Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The Episode of the Golden Calf, and incidents arising out of it, or mentioned in connexion with it.
The narrative of these chapters, read from a purely religious point of view, is remarkably beautiful and impressive; a striking picture is given not only of Moses’ affection and noble self-devotion for his people, but also of the long intercession by which (cf. Genesis 18) he at last succeeds in winning from Jehovah Israel’s forgiveness, His promise again to be with His people, and the vision of His moral glory for himself. But ‘the connexion between its different parts, and the progress of the narrative, is often so imperfect and so far from clear’ (Di.) that to the historical student it presents problems and difficulties which are not readily solved. As Di. points out, ‘the want of connexion both backwards and forwards is most remarkable in Exodus 33:7-11 : why the Tent of Meeting is here suddenly introduced, is not explained, and can only be conjectured, and v. 12 goes on as if vv. 7–11 or vv. 4–11 were not there at all. The connexion between Exodus 34:9-10 is also imperfect: it is surprising in v. 9 to find Jehovah entreated to go with the people, when He has already in Exodus 33:14-16 promised to do so; and it is also surprising that Exodus 34:10 is no direct answer to the entreaty of v. 9. Even in ch. 32, where the narrative wears the appearance of being more consistent, it is remarkable that the questions put to Aaron in vv. 21–24 lead to nothing further, that in spite of the punishment inflicted in v. 27 f. further punishment is threatened in v. 34b, and that while in v. 35 a punishment is described vaguely, it does not read like the punishment threatened just before in v. 34b. Further, while in P the erection of the Tent of Meeting is not described till ch. 40, in Exodus 33:7-11 there appears, as already in regular use, a tent, called by precisely the same name. The angel of Jehovah, again, is in Exodus 33:3; Exodus 33:5 represented as distinct from, and exclusive of, Jehovah Himself, whereas in Exodus 23:20 he appears as His full and sufficient representative. The covenant of Exodus 34:10-27 is described as if it were one made for the first time; neither v. 10 nor v. 27 suggests that it is a second, or new, covenant. The laws in Exodus 34:10-26 are mostly identical verbally with a particular section of those contained in chs. 21–23’: what is the relation subsisting between the two recensions, and how is the repetition to be explained? It must be evident that all these difficulties and inconsistencies are due simply to the amalgamation—and sometimes the imperfect amalgamation—of different sources: they are lessened, though they can hardly be said to disappear, when these sources are recognized and disengaged from one another. Details will be better considered in the notes on the separate chapters, Exodus 34:29-35 belongs clearly to P: the rest of the three chapters is due principally to J, or the compiler of JE, but parts belong to E. The excerpts from J and E are also in several cases plainly incomplete at the beginning or the end, so that details or explanations are missing which can only be supplied by conjecture.
Moses is commanded to hew two tables of stone, like those which he had broken, and to take them up the mount to Jehovah, vv. 1–5. Proclamation of Jehovah’s moral character in the promised theophany, vv. 6–8. Moses again entreats Jehovah to forgive His people’s sin, and to go with them to Canaan, v. 9 [and receives the promise that He will do so, Exodus 33:14-16]. Establishment of a covenant with Israel, vv. 10–28. How Moses’ face shone, when he came down from conversing with Jehovah on the mountain, vv. 29–35.
Vv. 29–35 have all the marks of belonging to P; but the analysis of vv. 1–28 presents great difficulties. If these verses be read carefully, it will be seen that one thing is commanded, and another done. In vv. 1–4 Moses is commanded to prepare and take up the mountain two tables of stone like those which he had broken: Jehovah will then write upon them the words which were upon the first tables (i.e. the Decalogue of Exodus 20). In v. 10, however, Jehovah declares that He is about to make a covenant: a number of regulations which Israel is to observe are given (vv. 11–26): Moses is then told to write these words, for they are the basis of the covenant (v. 27); and (v. 28b) he does write upon the tables ‘the words of the covenant, the ten words.’ It is true, as Di. observes, Moses is not in v. 27 told to write the words on the tables, so that, in itself, the intention of the command might be that he was to write them on a scroll for his own use: if this were the case, it would of course leave the way open for understanding the ‘words of the covenant’ in v. 28 of the Decalogue of Exodus 20. In view, however, of the connexion in which vv. 27, 28 now stand, it seems most unnatural to distinguish the covenant of v. 28 from the covenant of v. 27; or to understand the ‘he’ in ‘and he wrote’ in v. 28b, of any one but the ‘he’ (twice) in v. 28a, i.e. of Moses. The contradiction therefore remains: in v. 1 it is said that Jehovah will write upon the tables the Decalogue of Exodus 20; in v. 28 it is said that Moses wrote the ‘words of the covenant’ given in vv. 11–26.
