Exodus 34:1
And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.
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(1-4) Before the covenant could be formally reestablished, before Israel could be replaced in the position forfeited by the idolatry of the golden calf, it was necessary that the conditions on which God consented to establish His covenant with them should be set forth afresh. Moses had asked for the return of God’s favour, but had said nothing of these conditions. It is God who insists on them. “Hew thee two tables.” The moral law must be delivered afresh—delivered in its completeness—exactly as at the first (Exodus 34:1), and even the ceremonial law must be reimposed in its main items (Exodus 34:12-26), or no return to favour is possible. Hence Moses is summoned once more to the top of Sinai, where the Law is to be delivered afresh to him, and is ordered to bring with him tables of stone like the former ones, to receive their written contents from God’s hand.

(1) Hew thee two tables.—Something is always lost by sin, even when it is forgiven. The first tables were “the work of God” (Exodus 32:16). the second were hewn by the hand of Moses.

Of stone.—Literally, of stones—hewn, i.e., out of two separate stones, which could not be said of the first tables, since none knew how God had fashioned them.

I will write.—It is quite clear, though some have maintained the contrary, that the second tables, equally with the first, were inscribed “with the finger of God.” (Comp. Deuteronomy 4:13; Deuteronomy 10:2; Deuteronomy 10:4.) It is also quite clear that exactly the same words were written on each.

Upon these tables.—Heb., upon the tables.

Exodus 34:1. Hew thee two tables of stone like the first — Before, God himself both provided the tables and wrote on them; now, Moses must prepare the tables, and God would only write upon them. This might be intended partly to signify God’s displeasure on account of their sin; for though he had pardoned them, the wound was not, healed without a scar; and partly to show, that although the covenant of grace was first made without man’s care and counsel, yet it should not be renewed without man’s repentance. And as the tables of stone were emblematical of the hardness of their heart, so the hewing of them by Moses, and writing on them by the Lord, might denote that circumcision and renovation of their hearts by the ministry of God’s word, and the influence of his Spirit, which were necessary to prepare them for receiving God’s mercies and the performance of their duties. We may observe also, that although the first tables were broken, to show that there was no hope for mankind to be saved by their innocence, yet God would have the law to be in force still as a rule of obedience, and therefore, as soon as he was reconciled to them, ordered the tables to be renewed, and wrote his law on them. This plainly intimates, that even under the gospel (of which the intercession of Moses was typical) the moral law continues to oblige believers. For though Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, yet not from the command of it, but still we are under the law to Christ. When our Saviour, in his sermon on the mount, expounded the moral law, and vindicated it from the corrupt glosses with which the scribes and Pharisees had obliterated and broken it, he did, in effect, renew the tables, and make them like the first, that is, reduce the law to its primitive sense and intention. And by his writing it on our hearts by his Spirit, as he wrote it on the tables by his finger or power, we may be enabled to conform our lives to it.

34:1-4 When God made man in his own image, the moral law was written in his heart, by the finger of God, without outward means. But since the covenant then made with man was broken, the Lord has used the ministry of men, both in writing the law in the Scriptures, and in writing it in the heart. When God was reconciled to the Israelites, he ordered the tables to be renewed, and wrote his law in them. Even under the gospel of peace by Christ, the moral law continues to bind believers. Though Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, yet not from the commands of it. The first and the best evidence of the pardon of sin, and peace with God, is the writing the law in the heart.Hew thee - The former tables are called "the work of God;" compare Exodus 32:16.

The words - See Exodus 34:28.


Ex 34:1-35. The Tables Are Renewed.

