Exodus 19:15
And he said to the people, Be ready against the third day: come not at your wives.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) Come not at your wives.—Comp. 1Samuel 21:4-5 :1Corinthians 7:5. It was the general sentiment of antiquity that a ceremonial uncleanness attached even to the chastest sexual connection. (Herod. I. 189, ii. 64; Hesiod. Op. et D., 11. 733-4: Tibull, Carni. ii. 1, 11. 11, 12; Porphyr., De Abstinentia, 4:7.) The Levitical law took the same view (Leviticus 15:18), as did the Indian law (Menu, v. 63), the Persian (Zendavesta, quoted by Bähr, Symbolik, vol. ii., p. 466), and the Mahometan (Koran, iv. 5).

19:9-15 The solemn manner in which the law was delivered, was to impress the people with a right sense of the Divine majesty. Also to convince them of their own guilt, and to show that they could not stand in judgment before God by their own obedience. In the law, the sinner discovers what he ought to be, what he is, and what he wants. There he learns the nature, necessity, and glory of redemption, and of being made holy. Having been taught to flee to Christ, and to love him, the law is the rule of his obedience and faith.Touch it - Rather "touch him." The person who had touched the mount was not to be touched, since the contact would be pollution. 9-15. The Lord said unto Moses, Lo, I come … in a thick cloud, &c.—The deepest impressions are made on the mind through the medium of the senses; and so He who knew what was in man signalized His descent at the inauguration of the ancient church, by all the sensible tokens of august majesty that were fitted to produce the conviction that He is the great and terrible God. The whole multitude must have anticipated the event with feelings of intense solemnity and awe. The extraordinary preparations enjoined, the ablutions and rigid abstinence they were required to observe, the barriers erected all round the base of the mount, and the stern penalties annexed to the breach of any of the conditions, all tended to create an earnest and solemn expectation which increased as the appointed day drew near. Abstain from the use of the marriage-bed, partly because your wives may haply have their uncleanness upon them, though unknown to themselves, at least to you, whereby you may be legally defiled; see Leviticus 15:18; and partly that your minds may be abstracted from all sensual delights, and wholly employed about this great and holy work and service. There is a like command 1 Corinthians 7:5; but both this and that do indifferently concern both ministers and people, and are limited to a certain time, and therefore are very impertinently alleged for the perpetual celibacy of ministers. See also 1 Samuel 21:5. And he said unto the people, be ready against the third day,.... The third day from thence, the sixth of the month Sivan, against which day they were to prepare themselves, by washing their garments, and all other outward acts of sanctification and purity they were directed to, that they might be ready for the service of that day, to hear and receive the law from God himself: Aben Ezra has this note on the passage,"perhaps not a man slept that night, that he might hear the voice of the Lord in the morning, as was the way or custom of the high priest on the day of atonement;''that is, not to sleep the night before:

come not at your wives; or, "do not draw nigh to a woman" (q), to lie with her; meaning not with a strange woman, or one that was not his wife, for that was not lawful at any time; nor with a menstruous woman who was unclean, and so forbidden, but with a man's own wife: what was lawful must now be abstained from, for the greater sanctification and solemnity of the service of this day, see 1 Corinthians 7:5, so Chaeremoh (r) the stoic says of the Egyptian priests, that when the time is at hand that they are to perform some very sacred and solemn service, they spend several days in preparing for it; sometimes two and forty, sometimes more, sometimes less, but never under seven; when they abstain from all animals, and from all kind of herbs and pulse, and especially from venereal conversation with women; and to this latter Juvenal (s) the poet has respect.

(q) Sept. "to a woman", Ainsworth. (r) Apud Porphyr, de Abstinentia, l. 4. sect. 7. Vid Clement. Alexand Stromat. l. 1. p. 306. (s) "Ille petit veniam quoties non abstinet uxor, "Concubitu, sacris observandisque diebus". Juvenal, Satyr 6.

And he said unto the people, Be ready against the third day: come not at your {f} wives.

(f) But give yourselves to prayer and abstinence, that you may at this time attend only upon the Lord, 1Co 7:5.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 15. - Come not at your wives. Compare 1 Samuel 21:4, 5; 1 Corinthians 7:5. A similar obligation lay on the Egyptian priests (Porphyr. De Abstin. 4:7); and the idea which underlies it was widespread in the ancient world (See Herod. 1:198; Hesiod. Op. et Di. 733-4; Tibul. Carm. 2:1; 51:11, 12.) The subject is well treated, from a Christian point of view, by Pope Gregory the First, in his answers to S. Augustine's questions (Bode, Hist. Eccl. 2.).

CHAPTER 19:16-20 When Moses communicated to the people through their elders this incomparable promise of the Lord, they promised unanimously (יחדּו) to do all that Jehovah said; and when Moses reported to the Lord what the people had answered, He said to Moses, "I will come to thee in the darkness of the cloud, that the people may listen to My speaking to thee (בּ שׁמע, as in Genesis 27:5, etc.), and also believe thee for ever." As God knew the weakness of the sinful nation, and could not, as the Holy One, come into direct intercourse with it on account of its unholiness, but was about to conclude the covenant with it through the mediation of Moses, it was necessary, in order to accomplish the design of God, that the chosen mediator should receive special credentials; and these were to consists in the fact that Jehovah spoke to Moses in the sight and hearing of the people, that is to say, that He solemnly proclaimed the fundamental law of the covenant in the presence of the whole nation (Exodus 19:16-20:18), and showed by this fact that Moses was the recipient and mediator of the revelation of God, in order that the people might believe him "for ever," as the law was to possess everlasting validity (Matthew 5:18).
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