There are also other difficulties. As was pointed out on p. 347, there is nothing in the terms of Exodus 34:10; Exodus 34:27 to suggest that a renewal of the covenant is contemplated; and in addition to this, as Dr McNeile well argues, a fresh body of laws (vv. 11–26) is not required: ‘a covenant having been formed (Exodus 24:7 f.), and based upon laws which are given earlier in the book (Exodus 20:22 to Exodus 23:33), and then having been broken by sin, all that can conceivably be required is repentance and forgiveness. The original covenant laws must unalterably hold good.’ Vv. 1–4 should in fact be followed consistently not by the wholly different laws contained in vv. 11–26, but—as they are followed after the quotation in Deuteronomy 10:1-3—by such words as, ‘And he wrote on the tables, according to the first writing, the ten words (i.e. the Decalogue of Exodus 20), … and Jehovah gave them unto’ Moses (Deuteronomy 10:4).
It is plain, from what has been said, that the representation in Exodus 34:1-28 is not throughout consistent with itself. The following considerations will shew how critics generally—Di., for instance, not less than Wellh.; cf. EB. ii. 1444—suppose that the inconsistencies arose. The laws on worship contained in Exodus 34:12-26 are evidently nothing but a different recension of laws on the same subject embedded in the Book of the Covenant, esp. in Exodus 23:12; Exodus 23:15-19 : here, in J, they appear as the laws on the basis of which the covenant is—not renewed, but—established for the first time (vv. 10, 27), just as in E (in its present form) the laws contained in the Book of the Covenant form the basis on which the covenant is established (Exodus 24:7 f.). J’s original narrative in Exodus 34:1-5; Exodus 34:10-28, in other words, describes really the first establishment of the covenant, and formed originally the sequel in J to Exodus 19:20-25 (see on Exodus 24:1): it is a parallel to E’s account of the establishment of the covenant preserved in Exodus 20:22 to Exodus 23:33, Exodus 24:3-8 : there was no room for it immediately beside E’s account of the same event: but it was retained by the compiler, and placed by him where it now stands, immediately after the account of the people’s forgiveness and re-instatement in Jehovah’s favour, where it has in consequence the appearance of the renewal of the covenant which had been broken. The inconsistencies have arisen from the imperfect adjustment of the two narratives, the narrative of the re-writing of the tables which had been broken, and that of the (re-) establishment of the covenant. If we omit from vv. 1, 4 the clauses marked in the analysis, we shall find that we have in vv. 1–5, 10–28, a consistent account of Moses ascending the mountain with two tables of stone, of his receiving from Jehovah the laws which were to form the basis of the covenant (vv. 10, 27), and of his writing these laws upon the tables (v. 28). By the insertion from E—who, as he described (Exodus 32:19) the breaking of the tables, will also naturally have described how they were replaced—of the two clauses in vv. 1, 4 a narrative describing how Moses ascended the mountain to receive the laws of vv. 10–26 was transformed into one describing how he ascended the mountain to receive the Decalogue of Exodus 20, which Jehovah promises that He will re-write. But the wording of v. 28b was not altered so as to adjust it properly to the new sense of vv. 1–4; and hence the inconsistency between v. 28 and vv. 1–4.
