19:9 The Lord said to Moses, “I am going to come 1 to you in a dense cloud, 2 so that the people may hear when I speak with you and so that they will always believe in you.” 3 And Moses told the words of the people to the Lord.
19:19 When the sound of the horn grew louder and louder, 4 Moses was speaking 5 and God was answering him with a voice. 6
1 tn The construction uses the deictic particle and the participle to express the imminent future, what God was about to do. Here is the first announcement of the theophany.
2 tn Heb “the thickness of the cloud”; KJV, ASV, NASB, NCV, TEV, CEV, NLT “in a thick cloud.”
4 tn The active participle הוֹלֵךְ (holekh) is used to add the idea of “continually” to the action of the sentence; here the trumpet became very loud – continually. See GKC 344 §113.u.
5 tn The two verbs here (“spoke” and “answered”) are imperfect tenses; they emphasize repeated action but in past time. The customary imperfect usually is translated “would” or “used to” do the action, but here continuous action in past time is meant. S. R. Driver translates it “kept speaking” and “kept answering” (Exodus, 172).
6 tn The text simply has בְּקוֹל (bÿqol); it could mean “with a voice” or it could mean “in thunder” since “voice” was used in v. 16 for thunder. In this context it would be natural to say that the repeated thunderings were the voice of God – but how is that an answer? Deut 4:12 says that the people heard the sound of words. U. Cassuto (Exodus, 232-33) rightly comments, “He was answering him with a loud voice so that it was possible for Moses to hear His words clearly in the midst of the storm.” He then draws a parallel from Ugaritic where it tells that one of the gods was speaking in a loud voice.