Ex 34:1-35. The Tables Are
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
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.
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.
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).
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.
6. the Lord passed by before him—in this
remarkable scene, God performed what He had promised to Moses the day
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"
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
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.
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
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).
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).
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
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.
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).