34:1 1 The Lord said to Moses, “Cut out 2 two tablets of stone like the first, and I will write 3 on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you smashed. 34:2 Be prepared 4 in the morning, and go up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and station yourself 5 for me there on the top of the mountain. 34:3 No one is to come up with you; do not let anyone be seen anywhere on the mountain; not even the flocks or the herds may graze in front of that mountain.” 34:4 So Moses 6 cut out two tablets of stone like the first; 7 early in the morning he went up 8 to Mount Sinai, just as the Lord had commanded him, and he took in his hand the two tablets of stone.
34:5 The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there and proclaimed the Lord by name. 9 34:6 The Lord passed by before him and proclaimed: 10 “The Lord, the Lord, 11 the compassionate and gracious 12 God, slow to anger, 13 and abounding in loyal love and faithfulness, 14 34:7 keeping loyal love for thousands, 15 forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. But he by no means leaves the guilty unpunished, responding to the transgression 16 of fathers by dealing with children and children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.”
34:8 Moses quickly bowed 17 to the ground and worshiped 34:9 and said, “If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord, let my Lord 18 go among us, for we 19 are a stiff-necked people; pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.”
34:10 He said, “See, I am going to make 20 a covenant before all your people. I will do wonders such as have not been done 21 in all the earth, nor in any nation. All the people among whom you live will see the work of the Lord, for it is a fearful thing that I am doing with you. 22
34:11 “Obey 23 what I am commanding you this day. I am going to drive out 24 before you the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite. 34:12 Be careful not to make 25 a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it become a snare 26 among you. 34:13 Rather you must destroy their altars, smash their images, and cut down their Asherah poles. 27 34:14 For you must not worship 28 any other god, 29 for the Lord, whose name 30 is Jealous, is a jealous God. 34:15 Be careful 31 not to make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, for when 32 they prostitute themselves 33 to their gods and sacrifice to their gods, and someone invites you, 34 you will eat from his sacrifice; 34:16 and you then take 35 his daughters for your sons, and when his daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will make your sons prostitute themselves to their gods as well. 34:17 You must not make yourselves molten gods.
34:18 “You must keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. For seven days 36 you must eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you; do this 37 at the appointed time of the month Abib, for in the month Abib you came out of Egypt.
34:19 “Every firstborn of the womb 38 belongs to me, even every firstborn 39 of your cattle that is a male, 40 whether ox or sheep. 34:20 Now the firstling 41 of a donkey you may redeem with a lamb, but if you do not redeem it, then break its neck. 42 You must redeem all the firstborn of your sons.
“No one will appear before me empty-handed. 43
34:22 “You must observe 48 the Feast of Weeks – the firstfruits of the harvest of wheat – and the Feast of Ingathering at the end 49 of the year. 34:23 At three times 50 in the year all your men 51 must appear before the Lord God, 52 the God of Israel. 34:24 For I will drive out 53 the nations before you and enlarge your borders; no one will covet 54 your land when you go up 55 to appear before the Lord your God three times 56 in the year.
34:26 “The first of the firstfruits of your soil you must bring to the house of the Lord your God.
You must not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.” 58
34:27 The Lord said to Moses, “Write down 59 these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” 34:28 So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; 60 he did not eat bread, and he did not drink water. He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. 61
1 sn The restoration of the faltering community continues in this chapter. First, Moses is instructed to make new tablets and take them to the mountain (1-4). Then, through the promised theophany God proclaims his moral character (5-8). Moses responds with the reiteration of the intercession (8), and God responds with the renewal of the covenant (10-28). To put these into expository form, as principles, the chapter would run as follows: I. God provides for spiritual renewal (1-4), II. God reminds people of his moral standard (5-9), III. God renews his covenant promises and stipulations (10-28).
2 tn The imperative is followed by the preposition with a suffix expressing the ethical dative; it strengthens the instruction for Moses. Interestingly, the verb “cut out, chisel, hew,” is the same verb from which the word for a “graven image” is derived – פָּסַל (pasal).
