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With him I will speak face to face,[a] openly[b] and not in riddles, and he will see the form[c] of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?”

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  1. Numbers 12:8 tn The emphasis of the line is clear enough—it begins literally “mouth to mouth” I will speak with him. In human communication this would mean equality of rank, but Moses is certainly not equal in rank with the Lord. And yet God is here stating that Moses has an immediacy and directness with communication with God. It goes beyond the idea of friendship, almost to that of a king’s confidant.
  2. Numbers 12:8 tn The word מַרְאֶה (marʾeh) refers to what is seen, a vision, an appearance. Here it would have the idea of that which is clearly visible, open, obvious.
  3. Numbers 12:8 tn The word “form” (תְּמוּנָה, temunah) means “shape, image, form.” The Greek text took it metaphorically and rendered it “the glory of the Lord.” This line expresses even more the uniqueness of Moses. The elders saw God on one special occasion (Exod 24:10), and the people never (Deut 4:12, 15), but Moses has direct and familiar contact with God.