Exodus 34

The New Stone Tablets

1 The LORD said to Moses, “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke.
2 Be ready in the morning, and then come up on Mount Sinai. Present yourself to me there on top of the mountain.
3 No one is to come with you or be seen anywhere on the mountain; not even the flocks and herds may graze in front of the mountain.”
4 So Moses chiseled out two stone tablets like the first ones and went up Mount Sinai early in the morning, as the LORD had commanded him; and he carried the two stone tablets in his hands.
5 Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD.
6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,
7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”
8 Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped.
9 “Lord,” he said, “if I have found favor in your eyes, then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance.”
10 Then the LORD said: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the LORD, will do for you.
11 Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.
12 Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you.
13 Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles.[a]
14 Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
15 “Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices.
16 And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same.
17 “Do not make any idols.
18 “Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread. For seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Aviv, for in that month you came out of Egypt.
19 “The first offspring of every womb belongs to me, including all the firstborn males of your livestock, whether from herd or flock.
20 Redeem the firstborn donkey with a lamb, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem all your firstborn sons. “No one is to appear before me empty-handed.
21 “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.
22 “Celebrate the Festival of Weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, and the Festival of Ingathering at the turn of the year.[b]
23 Three times a year all your men are to appear before the Sovereign LORD, the God of Israel.
24 I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your territory, and no one will covet your land when you go up three times each year to appear before the LORD your God.
25 “Do not offer the blood of a sacrifice to me along with anything containing yeast, and do not let any of the sacrifice from the Passover Festival remain until morning.
26 “Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the LORD your God. “Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.”
27 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.”
28 Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments.

The Radiant Face of Moses

29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD.
30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him.
31 But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them.
32 Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands the LORD had given him on Mount Sinai.
33 When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face.
34 But whenever he entered the LORD’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded,
35 they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the LORD.

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.

Cross References 70

  • 1. S Exodus 24:12
  • 2. Deuteronomy 10:2,4
  • 3. S Exodus 32:19
  • 4. S Exodus 19:11
  • 5. S Exodus 19:13; Ex 19:12-13,21
  • 6. Deuteronomy 10:3
  • 7. S Exodus 32:15
  • 8. S Exodus 13:21; S Exodus 19:9
  • 9. Exodus 6:3; Exodus 33:19
  • 10. S Exodus 22:27; S Numbers 14:20; S Psalms 86:15
  • 11. Numbers 14:18; Psalms 78:38; Jeremiah 15:15; Romans 2:4
  • 12. S Genesis 19:16; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalms 103:8; Joel 2:13
  • 13. Psalms 61:7; Psalms 108:4; Psalms 115:1; Psalms 138:2; Psalms 143:1; Lamentations 3:23; James 5:11
  • 14. S Exodus 20:6; Deuteronomy 5:10
  • 15. 1 Kings 8:30; Psalms 86:5; Psalms 103:3; Psalms 130:4,8; Isaiah 43:25; Daniel 9:9; 1 John 1:9
  • 16. Exodus 23:7; Joshua 24:19; Job 7:20-21; Job 9:28; Job 10:14; Micah 6:1-16; Nahum 1:3
  • 17. S Exodus 20:5
  • 18. Exodus 33:13; Numbers 11:15
  • 19. S Exodus 33:15
  • 20. Exodus 32:9
  • 21. Numbers 14:19; 1 Kings 8:30; 2 Chronicles 6:21; Psalms 19:12; Psalms 25:11; Jeremiah 33:8; Hosea 14:2
  • 22. S Exodus 6:7; Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 4:20; Deuteronomy 7:6; Deuteronomy 9:26,29; Deuteronomy 14:2; Deuteronomy 26:18; Deuteronomy 32:9; 1 Samuel 10:1; 2 Samuel 14:16; 1 Kings 8:51,53; Psalms 28:9; Psalms 33:12; Psalms 74:2; Psalms 79:1; Psalms 94:14; Psalms 106:5,40; Isaiah 19:25; Isaiah 63:17; Jeremiah 10:16; Jeremiah 51:19; Micah 7:18; Zechariah 2:12
  • 23. S Genesis 6:18; S Genesis 9:15; S Genesis 15:18; Deuteronomy 5:2-3
  • 24. S Exodus 3:20
  • 25. S Exodus 33:16; Deuteronomy 4:32
  • 26. Deuteronomy 6:25; Joshua 11:15
  • 27. S Exodus 23:28; Exodus 33:2
  • 28. Judges 2:2
  • 29. S Exodus 10:7; Exodus 23:32-33
  • 30. S Exodus 23:24; Numbers 33:52; Deuteronomy 7:5; Deuteronomy 12:3; Judges 6:26; 1 Kings 15:13; 2 Chronicles 15:16; 2 Chronicles 17:6; 2 Chronicles 34:3-4; Micah 5:14; 2 Kings 18:4
  • 31. S Exodus 20:3
  • 32. Isaiah 9:6
  • 33. S Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 4:24
  • 34. ver 12; Deuteronomy 23:6; Ezra 9:12
  • 35. Exodus 22:20; Exodus 32:8; Deuteronomy 31:16; Judges 2:17; 2 Kings 17:8; 1 Chronicles 5:25; 2 Chronicles 11:15; Amos 2:4
  • 36. S Exodus 32:6; Numbers 25:2; 1 Corinthians 8:4
  • 37. Deuteronomy 7:3; Deuteronomy 17:17; Joshua 23:12; Judges 3:6; Judges 14:3; 1 Kings 11:1,2; 1 Kings 16:31; Ezra 9:2; Ezra 10:3; Ne Ezra 10:30; Nehemiah 13:25,26
  • 38. Deuteronomy 7:4; Deuteronomy 12:31; Deuteronomy 20:18; 1 Kings 11:4; 2 Kings 21:3-15; Psalms 106:34-41; Malachi 2:11
  • 39. S Exodus 20:4; Exodus 32:8
  • 40. S Exodus 12:17; Matthew 26:17; Luke 22:1; Acts 12:3
  • 41. S Exodus 12:15
  • 42. S Exodus 12:2
  • 43. Exodus 13:2
  • 44. S Exodus 13:13; Exodus 13:13,15
  • 45. S Exodus 13:2
  • 46. S Exodus 22:29; Exodus 23:15; Deuteronomy 16:16; Ezekiel 46:9
  • 47. Genesis 2:2-3; Exodus 20:9; Luke 13:14
  • 48. Nehemiah 13:15; Isaiah 56:2; Isaiah 58:13
  • 49. ver 26; Exodus 23:19; Leviticus 2:12,14; Leviticus 7:13; Leviticus 23:10,17; Numbers 28:26
  • 50. S Exodus 23:16
  • 51. S Exodus 23:14
  • 52. S Exodus 23:28; Exodus 33:2; Psalms 78:55
  • 53. Deuteronomy 12:20; Deuteronomy 19:8; Job 12:23
  • 54. S Exodus 23:18
  • 55. S Exodus 12:8; Exodus 12:8,10
  • 56. S Exodus 22:29; S Numbers 18:12
  • 57. S Exodus 23:19
  • 58. S Exodus 17:14; Exodus 24:4
  • 59. S Genesis 6:18; S Genesis 15:18
  • 60. S Genesis 7:4; Exodus 24:18; Matthew 4:2; Luke 4:2
  • 61. Deuteronomy 9:9,18; Ezra 10:6
  • 62. ver 1; Exodus 31:18
  • 63. Deuteronomy 4:13; Deuteronomy 10:4
  • 64. S Exodus 19:11
  • 65. S Exodus 32:15
  • 66. ver 35; Psalms 34:5; Isaiah 60:5; Matthew 17:2; 2 Corinthians 3:7,13
  • 67. Exodus 16:22
  • 68. S Exodus 21:1; Exodus 35:1,4; Exodus 24:3
  • 69. 2 Corinthians 3:13
  • 70. S ver 29

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. That is, wooden symbols of the goddess Asherah
  • [b]. That is, in the autumn

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

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