Exodus 33:20
Parallel Verses
New International Version
But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live."

New Living Translation
But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live."

English Standard Version
But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.”

New American Standard Bible
But He said, "You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!"

King James Bible
And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
But He answered, "You cannot see My face, for no one can see Me and live."

International Standard Version
But," he said, "You cannot see my face, because a man cannot see me and live."

NET Bible
But he added, "You cannot see my face, for no one can see me and live."

GOD'S WORD® Translation
But you can't see my face, because no one may see me and live."

Jubilee Bible 2000
He further said, Thou canst not see my face; for no man shall see me and live.

King James 2000 Bible
And he said, You can not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

American King James Version
And he said, You can not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

American Standard Version
And he said, Thou canst not see my face; for man shall not see me and live.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And again he said: Thou canst not see my face: for man shall not see me and live.

Darby Bible Translation
And he said, Thou canst not see my face; for Man shall not see me, and live.

English Revised Version
And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for man shall not see me and live.

Webster's Bible Translation
And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

World English Bible
He said, "You cannot see my face, for man may not see me and live."

Young's Literal Translation
He saith also, 'Thou art unable to see My face, for man doth not see Me, and live;'
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

33:12-23 Moses is very earnest with God. Thus, by the intercession of Christ, we are not only saved from ruin, but become entitled to everlasting happiness. Observe here how he pleads. We find grace in God's sight, if we find grace in our hearts to guide and quicken us in the way of our duty. Moses speaks as one who dreaded the thought of going forward without the Lord's presence. God's gracious promises, and mercy towards us, should not only encourage our faith, but also excite our fervency in prayer. Observe how he speeds. See, in a type, Christ's intercession, which he ever lives to make for all that come to God by him; and that it is not by any thing in those for whom he intercedes. Moses then entreats a sight of God's glory, and is heard in that also. A full discovery of the glory of God, would overwhelm even Moses himself. Man is mean, and unworthy of it; weak, and could not bear it; guilty, and could not but dread it. The merciful display which is made in Christ Jesus, alone can be borne by us. The Lord granted that which would abundantly satisfy. God's goodness is his glory; and he will have us to know him by the glory of his mercy, more than by the glory of his majesty. Upon the rock there was a fit place for Moses to view the goodness and glory of God. The rock in Horeb was typical of Christ the Rock; the Rock of refuge, salvation, and strength. Happy are they who stand upon this Rock. The cleft may be an emblem of Christ, as smitten, crucified, wounded, and slain. What follows, denotes the imperfect knowledge of God in the present state, even as revealed in Christ; for this, when compared with the heavenly sight of him. is but like seeing a man that is gone by, whose back only is to be seen. God in Christ, as he is, even the fullest and brightest displays of his glory, grace, and goodness, are reserved to another state.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 20. - No man can see me and live. The inability proclaimed in these words is not an absolute inability to see God, but an inability to see and survive the sight. Jacob, when he wrestled with the angel, marvelled that he could see God, even in that intermediate way, and live (Genesis 32:30). It may well be that actually to see God, while we are in the flesh, would kill us.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

And he said, thou canst not see my face,.... Meaning not his form, his essence, his very nature, and the glory of it, that Moses must know he could never see; but the brightest displays of his grace and goodness in Christ, the fullest discoveries of it, which are too much for man, in the present state of things, to have, who sees in part, and but through a glass darkly, not face to face, or in the most complete and perfect manner; it is but a small part and portion of God, and of his ways and works, as of creation and providence, so more especially of grace, salvation, and redemption by Jesus Christ, that is known of him; the things of the Gospel in their full perfection are what eye has not seen; and particularly were more hidden and unseen under the legal dispensation; this face was covered with types and shadows, and dark representations of things; though, in comparison of that state, we now, with open face, behold the glory of the Lord, yet still it is through a glass darkly, and we have not the clear and full view of things as will be hereafter:

for there shall no man see me and live: if there was to be such a revelation made of the grace and goodness, and glory of God in Christ, as it really is in itself, it would be too much for mortals in the present state to bear; it would break their earthen vessels in pieces; the full discovery therefore is reserved to a future state, when these things will be seen as they are, and men will be in a condition to receive them; otherwise we find that men have, in a sense, seen the face of God in this life, and have lived; though many, and even good men, have been possessed with such a notion, that if a man saw God he must die, see Genesis 32:30.



Exodus 33:20 Additional Commentaries
Context
The Glory of the Lord
19And He said, "I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion." 20But He said, "You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!" 21Then the LORD said, "Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock;…
Cross References
John 1:18
No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

1 Timothy 6:16
who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

Genesis 32:30
So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared."

Exodus 33:18
Then Moses said, "Now show me your glory."

Exodus 33:23
Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen."

Judges 6:22
When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the LORD, he exclaimed, "Alas, Sovereign LORD! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!"

Isaiah 6:5
"Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."
Treasury of Scripture

And he said, You can not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

thou canst not. This is well explained by Rabbi Jehudah, in Sepher Cosri, 'Of that divine glory mentioned in the scripture, there is one degree which the eyes of the prophets were able to explore; another which all the Israelites saw, as the cloud and consuming fire; the third is so bright, and so dazzling, that no mortal is able to comprehend it; but should anyone venture to look on it, his whole frame would be dissolved.' In such inconceivable splendour is the Divine Majesty revealed to the inhabitants of the celestial world, where he is said to 'dwell in the light which no man can approach unto.' By the 'face of God,' therefore, we are to understand that light inaccessible before which angels may stand, but which would be so insufferable to mortal eyes, that no man could see it and live.

Exodus 24:10 And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it …

Genesis 32:30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God …

Deuteronomy 5:24 And you said, Behold, the LORD our God has showed us his glory and …

Judges 6:22 And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the LORD, Gideon said, Alas…

Judges 13:22 And Manoah said to his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.

Isaiah 6:5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean …

John 1:18 No man has seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is …

1 Timothy 6:16 Who only has immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can …

Hebrews 1:13 But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, …

Revelation 1:16,17 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went …

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