Exodus 33:22
And it shall come to pass, while my glory passes by, that I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and will cover you with my hand while I pass by:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(22) And will cover thee with my hand.—Kalisch observes with justice that the mysteriousness of this obscure section “attains its highest climax in the three last verses” (Exodus 33:21-23). Human language is, by its very nature, unfit for the expression of sublime spiritual truths, and necessarily clothes them in a materialistic garment which is alien to their ethereal nature. All that we can legitimately gather from this verse and the next is that Moses was directed to a certain retired position, where God miraculously both protected him and shrouded him, while a manifestation of His glory passed by of a transcendent character, and that Moses was allowed to see, not the full manifestation, but the sort of after-glow which it left behind, which was as much as human nature could endure.

33:12-23 Moses is very earnest with God. Thus, by the intercession of Christ, we are not only saved from ruin, but become entitled to everlasting happiness. Observe here how he pleads. We find grace in God's sight, if we find grace in our hearts to guide and quicken us in the way of our duty. Moses speaks as one who dreaded the thought of going forward without the Lord's presence. God's gracious promises, and mercy towards us, should not only encourage our faith, but also excite our fervency in prayer. Observe how he speeds. See, in a type, Christ's intercession, which he ever lives to make for all that come to God by him; and that it is not by any thing in those for whom he intercedes. Moses then entreats a sight of God's glory, and is heard in that also. A full discovery of the glory of God, would overwhelm even Moses himself. Man is mean, and unworthy of it; weak, and could not bear it; guilty, and could not but dread it. The merciful display which is made in Christ Jesus, alone can be borne by us. The Lord granted that which would abundantly satisfy. God's goodness is his glory; and he will have us to know him by the glory of his mercy, more than by the glory of his majesty. Upon the rock there was a fit place for Moses to view the goodness and glory of God. The rock in Horeb was typical of Christ the Rock; the Rock of refuge, salvation, and strength. Happy are they who stand upon this Rock. The cleft may be an emblem of Christ, as smitten, crucified, wounded, and slain. What follows, denotes the imperfect knowledge of God in the present state, even as revealed in Christ; for this, when compared with the heavenly sight of him. is but like seeing a man that is gone by, whose back only is to be seen. God in Christ, as he is, even the fullest and brightest displays of his glory, grace, and goodness, are reserved to another state.Such passages as this, being clearly in accordance with what we know of the relation of spiritual existence to the human senses, show how we are to interpret the expressions "face to face" Exodus 33:11; Deuteronomy 34:10, "mouth to mouth" Numbers 12:8, and others of the like kind. See Exodus 24:10; Isaiah 6:1; and compare John 14:9. 18-23. I beseech thee, show me thy glory—This is one of the most mysterious scenes described in the Bible: he had, for his comfort and encouragement, a splendid and full display of the divine majesty, not in its unveiled effulgence, but as far as the weakness of humanity would admit. The face, hand, back parts, are to be understood figuratively. That thou mayst not be undone by thy own desires, nor swallowed up with the sight of my glory. And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by,.... The displays of his grace and goodness are made:

that I will put thee in a clift of the rock; in one of the clefts, made by smiting it, through which the waters gushed out for the relief of the Israelites, and their flocks: and we are told (c), that to this day, on the summit of Mount Sinai, by the Arabians called Gibel el Mousa, or the mountain of Moses, is perceived a large chasm in the rock, said to be the cave where Moses hid himself from God, when the glory of the Lord passed before him. Now this cleft may be an emblem of Christ, as crucified, smitten, wounded and slain; who was smitten by the law and justice of God, as this rock was smitten by the rod of Moses: and had gashes and wounds made in him like the clefts of a rock, being pierced with the nails and spear: and in these clefts of the rock saints dwell by faith, Sol 2:14,

and will cover thee with my hand; with his cloud, as Ben Melech, and so may denote the cloudiness, obscurity, and darkness of the legal dispensation: but here it seems to denote imperfection, not being able to bear the full sight of the divine glory, and which angels themselves cannot bear, but cover their faces; and also the danger of being consumed, were it not that saints are in Christ, and covered and secured in him, otherwise God is a consuming fire:

while I pass by thee; or his glory, the glory of all his perfections, wisdom, holiness, justice, power, and faithfulness, and especially of his grace, mercy, and goodness in Christ.

