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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 34

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

Verses 1-35

The Renewal of the Covenant

In token that the people are forgiven, God renews His covenant relation with them. The conditions are the same as before. The Decalogue is inscribed on two fresh tables, and the main provisions of the ceremonial law are repeated.

1. Which thou brakest] There is no reproach in these words. Moses is nowhere blamed for his righteous indignation. He was ’angry and sinned not.’

3. See on Exodus 19:12, Exodus 19:13.

5. See on Exodus 33:19. On the name of The Lord see on Exodus 3:13.

6. RV ’The Lord, the Lord, a God full of compassion and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy and truth’: this is perhaps the highest utterance of revelation, and is frequently quoted by OT. writers: see e.g. Nehemiah 9:17; Psalms 86:15; Psalms 103:8; Psalms 145:8; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2, also Numbers 14:18. The divine attributes here proclaimed are not God’s dread majesty and power, but His mercy and truth. He is merciful, but He cannot overlook transgression.

7. That will by no means clear the guilty] i.e. will not allow the guilty to pass unpunished. The same words are rendered in Exodus 20:7; ’will not hold him guiltless,’ and in Jeremiah 30:11; ’will not leave unpunished.’ Visiting the iniquity of the fathers] see on Exodus 20:5.

12-17. The warning against idolatry is solemnly repeated, and the people are forbidden to make covenant or intermarry with their idolatrous neighbours in Canaan. See on Exodus 23:32-33 and on Numbers 25:16-18.

13. Images] RV ’pillars,’ or ’Obelisks’: see Exodus 24:4. Groves] i.e. ’things graven’, RV ’Asherim.’ The Canaanitish shrine contained an altar, near which stood a stone pillar and an Asherah (plur. Asherim). The latter was a wooden pole or stump of a tree planted in the ground: see Judges 6:26; 1 Kings 15:13; 2 Kings 17:10; 2 Kings 23:7, and on 1 Kings 14:15. Immoral rites were practised at these shrines in honour of the reproductive forces of nature.

14. Whose name is Jealous] on name, see on Exodus 3:13, and on Jealous, on Exodus 20:5.

15. Whoring after their gods] The covenant bond between Jehovah and Israel is frequently compared with a marriage (see e.g. Jeremiah 3:14; Hosea 2:19-20), and idolatry, which is unfaithfulness to Jehovah, is regarded as adultery, a view all the more natural seeing that idolatry and immorality so frequently went together (see on ’groves’ Exodus 34:13 and on Leviticus 19:29). For this conception of idolatry, see e.g. Leviticus 17:7; Numbers 14:33; Jeremiah 3:1-20; Jeremiah 13:27; Hosea 2 (especially Exodus 34:13, Exodus 34:16) Ezekiel 20:30, Ezekiel 20:31. In NT. the Church is called the Bride of Christ. See Ephesians 5:23-32; Revelation 19:7-9; Revelation 21:2, Revelation 21:9, Revelation 21:17.

18-26. See on Exodus 23:12-19.

21. Earing] i.e. ploughing. At these busy and critical seasons there would be a special temptation to work upon the sabbath day.

24. Desire thy land, when thou shalt go up] i.e. take advantage of your absence to despoil your homes. God will protect their property while they are worshipping Him.

28-35. Moses descends from the Mount with the new Tables.

28. Similar fasts are recorded of Elijah (1 Kings 19:8) and of our Lord (Matthew 4:2): see on Exodus 2:21. He wrote] The subject is God: see Exodus 34:1.

29. Wist not] knew not. Shone while he talked with him] RV ’shone by reason of his speaking with him.’ His face was lit up with a radiance which was the reflection of the divine glory, and served to attest the message he delivered to the people. Compare what is said of our Lord at His Transfiguration (Matthew 17:2) and of Stephen at his martyrdom (Acts 6:15; Acts 7:55). The present instance is a fine illustration of the power of unconscious influence. The Heb. verb rendered ’shone’ in this passage is derived from the word meaning ’horn,’ which is used figuratively to denote rays or flashes of light proceeding from a luminous object (see e.g. Habakkuk 3:4 with mg.). The Vulgate (Latin version) accordingly says of Moses’ face that it was cornuta, which has led to the curious representation of Moses with horns, as seen in early art.

33. Till Moses had done speaking with them] RV ’when Moses had done speaking with them.’ Moses usually wore the veil, only putting it off when he entered the presence of God or spoke to the people. An interesting reminiscence of this is said to be seen in the Jewish synagogue, where the priest, in pronouncing the Aaronic benediction (Numbers 6:24-26), veils his face with his tallith (see on Numbers 15:37-41), ’lest the utterance of the words should bring up the glory that shone in the face of Moses and strike the people dead.’ St. Paul refers to this incident in 2 Corinthians 3:7-18, and evidently understands that Moses wore the veil in order to hide the fading of the glory in his face (see Exodus 34:7, Exodus 34:13). He accordingly sees in Moses’ action an illustration of the inferiority of the Jewish dispensation as compared with the Christian. The glory of the former was fading, transitory, and partly obscured; that of the latter is permanent, unobstructed, ever increasing, and shared by all.

Exodus 35:1-3. The Sabbath Law. See Exodus 31:15, and on Exodus 20:8-11.

3. Kindle no fire] an act involving work. This law is observed by pious Jews at the present day. They have fires in their houses on the sabbath, but they employ a gentile to light and tend them: see on Exodus 12:16.

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Exodus 34". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/exodus-34.html. 1909.
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