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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 19

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

Verses 1-25

Exodus 19:1 In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai.

Exodus 19:2 For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount.

Exodus 19:1-2 Comments The Location of Mount Sinai - Since the third or fourth century A.D., the traditional location of Mount Sinai has been Jebel Musa, located in the southern part of the Sinai Peninsula ( ISBE). [80] We see Paul the apostle taking a pilgrimage to Arabia in his early years as a Christian, perhaps to the sacred site of Mount Sinai.

[80] C. R. Conder, “Sinai,” in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., c1915, 1939), in The Sword Project, v. 1.5.11 [CD-ROM] (Temple, AZ: CrossWire Bible Society, 1990-2008).

Galatians 1:17, “Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.”

Josephus quotes Apion as saying that this mountain was located between Egypt and Arabia.

“However, our admirable author Apion hath before told us that ‘they came to Judea in six days’ time;” and again, that “ Moses went up to a mountain that lay between Egypt and Arabia, which was called Sinai , and was concealed there forty days, and that when he came down from thence he gave laws to the Jews.’” (Josephus, Against Apion 2.2.25) [81]

[81] Flavius Josephus, Flavius Josephus Against Apion, in The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged, William Whiston, trans. (Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson, c1987, 1996), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004), 541.

Philo of Alexandria says that Moses fled to Arabia while the Scriptures say that Moses fled to Midian. Thus, Midian could be located in Arabia.

“As they urged these arguments to the king he retreated to the contiguous country of Arabia , where it was safe to abide, entreating God that he would deliver his countrymen from inextricable calamities, and would worthily chastise their oppressors who omitted no circumstance of insolence and tyranny, and would double his joy by allowing him to behold the accomplishment of both these prayers. And God heard his prayers, looking favourably on his disposition, so devoted to what is good, and so hostile to what is evil, and not long after he pronounced his decision upon the affairs of that land as became a God.” (Philo Judaes, A Treatise On the Life of Moses, 1.9) [82]

[82] C. D. Young, The Works of Philo Judaes vol. 3 (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1855), 12.

If Moses was tending the flock of Jethro when he encountered God at Mount Sinai, then this would mean that it was located near Midian in Arabia.

Exodus 3:1, “Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.”

If Mount Sinai, and Midian, were located in Saudi Arabia, rather than the Sinai Peninsula, as recent archeological evidence now indicates, then the crossing of the Red Sea could have taken place in the Gulf of Aqaba, on the east side of the Sinai Peninsula and not at one of five traditional sites located on the west or north side of the Sinai and the Gulf of Suez. Since the Sinai Peninsula was under the domain of Egypt during the time of the Exodus, this location in Arabia would have placed Moses and the children of Israel just outside Egyptian ancient territory and thus, outside of their diplomatic reach.

Visits into the northwest corner of Saudi Arabia by Chuck Missler and Bob Cornuke have revealed a site considered by local Arabs to be the place where Moses camped with the children of Israel. Jabel Alaz, located about fifteen miles below Elbad, matches the ancient Jewish historical records. This site has a flat plain of 10,000 acres located at the base of a tall mountain, whose top is black as if burned with fire. This level plain would be big enough to allow the children of Israel to camp. In addition, the description of this mountain fits that described by Josephus:

“When he had said this, he ascended up to Mount Sinai, which is the highest of all the mountains that are in that country and is not only very difficult to be ascended by men, on account of its vast altitude, but because of the sharpness of its precipices also; nay, indeed, it cannot be looked at without pain of the eyes: and besides this, it was terrible and inaccessible, on account of the rumor that passed about, that God dwelt there.” (Josephus, Antiquities 3.5.1.) [83]

[83] Flavius Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews, in The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged, William Whiston, trans. (Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson, c1987, 1996), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004), 84.

A large stone altar has been found at this location with carvings of cattle matching those carved on ancient Egyptian walls. The shape of this altar fits the description found in Exodus 20:24-26. It was made of uncut stone, and it had no steps leading up to the top.

Exodus 20:24, “An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.”

In addition, on the top of one hill in this location sits a large stone that has been split from top to bottom, with signs of water erosion at its base. Perhaps this is the very stone that Moses struck and water came out. [84]

[84] Chuck Missler , The Real Mt. Sinai? (March 1998) [on-line]; accessed 5 March 2009; available from http://www.khouse.org/articles/1998/153/; Internet.

Exodus 19:4 Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself.

