Exodus 34

 

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה פְּסָל־לְךָ שְׁנֵי־לֻחֹת אֲבָנִים כָּרִאשֹׁנִים וְכָתַבְתִּי עַל־הַלֻּחֹת אֶת־הַדְּבָרִים אֲשֶׁר   34:1

הָיוּ עַל־הַלֻּחֹת הָרִאשֹׁנִים אֲשֶׁר שִׁבַּרְתָּ

Exod. 34:1  And the Lord said to Moses, “Cut for yourself two stone tablets like the first two, and I will inscribe on the tablets the words that were on the first two tablets that you broke.”

וֶהְיֵה נָכֹון לַבֹּקֶר וְעָלִיתָ בַבֹּקֶר אֶל־הַר סִינַי וְנִצַּבְתָּ לִי שָׁם עַל־רֹאשׁ הָהָר   34:2

Exod. 34:2  “And be prepared in the morning and you shall come up in the morning to Mount Sinai and wait for Me there on top of the mountain.”                          [Return to Deut. 10:1]

וְאִישׁ לֹא־יַעֲלֶה עִמָּךְ וְגַם־אִישׁ אַל־יֵרָא בְּכָל־הָהָר גַּם־הַצֹּאן וְהַבָּקָר אַל־יִרְעוּ אֶל־מוּל הָהָר הַהוּא   34:3

Exod. 34:3  “And no one shall come up with you, and also let no one be seen on the whole mountain.  Also no sheep or cattle shall feed in the vicinity of that mountain.”

וַיִּפְסֹל שְׁנֵי־לֻחֹת אֲבָנִים כָּרִאשֹׁנִים וַיַּשְׁכֵּם מֹשֶׁה בַבֹּקֶר וַיַּעַל אֶל־הַר סִינַי כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהוָה אֹתֹו   34:4

וַיִּקַּח בְּיָדֹו שְׁנֵי לֻחֹת אֲבָנִים

Exod. 34:4  And he cut two stone tablets like the first two.  And Moses rose up early in the morning and went up into Mount Sinai as the Lord had commanded him and took in his hand the two stone tablets.

וַיֵּרֶד יְהוָה בֶּעָנָן וַיִּתְיַצֵּב עִמּוֹ שָׁם וַיִּקְרָא בְשֵׁם יְהוָה   34:5

Exod. 34:5  Then the Lord descended in a cloud and stood with him there, and he called in the name of the Lord.

וַיַּעֲבֹר יְהוָה עַל־פָּנָיו וַיִּקְרָא יְהוָה יְהוָה אֵל רַחוּם וְחַנּוּן אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם וְרַב־חֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת   34:6

Exod. 34:6  And the Lord passed by over his face, and he proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, patient of ‘anger,’ and abounding in kindness and truth,

נֹצֵר חֶסֶד לָאֲלָפִים נֹשֵׂא עָוֹן וָפֶשַׁע וְחַטָּאָה וְנַקֵּה לֹא יְנַקֶּה פֹּקֵד עֲוֹן אָבֹות עַל־בָּנִים וְעַל־בְּנֵי בָנִים   34:7

עַל־שִׁלֵּשִׁים וְעַל־רִבֵּעִים

Exod. 34:7  keeping mercy for a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, yet will not acquit innocence, visiting the iniquity of fathers on children and on the children of children, to the third generation and to the fourth generation.”

                      [Return to Deut. 4:24]              [Return to Deut. 24:16]              [Return to 2Kin. 5:27]

There is a fair amount of discussion among scholars over the translation of vss. 34:5, 6, and 7.   More >>

וַיְמַהֵר מֹשֶׁה וַיִּקֹּד אַרְצָה וַיִּשְׁתָּחוּ   34:8

34:8  And Moses hurried and bowed down to the earth and worshipped.

וַיֹּאמֶר אִם־נָא מָצָאתִי חֵן בְּעֵינֶיךָ אֲדֹנָי יֵלֶךְ־נָא אֲדֹנָי בְּקִרְבֵּנוּ כִּי עַם־קְשֵׁה־עֹרֶף הוּא וְסָלַחְתָּ   34:9

לַעֲוֹנֵנוּ וּלְחַטָּאתֵנוּ וּנְחַלְתָּנוּ

34:9  And he said, “My Lord, if now I have found favor in Your sight, let my Lord come, I pray You, into our midst, for that is a stubborn people, and forgive for our iniquity and for our sins, and take possession of us.”

וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי כֹּרֵת בְּרִית נֶגֶד כָּל־עַמְּךָ אֶעֱשֶׂה נִפְלָאֹת אֲשֶׁר לֹא־נִבְרְאוּ בְכָל־הָאָרֶץ    34:10

וּבְכָל־הַגֹּויִם וְרָאָה כָל־הָעָם אֲשֶׁר־אַתָּה בְקִרְבֹּו אֶת־מַעֲשֵׂה יְהוָה כִּי־נֹורָא הוּא אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי עֹשֶׂה עִמָּךְ

34:10   And He said, “Behold, I am making a covenant.  In front of all your people I will perform wonders that have never been fashioned in all the earth or in all the nations, and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord, for what I will be doing with you, it will be awesome.”

שְׁמָר־לְךָ אֵת אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ הַיֹּום הִנְנִי גֹרֵשׁ מִפָּנֶיךָ אֶת־הָאֱמֹרִי וְהַכְּנַעֲנִי וְהַחִתִּי וְהַפְּרִזִּי וְהַחִוִּי  34:11

וְהַיְבוּסִי

34:11   “Keep for yourself what I am commanding you today.  Behold, I will be driving out from before you the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.”

הִשָּׁמֶר לְךָ פֶּן־תִּכְרֹת בְּרִית לְיֹושֵׁב הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה בָּא עָלֶיהָ פֶּן־יִהְיֶה לְמֹוקֵשׁ בְּקִרְבֶּךָ   34:12

34:12   “Take heed to yourself lest you might make an alliance with the inhabitants of the land that you will be entering, lest it would become for a snare in your midst.”

This verse leaves some doubt in the minds of the scholars about to whom the Lord is speaking.  It would seem that following the phrase “In front of all your people …” in v. 34:10, that He is probably speaking to Moses.  But Moses will never enter the land of Canaan.  So why would the Lord warn Moses not to make a covenant with the inhabitants of Canaan?  Another possibility is that the Lord is speaking to the people as one (in the singular, because all four second-person pronouns and verbs are singular) in this verse.  However, that is equally improbable, because all but two of the people (Joshua and Caleb) will also not be entering Canaan.  So who is the Lord addressing?  Here’s what I believe is happening:  The Lord is dictating to Moses what he should write down for Joshua and the next generation that will be entering Canaan.  This is virtually self-evident due to the fact that in v. 34:27, the Lord directs Moses to write these words (that is, the words from v. 34:11 to v. 34:26) down.  I suspect that he is to give this message to Joshua.  Thus the Lord is indirectly addressing Joshua.

כִּי אֶת־מִזְבְּחֹתָם תִּתֹּצוּן וְאֶת־מַצֵּבֹתָם תְּשַׁבֵּרוּן וְאֶת־אֲשֵׁרָיו תִּכְרֹתוּן   34:13

34:13   “Indeed you shall break down their altars, and you shall crush their columns, and you shall cut down its Asherim.”

Asherim are understood to be trees or groves set up near altars for worship.  Ashera is the Babylonian goddess of happiness and fortune.

Interestingly, in this verse and the next, the second-person pronouns are plural.  I imagine the Lord is addressing the individuals of the next generation, those who will be entering Canaan.  Remember that Moses will be directed to write these words down soon.

כִּי לֹא תִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה לְאֵל אַחֵר כִּי יְהוָה קַנָּא שְׁמֹו אֵל קַנָּא הוּא   34:14

34:14   “For you shall not bow down to another god -- for the Lord, His name is Possessive; He is an impassioned God --

פֶּן־תִּכְרֹת בְּרִית לְיֹושֵׁב הָאָרֶץ וְזָנוּ אַחֲרֵי אֱלֹהֵיהֶם וְזָבְחוּ לֵאלֹהֵיהֶם וְקָרָא לְךָ וְאָכַלְתָּ מִזִּבְחֹו   34:15

34:15   lest you might make a covenant according to the inhabitants of the land as they would go astray after their gods and sacrifice to their gods, and call to you and you would eat from their sacrifice,

וְלָקַחְתָּ מִבְּנֹתָיו לְבָנֶיךָ וְזָנוּ בְנֹתָיו אַחֲרֵי אֱלֹהֵיהֶן וְהִזְנוּ אֶת־בָּנֶיךָ אַחֲרֵי אֱלֹהֵיהֶן   34:16

34:16   and take from their daughters for your sons, and their daughters go astray after their gods, and make your sons go astray after their gods.”                            [Return to Numb. 31:18]

The root of the word meaning go astray in vss. 34:15 and 16 has strong illicit sexual and pornographic connotations whenever it is used in the context of following other gods.  The implication is that many of the pagan religious rituals were centered on sexual acts of various kinds.  These would have probably included sex with animals, same-gender sex, sex between fathers and daughters and perhaps other relatives, as well as others even more obnoxious and perhaps deadly.

