Exodus 34:5
And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.
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(5-8) The present ascent of Moses to the top of Sinai had two objects:—(1) The repair of the loss occasioned by his breaking the first tables; and (2) the accomplishment of the promise made to him that (under certain restrictions) he should “see God’s glory.” Combined with this promise were two minor ones—that God would make His “goodness” pass before him, and that He would reveal to him afresh His name. The revelation of the name is recorded in Exodus 34:6-7, the manifestation of the glory in Exodus 34:5. How Moses was enabled to see God’s goodness pass before him is not stated. (Comp. Note on Exodus 33:19.)

(5) The Lord descended in the cloud.—When Moses ceased to commune with God, the cloud removed from the door of the “Tent of Meeting,” and, as it would seem, disappeared. On Moses reaching the summit of Sinai it once more became visible, “descended” on the spot where Moses was, and “stood with him there.”

And proclaimed the name of the Lord.—Comp. Exodus 33:19; and for the terms of the proclamation see Exodus 34:6-7.

Exodus 34:5. The Lord descended — By some sensible token of his presence, and manifestation of his glory. He descended in the cloud — Probably that pillar of cloud which had hitherto gone before Israel, and had the day before met Moses at the door of the tabernacle.

34:5-9 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.Hew thee - The former tables are called "the work of God;" compare Exodus 32:16.

The words - See Exodus 34:28.

5. the Lord descended in the cloud—After graciously hovering over the tabernacle, it seems to have resumed its usual position on the summit of the mount. It was the shadow of God manifest to the outward senses; and, at the same time, of God manifest in the flesh. The emblem of a cloud seems to have been chosen to signify that, although He was pleased to make known much about himself, there was more veiled from mortal view. It was to check presumption and engender awe and give a humble sense of human attainments in divine knowledge, as now man sees, but darkly. In the cloud; in the cloudy pillar, which ordinarily stood up in the air above the mount, but came down to the top of it when God spake with Moses. See Exodus 33:9 Numbers 11:17,25.

Stood with him there, to wit, in the mount, Exodus 34:2,4, and the clift of a rock, Exodus 33:22, which was in the mount, and near the top of it, as appears by comparing these places together.

And the Lord descended in the cloud,.... The same with the cloudy pillar, which was now gone up from the door of the tabernacle, and was on high in the air over the mount, and on which the Lord now descended in it, as he had before, Exodus 19:9,

and stood with him there; not Moses stood with the Lord, as the Vulgate Latin version; but the Lord, or the cloud in which the Lord was, stood near to Moses:

and proclaimed the name of the Lord: Jehovah declared with a loud voice out of the cloud, that the Lord was there; the Targum of Jonathan is,"and Moses called on or in the name of the Word of the Lord;''and so the Vulgate Latin version refers it to Moses, and renders the words, "calling on the name of the Lord"; but the following verse clearly shows that it must be understood of the Lord, and not of Moses.

And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.
5. and he (Moses) took his stand (cf. v. 2) with him there, and called upon the name of Jehovah] i.e. invoked Him in worship. The marg. must be followed: the subject of the verbs is Moses (see Exodus 33:21). The sequel follows in v. 10. Called upon is lit. ‘called with,’ i.e. used the name in invocation: so Genesis 4:26; Genesis 12:8; Genesis 13:4; Genesis 21:33 al.

Verses 5-8. - THE FULFILMENT BY GOD OF HIS PROMISE TO MOSES. This section coheres closely with the last section of the preceding chapter, and must be regarded, as the historical account of how God fulfilled the promises there made by him to Moses (Exodus 33:19-23). The promises were mainly two -

1. That he would proclaim his name to him afresh; and

2. That he would pass by him, and let him see, after he had passed, what man might see of his glory. The fulfilment of the first promise appears in the long enumeration of attributes contained in vers. 6, 7; the fulfilment of the second is expressed with extreme brevity in the words - ,' And the Lord passed by before him" (ver. 6). Probably no further description could be given of that marvellous manifestation beyond those words in which it was promised (Exodus 33:21-23). Its effects were seen in that permanent reflection of God's glory on the face of Moses, which thenceforth compelled him to wear a veil mostly when he showed himself to the people (vers. 33-35). Verse 5. - The Lord descended in the cloud. The cloudy pillar, which had stood at the door of the Tent of Meeting (Exodus 33:10), was withdrawn while Moses ascended Sinai, and probably disappeared from men's sight. When Moses reached the top, it descended once more from the sky, and stood with him there. Then a voice from the cloud proclaimed the name of the Lord in the manner more fully stated in the ensuing verses. Exodus 34:5When Moses had restored the covenant bond through his intercession (Exodus 33:14), he was directed by Jehovah to hew out two stones, like the former ones which he had broken, and to come with them the next morning up the mountain, and Jehovah would write upon them the same words as upon the first,

