Exodus 33:1-23 . THE LORD REFUSES TO GO WITH THE PEOPLE.
7. Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp--Not the tabernacle, of which a pattern had been given him, for it was not yet erected, but his own tent--conspicuous as that of the leader--in a part of which he heard cases and communed with God about the people's interests; hence called "the tabernacle of the congregation," and the withdrawal of which, in abhorrence from a polluted camp, was regarded as the first step in the total abandonment with which God had threatened them.
8. all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door--Its removal produced deep and universal consternation; and it is easy to conceive how anxiously all eyes would be directed towards it; how rapidly the happy intelligence would spread, when a phenomenon was witnessed from which an encouraging hope could be founded.
9-11. the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle--How would the downcast hearts of the people revive--how would the tide of joy swell in every bosom, when the symbolic cloud was seen slowly and majestically to descend and stand at the entrance of the tabernacle!
as Moses entered--It was when he appeared as their mediator, when he repaired from day to day to intercede for them, that welcome token of assurance was given that his advocacy prevailed, that Israel's sin was forgiven, and that God would again be gracious.
18-23. I beseech thee, show me thy glory--This is one of the most mysterious scenes described in the Bible: he had, for his comfort and encouragement, a splendid and full display of the divine majesty, not in its unveiled effulgence, but as far as the weakness of humanity would admit. The face, hand, back parts, are to be understood figuratively.