Exodus 34

A deeper revealing of God’s character

1 The LORD said to Moses, "Cut two stone tablets like the first ones. I'll write on these tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke into pieces.
2 Get ready in the morning and come up to Mount Sinai. Stand there on top of the mountain in front of me.
3 No one else can come up with you. Don't allow anyone even to be seen anywhere on the mountain. Don't even let sheep and cattle graze in front of the mountain."
4 So Moses cut two stone tablets like the first ones. He got up early in the morning and climbed up Mount Sinai, just as the LORD had commanded him. He carried the two stone tablets in his hands.
5 The LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him, and proclaimed the name, "The LORD."
6 The LORD passed in front of him and proclaimed: "The LORD! The LORD! a God who is compassionate and merciful, very patient, full of great loyalty and faithfulness,
7 showing great loyalty to a thousand generations, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion, yet by no means clearing the guilty, punishing for their parents' sins their children and their grandchildren, as well as the third and the fourth generation."
8 At once Moses bowed to the ground and worshipped.
9 He said, "If you approve of me, my Lord, please go along with us. Although these are stubborn people, forgive our guilt and our sin and take us as your own possession."

Renewing the broken covenant

10 The LORD said: I now make a covenant. In front of all your people, I'll perform dramatic displays of power that have never been done before anywhere on earth or in any nation. All the people who are around you will see what the LORD does, because I will do an awesome thing with you.
11 Be sure to obey what I command you today. I'm about to drive out before you the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
12 Be careful that you don't make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which you are going, or it will become a dangerous trap for you.
13 You must tear down their altars, smash their sacred stone pillars, and cut down their sacred poles.
14 You must not bow down to another god, because the LORD is passionate: the LORD's name means "a passionate God."
15 Don't make a covenant with those who live in the land. When they prostitute themselves with their gods and sacrifice to their gods, they may invite you and you may end up eating some of the sacrifice.
16 Then you might go and choose their daughters as wives for your sons. And their daughters who prostitute themselves with their gods might lead your sons to prostitute themselves with their gods.
17 Don't make metal gods for yourself.
18 Observe the Festival of Unleavened Bread. You should eat unleavened bread for seven days, as I commanded you, at the set time in the month of Abib, because it was in the month of Abib that you came out of Egypt.
19 Every first offspring is mine. That includes all your male livestock, the oldest offspring of cows and sheep.
20 But a donkey's oldest offspring you may ransom with a sheep. Or if you don't ransom it, you must break its neck. You should ransom all of your oldest sons. No one should appear before me empty-handed.
21 You should do your work for six days, but on the seventh day you should rest. Even during plowing or harvesttime you should rest.
22 You should observe the Festival of Weeks, for the early produce of the wheat harvest, and the Gathering Festival at the end of the year.
23 All your males should appear three times a year before the LORD God, Israel's God.
24 I will drive out nations before you and extend your borders. No one will desire and try to take your land if you go up and appear before the LORD your God three times a year.
25 Don't slaughter the blood of my sacrifice with anything leavened. The sacrifice of the Passover Festival shouldn't be left over until the morning.
26 Bring the best of the early produce of your farmland to the LORD your God's temple. Don't boil a young goat in its mother's milk.
27 The LORD said to Moses: "Write down these words because by these words I hereby make a covenant with you and with Israel."
28 Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights. He didn't eat any bread or drink any water. He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the ten words.

Moses’ brightly shining face

29 Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two covenant tablets in his hand, Moses didn't realize that the skin of his face shone brightly because he had been talking with God.
30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw the skin of Moses' face shining brightly, they were afraid to come near him.
31 But Moses called them closer. So Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and Moses spoke with them.
32 After that, all the Israelites came near as well, and Moses commanded them everything that the LORD had spoken with him on Mount Sinai.
33 When Moses finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face.
34 Whenever Moses went into the LORD's presence to speak with him, Moses would take the veil off until he came out again. When Moses came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded,
35 the Israelites would see that the skin of Moses' face was shining brightly. So Moses would put the veil on his face again until the next time he went in to speak with the LORD.

Images for Exodus 34

Exodus 34 Commentary

Chapter 34

The tables of the law renewed. (1-4) The name of the Lord proclaimed, The entreaty of Moses. (5-9) God's covenant. (10-17) The festivals. (18-27) The vail of Moses. (28-35)

Verses 1-4 When God made man in his own image, the moral law was written in his heart, by the finger of God, without outward means. But since the covenant then made with man was broken, the Lord has used the ministry of men, both in writing the law in the Scriptures, and in writing it in the heart. When God was reconciled to the Israelites, he ordered the tables to be renewed, and wrote his law in them. Even under the gospel of peace by Christ, the moral law continues to bind believers. Though Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, yet not from the commands of it. The first and the best evidence of the pardon of sin, and peace with God, is the writing the law in the heart.

