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Exodus 24:12-18

Context

24:12 1 The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me to the mountain and remain there, and I will give you the stone tablets 2  with 3  the law and the commandments that I have written, so that you may teach them.” 4  24:13 So Moses set out 5  with 6  Joshua his attendant, and Moses went up the mountain of God. 24:14 He told the elders, “Wait for us in this place until we return to you. Here are 7  Aaron and Hur with you. Whoever has any matters of dispute 8  can approach 9  them.”

24:15 Moses went up the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. 24:16 The glory of the Lord resided 10  on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days. 11  On the seventh day he called to Moses from within the cloud. 24:17 Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in plain view 12  of the people. 24:18 Moses went into the cloud when he went up 13  the mountain, and Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights. 14 

1 sn Now the last part is recorded in which Moses ascends to Yahweh to receive the tablets of stone. As Moses disappears into the clouds, the people are given a vision of the glory of Yahweh.

2 sn These are the stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments would be written. This is the first time they are mentioned. The commandments were apparently proclaimed by God first and then proclaimed to the people by Moses. Now that they have been formally agreed on and ratified, they will be written by God on stone for a perpetual covenant.

3 tn Or “namely”; or “that is to say.” The vav (ו) on the noun does not mean that this is in addition to the tablets of stone; the vav is explanatory. Gesenius has “to wit”; see GKC 484-85 §154.a, n. 1(b).

4 tn The last word of the verse is לְהוֹרֹתָם (lÿhorotam), the Hiphil infinitive construct of יָרָה (yarah). It serves as a purpose clause, “to teach them,” meaning “I am giving you this Law and these commands in order that you may teach them.” This duty to teach the Law will be passed especially to parents (Deut 6:6-9, 20-25) and to the tribe of Levi as a whole (Deut 33:9-10; Mal 2:1-9).

5 tn Heb “and he arose” meaning “started to go.”

6 tn Heb “and.”

7 tn The word הִנֵּה (hinneh) calls attention to the presence of Aaron and Hur to answer the difficult cases that might come up.

8 tn Or “issues to resolve.” The term is simply דְּבָרִים (dÿvarim, “words, things, matters”).

9 tn The imperfect tense here has the nuance of potential imperfect. In the absence of Moses and Joshua, Aaron and Hur will be available.

sn Attention to the preparation for Moses’ departure contributes to the weight of the guilt of the faithless Israelites (chap. 32) and of Aaron, to whom Moses had delegated an important duty.

10 sn The verb is וַיִּשְׁכֹּן (vayyishkon, “and dwelt, abode”). From this is derived the epithet “the Shekinah Glory,” the dwelling or abiding glory. The “glory of Yahweh” was a display visible at a distance, clearly in view of the Israelites. To them it was like a consuming fire in the midst of the cloud that covered the mountain. That fire indicated that Yahweh wished to accept their sacrifice, as if it were a pleasant aroma to him, as Leviticus would say. This “appearance” indicated that the phenomena represented a shimmer of the likeness of his glory (B. Jacob, Exodus, 749). The verb, according to U. Cassuto (Exodus, 316), also gives an inkling of the next section of the book, the building of the “tabernacle,” the dwelling place, the מִשְׁכָּן (mishkan). The vision of the glory of Yahweh confirmed the authority of the revelation of the Law given to Israel. This chapter is the climax of God’s bringing people into covenant with himself, the completion of his revelation to them, a completion that is authenticated with the miraculous. It ends with the mediator going up in the clouds to be with God, and the people down below eagerly awaiting his return. The message of the whole chapter could be worded this way: Those whom God sanctifies by the blood of the covenant and instructs by the book of the covenant may enjoy fellowship with him and anticipate a far more glorious fellowship. So too in the NT the commandments and teachings of Jesus are confirmed by his miraculous deeds and by his glorious manifestation on the Mount of the Transfiguration, where a few who represented the disciples would see his glory and be able to teach others. The people of the new covenant have been brought into fellowship with God through the blood of the covenant; they wait eagerly for his return from heaven in the clouds.

11 tn This is an adverbial accusative of time.

12 tn Heb “to the eyes of” which could mean in their opinion.

13 tn The verb is a preterite with vav (ו) consecutive; here, the second clause, is subordinated to the first preterite, because it seems that the entering into the cloud is the dominant point in this section of the chapter.

14 sn B. Jacob (Exodus, 750) offers this description of some of the mystery involved in Moses’ ascending into the cloud: Moses ascended into the presence of God, but remained on earth. He did not rise to heaven – the ground remained firmly under his feet. But he clearly was brought into God’s presence; he was like a heavenly servant before God’s throne, like the angels, and he consumed neither bread nor water. The purpose of his being there was to become familiar with all God’s demands and purposes. He would receive the tablets of stone and all the instructions for the tabernacle that was to be built (beginning in chap. 25). He would not descend until the sin of the golden calf.



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