33:2I will send an angel before you. There is no real contrast between the Lord and the Angel here, for the Angel who was to go before Israel had already been identified with the Lord (23:20–23; Gen. 16:7 and notes). The key to understanding God’s proposal is found in v. 3 (“I will not go up among you”). At issue was God’s gracious dwelling in the midst of the people (29:44–46). If God did not dwell in Israel’s midst, then there would be no point in building the tabernacle; indeed, Israel could “depart” immediately without constructing it (v. 1). Instead, another arrangement, already in operation (described in vv. 7–11), would be continued. God would meet with Moses and with inquiring Israelites at a tent “outside the camp, far off from the camp” (v. 7). This new “tent of meeting” was not God’s dwelling; Joshua lived there (v. 11). God only came from time to time to the entrance of the tent in the pillar of cloud to speak with Moses (vv. 9, 10).
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