And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which you are shall see the work of the LORD: for it is a terrible thing that I will do with you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)I make a covenant—i.e., “I lay down afresh the terms of the covenant which I am content to make with Israel. I will go with them, and drive out the nations before them (Exodus 34:11), and work miracles on their behalf (Exodus 34:10), and enlarge their borders (Exodus 34:24), and prevent their enemies from desiring their land at the festival seasons (Exodus 34:24); they, on their part, must ‘observe that which I command them this day.’” The “command” given included the moral law, as laid down in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 34:28), and a summary of the chief points contained in the “Book of the Covenant,” which must be regarded as a re-publication and re-authorisation of that book.
Marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth—e.g., the drying up of Jordan (Joshua 3:16-17), the falling down of the walls of Jericho (Joshua 6:20), the destruction of the army of the five kings by hailstones (Joshua 10:11), and the like.Exodus 34:10. Behold I make a covenant — When the covenant was broken, it was Israel that broke it; now it comes to be renewed, it is God that makes it; if there be quarrels, we must bear all the blame; if there be peace, God must have all the glory. Before all thy people I will do marvels — Such as the drying up of Jordan, the causing of the sun to stand still. Marvels indeed, for they were without precedent; and they were the terror of their enemies: it is a terrible thing that I will do.2 Samuel 7:23; Psalm 77:14. Behold, I make a covenant, i.e. I do hereby renew my covenant with thy people which they had violated and voided by their sin. But the shortness of the phrase, there being no mention here of any with whom this covenant is made or renewed, and the following words, make it more probable that this covenant is nothing but a solemn promise or engagement that God will do the thing which here follows. And the word covenant is oft used for a mere promise, as Genesis 9:9, &c.; Leviticus 24:8 Numbers 18:19 25:12.
It is a terrible thing that I will do with thee; either,
1. By thy ministry, as that phrase is sometimes used, as 1 Corinthians 15:10. Or,
2. In the midst of thee, i.e. of thy people, as Exodus 34:11, before thee, i.e. before thy people. This I prefer, because the next verse explains this of such things as were not done by Moses’s ministry, nor in his time, but afterwards.
before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation; both in their passage through the wilderness, and entrance into Canaan's land, and the conquest of that; such as the earth opening its mouth and swallowing alive Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and was a new thing God created; the smiting of the rock at Kadesh, from whence flowed waters abundantly; the healing of such as were bit by fiery serpents through looking at a serpent of brass; Balaam's ass speaking, and reproving the madness of the prophet; the division of the waters of Jordan; the fall of the walls of Jericho at the sound of rams' horns; the sun and moon standing still, until the Lord had avenged himself of his enemies:
and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the Lord; for it should be visible, as the above things were, and plainly appear to be the Lord's doing, and not man's, being above the power of any created being to perform:
for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee; Aben Ezra restrains this to Moses's person, and interprets this of the wonderful shining of the skin of his face, when he came down from the mount, which made the children of Israel afraid to come nigh him; and of his vigorous constitution at the time of his death, when his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated, contrary to the nature of ancient persons: but it is better to understand it of the ministry of Moses, and of the awful things that God would do by him; or rather of the people of Israel, among whom, and for whose sake, God would do such things as should cause a panic among the nations all around them; particularly what he did for them to Og king of Bashan, and Sihon king of the Amorites, on account of which terror fell, as on the king of Moab, so on the inhabitants of Canaan; see Numbers 21:33 Joshua 2:9.And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the LORD: for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)10. Jehovah declares His purpose of concluding a covenant with His people, to be confirmed by wonders of a character to convince all of His power and greatness. The wonders meant are such as those narrated in Numbers 11, 16, 20, 21, &c. The verse, however, is hardly an answer to v. 9, whereas Exodus 33:14 would answer it directly: the conjecture (p. 361) that Exodus 33:14-16 should follow here is thus confirmed.
I make] Heb. am making, i.e. am about to make: the partic. after Behold, as Exodus 7:17, Exodus 8:2, Exodus 19:9, and frequently.
marvels] Exodus 3:20, Joshua 3:5, Jdg 6:13, Psalm 78:4; Psalm 78:11, &c.
wrought] lit. created (marg.), of an event—not, as usually, of a material object—requiring superhuman power to produce it: cf. Numbers 16:30 (RVm.), Jeremiah 31:22, Isaiah 45:7; Isaiah 48:7.
with thee] i.e. in dealing with thee: cf. Deuteronomy 1:30; Deuteronomy 10:21 (also with ‘terrible’): in both these passages ‘for’ is lit. with.
10–28. The (re-)establishment of the covenant, with the laws upon which it is based. The passage belongs in the main to E; but it has probably been enlarged in parts with hortatory additions by the compiler. We have met with some such additions before, in Exodus 20:22 to Exodus 23:33; and they are found elsewhere also in connexion with laws, as in Leviticus 18:1-5; Leviticus 18:24-29; Leviticus 20:22-24 (H), and Deuteronomy 12-26 passim.Verse 10. - I make a covenant - i.e., "I lay down afresh the terms of the covenant between me and Israel." On my part, I will go with them (implied, not expressed), and do miracles for them, and drive out the nations before them (vers. 10, 11), and enlarge their borders, and not allow their land to be invaded at the festival seasons (ver. 24): on their part, they must "observe that which I command them" (ver. 11). Marvels such as have not been done in all the earth. As the drying up of the Jordan (Joshua 3:16, 17); the falling down of the walls of Jericho (Joshua 6:20), the slaughter of the army of the five kings by hailstones (Joshua 10:11), and the like. It is a terrible thing that I will do with thee. Terrible, not to Israel, but to Israel's enemies. Compare Deuteronomy 10:21; Psalm 106:22; Psalm 145:6, etc. 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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