Moses seeks assurance that God will accompany the people despite their attempt to force God to be present on their own terms.
The angel is God's representative (
), showing that the people will not be completely forsaken by the deity. God will not, however, accompany the stubborn people
directly, as was true from Egypt to Sinai (
), so that divine holiness does not consume them. Perhaps God is (temporarily) canceling the instructions to build the tabernacle.
You have brought up,
The people remove their ornaments, their victors' plunder, to show contrition and try to persuade God to decide favorably (
The tent of meeting, the depiction of the tent here contrasts sharply with the elaborate structure of chs 25–31
, and it functions chiefly as a place where God speaks to Moses (Num 11.16–17,24–26; 12.1–8; Deut 31.14–15
). Since God has now refused to be present among the people (v. 3
), Moses pitches a tent far off from the camp. There is no priest or ritual. Instead, Moses and his assistant, Joshua (v. 11; 17.9–13n.
) are in charge, and anyone can come to seek an oracle from God.
The people's disrespect for Moses (
) is gone completely.
Pillar of cloud,
Even though God's presence is now distant and intermittent, it commands utter respect from the people.
Moses' role as mediator (
) is indicated by the fact that God speaks to him face to face, as one speaks to a friend (Num 12.7–8; Deut 34.10–12
Because of the people's change of heart (vv. 4–6,8,10
) Moses intercedes a third time, and because of his special relationship with God, he succeeds.
Your people (and twice in v. 16
), in contrast to v. 1 (32.11–14n.).
Israel is a unique people because they undertake a special journey with God leading them into the future (
This paragraph anticipates the theophany of
, the fifth divine appearance of the book.
Having asked for a display of God's “ways” (v. 13; Ps 103.7–14
) or manner of action in the world, Moses now asks for more: a manifestation of God's glory, the visible radiance and majesty of God (
As God knows Moses “by name” (vv. 12,17
), God will proclaim to him the divine name, “YHWH” (
), which is tantamount to disclosing the character or identity of God (Gen 32.27–29
). I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, the structure of the sentence is similar to that of “I AM WHO I AM” (
), emphasizing divine freedom. God's actions, while free, are not capricious, however, but express divine “goodness” (
Although using bold anthropomorphisms (the LORD's hand and back), the narrator stresses that God remains hidden (v. 20
), even when most palpably present.
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