New English Translation
33 The Lord said to Moses, “Go up[a] from here, you and the people whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land I promised on oath[b] to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’[c] 2 I will send an angel[d] before you, and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite.[e] 3 Go up[f] to a land flowing with milk and honey. But[g] I will not go up among you, for you are a stiff-necked people, and I might destroy you[h] on the way.”
4 When the people heard this troubling word[i] they mourned;[j] no one put on his ornaments. 5 For[k] the Lord had said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites, ‘You are a stiff-necked people. If I went up among you for a moment,[l] I might destroy you. Now take off your ornaments[m] that I may know[n] what I should do to you.’”[o] 6 So the Israelites stripped off their ornaments by Mount Horeb.
The Presence of the Lord
7 [p] Moses took[q] the tent[r] and pitched it outside the camp, at a good distance[s] from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. Anyone[t] seeking[u] the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting that was outside the camp.
8 And when Moses went out[v] to the tent, all the people would get up[w] and stand at the entrance to their tents[x] and watch[y] Moses until he entered the tent.[z] 9 And[aa] whenever Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord[ab] would speak with Moses.[ac] 10 When all the people would see the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people, each one at the entrance of his own tent, would rise and worship.[ad] 11 The Lord would speak to Moses face to face,[ae] the way a person speaks[af] to a friend. Then Moses[ag] would return to the camp, but his servant, Joshua son of Nun, a young man, did not leave the tent.[ah]
12 Moses said to the Lord, “See, you have been saying to me, ‘Bring this people up,’[ai] but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. But you said, ‘I know you by name,[aj] and also you have found favor in my sight.’ 13 Now if I have found favor in your sight, show me[ak] your way, that I may know you,[al] that I may continue to find[am] favor in your sight. And see[an] that this nation is your people.”
15 And Moses[as] said to him, “If your presence does not go[at] with us,[au] do not take us up from here.[av] 16 For how will it be known then that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not by your going with us, so that we will be distinguished, I and your people, from all the people who are on the face of the earth?”[aw]
17 The Lord said to Moses, “I will do this thing also that you have requested, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know[ax] you by name.”
19 And the Lord[ba] said, “I will make all my goodness[bb] pass before your face, and I will proclaim the Lord by name[bc] before you; I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious; I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy.”[bd] 20 But he added, “You cannot see my face, for no one can[be] see me and live.”[bf] 21 The Lord said, “Here[bg] is a place by me; you will station yourself[bh] on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and will cover[bi] you with my hand[bj] while I pass by.[bk] 23 Then I will take away my hand, and you will see my back,[bl] but my face must not be seen.”[bm]
The New Tablets of the Covenant
34 [bn] The Lord said to Moses, “Cut out[bo] two tablets of stone like the first, and I will write[bp] on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you smashed. 2 Be prepared[bq] in the morning, and go up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and station yourself[br] for me there on the top of the mountain. 3 No one is to come up with you; do not let anyone be seen anywhere on the mountain; not even the flocks or the herds may graze in front of that mountain.” 4 So Moses[bs] cut out two tablets of stone like the first;[bt] early in the morning he went up[bu] to Mount Sinai, just as the Lord had commanded him, and he took in his hand the two tablets of stone.
5 The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there and proclaimed the Lord by name.[bv] 6 The Lord passed by before him and proclaimed:[bw] “The Lord, the Lord,[bx] the compassionate and gracious[by] God, slow to anger,[bz] and abounding in loyal love and faithfulness,[ca] 7 keeping loyal love for thousands,[cb] forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. But he by no means leaves the guilty unpunished, responding to the transgression[cc] of fathers by dealing with children and children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.”
8 Moses quickly bowed[cd] to the ground and worshiped 9 and said, “If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord, let my Lord[ce] go among us, for we[cf] are a stiff-necked people; pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.”
10 He said, “See, I am going to make[cg] a covenant before all your people. I will do wonders such as have not been done[ch] in all the earth, nor in any nation. All the people among whom you live will see the work of the Lord, for it is a fearful thing that I am doing with you.[ci]
11 “Obey[cj] what I am commanding you this day. I am going to drive out[ck] before you the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite. 12 Be careful not to make[cl] a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it become a snare[cm] among you. 13 Rather you must destroy their altars, smash their images, and cut down their Asherah poles.[cn] 14 For you must not worship[co] any other god,[cp] for the Lord, whose name[cq] is Jealous, is a jealous God. 15 Be careful[cr] not to make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, for when[cs] they prostitute themselves[ct] to their gods and sacrifice to their gods, and someone invites you,[cu] you will eat from his sacrifice; 16 and you then take[cv] his daughters for your sons, and when his daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will make your sons prostitute themselves to their gods as well. 17 You must not make yourselves molten gods.
