And the people stood afar off
Still kept their distance in their camp and tents; or the heads and elders of the people having had this conversation with Moses, returned to their tents as they were bid, ( Deuteronomy 5:30 ) and to the people in the camp, and there they continued while Moses went up to God with their request:
and Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was;
the thick cloud, ( Exodus 19:9 Exodus 19:16 ) as Jarchi interprets it, and who observes from their doctors that there were three enclosures about the divine Majesty, darkness, a cloud, and thick darkness; and so Moses passed through the darkness, and the cloud, to the thick darkness where Jehovah was, and where he is said to dwell when the temple was built, ( 1 Kings 8:8-12 ) and they have an observation that the word rendered "drew near" is transitive, and should be translated, "he was brought near" or, "made to draw nigh"; Michael and Gabriel being sent to him, took hold of his hands and brought him against his will unto the thick darkness F18; but if the word will admit of such a version, the sense is either that he was caused to draw near through the importunity of the people; or rather through the call of God to him, or an impulse of his upon his mind, which obliged him to it.
F18 Pirke Eliezer, c. 41.