One more point remains to be noticed. v. 28b—understood in the sense which the context naturally imposes—speaks of the ‘words of the covenant’ (i.e. the words on which the covenant of vv. 10, 27 is based) as ‘ten words’; and hence Göthe (in 1773), Wellhausen (independently: see Compos. des Hex.2 p. 328), and others have supposed that there stood originally in vv. 11–26 ten regulations, which have since been added to by later hands, forming—in contrast to the ‘moral Decalogue’ of Exodus 20—a ‘ritual Decalogue,’ which according to the writer of v. 28 was inscribed upon the two tables, and formed the basis of the covenant. As there are more regulations than ten in vv. 11–26, of course the ‘ten’ in question can be differently constituted: Wellh. (l.c. p. 331: so Bä. p. xlvi) supposes them to have consisted of vv. 14a, 17, 18a, 19a, 22a, 22b, 25a, 25b, 26a, 26b. In view of the close connexion subsisting between v. 27 and v. 28 those who argue in this manner can hardly be blamed. It is however open to question whether ‘the ten words’ are an original part of the text of v. 28: they may be a harmonizing addition, intended (in spite of the inconsistency which it involves) to identify the ‘words’ written upon the tables with the Decalogue of Exodus 20. But, whether they were ten or more, it certainly seems that, according to the writer of vv. 27, 28, the ritual regulations of vv. 10–26 were—like the ‘moral Decalogue’ of E—written upon stone tables. The argument for this view of the chapter is clearly and forcibly presented in the Interpreter, Oct. 1908, p. 6 ff.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.1–5. Moses is commanded to hew two tables of stone, similar to those which he had broken (Exodus 32:19), and bring them up Sinai to Jehovah. The former tables are said (Exodus 32:16) to have been themselves God’s handiwork: in the new tables only the writing is to be His.
And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to me in the top of the mount.2. be ready] Cf. Exodus 19:10.
station thyself for me] The same word as in Exodus 33:21.
the top of the mount] Exodus 19:20, Exodus 24:17.
And no man shall come up with thee, neither let any man be seen throughout all the mount; neither let the flocks nor herds feed before that mount.3. The precautions are similar to those taken in Exodus 19:12 f.
before] rather, in front of, i.e. on the slopes in front of the mountain, towards its foot.
As was pointed out on p. 347, the historical retrospect in Deuteronomy 9:8-29 is based largely upon Exodus 32, and contains numerous verbal excerpts from it; and a comparison of Deuteronomy 10:1-3 with Exodus 34:1; Exodus 34:4 makes it practically certain that in the text of Exodus 34:1; Exodus 34:4 which lay before the author of Dt., there was mention of the ark as made at this time by Moses. Here is the text of Deuteronomy 10:1-3, with the words excerpted from Exodus 34:1-2; Exodus 34:4 printed in italics:—‘(Deuteronomy 10:1) At that time Jehovah said unto me, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first, and come up unto me to the mount, and make thee an ark of wood; (2) that I may write upon the tables the words that were on the first tables, which thou brakest, and thou shalt put them in the ark. (3) And I made an ark of acacia-wood; and I hewed two tables of stone like unto the first, and I went up to the mount; and the two tables were in my hand.’ Thus in Dt. Moses is instructed to make, and actually does make, the ark, before ascending the mount the second time to receive the tables of stone (Exodus 34:4); whereas in Ex. the command to make the ark is both given to Bezalel and executed by him, after Moses’ return from the mountain (Exodus 35:30 ff., Exodus 36:2, Exodus 37:1—all passages belonging to P). The two accounts are evidently discrepant: and there can be no reasonable doubt that the notices of the ark contained in the original text of Exodus 34:1; Exodus 34:4 were omitted by the compiler, as inconsistent with the more detailed particulars, which he preferred, contained in the narrative of P.
And he hewed two tables of stone like unto the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone.
And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.5. and he (Moses) took his stand (cf. v. 2) with him there, and called upon the name of Jehovah] i.e. invoked Him in worship. The marg. must be followed: the subject of the verbs is Moses (see Exodus 33:21). The sequel follows in v. 10. Called upon is lit. ‘called with,’ i.e. used the name in invocation: so Genesis 4:26; Genesis 12:8; Genesis 13:4; Genesis 21:33 al.
And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,6–8. Description of the theophany promised in Exodus 33:19-23. The theophany consists essentially in a proclamation of the glories of Jehovah’s moral nature, developed with special reference to the occasion giving rise to the theophany, and emphasizing the predominance of the Divine attributes of mercy above those of judgement. Echoes of this great declaration of Jehovah’s moral nature occur frequently in the later literature: Numbers 14:18 (a quotation), Jeremiah 32:18, Nahum 1:3 a, Nehemiah 9:17; Nehemiah 9:31, Joel 2:31, Jonah 4:2, Psalm 86:15; Psalm 103:8; Psalm 111:4 b, Psalm 112:4 b, Psalm 145:8, 2 Chronicles 30:9. It is also probably the source of the explanatory comments on the second commandment in Exodus 20:5 b, Exodus 20:6.
Vv. 6–9 are not really connected with their present context: cf. McNeile, 217, 30 (a), 36 Vv. 1a, 2–5, 10–28 form one connected whole (p. 364 f.); and Exodus 33:1; Exodus 33:3-4; Exodus 33:12-13, Exodus 17-23, Exodus 34:6-9, Exodus 33:14-16 (see p. 361) form another.
Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.7. keeping mercy, &c.] hence, with ‘doing’ for ‘keeping,’ Exodus 20:6.
forgiving iniquity, &c.] Cf. Micah 7:18.
will by no means clear the guilty] so Numbers 14:18, Nahum 1:3 a, Jeremiah 30:11 = Jeremiah 46:28 (EVV., here, ‘will in no wise leave unpunished’). The verb is the one rendered hold guiltless in Exodus 20:7 : see the note there.
visiting the iniquity, &c.] See on Exodus 20:5.
And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped.8. Moses now reverently does obeisance (cf. Exodus 4:31, Exodus 12:27).
And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance.9. Jehovah’s ‘ways’ (Exodus 33:13) and character having now been disclosed to Moses, he again entreats Jehovah, who is ready to forgive (v. 7a), to pardon His people’s sin, and give proof that He has again received them into His favour, by going personally with them to Canaan. Exodus 33:14 (see note) should now probably follow as the answer.
9. stiffnecked] This character of the people (Exodus 32:9, Exodus 33:3; Exodus 33:5) is here made the motive for its being treated with favour and forgiven.
for thine inheritance] The thought of Israel being Jehovah’s inheritance occurs in Deuteronomy 4:20; Deuteronomy 9:26; Deuteronomy 9:29, and in the Song, Exodus 32:9, but not elsewhere in the earlier books of the Pentateuch.
And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the LORD: for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee.10. Jehovah declares His purpose of concluding a covenant with His people, to be confirmed by wonders of a character to convince all of His power and greatness. The wonders meant are such as those narrated in Numbers 11, 16, 20, 21, &c. The verse, however, is hardly an answer to v. 9, whereas Exodus 33:14 would answer it directly: the conjecture (p. 361) that Exodus 33:14-16 should follow here is thus confirmed.
I make] Heb. am making, i.e. am about to make: the partic. after Behold, as Exodus 7:17, Exodus 8:2, Exodus 19:9, and frequently.
marvels] Exodus 3:20, Joshua 3:5, Jdg 6:13, Psalm 78:4; Psalm 78:11, &c.
wrought] lit. created (marg.), of an event—not, as usually, of a material object—requiring superhuman power to produce it: cf. Numbers 16:30 (RVm.), Jeremiah 31:22, Isaiah 45:7; Isaiah 48:7.
with thee] i.e. in dealing with thee: cf. Deuteronomy 1:30; Deuteronomy 10:21 (also with ‘terrible’): in both these passages ‘for’ is lit. with.
10–28. The (re-)establishment of the covenant, with the laws upon which it is based. The passage belongs in the main to E; but it has probably been enlarged in parts with hortatory additions by the compiler. We have met with some such additions before, in Exodus 20:22 to Exodus 23:33; and they are found elsewhere also in connexion with laws, as in Leviticus 18:1-5; Leviticus 18:24-29; Leviticus 20:22-24 (H), and Deuteronomy 12-26 passim.
Observe thou that which I command thee this day: behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite.11. that which I am commanding thee this day] viz. the injunction which follows (v. 12 ff.), to have no dealings with the Canaanites. The formula is one which is extremely common in Dt. (Deuteronomy 4:40, Deuteronomy 6:6, Deuteronomy 7:11, Deuteronomy 8:1; Deuteronomy 8:11 &c.).
behold, &c.] Jehovah Himself will make the way easy for such a command to be obeyed.
drive out] The promise, as Exodus 23:28-30, Exodus 33:2 : cf. the same word in a command, Exodus 23:31 b.
the Amorite, &c.] See on Exodus 3:8.
11–16. No alliance to be entered into with the Canaanites, lest intercourse with them seduce Israel into idolatry (comp. Exodus 23:24; Exodus 23:32 f., Deuteronomy 7:2-5).
11–26. The conditions of the covenant, i.e. the laws upon the acceptance of which its establishment depends. The laws themselves seem to have received parenetic additions from the compiler.
Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee:12. Take heed to thyself] Also a phrase common in Dt. (Deuteronomy 4:9; Deuteronomy 4:23, Deuteronomy 6:12 Heb., Deuteronomy 8:11 Heb., Deuteronomy 11:16 al.).
lest thou make, &c.] Cf. Exodus 23:32.
a snare] i.e. an allurement to ruin: cf. Exodus 23:33 b with the note.
