What does Exodus 3:9 mean?
ESV: And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them.
NIV: And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them.
NASB: And now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them.
CSB: So because the Israelites' cry for help has come to me, and I have also seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them,
NLT: Look! The cry of the people of Israel has reached me, and I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them.
KJV: Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.
NKJV: Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them.
Verse Commentary:
The sight of a bush which is covered in flames, but not burnt, attracts Moses' attention. From that flame, the angel of the Lord speaks to Moses, declaring His intent to free Israel from their slavery. Here, God begins to describe how Moses will lead the Hebrews out of oppression and into a prosperous Promised Land.

The use of, "And now, behold," uses Hebrew words designed to draw attention to whatever words follow. This is similar to saying, "Look at this," in English. God notes two concerns, using a poetically human perspective of "hearing" and "seeing." First, God is aware of "the cry" of the Israelites. This cry represents the pain of slavery endured by the Jewish people. Second, God Himself has "seen" the oppression of the Egyptians. The words "Egypt" or "Egyptians" are used six times in verses 7 through 12, each as a reference to the nation itself, which is strongly labelled as the enemy of God's people.

The idea of oppression is also repeated in this verse. The phrase translated as "oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them" emphasizes the severity of Egyptian treatment of the Jews. Both the noun and verb form of the Hebrew word are used. This word—lachats—can refer to subjugation, suffering, or mistreatment of any kind. The combined use of the noun with the verbal form strengthens the emphasis.
Verse Context:
Exodus 3:9–15 reveals God's commission of Moses as His spokesman, in order to lead Israel out of their slavery in Egypt. God provides reassurance in response to Moses' doubts. God also identifies Himself using terminology which will be crucial in both Jewish and Christian understanding of His nature. As a name, God uses the phrase ''I AM,'' indicating His eternal, uncreated, necessary, absolute existence. This connects to the Hebrew term YHWH, most often seen as LORD, Yahweh, or Jehovah. This same phrasing will be used by Jesus in the New Testament.
Chapter Summary:
Moses is tending sheep for his father-in-law when he sees a miraculous sight: a bush which is on fire, but not burnt up. From this fire, God speaks to Moses, appointing him as the leader of the nation of Israel, whom God intends to free from Egyptian slavery. God identifies Himself in this passage using the famous terminology ''I AM.'' Despite Moses' fears and doubts, God gives him a message to take to the elders of Israel, and eventually to Pharaoh himself.
Chapter Context:
Prior chapters in Exodus explained how the descendants of Abraham became a nation which was populous, but enslaved, in the land of Egypt. Exodus 3 describes the moment when God calls Moses to lead Israel out of slavery. This is accomplished through the miracle of the burning bush. The beginning of this dialogue between God and Moses includes messages for both Israel and Pharaoh, and will continue into chapter 4.
Book Summary:
The book of Exodus establishes God's covenant relationship with the full-fledged nation of Israel. The descendants of Abraham prosper after settling in Egypt, only to be enslaved by a fearful, hateful Egyptian Pharaoh. God appoints Moses to lead the people out of this bondage. Moses serves as God's spokesman, as the Lord brings plagues and judgments on Egypt, leading to the release of Israel.
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