(Note: Namely, the ten words in Exodus 20:2-17, not the laws contained in Exodus 34:12-26 of this chapter, as Gthe and Hitzig suppose. See Hengstenberg, Dissertations ii. p. 319, and Kurtz on the Old Covenant iii.182ff.)

and thus restore the covenant record. It was also commanded, as in the former case (Exodus 19:12-13), that no one should go up the mountain with him, or be seen upon it, and that not even cattle should feed against the mountain, i.e., in the immediate neighbourhood (Exodus 34:3). The first tables of the covenant were called "tables of stone" (Exodus 24:12; Exodus 31:18); the second, on the other hand, which were hewn by Moses, are called "tables of stones" (Exodus 34:1 and Exodus 34:4); and the latter expression is applied indiscriminately to both of them in Deuteronomy 4:13; Deuteronomy 5:19; Deuteronomy 9:9-11; Deuteronomy 10:1-4. This difference does not indicate a diversity in the records, but may be explained very simply from the fact, that the tables prepared by Moses were hewn from two stones, and not both from the same block; whereas all that could be said of the former, which had been made by God Himself, was that they were of stone, since no one knew whether God had used one stone or two for the purpose. There is apparently far more importance in the following distinction, that the second tables were delivered by Moses and only written upon by God, whereas in the case of the former both the writing and the materials came from God. This cannot have been intended either as a punishment for the nation (Hengstenberg), or as "the sign of a higher stage of the covenant, inasmuch as the further the reciprocity extended, the firmer was the covenant" (Baumgarten). It is much more natural to seek for the cause, as Rashi does, in the fact, that Moses had broken the first in pieces; only we must not regard it as a sign that God disapproved of the manifestation of anger on the part of Moses, but rather as a recognition of his zealous exertions for the restoration of the covenant which had been broken by the sin of the nation. As Moses had restored the covenant through his energetic intercession, he should also provide the materials for the renewal of the covenant record, and bring them to God, for Him to complete and confirm the record by writing the covenant words upon the tables.

On the following morning, when Moses ascended the mountain, Jehovah granted him the promised manifestation of His glory (Exodus 34:5.). The description of this unparalleled occurrence is in perfect harmony with the mysterious and majestic character of the revelation. "Jehovah descended (from heaven) in the cloud, and stood by him there, and proclaimed the name of Jehovah; and Jehovah passed by in his sight, and proclaimed Jehovah, Jehovah God, merciful and gracious," etc. What Moses saw we are not told, but simply the words in which Jehovah proclaimed all the glory of His being; whilst it is recorded of Moses, that he bowed his head toward the earth and worshipped. This "sermon on the name of the Lord," as Luther calls it, disclosed to Moses the most hidden nature of Jehovah. It proclaimed that God is love, but that kind of love in which mercy, grace, long-suffering, goodness, and truth are united with holiness and justice. As the merciful One, who is great in goodness and truth, Jehovah shows mercy to the thousandth, forgiving sin and iniquity in long-suffering and grace; but He does not leave sin altogether unpunished, and in His justice visits the sin of the fathers upon the children and the children's children even unto the fourth generation. The Lord had already revealed Himself to the whole nation from Mount Sinai as visiting sin and showing mercy (Exodus 20:5.). But whereas on that occasion the burning zeal of Jehovah which visits sin stood in the foreground, and mercy only followed afterwards, here grace, mercy, and goodness are placed in the front. And accordingly all the words which the language contained to express the idea of grace in its varied manifestations to the sinner, are crowded together here, to reveal the fact that in His inmost being God is love. But in order that grace may not be perverted by sinners into a ground of wantonness, justice is not wanting even here with its solemn threatenings, although it only follows mercy, to show that mercy is mightier than wrath, and that holy love does not punish til sinners despise the riches of the goodness, patience, and long-suffering of God. As Jehovah here proclaimed His name, so did He continue to bear witness of it to the Israelites, from their departure from Sinai till their entrance into Canaan, and from that time forward till their dispersion among the heathen, and even now in their exile showing mercy to the thousandth, when they turn to the Redeemer who has come out of Zion.

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