But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves:13. The altars and religious emblems of the Canaanites to be utterly destroyed. Cf. Exodus 23:24, with the references; and the almost verbal repetitions in Deuteronomy 7:5; Deuteronomy 12:3.
pillars] or standing-stones: see on Exodus 23:24.
Ashçrim] The plur. of Ashçrâh, the sacred wooden (see Deuteronomy 16:21, Jdg 6:26) post or column, which stood by the altar in Canaanite places of worship (cf. Jdg 6:25-30, by an altar of Baal), and was often by the unspiritual Israelites set up (2 Kings 17:10), or (Deuteronomy 16:21) ‘planted,’ beside the altar of Jehovah. It is often supposed to have been a conventional substitute for a sacred tree; but this is not certain. We have no particulars about the precise size or shape of an Ashçrâh: the two posts, of the form of tree-trunks, resting on a wide base, and surmounted by representations of the full and crescent moon, carved upon a stone from Carthage (Nowack, Arch. ii. 19; Benzinger, Arch. 1p. 381, 2p. 326), might indeed be Ashçrâhs; but we have no evidence that they were. The name Abd-ashirta (‘servant of Ashirta’) in the Tell el-Amarna letters, and the expression ‘finger (oracle) of Ashirta,’ on a cuneiform tablet of c. 1350 found at Taanach (see the writer’s Schweich Lectures, p. 82), seem to indicate that there was an old Semitic goddess Ashçrâh; and if this was the case, the ‘Ashçrâh’ of the OT. was probably her emblem: but the great difference in the Heb. (אשרה and עשתרת) makes it unlikely that she was the same as the Phoen. ‘Ashtôreth, or the Ass. Ishtar (Benz. Arch.2 326 f.). On account of their heathen associations, the Ashçrîm, like the maẓẓçbâhs (see on Exodus 23:24), were proscribed by the more spiritual Israelites. For other allusions to Ashçrâhs, see Deuteronomy 7:5; Deuteronomy 12:3 (repetitions of the present prohibition), 1 Kings 14:15; 1 Kings 14:23; 1 Kings 15:13; 1 Kings 16:33, 2 Kings 13:6; 2 Kings 18:4; 2 Kings 21:3; 2 Kings 21:7; 2 Kings 23:4; 2 Kings 23:6-7; 2 Kings 23:14-15; and comp. Moore’s art. in EB. s.v.
 I. Benzinger, Hebr. Archäologie, 1894, ed. 2 (enlarged), 1907.
For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:14. thou shalt not worship any other god] Cf. the plural ‘other gods,’ in Exodus 20:3. ‘Worship’ is lit. bow down (Exodus 20:5), as regularly.
whose name is Jealous] on ‘name’ (= ‘character’), see on Exodus 33:19.
a jealous God] as Exodus 20:5, where see the note.
Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice;15. go a whoring after] a term of disparagement for, ‘desert Jehovah for.’ The same expression, v. 16, Deuteronomy 31:16 (J); Leviticus 17:7; Leviticus 20:5 (Heb. ‘after Molech’), both H; Jdg 2:17; Jdg 8:27; Jdg 8:33 (all the Deut. compiler); Ezekiel 20:30; 1 Chronicles 5:25 : also, more generally, of following an unworthy object, Leviticus 20:6, Numbers 15:39 (both H); Ezekiel 6:9.
and thou eat, &c.] See on Exodus 18:12; and comp. esp. Numbers 25:2.
15, 16. The consequences likely to follow from any alliance with the Canaanites: participation in their rites, and intermarriage with them, leading (v. 16b) to still further idolatry.
And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.16. and thou take, &c.] Intermarriage with Canaanites is forbidden, for the same reason, in Deuteronomy 7:3 f.; cf. Joshua 23:12 (D2), and Jdg 3:6 (where disregard of the prohibition is said to have been followed by the same consequences which are here apprehended).
 Deuteronomic passages in Josh., Jud., Kings.
Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.17. Molten gods thou shalt not make thee] Cf. Leviticus 19:4 (H) ‘And molten gods ye shall not make you’; also, for the general thought, Exodus 20:23.
Vv. 18–26 agree, for the most part verbally, with Exodus 13:13-14; Exodus 23:12; Exodus 23:15-19. The agreements and differences will be seen most clearly, if the two recensions are printed in parallel columns, with the differences in 34 marked either by italics or, where anything is omitted, by a space in the text.
