28:11 You are to engrave the two stones with the names of the sons of Israel with the work of an engraver in stone, like the engravings of a seal; 1 you are to have them set 2 in gold filigree 3 settings.
28:21 The stones are to be for the names of the sons of Israel, twelve, according to the number of 4 their names. Each name according to the twelve tribes is to be like 5 the engravings of a seal.
28:29 Aaron will bear the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpiece of decision over his heart 6 when he goes into the holy place, for a memorial before the Lord continually.
32:15 Moses turned and went down from the mountain with 11 the two tablets of the testimony in his hands. The tablets were written on both sides – they were written on the front and on the back. 32:16 Now the tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.
34:28 So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; 15 he did not eat bread, and he did not drink water. He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. 16
39:14 The stones were for the names of the sons of Israel, twelve, corresponding to the number of 19 their names. Each name corresponding to one of the twelve tribes was like the engravings of a seal.
39:30 They made a plate, the holy diadem, of pure gold and wrote on it an inscription, as on the engravings of a seal, “Holiness to the Lord.”
1 sn Expert stone or gem engravers were used to engrave designs and names in identification seals of various sizes. It was work that skilled artisans did.
2 tn Or “you will mount them” (NRSV similar).
3 tn Or “rosettes,” shield-like frames for the stones. The Hebrew word means “to plait, checker.”
4 tn For clarity the words “the number of” have been supplied.
5 tn The phrase translated “the engravings of a seal” is an adverbial accusative of manner here.
6 sn So Aaron will have the names of the tribes on his shoulders (v. 12) which bear the weight and symbol of office (see Isa 9:6; 22:22), and over his heart (implying that they have a constant place in his thoughts [Deut 6:6]). Thus he was to enter the presence of God as the nation’s representative, ever mindful of the nation’s interests, and ever bringing the remembrance of it before God (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 306).
7 tn The word צִּיץ (tsits) seems to mean “a shining thing” and so here a plate of metal. It originally meant “flower,” but they could not write on a flower. So it must have the sense of something worn openly, visible, and shining. The Rabbinic tradition says it was two fingers wide and stretched from ear to ear, but this is an attempt to give details that the Law does not give (see B. Jacob, Exodus, 818).
8 tn Heb “the engravings of a seal”; this phrase is an adverbial accusative of manner.
9 sn The engraving was a perpetual reminder of the holiness that was due the
10 sn The expression “the finger of God” has come up before in the book, in the plagues (Exod 8:15) to express that it was a demonstration of the power and authority of God. So here too the commandments given to Moses on stone tablets came from God. It too is a bold anthropomorphism; to attribute such a material action to Yahweh would have been thought provoking to say the least. But by using “God” and by stating it in an obviously figurative way, balance is maintained. Since no one writes with one finger, the expression simply says that the Law came directly from God.
11 tn The disjunctive vav (ו) serves here as a circumstantial clause indicator.
12 sn The restoration of the faltering community continues in this chapter. First, Moses is instructed to make new tablets and take them to the mountain (1-4). Then, through the promised theophany God proclaims his moral character (5-8). Moses responds with the reiteration of the intercession (8), and God responds with the renewal of the covenant (10-28). To put these into expository form, as principles, the chapter would run as follows: I. God provides for spiritual renewal (1-4), II. God reminds people of his moral standard (5-9), III. God renews his covenant promises and stipulations (10-28).
13 tn The imperative is followed by the preposition with a suffix expressing the ethical dative; it strengthens the instruction for Moses. Interestingly, the verb “cut out, chisel, hew,” is the same verb from which the word for a “graven image” is derived – פָּסַל (pasal).
14 tn The perfect tense with vav consecutive makes the value of this verb equal to an imperfect tense, probably a simple future here.
sn Nothing is said of how God was going to write on these stone tablets at this point, but in the end it is Moses who wrote the words. This is not considered a contradiction, since God is often credited with things he has people do in his place. There is great symbolism in this command – if ever a command said far more than it actually said, this is it. The instruction means that the covenant had been renewed, or was going to be renewed, and that the sanctuary with the tablets in the ark at its center would be built (see Deut 10:1). The first time Moses went up he was empty-handed; when he came down he smashed the tablets because of the Israelites’ sin. Now the people would see him go up with empty tablets and be uncertain whether he would come back with the tablets inscribed again (B. Jacob, Exodus, 977-78).
15 tn These too are adverbial in relation to the main clause, telling how long Moses was with Yahweh on the mountain.
16 tn Heb “the ten words,” though “commandments” is traditional.
17 tn Or “as seals are engraved.”
18 sn The twelve names were those of Israel’s sons. The idea was not the remembrance of the twelve sons as such, but the twelve tribes that bore their names.
19 tn The phrase “the number of” has been supplied.