1. And the Lord said unto Moses, Depart, and go up hence, thou and the people which thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto thy seed will I give it:
1. Loquutus autem fuerat Jehova ad Mosen: Vade, ascende hinc tu et populus quem eduxisti e terra AEgypti in terram de qua juravi ipsi Abraham, Isaac, et Jacob, dicendo, Semini tuo dabo eam.
2. And I will send an Angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Arnorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite;
2. Et mittam ante to Angelum, et ejiciam Chananaeum, et Amorrhaeum, et Hitthaeum, et Perizaeum, Hivaeum, et Jebusaeum.
3. Unto a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiff-necked people: lest I consume thee in the way.
3. Ad terram scilicet fluentem lacte et melle. Non enim ascendam in medio tui (nam populus durae cervicis es) ne forte consumam to in via.
4. And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned: and no man did put on him his ornaments.
4. Audiens autem populus verbum hoc malum, luxerunt: nec posuit quisquam ornamentum suum super se.
5. For the Lord had said unto Moses, Say unto the children of Israel, Ye are a stiff-necked people; I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment, and consume thee: therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee.
5. Dixerat enim Jehova ad Mosen, Die filiis Israel, Vos estis populus durae cervicis: momento uno ascendam in medium tui, et consumam te. Nunc ergo depone ornamentum tuum a te, et sciam quid faciam tibi.
6. And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by the mount Horeb.
6. Et spoliaverunt se filii Israel ornamentis suis a monte Horeb.
7. And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it The Tabernacle of the Congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the Lord went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp.
7. Moses autem accepit tabernaculum, et extendit illud sibi extra castra, procul a castris: (vocaverat autem illud tabernaculum conventionis) et quicunque requirebat Jehovam, egrediebatur ad tabernaculum conventionis quod erat extra castra.
8. And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent-door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle.
8. Praeterea quando egrediebatur Moses ad tabernaculum, assurgebat universus populus: stabantque singuli ad ostium tentorii sui, et aspiciebant post Mosen, donec ingrederetur tabernaculum.
9. And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses.
9. Erat autem quando egrediebatur Moses tabernaculum, descendebat columna nubis, stabatque ad ostium tabernaculi, et loquebatur eum Mose.
10. And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle-door: and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent-door.
10. Videns vero universus populus columnam nubis stantem ad ostium tabernaculi, assurgebat universus populus, et adorabat quisque ad ostium tentorii sui.
11. And the Lord spake unto Moses, face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.
11. Et loquebatur Jehova facie ad faciem, quemadmodum alloquitur quispiam amicum sumn: postea revertebatur ad castra, at minister ejus Jehosua filius Nun juvenis non recedebat e medio tabernaculi.
12. And Moses said unto the Lord, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me: yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight.
12. Et dixit Moses ad Jehovam, Vide tu dicis mihi, Educ populum hunc, et tu non indicasti mihi quem missurus sis mecum. Atqui tu dixisti, Novi te ex nomine, atque etiam invenisti gratiam in oculis meis.
13. Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight; and consider that this nation is thy people.
13. Nunc ergo si modo inveni gratiam in oculis tuis, ostende quaeso mihi viam tuam et cognoscam to, atque inventare gratiam in oculis ruts, et vide quod populus tuus sit gens ista.
14. And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.
14. Et dixit, Facies mea praecedet, et requiescere faciam te.
15. And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.
15. Cui respondit, Nisi facies tua praecedat, ne educas nos hinc.
16. For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? Is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.
16. Et (certe) qua in re notum erit hic quod invenerim gratiam in oculis tuis ego, et populus tuus? nonne quum ambulaveris nobiscum, et separabimur ego et populus tuus ab omni populo qui est super faciem terrae?
17. And the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken; for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.
17. Et dixit Jehova ad Mosen, Etiam rem hanc quam dixisti faciam: quia invenisti gratiam in oculis meis, et novi te ex nomine.
18. And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.
18. Adjecitque, Ostende mihi quaso gloriam tuam.
19. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.
19. Cui respondit, Ego praeterire faciam omnem decorem meum ante faciem tuam, et vocabo ex nomine Jehovae coram te: et miserebor, cujus miserebor: et clemens ero in quem clemens ero.
