lest they make thee sin against me; by their ill examples and persuasions, drawing them into idolatry, than which there is no greater sin against God, it being not only contrary to his law, his mind, and will, but directly against his nature, being, perfections, and glory:
for if thou serve their gods, or "for thou wilt serve" (t); this would be the consequence of their dwelling in the land, they would draw the Israelites into the worship of their idols, to which they were naturally prone; and should they commit idolatry:
it will surely be a snare unto thee: idolatry would be the cause of their ruin and destruction, they would be snared by it, as fishes in a net, or birds and beasts by traps and gins; or "for it will be a snare" (u), that is, the Canaanites dwelling among them would be a snare to draw them into their idolatry, and go into ruin.
(t) "quia servies", Malvenda. (u) "quia erit", Pagninus, Montanus, Drusius.
INTRODUCTION TO Exodus 24
In this chapter we have an account that Moses was ordered to come up to the Lord alone, Exodus 24:1, but that before he did go up, he related to the people all the above laws delivered to him, which they promised obedience to, and so a covenant was made between God and the people by sacrifice, and by the sprinkling of blood, Exodus 24:3, upon which he and Aaron, and his two sons and seventy elders of Israel, went up part of the mountain, and had a vision of God, Exodus 24:9, when Moses with Joshua was called, and went up higher, until at length he entered into the cloud where the Lord was, and continued forty days and forty nights, Exodus 24:12.
come up unto the Lord; meaning either to himself, or one divine Person called to Moses to come up to another: according to the Targum of Jonathan, it was Michael, the prince of wisdom; not a created angel, but the eternal Word, Wisdom, and Son of God; who said this on the seventh day of the month, which was the day after the giving of the law, or ten commands; though Jarchi says this paragraph was before the ten commands, and was said on the fourth of Sivan; but the Targumist seems most correct:
come up unto the Lord, thou and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; Nadab and Abihu were the two eldest sons of Aaron, Exodus 6:23 and the seventy elders were not all the elders of Israel, but were so many of them selected out of them, the chief and principal; who were heads of tribes and families, and were no doubt many, if not all of them, of those who by the advice of Jethro were chosen to be rulers of thousands, hundreds, and fifties; these were called to come up to the Lord on the mountain, but not to the top of it, only Moses went thither:
and worship ye afar off: from the people, and even at a distance from Moses; for he only was admitted near to God, as the following verse shows.
but they shall not come nigh; Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel:
neither shall the people go up with him; not any of them, much less the whole body. It seems, by this account, that Moses had been down from the mount after he had received the laws recorded in the two preceding chapters; though as yet he had not related them to the people, but did before he went up again by the above order, as appears from what follows.
and all the people answered with one voice; one speaking for, and in the name of the rest, or they all lift up their voice together, and being unanimous in their sentiments, expressed them in the same words:
and said, all the words which the Lord hath said will we do; that is, they would be careful to observe all the laws, statutes, judgments, and commands which the Lord had enjoined them; and less than this they could not say, for they had promised Moses, that if he would draw nigh to God, and hear what he should say, and deliver it to them, they would hearken to it, and obey it, as if they had heard God himself speak it; only they entreated the Lord would speak no more to them, as he did the ten commands, it being so terrible to them.
and rose up early in the morning: not on the fifth of Sivan, as Jarchi, the day before the giving of the law, but on the eighth of that month, two days after it:
and built an altar under the hill: under Mount Sinai, about the place where the bounds were set, beyond which the people were not to go:
and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel: to answer to them, and which were to represent them, as seems by the following account; these probably were made of marble stone, of which Mount Sinai consisted, and of which there was plenty thereabout.
which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the Lord; by way of thankfulness; and such were used at making covenants, when the parties ate and drank together. The Vulgate Latin version has it, "twelve calves", without any authority for it.
and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar; the Targum of Onkelos adds, to atone for the people. But the altar here seems to represent the Lord, who was one of the parties covenanting, and therefore is sprinkled with blood as a ratification of the covenant on his part, and the promises of it.
and read in the audience of the people; he had rehearsed what was contained in it from his memory, by word of mouth, to which they had assented, Exodus 24:3 and having written the same in a book, he read it to them distinctly, that they might the better take notice of the contents of it:
and they said, all that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient; which is a repetition and confirmation of what they had before said, and is expressed in stronger terms; so that this was not done suddenly and inconsiderately, and yet they seem not to be so well apprised of their own inability to keep the laws of God, and of the treachery of their own hearts as to their regard to them; see Deuteronomy 5:28.
