Exodus 33:9
And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses.
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Exodus 33:9-10. As Moses entered the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended — This symbol of the divine presence having before gone up, and stood aloof from the camp, which was become unclean through their idolatry, now came down again, upon the removal of the tabernacle. And stood at the door of the tabernacle — Openly to assert the authority of Moses, with whom God showed himself present, though he had withdrawn himself from them; and to signify his approbation of what he had done, however severe and cruel it might appear to some of them. All the people rose up and worshipped — As soon as they saw the cloudy pillar, that sign of God’s presence, gave Moses the meeting; every man at his tent door — Hereby they signified their humble adoration of the Divine Majesty; their thankfulness to God, that he was pleased to show them this token for good, for if he had been pleased to kill them, he would not have showed them such things as these; and their hearty concurrence with Moses, as their advocate, in every thing he should promise for them.

33:7-11 Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp. This seems to have been a temporary building, set up for worship, and at which he judged disputes among the people. The people looked after him; they were very desirous to be at peace with God, and concerned to know what would come to pass. The cloudy pillar which had withdrawn from the camp when it was polluted with idolatry, now returned. If our hearts go forth toward God to meet him, he will graciously come to meet us.The tabernacle - The tent. The only word in the Old Testament which ought to be rendered "tabernacle" משׁכן mı̂shkān does not occur once in this narrative Exodus 26:1. What is here meant is a tent appointed for this temporary purpose by Moses, possibly that in which he was accustomed to dwell.

Pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp - That the people might feel that they had forfeited the divine presence (see Exodus 25:8). This tent was to be a place for meeting with Yahweh, like the tabernacle which was about to be constructed.

The tent of meeting (as it should be called, see Exodus 27:21 note, and note at end of Exodus 40) was placed "afar off from the camp," and the mediator and his faithful servant Joshua were alone admitted to it Exodus 33:11.

9-11. the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle—How would the downcast hearts of the people revive—how would the tide of joy swell in every bosom, when the symbolic cloud was seen slowly and majestically to descend and stand at the entrance of the tabernacle!

as Moses entered—It was when he appeared as their mediator, when he repaired from day to day to intercede for them, that welcome token of assurance was given that his advocacy prevailed, that Israel's sin was forgiven, and that God would again be gracious.

Whereby God testified his approbation of Moses, and of that which Moses had done, which might seem to some severe and cruel.

And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended,.... From the top of the mount in which Jehovah was:

and stood at the door of the tabernacle; where Moses was just entered, and in sight of the people, which was a token of grace and favour both to him and them:

and the Lord talked with Moses; not the cloudy pillar, but the Lord in it, as we rightly supply it: what he talked with him about is not said, very probably concerning the children of Israel, their conduct and behaviour, and what was his will further concerning them.

And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses.
9, 10. Whenever Moses entered the Tent, the pillar of cloud (Exodus 13:21-22), symbolizing Jehovah’s presence, would descend and stand by the entrance of the Tent (cf. Numbers 11:25; Numbers 12:5, Deuteronomy 31:15), God would speak to him there, and the people, every one at the entrance of his tent—in the East a common place for sitting in (Genesis 18:1)—would rise up and worship,—or rather, do obeisance (cf. on Exodus 34:14).

Verse 9. - As Moses entered into the tabernacle. Rather, "When Moses was gone into the tent." The cloudy pillar descended. It is not quite clear whether this was done once only, or whether the pillar, during the continuance of this "tent of meeting," alternated between the top of Sinai and the door of the tent, descending when Moses entered the tent and reascending when he quitted it. The latter supposition is most consonant with the previous statement (ver. 7) that "every one which sought the Lord went out unto the tabernacle" (tent), for the people were at no time allowed to approach the cloud. And the Lord talked with Moses. Literally, "And talked with Moses." The cloudy pillar, in and through which God made his presence felt, is here identified with God, and said to have conversed with Moses. Exodus 33:9Moses then took a tent, and pitched it outside the camp, at some distance off, and called it "tent of meeting." The "tent" is neither the sanctuary of the tabernacle described in Exodus 25., which was not made till after the perfect restoration of the covenant (Exodus 35.), nor another sanctuary that had come down from their forefathers and was used before the tabernacle was built, as Clericus, J. D. Michaelis, Rosenmller, and others suppose; but a tent belonging to Moses, which was made into a temporary sanctuary by the fact that the pillar of cloud came down upon it, and Jehovah talked with Moses there, and which was called by the same name as the tabernacle, viz., מועד אחל (see at Exodus 27:21), because Jehovah revealed Himself there, and every one who sought Him had to go to this tent outside the camp. There were two reasons for this: in the first place, Moses desired thereby to lead the people to a fuller recognition of their separation from their God, that their penitence might be deepened in consequence; and in the second place, he wished to provide such means of intercourse with Jehovah as would not only awaken in the minds of the people a longing for the renewal of the covenant, but render the restoration of the covenant possible. And this end was answered. Not only did every one who sought Jehovah go out to the tent, but the whole nation looked with the deepest reverence when Moses went out to the tent, and bowed in adoration before the Lord, every one in front of his tent, when they saw the pillar of cloud come down upon the tent and stand before the door. Out of this cloud Jehovah talked with Moses (Exodus 33:7-10) "face to face, as a man talks with his friend" (Exodus 33:11); that is to say, not from the distance of heaven, through any kind of medium whatever, but "mouth to mouth," as it is called in Numbers 12:8, as closely and directly as friends talk to one another. "These words indicate, therefore, a familiar conversation, just as much as if it had been said, that God appeared to Moses in some peculiar form of manifestation. If any one objects to this, that it is at variance with the assertion which we shall come to presently, 'Thou canst not see My face,' the answer is a very simple one. Although Jehovah showed Himself to Moses in some peculiar form of manifestation, He never appeared in His own essential glory, but only in such a mode as human weakness could bear. This solution contains a tacit comparison, viz., that there never was any one equal to Moses, or who had attained to the same dignity as he" (Calvin). When Moses returned to the tent, his servant Joshua remained behind as guard. - This condescension on the part of Jehovah towards Moses could not fail to strengthen the people in their reliance upon their leader, as the confidant of Jehovah. And Moses himself was encouraged thereby to endeavour to effect a perfect restoration of the covenant bond that had been destroyed.
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