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Exodus 32:7-14

Context

32:7 The Lord spoke to Moses: “Go quickly, descend, 1  because your 2  people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have acted corruptly. 32:8 They have quickly turned aside 3  from the way that I commanded them – they have made for themselves a molten calf and have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt.’”

32:9 Then the Lord said to Moses: “I have seen this people. 4  Look 5  what a stiff-necked people they are! 6  32:10 So now, leave me alone 7  so that my anger can burn against them and I can destroy them, and I will make from you a great nation.”

32:11 But Moses sought the favor 8  of the Lord his God and said, “O Lord, why does your anger burn against your people, whom you have brought out from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 32:12 Why 9  should the Egyptians say, 10  ‘For evil 11  he led them out to kill them in the mountains and to destroy 12  them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger, and relent 13  of this evil against your people. 32:13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel your servants, to whom you swore by yourself and told them, ‘I will multiply your descendants 14  like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken about 15  I will give to your descendants, 16  and they will inherit it forever.’” 32:14 Then the Lord relented over the evil that he had said he would do to his people.

Exodus 32:31-34

Context

32:31 So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Alas, this people has committed a very serious sin, 17  and they have made for themselves gods of gold. 32:32 But now, if you will forgive their sin…, 18  but if not, wipe me out 19  from your book that you have written.” 20  32:33 The Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me – that person I will wipe out of my book. 32:34 So now go, lead the people to the place I have spoken to you about. See, 21  my angel will go before you. But on the day that I punish, I will indeed punish them for their sin.” 22 

Exodus 33:12-23

Context

33:12 Moses said to the Lord, “See, you have been saying to me, ‘Bring this people up,’ 23  but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. But you said, ‘I know you by name, 24  and also you have found favor in my sight.’ 33:13 Now if I have found favor in your sight, show me 25  your way, that I may know you, 26  that I may continue to find 27  favor in your sight. And see 28  that this nation is your people.”

33:14 And the Lord 29  said, “My presence 30  will go with you, 31  and I will give you rest.” 32 

33:15 And Moses 33  said to him, “If your presence does not go 34  with us, 35  do not take us up from here. 36  33:16 For how will it be known then that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not by your going with us, so that we will be distinguished, I and your people, from all the people who are on the face of the earth?” 37 

33:17 The Lord said to Moses, “I will do this thing also that you have requested, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know 38  you by name.”

33:18 And Moses 39  said, “Show me your glory.” 40 

33:19 And the Lord 41  said, “I will make all my goodness 42  pass before your face, and I will proclaim the Lord by name 43  before you; I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy.” 44  33:20 But he added, “You cannot see my face, for no one can 45  see me and live.” 46  33:21 The Lord said, “Here 47  is a place by me; you will station yourself 48  on a rock. 33:22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and will cover 49  you with my hand 50  while I pass by. 51  33:23 Then I will take away my hand, and you will see my back, 52  but my face must not be seen.” 53 

1 tn The two imperatives could also express one idea: “get down there.” In other words, “Make haste to get down.”

2 sn By giving the people to Moses in this way, God is saying that they have no longer any right to claim him as their God, since they have shared his honor with another. This is God’s talionic response to their “These are your gods who brought you up.” The use of these pronoun changes also would form an appeal to Moses to respond, since Moses knew that God had brought them up from Egypt.

3 tn The verb is a perfect tense, reflecting the present perfect nuance: “they have turned aside” and are still disobedient. But the verb is modified with the adverb “quickly” (actually a Piel infinitive absolute). It has been only a matter of weeks since they heard the voice of God prohibiting this.

4 sn This is a bold anthropomorphism; it is as if God has now had a chance to get to know these people and has discovered how rebellious they are. The point of the figure is that there has been discernible evidence of their nature.

5 tn Heb “and behold” or “and look.” The expression directs attention in order to persuade the hearer.

6 sn B. Jacob says the image is that of the people walking before God, and when he called to them the directions, they would not bend their neck to listen; they were resolute in doing what they intended to do (Exodus, 943). The figure describes them as refusing to submit, but resisting in pride.

7 tn The imperative, from the word “to rest” (נוּחַ, nuakh), has the sense of “leave me alone, let me be.” It is a directive for Moses not to intercede for the people. B. S. Childs (Exodus [OTL], 567) reflects the Jewish interpretation that there is a profound paradox in God’s words. He vows the severest punishment but then suddenly conditions it on Moses’ agreement. “Let me alone that I may consume them” is the statement, but the effect is that he has left the door open for intercession. He allows himself to be persuaded – that is what a mediator is for. God could have slammed the door (as when Moses wanted to go into the promised land). Moreover, by alluding to the promise to Abraham God gave Moses the strongest reason to intercede.

