Exodus 24:10
And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.
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(10) They saw the God of Israel.—Probably, in human form, as Isaiah saw Him (Isaiah 6:1-5), and Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:26), and even Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 3:25). It is not of this appearance that Moses says: “Ye saw no similitude” (Deuteronomy 4:12). The appearance which they saw had “feet.”

A paved work of a sapphire stone.—Heb., a work of the clearness of sapphire. The “sapphire” (sappir) of the Pentateuch is probably lapis lazuli.

The body of heaven—i.e., “the very heaven,” or “the heaven itself.”

Exodus 24:10. They saw the God of Israel — That is, they had some glimpse of his glory, in light and fire, though they saw no manner of similitude. They saw the place where the God of Israel stood, so the Septuagint; whatever they saw, it was certainly something of which no image or picture could be made, and yet enough to satisfy them that God was with them of a truth. Nothing is described but that which was under his feet, for our conceptions of God are all below him. They saw not so much as God’s feet, but at the bottom of the brightness they saw (such as they never saw before or after, and as the footstool or pedestal of it) a most rich and splendid pavement, as it had been of sapphires, azure, or sky-coloured. The heavens themselves are the pavement of God’s palace, and his throne is above the firmament.

24:9-11 The elders saw the God of Israel; they had some glimpse of his glory, though whatever they saw, it was something of which no image or picture could be made, yet enough to satisfy them that God was with them of a truth. Nothing is described but what was under his feet. The sapphires are the pavement under his feet; let us put all the wealth of this world under our feet, and not in our hearts. Thus the believer sees in the face of Jesus Christ, far clearer discoveries of the glorious justice and holiness of God, than ever he saw under terrifying convictions; and through the Saviour, holds communion with a holy God.And they saw the God of Israel - As they ate the sacrificial feast, the presence of Yahweh was manifested to them with special distinctness. In the act of solemn worship, they perceived that He was present with them, as their Lord and their Deliverer. It is idle to speculate on the mode of this revelation. That no visible form was presented to their bodily eyes, we are expressly informed, Deuteronomy 4:12; see Exodus 33:20; compare Isaiah 6:1. The latter part of this verse may be read: "under His feet, it was like a work of bright sapphire stone, and like the heaven itself in clearness." On the sapphire, see Exodus 28:18; compare Ezekiel 1:26. The pure blue of the heaven above them lent its influence to help the inner sense to realize the vision which no mortal eye could behold. 10. And they saw the God of Israel—That there was no visible form or representation of the divine nature, we have expressly intimated (De 4:15). But a symbol or emblem of His glory was distinctly, and at a distance, displayed before those chosen witnesses. Many think, however, that in this private scene was discovered, amid the luminous blaze, the faint adumbrated form of the humanity of Christ (Eze 1:26; compare Ga 3:24).

sapphire—one of the most valuable and lustrous of the precious gems—of a sky-blue or light azure color and frequently chosen to describe the throne of God (see Eze 1:26; 10:1).

They saw the God of Israel; not any visible resemblance of the Divine nature, which is expressly denied, Deu 4:15 1 Timothy 6:16, and was refused to Moses when he desired it, Exodus 33:18,20, and therefore surely would never be granted to the elders of Israel; but some glorious appearance or token of God’s special presence; or rather, the Second Person in the Trinity, who now showed himself to them in a human and glorious shape, as an essay and testimony of his future incarnation. This may seem probable,

1. Because here is mention of his feet.

2. Because this way of Christ’s appearance was not unusual. See Ge 18, &c.

3. Because the person who delivered the law in Sinai was Christ, as appears from Acts 7:38, though he be there called an angel, a name oft given to Christ, as hath been formerly showed.

A sapphire stone is of a clear sky colour, mixed with golden spots like stars in the sky.

In his clearness, or, for clearness. A clear sky in prophetical style signifying God’s favour, as a cloudy sky notes his anger.