20. And he said, Thou canst not my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.
20. Dixit praeterea, Non poteris videre faciem meam: quid non videbit me homo, et vivet.
21. And the Lord said,: Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock:
21. Dixit postremo Jehova, Ecce, locus apud me, et stabis supra petram.
22. And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by:
22. Erit autem quum pertransibit gloria mea, ponam te in spelunca petrae, et protegam te manu mea donec transiero.
23.And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts; but my face shall not be seen.
23. Postea removebo manum meam, et videbis posteriors mea, facies vero non videbitur.
Let us now endeavor to elicit the true meaning of the passage. It is plain, that when God bids Moses depart with the people, He utterly renounces the charge which He Himself had hitherto sustained. He only promises that He will cause them to attain the promised inheritance, and not that He will preside over them, will there preserve them in safety, and even cherish them, as a father does his children; in fact, that he will merely fulfill the promise He had made to their fathers. And thus He anticipates their complaints; for they might reply, that consequently His promise would be rendered vain and ineffectual; but by way of anticipation, He says, that although He should renounce them, still He should maintain this truth, because He will cast out the inhabitants of the land of Canaan, so that their abode would be vacant for them. In sum, He repudiates them, that they may no longer count themselves to be His peculiar people, or expect more from Him, than as if they were strangers, He mentions His oath, lest they should accuse Him of faithlessness; as if He had said that He should be discharged from His engagement when they had obtained the land. And thus, whilst depriving them of the hope of salvation, and the grace of adoption, He still asserts the stability and stedfastness of His covenant. I, therefore, understand the word angel in a different sense from that which it has just before, and in many other passages of this book; for, when mention was before made of the angel, the familiar presence of God was denoted by it, nay, it was used interchangeably with the name of God itself. But here God is said to be so about to send the angel, as to separate Himself from the people. "I will not go up (He says) in the midst of thee;" and the reason is subjoined, viz., because it could not be that He could endure any longer their perverse spirits. Again He uses a similitude taken from refractory oxen, which cannot be broken to bear the yoke. The sum is, that because they are so intractable, God cannot perform the office of their guide without straightway destroying them.
God here assumes the character of an angry judge, preparing to inflict vengeance in His wrath, in the words, "I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment, and consume thee;" in order that their alarm may humble them the more, and stir them up to earnest prayer. It was avisible sign of mourning to He in squalidhess and uncleanness, that thus their penitence might be openly testified; for there was no efficacy in the rite and ceremony to propitiate God, except in so far as the inward affection of the mind manifested itself by a true and genuine confession. For we must bear in mind what God requires by Joel, (2:13,) that we should "rend our heart, and not our garments;" nevertheless, whilst He cares not for the outward appearance, nay, whilst He abominates hypocrisy, still, if the sinner has truly repented, it cannot be but that, humbly acknowledging his guilt, he will add the outward profession of it. For if Paul, who was guiltless of any offense, deemed that the Corinthians were to be mourned for by him when they had not "repented of their uncleanness, and fornication, and lasciviousness," because God humbled him in their sin, (2 Corinthians 12:21;) how should not those mourn publicly who are conscious of their own guilt, especially when, being convicted by the judgment of men, they are summoned to the tribunal of God? And therefore it is not without reason that he elsewhere teaches, that the sorrow which worketh repentance should also bring forth these other fruits, viz., carefulness, clearing of themselves, indignation, fear, vehement desire, zeal, revenge. (2 Corinthians 7:10, 11.) For the sake of example also, sinners should not only grieve in silence before God, but willingly undergo the penalty of ignominy before men, so as by self-condenmation to confess that God is a just Judge, to provoke others to imitate them, and, by this warning of human frailty to prevent them from a similar fall.
After, however, God has inspired them with fear, He allays His anger as it were, and declares that He will consider what He will do with them, in order that they may gather courage to ask for pardon; for, although he does not actually pardon them, He sufficiently arouses them to hope, by giving them some taste of His mercy; for, by seeming to leave them in suspense, it is not with the intention that they should approach Him hesitatingly to ask forgiveness, but that their anxiety may urge them more and more to earnest prayer, and keep them in a state of humility.