(c) Egmont and Heyman's Travels, vol. 2. p. 167. see a Journal from Cairo, &c. p. 28, 29. Ed. 2.

And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 22. - I will put thee in a clift of the rock, The "clift" has been identified with the "cave of Elijah" (1 Kings 19:9); but the words used are different; and even were they the same, no identity could be established. It is rather in the broader lines of their missions and characters that resemblance is to be sought between Moses and Elijah than in the minuter details of their careers. Cover thee with my hand - i.e., "at once conceal thee and protect thee." Without these precautions, it is implied, the nearness of the Divine Presence might have had injurious effects. Jehovah had commanded Moses to lead the people to Canaan, and promised him the guidance of an angel; but He had expressly distinguished this angel from His own personal presence (Exodus 33:1-3). Moreover, though it has not been mentioned before, Jehovah had said to Moses, "I have known thee by name," - i.e., I have recognised thee as Mine, and chosen and called thee to execute My will (cf. Isaiah 43:1; Isaiah 49:1), or put thee into "a specifically personal relation to God, which was peculiar to Moses, and therefore was associated with his name" (Oehler); - "and thou hast also found grace in My eyes," inasmuch as God had granted a hearing to his former intercession. Moses now reminded the Lord of this divine assurance with such courage as can only be produced by faith, which wrestles with God and will not let Him go without a blessing (Genesis 32:27); and upon the strength of this he presented the petition (Exodus 33:13), "Let me know Thy way (the way which Thou wilt take with me and with this people), that I may know Thee, in order that I may find grace in Thine eyes, and see that this people is Thy people." The meaning is this: If I have found grace in Thy sight, and Thou hast recognised me as Thy servant, and called me to be the leader of this people, do not leave me in uncertainty as to Thine intentions concerning the people, or as to the angel whom Thou wilt give as a guide to me and the nation, that I may know Thee, that is to say, that my finding grace in Thine eyes may become a reality;

(Note: Domine fac ut verbis tuis respondeat eventus. Calvin.)

and if Thou wilt lead the people up to Canaan, consider that it is Thine own people, to whom Thou must acknowledge Thyself as its God. Such boldness of undoubting faith presses to the heart of God, and brings away the blessing. Jehovah replied (Exodus 33:14), "My face will go, and I shall give thee rest," - that is to say, shall bring thee and all this people into the land, where ye will find rest (Deuteronomy 3:20). The "face" of Jehovah is Jehovah in His own personal presence, and is identical with the "angel" in whom the name of Jehovah was (Exodus 23:20-21), and who is therefore called in Isaiah 63:9 "the angel of His face."

With this assurance on the part of God, the covenant bond was completely restored. But to make more sure of it. Moses replied (Exodus 33:15, Exodus 33:16), "If Thy face is not going (with us), lead us not up hence. And whereby shall it be known that I have found grace in thine eyes, I and Thy people, if not (lit., is it not known) in Thy going with us, that we, I and Thy people, are distinguished (see at Exodus 8:18) before every nation upon the face of the earth?" These words do not express any doubt as to the truth of the divine assurance, "but a certain feeling of the insufficiency of the assurance," inasmuch as even with the restoration of the former condition of things there still remained "the fear lest the evil root of the people's rebellion, which had once manifested itself, should bread forth again at any moment" (Baumgarten). For this reason Jehovah assured him that this request also should be granted (Exodus 33:17). "There was nothing extraordinary in the fact that Moses desired for himself and his people that they might be distinguished before every nation upon the face of the earth; this was merely the firm hold of faith upon the calling and election of God (Exodus 19:5-6)."

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