and sprinkled it on the people; not on the whole body of the people, who could not be brought nigh enough, and were too numerous to be all sprinkled with it; though the apostle so expresses it, a part being put for the whole, Hebrews 9:19 either this was sprinkled on the young men that offered the sacrifices in the name of all the people; or on the seventy elders, as the heads of them, so Aben Ezra; or upon the twelve pillars, which answered to the twelve tribes, and represented them as the altar did the Lord:
and said, behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words; being a ratification of the covenant on both sides, having been sprinkled both upon the altar, and upon the people. In allusion to which, the blood of Christ is sometimes called the blood of sprinkling, and which, sprinkled upon the mercy seat, calls for pardon for men; and sprinkled on their consciences, speaks peace and pardon to them, and cleanses from all sin; and sometimes the blood of the everlasting covenant, the covenant of grace made with him, by which it is ratified and confirmed; and our Lord may have regard to this rite and mode of expression in Matthew 26:28.
and seventy of the elders of Israel, who were called up to the mountain to the Lord, Exodus 24:1.
and there was under his feet; which shows that there was a visible form, and that human; nor is this contrary to what is said, "ye saw no similitude"; Deuteronomy 4:12, since what is here related does not respect the same time, nor the same persons; this was after the giving of the ten commands, that at the time of it; this is said of the seventy elders, with Moses, Aaron, and his two sons, that of all the people:
as it were paved work of a sapphire stone: like a pavement pitched with sapphire. The Septuagint version is,"and they saw the place where the God of Israel stood, and what were under his feet, as the work of a sapphire brick.''The sapphire stones, of which the pavement was, were as broad as bricks, and being like a brick, was a memorial, as the Targum of Jonathan says, of the servitude the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with in clay and bricks; but being a sapphire, bright and glorious, may denote the liberty they now enjoyed in exchange for their bondage. And the Targum of Jonathan understands it of the colour, and not of the form of the sapphire, and renders it, the white sapphire; and so do some Jewish writers (w); though the colour of the sapphire is azure, or sky coloured, with which agrees what follows:
and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness; and Ruaeus (x) says, the sapphire is sky coloured, and some of them shine and sparkle with golden points or spots, and are reckoned the best sapphires; so that this represents the heaven as quite clear and serene, bespangled with stars; and as the heavens, covered with clouds, may denote the displeasure of God, so a serene heaven his favour and good will, and in such an amiable light was he now beheld.
(w) Saadiah Gaon in Aben Ezra, & R. Jonah in Ben Melech in loc. (x) De Gemmis, c. 2.
also they saw God, and did eat and drink: though they saw God, they continued alive and well, and in good health, of which their eating and drinking were a sign and evidence; or they ate, as Abendana, the sacrifices of the peace offerings, which were usually eaten by the priests and the people; and as a feast was common at covenant making, here was a feast kept by the elders, the representatives of the people, when they covenanted with God. Onkelos favours this sense,"and they rejoiced in their sacrifices, which were accepted with good will, as if they had ate and drank.''
and be there; continue there, as he did six days after this:
and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that is, the law of the ten commandments, which were written on tables of stone by the Lord himself; he had already spoken them in the hearing of the people, but now he had wrote them, and that in tables of stone; partly for the duration of them, and partly to represent the hardness of the hearts of the Israelites, the stubbornness of their wills to comply with his law, their contumacy and obstinate persistence in disobedience to it:
that thou mayest teach them; these being in hand and sight, would have an opportunity of explaining them to them and inculcating them on their minds, and pressing them to yield an obedience to them.
and Moses went up into the mount of God; Mount Sinai, where he had formerly appeared to him in a bush, and now had descended on it to give the law, and was still upon it, where his glory was seen; and therefore might, with great propriety, be called the mount of God; to the top of which Moses was preparing to go, but before he went gave the following instructions.
tarry ye here for us; meaning himself and Joshua, who was going with him:
until we come again unto you; perhaps Moses might not know how long his stay would be at the top of the mount, but supposed it would be some time by the provision he makes for hearing and adjusting cases in his absence:
and behold, Aaron and Hur are with you; Hur is not mentioned before, as being with Moses and the rest; but doubtless he was, at least it is highly probable he was one of the seventy elders of him; see Gill on Exodus 17:10.
if any man have any matters to do: any cases to be considered, any cause to be tried in difference between him and another man, and which cannot be determined by the inferior judges, is too difficult for them to take in hand:
let him come unto them; bring his case before them, and have their advice and opinion, and be determined by them.
and a cloud covered the mount; in which cloud Jehovah was.
and the cloud covered it six days; either the glory of the Lord, so that it could not be seen it had been; or the mount, as Jarchi; but that is observed before, unless repeated for the sake of the time it covered it, six days; or him, Moses, as some in Jarchi, who for six days together was covered with a thick cloud, so that he was not seen by any while on the mountain; and thus he remained, until he was admitted into the immediate presence of God, for which he was now preparing: what he did, or was made known to him during this time, is not said; it is probable his thoughts were employed about the glory and greatness of the divine Being; and as he was abstracted from earthly men and things, he was more at leisure to contemplate on divine and heavenly things, and so was more fitted for an intercourse with God, and had more courage and presence of mind to enter into it:
and on the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud; in which the glory of God was, and which seems to favour the first sense of the preceding clause, that it was the glory of God the cloud covered.