Why Is Moses Crying Out to the Lord – A Potential Example of Redaction

In today’s reading (Ex. 14.5-18) we find a potential example of what is referred to as redaction, which is basically another word for editing. It looks like there may have been two sources for this particular story that were combined together by an editor. This can be seen in an abrupt shift that takes place. I will briefly trace out the story line:

Pharaoh decides that he has made a mistake by letting the Israelites go and chooses to pursue them. The Israelites are afraid and cry out to God and against Moses. Moses answers the people with this reply

Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.

Next, is where it looks like redaction has taken place. The Lord says to Moses “Why do you cry out to me?” Where did that come from? Moses is not crying out to the Lord. In fact, Moses seems pretty confident in the previous verses that the Lord will deliver the people, so much so, that he tells them not to be afraid and to stand firm. Another option might be that Moses is feigning confidence in the preceding verses, but still where does Moses crying out to the Lord come from. It is nowhere in the text. It seems more natural to say that here we may have two sources that are combined to make one story.

For other examples of redaction in the Pentateuch, you might check the text below which has a significant amount of material devoted to the topic:


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