Exodus 33:8
And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle.
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(8) When Moses went out . . . all the people rose up.—As a mark of respect and reverence. (Comp. Esther 5:9.)

The cloudy pillar descended.—During the stay of the Israelites in the plain at the foot of Sinai, the ordinary place occupied by the pillar of the cloud was the summit of the mount (Exodus 19:16; Exodus 19:20; Exodus 20:21; Exodus 24:15-18; Exodus 34:5). At this time, whenever Moses entered the temporary tabernacle, the cloud came down from Sinai, ascending again when he quitted it.

And the Lord talked with Moses.—Heb., and talked with Moses. The “cloudy pillar” is the subject of the verb “talked.” It is here identified with God, who manifested Himself through it.

Exodus 33:8. When Moses went out unto the tabernacle — Namely, to intercede with God for the people, all the people stood every man at his tent door — Acknowledging themselves unworthy to approach nearer; and looked after Moses — To observe what signs of favour he should receive from God in answer to his prayers. Hereby, also, they showed their grief for God’s departure, their respect to Moses, whom they had lately slighted, their dependance on his mediation, and concern about the issue of it.

33:7-11 Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp. This seems to have been a temporary building, set up for worship, and at which he judged disputes among the people. The people looked after him; they were very desirous to be at peace with God, and concerned to know what would come to pass. The cloudy pillar which had withdrawn from the camp when it was polluted with idolatry, now returned. If our hearts go forth toward God to meet him, he will graciously come to meet us.The tabernacle - The tent. The only word in the Old Testament which ought to be rendered "tabernacle" משׁכן mı̂shkān does not occur once in this narrative Exodus 26:1. What is here meant is a tent appointed for this temporary purpose by Moses, possibly that in which he was accustomed to dwell.

Pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp - That the people might feel that they had forfeited the divine presence (see Exodus 25:8). This tent was to be a place for meeting with Yahweh, like the tabernacle which was about to be constructed.

The tent of meeting (as it should be called, see Exodus 27:21 note, and note at end of Exodus 40) was placed "afar off from the camp," and the mediator and his faithful servant Joshua were alone admitted to it Exodus 33:11.

8. all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door—Its removal produced deep and universal consternation; and it is easy to conceive how anxiously all eyes would be directed towards it; how rapidly the happy intelligence would spread, when a phenomenon was witnessed from which an encouraging hope could be founded. Testifying their grief for God’s departure, their respect to Moses, whom they had lately despised, their earnest desire of his intercession for them, their longing for God’s favour, and their humble expectation of a gracious return from God by the hands of Moses.

And it came to pass, when Moses went out of the tabernacle,.... For when he had pitched it he did not continue there; which shows it was not the tent or tabernacle he dwelt in, but whither he went to and fro, both to meet the Lord in it, and transact the affairs of the people, and especially the great affair now depending between God and them:

that all the people rose up: in reverence of him as their ruler, and the minister of God, and as their Mediator between God and them, though they had but lately thought and spoke very meanly and contemptibly of him, Exodus 32:1 see Job 29:8.

and stood every man at his tent door; none offering to go in, nor to sit down until he was gone into the tabernacle, which was an instance of their respect to him:

and looked after Moses until he was gone into the tabernacle; kept their eye on him as long as they could see him, thereby expressing their esteem of him, signifying their desire that he would intercede for them, and wishing him success therein: the Targum of Jonathan interprets all this of the ungodly among them that looked after Moses with an evil eye.

And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle.
8. Whenever Moses went out to the Tent, all the people would rise up, and follow him reverently with their eyes. The camp seems to be pictured on a much smaller scale by E than by P.

door] lit. opening: so vv. 9, 10, and regularly with ‘tent.’

Verse 8. - When Moses went out .... all the people rose up. Probably Moses "went out" at a set time, or at set times, each day; and the people watched for his going, and "rose up," as a mark of respect and reverence. They felt that he went to the tent mainly to pray for them. Exodus 33:8Moses then took a tent, and pitched it outside the camp, at some distance off, and called it "tent of meeting." The "tent" is neither the sanctuary of the tabernacle described in 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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