18 “You must keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. For seven days[cw] you must eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you; do this[cx] at the appointed time of the month Abib, for in the month Abib you came out of Egypt.
19 “Every firstborn of the womb[cy] belongs to me, even every firstborn[cz] of your cattle that is a male,[da] whether ox or sheep. 20 Now the firstling[db] of a donkey you may redeem with a lamb, but if you do not redeem it, then break its neck.[dc] You must redeem all the firstborn of your sons.
“No one will appear before me empty-handed.[dd]
22 “You must observe[di] the Feast of Weeks—the firstfruits of the harvest of wheat—and the Feast of Ingathering at the end[dj] of the year. 23 At three times[dk] in the year all your men[dl] must appear before the Sovereign Lord,[dm] the God of Israel. 24 For I will drive out[dn] the nations before you and enlarge your borders; no one will covet[do] your land when you go up[dp] to appear before the Lord your God three times[dq] in the year.
25 “You must not offer the blood of my sacrifice with yeast; the sacrifice from the Feast of Passover must not remain until the following morning.[dr]
26 “The first of the firstfruits of your soil you must bring to the house of the Lord your God.
“You must not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.”[ds]
27 The Lord said to Moses, “Write down[dt] these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” 28 So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights;[du] he did not eat bread, and he did not drink water. He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.[dv]
The Radiant Face of Moses
29 [dw] Now when Moses came down[dx] from Mount Sinai with[dy] the two tablets of the testimony in his hand[dz]—when he came down[ea] from the mountain, Moses[eb] did not know that the skin of his face shone[ec] while he talked with him. 30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face shone,[ed] and they were afraid to approach him. 31 But Moses called to them, so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and Moses spoke to them. 32 After this all the Israelites approached, and he commanded them all that the Lord had spoken to him on Mount Sinai. 33 When Moses finished[ee] speaking[ef] with them, he would[eg] put a veil on his face. 34 But when Moses went in[eh] before the Lord to speak with him, he would remove the veil until he came out.[ei] Then he would come out and tell the Israelites what he had been commanded.[ej] 35 When the Israelites would see[ek] the face of Moses, that[el] the skin of Moses’ face shone, Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with the Lord.[em]
- Exodus 33:1 tn The two imperatives underscore the immediacy of the demand: “go, go up,” meaning “get going up” or “be on your way.”
- Exodus 33:1 tn Or “the land which I swore.”
- Exodus 33:1 tn Heb “seed.”
- Exodus 33:2 sn This seems not to be the same as the Angel of the Presence introduced before.
- Exodus 33:2 sn See T. Ishida, “The Structure and Historical Implications of Lists of Pre-Israelite Nations,” Bib (1979): 461-90.
- Exodus 33:3 tn This verse seems to be a continuation of the command to “go up” since it begins with “to a land….” The intervening clauses are therefore parenthetical or relative. But the translation is made simpler by supplying the verb.
- Exodus 33:3 tn This is a strong adversative here, “but.”
- Exodus 33:3 tn The clause is “lest I consume you.” It would go with the decision not to accompany them: “I will not go up with you…lest I consume (destroy) you in the way.” The verse is saying that because of the people’s bent to rebellion, Yahweh would not remain in their midst as he had formerly said he would do. Their lives would be at risk if he did.
- Exodus 33:4 tn Or “bad news” (NAB, NCV).
- Exodus 33:4 sn The people would rather have risked divine discipline than to go without Yahweh in their midst. So they mourned, and they took off the ornaments. Such had been used in making the golden calf, and so because of their association with all of that they were to be removed as a sign of remorse.
- Exodus 33:5 tn The verse simply begins “And Yahweh said.” But it is clearly meant to be explanatory for the preceding action of the people.
- Exodus 33:5 tn The construction is formed with a simple imperfect in the first half and a perfect tense with vav (ו) in the second half. Heb “[in] one moment I will go up in your midst and I will destroy you.” The verse is certainly not intended to say that God was about to destroy them. That, plus the fact that he has announced he will not go in their midst, leads most commentators to take this as a conditional clause: “If I were to do such and such, then….”
