The Role of Exodus 4:24-26 in the Book of Exodus
1 Noncommittal Commentators and Contributors Before launching into a study of the history and interpretation of Exod 4:24-26, at some point, the reader will come to realize that some scholars choose to refuse to take a position on the meaning of this text, or allude to this text in dealing with a certain subject pertaining to an idea in this passage. Thus, before attempting to categorize the various interpretations of this text, this section describes relevant scholars who have dealt with Exod 4:24-26 in noncommittal ways. Exod 4:24-26 bristles with difficulties. This is without doubt the most obscure passage in the book of Exodus. A. Bertholet, R. E. Mur- phy, T. C. Mitchell, J. P. Hyatt, E. Isaac, W. Dumbrell, O. Betz, N. A. van Uchelen, M. Görg, T. Pippin and G. Aichele, and A. Herbst do not attempt to explain its meaning or its function in the narrative.8 A. Bertholet [very similarly O. Betz] does not offer an interpreta- tion of Exod 4:24-26. He remarks that the use of stone instruments to perform circumcision (Exod 4:25; Josh 5:2) suggests circumcision goes back to the Stone Age. He asserts that in early human history, people circumcised boys at puberty, so circumcision was a puberty rite. Origi- nally it was connected with marriage, as Exod 4:25 and Gen 34:14ff, and the word htn, meaning ‘bridegroom,’ show. Some trace circumcision back to Joshua’s act to roll away the contempt of the circumcised...
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