Exodus 34:9
And he said, If now I have found grace in your sight, O LORD, let my LORD, I pray you, go among us; for it is a stiff necked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.
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(9) If now, I have found grace in thy sight.—Rather, Since now, &c. The evidences of God’s favour towards him—which Moses had now experienced, emboldened him to prefer fresh requests on behalf of the people. God has promised to go up in the midst of them; will He not also promise to forgive their iniquity and sin if they offend Him in the way, and permanently to attach them to Himself by making them “His inheritance?” God does not directly answer these prayers, but indirectly accepts them by renewing His covenant with Israel (Exodus 34:10; Exodus 34:27).

Exodus 34:9. And he said, I pray thee go among us — Thus Moses prays for the things God had already promised, not as doubting the sincerity of God’s grants, but as one solicitous for the ratification of them. But it is a strange plea he urges; for it is a stiff-necked people — God had given this as a reason why he would not go along with them, Exodus 33:3. Yea, saith Moses, the rather go along with us; for the worse they are, the more need they have of thy presence. Moses sees them so stiff-necked, that he has neither patience nor power enough to deal with them; therefore, Lord, do thou go among us; else they will never be kept in awe; thou wilt spare, and bear with them, for thou art God and not man.34:5-9 The Lord descended by some open token of his presence and manifestation of his glory in a cloud, and thence proclaimed his NAME; that is, the perfections and character which are denoted by the name JEHOVAH. The Lord God is merciful; ready to forgive the sinner, and to relieve the needy. Gracious; kind, and ready to bestow undeserved benefits. Long-suffering; slow to anger, giving time for repentance, only punishing when it is needful. He is abundant in goodness and truth; even sinners receive the riches of his bounty abundantly, though they abuse them. All he reveals is infallible truth, all he promises is in faithfulness. Keeping mercy for thousands; he continually shows mercy to sinners, and has treasures, which cannot be exhausted, to the end of time. Forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin; his mercy and goodness reach to the full and free forgiveness of sin. And will by no means clear the guilty; the holiness and justice of God are part of his goodness and love towards all his creatures. In Christ's sufferings, the Divine holiness and justice are fully shown, and the evil of sin is made known. God's forgiving mercy is always attended by his converting, sanctifying grace. None are pardoned but those who repent and forsake the allowed practice of every sin; nor shall any escape, who abuse, neglect, or despise this great salvation. Moses bowed down, and worshipped reverently. Every perfection in the name of God, the believer may plead with Him for the forgiveness of his sins, the making holy of his heart, and the enlargement of the Redeemer's kingdom.This yearning struggle after assurance is like the often-repeated utterance of the heart, when it receives a blessing beyond its hopes, "can this be real?" 9, 10. he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us—On this proclamation, he, in the overflowing benevolence of s heart, founded an earnest petition for the Divine Presence being continued with the people; and God was pleased to give His favorable answer to Moses' intercession by a renewal of His promise under the form of a covenant, repeating the leading points that formed the conditions of the former national compact. It is a stiff-necked people, and therefore need thy glorious and powerful presence to rule them. Or rather,

though it be a stiff-necked people, as thou sayest, yet forsake them not. The Hebrew particle chi oft signifies though, as Exodus 5:11 Isaiah 44:6.

Take us for thine inheritance, i.e. deal with us as men do with their inheritances, dwell among us, protect us, improve us. And he said, if now I have found grace in thy sight,.... Or "seeing now", for he could have no doubt upon his mind but that he had found grace and favour in the sight of God, since he had caused his goodness and glory to pass before him, and made such a proclamation of his grace and mercy to him; but he takes it for granted, and improves it, and argues upon it, as follows:

O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go amongst us; as the Lord had signified as if he would not go among them, but leave them to the conduct of a created angel; and Moses had before prayed that his presence or face might go with them, Exodus 33:3 and now having some fresh tokens of the favour and good will of God towards him, renews his request with great earnestness and importunity, entreating the Lord Jehovah the Father, that Moses's Lord Jehovah the Son, the Angel of God's presence, in whom his name was, might go with them, as he had said he should:

for it is a stiffnecked people; and therefore have need of such an one to be with them, to rule and govern them, to restrain and keep them within due bounds; or "though (m) it is a stiffnecked people"; for this is the reason given by the Lord why he would not go among them, Exodus 33:3 wherefore Moses prays that he would go, notwithstanding this; he owns the character of them was just, yet humbly prays that God would nevertheless vouchsafe his presence:

and pardon our iniquity, and our sin; which he had the greater reason to hope he would, since he had just proclaimed his name, a God pardoning iniquity, transgression, and sin; and, the more to gain his suit, makes himself a party concerned, calling the sin committed, "our iniquity, and our sin"; even his among the rest, who had found grace in the sight of God, and therefore entreats others might also, since they were all sinners, and there was forgiveness with him:

and take us for thine inheritance; to possess and enjoy, protect and defend, cultivate and improve, keep and preserve for ever.

(m) Quamvis, Piscator, Patrick; so R. Marinus in Aben Ezra; and some in Abendana.

And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; {b} for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance.

(b) Seeing the people are of this nature, the rulers need to call on God that he would always be present with his Spirit.

9. Jehovah’s ‘ways’ (Exodus 33:13) and character having now been disclosed to Moses, he again entreats Jehovah, who is ready to forgive (v. 7a), to pardon His people’s sin, and give proof that He has again received them into His favour, by going personally with them to Canaan. Exodus 33:14 (see note) should now probably follow as the answer.

9. stiffnecked] This character of the people (Exodus 32:9, Exodus 33:3; Exodus 33:5) is here made the motive for its being treated with favour and forgiven.

for thine inheritance] The thought of Israel being Jehovah’s inheritance occurs in Deuteronomy 4:20; Deuteronomy 9:26; Deuteronomy 9:29, and in the Song, Exodus 32:9, but not elsewhere in the earlier books of the Pentateuch.Verses 9-26. - THE RENEWAL OF THE COVENANT. Dazed, as it would seem, by the splendour of the vision which he had beheld, Moses forgot that God had already pledged himself to renew the covenant, and lead the people in person to Canaan. In his forgetfulness, he once more set himself to intercede with God on their behalf, and besought him -

1. That he would go up with them;

2. That he would pardon them; and

3. That he would once more take them as his inheritance (ver. 9). Without replying separately to these requests, God formally renews the covenant; promises not only to go up with the people, but to work miracles for them (ver. 10), and to drive out the nations before them when they have arrived (ver. 11); and makes a brief summary of the chief points of positive observance, which he requires of them in addition to the moral law. These points may be reduced to twelve: -

1. That no treaty of peace should be made with the Canaanite nations (ver. 12).

2. That all their images, altars, and groves should be destroyed (ver. 13).

3. That no molten image should be made to represent God (ver. 17).

4. That the Passover festival should be observed as previously commanded (ver. 18).

5. That the first-born should be dedicated, or redeemed (vers. 19, 20).

6. That the Sabbath rest should be observed at all times of the year (ver. 21).

7. That the feast of Pentecost (weeks) should be observed regularly (ver. 22).

8. That the feast of tabernacles should also be observed (ib,).

9. That at all the three great festivals all the males should appear before God (ver. 23).

10. That no leaven should be used with any sacrifice (ver. 25).

11. That first-fruits of all things should be offered to God (ver. 26).

12. That no kid should be seethed in her mother's milk (ver. 26). Verse 9. - If now I have found grace in thy sight. The vision vouchsafed him makes Moses feel that he has indeed been received into favour with God. The first use which it occurs to him to make of his position is to intercede anew for his people, he, apparently, forgets that God has already promised to go with them (Exodus 33:17), and prefers exactly the same request which he had made on the preceding day, and which had been granted. To this he adds a prayer for pardon, and a request that God would take Israel for his inheritance. The last phrase is a new one, but expresses perhaps no more than has been implied in such phrases as "thy people, which thou hast purchased" (Exodus 15:16) - "ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me" (Exodus 19:5). When Moses had restored the covenant bond through his intercession (Exodus 33:14), he was directed by Jehovah to hew out two stones, like the former ones which he had broken, and to come with them the next morning up the mountain, and Jehovah would write upon them the same words as upon the first,