- Exodus 33:5 tn The Hebrew text also has “from on you.”
- Exodus 33:5 tn The form is the cohortative with a vav (ו) following the imperative; it therefore expresses the purpose or result: “strip off…that I may know.” The call to remove the ornaments must have been perceived as a call to show true repentance for what had happened. If they repented, then God would know how to deal with them.
- Exodus 33:5 tn This last clause begins with the interrogative “what,” but it is used here as an indirect interrogative. It introduces a noun clause, the object of the verb “know.”
- Exodus 33:7 sn This unit of the book could actually include all of chap. 33, starting with the point of the Lord’s withdrawal from the people. If that section is not part of the exposition, it would have to be explained as the background. The point is that sinfulness prevents the active presence of the Lord leading his people. But then the rest of chap. 33 forms the development. In vv. 7-11 there is the gracious provision: the Lord reveals through his faithful mediator. The Lord was leading his people, but now more remotely because of their sin. Then, in vv. 12-17 Moses intercedes for the people, and the intercession of the mediator guarantees the Lord’s presence. The point of all of this is that God wanted the people to come to know that if he was not with them they should not go. Finally, the presence of the Lord is verified to the mediator by a special revelation (18-23). The point of the whole chapter is that by his grace the Lord renews the promise of his presence by special revelation.
- Exodus 33:7 tn Heb “and Moses took.”
- Exodus 33:7 sn A widespread contemporary view is that this section represents a source that thought the tent of meeting was already erected (see S. R. Driver, Exodus, 359). But the better view is that this is a temporary tent used for meeting the Lord. U. Cassuto explains this view very well (Exodus, 429-30), namely, that because the building of the tabernacle was now in doubt if the Lord was not going to be in their midst, another plan seemed necessary. Moses took this tent, his tent, and put some distance between the camp and it. Here he would use the tent as the place to meet God, calling it by the same name since it was a surrogate tent. Thus, the entire section was a temporary means of meeting God, until the current wrath was past.
- Exodus 33:7 tn The infinitive absolute is used here as an adverb (see GKC 341 §113.h).
- Exodus 33:7 tn The clause begins with “and it was,” the perfect tense with the vav conjunction. The imperfect tenses in this section are customary, describing what used to happen (others describe the verbs as frequentative). See GKC 315 §107.e.
- Exodus 33:7 tn The form is the Piel participle. The seeking here would indicate seeking an oracle from Yahweh or seeking to find a resolution for some difficulty (as in 2 Sam 21:1) or even perhaps coming with a sacrifice. B. Jacob notes that the tent was even here a place of prayer, for the benefit of the people (Exodus, 961). It is not known how long this location was used.
- Exodus 33:8 tn The clause is introduced again with “and it was.” The perfect tense here with the vav (ו) is used to continue the sequence of actions that were done repeatedly in the past (see GKC 331-32 §112.e). The temporal clause is then formed with the infinitive construct of יָצָא (yatsaʾ), with “Moses” as the subjective genitive: “and it was according to the going out of Moses.”
- Exodus 33:8 tn Or “rise up.”
- Exodus 33:8 tn The subject of this verb is specified with the individualizing use of “man”: “and all Israel would station themselves, each person (man) at the entrance to his tent.”
- Exodus 33:8 tn The perfect tense with the vav (ו) continues the sequence of the customary imperfect. The people “would gaze” (after) Moses until he entered the tent.
- Exodus 33:8 tn This is a temporal clause using an infinitive construct with a suffixed subject.
- Exodus 33:9 tn Heb “and it was when.”
- Exodus 33:9 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Exodus 33:9 tn Both verbs, “stand” and “speak,” are perfect tenses with vav (ו) consecutive.
- Exodus 33:10 tn All the main verbs in this verse are perfect tenses continuing the customary sequence (see GKC 337 §112.kk). The idea is that the people would get up (rise) when the cloud was there and then worship, meaning in part bow down. When the cloud was not there, there was access to seek God.
- Exodus 33:11 tn “Face-to-face” is circumstantial to the action of the verb, explaining how they spoke (see GKC 489-90 §156.c). The point of this note of friendly relationship with Moses is that Moses was “at home” in this tent speaking with God. Moses would derive courage from this when he interceded for the people (B. Jacob, Exodus, 966).
- Exodus 33:11 tn The verb in this clause is a progressive imperfect.
