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EXODUS 5. 4-5 


By Samuel Daiches, Jews' College, London. 

Judge Sulzberger has, in his essay 'The Am 
Ha-Aretz ', established the theory, in my opinion, beyond 
doubt, that pKH DJ? in the Bible means ' representatives 
of the people ', ' Parliament '. A careful examination 
of all the Biblical passages in which pNH Dy occurs has 
strengthened me in my conviction that the meaning of 
' representatives of the people ', ' Parliament ', for pxn ay 
is still more extensive than Judge Sulzberger ventured 
to presume. It seems to me that this is the ordinary 
meaning of fixn Dy in the Bible. ' Representatives of the 
people ', ' Parliament ', fits everywhere, not only historically 
but also exegetically. Exodus 5. 4-5 is, I think, a good 

I suggest that in Exodus 5. 5 (a passage not considered 
by Judge Sulzberger) y-\xn D]> has the meaning of ' repre- 
sentatives of the people '. And by accepting that meaning 
we get rid of the difficulty which the commentators find 
in Exodus 5. 4-5. 5. 5 appears to be a repetition of 5. 4, 
and therefore the two verses are ascribed to different 
sources (see commentaries). ' Representatives of the people ', 
however, makes the meaning of the two verses perfectly 

In 5. 4 Pharaoh tells Moses and Aaron that they should 
not disturb 'the people', the ordinary workmen, in their 
VOL. XII. 33 D 


work. In 5. 5 Pharaoh tells Moses and Aaron that by 
their conduct they would influence 'the representatives 
of the people', and make them rest from their burdens. 
The difference is great. It is not accidental that in 5. 4 
the word WJflOD is used, and in 5. 5 the word Drtaoo. 
ncyo is the ordinary work done by the manual labourers. 
?3D is, I take it, the ' burden ', the office of supervising 
the work of the labourers. The ordinary people (Dyn) did 
the manual labour, and Moses and Aaron and the other 
representatives of the people (pKH Dy) supervised the work 
of the labourers. Hence the distinction also in 5. 4 between 
fiBWD and ?3D. To Moses and Aaron Pharaoh says 
MWaD? 13? 'go unto your burdens', go unto your posts 
of overseers. That ?3D has the meaning of ' burden (office) 
of overseer' is also clear from Exodus 1. 11. injy refers 
to the people of Israel ; Dn?aD3 refers to the Egyptian 
taskmasters. That there were Hebrew overseers we see 
from Exodus 5. 14, 1 9. The meaning of vers. 4-5 is now 
quite clear. The following would be the translation of the 
two verses : 

(4) And the king of Egypt said unto them, Wherefore 
do ye, Moses and Aaron, cause the people to break loose 
from their work? Get you unto your burdens (posts of 
overseers). (5) And Pharaoh said : Behold, the repre- 
sentatives of the people are now many, and ye will make 
them rest from their burdens (posts of overseers). 

Thus there is no repetition in these two verses. Both 
verses are required. Pharaoh tells Moses and Aaron that 
as a result of their activities the labourers will stop their 
work, and the representatives of the people will cease 
fulfilling their duties as overseers.