Exodus 23:10-11. (The fallow year.)
Exodus 23:12. Six days shalt thou do thy work: but on the seventh day thou shalt desist: that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy bondmaid, and the sojourner, may be refreshed. Exodus 34:21. Six days shalt thou labour; but on the seventh day thou shalt desist: in plowing time and in harvest thou shalt desist.
Exodus 23:13. And in all things that I have said unto you take ye heed: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard upon thy mouth. Cf. Exodus 34:14 a. For thou shalt not worship any other god.
Exodus 23:14. Three times (regâlim) thou shalt keep a feast unto me in the year.
Exodus 23:15 a. The feast of unleavened cakes shalt thou keep. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened cakes, according as I commanded thee, at the appointed time in the month of Abib; for in it thou camest out from Egypt; Exodus 34:18. The feast of unleavened cakes shalt thou keep. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened cakes [Exodus 13:6 a], as I commanded thee, at the appointed time in the month of Abib; for in the month of Abib thou camest out from Egypt.
Exodus 23:12. And thou shalt cause to pass over all that first openeth the womb unto Yahweh: and all that first openeth [the womb], the casting of beasts that thou shalt have, the males (shall be) Yahweh’s: Exodus 34:19. All that first openeth the womb is mine: and all thy cattle that is male, that which first openeth [the womb] of ox and sheep:
Exodus 23:13. and all that which first openeth [the womb] of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb [or kid]; and if thou dost not redeem it, thou shalt break its neck: and all the first-born of men among thy sons thou shalt redeem. Exodus 34:20. and that which first openeth [the womb] of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb [or kid]; and if thou dost not redeem it, thou shalt break its neck: all the first-born of thy sons thou shalt redeem.
[Cf. Exodus 22:29 b The first-born of thy sons thou shalt give unto me.]
Exodus 23:15 b … and none shall appear before me empty. And none shall appear before me empty.
Exodus 23:16 … and the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours which thou sowest in the field; and the feast of ingathering at the going out of the year, when thou gatherest in thy labours out of the field. Exodus 34:22. And the feast of weeks thou shalt hold thee, the firstfruits of wheat harvest; and the feast of ingathering at the close of the year.
Exodus 23:17. Three times (pe‘âmim) in the year shall all thy males appear before (אל פני) the Lord Yahweh. Exodus 34:23. Three times (pe‘âmim) in the year shall all thy males appear before (פני את) the Lord Yahweh, the God of Israel. 24. For I will dispossess nations before thee, and enlarge thy border; and no man shall desire thy land, when thou goest up to appear before (פניאת) Yahweh thy God, three times in the year.
Exodus 23:18. Thou shalt not sacrifice with leavened bread the blood of my sacrifice; neither shall there remain all night the fat of my feast until morning. Exodus 34:25. Thou shalt not slaughter with leavened bread the blood of my sacrifice: neither shall there remain all night unto the morning the sacrifice of the feast of the passover.
Exodus 23:19. The first of the firstfruits of thy ground thou shalt bring unto the house of Yahweh thy God. Thou shalt not boil a kid in its mother’s milk. Exodus 34:26. The first of the firstfruits of thy ground thou shalt bring unto the house of Yahweh thy God. Thou shalt not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.
These are evidently two recensions of one and the same collection of laws. Neither can well be throughout in its original order, and later additions have almost certainly been introduced into both, Exodus 34:21 is obviously, where it stands, out of place, and is in a much better position in Exodus 23:12, Exodus 23:12 b and Exodus 34:21 b look like explanatory additions made to the same original law by two different compilers (comp. Exodus 20:11 with Deuteronomy 5:14 last clause, 15). Exodus 23:13 (see note ad loc.) reads like the conclusion of some collection of laws, no longer in its original place. Exodus 23:14; Exodus 23:17 would hardly both stand in a document written by a single hand: probably Exodus 23:17 has been introduced from Exodus 34:23. In Exodus 23:15 the words from Seven days to appear before me empty leave v. 16 without a verb to govern it (in the "", Exodus 34:22, there is a fresh verb); and have probably been introduced here from Exodus 34:18, Exodus 34:19-20 (to redeem) seems to interrupt the connexion where it stands, and to be interpolated between Exodus 23:15 a and 15b: on the other hand, the first clause of Exodus 34:19 seems in form more original than the first clause of Exodus 13:12, Exodus 34:24 is pretty clearly a reflection of the compiler. The two recensions are derived evidently from a common original; but we cannot in all cases say how the differences between them arose. For notes upon the passage as a whole, the reader is referred to chs. 13 and 23: it will be sufficient here to comment on the more important expressions peculiar to ch. 34.
