Exodus 33:23
Parallel Verses
New International Version
Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen."

King James Bible
And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.

Darby Bible Translation
And I will take away my hand, and thou shalt see me from behind; but my face shall not be seen.

World English Bible
then I will take away my hand, and you will see my back; but my face shall not be seen."

Young's Literal Translation
and I have turned aside My hands, and thou hast seen My back parts, and My face is not seen.'

Exodus 33:23 Parallel
Commentary
Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

Behold, there is a place by me - There seems to be a reference here to a well-known place on the mount where God was accustomed to meet with Moses. This was a rock; and it appears there was a cleft or cave in it, in which Moses was to stand while the Divine Majesty was pleased to show him all that human nature was capable of bearing: but this appears to have referred more to the counsels of his mercy and goodness, relative to his purpose of redeeming the human race, than to any visible appearance of the Divine Majesty itself. See Clarke on Exodus 33:18 (note).

1. The conclusion of this chapter is very obscure: we can scarcely pretend to say, in any precise manner, what it means; and it is very probable that the whole concerned Moses alone. He was in great perplexity and doubt; he was afraid that God was about to abandon this people; and he well knew that if he did so, their destruction must be the consequence. He had received general directions to decamp, and lead the people towards the promised land; but this was accompanied with a threat that Jehovah would not go with them. The prospect that was before him was exceedingly gloomy and discouraging; and it was rendered the more so because God predicted their persevering stiffneckedness, and gave this as one reason why he would not go up among them, for their provocations would be so great and so frequent that his justice would be so provoked as to break through in a moment and consume them. Moses, well knowing that God must have some great and important designs in delivering them and bringing them thus far, earnestly entreated him to give him some discovery of it, that his own mind might be satisfied. God mercifully condescends to meet his wishes in such a way as no doubt gave him full satisfaction; but as this referred to himself alone the circumstances are not related, as probably they could be of no farther use to us than the mere gratifying of a principle of curiosity.

2. On some occasions to be kept in the dark is as instructive as to be brought into the light. In many cases those words of the prophet are strictly applicable. Verily, thou art a God, who Hidest Thyself, O God of Israel, the Savior! One point we see here very plainly, that while the people continued obstinate and rebellious, that presence of God by which his approbation was signified could not be manifested among them; and yet, without his presence to guide, protect, and provide for them, they could neither go up nor be saved. This presence is promised, and on the fulfillment of the promise the safety of Israel depended. The Church of God is often now in such a state that the approbation of God cannot be manifested in it; and yet if his presence were wholly withdrawn, truth would fall in the streets, equity go backward, and the Church must become extinct. How have the seeds of light and life been preserved during the long, dark, and cold periods when error was triumphant, and the pure worship of God adulterated by the impurities of idolatry and the thick darkness of superstition, by the presence of his endless mercy, preserving his own truth in circumstances in which he could not show his approbation! He was with the Church in the wilderness, and preserved the living oracles, kept alive the heavenly seeds, and is now showing forth the glory of those designs which before he concealed from mankind. He cannot err because he is infinitely wise; he can do nothing that is unkind, because he delighteth in mercy. We, as yet, see only through a glass darkly; by and by we shall see face to face. The Lord's presence is with his people; and those who trust in him have confident rest in his mercy.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

thou shalt

Exodus 33:20 And he said, You can not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

Job 11:7 Can you by searching find out God? can you find out the Almighty to perfection?

Job 26:14 See, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of his power who can understand?

John 1:18 No man has seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him.

1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

1 Timothy 6:16 Who only has immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach to; whom no man has seen, nor can see...

Library
The Mediator's Threefold Prayer
'And Moses said unto the Lord, See, Thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and Thou hast not let me know whom Thou wilt send with me. Yet Thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in My sight. 13. Now therefore, I pray Thee, if I have found grace in Thy sight, show me now Thy way, that I may know Thee, that I may find grace in Thy sight: and consider that this nation is Thy people. 14. And He said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. 15. And he
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

A view of God's Glory
THAT WAS A large request to make. He could not have asked for more: "I beseech thee, show me thy glory." Why, it is the greatest petition that man ever asked of God. It seems to me the greatest stretch of faith that I have either heard or read of. It was great faith which made Abraham go into the plain to offer up intercession for a guilty city like Sodom. It was vast faith which enabled Jacob to grasp the angel; it was mighty faith which enabled Elijah to rend the heavens and fetch down rain from
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 54: 1908

Moses the Type of Christ.
"The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto Him ye shall hearken."--Deut. xviii. 15. The history of Moses is valuable to Christians, not only as giving us a pattern of fidelity towards God, of great firmness, and great meekness, but also as affording us a type or figure of our Saviour Christ. No prophet arose in Israel like Moses, till Christ came, when the promise in the text was fulfilled--"The Lord thy God," says Moses, "shall
John Henry Newman—Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. VII

"Behold Your God!"
In Isaiah's day the spiritual understanding of mankind was dark through misapprehension of God. Long had Satan sought to lead men to look upon their Creator as the author of sin and suffering and death. Those whom he had thus deceived, imagined that God was hard and exacting. They regarded Him as watching to denounce and condemn, unwilling to receive the sinner so long as there was a legal excuse for not helping him. The law of love by which heaven is ruled had been misrepresented by the archdeceiver
Ellen Gould White—The Story of Prophets and Kings

Cross References
John 1:18
No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

Exodus 33:20
But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live."

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