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Yahweh and Moses in Conflict

The Role of Exodus 4:24-26 in the Book of Exodus

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John T. Willis

The interpretation of Exodus 4:24-26 is very controversial. Scholars have treated this text from various viewpoints on the basis of divergent methods or approaches. Two fundamental problems cause uncertainty about the origin and meaning of this text. One problem has to do with the nature of Exod 4:24-26. Another problem is the identity of the persons mentioned in Exod 4:24-26. This book arranges forty-two documented interpretations under each approach or approaches, presenting the view of each scholar proposing his/her interpretation of Exodus 4:24-26 in chronological order. The author presents his own view in the concluding chapter, essentially adopting a redactional, canonical, narrative, rhetorical methodology.

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Abbreviations .................................................................................... VII Introduction .............................................................................................. 1 Purposes of This Study .................................................................... 1 Textual Critical Issues ...................................................................... 3 Noncommittal Commentators and Contributors ............................ 11 Chapter I – Early Jewish Explanations ................................................... 15 1. Circumcision’s Blood Atoning Power ...................................... 16 2. The Moses-Jethro Agreement ................................................... 22 Chapter II – Early Christian Views ........................................................ 25 3. Circumcision for Jews Only ...................................................... 25 4. Circumcision a Model for Infant Baptism ................................ 27 5. Circumcision Symbolizes Celibacy .......................................... 29 6. Purging Classical Learning Produces Christian Perfection ...... 30 7. Spiritual Struggle ...................................................................... 31 Chapter III – Ideological and Psychological Criticisms ........................ 33 8. Moses’ Depression ................................................................. 34 9. Anti-Moses Tradition ............................................................. 36 10. Retribution for Moses’ Murder .............................................. 37 11. A Nightmare ........................................................................... 38 12. An Allegory ............................................................................ 39 13. Moses’ True Identity .............................................................. 41 14. The Oedipus Conflict ............................................................. 41 15. Freudian Slip .......................................................................... 43 16. Inversion ................................................................................. 45 Chapter IV – Literary Critical [Source] Criticism, Form Criticism, Traditio-Historical Criticism, and Social Scientific Criticism ........................................................................ 47 17. Egyptian Myth of Osiris and Isis ............................................ 50 18. Kenite Clan Deity ................................................................... 51 19. Midianite Deity or Demon ..................................................... 52 20. Night Demon .......................................................................... 57 Contents VI 21. Deity Demanding ius primae noctis ....................................... 59 22. Zipporah and Moses’ Assailant .............................................. 67 23. Circumcision Blood as Sacrificial Blood ............................... 67 Chapter V – Contextual, Etymological, and Sociological Explanations ............................................................. 69 24. Yahweh and Pharaoh’s Son .................................................... 69 25. Egyptian Circumcision ............................................................ 70 26. Etiology .................................................................................. 75 27. Magical Incantation Blood Rite ............................................. 78 28. An Apotropaic Ritual ............................................................. 80 29. Moses’ Preparation for Pharaoh ............................................. 86 30. From Puberty to Infancy ......................................................... 90 Chapter VI – Neglected Circumcision ................................................... 93 31. Moses Was Uncircumcised .................................................... 93 32. Eliezer Was Uncircumcised ................................................. 104 33. Moses Threatens Gershom ................................................... 110 34. Gershom Was Uncircumcised .............................................. 112 35. Assailant Attacks...

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