3 tn The perfect tense with vav consecutive makes the value of this verb equal to an imperfect tense, probably a simple future here.
sn Nothing is said of how God was going to write on these stone tablets at this point, but in the end it is Moses who wrote the words. This is not considered a contradiction, since God is often credited with things he has people do in his place. There is great symbolism in this command – if ever a command said far more than it actually said, this is it. The instruction means that the covenant had been renewed, or was going to be renewed, and that the sanctuary with the tablets in the ark at its center would be built (see Deut 10:1). The first time Moses went up he was empty-handed; when he came down he smashed the tablets because of the Israelites’ sin. Now the people would see him go up with empty tablets and be uncertain whether he would come back with the tablets inscribed again (B. Jacob, Exodus, 977-78).
6 tn Heb “he”; the referent has been specified here and the name “Moses,” which occurs later in this verse, has been replaced with the pronoun (“he”), both for stylistic reasons.
7 sn Deuteronomy says that Moses was also to make an ark of acacia wood before the tablets, apparently to put the tablets in until the sanctuary was built. But this ark may not have been the ark built later; or, it might be the wood box, but Bezalel still had to do all the golden work with it.
8 tn The line reads “and Moses got up early in the morning and went up.” These verbs likely form a verbal hendiadys, the first one with its prepositional phrase serving in an adverbial sense.
9 tn Some commentaries wish to make Moses the subject of the second and the third verbs, the first because he was told to stand there and this verb suggests he did it, and the last because it sounds like he was worshiping Yahweh (cf. NASB). But it is clear from v. 6 that Yahweh was the subject of the last clause of v. 5 – v. 6 tells how he did it. So if Yahweh is the subject of the first and last clauses of v. 5, it seems simpler that he also be the subject of the second. Moses took his stand there, but God stood by him (B. Jacob, Exodus, 981; U. Cassuto, Exodus, 439). There is no reason to make Moses the subject in any of the verbs of v. 5.
10 tn Here is one of the clearest examples of what it means “to call on the name of the Lord,” as that clause has been translated traditionally (וַיִּקְרָא בְשֵׁם יְהוָה, vayyiqra’ vÿshem yÿhvah). It seems more likely that it means “to make proclamation of Yahweh by name.” Yahweh came down and made a proclamation – and the next verses give the content of what he said. This cannot be prayer or praise; it is a proclamation of the nature or attributes of God (which is what his “name” means throughout the Bible). Attempts to make Moses the subject of the verb are awkward, for the verb is repeated in v. 6 with Yahweh clearly doing the proclaiming.
11 sn U. Cassuto (Exodus, 439) suggests that these two names be written as a sentence: “Yahweh, He is Yahweh.” In this manner it reflects “I am that I am.” It is impossible to define his name in any other way than to make this affirmation and then show what it means.
13 sn This is literally “long of anger.” His anger prolongs itself, allowing for people to repent before punishment is inflicted.
14 sn These two words (“loyal love” and “truth”) are often found together, occasionally in a hendiadys construction. If that is the interpretation here, then it means “faithful covenant love.” Even if they are left separate, they are dual elements of a single quality. The first word is God’s faithful covenant love; the second word is God’s reliability and faithfulness.
15 tn That is, “for thousands of generations.”
16 sn As in the ten commandments (20:5-6), this expression shows that the iniquity and its punishment will continue in the family if left unchecked. This does not go on as long as the outcomes for good (thousands versus third or fourth generations), and it is limited to those who hate God.
17 tn The first two verbs form a hendiadys: “he hurried…he bowed,” meaning “he quickly bowed down.”
18 tn The Hebrew term translated “Lord” two times here is אֲדֹנָי (’adonay).
19 tn Heb “it is.” Hebrew uses the third person masculine singular pronoun here in agreement with the noun “people.”
20 tn Here again is a use of the futur instans participle; the deictic particle plus the pronoun precedes the participle, showing what is about to happen.
21 tn The verb here is בָּרָא (bara’, “to create”). The choice of this verb is to stress that these wonders would be supernaturally performed, for the verb is used only with God as the subject.
22 sn The idea is that God will be doing awesome things in dealing with them, i.e., to fulfill his program.
23 tn The covenant duties begin with this command to “keep well” what is being commanded. The Hebrew expression is “keep for you”; the preposition and the suffix form the ethical dative, adding strength to the imperative.
