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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 24

Coke's Commentary on the Holy BibleCoke's Commentary



Moses writes the commandments of God, which he reads to the people; and ratifies the covenant of God with them, by the blood of victims: Moses ascends again into the mountain, and continues there with God forty days and forty nights.

Before Christ 1491.

Verse 1

Exodus 24:1. And he said unto Moses Moses was now upon the Mount with the Lord: the meaning, therefore, here must be, that God enjoins Moses respecting his future coming up to the Mount with Aaron, &c. after he had delivered to the people the laws mentioned in the former chapters, and confirmed the covenant with them, as is mentioned in the subsequent part of this. These things being done, we find, Exo 24:9 that Moses, Aaron, &c. ascended the mount, according to the order delivered in these two verses. Houbigant renders and understands these verses differently: Exodus 24:1. He said unto Moses, Come up, thou, &c. Exodus 24:2. And Moses alone came near unto the Lord; but they came not nigh, neither did the people come up with them. He is of opinion, that Moses now went up to the Lord to receive those commands, which, in the third verse, he delivers to the people. Possibly, as Moses, during the delivering the laws in the foregoing chapters, was with God in the Mount, see ch. Exo 20:21 these verses, introductory to the subsequent covenant, may be considered as a repetition; and so the first clause may be rendered, Now, he [the Lord] had said unto Moses, Come up, &c.

Seventy of the elders Lowman supposes, that these seventy elders were twelve princes of the twelve tribes, and fifty-eight heads of the first families in the twelve tribes. See his Civil Government of the Hebrews, page 76.

Verse 3

Exodus 24:3. And Moses came and told See ch. Exodus 19:7-8.

Verse 4

Exodus 24:4. And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord Some have supposed that the art of writing was derived immediately from GOD himself, and shewn to Moses particularly by the writing on the tables of stone, mentioned Exo 24:12 but it appears from hence, that Moses understood the art of writing before those tables were delivered to him; and there seem good reasons to believe, that this art had already been long in use. See note on ch. Exodus 18:6.

And builded an altar—and twelve pillars The parties in the covenant were GOD and the people of Israel: the altar, therefore, was to be a representation of the throne of the Deity; the twelve pillars of the twelve tribes. For the rest, the usual foederal rites are observed.

Verse 5

Exodus 24:5. And he sent young men The Chaldee renders it the first-born; with which agrees the Arabic translation of R. Saadiah and the Persian of Tauasius. The first-born were priests in every family; but, among the Israelites, they were afterwards redeemed, and the whole tribe of Levi, in their stead, given to God, for his service. The Hebrew word נערי naarei, signifies as well those who were active and fit for service, as young in years; and hence Joshua, Moses's minister, and other servants, are often called נערי naarei; see ch. Exodus 33:11.Genesis 14:24; Genesis 14:24; Genesis 22:3. 1Ki 20:14 and, indeed, as these young men were employed in slaying and offering up the oxen, strength and activity were necessary. Moses himself, however, performed the high and peculiar office of the priest, Exo 24:6 so that it cannot be concluded from the word, that these young men were priests: but it should be observed, that, even after the appointment of Aaron's family to the priesthood, no man was permitted to serve at the altar after the age of fifty. See Numbers 8:25. In the same manner, among the heathens, young men were employed to lead the sacrifices to the altar, and, no doubt, to perform laborious offices. These, according to the Divine law, any one might perform; but no one was allowed to sprinkle the blood, save only the priest: see Leviticus 3:2; Leviticus 4:24-25.

Verse 6

Exodus 24:6. Half of the blood be sprinkled on the altar Expressive of God's acceptance and ratification of the covenant; the other half he sprinkled, Exo 24:8 on the people; i.e. either on the people themselves, or, most probably, on the twelve pillars, representative of the people. It is to be observed, that their engagement in this covenant was to be a matter of free choice, Exodus 24:7. God, in his dealings with men, always treats them as a people endowed with the power of election. The apostle to the Hebrews fully informs us, that this method of covenanting by blood, had constant allusion to that great covenant by the blood of CHRIST, which all the blood shed in sacrifices from the foundation of the world prefigured; see Hebrews 9:18; Hebrews 9:28.