When it is said that "the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent-door," some improperly, as I conceive, refer it to mere respect to him as a civil magistrate, as if honor was thus paid to their leader; but I rather suppose that:, when at stated hours Moses presented himself before God in the name of all, they partook in his service and worship. Wherefore also they followed him with their eyes, until the cloud covered him. To the same effect this rising up is repeated immediately afterwards, where reference is made to the cloudy pillar. Wherefore I have no question but that both verses must be expounded as relating to spiritual worship. But we have elsewhere shewn how they testified their piety before the visible sign, without worshipping God therein in any gross imagination.
This clause, "My face8 shall go before," is equivalent to his saying, I will so go before thee, that thou shalt truly perceive that I am with thee, as if thou shouldst see my face set before thine eyes in a mirror. Now, since this was fulfilled in Christ, it follows that He is the eternal God, whose glory, power, and majesty is far above all creatures. The rest which He promises has reference to the perseverance of His grace, and its final accomplishment,9 as if it were said, when the people shall have entered the land, they shall be under God's protection and guardianship; for what was common to the whole people is ascribed to the person of Moses.
"To call in the name of the Lord,"12 I understand thus, to declare in a clear and loud voice what it is useful for us to know respecting God Himself. It had been said before to Moses, "I am the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, -- but by my name, -- was I not known to them." (Exodus 6:3.) Whereas, then, Moses was already superior to the patriarchs, he is now still more highly exalted, inasmuch as God makes Himself more fully known to him, and carries His manifestation of Himself to its very utmost. First, therefore, it must be borne in mind that God was now known to Moses more familiarly than heretofore; still, at the same time, let it be observed, that although a vision was exhibited to his eyes, the main point was in the voice; because true acquaintance with God is made more by the ears than by the eyes. A promise indeed is given that he shall behold God; but the latter blessing is more excellent, that God will proclaim this name, so that Moses may know Him more by His voice than by His face; for speechless visions would be cold and altogether evanescent, did they not borrow efficacy from words. Thus, therefore, just as logicians compare a syllogism to the body, and the reasoning, which it includes, to the soul; so, properly speaking, the soul of a vision is the doctrine itself, from whence faith takes its rise.
. . .
Further, the better to convince dissatisfied men of their pride and temerity, He sets forth His mercy and compassion; as much as to say, that He is under obligation to none; and hence that it is an 15unworthy thing in them to murmur, because He does not indiscriminately do good to them to whom He owes nothing. Hence it is clear how appropriately Paul, when treating of gratuitous election, accommodates this passage to the matter in hand, (Romans 9:15,) viz., that God must be by no means accounted unjust, because He passes by some and elects others; for the words loudly proclaim that God's grace is destined to a certain number of men, so as not to appear equally in all. The phrase itself needs no exposition, for it is common in all languages when we wish to prevent our reasons from being investigated, to repeat the point in question; thus, a person, wishing to rid himself of the censures of others, would say, I will go whither I will go, or I will do what I will do.
The fissure or hole in the rock was like a narrow and oblique window, which so far admits the sun's rays as that one, who is shut up in a deep and obscure place, may receive some advantage from the light, yet never see the sun itself nor enjoy its brightness. Thus we, imprisoned as it were in our bodies, cannot behold God's glory freely and directly; but He illuminates us obliquely, so that at least we see Him from behind. I do not speak of all, but of the most perfect amongst us, such as Moses was, who, although he obtained the extraordinary privilege which is here recorded, yet could not endure God's glory through the infirmity of his flesh; and therefore the hand of God was interposed, so that he should only see Him in part. By God's hand is meant the darkness wherewith He was covered, lest the eyes of Moses should be stretched in curiosity to see further than was lawful. Some16 refer "my back parts" to the fullless of time, when Christ was manifested in the flesh, as if it were said, Thou shalt not see me until clothed in human nature; this is a subtle speculation, but by no means sound, nay, altogether wide of the genuine meaning.