- Exodus 33:11 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Moses) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Exodus 33:11 sn Moses did not live in the tent. But Joshua remained there most of the time to guard the tent, it seems, lest any of the people approach it out of curiosity.
- Exodus 33:12 tn The Hiphil imperative is from the same verb that has been used before for bringing the people up from Egypt and leading them to Canaan.
- Exodus 33:12 tn That is, “chosen you.”
- Exodus 33:13 tn The prayer uses the Hiphil imperative of the verb “to know.” “Cause me to know” is “show me, reveal to me, teach or inform me.” Moses wanted to know more of God’s dealings with people, especially after all that has happened in the preceding chapter.
- Exodus 33:13 tn The imperfect tense of the verb “to know” with the vav follows the imperative of this root, and so this indicates the purpose clause (final imperfect): “in order that I may know you.” S. R. Driver summarizes it this way: that I may understand what your nature and character is, and shape my petitions accordingly, so that I may find grace in your sight, and my future prayers may be answered (Exodus, 361).
- Exodus 33:13 tn The purpose clause simply uses the imperfect, “that I may find.” But since he already has found favor in God’s eyes, he is clearly praying that it be so in the future as well as now.
- Exodus 33:13 tn The verb “see” (an imperative) is a request for God to acknowledge Israel as his people by providing the divine leadership needed. So his main appeal will be for the people and not himself. To underscore this, he repeats “see” the way the section opened.
- Exodus 33:14 tn Heb “and he said”; the referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Exodus 33:14 sn Heb “my face.” This represents the presence of Yahweh going with the people (see 2 Sam 17:11 for an illustration). The “presence” probably refers to the angel of the presence or some similar manifestation of God’s leading and caring for his people.
- Exodus 33:14 tn The phrase “with you” is not in the Hebrew text, but is implied.
- Exodus 33:14 sn The expression certainly refers to the peace of mind and security of knowing that God was with them. But the expression came to mean “settle them in the land of promise” and give them rest and peace from their enemies. U. Cassuto (Exodus, 434) observes how in 32:10 God had told Moses, “Leave me alone” (“give me rest”), but now he promises to give them rest. The parallelism underscores the great transition through intercession.
- Exodus 33:15 tn Heb “and he said”; the referent (Moses) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Exodus 33:15 tn The construction uses the active participle to stress the continual going of the presence: if there is not your face going.
- Exodus 33:15 tn “with us” has been supplied.
- Exodus 33:15 tn Heb “from this.”
- Exodus 33:16 sn See W. Brueggemann, “The Crisis and Promise of Presence in Israel,” HBT 1 (1979): 47-86; and N. M. Waldman, “God’s Ways—A Comparative Note,” JQR 70 (1979): 67-70.
- Exodus 33:17 tn The verb in this place is a preterite with the vav (ו) consecutive, judging from the pointing. It then follows in sequence the verb “you have found favor,” meaning you stand in that favor, and so it means “I have known you” and still do (equal to the present perfect). The emphasis, however, is on the results of the action, and so “I know you.”
- Exodus 33:18 tn Heb “and he said”; the referent (Moses) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Exodus 33:18 sn Moses now wanted to see the glory of Yahweh, more than what he had already seen and experienced. He wanted to see God in all his majesty. The LXX chose to translate this without a word for “glory” or “honor”; instead they used the pronoun seautou, “yourself”—show me the real You. God tells him that he cannot see it fully, but in part. It will be enough for Moses to disclose to him the reality of the divine presence as well as God’s moral nature. It would be impossible for Moses to comprehend all of the nature of God, for there is a boundary between God and man. But God would let him see his goodness, the sum of his nature, pass by in a flash. B. Jacob (Exodus, 972) says that the glory refers to God’s majesty, might, and glory, as manifested in nature, in his providence, his laws, and his judgments. He adds that this glory should and would be made visible to man—that was its purpose in the world.
- Exodus 33:19 tn Heb “and he said”; the referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Exodus 33:19 sn The word “goodness” refers to the divine appearance in summary fashion.
- Exodus 33:19 tn The expression “make proclamation in the name of Yahweh” (here a perfect tense with vav [ו] consecutive for future) means to declare, reveal, or otherwise make proclamation of who Yahweh is. The “name of Yahweh” (rendered “the name of the Lord” throughout) refers to his divine attributes revealed to his people, either in word or deed. What will be focused on first will be his grace and compassion.