And they saw the God of Israel,.... The Targum of Jonathan restrains this to Nadab and Abihu whereas it is doubtless true of Moses and Aaron, and the seventy elders, who all saw him, and who were witnesses to the people that it was a divine Person that spoke to Moses, and delivered the laws unto him, to be observed by them; which seems to be the reason of their being called up, and favoured with this sight which must not be understood as of anything criminal in them, as if they curiously looked and pried to see something they should not, for which they deserved some sort of punishment, as the Targum intimates; but of a privilege, and a very high one they were favoured with: and this sight they had was not by a vision of prophecy, or with the eyes of their understanding, but corporeally; they saw the Son of God, the God of Israel, in an human form, as a pledge and presage of his future incarnation, who is the Angel that spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, as Stephen says, and the Lord that was among the angels there, who afterwards became incarnate, and having done his work on earth, ascended on high, Acts 7:38.

and there was under his feet; which shows that there was a visible form, and that human; nor is this contrary to what is said, "ye saw no similitude"; Deuteronomy 4:12, since what is here related does not respect the same time, nor the same persons; this was after the giving of the ten commands, that at the time of it; this is said of the seventy elders, with Moses, Aaron, and his two sons, that of all the people:

as it were paved work of a sapphire stone: like a pavement pitched with sapphire. The Septuagint version is,"and they saw the place where the God of Israel stood, and what were under his feet, as the work of a sapphire brick.''The sapphire stones, of which the pavement was, were as broad as bricks, and being like a brick, was a memorial, as the Targum of Jonathan says, of the servitude the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with in clay and bricks; but being a sapphire, bright and glorious, may denote the liberty they now enjoyed in exchange for their bondage. And the Targum of Jonathan understands it of the colour, and not of the form of the sapphire, and renders it, the white sapphire; and so do some Jewish writers (w); though the colour of the sapphire is azure, or sky coloured, with which agrees what follows:

and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness; and Ruaeus (x) says, the sapphire is sky coloured, and some of them shine and sparkle with golden points or spots, and are reckoned the best sapphires; so that this represents the heaven as quite clear and serene, bespangled with stars; and as the heavens, covered with clouds, may denote the displeasure of God, so a serene heaven his favour and good will, and in such an amiable light was he now beheld.

(w) Saadiah Gaon in Aben Ezra, & R. Jonah in Ben Melech in loc. (x) De Gemmis, c. 2.

And they {e} saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.

(e) As perfectly as their infirmities could behold his majesty.

10. and they saw, &c.] LXX., to avoid its being supposed that God could be ‘seen’ (cf. on Exo Exodus 23:15 b, Exodus 33:20), paraphrase by ‘and they saw the place where the God of Israel stood.’

and there was under his feet, &c.] The idea appears to be that they saw the Divine glory, not directly, but as they looked up at it from below, through what seemed to be a transparent blue sapphire pavement, comparable only to the sky in its clearness. Cf. the sapphire throne upon which, in his vision, Ezekiel sees the Divine form (Ezekiel 1:26). On what is meant by ‘sapphire,’ see on Exodus 28:18.

paved work] lit. brick- or tile-work. Bright (RVm.) is a meaning unsupported by usage.

