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Bible Commentaries

Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament
Exodus 34

 

 

Verses 1-8

When Moses had restored the covenant bond through his intercession (Exodus 33:14), he was directed by Jehovah to hew out two stones, like the former ones which he had broken, and to come with them the next morning up the mountain, and Jehovah would write upon them the same words as upon the first,

(Note: Namely, the ten words in Ex 20:2-17, not the laws contained in Exodus 34:12-26 of this chapter, as G


Verse 9-10

On this manifestation of mercy, Moses repeated the prayer that Jehovah would go in the midst of Israel. It is true the Lord had already promised that His face should go with them (Exodus 33:14); but as Moses had asked for a sign of the glory of the Lord as a seal to the promise, it was perfectly natural that, when this petition was granted, he should lay hold of the grace that had been revealed to him as it never had been before, and endeavour to give even greater stability to the covenant. To this end he repeated his former intercession on behalf of the nation, at the same time making this confession, “For it is a stiff-necked people; therefore forgive our iniquity and our sin, and make us the inheritance.” Moses spoke collectively, including himself in the nation in the presence of God. The reason which he assigned pointed to the deep root of corruption that had broken out in the worship of the golden calf, and was appropriately pleaded as a motive for asking forgiveness, inasmuch as God Himself had assigned the natural corruption of the human race as a reason why He would not destroy it again with a flood (Genesis 8:21). Wrath was mitigated by a regard to the natural condition. - נחל in the Kal , with an accusative of the person, does not mean to lead a person into the inheritance, but to make a person into an inheritance; here, therefore, to make Israel the possession of Jehovah (Deuteronomy 4:20; Deuteronomy 9:26, cf. Zechariah 2:12). Jehovah at once declared (Exodus 34:10) that He would conclude a covenant, i.e., restore the broken covenant, and do marvels before the whole nation, such as had not been done in all the earth or in any nation, and thus by these His works distinguish Israel before all nations as His own property (Exodus 33:16). The nation was to see this, because it would be terrible; terrible, namely, through the overthrow of the powers that resisted the kingdom of God, every one of whom would be laid prostrate and destroyed by the majesty of the Almighty.


Verses 11-16

To recall the duties of the covenant once more to the minds of the people, the Lord repeats from among the rights of Israel, upon the basis of which the covenant had been established (ch. 21-23), two of the leading points which determined the attitude of the nation towards Him, and which constituted, as it were, the main pillars that were to support the covenant about to be renewed. These were, first , the warning against every kind of league with the Canaanites, who were to be driven out before the Israelites (Exodus 34:11-16); and, secondly , the instructions concerning the true worship of Jehovah (Exodus 34:17-26). The warning against friendship with the idolatrous Canaanites (Exodus 34:11-16) is more fully developed and more strongly enforced than in Exodus 23:23. The Israelites, when received into the covenant with Jehovah, were not only to beware of forming any covenant with the inhabitants of Canaan (cf. Exodus 23:32-33), but were to destroy all the signs of their idolatrous worship, such as altars, monuments (see Exodus 23:24), and asherim , the idols of Astarte, the Canaanitish goddess of nature, which consisted for the most part of wooden pillars (see my Comm. on 1 Kings 14:23), and to worship no other god, because Jehovah was called jealous, i.e., had revealed Himself as jealous (see at Exodus 20:5), and was a jealous God. This was commanded, that the Israelites might not suffer themselves to be led astray by such an alliance; to go a whoring after their gods, and sacrifice to them, to take part in their sacrificial festivals, or to marry their sons to the daughters of the Canaanites, by whom they would be persuaded to join in the worship of idols. The use of the expression “go a whoring” in a spiritual sense, in relation to idolatry, is to be accounted for on the ground, that the religious fellowship of Israel with Jehovah was a covenant resembling the marriage tie; and we meet with it for the first time, here, immediately after the formation of this covenant between Israel and Jehovah. The phrase is all the more expressive on account of the literal prostitution that was frequently associated with the worship of Baal and Astarte (cf. Leviticus 17:7; Leviticus 20:5-6; Numbers 14:33, etc.). We may see from Numbers 25:1. how Israel was led astray by this temptation in the wilderness.