- Exodus 33:19 sn God declares his mercy and grace in similar terms to his earlier self-revelation (“I am that I am”): “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious.” In other words, the grace and mercy of God are bound up in his own will. Obviously, in this passage the recipients of that favor are the penitent Israelites who were forgiven through Moses’ intercession. The two words are at the heart of God’s dealings with people. The first is חָנַן (khanan, “to be gracious, show favor”). It means to grant favor or grace to someone, grace meaning unmerited favor. All of God’s dealings are gracious, but especially in forgiving sins and granting salvation it is critical. Parallel to this is רָחַם (rakham), a word that means “show compassion, tender mercy.” It is a word that is related to the noun “womb,” the connection being in providing care and protection for that which is helpless and dependent—a motherly quality. In both of these constructions the verbs simply express what God will do, without explaining why. See further, J. R. Lundbom, “God’s Use of the Idem per idem to Terminate Debate,” HTR 71 (1978): 193-201; and J. Piper, “Prolegomena to Understanding Romans 9:14-15: An Interpretation of Exodus 33:19, ” JETS 22 (1979): 203-16.
- Exodus 33:20 tn In view of the use of the verb “can, be able to” in the first clause, this imperfect tense is given a potential nuance.
- Exodus 33:20 tn Gesenius notes that sometimes a negative statement takes the place of a conditional clause; here it is equal to “if a man sees me he does not live” (GKC 498 §159.gg). The other passages that teach this are Gen 32:30; Deut 4:33; 5:24, 26; Judg 6:22; 13:22, and Isa 6:5.
- Exodus 33:21 tn The deictic particle is used here simply to call attention to a place of God’s knowing and choosing.
- Exodus 33:21 tn Heb “and you will,” or interpretively, “where you will.”
- Exodus 33:22 sn Note the use in Exod 40:3, “and you will screen the ark with the curtain.” The glory is covered, veiled from being seen.
- Exodus 33:22 tn The circumstantial clause is simply, “my hand [being] over you.” This protecting hand of Yahweh represents a fairly common theme in the Bible.
- Exodus 33:22 tn The construction has a preposition with an infinitive construct and a suffix: “while [or until] I pass by” (Heb “in the passing by of me”).
- Exodus 33:23 tn The plural “my backs” is according to Gesenius an extension plural (compare “face,” a dual in Hebrew). The word denotes a locality in general, but that is composed of numerous parts (see GKC 397 §124.b). W. C. Kaiser says that since God is a spirit, the meaning of this word could just as easily be rendered “after effects” of his presence (“Exodus,” EBC 2:484). As S. R. Driver says, though, while this may indicate just the “afterglow” that he leaves behind him, it was enough to suggest what the full brilliancy of his presence must be (Exodus, 363; see also Job 26:14).
- Exodus 33:23 tn The Niphal imperfect could simply be rendered “will not be seen,” but given the emphasis of the preceding verses, it is more binding than that, and so a negated obligatory imperfect fits better: “it must not be seen.” It would also be possible to render it with a potential imperfect tense: “it cannot be seen.”
- Exodus 34:1 sn The restoration of the faltering community continues in this chapter. First, Moses is instructed to make new tablets and take them to the mountain (1-4). Then, through the promised theophany God proclaims his moral character (5-7). Moses responds with the reiteration of the intercession (8-9), and God responds with the renewal of the covenant (10-28). To put these into expository form, as principles, the chapter would run as follows: I. God provides for spiritual renewal (1-4), II. God reminds people of his moral standard (5-9), III. God renews his covenant promises and stipulations (10-28).
- Exodus 34:1 tn The imperative is followed by the preposition with a suffix expressing the ethical dative; it strengthens the instruction for Moses. Interestingly, the verb “cut out, chisel, hew,” is the same verb from which the word for a “graven image” is derived—פָּסַל (pasal).
- Exodus 34:1 tn The perfect tense with vav consecutive makes the value of this verb equal to an imperfect tense, probably a simple future here. sn Nothing is said of how God was going to write on these stone tablets at this point, but in the end it is Moses who wrote the words. This is not considered a contradiction, since God is often credited with things he has people do in his place. There is great symbolism in this command—if ever a command said far more than it actually said, this is it. The instruction means that the covenant had been renewed, or was going to be renewed, and that the sanctuary with the tablets in the ark at its center would be built (see Deut 10:1). The first time Moses went up he was empty-handed; when he came down he smashed the tablets because of the Israelites’ sin. Now the people would see him go up with empty tablets and be uncertain whether he would come back with the tablets inscribed again (B. Jacob, Exodus, 977-78).
