And he said to him, If your presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Exodus 33:15-16. If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence — Let us rather live and die in the wilderness, with thy presence and favour, than go into Canaan without it; for even that promise of rest I regard not unless thou be with us, and accept us. Thus he shows how highly he valued the special presence of God. He dreaded the very thought of going forward without it. For wherein shall it be known — To the nations that have their eyes upon us, and to future ages: by what other token shall it be manifest to them; that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? — That we really are thy people, and under thy peculiar protection and care? Is it not that thou goest with us? — Can any thing short of this answer this end? So shall we be separated, I and thy people — Distinguished by thy peculiar kindness, and the privileges vouchsafed to us; or shall be made wonderful, eminent, and glorious, (as the word נפלינו, niphlinu, rather means,) above all other people.Deuteronomy 3:20; Joshua 1:13, Joshua 1:15; compare Hebrews 4:8.
as Moses entered—It was when he appeared as their mediator, when he repaired from day to day to intercede for them, that welcome token of assurance was given that his advocacy prevailed, that Israel's sin was forgiven, and that God would again be gracious.
if thy presence go not with me; or with us, as it may be as well supplied, and which agrees with what follows:
carry us not up hence; from the mount to the land of Canaan; though God had promised his presence, which was the thing requested, Moses could not forbear expressing himself after this manner, to show the high esteem he had of this blessing, and how worthless and insignificant everything else was without it; that even Canaan, the land of rest promised, was nothing in comparison of it: it is not much matter where we are, or what we have, if God is not with us; but if he grants his presence, the greatest hardships in a wilderness are made easy, and difficulties are got through with pleasure; though some read the words in the preceding verse by way of interrogation, "should my face" or "presence go", and "should it give thee rest" (z)? as carrying in it a kind of denial, which makes Moses here more urgent for it, and such a version those words seem to require.And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)15. Moses replies that if Jehovah will not go with them, they prefer to remain where they are, in the neighbourhood of their God (Exodus 19:4), at Sinai.Verses 15, 16. - And he said. Still Moses is not quite satisfied. God had said - "I will give thee rest" - not "I will give you rest." Moses must see distinctly that the people are associated with him before he desists. So he replies - "If thy presence go not up, carry us not up hence. For wherein shall it be known that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? Is it not in that thou goest with us?" The reply in ver. 17 sets his doubt finally at rest. Exodus 25., which was not made till after the perfect restoration of the covenant (Exodus 35.), nor another sanctuary that had come down from their forefathers and was used before the tabernacle was built, as Clericus, J. D. Michaelis, Rosenmller, and others suppose; but a tent belonging to Moses, which was made into a temporary sanctuary by the fact that the pillar of cloud came down upon it, and Jehovah talked with Moses there, and which was called by the same name as the tabernacle, viz., מועד אחל (see at Exodus 27:21), because Jehovah revealed Himself there, and every one who sought Him had to go to this tent outside the camp. There were two reasons for this: in the first place, Moses desired thereby to lead the people to a fuller recognition of their separation from their God, that their penitence might be deepened in consequence; and in the second place, he wished to provide such means of intercourse with Jehovah as would not only awaken in the minds of the people a longing for the renewal of the covenant, but render the restoration of the covenant possible. And this end was answered. Not only did every one who sought Jehovah go out to the tent, but the whole nation looked with the deepest reverence when Moses went out to the tent, and bowed in adoration before the Lord, every one in front of his tent, when they saw the pillar of cloud come down upon the tent and stand before the door. Out of this cloud Jehovah talked with Moses (Exodus 33:7-10) "face to face, as a man talks with his friend" (Exodus 33:11); that is to say, not from the distance of heaven, through any kind of medium whatever, but "mouth to mouth," as it is called in Numbers 12:8, as closely and directly as friends talk to one another. "These words indicate, therefore, a familiar conversation, just as much as if it had been said, that God appeared to Moses in some peculiar form of manifestation. If any one objects to this, that it is at variance with the assertion which we shall come to presently, 'Thou canst not see My face,' the answer is a very simple one. Although Jehovah showed Himself to Moses in some peculiar form of manifestation, He never appeared in His own essential glory, but only in such a mode as human weakness could bear. This solution contains a tacit comparison, viz., that there never was any one equal to Moses, or who had attained to the same dignity as he" (Calvin). When Moses returned to the tent, his servant Joshua remained behind as guard. - This condescension on the part of Jehovah towards Moses could not fail to strengthen the people in their reliance upon their leader, as the confidant of Jehovah. And Moses himself was encouraged thereby to endeavour to effect a perfect restoration of the covenant bond that had been destroyed.
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