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Exodus 34:29-31

Context
The Radiant Face of Moses

34:29 1 Now when Moses came down 2  from Mount Sinai with 3  the two tablets of the testimony in his hand 4  – when he came down 5  from the mountain, Moses 6  did not know that the skin of his face shone 7  while he talked with him. 34:30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face shone; 8  and they were afraid to approach him. 34:31 But Moses called to them, so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and Moses spoke to them.

1 sn Now, at the culmination of the renewing of the covenant, comes the account of Moses’ shining face. It is important to read this in its context first, holding off on the connection to Paul’s discussion in 2 Corinthians. There is a delicate balance here in Exodus. On the one hand Moses’ shining face served to authenticate the message, but on the other hand Moses prevented the people from seeing more than they could handle. The subject matter in the OT, then, is how to authenticate the message. The section again can be subdivided into three points that develop the whole idea: I. The one who spends time with God reflects his glory (29-30). It will not always be as Moses; rather, the glory of the Lord is reflected differently today, but nonetheless reflected. II. The glory of Yahweh authenticates the message (31-32). III. The authentication of the message must be used cautiously with the weak and immature (33-35).

2 tn The temporal clause is composed of the temporal indicator (“and it happened”), followed by the temporal preposition, infinitive construct, and subjective genitive (“Moses”).

3 tn The second clause begins with “and/now”; it is a circumstantial clause explaining that the tablets were in his hand. It repeats the temporal clause at the end.

4 tn Heb “in the hand of Moses.”

5 tn The temporal clause parallels the first temporal clause; it uses the same infinitive construct, but now with a suffix referring to Moses.

6 tn Heb “and Moses.”

7 tn The word קָרַן (qaran) is derived from the noun קֶרֶן (qeren) in the sense of a “ray of light” (see Hab 3:4). Something of the divine glory remained with Moses. The Greek translation of Aquila and the Latin Vulgate convey the idea that he had horns, the primary meaning of the word from which this word is derived. Some have tried to defend this, saying that the glory appeared like horns or that Moses covered his face with a mask adorned with horns. But in the text the subject of the verb is the skin of Moses’ face (see U. Cassuto, Exodus, 449).

8 tn This clause is introduced by the deictic particle הִנֵּה (hinneh); it has the force of pointing to something surprising or sudden.



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