Anna Rask

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Theology (Th.M)

First Advisor

Dr. Michael Chan


While various OT and NT authors may employ the wilderness wanderings traditions for their own purposes, the traditions themselves generally present the Israelites in a negative light. This negative presentation is primarily due to the murmuring motif. This essay revealed the stereotyped verbs and collocations of the motif in addition to the variety of forms the murmurings can take, a prominent form being an accusatory question. When the stereotyped verbs and collocations do not occur, it is the presence of an accusatory question with stereotypical content and language regarding the Israelites’ life in Egypt and their exodus that signals the murmuring motif. The motif must be limited to the murmurings only and must exclude any responses from the addressee(s) that may be present in the text. When this is done, the final form of the pericopes in which the motif occurs can be more effectively evaluated. This essay has shown that the murmuring comprises one element of the two recurring patterns in the wilderness wanderings traditions, Pattern A and Pattern B. The murmuring motif must always be viewed as negative and hostile, and as an act of open rebellion against the LORD. The failures of the Israelites are on full display in the pre-Sinai, Pattern A, wilderness wanderings texts as they time and time again murmur against the LORD; however, it is in the midst of these failures that the mercy and grace with which the LORD meets their murmurings is magnified.