Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
And he said unto Moses, Come up unto the LORD, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off.
Ex 24:1-18. Delivery of the Law and Covenant.
And Moses alone shall come near the LORD: but they shall not come nigh; neither shall the people go up with him.
And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do.
3, 4. Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord—The rehearsal of the foregoing laws and the ten commandments, together with the promises of special blessings in the event of their obedience, having drawn forth from the people a unanimous declaration of their consent, it was forthwith recorded as the conditions of the national covenant. The next day preparations were made for having it (the covenant) solemnly ratified, by building an altar and twelve pillars; the altar representing God, and the pillars the tribes of Israel—the two parties in this solemn compact—while Moses acted as typical mediator.
And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel.
And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the LORD.
5. young men—priests (Ex 19:22), probably the oldest sons of particular families, who acted under the direction of Moses.
oxen—Other animals, though not mentioned, were offered in sacrifice (Heb 9:18-20).
And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar.
6. Moses took half of the blood … sprinkled—Preliminary to this was the public reading of the law and the renewed acceptance of the terms by the people; then the sprinkling of the blood was the sign of solemn ratification—half on each party in the transaction.
And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient.
And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words.
8. Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people—probably on the twelve pillars, as representing the people (also the book, Heb 9:19), and the act was accompanied by a public proclamation of its import. It was setting their seal to the covenant (compare 1Co 11:25). It must have been a deeply impressive, as well as instructive scene, for it taught the Israelites that the covenant was made with them only through the sprinkling of blood—that the divine acceptance of themselves and services, was only by virtue of an atoning sacrifice, and that even the blessings of the national covenant were promised and secured to them only through grace. The ceremonial, however, had a further and higher significance, as is shown by the apostle (see as above).
Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel:
9. Then went up Moses, and Aaron—in obedience to a command given (Ex 24:1, 2; also Ex 19:24), previous to the religious engagement of the people, now described.
Nadab, and Abihu—the two oldest sons of Aaron [Ex 6:23].
seventy of the elders—a select number; what was the principle of selection is not said; but they were the chief representatives, the most conspicuous for official rank and station, as well as for their probity and weight of character in their respective tribes.
And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.
10. And they saw the God of Israel—That there was no visible form or representation of the divine nature, we have expressly intimated (De 4:15). But a symbol or emblem of His glory was distinctly, and at a distance, displayed before those chosen witnesses. Many think, however, that in this private scene was discovered, amid the luminous blaze, the faint adumbrated form of the humanity of Christ (Eze 1:26; compare Ga 3:24).
sapphire—one of the most valuable and lustrous of the precious gems—of a sky-blue or light azure color and frequently chosen to describe the throne of God (see Eze 1:26; 10:1).
And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.
11. upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand—The "nobles," that is, the elders, after the sprinkling of the blood, were not inspired with terror in presence of the calm, benign, radiant symbol of the divine majesty; so different from the terrific exhibitions at the giving of the law. The report of so many competent witnesses would tend to confirm the people's faith in the divine mission of Moses.
eat and drink—feasted on the peace offering—on the remnants of the late sacrifices and libations. This feast had a prophetic bearing, intimating God's dwelling with men.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them.
12. I will give thee tables of stone—The ten commandments, which had already been spoken, were to be given in a permanent form. Inscribed on stone, for greater durability, by the hand of God Himself, they were thus authenticated and honored above the judicial or ceremonial parts of the law.
And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God.
13. Moses went up into the mount of God—He was called to receive the divine transcript. Joshua was taken a little higher, and it would be a great comfort for the leader to have his company during the six days he was in patient waiting for the call on the seventh or sabbath day.
And he said unto the elders, Tarry ye here for us, until we come again unto you: and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you: if any man have any matters to do, let him come unto them.
14. he said unto the elders, Tarry ye here for us—There is a circular valley or hollow a good way up on the brow of Jebel Musa, which was their halting place, while he alone was privileged to ascend the highest peak. The people stood below, as in the "outer court," the elders in the "holy place," Moses, as a type of Christ, in "the holy of holies."
And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount.
And the glory of the LORD abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud.
And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.
And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.
18. Moses went into the midst of the cloud—the visible token of God's presence. Divine grace animated and supported him to enter with holy boldness.
Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights—The six days spent in waiting are not included. During that protracted period he was miraculously supported (De 9:9), on a peak scarcely thirty paces in compass.