Notes for Exodus 24:1LEB

Exod 24 is the high point of the book in many ways, but most importantly, here Yahweh makes a covenant with the people – the Sinaitic Covenant. The unit not only serves to record the event in Israel’s becoming a nation, but it provides a paradigm of the worship of Yahweh’s covenant people – entering into the presence of the glory of Yahweh. See additionally W. A. Maier, "The Analysis of Exodus24 According to Modern Literary, Form, and Redaction Critical Methodology," Springfielder 37 (1973): Exodus 24:35-52LEB. The passage may be divided into four parts for exposition: vv. 1–2, the call for worship; vv. 3–8, the consecration of the worshipers; vv. 9–11, the confirmation of the covenant; and vv. 12–18, the communication with Yahweh.


"And he;" the referent (Yahweh) has been specified in the translation for clarity.


They were to come up to Yahweh after they had made the preparations that are found in vv. 3–8.


These seventy-four people were to go up the mountain to a certain point. Then they were to prostrate themselves and worship Yahweh as Moses went further up into the presence of Yahweh. Moses occupies the lofty position of mediator (as Yashuwa in the NT), for he alone ascends "to Yahweh" while everyone waits for his return. The emphasis of "bowing down" and that from "far off" stresses again the ominous presence that was on the mountain. This was the set-a-part Yahweh – only the designated mediator could draw near to him.


Notes for Exodus 24:2LEB

The verb is a perfect tense with a vav (ו) consecutive; it and the preceding perfect tense follow the imperative, and so have either a force of instruction, or, as taken here, are the equivalent of an imperfect tense (of permission).




Now the imperfect tense negated is used; here the prohibition would fit ("they will not come near"), or the obligatory ("they must not") in which the subjects are obliged to act – or not act in this case.


Notes for Exodus 24:3LEB

The general consensus among commentators is that this refers to Moses’ coming from the mountain after he made the ascent in Exodus 20:21LEB. Here he came and told them the laws (written in Exodus 20:22LEB Exodus 23:33LEB), and of the call to come up to Yahweh.


The Decalogue may not be included here because the people had heard those commands themselves earlier.


The text simply has "one voice" (קוֹל אֶחָד, qol ekhad); this is an adverbial accusative of manner, telling how the people answered – "in one voice," or unanimously (see GKC 375 §118.q).


The verb is the imperfect tense (נַעֲשֶׂה, naaseh), although the form could be classified as a cohortative. If the latter, they would be saying that they are resolved to do what Yahweh said. If it is an imperfect, then the desiderative would make the most sense: "we are willing to do." They are not presumptuously saying they are going to do all these things.


Notes for Exodus 24:4LEB

The two preterites quite likely form a verbal hendiadys (the verb "to get up early" is frequently in such constructions). Literally it says, "and he got up early [in the morning] and he built"; this means "early [in the morning] he built." The first verb becomes the adverb.




The verb "arranged" is not in the Hebrew text but has been supplied to clarify exactly what Moses did with the twelve stones.


The thing numbered is found in the singular when the number is plural – "twelve standing-stone." See GKC 433 §134.f. The "standing-stone" could be a small piece about a foot high, or a huge column higher than men. They served to commemorate treaties (Gen 32), or visions (Gen 28) or boundaries, or graves. Here it will function with the altar as a place of worship.


Notes for Exodus 24:5LEB

The construct has "young men of the Israelites," and so "Israelite" is a genitive that describes them.


The verbs and their respective accusatives are cognates. First, they offered up burnt offerings (see Lev 1), which is וַיַּעֲלוּ עֹלֹת (vayyaalu olot); then they sacrificed young bulls as peace sacrifices (Lev 3), which is in Hebrew וַיִּזְבְּחוּ זְבָחִים (vayyizbékhu zévakhim). In the first case the cognate accusative is the direct object; in the second it is an adverbial accusative of product. See on this covenant ritual H. M. Kamsler, "The Blood Covenant in the Bible," Dor le Dor 6 (1977): 94-98; E. W. Nicholson, "The Covenant Ritual in Exodus24:3–8, " VT 32 (1982): 74-86.


Notes for Exodus 24:6LEB

The people and Yahweh through this will be united by blood, for half was spattered on the altar and the other half spattered on/toward the people (v. 8).


