Exodus 24:12
And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them.
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(12-18) The great work still remained to be done. A series of laws had been laid down for the nation and accepted with unanimity (Exodus 24:3; Exodus 24:7). But “quid prosunt leges sine moribus?” It was necessary for the sustentation of the religious life of the people that a sacred polity should be instituted, a form of worship set up, and regulations established with regard to all the externals of religion—holy persons, holy places, rites, ceremonies, vestments, incense, consecration. Moses was directed to ascend into the mount, and hold prolonged communion with God, in order that he might learn the mind of God with respect to all these things. His prolonged stay for “forty days and forty nights” (Exodus 24:18) was necessary to give him a full and complete knowledge of all the details so elaborately set forth in Exodus 25-30, and again in Exodus 35-40, which thenceforth constituted the essentials of the external worship of Israel, whereby the minds and habits of the people were moulded and impressed in a far more efficacious way than could ever have been done by a mere set of abstract propositions, appealing only to the intellect. “Segnius irritant animum demissa per aures, Quam quœ sunt oculis subjecta fidelibus.” The Decalogue and the Book of the Covenant had no doubt a considerable share in forming the character of the Hebrew nation; but a larger share must be assigned to the ritual and ceremonial which Moses was now instructed to set up, and which forms the main subject of the remainder of the Book.

(12) Come up to me into the mount, and be there.—After the sacrificial meal, the seventy-four persons engaged in it had descended into the plain of Er-Rahah, and possibly spent some time there, before a second summons came to Moses. This time he was directed to ascend accompanied only by his minister, Joshua (Exodus 24:13), and was warned that his stay was to be a prolonged one in the words, “And be there.”

And I will give thee tables of stone . . . —It is remarkable that these are not expressly said, either here or in Exodus 31:18, to have contained the ten commandments. The fact, however, is distinctly stated in Deuteronomy 5:22; and with respect to the second tables, the same is affirmed in Exodus 34:28. The fiction of a double decalogue is thus precluded.

Exodus 24:12. The Lord said unto Moses, Come up — There were different stations on the mountain. The glory of the Lord occupied the highest place, the top of the mountain: to this place Moses is now called up, leaving the elders below to wait for him, and commissioning Aaron and Hur to transact any business in his absence. It has been thought that Moses might not expect so long a continuance in the mount with God as forty days and forty nights, when he enjoined the elders to tarry for him on the mount, and commissioned Aaron and Hur to go backward and forward between them and the people; and that it is not probable the elders continued all that time upon that part of the mountain where he left them. Concerning this, however, nothing can be affirmed with certainty.

24:12-18 A cloud covered the mount six days; a token of God's special presence there. Moses was sure that he who called him up would protect him. Even those glorious attributes of God which are most terrible to the wicked, the saints with humble reverence rejoice in. And through faith in the atoning Sacrifice, we hope for greater honour than Moses ever enjoyed on earth. Now we see through a glass darkly, but when he shall appear, then face to face. This vision of God will continue with equal, if not increasing brightness of joy; not for a few days only, but through eternity.Many Jews understand the "tables of stone" to denote the Ten Commandments; "a law," the law written in the Pentateuch; and the "commandments" (or "the commandment"), the oral or traditional law which was in after ages put into writing in the Mishna and the Gemara. But it is more probable that the Ten Commandments alone are spoken of, and that the meaning is, "the tables of stone with the law, even the commandment." 12. I will give thee tables of stone—The ten commandments, which had already been spoken, were to be given in a permanent form. Inscribed on stone, for greater durability, by the hand of God Himself, they were thus authenticated and honored above the judicial or ceremonial parts of the law. Be there, i.e. abide, as that verb is used 1 Timothy 4:15, and elsewhere.

Tables of stone; he chose that material, partly as very durable, yet so that it was capable of being broken, which God, foreseeing their wickedness, intended to do; and partly for signification, to note the hardness of their hearts, upon which no impression could be made but by the finger of God.

A law, and commandments, or, the law; and because that is ambiguous to the moral, and ceremonial, and judicial, he adds, even the commandment, or commandments, to wit, the ten commandments, so called by way of eminency, for these only were written by God upon the stony tables, as appears by Exodus 34:28; the rest were written by Moses in a book, above, Exodus 24:4.

And the Lord said unto Moses, come up to me into the mount,.... For as yet Moses was not got up to the top of the mount, only up some part of it with the elders, though at some distance from the people: but now he is bid to come up higher:

and be there; continue there, as he did six days after this:

and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that is, the law of the ten commandments, which were written on tables of stone by the Lord himself; he had already spoken them in the hearing of the people, but now he had wrote them, and that in tables of stone; partly for the duration of them, and partly to represent the hardness of the hearts of the Israelites, the stubbornness of their wills to comply with his law, their contumacy and obstinate persistence in disobedience to it:

that thou mayest teach them; these being in hand and sight, would have an opportunity of explaining them to them and inculcating them on their minds, and pressing them to yield an obedience to them.

And the LORD {h} said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee {i} tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach {k} them.

(h) The second time.

(i) Signifying the hardness of our hearts, unless God writes his laws in it by his Spirit, Jer 31:33, Eze 11:19, 2Co 3:3, He 8:10,10:16

(k) That is, the people.