8 tn S. R. Driver (Exodus, 351) draws on Arabic to show that the meaning of this verb (חָלָה, khalah) was properly “make sweet the face” or “stroke the face”; so here “to entreat, seek to conciliate.” In this prayer, Driver adds, Moses urges four motives for mercy: 1) Israel is Yahweh’s people, 2) Israel’s deliverance has demanded great power, 3) the Egyptians would mock if the people now perished, and 4) the oath God made to the fathers.

9 tn The question is rhetorical; it really forms an affirmation that is used here as a reason for the request (see GKC 474 §150.e).

10 tn Heb “speak, saying.” This is redundant in English and has been simplified in the translation.

11 tn The word “evil” means any kind of life-threatening or fatal calamity. “Evil” is that which hinders life, interrupts life, causes pain to life, or destroys it. The Egyptians would conclude that such a God would have no good intent in taking his people to the desert if now he destroyed them.

12 tn The form is a Piel infinitive construct from כָּלָה (kalah, “to complete, finish”) but in this stem, “bring to an end, destroy.” As a purpose infinitive this expresses what the Egyptians would have thought of God’s motive.

13 tn The verb “repent, relent” when used of God is certainly an anthropomorphism. It expresses the deep pain that one would have over a situation. Earlier God repented that he had made humans (Gen 6:6). Here Moses is asking God to repent/relent over the judgment he was about to bring, meaning that he should be moved by such compassion that there would be no judgment like that. J. P. Hyatt observes that the Bible uses so many anthropomorphisms because the Israelites conceived of God as a dynamic and living person in a vital relationship with people, responding to their needs and attitudes and actions (Exodus [NCBC], 307). See H. V. D. Parunak, “A Semantic Survey of NHM,” Bib 56 (1975): 512-32.

14 tn Heb “your seed.”

15 tn “about” has been supplied.

16 tn Heb “seed.”

17 tn As before, the cognate accusative is used; it would literally be “this people has sinned a great sin.”

18 tn The apodosis is not expressed; it would be understood as “good.” It is not stated because of the intensity of the expression (the figure is aposiopesis, a sudden silence). It is also possible to take this first clause as a desire and not a conditional clause, rendering it “Oh that you would forgive!”

19 tn The word “wipe” is a figure of speech indicating “remove me” (meaning he wants to die). The translation “blot” is traditional, but not very satisfactory, since it does not convey complete removal.

20 sn The book that is referred to here should not be interpreted as the NT “book of life” which is portrayed (figuratively) as a register of all the names of the saints who are redeemed and will inherit eternal life. Here it refers to the names of those who are living and serving in this life, whose names, it was imagined, were on the roster in the heavenly courts as belonging to the chosen. Moses would rather die than live if these people are not forgiven (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 356).

21 tn Heb “behold, look.” Moses should take this fact into consideration.

22 sn The Law said that God would not clear the guilty. But here the punishment is postponed to some future date when he would revisit this matter. Others have taken the line to mean that whenever a reckoning was considered necessary, then this sin would be included (see B. Jacob, Exodus, 957). The repetition of the verb traditionally rendered “visit” in both clauses puts emphasis on the certainty – so “indeed.”

23 tn The Hiphil imperative is from the same verb that has been used before for bringing the people up from Egypt and leading them to Canaan.

24 tn That is, “chosen you.”

25 tn The prayer uses the Hiphil imperative of the verb “to know.” “Cause me to know” is “show me, reveal to me, teach or inform me.” Moses wanted to know more of God’s dealings with people, especially after all that has happened in the preceding chapter.

26 tn The imperfect tense of the verb “to know” with the vav follows the imperative of this root, and so this indicates the purpose clause (final imperfect): “in order that I may know you.” S. R. Driver summarizes it this way: that I may understand what your nature and character is, and shape my petitions accordingly, so that I may find grace in your sight, and my future prayers may be answered (Exodus, 361).

27 tn The purpose clause simply uses the imperfect, “that I may find.” But since he already has found favor in God’s eyes, he is clearly praying that it be so in the future as well as now.

28 tn The verb “see” (an imperative) is a request for God to acknowledge Israel as his people by providing the divine leadership needed. So his main appeal will be for the people and not himself. To underscore this, he repeats “see” the way the section opened.

29 tn Heb “and he said”; the referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

30 sn Heb “my face.” This represents the presence of Yahweh going with the people (see 2 Sam 17:11 for an illustration). The “presence” probably refers to the angel of the presence or some similar manifestation of God’s leading and caring for his people.

31 tn The phrase “with you” is not in the Hebrew text, but is implied.

32 sn The expression certainly refers to the peace of mind and security of knowing that God was with them. But the expression came to mean “settle them in the land of promise” and give them rest and peace from their enemies. U. Cassuto (Exodus, 434) observes how in 32:10 God had told Moses, “Leave me alone” (“give me rest”), but now he promises to give them rest. The parallelism underscores the great transition through intercession.