Verses 17-26

The true way to worship Jehovah is then pointed out, first of all negatively, in the prohibition against making molten images, with an allusion to the worship of the golden calf, as evinced by the use of the expression מסּכה אלהי , which only occurs again in Leviticus 19:4, instead of the phrase “gods of silver and gold” (Exodus 20:23); and then positively, by a command to observe the feast of Mazzoth and the consecration of the first-born connected with the Passover (see at Exodus 13:2, Exodus 13:11, and Exodus 13:12), also the Sabbath (Exodus 34:21), the feasts of Weeks and Ingathering, the appearance of the male members of the nation three times a year before the Lord (Exodus 34:22, see at Exodus 23:14-17), together with all the other instructions connected with them (Exodus 34:25, Exodus 34:26). Before the last, however, the promise is introduced, that after the expulsion of the Canaanites, Jehovah would enlarge the borders of Israel (cf. Exodus 23:31), and make their land so secure, that when they went up to the Lord three times in the year, no one should desire their land, sc., because of the universal dread of the might of their God (Exodus 23:27).


Verses 27-35

Moses was to write down these words, like the covenant rights and laws that had been given before (Exodus 24:4, Exodus 24:7), because Jehovah had concluded the covenant with Moses and Israel according to the tenor of them. By the renewed adoption of the nation, the covenant in ch. 24 was eo ipso restored; so that no fresh conclusion of this covenant was necessary, and the writing down of the fundamental conditions of the covenant was merely intended as a proof of its restoration. It does not appear in the least degree “irreconcilable,” therefore, with the writing down of the covenant rights before Knobel ).

Exodus 34:28

Moses remained upon the mountain forty days, just as on the former occasion (cf. Exodus 24:18). “ And He (Jehovah) wrote upon the tables the ten covenant words ” (see at Exodus 34:1).

Exodus 34:29-35

The sight of the glory of Jehovah, though only of the back or reflection of it, produced such an effect upon Moses' face, that the skin of it shone, though without Moses observing it. When he came down from the mountain with the tables of the law in his hand, and the skin of his face shone אתּו בּדבּרו , i.e., on account of his talking with God, Aaron and the people were afraid to go near him when they saw the brightness of his face. But Moses called them to him, - Viz. first of all Aaron and the princes of the congregation to speak to them, and then all the people to give them the commandments of Jehovah; but on doing this (Exodus 34:33), he put a veil upon (before) his face, and only took it away when he went in before Jehovah to speak with Him, and then, when he came out (from the Lord out of the tabernacle, of course after the erection of the tabernacle), he made known His commands to the people. But while doing this, he put the veil upon his face again, and always wore it in his ordinary intercourse with the people (Exodus 34:34, Exodus 34:35). This reflection of the splendour thrown back by the glory of God was henceforth to serve as the most striking proof of the confidential relation in which Moses stood to Jehovah, and to set forth the glory of the office which Moses filled. The Apostle Paul embraces this view in 2 Corinthians 3:7., and lays stress upon the fact that the glory was to be done away, which he was quite justified in doing, although nothing is said in the Old Testament about the glory being transient, from the simple fact that Moses died. The apostle refers to it for the purpose of contrasting the perishable glory of the law with the far higher and imperishable glory of the Gospel. At the same time he regards the veil which covered Moses' face as a symbol of the obscuring of the truth revealed in the Old Testament. But this does not exhaust the significance of this splendour. The office could only confer such glory upon the possessor by virtue of the glory of the blessings which it contained, and conveyed to those for whom it was established. Consequently, the brilliant light on Moses' face also set forth the glory of the Old Covenant, and was intended both for Moses and the people as a foresight and pledge of the glory to which Jehovah had called, and would eventually exalt, the people of His possession.

 


Copyright Statement
The Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.

Bibliography Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Exodus 34:4". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/exodus-34.html. 1854-1889.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, December 12th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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