Exodus 32:34
Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them.
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(34) Lead the people unto the place of which I have spokeni.e., continue their leader until Palestine is reached. (See Exodus 3:8; Exodus 3:17; Exodus 6:4-8, &c.)

Mine Angel shall go before thee.—So far as the form of the expression goes, the promise is, as nearly as possible, a repetition of the original one, “Behold, I send an angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared” (Exodus 23:20). But the meaning of the promise is wholly changed, as we learn from the opening paragraph of the ensuing chapter (Exodus 33:1-3). The “angel” now promised as a guide is not to be God Himself (“I will not go up in the midst of thee “), but a creature, between whom and God the distance is immeasurable.

In the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them.—All sin is followed by suffering; the sequence is inevitable. God had now consented to spare His people, and to take them back into favour; but they were not to expect that matters would be with them as if their sin had not taken place. It would still be “visited upon them”—not, indeed, by instant death, but still in some way or other. The weary waiting in the wilderness for forty years may have been a part of the punishment (Numbers 14:33); but it may also have been inflicted on different persons in many different ways.

Exodus 32:34-35. My angel shall go before thee — Some created angel that was employed in the common services of his kingdom, which intimated that they were not to expect any thing for the future to be done for them out of the common road of providence. When I visit — Hereafter, when I shall see cause to punish them for other sins, I will visit for this among the rest. From hence the Jews have a saying, that from henceforward no judgment fell upon Israel, but there was in it an ounce of the powder of the golden calf. And the Lord plagued the people — Probably by the pestilence, or some other infectious disease. Thus Moses prevailed for a mitigation of the punishment, but could not wholly turn away the wrath of God.

32:30-35 Moses calls it a great sin. The work of ministers is to show people the greatness of their sins. The great evil of sin appears in the price of pardon. Moses pleads with God for mercy; he came not to make excuses, but to make atonement. We are not to suppose that Moses means that he would be willing to perish for ever, for the people's sake. We are to love our neighbour as ourselves, and not more than ourselves. But having that mind which was in Christ, he was willing to lay down his life in the most painful manner, if he might thereby preserve the people. Moses could not wholly turn away the wrath of God; which shows that the law of Moses was not able to reconcile men to God, and to perfect our peace with him. In Christ alone, God so pardons sin as to remember it no more. From this history we see, that no unhumbled, carnal heart, can long endure the holy precepts, the humbling truths, and the spiritual worship of God. But a god, a priest, a worship, a doctrine, and a sacrifice, suited to the carnal mind, will ever meet with abundance of worshippers. The very gospel itself may be so perverted as to suit a worldly taste. Well is it for us, that the Prophet like unto Moses, but who is beyond compare more powerful and merciful, has made atonement for our souls, and now intercedes in our behalf. Let us rejoice in his grace.Mine Angel shall go before thee - See the marginal references and Genesis 12:7.

In the day when I visit ... - Compare Numbers 14:22-24. But though the Lord chastized the individuals, He did not take His blessing from the nation.

32. blot me … out of thy book—an allusion to the registering of the living, and erasing the names of those who die. What warmth of affection did he evince for his brethren! How fully was he animated with the true spirit of a patriot, when he professed his willingness to die for them. But Christ actually died for His people (Ro 5:8). Behold, mine angel; not Christ, the Angel of the covenant, who had hitherto gone before them; but a created angel, as appears by comparing this with Exodus 33:2,3,12; though Moses obtained the revocation of this threatening, Exodus 33:14,17. I will visit their sin upon them; when I shall punish them for their other sins, which I foresee they will commit, I will remember and punish this also.

Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee,.... That is, to the land of Canaan, which he had promised to their fathers and to them, and had directed Moses to bring them to:

behold, mine angel shall go before thee: and not I, as Jarchi interprets it; not the Angel of the covenant, and of his presence, as in Exodus 23:20 but a created angel, which, though a favour, was a lessening of the mercy before promised and granted; and which gave the people a great deal of concern, though Moses by his supplications got the former blessing restored, Exodus 33:2,

nevertheless, in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them; that is, when he should visit them in a way of correction for other sins, he would visit them in like manner for this sin, the worship of the golden calf; and so Jarchi well explains it,"when I visit upon them their iniquities, I will visit upon them a little of this iniquity, with the rest of iniquities; and there is no punishment (adds he) comes upon Israel, in which there is not something of the punishment of the sin of the calf;''and the Jews have a saying (t), that"there is not a generation in which there is not an ounce of the sin of the calf.''