- Exodus 34:2 tn The form is a Niphal participle that means “be prepared, be ready.” This probably means that Moses was to do in preparation what the congregation had to do back in Exod 19:11-15.
- Exodus 34:2 sn The same word is used in Exod 33:21. It is as if Moses was to be at his post when Yahweh wanted to communicate to him.
- Exodus 34:4 tn Heb “he”; the referent has been specified here and the name “Moses,” which occurs later in this verse, has been replaced with the pronoun (“he”), both for stylistic reasons.
- Exodus 34:4 sn Deuteronomy says that Moses was also to make an ark of acacia wood before the tablets, apparently to put the tablets in until the sanctuary was built. But this ark may not have been the ark built later; or, it might be the wood box, but Bezalel still had to do all the golden work with it.
- Exodus 34:4 tn The line reads “and Moses got up early in the morning and went up.” These verbs likely form a verbal hendiadys, the first one with its prepositional phrase serving in an adverbial sense.
- Exodus 34:5 tn Some commentaries wish to make Moses the subject of the second and the third verbs, the first because he was told to stand there and this verb suggests he did it, and the last because it sounds like he was worshiping Yahweh (cf. NASB). But it is clear from v. 6 that Yahweh was the subject of the last clause of v. 5—v. 6 tells how he did it. So if Yahweh is the subject of the first and last clauses of v. 5, it seems simpler that he also be the subject of the second. Moses took his stand there, but God stood by him (B. Jacob, Exodus, 981; U. Cassuto, Exodus, 439). There is no reason to make Moses the subject in any of the verbs of v. 5.
- Exodus 34:6 tn Here is one of the clearest examples of what it means “to call on the name of the Lord,” as that clause has been translated traditionally (וַיִּקְרָא בְשֵׁם יְהוָה, vayyiqraʾ veshem yehvah). It seems more likely that it means “to make proclamation of Yahweh by name.” Yahweh came down and made a proclamation—and the next verses give the content of what he said. This cannot be prayer or praise; it is a proclamation of the nature or attributes of God (which is what his “name” means throughout the Bible). Attempts to make Moses the subject of the verb are awkward, for the verb is repeated in v. 6 with Yahweh clearly doing the proclaiming.
- Exodus 34:6 sn U. Cassuto (Exodus, 439) suggests that these two names be written as a sentence: “Yahweh, He is Yahweh.” In this manner it reflects “I am that I am.” It is impossible to define his name in any other way than to make this affirmation and then show what it means.
- Exodus 34:6 tn See Exod 33:19.
- Exodus 34:6 sn This is literally “long of anger.” His anger prolongs itself, allowing for people to repent before punishment is inflicted.
- Exodus 34:6 sn These two words (“loyal love” and “truth”) are often found together, occasionally in a hendiadys construction. If that is the interpretation here, then it means “faithful covenant love.” Even if they are left separate, they are dual elements of a single quality. The first word is God’s faithful covenant love; the second word is God’s reliability and faithfulness.
- Exodus 34:7 tn That is, “for thousands of generations.”
- Exodus 34:7 sn As in the ten commandments (20:5-6), this expression shows that the iniquity and its punishment will continue in the family if left unchecked. This does not go on as long as the outcomes for good (thousands versus third or fourth generations), and it is limited to those who hate God.
- Exodus 34:8 tn The first two verbs form a hendiadys: “he hurried…he bowed,” meaning “he quickly bowed down.”
- Exodus 34:9 tn The Hebrew term translated “Lord” two times here is אֲדֹנָי (ʾadonay).
- Exodus 34:9 tn Heb “it is.” Hebrew uses the third person masculine singular pronoun here in agreement with the noun “people.”
- Exodus 34:10 tn Here again is a use of the futur instans participle; the deictic particle plus the pronoun precedes the participle, showing what is about to happen.
- Exodus 34:10 tn The verb here is בָּרָא (baraʾ, “to create”). The choice of this verb is to stress that these wonders would be supernaturally performed, for the verb is used only with God as the subject.
- Exodus 34:10 sn The idea is that God will be doing awesome things in dealing with them, i.e., to fulfill his program.
- Exodus 34:11 tn The covenant duties begin with this command to “keep well” what is being commanded. The Hebrew expression is “keep for you”; the preposition and the suffix form the ethical dative, adding strength to the imperative.
- Exodus 34:11 tn Again, this is the futur instans use of the participle.
