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The Lord Assures Moses That He Will Have Mercy on Israel

33 Then Yahweh said to Moses, “You and the people you brought out of Egypt must leave this place. Go to the land I promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob with an oath, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I will send a Messenger ahead of you, and I will force out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. Go to that land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not be with you, because you are impossible to deal with, and I would destroy you on the way.”

When the people heard this bad news, they acted as if someone had died. No one wore any jewelry. Yahweh had said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites, ‘You are impossible to deal with. If I were with you, I might destroy you at any time. Now take off your jewelry, and I’ll decide what to do with you.’” After they left Mount Horeb, the Israelites no longer wore their jewelry.

Now, Moses used to take a tent and set it up far outside the camp. He called it the tent of meeting. Anyone who was seeking Yahweh’s will used to go outside the camp to the tent of meeting. Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would rise and stand at the entrances to their tents and watch Moses until he went in. As soon as Moses went into the tent, the column of smoke would come down and stay at the entrance to the tent while Yahweh spoke with Moses. 10 When all the people saw the column of smoke standing at the entrance to the tent, they would all bow with their faces touching the ground at the entrance to their own tents. 11 Yahweh would speak to Moses personally, as a man speaks to his friend. Then Moses would come back to the camp, but his assistant, Joshua, son of Nun, stayed inside the tent.

12 Moses said to Yahweh, “You’ve been telling me to lead these people, but you haven’t let me know whom you’re sending with me. You’ve also said, ‘I know you by name, and I’m pleased with you.’ 13 If you really are pleased with me, show me your ways so that I can know you and so that you will continue to be pleased with me. Remember: This nation is your people.”

14 Yahweh answered, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you peace.”

15 Then Moses said to him, “If your presence is not going with us, don’t make us leave this place. 16 How will anyone ever know you’re pleased with your people and me unless you go with us? Then we will be different from all other people on the face of the earth.”

17 Yahweh answered Moses, “I will do what you have asked, because I am pleased with you, and I know you by name.”

18 Then Moses said, “Please let me see your glory.”

19 Yahweh said, “I will let all my goodness pass in front of you, and there I will call out my name ‘Yahweh.’ I will be kind to anyone I want to. I will be merciful to anyone I want to. 20 But you can’t see my face, because no one may see me and live.”

21 Then Yahweh said, “Look, there’s a place near me. Stand by this rocky cliff. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a crevice in the cliff and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will take my hand away, and you’ll see my back, but my face must not be seen.”