אֱלֹהֵי מַסֵּכָה לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה־לָּךְ   34:17

34:17   “You shall not fashion cast gods for yourself.”

אֶת־חַג הַמַּצֹּות תִּשְׁמֹר שִׁבְעַת יָמִים תֹּאכַל מַצֹּות אֲשֶׁר צִוִּיתִךָ לְמֹועֵד חֹדֶשׁ הָאָבִיב כִּי בְּחֹדֶשׁ   34:18

הָאָבִיב יָצָאתָ מִמִּצְרָיִם

34:18   “You shall keep the feast of unleavened bread.  Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I have commanded you, at the appointed time of the month of Aviv, for in the month of Aviv you came out of Egypt.”

כָּל־פֶּטֶר רֶחֶם לִי וְכָל־מִקְנְךָ תִּזָּכָר פֶּטֶר שֹׁור וָשֶׂה   34:19

34:19   “Anyone opening the womb is for Me; and all your cattle:  You shall remember the firstlings of ox and of sheep.”

וּפֶטֶר חֲמֹור תִּפְדֶּה בְשֶׂה וְאִם־לֹא תִפְדֶּה וַעֲרַפְתֹּו כֹּל בְּכֹור בָּנֶיךָ תִּפְדֶּה וְלֹא־יֵרָאוּ פָנַי רֵיקָם   34:20

34:20   “And the firstling of an ass you shall redeem with a lamb.  And if you do not redeem it, then you must break its neck.  All the first born of your sons you shall redeem, and they shall not perceive of My Presence empty.”

שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים תַּעֲבֹד וּבַיֹּום הַשְּׁבִיעִי תִּשְׁבֹּת בֶּחָרִישׁ וּבַקָּצִיר תִּשְׁבֹּת   34:21

34:21   “Six days you may work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; in plowing season and in harvest time you shall rest.”

The Lord once again reiterates, and emphasizes here, that the Sabbath is for resting from one’s daily work.

וְחַג שָׁבֻעֹת תַּעֲשֶׂה לְךָ בִּכּוּרֵי קְצִיר חִטִּים וְחַג הָאָסִיף תְּקוּפַת הַשָּׁנָה   34:22

34:22   “And you shall celebrate the feast of weeks for yourself, the first-fruits of the wheat harvest, and the feast of the ingathering at the turn of the year.”

שָׁלֹשׁ פְּעָמִים בַּשָּׁנָה יֵרָאֶה כָּל־זְכוּרְךָ אֶת־פְּנֵי הָאָדֹן יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל   34:23

34:23   “Three times in the year shall every one of your males regard the Presence of the Lord, the Lord, God of Israel.”

כִּי־אֹורִישׁ גֹּויִם מִפָּנֶיךָ וְהִרְחַבְתִּי אֶת־גְּבוּלֶךָ וְלֹא־יַחְמֹד אִישׁ אֶת־אַרְצְךָ בַּעֲלֹתְךָ לֵרָאֹות אֶת־פְּנֵי   34:24

יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ שָׁלֹשׁ פְּעָמִים בַּשָּׁנָה

34:24   “For I shall cast out nations from before you, and I shall make your boundaries broader, and no one shall covet your land, because of your going up to regard the Presence of the Lord, your God, three times in the year.”

Look at what we’ve missed out on!  No one would question our borders.  No one would covet our land.  How we have messed up a divine opportunity!

לֹא־תִשְׁחַט עַל־חָמֵץ דַּם־זִבְחִי וְלֹא־יָלִין לַבֹּקֶר זֶבַח חַג הַפָּסַח   34:25

34:25   “You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leavened bread, and the sacrifice of the feast of the Passover shall not be left to morning.”

רֵאשִׁית בִּכּוּרֵי אַדְמָתְךָ תָּבִיא בֵּית יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לֹא־תְבַשֵּׁל גְּדִי בַּחֲלֵב אִמֹּו   34:26

34:26   “You shall bring the choicest first fruits of your land to the house of the Lord, your God.  You shall not cook a kid with the milk of its mother.”

See the discussion concerning the second sentence in this verse at Exod. 23:19.

                                                                              [Return to Deut. 22:7]           [Return to 1Sam. 7:9]

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה כְּתָב־לְךָ אֶת־הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה כִּי עַל־פִּי הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה כָּרַתִּי אִתְּךָ בְּרִית    34:27

וְאֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵל

34:27   And the Lord said to Moses, “Write for yourself these words, for according to these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.”