The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee, in the time of the month Abib: for in the month Abib thou camest out from Egypt.18. See on Exodus 23:15 a.
19, 20a (to redeem). See on Exodus 13:12-13.
All that openeth the matrix is mine; and every firstling among thy cattle, whether ox or sheep, that is male.19. and all, &c.] Something must be out of order: since the first born of cattle are included among ‘all that first openeth the womb,’ ‘mine’ cannot logically be the predicate of and all &c. Perhaps (Di.) thou shalt sanctify (Deuteronomy 15:19), or sacrifice, unto me has fallen out after ‘sheep.’ There is a similar inexactness in Exodus 13:12.
20b. appear before me] read probably see my face. See on Exodus 23:15 b.
But the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb: and if thou redeem him not, then shalt thou break his neck. All the firstborn of thy sons thou shalt redeem. And none shall appear before me empty.
Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest.21. in plowing time, &c.] i.e. even at times when the need of working continuously might seem most urgent. For clause a, see on Exodus 23:12.
And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year's end.22. See on Exodus 23:16. Feast of weeks is a name derived (see Deuteronomy 16:9) from the ‘seven weeks’—the average duration of harvest-time—by which this feast followed the commencement of harvest. The same expression is used in Deuteronomy 16:10; Deuteronomy 16:16, 2 Chronicles 8:13†.
hold thee] See on Exodus 12:47. So Deuteronomy 16:13.
close] lit. circuit, i.e. completed circuit; Ges. (Thes.) ‘ad (post) decursum anni.’ So Exo 1 Samuel 1:20 (lit. at the (completed) circuit of days),—also, in all probability, of the feast of weeks at the close of the year (notice in v. 21 ‘the yearly sacrifice,’ lit. the sacrifice of days, of the same feast1): the word occurs also in Psalm 19:6 [Hebrews 7], 2 Chronicles 24:23 †; cf. the cognate verb in Isaiah 29:1 ‘let the feasts go round,’ i.e. complete their circuit.
 The words ‘that [Heb. and] Hannah conceived’ in v. 20 are almost certainly misplaced, and should stand at the beginning of the verse: ‘And Hannah conceived; and it came to pass, at the close of the days (i.e. of the year), that she bare a son.’
Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord GOD, the God of Israel.23. appear before] read probably see the face of. See on Exodus 23:17.
For I will cast out the nations before thee, and enlarge thy borders: neither shall any man desire thy land, when thou shalt go up to appear before the LORD thy God thrice in the year.24. An ideal picture. The Israelites may feel quite secure in observing these pilgrimages; for their enemies will be dispossessed, and their territory enlarged, so that, even though their men are absent from their homes on pilgrimage, no one will think of invading their land.
cast out] dispossess (Jdg 11:23 EVV., 24 RV.). The thought as Exodus 23:27 f.; the expression as Deuteronomy 4:38; Deuteronomy 9:4-5; Deuteronomy 11:23; Deuteronomy 18:12 (EVV. in all, drive out, which, however, confuses the word with the different one (gârash) so rendered in v. 11 here),—all with Jehovah as subject.
goest up] viz. to Jerusalem, for pilgrimages to which ‘go up’ was the technical expression (1 Kings 12:27-28; Isaiah 2:3; Psalm 122:4).
Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven; neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto the morning.25. See on Exodus 23:18. In cl. bwhat in Exodus 23:18 is prescribed apparently for all festal sacrifices is here referred specifically to the passover,—‘fat,’ which is not elsewhere mentioned in connexion with the passover, being changed into ‘sacrifice,’ which would refer naturally to the flesh of the lamb eaten at the passover.
be left] remain all night (yâlîn), exactly as Exodus 23:18.
The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk.26. See on Exodus 23:19.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.27. These words,—i.e. the commands of vv. 11–26,—are to be written down by Moses; for they constitute the conditions upon which Jehovah establishes His covenant (vv. 10, 27) with Israel. ‘The verse is J’s parallel to Exodus 24:3-8 in E’ (Di.).
after the tenor of] The expression used in Genesis 43:7.