1 See Lat., "Locutus autem fuerat Jehova;" but the Lord had spoken, etc. Prof. Bush says, "The right adjustment of the events of this chapter in the chronological order of the narrative, is a matter attended with some difficulty. From the rendering of our established version, it would seem that what was now said to Moses was posterior in point of time to the incidents recorded in the close of the preceding chapter; but from an attentive consideration and collation of the tenor of the whole, we are persuaded, with Calvin, and other critics of note, that the proper rendering of ver. 1 is in the pluperfect, 'The Lord had said,' and that the appropriate place for the interview and incidents here related is prior to the order and the promise contained in ver. 34 of chap. 32. In that verse God declares his purpose of sending his angel before the people, and we naturally inquire how it happens that such an assurance was necessary? Was there any danger that an angel would not be sent? Had any intimation been given that his guidance and protecting presence would be withdrawn? To this the correct answer undoubtedly is, that all that is related in chap. 33 had occurred anterior to the promise made in chap. 32:34. God had threatened to send Moses and the people forward without the accompanying presence of the angel of the Shekinah, and it was only in consequence of the fervent intercession of Moses that He was induced to retract this dread determination. In the foregoing chapter, therefore, the historian merely, states in a summary way the fact of his earnest prayer, and the concession made to it; in the present, he goes back and relates minutely the train of circumstances which preceded and led to the declaration above mentioned. In doing this he virtually makes known to us one main ground of the urgency of his supplications. He was afraid that God would withdraw the tokens of his visible presence. As a punishment for the mad attempt of the people to supply themselves with a false symbol of his presence, he was apprehensive that God might be provoked to take from them the true, and hence his impassioned entreaty that He would not visit them with so sore a judgment."
2 So the LXX.,
6 "So called (says Ainsworth) in respect of his service, not of years, for he was now above fifty years old, as may be gathered by Joshua 24:29. But because ministry and service are usually by the younger sort, all servants are called young men. See Genesis 14:24." "Perhaps, (adds Adam Clarke,)
8 "My presence shall go with thee." -- A.V.
9 "Et au but ou Moyse pretendoit;" and to the object at which Moses aimed. -- Fr.
10 "Le mot que, j'ay translate,. Afin que nous soyons glorifiez, signifie aussi estre separez;" the words which I have translated, To the end that we may be glorified, signifies also to be separated. -- Fr.
11 This interrogative sentence is entirely omitted in Fr.
12 "Proclaim the name of the Lord." -- A. V.
13 "Voyla, comme aujourd'huy beaucoup de gaudisseurs pour debatre de toutes choses;" behold, how now-a-days many jeerers, to dispute about everything. -- Fr. C. discusses the third question, as to the creation of the world, in his Inst., Book I., chap. 14, sec. 1. It is also very neatly met in Pet. Martyr. Loci. Com. C1. I., chap. 12, sec. 2. "Sunt qui quaerant, Cum potuerit Deus longe prius mundum producere, cur tam sero? Est petulans, et procax haec inquisitio, nec humanae curiositati, nisi illam retundendo, satisfieri potest: nam quoeunque puncto temporis ante ficti vel imaginati dedissem tibi factum mundum, tu adhuc conqueri posses id sero fuisse factum, si tuam cogitationem referres ad Dei aeternitatem. Igitur hic pie est agendum, non hac procaci, et temeraria, curiositate."
14 Addition in Fr., "Seulement pour son plaisir;" only for his pleasure.
15 "C'est trop grande presomption;" it is too great a presumption. -- Fr.
16 "Tertullian referreth these backer or latter parts to the latter times of the Messiah: My glory which thou desirest to see, shall be revealed in the latter times." -- Willet in loco. Owen's exposition of this passage is worthy of quotation: "The face of God, or the gracious majesty of his Being, his essential glory, is not to be seen of any in this life; we cannot see him as he is. But the glorious manifestation of himself we may behold and contemplate. This we may see as the back parts of God; that shadow of his excellencies which he casteth forth in the passing by us in his works and dispensations. This Moses shall see. And wherein did it consist? Why, in the revelation, and declaration of this name of God. Exodus 34:6, 7. To be known by this name, to be honored, feared, believed, as that declares him, is the great glory of God." -- Owen's Expos. of Psalm 130. (Edin., edit. 1851, vol. 6, p. 481.)