33 tn Heb “and he said”; the referent (Moses) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

34 tn The construction uses the active participle to stress the continual going of the presence: if there is not your face going.

35 tn “with us” has been supplied.

36 tn Heb “from this.”

37 sn See W. Brueggemann, “The Crisis and Promise of Presence in Israel,” HBT 1 (1979): 47-86; and N. M. Waldman, “God’s Ways – A Comparative Note,” JQR 70 (1979): 67-70.

38 tn The verb in this place is a preterite with the vav (ו) consecutive, judging from the pointing. It then follows in sequence the verb “you have found favor,” meaning you stand in that favor, and so it means “I have known you” and still do (equal to the present perfect). The emphasis, however, is on the results of the action, and so “I know you.”

39 tn Heb “and he said”; the referent (Moses) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

40 sn Moses now wanted to see the glory of Yahweh, more than what he had already seen and experienced. He wanted to see God in all his majesty. The LXX chose to translate this without a word for “glory” or “honor”; instead they used the pronoun seautou, “yourself” – show me the real You. God tells him that he cannot see it fully, but in part. It will be enough for Moses to disclose to him the reality of the divine presence as well as God’s moral nature. It would be impossible for Moses to comprehend all of the nature of God, for there is a boundary between God and man. But God would let him see his goodness, the sum of his nature, pass by in a flash. B. Jacob (Exodus, 972) says that the glory refers to God’s majesty, might, and glory, as manifested in nature, in his providence, his laws, and his judgments. He adds that this glory should and would be made visible to man – that was its purpose in the world.

41 tn Heb “and he said”; the referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

42 sn The word “goodness” refers to the divine appearance in summary fashion.

43 tn The expression “make proclamation in the name of Yahweh” (here a perfect tense with vav [ו] consecutive for future) means to declare, reveal, or otherwise make proclamation of who Yahweh is. The “name of Yahweh” (rendered “the name of the Lord” throughout) refers to his divine attributes revealed to his people, either in word or deed. What will be focused on first will be his grace and compassion.

44 sn God declares his mercy and grace in similar terms to his earlier self-revelation (“I am that I am”): “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious.” In other words, the grace and mercy of God are bound up in his own will. Obviously, in this passage the recipients of that favor are the penitent Israelites who were forgiven through Moses’ intercession. The two words are at the heart of God’s dealings with people. The first is חָנַן (khanan, “to be gracious, show favor”). It means to grant favor or grace to someone, grace meaning unmerited favor. All of God’s dealings are gracious, but especially in forgiving sins and granting salvation it is critical. Parallel to this is רָחַם (rakham), a word that means “show compassion, tender mercy.” It is a word that is related to the noun “womb,” the connection being in providing care and protection for that which is helpless and dependent – a motherly quality. In both of these constructions the verbs simply express what God will do, without explaining why. See further, J. R. Lundbom, “God’s Use of the Idem per idem to Terminate Debate,” HTR 71 (1978): 193-201; and J. Piper, “Prolegomena to Understanding Romans 9:14-15: An Interpretation of Exodus 33:19,” JETS 22 (1979): 203-16.

45 tn In view of the use of the verb “can, be able to” in the first clause, this imperfect tense is given a potential nuance.

46 tn Gesenius notes that sometimes a negative statement takes the place of a conditional clause; here it is equal to “if a man sees me he does not live” (GKC 498 §159.gg). The other passages that teach this are Gen 32:30; Deut 4:33, 5:24, 26; Judg 6:22, 13:22, and Isa 6:5.

47 tn The deictic particle is used here simply to call attention to a place of God’s knowing and choosing.

48 tn Heb “and you will,” or interpretively, “where you will.”

49 sn Note the use in Exod 40:3, “and you will screen the ark with the curtain.” The glory is covered, veiled from being seen.

50 tn The circumstantial clause is simply, “my hand [being] over you.” This protecting hand of Yahweh represents a fairly common theme in the Bible.

51 tn The construction has a preposition with an infinitive construct and a suffix: “while [or until] I pass by” (Heb “in the passing by of me”).

52 tn The plural “my backs” is according to Gesenius an extension plural (compare “face,” a dual in Hebrew). The word denotes a locality in general, but that is composed of numerous parts (see GKC 397 §124.b). W. C. Kaiser says that since God is a spirit, the meaning of this word could just as easily be rendered “after effects” of his presence (“Exodus,” EBC 2:484). As S. R. Driver says, though, while this may indicate just the “afterglow” that he leaves behind him, it was enough to suggest what the full brilliancy of his presence must be (Exodus, 363; see also Job 26:14).

53 tn The Niphal imperfect could simply be rendered “will not be seen,” but given the emphasis of the preceding verses, it is more binding than that, and so a negated obligatory imperfect fits better: “it must not be seen.” It would also be possible to render it with a potential imperfect tense: “it cannot be seen.”



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