Exodus 19:4 Scripture References - Note:

Isaiah 40:31, “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

Exodus 19:5-6 Scripture References - See:

1 Peter 2:5, “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”

1 Peter 2:9, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”

Revelation 1:6, “And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”

Exodus 19:8 Comments - They promised to do all of God’s Word.

Ecclesiastes 5:4, “When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?”

Exodus 19:9 And the LORD said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the LORD.

Exodus 19:9 “I come unto thee in a thick cloud” Comments - God covered His radiance because no man can approach the light that God dwells in (1 Timothy 6:16). The children of Israel could not behold God. Even Moses was allowed to see only the back of God.

1 Timothy 6:16, “Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.”

Scripture References - Note a similar passage:

Psalms 97:2, “Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.”

Exodus 19:10 “let them wash their clothes” Comments - The washing of the people’s clothing may be figurative of the church's call to cleans itself from the world (2 Corinthians 7:1), and to be a people set apart for the Lord.

2 Corinthians 7:1, “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

Exodus 19:11 And be ready against the third day: for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai.

Exodus 19:11 “be ready against the third day” - Comments - If one day is figurative of a thousand year in God's sight (2 Peter 3:8), then the church has been given two days, or two thousand years to consecrate itself and to get ready for His coming. The third day would then represent the millennial reign of the Lord Jesus, when He comes to dwell with men (Revelation 20:4).

2 Peter 3:8, “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

Revelation 20:4, “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.”

Exodus 19:9-11 Comments The Lord Speaks to Moses in a Thick Cloud - The Scriptures tell us that all of the service that Moses performed was as a witness of those things which were coming (Hebrews 3:5). Therefore, this event could be a type and figure of the coming of the Lord to dwell with His people.

Hebrews 3:5, “And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after;”

Exodus 19:12 And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death:

Exodus 19:12 Comments - Also, whoever touched the ark of covenant was killed.

Exodus 19:13 There shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount.

Exodus 19:12-13 Scripture References - Note:

Hebrews 12:20, “(For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart:”

Exodus 19:14 And Moses went down from the mount unto the people, and sanctified the people; and they washed their clothes.

Exodus 19:15 And he said unto the people, Be ready against the third day: come not at your wives.

Exodus 19:15 “Come not at your wives” Comments - Why could the people not come at their wives? Because it made them unclean.

Leviticus 22:4, “What man soever of the seed of Aaron is a leper, or hath a running issue; he shall not eat of the holy things, until he be clean . And whoso toucheth any thing that is unclean by the dead, or a man whose seed goeth from him .”

Exodus 19:15 Scripture References - See:

1 Samuel 21:4-5, “And the priest answered David, and said, There is no common bread under mine hand, but there is hallowed bread; if the young men have kept themselves at least from women. And David answered the priest, and said unto him, Of a truth women have been kept from us about these three days, since I came out, and the vessels of the young men are holy, and the bread is in a manner common, yea, though it were sanctified this day in the vessel.”

1 Corinthians 7:5, “Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.”

Exodus 19:16 And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled.

Exodus 19:17 And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount.

Exodus 19:18 And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.

Exodus 19:18 Comments - The mount did not shake until God descended upon it. This represents God’s presence. See:

1 Kings 19:11, “And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake.”

Isaiah 6:4, “And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.”

Nahum 1:5, “The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein.”

Acts 4:31, “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.”

Hebrews 12:26, “Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.”

Exodus 19:19 And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice.

Exodus 19:20 And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up.

Exodus 19:19-20 Comments The Sounding of the Trumpet as a Type and Figure of the Rapture of the Church - Some Bible scholars suggest that the sounding of the trumpet in Exodus 19:19-20 is a type and figure of the rapture of the Church. As the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai with the sound of the trumpet, so will Christ descend from heaven with the trump of God at the time of the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

1 Thessalonians 4:16, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

Exodus 19:21 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish.

Exodus 19:21 Comments - Moses was like a watchman on the tower (Ezekiel 3:17).

Ezekiel 3:17, ”on of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.”

Exodus 19:22 And let the priests also, which come near to the LORD, sanctify themselves, lest the LORD break forth upon them.

Exodus 19:23 And Moses said unto the LORD, The people cannot come up to mount Sinai: for thou chargedst us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it.

Exodus 19:24 And the LORD said unto him, Away, get thee down, and thou shalt come up, thou, and Aaron with thee: but let not the priests and the people break through to come up unto the LORD, lest he break forth upon them.

Exodus 19:25 So Moses went down unto the people, and spake unto them.

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Exodus 19". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/exodus-19.html. 2013.
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