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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 34

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon [these] tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.

Which thou brakest. — Not without a tincture of passionate infirmity, as some conceive. He that was the meekest upon earth, saith one, Dr Hall. in a sudden indignation abandons that which he would in cold blood have held faster than his life. But Augustine cries out, O ira Prophetica, et animus non perturbatus, sed illuminatus!

Verse 2

And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to me in the top of the mount.

In the morning. — A sign of mercy. Psalms 90:14 ; Psalms 30:5 ; Psalms 5:3

Verse 3

And no man shall come up with thee, neither let any man be seen throughout all the mount; neither let the flocks nor herds feed before that mount.

Neither let any man be seen.See Trapp on " Exodus 19:12 "

Neither let the flocks. — Moses comes alone to God, and leaves the flocks. Jacob ferrieth over all belonging to him on the other side of the river, before he wrestleth with God. Abraham leaveth the servant and asses at the foot of the hill, … Men must lay aside all, and prepare, before they draw nigh to God in holy duties.

Verse 4

And he hewed two tables of stone like unto the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone.

And he hewed two tables. — Moses hewed them. The first tables were hewn out of the sapphire of the throne of God’s glory, say the Jewish doctors.

Verse 5

And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.

And proclaimed the name of the Lord. — In answer to Moses’s prayer. Exodus 33:18-19

Verse 6

And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,

The Lord, The Lord God. … — These glorious titles and attributes are those back parts of God. Exodus 33:23 None can see more than these and live: and we need see no more than these that we may live.

Longsuffering. — Heb., Wide of nostrils; not apt to snuff at small matters, but bearing with men’s evil manners. This Averroes, the atheist, made use as an argument against the providence of God, and to prove that he meddled with nothing below the moon, because of his slowness to anger.

In goodness and truth. — God’s goodness, though great, yet here and elsewhere it goes bounded with his truth.

Verse 7

Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear [the guilty]; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth [generation].

Forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, — i.e., All sorts of sin. It is natural to him as here. None like him for this. Micah 7:18 It is the comfort of saints, that they have to do with a forgiving God, Nehemiah 9:31 that can multiply pardons, as they multiply sins. Isaiah 55:7

Keeping mercy for thousands. — The Hebrew word here rendered Keeping, is written with a greater letter Nun rabbath Masor. than ordinary, to note the extraordinary greatness of God’s promise to his people and their posterity. Psalms 25:10 Hebrew Text Note God is here said to keep mercy, to forgive sins of all sorts: as if his mercy were kept on purpose for pardoning poor sinners.

Clear the guilty. — This last letter in God’s name must still be remembered. So must all the rest: since there is enough in this sweetest text to answer all our objections. It is said of Leonard Lessius, that, a little before his death, he finished his treatise concerning the fifty names or attributes of God: and that he oft affirmed, that he found more spiritual light and delight in that last little work of his - at such time as he was grievously tortured with the stone, whereof also he died - than in all his large Commentaries upon Thomas Aquinas’s Sums.

Verse 8

And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped.

And Moses made haste. — It was time for him. The more any man sees of God, the lower he falls in his own eyes: as he that hath looked intently upon the sun, sees little when he looks down again.

Verse 9

And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it [is] a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance.

Let my lord, I pray thee.See Trapp on " Exodus 33:12 "

Verse 10

And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou [art] shall see the work of the LORD: for it [is] a terrible thing that I will do with thee.

Behold, I make a covenant, — i.e., I re-establish it with this backsliding people. God receiveth returning sinners with much sweetness "He retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy." His mercy, to us, is greater than his justice, though in themselves they are equal, yea, the same.

I will do marvels. — See this fulfilled and recorded in Joshua 10:12-13 .

Verse 11

Observe thou that which I command thee this day: behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite.

Observe thou. — This is the condition of the covenant on man’s part to be performed. With others God makes a single covenant only, that they shall observe that which he commands them: but with his elect he makes a double covenant; to perform both parts, to "work all their works in them," and for them, to "put his fear into their hearts, and to cause them to keep his commandments." Isaiah 26:12 Jeremiah 32:40

Verse 12

Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee:

With the inhabitants. — They were devoted to destruction, as having filled the land from one end to another with their uncleanness. Ezra 9:11

Verse 13

But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves:

Break their images. — The Popish historians have blurred and blasted those zealous emperors, Zeno and others, that were Iconomachi and Iconoclastai, as sacrilegious. Berne was the first town that, after the Reformation, was purged of images; which Augustine saith cannot be placed in churches, Sine praesentissimo idololatrioe periculo, Aug., in Psalm cxiv. without extreme danger of idolatry. Epiphanius saith, It is utterly unlawful and abominable to set up images in the churches of Christians. Irenaeus reproveth the Gnostics, for that they carried about the picture of Christ in Pilate’s time, after his own proportion: using also, for declaration of their affection toward it, to set garlands upon the head of it.