REFLECTIONS.—Moses is now dismissed to carry down the ordinances, and bring back with him seventy of the elders of Israel, to behold the glory of God, and confirm the people in their obedience. They must come and worship in the Mount, but far off: Moses alone must come near. Note; Every believer must ascend into the mount of prayer, to see God's glory; and we may now boldly draw nigh through our Mediator Jesus Christ: this honour have all his saints. Moses, hereupon,

1. Comes down, rehearses, and writes in a book, for standing use, these ordinances. The people solemnly consent to them. It was as much their interest as duty so to do. Note; Many are convinced of their duty, and hastily resolve to follow it; but going forth in their own strength, they quickly fail in their promises, and forget their vows.

2. A solemn covenant is made between God and Israel, Moses being mediator. An altar stands for Jehovah, and twelve pillars for the twelve tribes. Sacrifices are offered; for without an atonement, there can be no intercourse between God and sinners: and the blood sprinkled, partly upon the altar, partly upon the people, signified the sealing and ratification of the terms agreed upon. Note; Christ is the true sacrifice which makes peace between God and us: his blood confirms the covenant of grace. He sprinkles it on our consciences by faith, and as our High Priest appears with it before the altar of God in heaven, at all times to plead that covenant of redemption, which he has on our behalf fulfilled by his obedience unto death, even the death of the cross.

Verses 9-10

Exodus 24:9-10. Then went up Moses and Aaron, &c.— Moses, having ratified the covenant with the people, now, agreeably to the command in Exodus 24:1, went up, with Aaron, and the elders, representative of the children of Israel, as mediator between GOD and the people, to announce their assent and ratification of the covenant: and accordingly GOD discovered to them some more immediate manifestation of his glory than usual; (Exodus 24:10.) they saw the GOD of Israel; i.e. as the Chaldee has it, the glory of God; some high and sensible demonstration of his peculiar Presence; for otherwise God is invisible to human sight: his immediate and essential glory no eye hath seen, or can see. One would, however, from some expressions, be led to believe, as this God of Israel was that MESSIAH, or Divine Person, who afterwards assumed a human form; that now, confirming the present covenant by blood, He appeared in glory in a human form: for it is said, that under his feet was, as it were, a paved work of a sapphire-stone, &c. and in Exo 24:11 mention is made of his laying his hand; expressions, which must either be understood as above; or else as spoken more humano (after the manner of men). He laid not his hand upon them, to hide that degree of glory from them which he was then pleased to manifest, as was the case with Moses, ch. Exo 33:22 where the Lord says, I will cover thee with my hand, while I pass by. As to the objection drawn from Deu 4:15 against the God of Israel's appearing in a human shape, let it be observed, that the words there immediately refer to God's first and awful appearance to all the people on Mount Horeb, ch. Exodus 19:14, &c. The verses may be thus read and interpreted: Exodus 24:10. And they saw the God of Israel, beneath whom there was, as it were, a paved-work of sapphire stones, [a bright aethereal blue,] and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness, [as the purest sky in its greatest brightness:] Exodus 24:11. And upon the nobles [or select ones, Hebrew] of the children of Israel, he did not lay his hand, [so as to conceal himself from them;] therefore they saw God, and did eat and drink; i.e. continued to exist: see Gen 32:30 from whence, and other passages of Scripture, it will seem to have been a common opinion, that no mortal could sustain the appearance of the Divinity. Le Clerc thinks, that the eating and drinking refers to their feasting upon the remains of the sacrifice, Exo 24:5 but that which we have given appears to us the more natural interpretation. Some think, that the phrase of laying the hand is a Hebraism, signifying to hurt or injure; and that it means here, that God did no hurt to the elders of Israel; they saw him and lived: see Gen 37:22. 1 Samuel 11:15.Job 1:11-12; Job 1:11-12.