Verses 5-9 The Lord descended by some open token of his presence and manifestation of his glory in a cloud, and thence proclaimed his NAME; that is, the perfections and character which are denoted by the name JEHOVAH. The Lord God is merciful; ready to forgive the sinner, and to relieve the needy. Gracious; kind, and ready to bestow undeserved benefits. Long-suffering; slow to anger, giving time for repentance, only punishing when it is needful. He is abundant in goodness and truth; even sinners receive the riches of his bounty abundantly, though they abuse them. All he reveals is infallible truth, all he promises is in faithfulness. Keeping mercy for thousands; he continually shows mercy to sinners, and has treasures, which cannot be exhausted, to the end of time. Forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin; his mercy and goodness reach to the full and free forgiveness of sin. And will by no means clear the guilty; the holiness and justice of God are part of his goodness and love towards all his creatures. In Christ's sufferings, the Divine holiness and justice are fully shown, and the evil of sin is made known. God's forgiving mercy is always attended by his converting, sanctifying grace. None are pardoned but those who repent and forsake the allowed practice of every sin; nor shall any escape, who abuse, neglect, or despise this great salvation. Moses bowed down, and worshipped reverently. Every perfection in the name of God, the believer may plead with Him for the forgiveness of his sins, the making holy of his heart, and the enlargement of the Redeemer's kingdom.

Verses 10-17 The Israelites are commanded to destroy every monument of idolatry, however curious or costly; to refuse all alliance, friendship, or marriage with idolaters, and all idolatrous feasts; and they were reminded not with idolaters, and all idolatrous feats; and they were reminded not to repeat the crime of making molten images. Jealously is called the rage of a man, ( Proverbs 6:34 ) ; but in God it is holy and just displeasure. Those cannot worship God aright, who do not worship him only.

Verses 18-27 Once a week they must rest, even in ploughing time, and in harvest. All worldly business must give way to that holy rest; even harvest work will prosper the better, for the religious observance of the sabbath day in harvest time. We must show that we prefer our communion with God, and our duty to him, before the business or the joy of harvest. Thrice a year they must appear before the Lord God, the God of Israel. Canaan was a desirable land, and the neighbouring nations were greedy; yet God says, They shall not desire it. Let us check all sinful desires against God and his glory, in our hearts, and then trust him to check all sinful desires in the hearts of others against us. The way of duty is the way of safety. Those who venture for him never lose by him. Three feasts are here mentioned: 1. The Passover, in remembrance of the deliverance out of Egypt. 2. The feast of weeks, or the feast of Pentecost; added to it is the law of the first-fruits. 3. The feast of in-gathering, or the feast of Tabernacles. Moses is to write these words, that the people might know them better. We can never be enough thankful to God for the written word. God would make a covenant with Israel, in Moses as a mediator. Thus the covenant of grace is made with believers through Christ.

Verses 28-35 Near and spiritual communion with God improves the graces of a renewed and holy character. Serious godliness puts a lustre upon a man's countenance, such as commands esteem and affection. The vail which Moses put on, marked the obscurity of that dispensation, compared with the gospel dispensation of the New Testament. It was also an emblem of the natural vail on the hearts of men respecting spiritual things. Also the vail that was and is upon the nation of Israel, which can only be taken away by the Spirit of the Lord showing to them Christ, as the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. Fear and unbelief would put the vail before us, they would hinder our free approach to the mercy-seat above. We should spread our wants, temporal and spiritual, fully before our heavenly Father; we should tell him our hinderances, struggles, trails, and temptations; we should acknowledge our offences.

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. LXX; MT adds my Lord.
  • [b]. March–April, named Nisan after the exile

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO EXODUS 34

In this chapter Moses has orders to hew two tables of stone, that God might write on them the ten commands, and bring them up with him to the mount, Ex 34:1-4 where the Lord proclaimed his name, and caused his glory and his goodness to pass before him, Ex 34:5-7 when Moses took this favourable opportunity that offered to pray for the people, that God would forgive their sin, and go along with them, Ex 34:8,9 upon which he made a covenant with them, which on his part was to do wonders for them, and drive out the inhabitants of Canaan before them; and on their part, that they should have no confederacy and communion with these nations, and shun their idolatry, and everything that might lead unto it, Ex 34:10-17 and he repeated several laws before given, and urged the observance of them, which Moses was to acquaint the people with, Ex 34:18-27 and after a stay of forty days and forty nights on the mount, he came down with the two tables of the law; and the skin of his face shone so bright, that the people of Israel were afraid to come nigh him, and therefore he put a vail over his face while he conversed with them, Ex 34:28-35.

Exodus 34 Commentaries