24:1 1 But to Moses the Lord 2 said, “Come up 3 to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from a distance. 4 24:2 Moses alone may come 5 near the Lord, but the others 6 must not come near, 7 nor may the people go up with him.”
24:3 Moses came 8 and told the people all the Lord’s words 9 and all the decisions. All the people answered together, 10 “We are willing to do 11 all the words that the Lord has said,” 24:4 and Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. Early in the morning he built 12 an altar at the foot 13 of the mountain and arranged 14 twelve standing stones 15 – according to the twelve tribes of Israel. 24:5 He sent young Israelite men, 16 and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls for peace offerings 17 to the Lord. 24:6 Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and half of the blood he splashed on the altar. 18 24:7 He took the Book of the Covenant 19 and read it aloud 20 to the people, and they said, “We are willing to do and obey 21 all that the Lord has spoken.” 24:8 So Moses took the blood and splashed it on 22 the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant 23 that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
1 sn Exod 24 is the high point of the book in many ways, but most importantly, here Yahweh makes a covenant with the people – the Sinaitic Covenant. The unit not only serves to record the event in Israel’s becoming a nation, but it provides a paradigm of the worship of God’s covenant people – entering into the presence of the glory of Yahweh. See additionally W. A. Maier, “The Analysis of Exodus 24 According to Modern Literary, Form, and Redaction Critical Methodology,” Springfielder 37 (1973): 35-52. The passage may be divided into four parts for exposition: vv. 1-2, the call for worship; vv. 3-8, the consecration of the worshipers; vv. 9-11, the confirmation of the covenant; and vv. 12-18, the communication with Yahweh.
2 tn Heb “And he;” the referent (the
4 sn These seventy-four people were to go up the mountain to a certain point. Then they were to prostrate themselves and worship Yahweh as Moses went further up into the presence of Yahweh. Moses occupies the lofty position of mediator (as Christ in the NT), for he alone ascends “to Yahweh” while everyone waits for his return. The emphasis of “bowing down” and that from “far off” stresses again the ominous presence that was on the mountain. This was the holy God – only the designated mediator could draw near to him.
5 tn The verb is a perfect tense with a vav (ו) consecutive; it and the preceding perfect tense follow the imperative, and so have either a force of instruction, or, as taken here, are the equivalent of an imperfect tense (of permission).
6 tn Heb “they.”
7 tn Now the imperfect tense negated is used; here the prohibition would fit (“they will not come near”), or the obligatory (“they must not”) in which the subjects are obliged to act – or not act in this case.
8 sn The general consensus among commentators is that this refers to Moses’ coming from the mountain after he made the ascent in 20:21. Here he came and told them the laws (written in 20:22-23:33), and of the call to come up to Yahweh.
9 sn The Decalogue may not be included here because the people had heard those commands themselves earlier.
10 tn The text simply has “one voice” (קוֹל אֶחָד, qol ’ekhad); this is an adverbial accusative of manner, telling how the people answered – “in one voice,” or unanimously (see GKC 375 §118.q).
11 tn The verb is the imperfect tense (נַעֲשֶׂה, na’aseh), although the form could be classified as a cohortative. If the latter, they would be saying that they are resolved to do what God said. If it is an imperfect, then the desiderative would make the most sense: “we are willing to do.” They are not presumptuously saying they are going to do all these things.
12 tn The two preterites quite likely form a verbal hendiadys (the verb “to get up early” is frequently in such constructions). Literally it says, “and he got up early [in the morning] and he built”; this means “early [in the morning] he built.” The first verb becomes the adverb.
13 tn “under.”
14 tn The verb “arranged” is not in the Hebrew text but has been supplied to clarify exactly what Moses did with the twelve stones.
15 tn The thing numbered is found in the singular when the number is plural – “twelve standing-stone.” See GKC 433 §134.f. The “standing-stone” could be a small piece about a foot high, or a huge column higher than men. They served to commemorate treaties (Gen 32), or visions (Gen 28) or boundaries, or graves. Here it will function with the altar as a place of worship.
16 tn The construct has “young men of the Israelites,” and so “Israelite” is a genitive that describes them.
17 tn The verbs and their respective accusatives are cognates. First, they offered up burnt offerings (see Lev 1), which is וַיַּעֲלוּ עֹלֹת (vayya’alu ’olot); then they sacrificed young bulls as peace sacrifices (Lev 3), which is in Hebrew וַיִּזְבְּחוּ זְבָחִים (vayyizbÿkhu zÿvakhim). In the first case the cognate accusative is the direct object; in the second it is an adverbial accusative of product. See on this covenant ritual H. M. Kamsler, “The Blood Covenant in the Bible,” Dor le Dor 6 (1977): 94-98; E. W. Nicholson, “The Covenant Ritual in Exodus 24:3-8,” VT 32 (1982): 74-86.
19 tn The noun “book” would be the scroll just written containing the laws of chaps. 20-23. On the basis of this scroll the covenant would be concluded here. The reading of this book would assure the people that it was the same that they had agreed to earlier. But now their statement of willingness to obey would be more binding, because their promise would be confirmed by a covenant of blood.
20 tn Heb “read it in the ears of.”
21 tn A second verb is now added to the people’s response, and it is clearly an imperfect and not a cohortative, lending support for the choice of desiderative imperfect in these commitments – “we want to obey.” This was their compliance with the covenant.
22 tn Given the size of the congregation, the preposition might be rendered here “toward the people” rather than on them (all).
23 sn The construct relationship “the blood of the covenant” means “the blood by which the covenant is ratified” (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 254). The parallel with the inauguration of the new covenant in the blood of Christ is striking (see, e.g., Matt 26:28, 1 Cor 11:25). When Jesus was inaugurating the new covenant, he was bringing to an end the old.