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This place. Mount Sinai, (Menochius) or the tabernacle, ver. 7. (Calmet)
I will not go: "in majesty" (Chaldean) and "brightness," Arabic. The angel shall go in his own name, and shall not perform such great miracles. My tabernacle shall be removed to a respectful distance, lest, not being able to endure the barefaced impiety of the people, I slay you in my fury. God addresses Moses, as the representative of the nation, (Menochius) and adopts the language of men, appearing as a king, who cannot bear to be insulted to his face. (Haydock)
Ornaments. Chaldean and Syriac, "arms." They had brought jewels, &c., out of Egypt. (Menochius)
Once, &c. "In a moment." (Pagnin.) --- Shall destroy, if you prove rebellious any more, as I foresee you will. --- Lay aside, as you have done. --- To thee, according to the measure of your repentance or negligence. (Menochius)
By Horeb, or at the foot of the mount. Some think they put them on no more in the wilderness; (Calmet) or at least till they had obtained the tables of the law again, in testimony of God's reconciliation with them. (Salien.)
Tabernacle: not that which God had described, which was set up later, (chap. xl.) but one destined for public and private prayer. (Menochius) --- Afar, a thousand yards. (Thalmud and Villet.) --- Covenant; or alliance, which God had entered into with the people. (Tirinus) --- The Hebrew may signify, "of the assembly or congregation," because there the people met to hear the divine doctrine explained, and to offer up their prayers. --- Camp. Thus were the people reminded of their excommunication, or separation, from the God whom they had so wantonly abandoned, and whose protection and presence were their only support and comfort. (Haydock) --- The record of the covenant was also probably torn, as Moses was ordered to write it again, chap. xxxiv. 27. (Tirinus)
Rose up, out of respect to their prince, who was not their mediator also. (Haydock)
He spoke. The angel, conducting the pillar, spoke in God's name. (Menochius)
And worshipped. This the Samaritan copy omits. The people bowed towards Moses and the angel. (Calmet)
Face to face. That is, in a most familiar manner. Though, as we learn from this very chapter, Moses could not see the face of the Lord. (Challoner) --- The angel assumed a human form, (Menochius) which Moses knew could not fully display the majesty of God; and hence he begs to see his face, or his glory, (ver. 13, 18,) which God declares is impossible for any mortal to do, ver. 20. (Haydock) --- He addresses him, however, with unusual condescension, and speaks to him without any ambiguity, "without any medium," as the Arabic expresses it. Other prophets were instructed by visions, and were filled with terror, Daniel x. 8. --- Young man, though 50 years old, and the general who defeated the Amalecites, chap. xvii. 13. Puer means a servant also, in which capacity Josue waited on Moses, and was alone allowed to be present with him in the tabernacle. He did not sleep there, (Calmet) but guarded it from all profanation. Some say he was still called young, because he was unmarried; in which sense the Chaldean styles him hullema, which corresponds with the Hebrew halma, a virgin. (Serarius) (Tirinus)
To the Lord. This conversation probably took place on Mount Horeb, (ver. 22,) after God had threatened that he would not go up with the people, chap. xxxii. 34. And here (ver. 3,) Moses, considering that God would thus withdraw his special providence from his people, begins to expostulate with him; and first, having mentioned with gratitude, the repeated kindnesses of God towards himself, he begs to be informed what angel shall accompany him, and then proceeds to beg that God would still shew his wonted favour to the penitent Hebrews, and conduct them himself, as he had done before the transgression. We do not read before, that God said to Moses, I know thee by name; (St. Augustine, q. 193,) but he had used that expression in some conversation with him, as he did afterwards, ver. 17. (Haydock)
Face. Hebrew, "way." Be thou our guide. --- Thy people. Acknowledge them again. Moses begs not for any special favour for himself, but only for the Hebrews. (Salien.)
Face. Arabic, "light." Syriac, "walk in my presence," and fear not. The Messias is called the angel of his face, Isaias lxiii. 9. --- Rest. I will grant thy request. (Calmet)
Thyself. Moses desires a farther explanation, or a positive assurance that God would conduct them. --- By all, ab omnibus, distinguished in glory from all others. (Chaldean)
Glory, or face, ver. 13, 20. The angel was robed in darkness, which Moses begs may be removed. Tertullian supposes, he wished to behold the Messias. Many think he desired to contemplate the divine essence. (St. Augustine, q. 161.; Philo; &c.) But, could he be ignorant that such a request could not be granted? (Calmet) --- God promised to shew him all good, or the beatific vision after death. (Haydock)
All good, that could reasonably be desired. "I will pass before thee in all my glory," (Septuagint) and principally in my beneficence, chap. xxxiv. 6, 7. (Calmet) --- I will shew thee what great favours I have in reserve for Israel. Divines dispute whether Moses saw the divine essence. (St. Thomas Aquinas, [Summa Theologiae ] 1, p. q. 12, a. 11.) (Menochius) --- If he requested to do so now, it seems to be denied, ver. 20. and John i. 17. (Tirinus) --- Proclaim, &c. When I pass, I will repeat some of my glorious titles, and particularly that I am merciful. (Menochius) --- Yet I will shew mercy with discretion, and will punish some of you. (Calmet)
My face, even in my assumed form. (Menochius) --- The effulgence would cause death, as was commonly believed, Genesis xiii. 16. To behold the divine essence, we must be divested of our mortal body, 1 Corinthians ii. 9. (St. Gregory of Nazianzus, or. 49.) (Haydock) --- Moses, therefore, did not see it on earth, though he had greater favours shewn to him than the other prophets, Numbers xii. 6. (Theodoret, q. 68; St. Chrysostom; &c.) (Worthington)
See my back parts. The Lord, by his angel, usually spoke to Moses in the pillar of the cloud, so that he could not see the glory of Him that spoke familiarly with him. In the vision here mentioned, he was allowed to see something of Him, in an assumed corporeal form: not in the face, the rays of which were too bright for mortal eye to bear, but to view Him as it were behind, when his face was turned from him. (Challoner) --- Thus our curiosity is repressed. (Du Hamel) --- Servius observes, on Virgil, that the "gods mostly declare themselves by suddenly disappearing. They will shew their faces." (Iliad. N. Grotius) --- The rock was Christ, (Du Hamel) in whose sacred humanity we discern, at a distance, the majesty of God. (St. Augustine, q. 154.) Moses saw the hinder parts of God, or what should happen to Jesus Christ in the latter days of the synagogue. (Origen, hom. 12.) By this wonderful vision, God was pleased to declare that he was appeased. (Haydock)
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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Exodus 33". "Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent