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Exodus 20:18

18 When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance

Read Exodus 20:18 Using Other Translations

And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.
Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off
When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the ram’s horn, and when they saw the flashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear.

What does Exodus 20:18 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Exodus 20:18

And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings,
&c.] That is, they heard the one, and saw the other; they heard the dreadful volleys of thunder, and saw the amazing flashes of lightning, which were like lamps and torches, as the word used signifies; by a communication of senses, one sense is put for another, and the sense of sight being the principal, as Ben Melech observes, it is put for the rest, and so in the following. It is an observation of Austin's F15 that to "see" is used of all of the five senses, seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and feeling:

and the noise the trumpet, and the mountain smoking:
they the sound of the trumpet, which made them tremble and saw the mountain all in a smoke, which made it look very terrible. Though the words may be rendered, as they are by some, "they perceived the thunders" F16; had a sensible perception of them with their eyes ears, which greatly affected them, and made strong impressions upon their minds, and filled them with fear and dread:

and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off;
their minds were not only terrified and distressed, and their bodies shook with fear; but they could not stand their ground, but were obliged to retreat, who but just before were curious to draw near, and gaze and see what they could, to prevent which bounds were set; but now these were needless, what they saw and heard were sufficient to keep them at a distance, nay, obliged them to quit their places; they were at the lower part of the mount before, and now they removed a good way from it, even to their camp, and to their tents in it, see ( Deuteronomy 5:30 ) . The Targum of Jonathan says, they removed twelve miles; and so Jarchi, who observes, that this was according to the length of their camp.


FOOTNOTES:

F15 Confess. l. 10. c. 35.
F16 (Myar) "percipiebant", Junius & Tremellius, "intelligebant"; so some in Drusius.
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