Exodus 33:2
And I will send an angel before you; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite:
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(2) I will send an angel before thee.—“An angel” is ambiguous. It might designate the Angel of the Covenant, the Angel of God’s presence, as in Exodus 23:20; or it might mean a mere ordinary angel, on a par with those who presided over the destinies of other nations besides the Hebrews (Daniel 10:13; Daniel 10:20). That here the expression is used in this latter sense is made manifest by the declaration of the next verse: I will not go up in the midst of thee.”

33:1-6 Those whom God pardons, must be made to know what their sin deserved. Let them go forward as they are; this was very expressive of God's displeasure. Though he promises to make good his covenant with Abraham, in giving them Canaan, yet he denies them the tokens of his presence they had been blessed with. The people mourned for their sin. Of all the bitter fruits and consequences of sin, true penitents most lament, and dread most, God's departure from them. Canaan itself would be no pleasant land without the Lord's presence. Those who parted with ornaments to maintain sin, could do no less than lay aside ornaments, in token of sorrow and shame for it.See Exodus 3:8.

For I will not go up in the midst of thee - The covenant on which the original promise Exodus 23:20-23 was based had been broken by the people. Yahweh now therefore declared that though His Angel should go before Moses, He would withhold His own favoring presence. The nation should be put on a level with other nations, to lose its character as the people in special covenant with Yahweh (see the note at Exodus 33:16). Thus were the people forcibly warned that His presence could prove a blessing to them only on condition of their keeping their part of the covenant Exodus 33:3. If they failed in this, His presence would be to them "a consuming fire" (Deuteronomy 4:24; compare Exodus 32:10).


Ex 33:1-23. The Lord Refuses to Go with the People.

1. the Lord said—rather "had" said unto Moses. The conference detailed in this chapter must be considered as having occurred prior to the pathetic intercession of Moses, recorded at the close of the preceding chapter; and the historian, having mentioned the fact of his earnest and painful anxiety, under the overwhelming pressure of which he poured forth that intercessory prayer for his apostate countrymen, now enters on a detailed account of the circumstances.

No text from Poole on this verse. And I will send an angel before thee,.... Not the angel before promised, Exodus 23:20 the Angel of his presence, the eternal Word and Son of God, but a created angel; and so Aben Ezra observes, he does not say the Angel that was known, that his name was in him; though even this was to be looked upon as a favour, and showed that he had not utterly cast them off:

and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite; who were now the inhabitants of the land, and these he promises drive out, to make way for their possession of it; and that "by his hand", as the Targum of Jonathan interprets it, by the hand of the angel. Only six nations are mentioned, though there were seven; the Girgashite is omitted, but added in the Septuagint version.

And I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite:
2. an angel] in the place of Jehovah, and exclusive of Him (see v. 3): not, therefore, as Exodus 23:20, where Jehovah is in some sense present in the angel (v. 21 ‘my name is in him’). As was remarked on Exodus 32:34, this is not the usual idea of the ‘angel’: it can, however, be avoided here only by some such supposition as that the words ‘behold, mine angel shall go before thee’ in Exodus 32:34, and v. 2 here, are later insertions in the text, made on the basis of Exodus 23:20, without regard to the contradiction which, if ‘angel’ is used here as in Exodus 23:20, they involve with v. 3b (‘I will not go up with thee’). There are independent reasons for thinking that v. 2 here may be a gloss: it interrupts the connexion between v. 1 and v. 3 (notice ‘unto the land’ &c. at the beginning of v. 3); the list of nations is found elsewhere in passages that are probably secondary; and the verse seems inconsistent with v. 12 (where Moses apparently asks to be told what he has already been told here).

I will drive out] LXX. (codd. A, F, Luc.) he will drive out, which suits the context better: Jehovah does not personally go with the people into Canaan (v. 3).

the Canaanite, &c.] On the list of nations, see on Exodus 3:8.Verse 2. - I will send an angel before thee. Note the change from "my angel" (Exodus 32:34) to "an angel;" which, however, would still have been ambiguous, but for what follows in ver. 3. The angel of God's presence is "an angel" in Exodus 23:20. I will drive out. The whole covenant had fallen with Israel's infraction of it, and it was for God to retract or renew his part of it as it pleased him. He here of his free grace renews the promise to drive out the Canaanitish nations. Compare Exodus 23:23-31. After 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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