Now what does the phrase “Write for yourself these words ....” mean?  It seems the sages assume that this demonstrates that Moses wrote the Torah according to God’s instruction.  Is that why he remained with the Lord forty days?  Was he inscribing the five books of Moses?  I think not.  I am inclined to take the phrase these words literally.  I believe the Lord is referring to the commandments that He is dictating to Moses.  That’s basically what He is saying here:  These commandments are the foundation of the covenant with Israel.  So perhaps Moses spent the forty days inscribing all the commandments that he received.  Yet according to the next verse, it was the ten commandments that Moses inscribed.  Thus we are left with the most likely conclusion:  That the phrase these words must refer to the Ten Commandments.

וַיְהִי־שָׁם עִם־יְהוָה אַרְבָּעִים יֹום וְאַרְבָּעִים לַיְלָה לֶחֶם לֹא אָכַל וּמַיִם לֹא שָׁתָה וַיִּכְתֹּב עַל־הַלֻּחֹת   34:28

אֵת דִּבְרֵי הַבְּרִית עֲשֶׂרֶת הַדְּבָרִים

34:28   And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights.  He did not eat bread and he did not drink water.  And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the ten words.

וַיְהִי בְּרֶדֶת מֹשֶׁה מֵהַר סִינַי וּשְׁנֵי לֻחֹת הָעֵדֻת בְּיַד־מֹשֶׁה בְּרִדְתֹּו מִן־הָהָר וּמֹשֶׁה לֹא־יָדַע כִּי קָרַן    34:29

עֹור פָּנָיו בְּדַבְּרֹו אִתֹּו

34:29   And it was, on Moses’ descent from Mount Sinai, and the two tablets of the testimony were in the hand of Moses in his descent from the mountain, that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shot forth rays during His speaking with him.

וַיַּרְא אַהֲרֹן וְכָל־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת־מֹשֶׁה וְהִנֵּה קָרַן עֹור פָּנָיו וַיִּירְאוּ מִגֶּשֶׁת אֵלָיו   34:30

34:30   When Aaron saw, and all the children of Israel, Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shot forth rays, then they were afraid of coming near to him.

וַיִּקְרָא אֲלֵהֶם מֹשֶׁה וַיָּשֻׁבוּ אֵלָיו אַהֲרֹן וְכָל־הַנְּשִׂאִים בָּעֵדָה וַיְדַבֵּר מֹשֶׁה אֲלֵהֶם   34:31

34:31.    But Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the chiefs in the congregation turned back to him, and Moses spoke to them.

וְאַחֲרֵי־כֵן נִגְּשׁוּ כָּל־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיְצַוֵּם אֵת כָּל־אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר יְהוָה אִתֹּו בְּהַר סִינָי   34:32

34:32.  Then after this, all the children of Israel came close, and he commanded them all that the Lord had spoken with him on Mount Sinai.

וַיְכַל מֹשֶׁה מִדַּבֵּר אִתָּם וַיִּתֵּן עַל־פָּנָיו מַסְוֶה   34:33

34:33   When Moses ceased speaking with them, then he put a veil over his face.

וּבְבֹא מֹשֶׁה לִפְנֵי יְהוָה לְדַבֵּר אִתֹּו יָסִיר אֶת־הַמַּסְוֶה עַד־צֵאתֹו וְיָצָא וְדִבֶּר אֶל־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֵת   34:34

אֲשֶׁר יְצֻוֶּה

34:34   But during Moses’ going before the Lord to speak with Him, he would remove the veil until his exit, then he would come and speak to the children of Israel what He would have commanded.

וְרָאוּ בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת־פְּנֵי מֹשֶׁה כִּי קָרַן עֹור פְּנֵי מֹשֶׁה וְהֵשִׁיב מֹשֶׁה אֶת־הַמַּסְוֶה עַל־פָּנָיו עַד־   34:35

בֹּאֹו לְדַבֵּר אִתֹּו

34:35   When the children of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of the face of Moses shot forth rays, then Moses would put the veil back over his face until his going to speak with Him.

In vss. 34:34 and 35 all the active verbs (except for the phrase shot forth in this verse) appear with vav prefixes that are normally translated as non-inverting.  So these two verses are assumed to be discrete events.  As I read these verses, the vavs are inverting and they describe ongoing repetitive events, the kind that I addressed in my  discussion of Biblical Hebrew.

Also, the Commandments given in this chapter are all essentially repeats of previous ones, so there are no new Commandments.

 

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