loss of three days’ work. There is no hint now of any command; their confidence is gone, and they are begging favors from a powerful superior.

Comment on Matthew 24:34:
34 The πάντα ταῦτα, “all these things,” of this verse can include no more than the same phrase in the preceding verse and thus cannot include the coming of the Son of Man (so too Blomberg). The phrase refers not only to general marks of the interim period such as tribulation, distress, pseudo-messiahs, and false prophets but specifically, and dramatically, to the desecration of the temple and the destruction of Jerusalem (cf vv 15–22). As in the other imminence sayings (cf 16:28; 10:23; 23:36), all of which like the present logion are prefaced by the emphatic ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, “truly I tell you,” formula, the main point is that the fall of Jerusalem was to be experienced by that generation (pace Kidder), those listening there and then to the teaching of Jesus (ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη, “this generation,” is used consistently in the Gospel to refer to Jesus’ contemporaries; cf 11:16; 12:41–42, 45; 23:36). The attempt to explain ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη, “this generation,” as the generation alive at the time of the parousia or more generally as the human race or people of God goes against the natural meaning of the phrase and makes the words irrelevant both to Jesus’ listeners and to Matthew’s readers. The fact that, as Lövestam has shown, the expression clearly alludes to a sinful generation, one ripe for judgment, fits the fall of Jerusalem (and not merely the end of the age, which is Lövestam’s conclusion).