12. the tables of stone] on which the Decalogue was inscribed. They are mentioned frequently in the sequel; and, remarkably enough, by different expressions, corresponding to the three principal Pent. sources: ‘in Exodus 31:18 b E, as here, says “tables of stone”; P says “the two tables of the testimony” (Exodus 31:18 a, Exodus 32:15 a, Exodus 34:29); J and Dt. say “the two tables of stones” (Exodus 34:1; Exodus 34:4, Deuteronomy 4:13; Deuteronomy 5:22 [Heb. 19], Exodus 9:9-11, Exodus 10:1; Exodus 10:3)’ (Di.): Dt. says also (cf. p. 175) ‘the tables of the covenant’ (Exodus 9:9; Exodus 9:11; Exodus 9:15).

and the direction (tôrâh) and the commandment, which I have written, to direct them (i.e. the people)] What these words refer to is a difficult and uncertain question. It cannot be the Decalogue; for not only must it be something different from the ‘tables of stone,’ but the Decalogue would not be spoken of as tôrâh. It cannot be the ‘Book of the Covenant’; for this has been already both ‘given’ to Moses and ‘written’ (vv. 4, 7). As nothing is spoken of as ‘written’ by Jehovah, except the Decalogue, it is an extremely probable conjecture that the words ‘which I have written’ are out of place, and ought to follow ‘the tables of stone’: ‘the direction and the commandment’ may then refer to something future (‘will give’): but it still remains a question what that is. It cannot be the directions about the Tabernacle contained in chs. 25–31 (even granting that these were by the same hand as Exodus 24:12-15 a); for these would not be called tôrâh. Most probably (Bä. xlix) the reference is to the ‘commandment, and the statutes, and the judgements,’ which Moses is said in Deuteronomy 5:31 to have received at Horeb, but in Exodus 6:1 to have first formally promulgated to the people on the eve of their entering Canaan. And the ‘commandment,’ &c., thus referred to, seem to have been in fact the ‘judgements’ of Exodus 21:2 to Exodus 22:17. These ‘judgements’ (cf. on v. 3), it is probable, were originally recorded by E at the point of the narrative where Dt. now stands. The Deuteronomist puts his version of the ‘judgements,’ is of other older laws, into Moses’ mouth not at Horeb but in the steppes of Moab: when, then, Dt. was combined with JE, the compiler could not well put the two versions side by side, so he put back the earlier version (Exodus 21:2 to Exodus 22:17) into conjunction with the rest of E’s laws Horeb (cf. Kuenen, Hex. § xiii. 32; Bä. l.c.; McNeile, p. xxvii. f.)

12–15a (E). The sequel to vv. 3–8. Moses ascends the mount to receive the two tables of stone.

Verses 12-18. - MOSES' ENTRY INTO THE CLOUD, AND FORTY DAYS' COMMUNE WITH GOD. It was necessary now that Moses should receive full directions for the external worship of God, the sanctuary, and the priesthood. Every religion has something tangible and material about it - holy places, holy things, rites, ceremonies, rules, forms, regulations. If man sets himself to devise these things of his own head, he may very easily go wrong, and find his elaborate inventions "an offence" to God. To avoid this - to secure the result that all should be pleasing and acceptable to "the High and Holy One which inhabiteth eternity," it was thought fitting that "patterns" should be shown to Moses of all that was to be made for the worship (Hebrews 8:5), and exact details given him with respect to the material, size, shape, and construction of each. The results are put before us in seven chapters (chs. 25-31.). For the purpose of allowing ample time for the communications which had to be made and of securing that undivided attention which was requisite in order that all should remain fixed in the memory, God summoned his servant to a long and solitary colloquy, on the mountain summit whereon the cloud rested (Exodus 19:18), apart from all his people. Moses, of course, obeyed; but before ascending, arranged with the elders that in his absence Aaron and Hur should have the direction of affairs, and decide all doubtful questions (ver. 14). He then went up the mountain, accompanied for part of the way by Joshua, who is now spoken of as his "minister," or "attendant" (ver. 13). Joshua probably remained with him for six days, while Moses waited for a summons to enter the cloud. On the seventh day the summons came: and Moses, leaving Joshua, entered the cloud, and was hid from the sight of all men. Verse 12. - Come up to me. Moses, apparently, had descended again into the plain, with Aaron and the seventy elders, after the festival was over. (See ver. 14, and compare Exodus 32:1.) He is now commanded to reascend, and be there - i.e., "And continue there" - foreshadowing the length of the stay. Tables of stone, and a law, and commandments, etc. Literally, "Tables of stone, and the law and the commandments which I have written." The three expressions alike refer to the Decalogue, which alone God wrote. That thou mayest teach them. Rather," to teach them." God wrote the commandments on stone, in order to inculcate them with the greater force upon his people. Exodus 24:12Exodus 24:12-18 prepare the way for the subsequent revelation recorded in ch. 25-31, which Moses received concerning the erection of the sanctuary. At the conclusion of the covenant meal, the representatives of the nation left the mountain along with Moses. This is not expressly stated, indeed; since it followed as a matter of course that they returned to the camp, when the festival for which God had called them up was concluded. A command was then issued again to Moses to ascend the mountain, and remain there (והיה־שׁם), for He was about to give him the tables of stone, with (ו as in Genesis 3:24) the law and commandments, which He had written for their instruction (cf. Exodus 31:18).
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