(t) T. Hieros. Taanith, fol. 68. 3.

{p} Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them.

(p) This demonstrates how grievous a sin idolatry is, seeing that at Moses prayer God would not fully remit it.

34. He yields, however, so far to Moses’ entreaty as to put off the punishment of the people to an indefinite future, and to bid Moses lead Israel on to Canaan, under the guidance—not indeed of Himself personally, but—of His angel. It is true, the angel usually (see on Exodus 3:1, Exodus 23:20) represents Jehovah so fully as not to be exclusive of Him: but Exodus 33:2 (see the note), 3, shew that (unless the clause is a later insertion) it must be exclusive of Him here.

Verse 34. - Lead the people unto the place, etc. This was a revocation of the sentence of death passed in verse 10. The people was to be spared, and Moses was to conduct them to Palestine. Mine Angel shall go before thee. Mine Angel - not I myself (compare Exodus 33:2, 3). Another threatened punishment, which was revoked upon the repentance of the people (ib, 4, 6), and the earnest prayer of Moses (ib, 14-16). I will visit their sin upon them. Kalisch thinks that a plague was at once sent, and so understands verse 35. But most commentators regard the day of visitation as that on which it was declared that none of those who had quitted Egypt should enter Canaan (Numbers 14:35), and regard that sentence as, in fact, provoked by the golden calf idolatry (ib, 22). Exodus 32:34After Moses had thus avenged the honour of the Lord upon the sinful nation, he returned the next day to Jehovah as a mediator, who is not a mediator of one (Galatians 3:20), that by the force of his intercession he might turn the divine wrath, which threatened destruction, into sparing grace and compassion, and that he might expiate the sin of the nation. He had received no assurance of mercy in reply to his first entreaty (Exodus 32:11-13). He therefore announced his intention to the people in these words: "Peradventure I can make an atonement for your sin." But to the Lord he said (Exodus 32:31, Exodus 32:32), "The sin of this people is a great sin; they have made themselves a god of gold," in opposition to the clear commandment in Exodus 20:23 : "and now, if Thou wilt forgive their sin, and if not, blot me out of the book that Thou hast written." The book which Jehovah has written is the book of life, or of the living (Psalm 69:29; Daniel 12:1). This expression is founded upon the custom of writing the names of the burgesses of a town or country in a burgess-list, whereby they are recognised as natives of the country, or citizens of the city, and all the privileges of citizenship are secured to them. The book of life contains the list of the righteous (Psalm 69:29), and ensures to those whose names are written there, life before God, first in the earthly kingdom of God, and then eternal life also, according to the knowledge of salvation, which keeps pace with the progress of divine revelation, e.g., in the New Testament, where the heirs of eternal life are found written in the book of life (Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; Revelation 13:8, etc.), - an advance for which the way was already prepared by Isaiah 4:3 and Daniel 12:1. To blot out of Jehovah's book, therefore, is to cut off from fellowship with the living God, or from the kingdom of those who live before God, and to deliver over to death. As a true mediator of his people, Moses was ready to stake his own life for the deliverance of the nation, and not to live before God himself, if Jehovah did not forgive the people their sin. These words of Moses were the strongest expression of devoted, self-sacrificing love. And they were just as deep and true as the wish expressed by the Apostle Paul in Romans 9:3, that he might be accursed from Christ for the sake of his brethren according to the flesh. Bengel compares this wish of the apostle to the prayer of Moses, and says with regard to this unbounded fulness of love, "It is not easy to estimate the measure of love in a Moses and a Paul; for the narrow boundary of our reasoning powers does not comprehend it, as the little child is unable to comprehend the courage of warlike heroes" (Eng. Tr.). The infinite love of God is unable to withstand the importunity of such love. God, who is holy love, cannot sacrifice the righteous and good for the unrighteous and guilty, nor can He refuse the mediatorial intercession of His faithful servant, so long as the sinful nation has not filled up the measure of its guilt, in which case even the intercession of a Moses and a Samuel would not be able to avert the judgment (Jeremiah 15:1, cf. Ezekiel 14:16). Hence, although Jehovah puts back the wish and prayer of Moses with the words, "Whoever (אשׁר מי, both here and in 2 Samuel 20:11, is more emphatic than either one or the other alone) has sinned, him will I blot out of My book," He yields to the entreaty that He will ensure to Moses the continuance of the nation under His guidance, and under the protection of His angel, which shall go before it (see at Exodus 33:2-3), and defer the punishment of their sin until the day of His visitation.
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