A paved work of a sapphire-stone The original signifies brick-work of a sapphire colour, but transparent at the body of heaven: from which the author of the Observations concludes, that pavements of polished marble were not yet in use; while the expression, he thinks, points to that sort of pavement which is formed of painted tiles (or bricks,) and is common to this day in the East, according to Dr. Shaw. They are the same, I suppose, says he, as those painted tiles, with which the Doctor tells us they were wont frequently to adorn part of their walls, by incrustating it with these tiles: the Doctor does not particularly describe them; but it appears, from other writers, that they are frequently blue. So Le Bruyn tells us, vol. 2: p. 238 that the mosque at Jerusalem, which the Turks call the Temple of Solomon, is almost covered over with green and blue bricks, which are glazed, so that, when the sun shines, the eye is perfectly dazzled. Some of these bricks or tiles, the reader will observe, are blue, the colour which Moses mentions; but bricks and tiles are not transparent: to describe then, the pavement under the feet of the God of Israel with due majesty, Moses represents it as like the floors of painted tile which he had seen, but transparent, however, as the body of heaven. Had Moses known any thing of marble pavements, it is natural to suppose, he would rather have compared what was seen in this august vision to them, than to a floor of painted tile, though such a one is not without its beauty; which ought to be remarked, to prevent our receiving impressions of too debasing a kind from Moses's mentioning brick-work under the feet of God: our imaginations might otherwise have been led to the poor pavements of brick in our cottages; whereas Moses seems, on the contrary, to have thought of the most splendid floors which Egypt then knew.

Verse 12

Exodus 24:12. And the Lord said unto Moses, Come up We have before observed, on ch. 19: that there were different stations on the mountain: the glory of the Lord occupied the highest place, the top of the Mount, as it is called, Exodus 24:17. And to this highest place Moses is now enjoined to ascend, leaving the elders behind to wait for him, and commissioning Aaron and Hur to transact any business during his absence. It is probable, that Moses might not expect so long a continuance in the Mount with God, as forty days and forty nights, when he enjoined the elders to tarry for him on the Mount, and commissioned Aaron and Hur to go backwards and forwards between them and the people; nor can we suppose, that, during this long stay of his, the elders continued all the time upon that part of the mountain where he left them.

Verse 16

Exodus 24:16. And the glory of the Lord abode The glory of the Lord was, as appears from Exodus 24:17 like devouring fire; see Psalms 97:2-3. This was the immediate symbol of the Divine Presence. Besides this, a thick dark cloud enveloped the mountain; which cloud, for six days, covered or concealed from the view of Moses himself, the bright symbol of the Divine glory. On the seventh day God called Moses into the midst of this cloud, and, consequently, to the nearest possible access to the Divine Presence: he was pleased to exercise the patience and humility of Moses for the space of six days, and not to admit him to receive his orders till the seventh, which, probably, was the sabbath: where Joshua attended during this period, we are not informed. From this intercourse of Moses with God, the Pagans derived their fables concerning the intercourse of their most celebrated lawgivers with the gods who communicated their laws to them.

Verse 18

Exodus 24:18. Forty days and forty nights See ch. Exodus 34:28. Moses, Elijah, and the Lord Jesus Christ, each fasted forty days and forty nights. See 1 Kings 19:8. Matthew 4:2.

REFLECTIONS.—The covenant being signed and sealed, Moses returns to God with seventy elders: and they are admitted to approach his presence. And God made some awful manifestation of his glory to them. But he neither overwhelmed them with his dazzling brightness, as worms; nor laid an avenging hand on them, as sinners; but they did eat and drink before him, in token of the friendship established in the covenant between them. It will be among the blessings enjoyed in the better Mount of God, to behold much more than Moses law, when we sit and eat bread in the company of him, who is the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person.

But Moses has now another call, to come up higher. Hereupon Aaron and Hur are intrusted with the management of affairs in his absence. Joshua is taken with him, that peculiar honour might be put upon him, being designed for his successor. Six days Moses waited for the Lord. On the seventh, he is called up into the midst of this awful appearance, and fears not to dwell in this devouring fire. There he continued alone forty days and forty nights. Learn, 1. They who are found faithful in God's service, he will bring nearer to himself. 2. We must wait upon God patiently, but in the exercise and expectation of faith, till he is pleased to manifest himself to us, as he does not to the world. 3. Though God be a consuming fire to his enemies, his faithful people may draw near with confidence. 4. The time spent with God, will never be thought long by a believing soul: for the sake of this honour and comfort, he would forget to eat his bread.

Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Exodus 24". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/exodus-24.html. 1801-1803.
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