|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
33:1-6 Those whom God pardons, must be made to know what their sin deserved. Let them go forward as they are; this was very expressive of God's displeasure. Though he promises to make good his covenant with Abraham, in giving them Canaan, yet he denies them the tokens of his presence they had been blessed with. The people mourned for their sin. Of all the bitter fruits and consequences of sin, true penitents most lament, and dread most, God's departure from them. Canaan itself would be no pleasant land without the Lord's presence. Those who parted with ornaments to maintain sin, could do no less than lay aside ornaments, in token of sorrow and shame for it.
Verse 4. - When the people heard. Moses had communicated to the people what God had said to him. They felt it to be evil tidings - they woke up at last to a feeling of the ineffable value of the privileges which they bad hitherto enjoyed - his guidance by the pillar of the cloud (Exodus 13:21) - his counsel, if there were need to ask anything (Exodus 15:25) - his aid in the day of battle (Exodus 17:8-13) - his near presence, by day and by night, constantly (Exodus 13:22) - and they dreaded a change, which they felt must involve a loss, and one the extent of which they could not measure. "An angel" is a poor consolation when we are craving for Jehovah! So the people mourned - felt true sorrow - were really troubled in their hearts - and, to show their penitence, ceased to wear their customary ornaments. These may have consisted of armlets, bracelets, and even, perhaps, anklets, all of which were worn by men in Egypt at this period.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And when the people heard these evil tidings,.... That God would withdraw his gracious presence, and go not up with them himself, only send an angel with them; and especially this may respect what is threatened, Exodus 33:5 and had been said at this time:
they mourned; were inwardly and heartily grieved for their sin, whereby they had provoked the Lord to depart from them, and gave some outward and open tokens of it:
and no man did put on his ornaments; they used to wear at other times, their rings and jewels, which the princes and the chief among the people especially were wont to wear; and in common the people did not put on their best clothes, or what they usually wore, but clothed themselves in mournful habits, in sackcloth and ashes, or in some such like manner.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. when the people heard these evil tidings—from Moses on his descent from the mount.
Exodus 33:4 Parallel Commentaries
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