Exodus 32:9

32:9 Then the Lord said to Moses: “I have seen this people. Look what a stiff-necked people they are!

Exodus 33:3

33:3 Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go up among you, for you are a stiff-necked people, and I might destroy you on the way.”

Exodus 33:5

33:5 For the Lord had said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites, ‘You are a stiff-necked people. If I went up among you for a moment, I might destroy you. Now take off your ornaments, that I may know 10  what I should do to you.’” 11 

Exodus 34:9

34:9 and said, “If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord, let my Lord 12  go among us, for we 13  are a stiff-necked people; pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.”


sn This is a bold anthropomorphism; it is as if God has now had a chance to get to know these people and has discovered how rebellious they are. The point of the figure is that there has been discernible evidence of their nature.

tn Heb “and behold” or “and look.” The expression directs attention in order to persuade the hearer.

sn B. Jacob says the image is that of the people walking before God, and when he called to them the directions, they would not bend their neck to listen; they were resolute in doing what they intended to do (Exodus, 943). The figure describes them as refusing to submit, but resisting in pride.

tn This verse seems to be a continuation of the command to “go up” since it begins with “to a land….” The intervening clauses are therefore parenthetical or relative. But the translation is made simpler by supplying the verb.

tn This is a strong adversative here, “but.”

tn The clause is “lest I consume you.” It would go with the decision not to accompany them: “I will not go up with you…lest I consume (destroy) you in the way.” The verse is saying that because of the people’s bent to rebellion, Yahweh would not remain in their midst as he had formerly said he would do. Their lives would be at risk if he did.

tn The verse simply begins “And Yahweh said.” But it is clearly meant to be explanatory for the preceding action of the people.

tn The construction is formed with a simple imperfect in the first half and a perfect tense with vav (ו) in the second half. Heb “[in] one moment I will go up in your midst and I will destroy you.” The verse is certainly not intended to say that God was about to destroy them. That, plus the fact that he has announced he will not go in their midst, leads most commentators to take this as a conditional clause: “If I were to do such and such, then….”

tn The Hebrew text also has “from on you.”

10 tn The form is the cohortative with a vav (ו) following the imperative; it therefore expresses the purpose or result: “strip off…that I may know.” The call to remove the ornaments must have been perceived as a call to show true repentance for what had happened. If they repented, then God would know how to deal with them.

11 tn This last clause begins with the interrogative “what,” but it is used here as an indirect interrogative. It introduces a noun clause, the object of the verb “know.”

12 tn The Hebrew term translated “Lord” two times here is אֲדֹנָי (’adonay).

13 tn Heb “it is.” Hebrew uses the third person masculine singular pronoun here in agreement with the noun “people.”