Exodus 24:9
Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel:
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(9) Then went up.—According to the ordinary ideas of the time, the ratification of the covenant was now complete, and nothing more was needed. It pleased God, however, to terminate the whole transaction by a closing scene of extraordinary grandeur, beauty, and spiritual significance. A sacrifice implied a sacrificial meal (Exodus 18:12). Moses understood that God, by summoning Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of the elders into the mount (Exodus 24:1), had intended the sacrificial meal to be held there; and accordingly, as soon as he had sprinkled the people, ascended Sinai with the persons summoned, and had the feast prepared. A sacrificial meal was always regarded as a religious act—an act done “before God” (Exodus 18:12), involving communion with Him. God willed now to signalise this sacrificial feast above all others by making His presence not only felt but seen. As Moses, Aaron with his two sons, and the elders were engaged in the feast (Exodus 24:11), a vision of marvellous splendour broke upon them. “They saw the God of Israel” (Exodus 24:10). God showed Himself to them—not, as before, amid thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud, and fire, and smoke, and earthquake (Exodus 19:16; Exodus 19:18), but in His loveliness (Song of Solomon 5:16) and His beauty, standing on pellucid sapphire, blue as the blue of heaven. They “saw God,” and were neither hurt nor even terrified; they could, while seeing Him, still eat and drink—they felt themselves like guests at His board, as if He were banqueting with them. So was impressed upon them the mild and sweet relation into which they were brought towards God by covenant—a covenant made, and not yet infringed. The gentle, lovely, attractive side of God’s character was shewn to them, instead of the awful and alarming one; and they were taught to look forward to a final state of bliss, in which God’s covenanted servants would dwell in His presence continually.

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.It would appear that Moses, Aaron with his two sons, and seventy of the elders Exodus 19:7 went a short distance up the mountain to eat the meal of the covenant (compare Genesis 31:43-47), which must have consisted of the flesh of the peace offerings Exodus 24:5. Joshua accompanied Moses as his servant Exodus 24:13. 9. Then went up Moses, and Aaron—in obedience to a command given (Ex 24:1, 2; also Ex 19:24), previous to the religious engagement of the people, now described.

Nadab, and Abihu—the two oldest sons of Aaron [Ex 6:23].

seventy of the elders—a select number; what was the principle of selection is not said; but they were the chief representatives, the most conspicuous for official rank and station, as well as for their probity and weight of character in their respective tribes.

In obedience to that command of God given Exodus 24:1. Then went up Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu,.... After the above things were done, the words of the Lord were told the people, and the book of the covenant read unto them, to which they agreed, sacrifices were offered, and the blood of them sprinkled on the altar, and on the people. The Samaritan version adds to these, Eleazar and Ithamar, the two younger sons of Aaron:

and seventy of the elders of Israel, who were called up to the mountain to the Lord, Exodus 24:1.

Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel:
Verses 9-11. - THE SACRIFICIAL FEAST AND THE VISION OF GOD. After the covenant had been ratified by the unanimous voice of the people, Moses proceeded to carry out the injunctions with respect to Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the elders, which he had received while still in the mount (see the comment on vers. 1, 2). Taking them with him, he ascended Sinai once more to a certain height, but clearly not to the summit, which he alone was privileged to visit (vers. 2 and 12). The object of the ascent was twofold.

1. A sacrificial meal always followed upon a sacrifice; and the elders might naturally desire to partake of it as near the Divine presence as should be permitted them. This was their purpose in ascending.

2. God desired to impress them with a sense of his awful majesty and beauty, and was prepared for this end to manifest himself to them in some strange and wonderful way as they were engaged in the solemn meal (ver. 11). This was his purpose in inviting their presence. The manifestation is described in ver. 10. It was a "vision of God," but of what exact nature it is impossible to say. Having recorded it, the author parenthetically notes that the Divine vision did not destroy any of those who beheld it, or cause them any injury, as might have been expected. Verse 9. - Then went up. Compare ver. 1. The mountain was to be partially ascended, but not to any great height. Nadab, Abihu, and the elders were to "worship God afar off." The ceremony described in Exodus 24:3-11 is called "the covenant which Jehovah made with Israel" (Exodus 24:8). It was opened by Moses, who recited to the people "all the words of Jehovah" (i.e., not the decalogue, for the people had heard this directly from the mouth of God Himself, but the words in Exodus 20:22-26), and "all the rights" (ch. 21-23); whereupon the people answered unanimously (אחד קול), "All the words which Jehovah hath spoken will we do." This constituted the preparation for the conclusion of the covenant. It was necessary that the people should not only know what the Lord imposed upon them in the covenant about to be made with them, and what He promised them, but that they should also declare their willingness to perform what was imposed upon them. The covenant itself was commenced by Moses writing all the words of Jehovah in "the book of the covenant" (Exodus 24:4 and Exodus 24:7), for the purpose of preserving them in an official record. The next day, early in the morning, he built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and erected twelve boundary-stones or pillars for the twelve tribes, most likely round about the altar and at some distance from it, so as to prepare the soil upon which Jehovah was about to enter into union with the twelve tribes. As the altar indicated the presence of Jehovah, being the place where the Lord would come to His people to bless them (Exodus 20:24), so the twelve pillars, or boundary-stones, did not serve as mere memorials of the conclusion of the covenant, but were to indicate the place of the twelve tribes, and represent their presence also.
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