Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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.
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.
And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to me in the top of the mount.
2. present thyself … to me in the top of the mount—Not absolutely the highest peak; for as the cloud of the Shekinah usually abode on the summit, and yet (Ex 34:5) it "descended," the plain inference is that Moses was to station himself at a point not far distant, but still below the loftiest pinnacle.
And no man shall come up with thee, neither let any man be seen throughout all the mount; neither let the flocks nor herds feed before that mount.
3. no man shall come up with thee … neither … flocks nor herds—All these enactments were made in order that the law might be a second time renewed with the solemnity and sanctity that marked its first delivery. The whole transaction was ordered so as to impress the people with an awful sense of the holiness of God; and that it was a matter of no trifling moment to have subjected Him, so to speak, to the necessity of re-delivering the law of the ten commandments.
And he hewed two tables of stone like unto the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone.
4. Moses … took in his hand the two tables of stone—As Moses had no attendant to divide the labor of carrying them, it is evident that they must have been light, and of no great dimensions—probably flat slabs of shale or slate, such as abound in the mountainous region of Horeb. An additional proof of their comparatively small size appears in the circumstance of their being deposited in the ark of the most holy place (Ex 25:10).
And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.
5. the Lord descended in the cloud—After graciously hovering over the tabernacle, it seems to have resumed its usual position on the summit of the mount. It was the shadow of God manifest to the outward senses; and, at the same time, of God manifest in the flesh. The emblem of a cloud seems to have been chosen to signify that, although He was pleased to make known much about himself, there was more veiled from mortal view. It was to check presumption and engender awe and give a humble sense of human attainments in divine knowledge, as now man sees, but darkly.
And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,
6. the Lord passed by before him—in this remarkable scene, God performed what He had promised to Moses the day before.
proclaimed, The Lord … merciful and gracious—At an earlier period He had announced Himself to Moses, in the glory of His self-existent and eternal majesty, as "I am" [Ex 3:14]; now He makes Himself known in the glory of His grace and goodness—attributes that were to be illustriously displayed in the future history and experience of the church. Being about to republish His law—the sin of the Israelites being forgiven and the deed of pardon about to be signed and sealed by renewing the terms of the former covenant—it was the most fitting time to proclaim the extent of the divine mercy which was to be displayed, not in the case of Israel only, but of all who offend.
Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.
And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped.
8-26. Moses bowed … and worshipped—In the East, people bow the head to royalty, and are silent when it passes by, while in the West, they take off their hats and shout.
And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance.
9, 10. he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us—On this proclamation, he, in the overflowing benevolence of s heart, founded an earnest petition for the Divine Presence being continued with the people; and God was pleased to give His favorable answer to Moses' intercession by a renewal of His promise under the form of a covenant, repeating the leading points that formed the conditions of the former national compact.
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.
Observe thou that which I command thee this day: behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite.
Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee:
But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves:
For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:
Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice;
And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.
Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.
The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee, in the time of the month Abib: for in the month Abib thou camest out from Egypt.
All that openeth the matrix is mine; and every firstling among thy cattle, whether ox or sheep, that is male.
But the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb: and if thou redeem him not, then shalt thou break his neck. All the firstborn of thy sons thou shalt redeem. And none shall appear before me empty.
Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest.
And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year's end.
Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord GOD, the God of Israel.
For I will cast out the nations before thee, and enlarge thy borders: neither shall any man desire thy land, when thou shalt go up to appear before the LORD thy God thrice in the year.
Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven; neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto the morning.
The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.
27, 28. And the Lord said unto Moses, Write thou these words—that is, the ceremonial and judicial injunctions comprehended above (Ex 34:11-26); while the rewriting of the ten commandments on the newly prepared slabs was done by God Himself (compare De 10:1-4).
And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.
28. he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights—as long as formerly [Ex 24:18], being sustained for the execution of his special duties by the miraculous power of God. A special cause is assigned for his protracted fast on this second occasion (De 9:18).
And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.
29. Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him—It was an intimation of the exalted presence into which he had been admitted and of the glory he had witnessed (2Co 3:18); and in that view, it was a badge of his high office as the ambassador of God. No testimonial needed to be produced. He bore his credentials on his very face; and whether this extraordinary effulgence was a permanent or merely temporary distinction, it cannot be doubted that this reflected glory was given him as an honor before all the people.
And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.
30. they were afraid to come nigh him—Their fear arose from a sense of guilt—the beaming radiance of his countenance made him appear to their awe-struck consciences a flaming minister of heaven.
And Moses called unto them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned unto him: and Moses talked with them.
And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh: and he gave them in commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him in mount Sinai.
And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face.
33. he put a veil on his face—That veil was with the greatest propriety removed when speaking with the Lord, for every one appears unveiled to the eye of Omniscience; but it was replaced on returning to the people—and this was emblematic of the dark and shadowy character of that dispensation (2Co 3:13, 14).
But when Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he took the vail off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded.
And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone: and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him.