Exodus 33:20
Parallel Verses
English Standard Version
But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.”

King James Bible
And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

American Standard Version
And he said, Thou canst not see my face; for man shall not see me and live.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And again he said: Thou canst not see my face: for man shall not see me and live.

English Revised Version
And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for man shall not see me and live.

Webster's Bible Translation
And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

Exodus 33:20 Parallel
Commentary
Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament

Jehovah had commanded Moses to lead the people to Canaan, and promised him the guidance of an angel; but He had expressly distinguished this angel from His own personal presence (Exodus 33:1-3). Moreover, though it has not been mentioned before, Jehovah had said to Moses, "I have known thee by name," - i.e., I have recognised thee as Mine, and chosen and called thee to execute My will (cf. Isaiah 43:1; Isaiah 49:1), or put thee into "a specifically personal relation to God, which was peculiar to Moses, and therefore was associated with his name" (Oehler); - "and thou hast also found grace in My eyes," inasmuch as God had granted a hearing to his former intercession. Moses now reminded the Lord of this divine assurance with such courage as can only be produced by faith, which wrestles with God and will not let Him go without a blessing (Genesis 32:27); and upon the strength of this he presented the petition (Exodus 33:13), "Let me know Thy way (the way which Thou wilt take with me and with this people), that I may know Thee, in order that I may find grace in Thine eyes, and see that this people is Thy people." The meaning is this: If I have found grace in Thy sight, and Thou hast recognised me as Thy servant, and called me to be the leader of this people, do not leave me in uncertainty as to Thine intentions concerning the people, or as to the angel whom Thou wilt give as a guide to me and the nation, that I may know Thee, that is to say, that my finding grace in Thine eyes may become a reality;

(Note: Domine fac ut verbis tuis respondeat eventus. Calvin.)

and if Thou wilt lead the people up to Canaan, consider that it is Thine own people, to whom Thou must acknowledge Thyself as its God. Such boldness of undoubting faith presses to the heart of God, and brings away the blessing. Jehovah replied (Exodus 33:14), "My face will go, and I shall give thee rest," - that is to say, shall bring thee and all this people into the land, where ye will find rest (Deuteronomy 3:20). The "face" of Jehovah is Jehovah in His own personal presence, and is identical with the "angel" in whom the name of Jehovah was (Exodus 23:20-21), and who is therefore called in Isaiah 63:9 "the angel of His face."

With this assurance on the part of God, the covenant bond was completely restored. But to make more sure of it. Moses replied (Exodus 33:15, Exodus 33:16), "If Thy face is not going (with us), lead us not up hence. And whereby shall it be known that I have found grace in thine eyes, I and Thy people, if not (lit., is it not known) in Thy going with us, that we, I and Thy people, are distinguished (see at Exodus 8:18) before every nation upon the face of the earth?" These words do not express any doubt as to the truth of the divine assurance, "but a certain feeling of the insufficiency of the assurance," inasmuch as even with the restoration of the former condition of things there still remained "the fear lest the evil root of the people's rebellion, which had once manifested itself, should bread forth again at any moment" (Baumgarten). For this reason Jehovah assured him that this request also should be granted (Exodus 33:17). "There was nothing extraordinary in the fact that Moses desired for himself and his people that they might be distinguished before every nation upon the face of the earth; this was merely the firm hold of faith upon the calling and election of God (Exodus 19:5-6)."

Exodus 33:20 Parallel Commentaries

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

thou canst not. This is well explained by Rabbi Jehudah, in Sepher Cosri, 'Of that divine glory mentioned in the scripture, there is one degree which the eyes of the prophets were able to explore; another which all the Israelites saw, as the cloud and consuming fire; the third is so bright, and so dazzling, that no mortal is able to comprehend it; but should anyone venture to look on it, his whole frame would be dissolved.' In such inconceivable splendour is the Divine Majesty revealed to the inhabitants of the celestial world, where he is said to 'dwell in the light which no man can approach unto.' By the 'face of God,' therefore, we are to understand that light inaccessible before which angels may stand, but which would be so insufferable to mortal eyes, that no man could see it and live.

Exodus 24:10 And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone...

Genesis 32:30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

Deuteronomy 5:24 And you said, Behold, the LORD our God has showed us his glory and his greatness...

Judges 6:22 And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the LORD, Gideon said, Alas...

Judges 13:22 And Manoah said to his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.

Isaiah 6:5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the middle of a people of unclean lips...

John 1:18 No man has seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him.

1 Timothy 6:16 Who only has immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach to; whom no man has seen, nor can see...

Hebrews 1:13 But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool?

Revelation 1:16,17 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two edged sword...

Cross References
John 1:18
No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known.

1 Timothy 6:16
who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

Genesis 32:30
So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, "For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered."

Exodus 33:18
Moses said, "Please show me your glory."

Exodus 33:23
Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen."

Judges 6:22
Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the LORD. And Gideon said, "Alas, O Lord GOD! For now I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face."

Isaiah 6:5
And I said: "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!"

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