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And you will be to me

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a kingdom

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of priests

and a holy

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These are the words you shall speak to the sons of ISRAEL.”

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And then, in my eyes and in your own eyes, you will be a nation ruled by a king (me); a nation made up entirely of priests, and you will be a nation set aside to do my will only. These are the words you shall speak to the sons of THE ONE WHO REFUSES TO LET GO OF GOD.



“to me” can mean “my” or “to me.” It seems like a small distinction, but I see more power in the words “to me” because “to me” implies something has been dedicated to a specific purpose, whereas “my” simply implies possession. “To me” seems to imply a two-way street, while “my” implies a one-way street. In this context the choice of this little word communicates two things: 1) God has chosen them as His special instrument to accomplish His will among the nations, 2) they needed to be committed to following Him and only Him. It would do little good for God to see them as His special instrument, if they didn’t see themselves that way. The perception needed to be held equally by both parties, hence the wording of the paraphrase. The same is true of us today.


What I have rendered as “kingdom,” is a word describing the people who make up the kingdom of a king. The emphasis is on the people, but also on the king’s authority at the same time. The word “kingdom” is fine here, but the original is far removed from the way Americans think and speak because we have no king. In that time the authority of a king was unquestioned and always shown utmost respect.


The word “holy” means “set apart for a special purpose.”


The name Israel means “one who struggles” but the story behind the name is just as important as the meaning of the name itself. Jacob struggled or wrestled with God (or God’s messenger) because he was desperate to get something from God. He refused to let go of God until he received the blessing he desired with its accompanying assurance. Therefore I have chosen to portray it as THE ONE WHO REFUSES TO LET GO OF GOD.