King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Exodus 34

The tables of the law renewed. (1-4) The name of the Lord proclaimed, The entreaty of Moses. (5-9) God’s covenant. (10-17) The festivals. (18-27) The vail of Moses. (28-35)

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The tables of the law renewed

1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.

2 And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to me in the top of the mount.

3 And no man shall come up with thee, neither let any man be seen throughout all the mount; neither let the flocks nor herds feed before that mount.

4 And he hewed two tables of stone like unto the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone.

The name of the Lord proclaimed, The entreaty of Moses

5 And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.

6 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,

7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

8 And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped.

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

God’s covenant

10 And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the LORD: for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee.

11 Observe thou that which I command thee this day: behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite.

12 Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee:

13 But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves:

14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:

15 Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice;

16 And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.

17 Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.

The festivals

18 The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee, in the time of the month Abib: for in the month Abib thou camest out from Egypt.

19 All that openeth the matrix is mine; and every firstling among thy cattle, whether ox or sheep, that is male.

20 But the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb: and if thou redeem him not, then shalt thou break his neck. All the firstborn of thy sons thou shalt redeem. And none shall appear before me empty.

21 Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest.

22 And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.

23 Thrice in the year shall all your menchildren appear before the LORD God, the God of Israel.

24 For I will cast out the nations before thee, and enlarge thy borders: neither shall any man desire thy land, when thou shalt go up to appear before the LORD thy God thrice in the year.

25 Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven; neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto the morning.

26 The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.

27 And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.

The vail of Moses

28 And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.

29 And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.

30 And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.

31 And Moses called unto them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned unto him: and Moses talked with them.

32 And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh: and he gave them in commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him in mount Sinai.

33 And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face.

34 But when Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he took the vail off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded.

35 And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone: and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Former. Deut. x. 1, adds, and come up to me into the mount, and I, &c. Here.

Ver. 2. Go up. From these expressions we might infer, that God gave the order first on Mount Sinai, and repeated it to Moses in the tabernacle, the night before he commenced his third fast and supplication of 40 days. H. — After the first tables were broken, others were given; so after baptism we may obtain remission of sin by penance. S. Jer. ad Dem. W.

Ver. 3. Let no, &c. This was to impress all with sentiments of reverence.

Ver. 6. He said. Some refer this to Moses; others, more probably, to God, who had promised, by this signal of the name of the Lord, to testify his presence. C. — The angel addresses God in this manner, while Moses lies concealed in the rock, covered with the hand or cloud of God’s representative. H. — Of the eleven attributes here claimed by God, three regard his essence, six his mercy, and the last two his justice. C.

Ver. 7. Keepest. So the Targum of Jerusalem reads. Heb. and Sept. have, “keepeth.” — No man, &c. All have sinned. Rom. iii. 23. Heb. “who will not clear the guilty,” which is followed by the Chal. and Sept. God is a just judge, who will assuredly punish the impenitent. Yet even in justice, he will remember mercy, and will stop at the third and fourth generation, (C.) when the influence of the progenitors’ example can have but small influence upon their descendants. If, however, they prove guilty, they must expect chastisement. Ex. xx. 5.

Ver. 9. (For it, &c.) If thou do not support me, I shall not be able to govern. H. — Possess us. Take us for thy peculiar inheritance. M.

Ver. 10. Covenant. The first had been made void by idolatry. C. — Notwithstanding the former threats, (C. xxxiii. 3,) God here promises new benefits. W.

Ver. 11. Observe, O my people, (M.) you who shall serve under Josue, when these promises shall be fulfilled. H. — The Sept. add the Gergesite to the list of people who should be expelled. But Lyran. thinks they are omitted in Hebrew, because they had already retired before the approach of the Hebrews. C.

Ver. 13. Statues. Sept. have “pillars,” and subjoin after groves, (unless it be another translation, as Grabe insinuates) “you shall burn with fire the graven things of their gods.”

Ver. 14. Jealous. Like a husband, He will watch all your motions.

Ver. 15. Covenant. The same word occurs here, as (v. 12,) in Heb. and Sept. H. — It relates chiefly to contracts of marriage, which God forbids the faithful to enter into with the Chanaanites, and with other idolatrous nations, lest they should follow their example. Solomon is reprehended for transgressing this law, (3 K. xi. 1,) and such marriages are called abominations. 1 Esd. ix. 1. x. 2. 10. Joseph. But if any of those people became converts, the reason of the prohibition ceased. Hence a captive woman might be married, (Deut. xxi. 11,) and Salmon took Rahab to wife. If Samson and Esther married with heathens, it might be done by God’s dispensation, for weighty reasons. T. — Fornication. On account of the dissolute behaviour of those idolater, their worship is often condemned under this name, Jer. ii. and iii. Ezec. xvi. C. — Sacrificed, and thus thou be drawn into a participation in his guilt. The other laws are here repeated from C. xxiii. M.

