Exodus xxxiv.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Former. Deuteronomy x. 1, adds, and come up to me into the mount, and I, &c. Here.

Ver. 2. Go up. From these expressions we might infer, that God gave the order first on Mount Sinai, and repeated it to Moses in the tabernacle, the night before he commenced his third fast and supplication of 40 days. (Haydock) — After the first tables were broken, others were given; so after baptism we may obtain remission of sin by penance. (St. Jerome, ad Dem.) (Worthington)

Ver. 3. Let no, &c. This was to impress all with sentiments of reverence.

Ver. 6. He said. Some refer this to Moses; others, more probably, to God, who had promised, by this signal of the name of the Lord, to testify his presence. (Calmet) — The angel addresses God in this manner, while Moses lies concealed in the rock, covered with the hand or cloud of God’s representative. (Haydock) — Of the eleven attributes here claimed by God, three regard his essence, six his mercy, and the last two his justice. (Calmet)

Ver. 7. Keepest. So the Targum of Jerusalem reads. Hebrew and Septuagint have, “keepeth.” — No man, &c. All have sinned, Romans iii. 23. Hebrew, “who will not clear the guilty,” which is followed by the Chaldean and Septuagint. God is a just judge, who will assuredly punish the impenitent. Yet even in justice, he will remember mercy, and will stop at the third and fourth generation, (Calmet) when the influence of the progenitors’ example can have but small influence upon their descendants. If, however, they prove guilty, they must expect chastisement, Exodus xx. 5.

Ver. 9. (For it, &c.) If thou do not support me, I shall not be able to govern. (Haydock) — Possess us. Take us for thy peculiar inheritance. (Menochius)

Ver. 10. Covenant. The first had been made void by idolatry. (Calmet) — Notwithstanding the former threats, (chap. xxxiii. 3,) God here promises new benefits. (Worthington)

Ver. 11. Observe, O my people, (Menochius) you who shall serve under Josue, when these promises shall be fulfilled. (Haydock) — The Septuagint add the Gergesite to the list of people who should be expelled. But Lyran. thinks they are omitted in Hebrew, because they had already retired before the approach of the Hebrews. (Calmet)

Ver. 13. Statues. Septuagint have, “pillars,” and subjoin after groves, (unless it be another translation, as Grabe insinuates) “you shall burn with fire the graven things of their gods.”

Ver. 14. Jealous. Like a husband, He will watch all your motions.

Ver. 15. Covenant. The same word occurs here, as (ver. 12,) in Hebrew and Septuagint. (Haydock) — It relates chiefly to contracts of marriage, which God forbids the faithful to enter into with the Chanaanites, and with other idolatrous nations, lest they should follow their example. Solomon is reprehended for transgressing this law, (3 Kings xi. 1,) and such marriages are called abominations. (1 Esdras ix. 1.; x. 2, 10.; Josephus) — But if any of those people became converts, the reason of the prohibition ceased. Hence a captive woman might be married, (Deuteronomy xxi. 11,) and Salmon took Rahab to wife. If Samson and Esther married with heathens, it might be done by God’s dispensation, for weighty reasons. (Tirinus) — Fornication. On account of the dissolute behaviour of those idolaters, their worship is often condemned under this name, Jeremias ii. and iii.; Ezechiel xvi. (Calmet) — Sacrificed, and thus thou be drawn into a participation in his guilt. The other laws are here repeated from chap. xxiii. (Menochius)

Ver. 16. Son. The Chaldean and Septuagint add, “nor give any of thy daughters to their sons;” or, joining this verse with the 15th, the Septuagint say, “make no covenant….lest they commit fornication after their gods….and call thee and thou eat….and thou take of thier daughters wives for thy sons, and thou wilt give some of thy daughters to their sons, and thy daughters shall go fornicating after their gods.” The most imminent dangers attend those women, who have infidel husbands. (Haydock) — The intention of Moses, and the custom of the Hebrews, justly reprobated such marriages. (Calmet)

Ver. 18. New corn. Hebrew, Abib; the name of the month Nisan, which corresponds with our March and April.

Ver. 21. Reap; when the most urgent necessity might seem to authorize labour. (Haydock)

Ver. 22. Harvest. Pentecost. — Laid in, at the feast of tabernacles, in September. (Menochius) — The Septuagint have, “the feast of gathering, in the middle of the (sacred) year.” The greatest solemnity of the Passover is mentioned, ver. 18. (Haydock)

Ver. 24. In wait. Hebrew and Septuagint, “shall desire.” (Calmet) — God engages to protect their land. (Menochius)

Ver. 25. Sacrifice of the paschal lamb, to which the Chaldean properly restrains this verse. (Calmet)

Ver. 26. Dam. Chaldean, “thou shalt not eat flesh with milk.” See chap. xxiii. 19.

