Exodus 33:19-23

19 And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
21 Then the LORD said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock.
22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.
23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”

Exodus 33:19-23 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO EXODUS 33

This chapter informs us, that the Lord refusing to go with the people, only sending an angel with them, they are filled with concern, and troubled, Ex 33:1-6. Moses upon this pitched the tabernacle without the camp, where everyone that sought the Lord went; Moses entered into it himself, and the Lord talked to him in a friendly manner in the cloudy pillar that stood at the door of it, and the people worshipped, every man at his own tent door; all which foreboded good, and tended to reconciliation, Ex 33:7-11. Moses improved the opportunity, and entreats the presence of God to go with them, which was granted, Ex 33:12-17 and that he might have a sight of the glory of God; and this is promised to pass before him, he being put into the cleft of the rock, Ex 33:18-23.

Exodus 33:19-23 In-Context

17 And the LORD said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”
18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”
19 And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
21 Then the LORD said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock.
22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.
23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”

Cross References 6

  • 1. 1 Kings 19:11
  • 2. Exodus 6:3; Exodus 34:5-7
  • 3. Romans 9:15*
  • 4. S Genesis 16:13; S Exodus 3:6; S Deuteronomy 5:26; S John 1:18; Genesis 32:30; Isaiah 6:5
  • 5. Genesis 49:24; 1 Kings 19:9; Psalms 27:5; Psalms 31:20; Psalms 62:7; Psalms 91:1; Isaiah 2:21; Jeremiah 4:29
  • 6. Psalms 91:4; Isaiah 49:2; Isaiah 51:16