Mesquite Mountain

by peacefulpete 3 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • peacefulpete

    Ok, the title may make more sense for those who enjoy grilling.

    I'm discussing the burning bush story in Ex 3. at Mt. Horeb (aka Sinai)

    Most students of the OT are fully aware of the Documentary Hypothesis in some form, in short it is near universally recognized that the book of Exodus, for example, is the composite work of a redactor who has collected the traditions of the Judahite and Israelite people. J&E were understood as being fused prior to the introduction of P material. In this particular story this might help in making sense of an otherwise bizarre story.

    Moses is at the base of a mountain called Mt. Horeb by E, Sinai by J and P and sees the burning (seneh (סנה[səneh]) Yahweh speaks from the seneh and declares he is YHWH and he is their god who says:

    When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you[b] will worship God on this mountain.

    Fast forward (chapt 19) and we have the Israelites freshly out of Egypt assembled again at the same mountain Sinai where:

    3 Then Moses went up to God, and YHWH called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ....18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because YHWH descended on it in fire.

    Back to the "bush". As I said the word is "seneh" it is an unknown word not found anywhere else but in this passage and the centuries later poetic retelling in Deuteronomy. If you look up the word you will find a definition as bush but that is merely repeating the traditional translation of this passage. The LXX did used Greek equivalent to the word bush/brambles reflecting a very old interpretation of the story.

    A simple elegant solution was proposed long ago:

    The word rendered "bush" () is found only in this passage and in Deut. xxxiii. 16, where, however, it is possible that the right reading is "Sinai."

    It does seem a fine proposal. Early on, perhaps at the time when the J and E traditions were merged the J name of the mountain (Sinai) was slipped into the original E story that called the mountain Horeb. A very small copyist corruption made the word illegible as "sene" and the imagination took over from there. It has always seemed bizarre for the great and powerful YHWH to appear as a bush on fire, it seems much more likely the story E wrote has Moses stand before a mountain on fire and introduce himself. That is, he "spoke from fiery Sinai" just as he does in chapt 19.

    Later P or a redactor made some adjustments to the story including the insertion of an 'angel' and possibly logical continuity elements like saying the bush was "not being consumed" etc.

    I posted a thread on this before but was unable to locate it, maybe new ones might find it interesting.

  • EdenOne

    First time I run into that explanation. Thx

  • peacefulpete

    EdenOne,..thanks for replying.

  • Hopeless1


    I looked up on various internet sources and found out about the ‘is it Sinai or is it Horeb etc” issue, and find your comment above fascinating.

    It makes more sense, of course, if it were the mount itself he had approached, (and not a bush on fire)

    Very interesting!

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