24 tn Again, this is the futur instans use of the participle.
25 tn The exact expression is “take heed to yourself lest you make.” It is the second use of this verb in the duties, now in the Niphal stem. To take heed to yourself means to watch yourself, be sure not to do something. Here, if they failed to do this, they would end up making entangling treaties.
27 tn Or “images of Asherah”; ASV, NASB “their Asherim”; NCV “their Asherah idols.”
sn Asherah was a leading deity of the Canaanite pantheon, wife/sister of El and goddess of fertility. She was commonly worshiped at shrines in or near groves of evergreen trees, or, failing that, at places marked by wooden poles. These were to be burned or cut down (Deut 12:3; 16:21; Judg 6:25, 28, 30; 2 Kgs 18:4).
28 tn Heb “bow down.”
31 tn The sentence begins simply “lest you make a covenant”; it is undoubtedly a continuation of the imperative introduced earlier, and so that is supplied here.
32 tn The verb is a perfect with a vav consecutive. In the literal form of the sentence, this clause tells what might happen if the people made a covenant with the inhabitants of the land: “Take heed…lest you make a covenant…and then they prostitute themselves…and sacrifice…and invite…and you eat.” The sequence lays out an entire scenario.
33 tn The verb זָנָה (zanah) means “to play the prostitute; to commit whoredom; to be a harlot” or something similar. It is used here and elsewhere in the Bible for departing from pure religion and engaging in pagan religion. The use of the word in this figurative sense is fitting, because the relationship between God and his people is pictured as a marriage, and to be unfaithful to it was a sin. This is also why God is described as a “jealous” or “impassioned” God. The figure may not be merely a metaphorical use, but perhaps a metonymy, since there actually was sexual immorality at the Canaanite altars and poles.
34 tn There is no subject for the verb. It could be rendered “and one invites you,” or it could be made a passive.
35 tn In the construction this verb would follow as a possible outcome of the last event, and so remain in the verbal sequence. If the people participate in the festivals of the land, then they will intermarry, and that could lead to further involvement with idolatry.
36 tn This is an adverbial accusative of time.
37 tn The words “do this” have been supplied.
38 tn Heb “everything that opens the womb.”
39 tn Here too: everything that “opens [the womb].”
40 tn The verb basically means “that drops a male.” The verb is feminine, referring to the cattle.
41 tn Heb “and the one that opens [the womb of] the donkey.”
42 sn See G. Brin, “The Firstling of Unclean Animals,” JQR 68 (1971): 1-15.
43 tn The form is the adverb “empty.”
44 tn This is an adverbial accusative of time.
45 tn Or “cease” (i.e., from the labors).
47 tn The imperfect tense expresses injunction or instruction.
48 tn The imperfect tense means “you will do”; it is followed by the preposition with a suffix to express the ethical dative to stress the subject.
49 tn The expression is “the turn of the year,” which is parallel to “the going out of the year,” and means the end of the agricultural season.
50 tn “Three times” is an adverbial accusative.
51 tn Heb “all your males.”
52 tn Here the divine name reads in Hebrew הָאָדֹן יְהוָה (ha’adon yÿhvah), which if rendered according to the traditional scheme of “
sn The title “Lord” is included here before the divine name (translated “
53 tn The verb is a Hiphil imperfect of יָרַשׁ (yarash), which means “to possess.” In the causative stem it can mean “dispossess” or “drive out.”
54 sn The verb “covet” means more than desire; it means that some action will be taken to try to acquire the land that is being coveted. It is one thing to envy someone for their land; it is another to be consumed by the desire that stops at nothing to get it (it, not something like it).
55 tn The construction uses the infinitive construct with a preposition and a suffixed subject to form the temporal clause.
56 tn The expression “three times” is an adverbial accusative of time.
57 sn See M. Haran, “The Passover Sacrifice,” Studies in the Religion of Ancient Israel (VTSup), 86-116.
59 tn Once again the preposition with the suffix follows the imperative, adding some emphasis to the subject of the verb.
60 tn These too are adverbial in relation to the main clause, telling how long Moses was with Yahweh on the mountain.
61 tn Heb “the ten words,” though “commandments” is traditional.