Dynamically Wrong? Exodus 24:12 (NLT)

Exodus 24:12 in the NLT reads:

And the LORD said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain. Stay there while I give you the tablets of stone that I have inscribed with my instructions and commands. Then you will teach the people from them.

The phrase I’m interested in here is “stay there while.” That may seem like an odd fragment, but consider the NRSV: “and wait there.” What’s the difference? I might not have noticed if I hadn’t written a devotional based on the NRSV translation. Now when I first read the NRSV of this verse, I had to go back to the Hebrew and check, because “wait” looked wrong to me. In Hebrew it reads simply “and be there.” So the reason could be any number of things. But after reading the context a bit, I decided the NRSV had the idea right. Moses was to go up into the mountain and wait for the Lord. If that is the case, the NLT is clear and natural, but misses the point just a bit.

If you read further you will see that after Moses goes up into the mountain he does, in fact, have to wait. He does so for six days, and then on the seventh day he is called into the cloud. I think the best connection in the context for the phrase “be there” is to that waiting time, and thus the NRSV is the better translation in this case.

(Before someone misunderstands, the NRSV and NLT are both translations that I commend highly. There will always be points of disagreement in any translation, so this shouldn’t be taken as an “unendorsement” of the NLT. It’s just a single case where I agree with one excellent translation over another.)

Similar Posts