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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
Exodus 24

 

 

Verses 1-18


The Ratification of the Covenant

1. And he said] The first two vv. of this chapter are a continuation of the narrative from Exodus 20:21, which was interrupted by the insertion of the Book of the Covenant, originally a separate document. chapter Exodus 23:33 is continued in Exodus 24:3. Nadab, and Abihu] the two oldest sons of Aaron: see Exodus 6:23. Seventy of the elders] a selection from the heads of the tribes and families: see on Exodus 3:16.

3. And Moses came and told the people] after he had ascended the mountain and received the 'words and the judgments 'contained in chapters Exodus 20:22 to Exodus 23:33 : cp. Exodus 21:1.

4. And Moses wrote] see on Exodus 17:14. The altar symbolised the presence of Jehovah, the twelve pillars represented the twelve tribes of Israel. These pillars were single unhewn stones which were smeared with the blood of the sacrificial animal or with the oil of a vegetable offering: see on Genesis 28:18. The use of pillars is an evidence of the antiquity of the rite of sealing the covenant recorded here, as they were afterwards forbidden owing to their association with heathen worship: see Deuteronomy 16:22, and see on Exodus 34:13.

5. See on Exodus 18:12.

6. The sprinkling of the altar with half the blood and of the people with the other half (Exodus 24:8) signified that both parties, Jehovah and Israel, entered into fellowship and bound themselves by the terms of the covenant, the people promising obedience and Jehovah promising His help and blessing. See Exodus 23:23-31. In the New Covenant the blood of Christ takes the place of the blood of the sacrificial animal, and by faith in His sacrifice, Christians enter into communion with God: see Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 9:11-28; 1 Peter 1:2;

8. Concerning all these words] RM 'upon all these conditions.'

9-11. The ratification of the covenant is concluded with a sacrificial meal (Exodus 24:11), which usually followed the peace offering and symbolised the harmonious relationship existing between the offerers and God: see Leviticus 3. At this meal, which took place on the mount, the representatives of the people were vouchsafed a vision of God Himself, not as previously with terrorinspiring accompaniments of thunder, lightning, and smoke (Exodus 20:18-19), but in grace, mercy, and peace. The sight of God, otherwise fatal in its effects (see Exodus 33:20. and on Exodus 19:9), does not injure them. God does not smite them; on the contrary they are able to eat and drink in His presence, having entered into covenant relationship with Him (Exodus 24:11).

10. They saw the God of Israel] A very bold anthropomorphic way of describing the experience of these favoured persons, which the Gk. (LXX) Version, made many centuries later, avoids by translating 'they saw the place where God stood.' At the same time it is noticeable that the sacred writer evinces a great reserve in speaking of this vision of God. He makes no attempt to describe the appearance of God, only what was under His feet. Similarly Isaiah, who says that he too 'saw the Lord,' describes only the accompaniments of his vision (Isaiah 6): see Exodus 33:18-19, Exodus 33:23. In Deuteronomy 4:12; Moses is represented as reminding the people that they 'saw no similitude' of God at Horeb; and in John 1:18 (cp. John 5:37; John 6:46) we read that 'no man hath seen God at any time.' The apparent inconsistency between these passages and the present is to be accounted for on the principle of the progressiveness of revelation. Divine truth can only be communicated to men in the measure and in the manner in which they are able to receive it. In early times men were like children in regard to spiritual things, which therefore could only be apprehended by them under material forms of expression. The essential and permanent truth underlying the present representation is that the majesty and the will of the invisible God were brought vividly home to the minds of these men by means of the Moral Law, and that this Law was not a discovery by Moses but a thing revealed to him by God. Cp. what is said on anthropomorphisms in Intro, to Exodus, § 3.

A paved work of a sapphire stone] The ancients regarded the sky as a solid vaulted dome stretched over the earth: see on Genesis 1:6-8.

Body of heaven in his clearness] RV 'the very heaven for clearness.'

12. Moses receives another command to come up into the mount and receive the tables of the Law and other directions connected with the outward service of religion.

Tables of stone] From Deuteronomy 5:22 we learn that these contained the Ten Commandments, and the same is implied in chapter Exodus 34:28, which relates to the second tables, doubtless exact copies of the first which Moses broke. The other regulations which follow in Exodus 25, etc., seem to have been given orally. The words which I have written should perhaps follow tables of stone. The expression may be understood as indicating the immediate divine origin of the Law (cp. Exodus 31:18).

13. Minister] servant, attendant; cp. Luke 4:20 RV Acts 13:5.

14. Said unto the elders] not merely the seventy spoken of in Exodus 24:1, but all the representatives of the people. They are to see that the camp is not removed from the plain during the absence of Moses.

15. Moses went up] Joshua accompanied him part of the way, and seems to have awaited his return somewhere on the mountain side: see Exodus 32:17.

18. Forty days and forty nights] The later account adds that during this time he neither ate nor drank (Deuteronomy 9:9). On the number forty see on Exodus 2:21.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Exodus 24:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/exodus-24.html. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, October 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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