And the Lord said unto Moses
As the Targum of Jonathan, on the third day; though Jarchi says the fourth; which seems not so well to agree with his words on the preceding verse, since it seems to be at the same time that Moses returned the words of the people to the Lord, that he said what follows to him:
lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud;
which was different from the pillar of cloud in which he went before the people, and now stood in it on the top of the mount; for he speaks not now of his present appearance to Moses, but of his appearance on the mount three days after; wherefore the Septuagint version wrongly renders it, "in a pillar of cloud": there were appearances of the divine Majesty in a cloud frequently afterwards, both in the Old and New Testament, see ( Exodus 40:34 ) ( 1 Kings 8:10 1 Kings 8:11 ) ( Matthew 17:5 ) and so Christ, the mighty Angel, is said to be clothed with a cloud, ( Revelation 10:1 ) . And from such appearances as these, the Heathens have represented their deities, as Apollo F11, Venus F12, Juno F13, and others, coming in a cloud, or clothed with one:
that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for
they had believed Moses already, particularly at the Red sea, when they saw what was done there, but afterwards, as it seems, returned to their unbelief again; but now, as they would be eyewitnesses of the cloud in which the Lord would appear to Moses, so they would be ear witnesses of what he said to him; for though the cloud was a thick one in which he came, so that they could not see any similitude, any likeness at all, not so much as a brightness, a shining glory, as they had seen in the pillar of cloud, see ( Exodus 16:7 Exodus 16:10 ) , yet, the voice of God out of it was so loud, when he spoke with Moses, that this vast body of people being placed around, at the lower part of the mount, heard plainly and distinctly all that was said; so that they were sure they were not imposed upon by Moses, but that the law he delivered to them was from God, since they heard it with their own ears; and therefore they and their posterity believed it for ever, and never entertained the least distrust of the divinity and authority of it. This case was widely different from that of Numa or Mahomet, the one pretending to receive instructions from the goddess Egeria, and the other from the angel Gabriel; but all depended upon their own word, none were, nor did they pretend that any were eye or ear witnesses of what they declared; but such was the case here:
and Moses told the words of the people unto the Lord;
the same which he is said to return to him in the preceding verse, and here repeated for the confirmation of it, and to lead on to what the Lord had to say further concerning them.
F11 "Nnbe et candentes humeros amictus Augur Apollo. -----" Horat. Carmin. l. 1. ode 2.
F12 "Et Venus aethereos inter dea candida nimbos Dona ferens aderat ----". Virgil. Aeneid, l. 8. "prope finem". "Hoc Venus obscuro faciem circumdata nimbo Detulit. ----" Virgil. Aeneid, l. 12.
F13 "Agens hyemem nimbo succincta, per auras ----". Ib. Aeneid. 10.