Verse 10. - They saw the God of Israel. These words can scarcely mean less than that they saw with their bodily eyes some appearance of the Divine being who had summoned them to his presence for the purpose. Moses, we know, saw a "similitude of God" (Numbers 12:8). Isaiah "saw the Lord sitting upon his throne "(Isaiah 6:1). Ezekiel saw upon the throne "the appearance of a man" (Ezekiel 1:26). It does not follow from Deuteronomy 4:12, 15, that the elders saw no similitude, since in that passage Moses is speaking, not to the elders, but to the people, and referring, not to what occurred at the sacrificial feast after the ratification of the covenant, but to the scene at the giving of the Ten Commandments previously (Exodus 20:1-18). What the form was which the elders saw, we are not told; but as it had "feet," it was probably a human form. It may have been hazy, indefinite, "too dazzling bright for mortal eye" to rest upon. But it was a true "vision of God" - and, as Keil says, "a foretaste of the blessedness of the sight of God in eternity." There was under his feet, as it were, a paved work of a sapphire stone. Rather, "and under his feet was, as it were, a work of clear sapphire." Nothing is said concerning a pavement, but only that below the feet of the figure which they saw was something, which looked as if it were made of bright blue sapphire stone, something as clear and as blue as the blue of heaven. Canon Cook supposes the actual sky to be meant; but the expression, "as it were, the body of heaven," or "like the very heaven," makes this impossible. A thing is not like itself. Exodus 24:10Through their consecration with the blood of the covenant, the Israelites were qualified to ascend the mountain, and there behold the God of Israel and celebrate the covenant meal; of course, not the whole of the people, for that would have been impracticable on physical grounds, but the nation in the persons of its representatives, viz., the seventy elders, with Aaron and his two eldest sons. The fact that the latter were summoned along with the elders had reference to their future election to the priesthood, the bearers of which were to occupy the position of mediators between Jehovah and the nation, an office for which this was a preparation. The reason for choosing seventy out of the whole body of elders (Exodus 24:3) is to be found in the historical and symbolical significance of this number. "They saw the God of Israel." This title is very appropriately given to Jehovah here, because He, the God of the fathers, had become in truth the God of Israel through the covenant just made. We must not go beyond the limits drawn in Exodus 33:20-23 in our conceptions of what constituted the sight (חזה Exodus 24:11) of God; at the same time we must regard it as a vision of God in some form of manifestation which rendered the divine nature discernible to the human eye. Nothing is said as to the form in which God manifested Himself. This silence, however, is not intended "to indicate the imperfection of their sight of God," as Baumgarten affirms, nor is it to be explained, as Hoffmann supposes, on the ground that "what they saw differed from what the people had constantly before their eyes simply in this respect, that after they had entered the darkness, which enveloped the mountain that burned as it were with fire at its summit, the fiery sign separated from the cloud, and assumed a shape, beneath which it was bright and clear, as an image of untroubled bliss." The words are evidently intended to affirm something more than, that they saw the fiery form in which God manifested Himself to the people, and that whilst the fire was ordinarily enveloped in a cloud, they saw it upon the mountain without the cloud. For, since Moses saw the form (תּמוּנה) of Jehovah (Numbers 12:8), we may fairly conclude, notwithstanding the fact that, according to Exodus 24:2, the representatives of the nation were not to draw near to Jehovah, and without any danger of contradicting Deuteronomy 4:12 and Deuteronomy 4:15, that they also saw a form of God. Only this form is not described, in order that no encouragement might be given to the inclination of the people to make likenesses of Jehovah. Thus we find that Isaiah gives no description of the form in which he saw the Lord sitting upon a high and lofty throne (Isaiah 6:1). Ezekiel is the first to describe the form of Jehovah which he saw in the vision, "as the appearance of a man" (Ezekiel 1:26; compare Daniel 7:9 and Daniel 7:13). "And there was under His feet as it were work of clear sapphire (לבנת, from לבנה whiteness, clearness, not from לבנה a brick),

(Note: This is the derivation adopted by the English translators in their rendering "paved work." - Tr.)

and as the material (עצם body, substance) of heaven in brilliancy," - to indicate that the God of Israel was enthroned above the heaven in super-terrestrial glory and undisturbed blessedness. And God was willing that His people should share in this blessedness, for "He laid not His hand upon the nobles of Israel," i.e., did not attack them. "They saw God, and did eat and drink," i.e., they celebrated thus near to Him the sacrificial meal of the peace-offerings, which had been sacrificed at the conclusion of the covenant, and received in this covenant meal a foretaste of the precious and glorious gifts with which God would endow and refresh His redeemed people in His kingdom. As the promise in Exodus 19:5-6, with which God opened the way for the covenant at Sinai, set clearly before the nation that had been rescued from Egypt the ultimate goal of its divine calling; so this termination of the ceremony was intended to give to the nation, in the persons of its representatives, a tangible pledge of the glory of the goal that was set before it. The sight of the God of Israel was a foretaste of the blessedness of the sight of God in eternity, and the covenant meal upon the mountain before the face of God was a type of the marriage supper of the Lamb, to which the Lord will call, and at which He will present His perfected Church in the day of the full revelation of His glory (Revelation 19:7-9).

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