Notes for Exodus 24:7LEB

The noun "book" would be the scroll just written containing the laws of chaps. 20–23. On the basis of this scroll the covenant would be concluded here. The reading of this book would assure the people that it was the same that they had agreed to earlier. But now their statement of willingness to obey would be more binding, because their promise would be confirmed by a covenant of blood.


"read it in the ears of."


A second verb is now added to the people’s response, and it is clearly an imperfect and not a cohortative, lending support for the choice of desiderative imperfect in these commitments – "we want to obey." This was their compliance with the covenant.


Notes for Exodus 24:8LEB

Given the size of the congregation, the preposition might be rendered here "toward the people" rather than on them (all).


The construct relationship "the blood of the covenant" means "the blood by which the covenant is ratified" (S. R. Driver, Exodus 254). The parallel with the inauguration of the new covenant in the blood of Yashuwa is striking (see, e.g., Matt 26:28LEB, 1 Cor 11:25LEB). When Yashuwa was inaugurating the new covenant, he was bringing to an end the old.


Notes for Exodus 24:9LEB

The verse begins with "and Moses went up, and Aaron…." This verse may supply the sequel to vv. 1–2. At any rate, Yahweh was now accepting them into his presence.


This next section is extremely interesting, but difficult to interpret. For some of the literature, see: E. W. Nicholson, "The Interpretation of Exodus 24:9–11LEB, " VT 24 (1974): 77-97; "The Antiquity of the Tradition in Exodus 24:9–11LEB, " VT 26 (1976): 148-60; and T. C. Vriezen, "The Exegesis of Exodus 24:9–11LEB, " OTS 17 (1967): 24-53.


Notes for Exodus 24:10LEB

S. R. Driver (Exodus 254) wishes to safeguard the traditional idea that Yahweh could not be seen by reading "they saw the place where the Yahweh of Israel stood" so as not to say they saw Yahweh. But according to U. Cassuto there is not a great deal of difference between "and they saw the Yahweh" and "Yahweh Yahweh appeared" (Exodus 314). He thinks that the word "Yahweh" is used instead of "Yahweh" to say that a divine phenomenon was seen. It is in the LXX that they add "the place where he stood." In v. 11b the LXX has "and they appeared in the place of Yahweh." See James Barr, "Theophany and Anthropomorphism in the Old Testament," VTSup 7 (1959): 31-33. There is no detailed description here of what they saw (cf. Isa 6; Ezek 1). What is described amounts to what a person could see when prostrate.


S. R. Driver suggests that they saw the divine Glory, not directly, but as they looked up from below, through what appeared to be a transparent blue sapphire pavement (Exodus 254).


Or "tiles."


"and like the body of heaven for clearness." The Hebrew term שָׁמַיִם (shamayim) may be translated "heaven" or "sky" depending on the context; here, where sapphire is mentioned (a blue stone) "sky" seems more appropriate, since the transparent blueness of the sapphire would appear like the blueness of the cloudless sky.


Notes for Exodus 24:11LEB

"he did not stretch out his hand," i.e., to destroy them.


The verb is חָזָה (khazah); it can mean "to see, perceive" or "see a vision" as the prophets did. The LXX safeguarded this by saying, "appeared in the place of Yahweh." B. Jacob says they beheld – prophetically, religiously (Exodus 746) – but the meaning of that is unclear. The fact that Yahweh did not lay a hand on them – to kill them – shows that they saw something that they never expected to see and live. Some Yashuwaian interpreters have taken this to refer to a glorious appearance of the preincarnate Yashuwa, the second person of the Trinity. They saw the brilliance of this manifestation – but not the detail. Later, Moses will still ask to see Yahweh’s glory – the real presence behind the phenomena.


This is the covenant meal, the peace offering, that they are eating there on the mountain. To eat from the sacrifice meant that they were at peace with Yahweh, in covenant with him. Likewise, in the new covenant believers draw near to Yahweh on the basis of sacrifice, and eat of the sacrifice because they are at peace with him, and in Yashuwa they see the Godhead revealed.


Notes for Exodus 24:12LEB

Now the last part is recorded in which Moses ascends to Yahweh to receive the tablets of stone. As Moses disappears into the clouds, the people are given a vision of the glory of Yahweh.