- Exodus 34:12 tn The exact expression is “take heed to yourself lest you make.” It is the second use of this verb in the duties, now in the Niphal stem. To take heed to yourself means to watch yourself, be sure not to do something. Here, if they failed to do this, they would end up making entangling treaties.
- Exodus 34:12 sn A snare would be a trap, an allurement to ruin. See Exod 23:33.
- Exodus 34:13 tn Or “images of Asherah”; ASV, NASB “their Asherim”; NCV “their Asherah idols.”sn Asherah was a leading deity of the Canaanite pantheon, wife/sister of El and goddess of fertility. She was commonly worshiped at shrines in or near groves of evergreen trees, or, failing that, at places marked by wooden poles. These were to be burned or cut down (Deut 12:3; 16:21; Judg 6:25, 28, 30; 2 Kgs 18:4).
- Exodus 34:14 tn Heb “bow down.”
- Exodus 34:14 sn In Exod 20:3 it was “gods.”
- Exodus 34:14 sn Here, too, the emphasis on God’s being a jealous God is repeated (see Exod 20:5). The use of “name” here is to stress that this is his nature, his character.
- Exodus 34:15 tn The sentence begins simply “lest you make a covenant”; it is undoubtedly a continuation of the imperative introduced earlier, and so that is supplied here.
- Exodus 34:15 tn The verb is a perfect with a vav consecutive. In the literal form of the sentence, this clause tells what might happen if the people made a covenant with the inhabitants of the land: “Take heed…lest you make a covenant…and then they prostitute themselves…and sacrifice…and invite…and you eat.” The sequence lays out an entire scenario.
- Exodus 34:15 tn The verb זָנָה (zanah) means “to play the prostitute; to commit whoredom; to be a harlot” or something similar. It is used here and elsewhere in the Bible for departing from pure religion and engaging in pagan religion. The use of the word in this figurative sense is fitting, because the relationship between God and his people is pictured as a marriage, and to be unfaithful to it was a sin. This is also why God is described as a “jealous” or “impassioned” God. The figure may not be merely a metaphorical use, but perhaps a metonymy, since there actually was sexual immorality at the Canaanite altars and poles.
- Exodus 34:15 tn There is no subject for the verb. It could be rendered “and one invites you,” or it could be made a passive.
- Exodus 34:16 tn In the construction this verb would follow as a possible outcome of the last event, and so remain in the verbal sequence. If the people participate in the festivals of the land, then they will intermarry, and that could lead to further involvement with idolatry.
- Exodus 34:18 tn This is an adverbial accusative of time.
- Exodus 34:18 tn The words “do this” have been supplied.
- Exodus 34:19 tn Heb “everything that opens the womb.”
- Exodus 34:19 tn Here too: everything that “opens [the womb].”
- Exodus 34:19 tn The verb basically means “that drops a male.” The verb is feminine, referring to the cattle.
- Exodus 34:20 tn Heb “and the one that opens [the womb of] the donkey.”
- Exodus 34:20 sn See G. Brin, “The Firstling of Unclean Animals,” JQR 68 (1971): 1-15.
- Exodus 34:20 tn The form is the adverb “empty.”
- Exodus 34:21 tn This is an adverbial accusative of time.
- Exodus 34:21 tn Or “cease” (i.e., from the labors).
- Exodus 34:21 sn See M. Dahood, “Vocative lamed in Exodus 2, 4 and Merismus in 34, 21, ” Bib 62 (1981): 413-15.
- Exodus 34:21 tn The imperfect tense expresses injunction or instruction.
- Exodus 34:22 tn The imperfect tense means “you will do”; it is followed by the preposition with a suffix to express the ethical dative to stress the subject.
- Exodus 34:22 tn The expression is “the turn of the year,” which is parallel to “the going out of the year,” and means the end of the agricultural season.
- Exodus 34:23 tn “Three times” is an adverbial accusative.
- Exodus 34:23 tn Heb “all your males.”
- Exodus 34:23 tn Here the divine name reads in Hebrew הָאָדֹן יְהוָה (haʾadon yehvah), which if rendered according to the traditional scheme of “Lord” for “Yahweh” would result in “Lord Lord.” A number of English versions render this phrase “Lord God.” sn The title “Lord” translated as Sovereign is included here before the divine name (translated “Lord” here), perhaps to form a contrast with Baal (which means “lord” as well) and to show the sovereignty of Yahweh. But the distinct designation “the God of Israel” is certainly the point of the renewed covenant relationship.