1. the like unto the first—God having been reconciled to repentant Israel, through the earnest intercession, the successful mediation of Moses, means were to be taken for the restoration of the broken covenant. Intimation was given, however, in a most intelligible and expressive manner, that the favor was to be restored with some memento of the rupture; for at the former time God Himself had provided the materials, as well as written upon them. Now, Moses was to prepare the stone tables, and God was only to retrace the characters originally inscribed for the use and guidance of the people.God commands Moses to hew two tables of stone like the former, wherein he promises to write, Exodus 34:1. Moses goes with these tables up to the mount, Exodus 34:4. God descends in a cloud, Exodus 24:5. He proclaims his name, Exodus 34:6,7. Moses worships, Exodus 34:8,9. God making a covenant with the people, commands them not to make a covenant with their enemies, Exodus 34:10-12; bids them beware of molten gods, Exodus 34:13-17. The feast of unleavened bread, Exodus 34:18. To rest on the sabbath day, Exodus 34:21. Other laws, Exodus 34:22-26. Moses wrote these words, Exodus 34:27. The time of Moses’s abode on the mount. Exodus 34:28. Moses’s face shining, Exodus 34:29, is covered, Exodus 34:33-35. He acquaints the people with what the Lord told him, Exodus 34:31,32.

The first tables were made immediately by God, who of his own mere grace and good pleasure, and without man’s merit or contrivance, entered into covenant with Abraham and his seed. These tables must be made by Moses, partly in token of God’s displeasure for their sin, and partly to signify, that though the covenant of grace was first made without man’s care and counsel, yet it should not be renewed but by man’s repentance. And as the tables of stone signified the hardness of their hearts, so the hewing of them by Moses might signify the circumcision and ploughing up of their hearts, that they might be fit for the receiving of God’s mercies, and the performance of their duties.

The words that were in the first tables; to show God’s reception of Israel into his favour, and their former state, and that the law and covenant of God was neither abolished nor changed by their sin.

And the Lord said unto Moses,.... Out of the cloudy pillar, at the door of the tabernacle, where he had been conversing with him in the most friendly manner, as related in the preceding chapter:

hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first; of the same form, and of the same dimensions, and it may be of the same sort of stone, which perhaps was marble, there being great plenty of that kind on Mount Sinai. Now Moses being ordered to hew these tables, whereas the former were the work of God himself, as well as the writing, shows that the law was to be the ministration of Moses, and be ordained in the hand of him as a mediator, who had been praying and interceding for the people; and as a token of the reconciliation made, the tables were to be renewed, yet with some difference, that there might be some remembrance of their crime, and of their loss by it, not having the law on tables of stone, which were the work of God, but which were the work of man:

and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables which thou brakest; the writing of these was by the Lord himself, as the former, shows that the law itself was of God, though the tables were hewn by Moses, and that he would have it known and observed as such; and the same being written on these tables, as on the former, shows the unchangeableness of the law of God, as given to the people of Israel, that he would have nothing added to it, or taken from it; and the writing of it over again may have respect to the reinscribing it on the hearts of his people in regeneration, according to the tenor of the new covenant: the phrase, "which thou brakest", is not used as expressing any displeasure at Moses for that act of his, but to describe the former tables; and the breaking of them might not be the effect of passion, at least of any criminal passion, but of zeal for the glory of God, and the honour of his law, which was broken by the Israelites, and therefore unworthy of it; and might be according to the counsel of the divine will, and the secret direction of his providence.

And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.
1–5. Moses is commanded to hew two tables of stone, similar to those which he had broken (Exodus 32:19), and bring them up Sinai to Jehovah. The former tables are said (Exodus 32:16) to have been themselves God’s handiwork: in the new tables only the writing is to be His.

Verse 1. - Hew thee two tables of stone. Literally, "of stones" - two separate tables, i.e., made of two separate stones. Moses is required to do this with strict justice, since it was by his act that the former tables were broken (Exodus 32:19). Upon these tables. Literally," upon the tables," which has exactly the same force. The words that were in the first tables. It is quite true that we have not yet been explicitly told what these words were. (See Exodus 31:18; Exodus 32:15, 16, 19.) It has been left to our natural intelligence to understand that they must have been the "ten words" uttered in the ears of all the people amid the thunders of Sinai, as recorded in Exodus 20:1-19, which are the evident basis of all the later legislation. We have, however, in ver. 28, and still more plainly in Deuteronomy 10:4, and Deuteronomy 5:22, the desired statement. The fiction of a double decalogue, invented by Goethe and supported by Hitzig, and even Ewald, is absolutely without foundation in fact. Exodus 34:1When Moses had restored the covenant bond through his intercession (Exodus 33:14), he was directed by Jehovah to hew out two stones, like the former ones which he had broken, and to come with them the next morning up the mountain, and Jehovah would write upon them the same words as upon the first,