These are the stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments would be written. This is the first time they are mentioned. The commandments were apparently proclaimed by Yahweh first and then proclaimed to the people by Moses. Now that they have been formally agreed on and ratified, they will be written by Yahweh on stone for a perpetual covenant.


Or "namely"; or "that is to say." The vav (ו) on the noun does not mean that this is in addition to the tablets of stone; the vav is explanatory. Gesenius has "to wit"; see GKC 484-85 §154.a, n. 1(b).


The last word of the verse is לְהוֹרֹתָם (léhorotam), the Hiphil infinitive construct of יָרָה (yarah). It serves as a purpose clause, "to teach them," meaning "I am giving you this Law and these commands in order that you may teach them." This duty to teach the Law will be passed especially to parents (Deut 6:6–9LEB, Deut 6:20–25LEB) and to the tribe of Levi as a whole (Deut 33:9–10LEB; Mal 2:1–9LEB).


Notes for Exodus 24:13LEB

"and he arose" meaning "started to go."




Notes for Exodus 24:14LEB

The word הִנֵּה (hinneh) calls attention to the presence of Aaron and Hur to answer the difficult cases that might come up.


Or "issues to resolve." The term is simply דְּבָרִים (dévarim, "words, things, matters").


The imperfect tense here has the nuance of potential imperfect. In the absence of Moses and Joshua, Aaron and Hur will be available.


Attention to the preparation for Moses’ departure contributes to the weight of the guilt of the faithless Israelites (chap. 32) and of Aaron, to whom Moses had delegated an important duty.


Notes for Exodus 24:16LEB

The verb is וַיִּשְׁכֹּן (vayyishkon, "and dwelt, abode"). From this is derived the epithet "the Shekinah Glory," the dwelling or abiding glory. The "glory of Yahweh" was a display visible at a distance, clearly in view of the Israelites. To them it was like a consuming fire in the midst of the cloud that covered the mountain. That fire indicated that Yahweh wished to accept their sacrifice, as if it were a pleasant aroma to him, as Leviticus would say. This "appearance" indicated that the phenomena represented a shimmer of the likeness of his glory (B. Jacob, Exodus 749). The verb, according to U. Cassuto (Exodus 316), also gives an inkling of the next section of the book, the building of the "tabernacle," the dwelling place, the מִשְׁכָּן (mishkan). The vision of the glory of Yahweh confirmed the authority of the revelation of the Law given to Israel. This chapter is the climax of Yahweh’s bringing people into covenant with himself, the completion of his revelation to them, a completion that is authenticated with the miraculous. It ends with the mediator going up in the clouds to be with Yahweh, and the people down below eagerly awaiting his return. The message of the whole chapter could be worded this way: Those whom Yahweh sanctifies by the blood of the covenant and instructs by the book of the covenant may enjoy fellowship with him and anticipate a far more glorious fellowship. So too in the NT the commandments and teachings of Yashuwa are confirmed by his miraculous deeds and by his glorious manifestation on the Mount of the Transfiguration, where a few who represented the disciples would see his glory and be able to teach others. The people of the new covenant have been brought into fellowship with Yahweh through the blood of the covenant; they wait eagerly for his return from heaven in the clouds.


This is an adverbial accusative of time.


Notes for Exodus 24:17LEB

"to the eyes of" which could mean in their opinion.


Notes for Exodus 24:18LEB

The verb is a preterite with vav (ו) consecutive; here, the second clause, is subordinated to the first preterite, because it seems that the entering into the cloud is the dominant point in this section of the chapter.


B. Jacob (Exodus 750) offers this description of some of the mystery involved in Moses’ ascending into the cloud: Moses ascended into the presence of Yahweh, but remained on earth. He did not rise to heaven – the ground remained firmly under his feet. But he clearly was brought into Yahweh’s presence; he was like a heavenly servant before Yahweh’s throne, like the angels, and he consumed neither bread nor water. The purpose of his being there was to become familiar with all Yahweh’s demands and purposes. He would receive the tablets of stone and all the instructions for the tabernacle that was to be built (beginning in chap. 25). He would not descend until the sin of the golden calf.