Ver. 28. Wrote. God wrote on the tables, as he had promised, ver. 1. (Calmet) — Moses recorded all in this book, as he was ordered, ver. 27. St. Cyprian (de Sp. S.) and St. Augustine (q. 186,) infer, however, from this text, that the second tables had not the same honour as the first. The contrary appears from Deuteronomy x. 4, He (God) wrote….as before. Estius, Calmet, and Menochius think the forty days here mentioned, were those which Moses spent with God to obtain the people’s pardon, and the law, at the same time. See chap. xxxii. 35. He continued all that time without meat or sleep, by the power of God, who supports Enoch and Elias in the vigour of health without corporal sustenance. Salien., year of the world 2544, in which year of the world he fixes the death of Job, the great prophet of the Gentiles.

Ver. 29. Horned. That is, shining, and sending forth rays of light like horns. (Challoner) — Septuagint, “encircled with glory.” St. Paul (2 Corinthians iii. 7,) says, the Hebrews could not look steadfastly at the face of Moses, on account of the glory of his countenance. Hence, he was forced to have a veil, which the apostle observes, was not taken off from the old law till Christ appeared. The Jews and heretics still read the law and the gospel with a veil over their eyes and heart, without understanding them, as they are hidden to those who perish, 2 Corinthians iv. 3. The Jews are much enraged at some Christians, who have represented Moses with horns, as if, they say, he were a devil, or his wife an adulteress. (Stacchus and Drusius.) — Hebrew, “his skin was radiant” all over his face. These rays commanded respect and awe from the people, who had before said contemptuously, Moses—the man, (chap. xxxii. 1,) as they shewed that God was with him. They had not appeared before, though he had often conversed with the Lord: but now, having seen the glorious vision, they adhered to him during the remainder of his life, particularly when he enforced the obligations of the law to the people. (Haydock) — The Arabs make their hair stand up like little horns, when they are about 40 years old. (Patric. ii. 4. Navig.) Homer mentions the like custom, and Diomed laughs at Paris calling him the pretty-horned. (Iliad xi.) Many of the ancient heroes and gods are represented with horns, particularly Bacchus, whose history reminds us of many particulars, which belong to Moses. He was born or educated in the confines of Egypt, was exposed on the waters, in a box; had two mothers, and very beautiful. While his army enjoyed the light, the Indians were in darkness. He was preceded by a pillar, had women in his train, dried up rivers with his thyrsus or wand, which had crawled, like a serpent, &c. (Huet. &c.) St. Epiphanius (her. 55,) says the Idumeans adored Moses. Their idol is called Choze by Josephus, (Antiquities xviii. 11,) which may be derived from Chus, the ancestor of Sephora, as Bacchus and Iacchus may denote “the son Bar, or the god Chus,” Jah-Chus, who was adored in Arabia; so that Moses, Choze, and Bacchus, probably mean the same person. Chus peopled that part of Arabia where the Hebrews sojourned, Numbers xii. 1. (Calmet)

Ver. 33. And having, &c. At first, he spoke uncovered. (Menochius) — The Protestants insert the word till in Italics, to insinuate that Moses spoke with a veil on, as St. Paul mentions; (Haydock) and Calmet would translate, “for Moses had ceased to address the people, and had put a veil upon his face,” as soon as he perceived that they could not bear the blaze of his countenance. This he did out of modesty, that they might not be afraid of coming to speak freely to him, (Jansenius) though it was also mysterious, as St. Paul remarks. For even until this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart, (2 Corinthians iii. 15,) as it is upon that of heretics, who cannot see the church. (St. Augustine in Psalm xxx.) (Worthington)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

The tables are renewed: all society with the Chanaanites is forbid: some precepts concerning the first-born, the sabbath, and other feasts. After forty days fast, Moses returneth to the people with the commandments, and his face appearing horned with rays of light, he covereth it, whensoever he speaketh to the people.

1 And after this he said: *Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the former, and I will write upon them the words, which were in the tables, which thou brokest.

2 Be ready in the morning, that thou mayst forthwith go up into Mount Sinai, and thou shalt stand with me upon the top of the mount.

3 Let no man go up with thee, and let not any man be seen throughout all the mount; neither let the oxen nor the sheep feed over-against it.

4 Then he cut out two tables of stone, such as had been before; and rising very early he went up into the Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, carrying with him the tables.