28a. And he was there, &c.] viz. after the ascent of the mount described in v. 4, i.e. in the present form of vv. 1–4, Moses second ascent of it, but in their original form, if the view stated on p. 364 be correct, the ascent mentioned in Exodus 24:1-2; Exodus 24:9-11, so that in this case the forty days of J here will be the same as the forty days of E in Exodus 24:18 b.
28b. And he wrote] i.e., in the present context of the words, Moses (see p. 364). Of course it must be admitted that v. 28b may have once stood in a context in which the pronoun would refer naturally to Jehovah: this would be the case, for instance, if it once stood immediately after v. 4, as Deuteronomy 10:4 would suggest (cf. p. 364).
the words of the covenant] The ‘words’ of v. 27, i.e. the commands of vv. Exodus 11-26. It is difficult to think that this expression, at least as an original part of J, can have denoted the Decalogue of Exodus 20 : for the Decalogue of Exodus 20 is not in any part of Ex. made the basis of a covenant: this is a representation characteristic of Dt. (Deuteronomy 4:13, Deuteronomy 5:2-3 al.: see pp. 175, 193).
the ten commandments] Heb. words: i.e., if the words are part of J, and in their original context, the ‘words,’ or commandments, of vv. 11–26, which, though they are now more, may once have consisted only of ten (the ‘ritual Decalogue,’ p. 365). But it is probable that the words are a later addition, made, on the basis of Deuteronomy 4:13; Deuteronomy 10:4, after the original wording of the chapter had been modified in vv. 1, 4, so as to make it describe the re-writing of the ‘moral’ Decalogue of Exodus 20 (p. 365); and in this case they will, as in Deuteronomy 4:13; Deuteronomy 10:4 †, refer to that Decalogue. So Kittel, Bä., McNeile (p. xxxi), al.
And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.
And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.29. the two tables of the testimony] as Exodus 31:18 a; cf. on Exodus 25:16.
shone] viz. from the reflexion of the Divine glory (Exodus 24:16 f.). The Heb. verb is a peculiar one, recurring only vv. 30, 35: it is a denominative from ḳéren, ‘horn,’ in the sense of ray (see Habakkuk 3:4), and means thus, was rayed. Jerome, following Aq., rendered literally in the Vulg. quod cornuta esset; hence the frequent representation of Moses in art with horns rising out of his head. LXX. δεδόξασται; see below.
by reason of] The marg. is equally possible grammatically; but the context shews that the rend. of the text is right.
29–35. The shining of Moses’ face when he came down after God’s converse with him on the mountain. The sequel in P to Exodus 24:15-18 a, Exodus 25:1 to Exodus 31:18 a (Di.).
And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.
And Moses called unto them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned unto him: and Moses talked with them.31. the rulers in the congregation] See on Exodus 16:22.
And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh: and he gave them in commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him in mount Sinai.32. all that, &c.] The directions given in chs. 25–31.
And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face.33. a veil] The Heb. word (masweh) occurs only here and vv. 34, 35.
33–35. The glow alarmed the Israelites: Moses, therefore, put a veil on his face, which he wore ever afterwards, except when he went in to speak with God, or while he was communicating to the people the Divine message which he had received: in ordinary life the reflexion of the Divine glory upon his face was thus hidden from the people.
But when Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he took the vail off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded.34. went in before Jehovah] viz. into the Tent of Meeting (which is here presupposed): cf. Exodus 25:22, Numbers 7:89.
Comp. 2 Corinthians 3:7-18, noticing (1) that St Paul interprets the narrative allegorically, assigning as the reason why Moses used to put on the veil, not that the Israelites might not constantly be beholding the glow on Moses’ face, but that they might not see its gradual waning away (v. 13), which St Paul regards as a type of the passing away of their own dispensation; and (2) that St Paul’s key-words in the passage, δόξα, δεδόξασται (‘glory,’ ‘hath been made glorious’), are suggested by the LXX. rend. of ‘shone’ in vv. 29, 35, δεδόξασται. The narrative is a beautiful symbolical expression of the truth that close converse with God illumines the soul with a Divine radiance, and that those who ‘with unveiled face’ behold spiritually as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are gradually through its influence transformed more and more completely into His likeness (2 Corinthians 3:18).
34, 35. But whenever Moses went in … he would take …; and he would come out, and speak …; and the children of Israel would see …, and Moses would put, &c.] The tenses are throughout frequentative, describing Moses’ habitual practice.
And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone: and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him.