Ver. 16. Son. The Chal. and Sept. add, “nor give any of thy daughters to their sons;” or, joining this verse with the 15th, the Sept. say, “make no covenant…lest they commit fornication after their gods…and call thee and thou eat…and thou take of their daughters wives for thy sons, and thou wilt give some of thy daughters to their sons, and thy daughters shall go fornicating after their gods.” The most imminent dangers attend those women, who have infidel husbands. H. — The intention of Moses, and the custom of the Hebrews, justly reprobated such marriages. C.

Ver. 18. New corn. Heb. Abib; the name of the month Nisan, which corresponds with our March and April.

Ver. 21. Reap; when the most urgent necessity might seem to authorize labour. H.

Ver. 22. Harvest. Pentecost. — Laid in, at the feast of tabernacles, in September. M. — The Sept. have “the feast of gathering, in the middle of the (sacred) year.” The greatest solemnity of the Passover is mentioned, v. 18. H.

Ver. 24. In wait. Heb. and Sept. “shall desire.” C. — God engages to protect their land. M.

Ver. 25. Sacrifice of the paschal lamb, to which the Chaldee properly restrains this verse. C.

Ver. 26. Dam. Chal. “thou shalt not eat flesh with milk.” See C. xxiii. 19.

Ver. 28. Wrote. God wrote on the tables, as he had promised, v. 1. C. — Moses recorded all in this book, as he was ordered, v. 27. S. Cyprian (de Sp. S.) and S. Augustine (q. 186,) infer, however, from this text, that the second tables had not the same honour as the first. The contrary appears from Deut. x. 4, He (God) wrote…as before. Estius, Calmet, and Menoch. think the forty days here mentioned, were those which Moses spent with God to obtain the people’s pardon, and the law, at the same time. See C. xxxii. 35. He continued all that time without meat or sleep, by the power of God, who supports Enoch and Elias in the vigour of health without corporal sustenance. Salien. A. 2544, in which year of the world he fixes the death of Job, the great prophet of the Gentiles.

Ver. 29. Horned. That is, shining, and sending forth rays of light like horns. Ch. — Sept. “encircled with glory.” S. Paul (2 Cor. iii. 7,) says, the Hebrews could not look steadfastly at the face of Moses, on account of the glory of his countenance. Hence, he was forced to have a veil, which, the apostle observes, was not taken off from the old law till Christ appeared. The Jews and heretics still read the law and the gospel with a veil over their eyes and heart, without understanding them, as they are hidden to those who perish, 2 Cor. iv. 3. The Jews are much enraged at some Christians, who have represented Moses with horns, as if, they say, he were a devil, or his wife an adulteress. Stacchus and Drusius. — Heb. “his skin was radiant” all over his face. These rays commanded respect and awe from the people, who had before said contemptuously, Moses—the man, (C. xxxii. 1,) as they shewed that God was with him. They had not appeared before, though he had often conversed with the Lord: but now, having seen the glorious vision, they adhered to him during the remainder of his life, particularly when he enforced the obligations of the law to the people. H. — The Arabs make their hair stand up like little horns, when they are about 40 years old. Patric. ii. 4. Navig. Homer mentions the like custom, and Diomed laughs at Paris calling him the pretty-horned. Iliad xi. Many of the ancient heroes and gods are represented with horns, particularly Bacchus, whose history reminds us of many particulars, which belong to Moses. He was born or educated in the confines of Egypt, was exposed on the waters, in a box; had two mothers, and very beautiful. While his army enjoyed the light, the Indians were in darkness. He was preceded by a pillar, had women in his train, dried up rivers with his thyrsus or wand, which had crawled, like a serpent, &c. Huet. &c. S. Epiphanius (her. 55,) says the Idumeans adored Moses. Their idol is called Choze by Josephus, (Ant. xviii. 11,) which may be derived from Chus, the ancestor of Sephora, as Bacchus and Iacchus may denote “the son Bar, or the god Chus,” Jah-Chus, who was adored in Arabia; so that Moses, Choze, and Bacchus, probably mean the same person. Chus peopled that part of Arabia where the Hebrews sojourned. Num. xii. 1. C.

Ver. 33. And having, &c. At first, he spoke uncovered. M. — The Protestants insert the word till in Italics, to insinuate that Moses spoke with a veil on, as S. Paul mentions; (H.) and Calmet would translate, “for Moses had ceased to address the people, and had put a veil upon his face,” as soon as he perceived that they could not bear the blaze of his countenance. This he did out of modesty, that they might not be afraid of coming to speak freely to him, (Jansenius) though it was also mysterious, as S. Paul remarks. For even until this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart, (2 Cor. iii. 15,) as it is upon that of heretics, who cannot see the church. S. Aug. in Ps. xxx. W.