5 And when the Lord was come down in a cloud, Moses stood with him, calling upon the name of the Lord.

6 And when he passed before him, he said: O the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, patient and of much compassion, and true,

7 *Who keepest mercy unto thousands: who takest away iniquity, and wickedness, and sin, **and no man of himself is innocent before thee. ***Who renderest the iniquity of the fathers to the children, and to the grandchildren, unto the third and fourth generation.

8 And Moses making haste, bowed down prostrate unto the earth, and adoring,

9 Said: If I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, I beseech thee that thou wilt go with us, (for it is a stiff-necked people) and take away our iniquities and sin, and possess us.

10 The Lord answered: *I will make a covenant in the sight of all, I will do signs such as were never seen upon the earth, nor in any nations; that this people, in the midst of whom thou art, may see the terrible work of the Lord which I will do.

11 Observe all things which this day I command thee: I myself will drive out before thy face the Amorrhite, and the Chanaanite, and the Hethite, and the Pherezite, and the Hevite, and the Jebusite.

12 Beware thou never join in friendship with the inhabitants of that land, which may be thy ruin:

13 But destroy their altars, break their statues, and cut down their groves:

14 Adore not any strange god. The Lord his name is Jealous, he is a jealous God.

15 *Make no covenant with the men of those countries; lest, when they have committed fornication with their gods, and have adored their idols, some one call thee to eat of the things sacrificed.

16 *Neither shalt thou take of their daughters a wife for thy son, lest after they themselves have committed fornication, they make thy sons also to commit fornication with their gods.

17 Thou shalt not make to thyself any molten gods.

18 Thou shalt keep the feast of the unleavened bread. Seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee in the time of the month of the new corn: for in the month of the spring time thou camest out from Egypt.

19 *All of the male kind that openeth the womb, shall be mine. Of all beasts, both of oxen and of sheep, it shall be mine.

20 The firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a sheep: but if thou wilt not give a price for it, it shall be slain. The first-born of thy sons thou shalt redeem: neither shalt thou appear before me empty.

21 Six days shalt thou work, the seventh day thou shalt cease to plough and to reap.

22 *Thou shalt keep the feast of weeks with the first-fruits of the corn of thy wheat harvest, and the feast when the time of the year returneth that all things are laid in.

23 *Three times in the year all thy males shall appear in the sight of the almighty Lord the God of Israel.

24 For when I shall have taken away the nations from thy face, and shall have enlarged thy borders, no man shall lie in wait against thy land when thou shalt go up, and appear in the sight of the Lord thy God thrice in a year.

25 *Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice upon leaven; neither shall there remain in the morning any thing of the victim of the solemnity of the Phase.

26 The first of the fruits of thy ground thou shalt offer in the house of the Lord thy God. *Thou shalt not boil a kid in the milk of his dam.

27 And the Lord said to Moses: Write thee these words, by which I have made a covenant both with thee and with Israel.

28 And he was there with the Lord *forty days and forty nights: he neither ate bread nor drank water, and he wrote upon the tables** the ten words of the covenant.

29 And when Moses came down from the Mount Sinai, he held the two tables of the testimony, and he knew not that his face was horned from the conversation of the Lord.

30 And Aaron and the children of Israel seeing the face of Moses horned, were afraid to come near.

31 And being called by him, they returned, both Aaron and the rulers of the congregation. And after that he spoke to them,

32 And all the children of Israel came to him: and he gave them in commandment all that he had heard of the Lord on Mount Sinai.

33 And having done speaking,* he put a veil upon his face.

34 But when he went in to the Lord, and spoke with him, he took it away until he came forth, and then he spoke to the children of Israel all things that had been commanded him.

35 And they saw that the face of Moses when he came out was horned, but he covered his face again, if at any time he spoke to them.



1: Deuteronomy x. 1.

7: Deuteronomy v. 10.; Jeremias xxxii. 18. — ** Psalm cxlii. 2. — *** Deuteronomy v. 9.; Jeremias xxxii. 18.

10: Deuteronomy v. 2.; Jeremias xxxii. 40.

15: Exodus xxiii. 32.; Deuteronomy vii. 2.

16: 3 Kings xi. 2.; Deuteronomy vii. 3.

19: Exodus xiii. 2. and 12. and xxii. 29.

22: Exodus xxiii. 15.

23: Exodus xxiii. 17.; Deuteronomy xvi. 16.

25: Exodus xxiii. 18. and 19.

26: Exodus xxiii. 19.; Deuteronomy xiv. 21.

28: Exodus xxiv. 18.; Deuteronomy ix. 9. and 18. — ** Deuteronomy iv. 23.

33: 2 Corinthians iii. 13.