English Standard Version
The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
King James Bible
And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,
American Standard Version
And Jehovah passed by before him, and proclaimed, Jehovah, Jehovah, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness and truth,
And when he passed before him, he said: O the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, patient and of much compassion, and true,
English Revised Version
And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, the LORD, a God full of compassion and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy and truth;
Webster's Bible Translation
And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.
Exodus 34:6 Parallel
CommentaryKeil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament
Moses was emboldened by this, and now prayed to the Lord, "Let me see Thy glory." What Moses desired to see, as the answer of God clearly shows, must have been something surpassing all former revelations of the glory of Jehovah (Exodus 16:7, Exodus 16:10; Exodus 24:16-17), and even going beyond Jehovah's talking with him face to face (Exodus 33:11). When God talked with him face to face, or mouth to mouth, he merely saw a "similitude of Jehovah" (Numbers 12:8), a form which rendered the invisible being of God visible to the human eye, i.e., a manifestation of the divine glory in a certain form, and not the direct or essential glory of Jehovah, whilst the people saw this glory under the veil of a dark cloud, rendered luminous by fire, that is to say, they only saw its splendour as it shone through the cloud; and even the elders, at the time when the covenant was made, only saw the God of Israel in a certain form which hid from their eyes the essential being of God (Exodus 24:10-11). What Moses desired, therefore, was a sight of the glory or essential being of God, without any figure, and without a veil.
Moses was urged to offer this prayer, as Calvin truly says, not by "stulta curiositas, quae ut plurimum titillat hominum mentes, ut audacter penetrare tentent usque ad ultima caelorum arcana," but by "a desire to cross the chasm which had been made by the apostasy of the nation, that for the future he might have a firmer footing than the previous history had given him. As so great a stress had been laid upon his own person in his present task of mediation between the offended Jehovah and the apostate nation, he felt that the separation, which existed between himself and Jehovah, introduced a disturbing element into his office. For if his own personal fellowship with Jehovah was not fully established, and raised above all possibility of disturbance, there could be no eternal foundation for the perpetuity of his mediation" (Baumgarten). As a man called by God to be His servant, he was not yet the perfect mediator; but although he was faithful in all his house, it was only as a servant, called εἰς μαρτύριον τῶν λαληθησομένων (Hebrews 3:5), i.e., as a herald of the saving revelations of God, preparing the way for the coming of the perfect Mediator. Jehovah therefore granted his request, but only so far as the limit existing between the infinite and holy God and finite and sinful man allowed. "I will make all My goodness pass before thy face, and proclaim the name of Jehovah before thee (בּשׁם קרא see at Genesis 4:26), and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. Thou canst not see My face, for man cannot see Me and live." The words וגו וחנּתי, although only connected with the previous clause by the cop. ו, are to be understood in a causative sense, as expressing the reason why Moses' request was granted, viz., that it was an act of unconditional grace and compassion on the part of God, to which no man, not even Moses, could lay any just claim. The apostle Paul uses the words in the same sense in Romans 9:15, for the purpose of overthrowing the claims of self-righteous Jews to participate in the Messianic salvation. - No mortal man can see the face of God and remain alive; for not only is the holy God a consuming fire to unholy man, but a limit has been set, in and with the σῶμα χοΐκόν and ψυχικόν (the earthly and psychical body) of man, between the infinite God, the absolute Spirit, and the human spirit clothed in an earthly body, which will only be removed by the "redemption of our body," and our being clothed in a "spiritual body," and which, so long as it lasts, renders a direct sight of the glory of God impossible. As our bodily eye is dazzled, and its power of vision destroyed, by looking directly at the brightness of the sun, so would our whole nature be destroyed by an unveiled sight of the brilliancy of the glory of God. So long as we are clothed with this body, which was destined, indeed, from the very first to be transformed into the glorified state of the immortality of the spirit, but has become through the fall a prey to the corruption of death, we can only walk in faith, and only see God with the eye of faith, so far as He has revealed His glory to us in His works and His word. When we have become like God, and have been transformed into the "divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4), then, and not till then, shall we see Him as He is; then we shall see His glory without a veil, and live before Him for ever. For this reason Moses had to content himself with the passing by of the glory of God before his face, and with the revelation of the name of Jehovah through the medium of the word, in which God discloses His inmost being, and, so to speak, His whole heart to faith. In Exodus 33:22 "My glory" is used for "all My goodness," and in Exodus 34:6 it is stated that Jehovah passed by before the face of Moses. טוּב is not to be understood in the sense of beautiful, or beauty, but signifies goodness; not the brilliancy which strikes the senses, but the spiritual and ethical nature of the Divine Being. For the manifestation of Jehovah, which passed before Moses, was intended unquestionably to reveal nothing else than what Jehovah expressed in the proclamation of His name.
The manifested glory of the Lord would so surely be followed by the destruction of man, that even Moses needed to be protected before it (Exodus 33:21, Exodus 33:22). Whilst Jehovah, therefore, allowed him to come to a place upon the rock near Him, i.e., upon the summit of Sinai (Exodus 34:2), He said that He would put him in a cleft of the rock whilst He was passing by, and cover him with His hand when He had gone by, that he might see His back, because His face could not be seen. The back, as contrasted with the face, signifies the reflection of the glory of God that had just passed by. The words are transferred anthropomorphically from man to God, because human language and human thought can only conceive of the nature of the absolute Spirit according to the analogy of the human form. As the inward nature of man manifests itself in his face, and the sight of his back gives only an imperfect and outward view of him, so Moses saw only the back and not the face of Jehovah. It is impossible to put more into human words concerning this unparalleled vision, which far surpasses all human thought and comprehension. According to Exodus 34:2, the place where Moses stood by the Lord was at the top (the head) of Sinai, and no more can be determined with certainty concerning it. The cleft in the rock (Exodus 33:22) has been supposed by some to be the same place as the "cave" in which Elijah lodged at Horeb, and where the Lord appeared to him in the still small voice (1 Kings 19:9.). The real summit of the Jebel Musa consists of "a small area of huge rocks, about 80 feet in diameter," upon which there is now a chapel that has almost fallen down, and about 40 feet to the south-west a dilapidated mosque (Robinson, Palestine, vol. i. p. 153). Below this mosque, according to Seetzen (Reise iii. pp. 83, 84), there is a very small grotto, into which you descend by several steps, and to which a large block of granite, about a fathom and a half long and six spans in height, serves as a roof. According to the Mussulman tradition, which the Greek monks also accept, it was in this small grotto that Moses received the law; though other monks point out a "hole, just large enough for a man," near the altar of the Elijah chapel, on the small plain upon the ridge of Sinai, above which the loftier peak rises about 700 feet, as the cave in which Elijah lodged on Horeb (Robinson, Pal. ut supra).
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me,
for that is his only covering, and it is his cloak for his body; in what else shall he sleep? And if he cries to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.
And he said, "I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name 'The LORD.' And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.
The LORD is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.'
For the LORD your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them.
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ESV Text Edition: 2016. The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.