Exodus 3:18 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Exodus 3:18, NIV: "The elders of Israel will listen to you. Then you and the elders are to go to the king of Egypt and say to him, 'The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God.'"

Exodus 3:18, ESV: "And they will listen to your voice, and you and the elders of Israel shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us; and now, please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.’"

Exodus 3:18, KJV: "And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God."

Exodus 3:18, NASB: "Then they will pay attention to what you say; and you with the elders of Israel will come to the king of Egypt, and you will say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. So now, please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, so that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.’"

Exodus 3:18, NLT: "'The elders of Israel will accept your message. Then you and the elders must go to the king of Egypt and tell him, 'The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. So please let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the LORD, our God.'"

Exodus 3:18, CSB: "They will listen to what you say. Then you, along with the elders of Israel, must go to the king of Egypt and say to him: The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Now please let us go on a three-day trip into the wilderness so that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God."

What does Exodus 3:18 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This is part of God's message to the "elders of Israel," to be delivered by Moses when he returns to Egypt. God has already stated His intention to free Israel from their oppression, and to give them control of a prosperous homeland.

God also promised Moses the Israelite elders would "listen to your voice." Moses was initially concerned that the Hebrews still living in Egypt would have no desire to listen to him (Exodus 2:14; Exodus 3:13). And yet, God's prediction here will be confirmed; Exodus 4:31 says "the people believed" the message of Moses and his brother Aaron.

The next step in God's plan is for Moses and the elders of Israel to confront the king of Egypt—the Pharaoh—and request a three-day journey into the wilderness to make sacrifices to the Lord. Some have asked why God would instruct Israel to make this request, since the ultimate plan was to free Israel from Egypt entirely. In part, this request is meant to show the obstinacy of Egypt's rulers—they won't even approve such a minor detour, let alone complete freedom.

The completion of this order takes place in Exodus 5:3. As expected, Pharaoh rejects the request, instead forcing the Jews to make bricks without straw, a move that greatly increases their workload. God will follow this event with the plagues predicted later in this chapter (Exodus 3:20; 7—12). This request for a three-day journey is also repeated in Exodus 8:27. Interestingly, the plague of darkness would last three days, with no one working during this time (Exodus 10:22–23). Once again, Egypt's attempts to thwart God will result in the exact consequences they seek to avoid.