19:21 The Lord said to Moses, “Go down and solemnly warn 1 the people, lest they force their way through to the Lord to look, and many of them perish. 2 19:22 Let the priests also, who approach the Lord, sanctify themselves, lest the Lord break through 3 against them.”
19:23 Moses said to the Lord, “The people are not able to come up to Mount Sinai, because you solemnly warned us, 4 ‘Set boundaries for the mountain and set it apart.’” 5 19:24 The Lord said to him, “Go, get down, and come up, and Aaron with you, but do not let the priests and the people force their way through to come up to the Lord, lest he break through against them.”
1 tn The imperative הָעֵד (ha’ed) means “charge” them – put them under oath, or solemnly warn them. God wished to ensure that the people would not force their way past the barriers that had been set out.
2 tn Heb “and fall”; NAB “be struck down.”
3 tn The verb יִפְרֹץ (yifrots) is the imperfect tense from פָּרַץ (parats, “to make a breach, to break through”). The image of Yahweh breaking forth on them means “work destruction” (see 2 Sam 6:8; S. R. Driver, Exodus, 174).
4 tn The construction is emphatic: “because you – you solemnly warned us.” Moses’ response to God is to ask how they would break through when God had already charged them not to. God knew them better than Moses did.
5 tn Heb “sanctify it.”