Verse 14

For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name [is] Jealous, [is] a jealous God:

No other god. — In the Hebrew word Acher, rendered Other, there is a large R, to show the greatness of the sin of serving any other God. Hebrew Text Note

Verse 15

Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and [one] call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice;

And one call thee. — Any one of the idolatrous rout, if he do but hold up his finger to thee, thou wilt easily follow him. Cereus in vitium flecti. Horat.

Verse 16

And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.

And make thy sons. — Satan still works upon Adam by Eve. Omnes haereses ex gyneeceis. It is the guise of heretics to abuse the help of women to spread their poisonful opinions. Satan per costam, tanquam per scalam ad cor ascendit. Satan climbs up by the rib to the heart. Greg.

Verse 17

Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.

No molten gods. — As the golden calf was. Goodly gods that are molten! Olim truncus eram. Horat.

Verse 18

The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee, in the time of the month Abib: for in the month Abib thou camest out from Egypt.

In the month Abib. — So called from the new fruits, or ears of corn, then first appearing. See Exodus 12:1 ; Exodus 13:4 . God here repeateth divers laws. It was a token of reconciliation to the people after their apostasy, in that he treats with them again, after their repentance, about his solemn worships. So, for a testimony of his reconciliation to Peter after his foul fall, he sets him to work in the ministry. John 21:15 So he commendeth his spouse afresh, after her drowsy decays, every whir as amiable as she was before her fall. Song of Solomon 6:5 ; Song of Solomon 5:10-16

Verse 19

All that openeth the matrix [is] mine; and every firstling among thy cattle, [whether] ox or sheep, [that is male].

Ver. 19, 20. See on Exodus 13:12-13 .

Verse 20

But the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb: and if thou redeem [him] not, then shalt thou break his neck. All the firstborn of thy sons thou shalt redeem. And none shall appear before me empty.

See Trapp on " Exodus 34:19 "

Verse 21

Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest.

In earing time and in harvest. — Though most busy times, you may not make bold with God.

Verse 22

And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.

And thou shalt observe. — See Exodus 23:16 .

Verse 23

Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord GOD, the God of Israel.

Thrice in the year. — See Exodus 23:14 ; Exodus 23:17 .

Verse 24

For I will cast out the nations before thee, and enlarge thy borders: neither shall any man desire thy land, when thou shalt go up to appear before the LORD thy God thrice in the year.

Neither shall any man desire. — A wonderful providence, since Judea was compassed about with such warlike adversaries, that they should not watch and catch at such opportunities. Pompey besieging Jerusalem, made his strongest batteries on the Sabbath day, whereon he knew the superstitious Jews would not make their defence - and took it. Dio Cass.

Verse 25

Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven; neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto the morning.

Thou shalt not offer. — See Exodus 23:18-19 ,

Verse 26

The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.

In his mother’s milk. — See on Exodus 23:19 .

Verse 27

And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.

I have made a covenant. — We also have the covenant, the seals, ministers, … But, alas! are not these blessings amongst us as the ark was amongst the Philistines, rather as prisoners than as privileges? Rather in testimonium et ruinam quam in salutem? Rather for our ruin than reformation?

Verse 28

And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.

Forty days and forty nights. — Moses, Elias, and Christ - those three great fathers met glorious in mount Tabor. Abstinence merits not, but prepares the best for good duties.

He wrote. — That is, God wrote, as some will have it. Weems. Exer.

Verse 29

And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.

The skin of his face shone. — God hereby assuring the people that he had inwardly enlightened him for their better instruction.

Verse 30

And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.

And they were afraid. — This was another manner of brightness and majesty than that which piercing gaze from the eyes of Augustus and Tamerlane; whose eyes so shone, as that a man could hardly endure to behold them without closing of his own: and many in talking with them, and often beholding of them, became dumb: which caused them ofttimes with a comely modesty to abstain from looking too earnestly upon such as spake unto them, or discoursed with them. Turk. Hist., fol. 236.

Verse 31

And Moses called unto them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned unto him: and Moses talked with them.

And Moses called unto them. — Having first vailed his face, as in Exodus 34:33 .

Verse 32

And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh: and he gave them in commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him in mount Sinai.

And he gave them in commandment. — Rabbi Menahem telleth us, that the former ancients of Israel, at the reading of the book of the law, covered their faces and said, "He that heareth from the mouth of the reader is as he that heareth from the mouth of Moses." The Jews at this day, in their synagogues, put on each man his Taleth or square vestment, turning it back about their necks, that so they may hear and pray with more attention and reverence. Leo. Modena.

Verse 33

And [till] Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face.

He put a vail on his face. — And had more glory by his vail than by his face. How far are those spirits from this Christian modesty, which care only to be seen and wish only to dazzle others’ eyes with admiration, not caring for unknown riches! This vail signifieth the law’s obscurity and our infidelity.

Verse 34

But when Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he took the vail off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel [that] which he was commanded.

But when Moses went in. — Hypocrites on the contrary show their best to men, their worst to God; God sees both their vail and their face; and I know not whether he hates more their vail of dissimulation or face of wickedness.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Exodus 34". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/exodus-34.html. 1865-1868.
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