Exodus 31:18
And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.
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(18) The termination and crown of the entire conference which Moses had held with God on Mount Sinai for forty days and forty nights (Exodus 24:18) was the committal to his hands of the two tables of testimony which had been promised before the ascent into the mount was made (Exodus 24:12), and which were pre-supposed in the entire arrangement of the sanctuary. The Court pre-supposed the tabernacle; the outer chamber of the tabernacle, or holy place, was a mere vestibule to the inner chamber, or holy of holies: the inner chamber was a receptacle for the ark; and the ark was a chest or coffer constructed to contain the Two Tables. The entire design having been laid down, it was a first step towards the carrying out of the design to put into the hands of Moses that treasure with a view to which all the directions concerning the tabernacle had been given.

Two tables of testimony.—Rather, the two tables. The treasure which had been glanced at in Exodus 25:21, and distinctly promised in Exodus 24:12.

Written with the finger of God.—Comp. Exodus 24:12, where God speaks of “commandments which He has written.” We must understand that the tables were inscribed by some supernatural process, and not by any human hand. The exact nature of the supernatural process is not revealed to us.

Exodus 31:18. He gave unto Moses the two tables of testimony — After his forty days’ stay upon the mount, God dismissed him, giving him the ten articles of the moral law, written upon two tables of stone, to be delivered to the people, and to be laid up in the ark, as the standing record of the divine will relating to the principal branches of their duty. In the most ancient times, it must be observed, laws were wont to be engraven upon tables of brass, marble, wood, &c. These tables of stone, it appears, were not prepared by Moses, but probably by the ministry of angels. They were written with the finger of God — That is, by his will and power immediately, without the use of any instrument. They were written in two tables, being designed to direct us in our duty toward God and toward man. They were called tables of testimony, because this written law testified the will of God concerning them, and would be a testimony against them, if they were disobedient.

31:18 The law was written in tables of stone, to show how lasting it is: to denote likewise the hardness of our hearts; one might more easily write on stone, than write any thing good on our corrupt natural hearts. It was written with the finger of God; by his will and power. God only can write his law in the heart: he gives a heart of flesh; then, by his Spirit, which is the finger of God, writes his will in the heart, 2Co 3:3.Two tables of testimony - See Exodus 25:16; Exodus 32:15.

The tables of stone which represented the covenant between Yahweh and His people, and which, when covered with the mercy-seat were to give the sanctuary its significance, are now delivered to Moses in accordance with the promise in Exodus 24:12.

The history of what relates to the construction of the sanctuary is here interrupted, and is taken up again in Exodus 35:1.

18. tables of stone, written with the finger of God—containing the ten commandments (Ex 24:12), called "tables of testimony," because God testified His will in them. i.e. The tables of the law, which was the witness of God’s will and Israel’s duty. See Exodus 16:34.

Tables of stone; whereby was signified both the durable and perpetual obligation of the moral law, whereas the ceremonial law was to end with the Jewish polity at Christ’s coming; and the stoniness of men’s hearts by nature, in which the law of God could not be written but by a Divine and omnipotent hand.

Written with the finger of God, i.e. with the power or Spirit of God, by comparing Matthew 12:18; not by any art of man, but immediately by a Divine hand.

BC 1491

And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him on Mount Sinai,.... After all those laws, orders, and instructions before related, which having done, he ceased to converse with him any longer in that manner he had, and at parting gave him

two tables of testimony; the two tables of the law, which is a testimony of the will of God, and contained the duty of the Israelites both towards God and man, and are reducible to these two, love to God, and love to our neighbour: five of the commands of the decalogue were written on one table, and five on the other; or it may be rather four on one table, the first being the largest, and containing the duty owing to God, and six on the other, which regard the duty of men one to another; so Orpheus the Heathen poet, speaking of the law of Moses, calls it (s). "Tables of stone"; the Targum of Jonathan will have them to be of the sapphire stone, from the throne of glory; the paraphrast seems to have respect to Exodus 24:10 and, with as little appearance of truth, says their weight was forty seahs; it is more probable they were of marble stone, of which there were great quantities in Mount Sinai. Dr. Shaw says (t) that part of Mount Sinai, which lies to the westward of the plain of Rephidim, consists of a hard reddish marble like "porphyry", but is distinguished from it by the representations of little trees and bushes, which are dispersed all over it. The naturalists call this sort of marble "embuscatum", or "bushy marble"; some think Sinai had its name from thence (u). This may denote the firmness, stability, and duration of the law, not as in the hands of Moses, from which these tables were cast and broke, but as in the hands of Christ, and laid up in him the ark of the covenant, the fulfilling end of the law for righteousness: and it may also figure the hardness of man's heart, which is destitute of spiritual life, obdurate and impenitent, stupid, senseless and ignorant, stubborn and inflexible, and not subject to the law of God, and on which no impressions can be made but by the power and grace of God:

written with the finger of God: by God himself, and not by an angel, or by any creature or instrument: and it is by the finger of God, the Spirit, grace, and power of God, that the laws of God are put into the inward part, and written on the heart, to which the apostle refers, 2 Corinthians 3:3. This account is given by way of transition to what is recorded in the next chapter.

(s) De Deo, "prope finem". (t) Travels, p. 443. (u) See Buxtorf. in voce

And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables {i} of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.

(i) By which he declared his will to his people.

Verse 18. - THE TABLES OF TESTIMONY. It had been assumed, in the directions given for the construction of the ark, that God would give, in some material form, a document to be called "the testimony," which was to be laid up inside it (Exodus 25:16). It is not too much to say that the tabernacle, with its various appurtenances, was constructed for this purpose; the rest of the tabernacle was designed with a view to the holy of holies the holy of holies was designed as a receptacle for the ark - and the ark was designed as a receptacle for the tables of testimony. This section could, therefore, scarcely be concluded without some definite account of the document which was to give the ark and the tabernacle itself, its main significance. Verse 18. - When he had made an end of communing. Literally, "when he had finished speaking." Two tables. Rather, "the two tables" - i.e., the tables promised when he went up into the mount (Exodus 24:12). Of stone. Stone was the ordinary material on which Egyptian documents were engraved, both at the time of the Exodus, and before and after. They were, however, for the most part, either inscribed upon the natural rock, or engraved on the walls of temples or tombs. Inscriptions upon slabs of stone are rare, more especially in the early times, and would scarcely have occurred to Moses himself. Written with the finger of God - i.e., "inscribed supernaturally" - not cut by any human hand. Compare Exodus 32:16. It is idle to speculate on the exact mode of the Divine operation.

Exodus 31:18When Moses had received all the instructions respecting the sanctuary to be erected, Jehovah gave him the two tables of testimony-tables of stone, upon which the decalogue was written with the finger of God. It was to receive these tables that he had been called up the mountain (Exodus 24:12). According to Exodus 32:16, the tables themselves, as well as the writing, were the work of God; and the writing was engraved upon them (חרוּת from חרת equals χαράττειν), and the tables were written on both their sides (Exodus 32:15). Both the choice of stone as the material for the tables, and the fact that the writing was engraved, were intended to indicate the imperishable duration of these words of God. The divine origin of the tables, as well as of the writing, corresponded to the direct proclamation of the ten words to the people from the summit of the mountain by the mouth of God. As this divine promulgation was a sufficient proof that they were the immediate word of God, unchanged by the mouth and speech of man, so the writing of God was intended to secure their preservation in Israel as a holy and inviolable thing. The writing itself was not a greater miracle than others, by which God has proved Himself to be the Lord of nature, to whom all things that He has created are subservient for the establishment and completion of His kingdom upon earth; and it can easily be conceived of without the anthropomorphic supposition of a material finger being possessed by God. Nothing is said about the dimensions of the tables: at the same time, we can hardly imagine them to have been as large as the inside of the ark; for stone slab 2 1/2 cubits long and 1 1/2 cubits broad, which must necessarily have been some inches in thickness to prevent their breaking in the hand, would have required the strength of Samson to enable Moses to carry them down the mountain "in his hand" (Exodus 32:15), or even "in his two hands" (Deuteronomy 9:15, Deuteronomy 9:17). But if we suppose them to have been smaller than this, say at the most a cubit and a half long and one cubit broad, there would have been plenty of room on the four sides for the 172 words contained in the decalogue, with its threats and promises (Exodus 20:2-17), without the writing being excessively small.
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