Exodus 32:29
For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves today to the LORD, even every man on his son, and on his brother; that he may bestow on you a blessing this day.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(29) For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves.—Moses had explained to them that a brave behaviour under existing circumstances would be accepted as a “consecration,” and would win for the tribe a semi-priestly character. His announcement was made good when the Levites were appointed to the service of the sanctuary in lieu of the firstborn (Numbers 3:6-13).

32:21-29 Never did any wise man make a more frivolous and foolish excuse than that of Aaron. We must never be drawn into sin by any thing man can say or do to us; for men can but tempt us to sin, they cannot force us. The approach of Moses turned the dancing into trembling. They were exposed to shame by their sin. The course Moses took to roll away this reproach, was, not by concealing the sin, or putting any false colour upon it, but by punishing it. The Levites were to slay the ringleaders in this wickedness; yet none were executed but those who openly stood forth. Those are marked for ruin who persist in sin: those who in the morning were shouting and dancing, before night were dying. Such sudden changes do the judgments of the Lord sometimes make with sinners that are secure and jovial in their sin.Consecrate yourselves to day to the Lord ... - The margin contains the literal rendering. Our version gives the most probable meaning of the Hebrew, and is supported by the best authority. The Levites were to prove themselves in a special way the servants of Yahweh, in anticipation of their formal consecration as ministers of the sanctuary (compare Deuteronomy 10:8), by manifesting a self-sacrificing zeal in carrying out the divine command, even upon their nearest relatives.29. Consecrate yourselves to-day to the Lord—or, "Ye have consecrated yourselves to-day." The Levites, notwithstanding the dejection of Aaron, distinguished themselves by their zeal for the honor of God and their conduct in doing the office of executioners on this occasion; and this was one reason that they were appointed to a high and honorable office in the service of the sanctuary. Offer up yourselves to the honour and service of the Lord in this work, which because it was joined with the hazard of their lives, he calls it a consecration or oblation of themselves, as Abraham for the like reason is said to have offered up Isaac.

Consecrate yourselves, Heb. fill your hands, & c., i.e. offer a sacrifice, for so the phrase is oft used, as Exodus 28:41 Judges 17:5,12. That work of justice which they were going to execute might seem an inhuman and barbarous act, but he tells them it was an acceptable sacrifice to God, as the destruction of God’s enemies is called a sacrifice, Isaiah 34:6 Ezekiel 39:17. Or he hereby intimates that this tribe was designed by God for his immediate service, and therefore recommends this work to them as an excellent initiation into their office, and as a demonstration that they were in some sort worthy of that great trust. For Moses had said,.... To the Levites, when he first gave them their orders:

consecrate yourselves today to the Lord; devote yourselves to his service, by obeying his orders, slaying those, or the heads of them, who have cast so much contempt upon him as to worship the golden calf in his room; and which would be as acceptable to him as the offerings were, by which Aaron and his sons were consecrated to the Lord; and as these Levites were consecrated to his service this day, on this account:

even every man upon his son, and upon his brother; not sparing the nearest relation found in this idolatry, and for which the tribe of Levi is commended and blessed in the blessing of Moses, Deuteronomy 33:8 and as it follows:

that he may bestow a blessing upon you this day; which was their being taken into the service of God to minister to the priests in the sanctuary, to bear the vessels of the Lord, and for their maintenance to have the tithes of the people: this day was, according to the Jewish writers (s), the seventeenth of Tammuz, or June, on which day the Jews keep a fast upon this account.

(s) Sedar Olam Rabba, c. 6. p. 18. Pirke Eliezer, c. 46.

For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves to day to the LORD, even every man upon his {m} son, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day.

(m) In revenging God's glory we must have no partiality to person, but lay aside all carnal affection.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
29. The Levites are invited to qualify themselves to receive the priesthood as a reward for their zeal.

Fill your hand to-day to Jehovah] i.e. (see on Exodus 28:41), Provide yourselves with sacrifices, that you may be installed into the priesthood.

for every man (is) against, &c.] That is the spirit which you have shewn to-day, and which is demanded for the priesthood (Di.). Cf. Deuteronomy 33:9 (written under the monarchy), where the priestly tribe is eulogized for its abnegation of natural relationships, though it is uncertain whether the present incident is specifically alluded to.

that he may, &c.] The ‘blessing’ is the privilege of officiating as priests. Cf. Kennedy, DB. i. 341b.

In view of Deuteronomy 10:8 (‘At that time Jehovah separated the tribe of Levi to bear the ark’ &c.), where the fragment of an itinerary in vv. 6 f. must be either parenthetic, or misplaced (so that At that time will refer to the period of the stay at Horeb, the subject of Deuteronomy 9:8 to Deuteronomy 10:5), Di. and others can hardly be wrong in holding that JE’s narrative here was followed originally by an account of the consecration of the tribe of Levi—as a reward, presumably, for the display of zeal on Jehovah’s behalf described in vv. 26–29, which the compiler of Ex. did not deem it necessary to retain by the side of the more detailed particulars of P. In P, it will be remembered, the consecration of the priesthood is narrated in Leviticus 8, and that of the ‘Levites’ (in P the inferior members of the tribe, as distinguished from the priests) in Numbers 8:5 ff.; but down to the time when Dt. was written, any member of the tribe had the right to exercise priestly functions (Deuteronomy 18:1; Deuteronomy 18:6-8); and it would be during this stage in the history of the tribe that J or E—like the writer of Deuteronomy 10:8 f.—would speak of the whole tribe being set apart or consecrated For priestly functions.Verse 29. - For Moses had said. Moses, on giving them their commission (ver. 27), had told them, that their zeal in the matter would he a consecration, and would secure them God's blessing. They earned by it the semi-priestly position, which was soon afterwards assigned to them (Numbers 3:6-13).

CHAPTER 32:30-35 After the calf had been destroyed, Moses called Aaron to account. "What has this people done to thee ("done" in a bad sense, as in Genesis 27:45; Exodus 13:11), that thou hast brought a great sin upon it?" Even if Aaron had merely acted from weakness in carrying out the will of the people, he was the most to blame, for not having resisted the urgent entreaty of the people firmly and with strong faith, and even at the cost of his life. Consequently he could think of nothing better than the pitiful subterfuge, "Be not angry, my lord (he addresses Moses in this way on account of his office, and because of his anger, cf. Numbers 12:11): thou knowest the people, that it is in wickedness" (cf. 1 John 5:19), and the admission that he had been overcome by the urgency of the people, and had thrown the gold they handed him into the fire, and that this calf had come out (Exodus 32:22-24), as if the image had come out of its own accord, without his intention or will. This excuse was so contemptible that Moses did not think it worthy of a reply, at the same time, as he told the people afterwards (Deuteronomy 9:20), he averted the great wrath of the Lord from him through his intercession.
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