(Note: Namely, the ten words in Exodus 20:2-17, not the laws contained in Exodus 34:12-26 of this chapter, as Gthe and Hitzig suppose. See Hengstenberg, Dissertations ii. p. 319, and Kurtz on the Old Covenant iii.182ff.)

and thus restore the covenant record. It was also commanded, as in the former case (Exodus 19:12-13), that no one should go up the mountain with him, or be seen upon it, and that not even cattle should feed against the mountain, i.e., in the immediate neighbourhood (Exodus 34:3). The first tables of the covenant were called "tables of stone" (Exodus 24:12; Exodus 31:18); the second, on the other hand, which were hewn by Moses, are called "tables of stones" (Exodus 34:1 and Exodus 34:4); and the latter expression is applied indiscriminately to both of them in Deuteronomy 4:13; Deuteronomy 5:19; Deuteronomy 9:9-11; Deuteronomy 10:1-4. This difference does not indicate a diversity in the records, but may be explained very simply from the fact, that the tables prepared by Moses were hewn from two stones, and not both from the same block; whereas all that could be said of the former, which had been made by God Himself, was that they were of stone, since no one knew whether God had used one stone or two for the purpose. There is apparently far more importance in the following distinction, that the second tables were delivered by Moses and only written upon by God, whereas in the case of the former both the writing and the materials came from God. This cannot have been intended either as a punishment for the nation (Hengstenberg), or as "the sign of a higher stage of the covenant, inasmuch as the further the reciprocity extended, the firmer was the covenant" (Baumgarten). It is much more natural to seek for the cause, as Rashi does, in the fact, that Moses had broken the first in pieces; only we must not regard it as a sign that God disapproved of the manifestation of anger on the part of Moses, but rather as a recognition of his zealous exertions for the restoration of the covenant which had been broken by the sin of the nation. As Moses had restored the covenant through his energetic intercession, he should also provide the materials for the renewal of the covenant record, and bring them to God, for Him to complete and confirm the record by writing the covenant words upon the tables.

On the following morning, when Moses ascended the mountain, Jehovah granted him the promised manifestation of His glory (Exodus 34:5.). The description of this unparalleled occurrence is in perfect harmony with the mysterious and majestic character of the revelation. "Jehovah descended (from heaven) in the cloud, and stood by him there, and proclaimed the name of Jehovah; and Jehovah passed by in his sight, and proclaimed Jehovah, Jehovah God, merciful and gracious," etc. What Moses saw we are not told, but simply the words in which Jehovah proclaimed all the glory of His being; whilst it is recorded of Moses, that he bowed his head toward the earth and worshipped. This "sermon on the name of the Lord," as Luther calls it, disclosed to Moses the most hidden nature of Jehovah. It proclaimed that God is love, but that kind of love in which mercy, grace, long-suffering, goodness, and truth are united with holiness and justice. As the merciful One, who is great in goodness and truth, Jehovah shows mercy to the thousandth, forgiving sin and iniquity in long-suffering and grace; but He does not leave sin altogether unpunished, and in His justice visits the sin of the fathers upon the children and the children's children even unto the fourth generation. The Lord had already revealed Himself to the whole nation from Mount Sinai as visiting sin and showing mercy (Exodus 20:5.). But whereas on that occasion the burning zeal of Jehovah which visits sin stood in the foreground, and mercy only followed afterwards, here grace, mercy, and goodness are placed in the front. And accordingly all the words which the language contained to express the idea of grace in its varied manifestations to the sinner, are crowded together here, to reveal the fact that in His inmost being God is love. But in order that grace may not be perverted by sinners into a ground of wantonness, justice is not wanting even here with its solemn threatenings, although it only follows mercy, to show that mercy is mightier than wrath, and that holy love does not punish til sinners despise the riches of the goodness, patience, and long-suffering of God. As Jehovah here proclaimed His name, so did He continue to bear witness of it to the Israelites, from their departure from Sinai till their entrance into Canaan, and from that time forward till their dispersion among the heathen, and even now in their exile showing mercy to the thousandth, when they turn to the Redeemer who has come out of Zion.

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