Deuteronomy 5:23
And it came to pass, when you heard the voice out of the middle of the darkness, (for the mountain did burn with fire,) that you came near to me, even all the heads of your tribes, and your elders;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23-27) The speech of the elders to Moses is more fully and exactly described here than in Exodus 20, where it is briefly summarised as expressing the mind of the whole people.

(25) Why should we die?—The instinctive dread of death awakened by the Divine presence, and especially by the declaration of the Divine law, bears eloquent testimony to the truth that man was made to bear the Divine likeness, and to live a holy life.

(26) For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard.—A famous passage in the Talmud makes all nations hear the words of the Law, every people in its own language. The thought is remarkable as bringing out a further analogy between the revelation at Sinai and the revelation on the Day of Pentecost, when every man heard in his own language the wonderful works of God.

5:23-33 Moses refers to the consternation caused by the terror with which the law was given. God's appearances have always been terrible to man, ever since the fall; but Christ, having taken away sin, invites us to come boldly to the throne of grace. They were in a good mind, under the strong convictions of the word they heard. Many have their consciences startled by the law who have them not purified; fair promises are extorted from them, but no good principles are fixed and rooted in them. God commended what they said. He desires the welfare and salvation of poor sinners. He has given abundant proof that he does so; he gives us time and space to repent. He has sent his Son to redeem us, promised his Spirit to those who pray for him, and has declared that he has no pleasure in the ruin of sinners. It would be well with many, if there were always such a heart in them, as there seems to be sometimes; when they are under conviction of sin, or the rebukes of providence, or when they come to look death in the face. The only way to be happy, is to be holy. Say to the righteous, It shall be well with them. Let believers make it more and more their study and delight, to do as the Lord God hath commanded.These verses contain a much fuller narrative of the events briefly described in Exodus 20:18-21. Here it is important to call attention to the fact that it was on the entreaties of the people that Moses had taken on him to be the channel of communication between God and them. God approved Deuteronomy 5:28 the request of the people, because it showed a feeling of their own unworthiness to enter into direct communion with God. The terrors of Sinai had done their work; they had awakened the consciousness of sin. 23-28. And … ye came near unto me—(See on [117]Ex 20:19). No text from Poole on this verse. And it came to pass, when ye heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness,.... The thick darkness, where God was, and with which the mountain was covered, Exodus 20:21.

for the mountain did burn with fire; which is a reason both why the Lord spoke out of the midst of the fire, the mountain on which he descended burning with it and also for his speaking out of the midst of darkness, because not only a thick cloud covered the mountain, but it was altogether on a smoke, which ascended as the smoke of a furnace, Exodus 19:16.

that ye come near unto me, even all the heads of your tribes and your elders; or wise men, as the Targum of Jonathan; by which it appears, that not only the common people were frightened at what they heard and saw on Mount Sinai, but those of the first rank and eminence among them, who were the most famous for their authority and wisdom.

And it came to pass, when ye heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, (for the mountain did burn with fire,) that ye came near unto me, even all the heads of your tribes, and your elders;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
23. ye came near unto me] Deuteronomy 1:22.

even all the heads of your tribes, and your elders] Perhaps a gloss (so Dill., Steuern., Berth.), for Deuteronomy 5:24 continues and ye (not they), and through the rest of the section the people as a whole are addressed.

23–27. The people, fearing the fatal effect of hearing God’s voice directly, request Moses to act as mediator. See Exodus 20:19-21, E, a much simpler form of the narrative, but containing in Deuteronomy 5:20 a saying of Moses not repeated here.Verses 23-27. - In a purely historical narrative such as that in Exodus, a condensed statement of what took place on this occasion was sufficient; but in an address to the people, it was fitting that Hoses should give it in fuller detail, especially in view of what follows. In vv. 6-21, the ten covenant words are repeated from Exodus 20, with only a few variations, which have already been discussed in connection with the exposition of the decalogue at Exodus 20:1-14. - In Deuteronomy 5:22-33, Moses expounds still further the short account in Exodus 20:18-21, viz., that after the people had heard the ten covenant words, in their alarm at the awful phenomena in which the Lord revealed His glory, they entreated him to stand between as mediator, that God Himself might not speak to them any further, and that they might not die, and then promised that they would hearken to all that the Lord should speak to him (Exodus 20:23 -31). His purpose in doing so was to link on the exhortation in vv. 32, 33, to keep all the commandments of the Lord and do them, which paves the way for passing to the exposition of the law which follows. "A great voice" (Exodus 20:22) is an adverbial accusative, signifying "with a great voice" (cf. Ges. 118, 3). "And He added no more:" as in Numbers 11:25. God spoken the ten words directly to the people, and then no more; i.e., everything further He addressed to Moses alone, and through his mediation to the people. As mediator He gave him the two tables of stone, upon which He had written the decalogue (cf. Exodus 31:18). This statement somewhat forestalls the historical course; and in Deuteronomy 9:10-11, it is repeated again in its proper historical connection.
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