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Exodus 33:7-11

Context
The Presence of the Lord

33:7 1 Moses took 2  the tent 3  and pitched it outside the camp, at a good distance 4  from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. Anyone 5  seeking 6  the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting that was outside the camp.

33:8 And when Moses went out 7  to the tent, all the people would get up 8  and stand at the entrance to their tents 9  and watch 10  Moses until he entered the tent. 11  33:9 And 12  whenever Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord 13  would speak with Moses. 14  33:10 When all the people would see the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people, each one at the entrance of his own tent, would rise and worship. 15  33:11 The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, 16  the way a person speaks 17  to a friend. Then Moses 18  would return to the camp, but his servant, Joshua son of Nun, a young man, did not leave the tent. 19 

1 sn This unit of the book could actually include all of chap. 33, starting with the point of the Lord’s withdrawal from the people. If that section is not part of the exposition, it would have to be explained as the background. The point is that sinfulness prevents the active presence of the Lord leading his people. But then the rest of chap. 33 forms the development. In vv. 7-11 there is the gracious provision: the Lord reveals through his faithful mediator. The Lord was leading his people, but now more remotely because of their sin. Then, in vv. 12-17 Moses intercedes for the people, and the intercession of the mediator guarantees the Lord’s presence. The point of all of this is that God wanted the people to come to know that if he was not with them they should not go. Finally, the presence of the Lord is verified to the mediator by a special revelation (18-23). The point of the whole chapter is that by his grace the Lord renews the promise of his presence by special revelation.

2 tn Heb “and Moses took.”

3 sn A widespread contemporary view is that this section represents a source that thought the tent of meeting was already erected (see S. R. Driver, Exodus, 359). But the better view is that this is a temporary tent used for meeting the Lord. U. Cassuto explains this view very well (Exodus, 429-30), namely, that because the building of the tabernacle was now in doubt if the Lord was not going to be in their midst, another plan seemed necessary. Moses took this tent, his tent, and put some distance between the camp and it. Here he would use the tent as the place to meet God, calling it by the same name since it was a surrogate tent. Thus, the entire section was a temporary means of meeting God, until the current wrath was past.

4 tn The infinitive absolute is used here as an adverb (see GKC 341 §113.h).

5 tn The clause begins with “and it was,” the perfect tense with the vav conjunction. The imperfect tenses in this section are customary, describing what used to happen (others describe the verbs as frequentative). See GKC 315 §107.e.

6 tn The form is the Piel participle. The seeking here would indicate seeking an oracle from Yahweh or seeking to find a resolution for some difficulty (as in 2 Sam 21:1) or even perhaps coming with a sacrifice. B. Jacob notes that the tent was even here a place of prayer, for the benefit of the people (Exodus, 961). It is not known how long this location was used.

7 tn The clause is introduced again with “and it was.” The perfect tense here with the vav (ו) is used to continue the sequence of actions that were done repeatedly in the past (see GKC 331-32 §112.e). The temporal clause is then formed with the infinitive construct of יָצָא (yatsa’), with “Moses” as the subjective genitive: “and it was according to the going out of Moses.”

8 tn Or “rise up.”

9 tn The subject of this verb is specified with the individualizing use of “man”: “and all Israel would station themselves, each person (man) at the entrance to his tent.”

10 tn The perfect tense with the vav (ו) continues the sequence of the customary imperfect. The people “would gaze” (after) Moses until he entered the tent.

11 tn This is a temporal clause using an infinitive construct with a suffixed subject.

12 tn Heb “and it was when.”

13 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

14 tn Both verbs, “stand” and “speak,” are perfect tenses with vav (ו) consecutive.

15 tn All the main verbs in this verse are perfect tenses continuing the customary sequence (see GKC 337 §112.kk). The idea is that the people would get up (rise) when the cloud was there and then worship, meaning in part bow down. When the cloud was not there, there was access to seek God.

16 tn “Face to face” is circumstantial to the action of the verb, explaining how they spoke (see GKC 489-90 §156.c). The point of this note of friendly relationship with Moses is that Moses was “at home” in this tent speaking with God. Moses would derive courage from this when he interceded for the people (B. Jacob, Exodus, 966).

17 tn The verb in this clause is a progressive imperfect.

18 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Moses) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

19 sn Moses did not live in the tent. But Joshua remained there most of the time to guard the tent, it seems, lest any of the people approach it out of curiosity.



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