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The Blood of the Covenant


Then he said to Moses, “Come up to the L ord, you and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship at a distance. 2Moses alone shall come near the L ord; but the others shall not come near, and the people shall not come up with him.”

3 Moses came and told the people all the words of the L ord and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice, and said, “All the words that the L ord has spoken we will do.” 4And Moses wrote down all the words of the L ord. He rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and set up twelve pillars, corresponding to the twelve tribes of Israel. 5He sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed oxen as offerings of well-being to the L ord. 6Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he dashed against the altar. 7Then he took the book of the covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the L ord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” 8Moses took the blood and dashed it on the people, and said, “See the blood of the covenant that the L ord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

On the Mountain with God

9 Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, 10and they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there was something like a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. 11God did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; also they beheld God, and they ate and drank.

12 The L ord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.” 13So Moses set out with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. 14To the elders he had said, “Wait here for us, until we come to you again; for Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a dispute may go to them.”

15 Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. 16The glory of the L ord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the cloud. 17Now the appearance of the glory of the L ord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. 18Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.

12. And the Lord said unto Moses, Come up to me. Moses himself is now taken up higher; because it was sufficient that the elders should be admitted to that intermediate vision, from whence they might certainly know that he would not proceed further, except by God’s command, in order that he might be received to familiar colloquy. Although, however, Joshua began to go on with him, it is plain that he was only his companion for six days, until Moses left him behind, and was gathered into the cloud. When God declares that He will give him “a law and commandment,” this must not be understood of any new instruction, but of the authentic writing (consignatione) of the Law: for, after having spoken of the two tables, He immediately mentions, in apposition, the Law and Commandment, by way of explanation; as if He had said that He would give the tables, which were to be a divine monument 320320     “Un document celeste et infallible;” a celestial and infallible document. — Fr. of His covenant; so that a summary of doctrine should exist among the people, not written with ink, and by the hand of man, but by the secret power of the Spirit. I am afraid the speculation of Augustine is more subtle than correct, that the Law was written by the finger of God, 321321     See Augustine, Serm. 155: De verbo Apost. sect. 3, tom. 5, pp. 742, 743, (Edit. Bened.) See also Serm. 8. sect. 14, ibid., p. 48. See also Quaest. in Exodus 25, tom. 3., p. 429; and Quaest. 166., ibid., pp. 471, 472. “Proinde magna oritur quaestio, quomodo illae tabulae, quas erat Moyses Deo utique praesciente fractures, non hominis opus esse dicantur, sed Dei, nec ab homine scriptae, sed digito Dei: posteriores vero tabulae tamdiu mansurae, ac in tabernaculo et templo Dei futurae, jubente quidem Deo, tamen ab homine excisae sint, ab homine scriptae. An forte in illis prioribus gratia Dei significabatur, non hominis opus, qua gratia indigni facti sunt revertentes corde in Aegyptum, et facientes idolum; unde illo beneficio privati sunt, et propterea Moyses tabulas fregit: istis vero tabulis posterioribus significati sunt qui de suis operibus gloriantur; unde dicit Apostolus (Romans 10:3) Ignorantes Dei justitiam, et suam volentes constituere, justitiae Dei non sunt subjecti; et ideo tabulae humano opere exsculptae et humano opere conscriptae datae sunt, quae cum ipsis manerent, ad eos significandos de suis operibus gloriaturos, non de digito Dei hoc est de Spiritu Dei.” because only the Spirit of God engraves it on our hearts; for, to pass over the fact that the hardness of the stones was not changed, what will their breaking mean, which will be spoken of hereafter? Surely it does not accord that, whereas the grace of regeneration endures unto the end, the Law should be only engraven efficaciously by the Spirit upon men’s hearts for a moment. What I have advanced, however, is beyond controversy, that the Law was inscribed upon these polished stones, that the perpetuity of the covenant might be testified in all ages.

14. Tarry ye here for us, until we come again. I do not take the words so precisely as to suppose that he commanded them to stand still in the same place; but since he was just about to be separated from intercourse with men, I suppose, that our earthly dwelling-place is indicated by the adverb, 322322     “Le mot dici;” the word here. — Fr. since it immediately follows, that if anything should occur, Aaron and Hur were to be his substitutes for ruling the people and settling quarrels. For, since care and anxiety might beset their minds, as being deprived of their only guide in counsel, and minister of safety, he offers this consolation to relieve their despondency. Hence it follows that they were sent back to occupy their charge, which could not be the case, unless they were in communication with the people. We are not aware whether Moses was pre-informed as to the time (of his absence, 323323     Added from Fr. ) although it is more probable that he was in doubt and suspense, until he penetrated into the secret counsel of God. From the last verse but one, we learn, that though the majesty of God was more clearly revealed to the elders, still it was conspicuous to all, from the least to the greatest, lest any excuse for ignorance should remain; for when the fire was seen burning for six continuous days, as if it would consume the mountain, how could they afterwards pretend that it was not fully understood from what Author the Law proceeded?

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