Exodus 19:20
And the LORD came down on mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) On the top of the mount.—On the summit of the Ras Sufsafeh, not on the Jebel Musa, which is out of sight from the plain of Er Rahah.

19:16-25 Never was there such a sermon preached, before or since, as this which was preached to the church in the wilderness. It might be supposed that the terrors would have checked presumption and curiosity in the people; but the hard heart of an unawakened sinner can trifle with the most terrible threatenings and judgments. In drawing near to God, we must never forget his holiness and greatness, nor our own meanness and pollution. We cannot stand in judgment before him according to his righteous law. The convinced transgressor asks, What must I do to be saved? and he hears the voice, Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. The Holy Ghost, who made the law to convince of sin, now takes of the things of Christ, and shows them to us. In the gospel we read, Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us. We have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins. Through him we are justified from all things, from which we could not be justified by the law of Moses. But the Divine law is binding as a rule of life. The Son of God came down from heaven, and suffered poverty, shame, agony, and death, not only to redeem us from its curse, but to bind us more closely to keep its commands.A furnace - The word in the original is Egyptian, and occurs only in the Pentateuch. 17. Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God—Wady-er-Raheh, where they stood, has a spacious sandy plain; immediately in front of Es Suksafeh, considered by Robinson to be the mount from which the law was given. "We measured it, and estimate the whole plain at two geographical miles long, and ranging in breadth from one-third to two-thirds of a mile, or as equivalent to a surface of one square mile. This space is nearly doubled by the recess on the west, and by the broad and level area of Wady-es-Sheikh on the east, which issues at right angles to the plain, and is equally in view of the front and summit of the mount. The examination convinced us that here was space enough to satisfy all the requisitions of the Scripture narrative, so far as it relates to the assembling of the congregation to receive the law. Here, too, one can see the fitness of the injunction to set bounds around the mount, that neither man nor beast might approach too near, for it rises like a perpendicular wall." But Jebel Musa, the old traditional Sinai, and the highest peak, has also a spacious valley, Wady Sebaiyeh, capable of holding the people. It is not certain on which of these two they stood. So here are three parts of the mount manifestly distinguished; the top, where the cloud was; the middle part, where Moses now stood, and about which the bounds seem to have been put; and the nether or lower part, where the people were. And the Lord came down on Mount Sinai,.... In the above visible tokens of his presence and power; otherwise he is the incomprehensible Jehovah, that immense and omnipotent Being, who fills heaven and earth, and cannot be contained and circumscribed in either:

on the top of the mount; where the fire he descended in rested, and where the smoke and thick cloud were, as a token of his presence:

and the Lord called Moses up to the top of the mount; who either was at the bottom of it with the people, or in a higher ascent of it between God and them:

and Moses went up; to the top of it, where the Lord was, as he ordered him: a certain traveller (y) tells us that the top of this mount was scarce thirty feet in circumference.

(y) Baumgarten Peregrinatio, l. 1. c. 24. p. 61.

And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
20. came down] according to v. 18, Jehovah had already done this. Perhaps (Bä.) v. 18 is misplaced, and stood originally after v. 20a.

20–25. After the theophany has begun (vv. 18, 20a), Moses is summoned to the top of the mountain, where he is told to go down again at once and check the too eager curiosity of the people, and when he has done this to come up again with Aaron (v. 24). In E the people, so far from evincing any desire to trespass upon the mountain, are in alarm, and ‘tremble’ (v. 16; cf. Exodus 20:18).Verse 20. - On the top of the mount. Not, probably, on the highest point of the Sinaitic group, the Jebel Musa, which is out of sight from the plain Er-Rahah, where the Israelites must have been assembled; but on the highest part of the face of Sinai fronting that plain, the Ras Sufsafeh, which would be to the Israelites at the base "the top of the mount." The Lord called Moses up. Perhaps with Aaron, who certainly accompanied him when he next ascended (ver. 24), and who seems to be glanced at in the phrase used at the end of ver. 23

CHAPTER 19:21-25 God then commanded Moses to prepare the people for His appearing or speaking to them: (1) by their sanctification, through the washing of the body and clothes (see Genesis 35:2), and abstinence from conjugal intercourse (Exodus 19:15) on account of the defilement connected therewith (Leviticus 15:18); and (2) by setting bounds round the people, that they might not ascend or touch the mountain. The hedging or bounding (הגבּיל) of the people is spoken of in Exodus 19:23 as setting bounds about the mountain, and consisted therefore in the erection of a barrier round the mountain, which was to prevent the people form ascending or touching it. Any one who touched it (קצהוּ, "its end," i.e., the outermost or lowest part of the mountain) was to be put to death, whether man or beast. "No hand shall touch him" (the individual who passed the barrier and touched the mountain), i.e., no one was to follow him within the appointed boundaries, but he was to be killed from a distance either by stones or darts. (יּיּרה for יוּרה, see Gesenius, 69.) Not till "the drawing out of the trumpet blast," or, as Luther renders it, "only when it sounded long," could they ascend the mountain (Exodus 19:13). היּבל, from יבל to stream violently with noise, is synonymous with היּבל קרן (Joshua 6:5), and was really the same thing as the שׁופר, i.e., a long wind instrument shaped like a horn. היּבל משׁך is to draw the horn, i.e., to blow the horn with tones long drawn out. This was done either to give a signal to summon the people to war (Judges 3:27; Judges 6:34), or to call them to battle (Judges 7:18; Job 39:24-25, etc.), or for other public proclamations. No one (this is the idea) was to ascend the mountain on pain of death, or even to touch its outermost edge; but when the horn was blown with a long blast, and the signal to approach was given thereby, then they might ascend it (see Exodus 19:21), - of course not 600,000 men, which would have been physically impossible, but the people in the persons of their representatives the elders. בּהר עלות signifies to go up the mountain in Exodus 19:13 as well as in Exodus 19:12, and not merely to come to the foot of the mountain (see Deuteronomy 5:5).
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