- Exodus 34:24 tn The verb is a Hiphil imperfect of יָרַשׁ (yarash), which means “to possess.” In the causative stem it can mean “dispossess” or “drive out.”
- Exodus 34:24 sn The verb “covet” means more than desire; it means that some action will be taken to try to acquire the land that is being coveted. It is one thing to envy someone for their land; it is another to be consumed by the desire that stops at nothing to get it (it, not something like it).
- Exodus 34:24 tn The construction uses the infinitive construct with a preposition and a suffixed subject to form the temporal clause.
- Exodus 34:24 tn The expression “three times” is an adverbial accusative of time.
- Exodus 34:25 sn See M. Haran, “The Passover Sacrifice,” Studies in the Religion of Ancient Israel (VTSup), 86-116.
- Exodus 34:26 sn See the note on this same command in 23:19.
- Exodus 34:27 tn Once again the preposition with the suffix follows the imperative, adding some emphasis to the subject of the verb.
- Exodus 34:28 tn These too are adverbial in relation to the main clause, telling how long Moses was with Yahweh on the mountain.
- Exodus 34:28 tn Heb “the ten words,” though “commandments” is traditional.
- Exodus 34:29 sn Now, at the culmination of the renewing of the covenant, comes the account of Moses’ shining face. It is important to read this in its context first, holding off on the connection to Paul’s discussion in 2 Corinthians. There is a delicate balance here in Exodus. On the one hand Moses’ shining face served to authenticate the message, but on the other hand Moses prevented the people from seeing more than they could handle. The subject matter in the OT, then, is how to authenticate the message. The section again can be subdivided into three points that develop the whole idea: I. The one who spends time with God reflects his glory (29-30). It will not always be as Moses; rather, the glory of the Lord is reflected differently today, but nonetheless reflected. II. The glory of Yahweh authenticates the message (31-32). III. The authentication of the message must be used cautiously with the weak and immature (33-35).
- Exodus 34:29 tn The temporal clause is composed of the temporal indicator (“and it happened”), followed by the temporal preposition, infinitive construct, and subjective genitive (“Moses”).
- Exodus 34:29 tn The second clause begins with “and/now”; it is a circumstantial clause explaining that the tablets were in his hand. It repeats the temporal clause at the end.
- Exodus 34:29 tn Heb “in the hand of Moses.”
- Exodus 34:29 tn The temporal clause parallels the first temporal clause; it uses the same infinitive construct, but now with a suffix referring to Moses.
- Exodus 34:29 tn Heb “and Moses.”
- Exodus 34:29 tn The word קָרַן (qaran) is derived from the noun קֶרֶן (qeren) in the sense of a “ray of light” (see Hab 3:4). Something of the divine glory remained with Moses. The Greek translation of Aquila and the Latin Vulgate convey the idea that he had horns, the primary meaning of the word from which this word is derived. Some have tried to defend this, saying that the glory appeared like horns or that Moses covered his face with a mask adorned with horns. But in the text the subject of the verb is the skin of Moses’ face (see U. Cassuto, Exodus, 449).
- Exodus 34:30 tn This clause is introduced by the deictic particle הִנֵּה (hinneh); it has the force of pointing to something surprising or sudden.
- Exodus 34:33 tn Heb “and Moses finished”; the clause is subordinated as a temporal clause to the next clause.
- Exodus 34:33 tn The Piel infinitive construct is the object of the preposition; the whole phrase serves as the direct object of the verb “finished.”
- Exodus 34:33 tn Throughout this section the actions of Moses and the people are frequentative. The text tells what happened regularly.
- Exodus 34:34 tn The construction uses a infinitive construct for the temporal clause; it is prefixed with the temporal preposition: “and in the going in of Moses.”
- Exodus 34:34 tn The temporal clause begins with the temporal preposition “until,” followed by an infinitive construct with the suffixed subjective genitive.
- Exodus 34:34 tn The form is the Pual imperfect, but since the context demands a past tense here, in fact a past perfect tense, this is probably an old preterite form without a vav consecutive.
- Exodus 34:35 tn Now the perfect tense with vav consecutive is subordinated to the next clause, “Moses returned the veil….”
- Exodus 34:35 tn Verbs of seeing often take two accusatives. Here, the second is the noun clause explaining what it was about the face that they saw.
- Exodus 34:35 tn Heb “with him”; the referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity.