24:4 and Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. Early in the morning he built 1 an altar at the foot 2 of the mountain and arranged 3 twelve standing stones 4 – according to the twelve tribes of Israel.
24:12 5 The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me to the mountain and remain there, and I will give you the stone tablets 6 with 7 the law and the commandments that I have written, so that you may teach them.” 8 24:13 So Moses set out 9 with 10 Joshua his attendant, and Moses went up the mountain of God.
24:18 Moses went into the cloud when he went up 11 the mountain, and Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights. 12
1 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.
2 tn “under.”
3 tn The verb “arranged” is not in the Hebrew text but has been supplied to clarify exactly what Moses did with the twelve stones.
4 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.
5 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.
6 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.
7 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).
8 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).
9 tn Heb “and he arose” meaning “started to go.”
10 tn Heb “and.”
11 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.
12 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.