Monday, February 15, 2016

Exodus: An Exegetical Commentary by Victor P. Hamilton (Book Review #10 of 2016)


Exodus: An Exegetical Commentary
This is one of the best biblical commentaries that I have read, with plenty of notes on each Hebrew word in the text placed prior to an expositional study of each pericope, making it accessible to Hebrew scholar or lay Sunday school teacher (me) alike. It is modern, contains the author's own thoughts and humor, and and is highly readable. Hamilton demonstrates clearly the use of Exodus language in the New Testament (see example below) which makes it easier for the reader to see how the themes presented fit into biblical theology (the arc of Scripture as a whole).  I read this while reading Carol Meyers' commentary on Exodus; Hamilton's contains much more information about the text, translation, and other scholars' works than does Meyers'. I highly recommend this work.

Hamilton divides the book into seven parts, with a few paragraphs introducing each part. Each pericope within in each part is outlined. He begins with a Translation, then Grammatical and Lexical Notes on each verse. This includes descriptions of the Hebrew words and a brief study on where else they are found and translated in the Hebrew Bible, how others have translated them, and the Hamilton's own open-ended questions. Then there is an expositional commentary. Some of the commentary gets a bit shorter toward the end of the book.

Examples from the book:
"Fourteen times God remembers the covenant he has made with somebody, as here: Gen. 9:15, 16; Exod. 2:24; 6:5; Lev. 26:42 [3x], 45; Pss. 105:8; 106:45; 111:5; Jer. 14:21; Ezek. 16:60...
"God’s remembering always implies his movement toward the object of his memory. . . . The essence of God’s remembering lies in his acting toward someone because of a previous commitment.”

The narrator tells us that this place is “Horeb,” which is another name for Sinai, maybe in the sense that “The Big Apple” is another name for New York City, or “The Windy City” is another name for Chicago.

Nobody in Genesis is called holy or even challenged to be holy. Noah is “righteous” (ṣaddîq) and “blameless” (tāmîm, Gen. 6:9), but not “holy” (qādōš).

The Lord calls Abraham to be blameless (tāmîm, Gen. 17:1), but he never calls him to be holy. Holy places and holy people appear in the Bible only in conjunction with the covenant and covenantal law that God gives to his chosen people, Israel.

Moses after fleeing Pharoah and being told by God to return (p. 150-151):
"men seeking your soul” anticipates Matt. 2:20, “For those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead”: tethnēkasin gar pantes hoi zētountes sou tēn psychēn (Exod. 4:19) tethnēkasin gar hoi zētountes tēn psychēn tou paidiou (Matt. 2:20). Most interesting here is the preservation of the plural participle hoi zētountes in the Matthew reference even though Herod is the only one trying to kill the infant Christ. The retention helps to maintain the parallel with Exod. 4:19. Third, in Exod. 4:20 Moses takes his wife and child(ren) and returns to Egypt. In Matt. 2:21 Joseph takes his wife and child and leaves Egypt. The death of Pharaoh opens the door for Moses to leave Midian and return to Egypt, just as the death of Herod opens the door for Jesus to leave Egypt and return to Palestine.

On the Sinaitic Covenant compared to surrounding nations' legal codes (p. 610-611):
Two items set the Covenant Code apart from all other Near Eastern legal corpora. First, in none of these cuneiform law codes does any deity ever speak...A second item sets the Covenant Code apart: unlike any of these cuneiform codes, the Covenant Code is set within a historical-narrative context, without which it would be shorn of much of its significance.


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