(Note: Namely, the ten words in Exodus 20:2-17, not the laws contained in Exodus 34:12-26 of this chapter, as Gthe and Hitzig suppose. See Hengstenberg, Dissertations ii. p. 319, and Kurtz on the Old Covenant iii.182ff.)

and thus restore the covenant record. It was also commanded, as in the former case (Exodus 19:12-13), that no one should go up the mountain with him, or be seen upon it, and that not even cattle should feed against the mountain, i.e., in the immediate neighbourhood (Exodus 34:3). The first tables of the covenant were called "tables of stone" (Exodus 24:12; Exodus 31:18); the second, on the other hand, which were hewn by Moses, are called "tables of stones" (Exodus 34:1 and Exodus 34:4); and the latter expression is applied indiscriminately to both of them in Deuteronomy 4:13; Deuteronomy 5:19; Deuteronomy 9:9-11; Deuteronomy 10:1-4. This difference does not indicate a diversity in the records, but may be explained very simply from the fact, that the tables prepared by Moses were hewn from two stones, and not both from the same block; whereas all that could be said of the former, which had been made by God Himself, was that they were of stone, since no one knew whether God had used one stone or two for the purpose. There is apparently far more importance in the following distinction, that the second tables were delivered by Moses and only written upon by God, whereas in the case of the former both the writing and the materials came from God. This cannot have been intended either as a punishment for the nation (Hengstenberg), or as "the sign of a higher stage of the covenant, inasmuch as the further the reciprocity extended, the firmer was the covenant" (Baumgarten). It is much more natural to seek for the cause, as Rashi does, in the fact, that Moses had broken the first in pieces; only we must not regard it as a sign that God disapproved of the manifestation of anger on the part of Moses, but rather as a recognition of his zealous exertions for the restoration of the covenant which had been broken by the sin of the nation. As Moses had restored the covenant through his energetic intercession, he should also provide the materials for the renewal of the covenant record, and bring them to God, for Him to complete and confirm the record by writing the covenant words upon the tables.

On the following morning, when Moses ascended the mountain, Jehovah granted him the promised manifestation of His glory (Exodus 34:5.). The description of this unparalleled occurrence is in perfect harmony with the mysterious and majestic character of the revelation. "Jehovah descended (from heaven) in the cloud, and stood by him there, and proclaimed the name of Jehovah; and Jehovah passed by in his sight, and proclaimed Jehovah, Jehovah God, merciful and gracious," etc. What Moses saw we are not told, but simply the words in which Jehovah proclaimed all the glory of His being; whilst it is recorded of Moses, that he bowed his head toward the earth and worshipped. This "sermon on the name of the Lord," as Luther calls it, disclosed to Moses the most hidden nature of Jehovah. It proclaimed that God is love, but that kind of love in which mercy, grace, long-suffering, goodness, and truth are united with holiness and justice. As the merciful One, who is great in goodness and truth, Jehovah shows mercy to the thousandth, forgiving sin and iniquity in long-suffering and grace; but He does not leave sin altogether unpunished, and in His justice visits the sin of the fathers upon the children and the children's children even unto the fourth generation. The Lord had already revealed Himself to the whole nation from Mount Sinai as visiting sin and showing mercy (Exodus 20:5.). But whereas on that occasion the burning zeal of Jehovah which visits sin stood in the foreground, and mercy only followed afterwards, here grace, mercy, and goodness are placed in the front. And accordingly all the words which the language contained to express the idea of grace in its varied manifestations to the sinner, are crowded together here, to reveal the fact that in His inmost being God is love. But in order that grace may not be perverted by sinners into a ground of wantonness, justice is not wanting even here with its solemn threatenings, although it only follows mercy, to show that mercy is mightier than wrath, and that holy love does not punish til sinners despise the riches of the goodness, patience, and long-suffering of God. As Jehovah here proclaimed His name, so did He continue to bear witness of it to the Israelites, from their departure from Sinai till their entrance into Canaan, and from that time forward till their dispersion among the heathen, and even now in their exile showing mercy to the thousandth, when they turn to the Redeemer who has come out of Zion.

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