The Two Tablets Replaced
34 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Cut two tablets of stone like the first, and I will write on these tablets the words that were on the first tablets which you smashed [when you learned of Israel’s idolatry]. 2 So be ready by morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to Me on the top of the mountain. 3 No man is to come up with you, nor let any man be seen anywhere on the mountain; nor let flocks or herds feed in front of that mountain.” 4 So Moses cut two tablets of stone like the first ones, and he got up early in the morning and went up on Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and took [a]the two tablets of stone in his hand. 5 Then the Lord descended in the cloud and stood there with Moses as he proclaimed the Name of the Lord. 6 Then the Lord passed by in front of him, and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth (faithfulness); 7 keeping mercy and lovingkindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin; but He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting (avenging) the iniquity (sin, guilt) of the fathers upon the children and the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations [that is, calling the children to account for the sins of their fathers].” 8 Moses bowed to the earth immediately and worshiped [the Lord]. 9 And he said, “If now I have found favor and lovingkindness in Your sight, O Lord, let the Lord, please, go in our midst, though it is a stiff-necked (stubborn, rebellious) people, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your possession.”
The Covenant Renewed
10 Then God said, “Behold, I am going to make a covenant. Before all your people I will do wondrous works (miracles) such as have not been created or produced in all the earth nor among any of the nations; and all the people among whom you live shall see the working of the Lord, for it is a fearful and awesome thing that I am going to do with you.
11 “Be sure to observe what I am commanding you this day: behold, I am going to drive out the Amorite before you, and the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite. 12 Watch yourself so that you do not make a covenant (solemn agreement, treaty) with the inhabitants of the land into which you are going, or it will become a [dangerous] trap among you. 13 But you shall tear down and destroy their [pagan] altars, smash in pieces their [sacred] pillars (obelisks, images) and cut down their [b]Asherim 14 —for you shall not worship any other god; for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous (impassioned) God [demanding what is rightfully and uniquely His]— 15 otherwise you might make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land and they would play the prostitute with their gods and sacrifice to their gods, and someone might invite you [c]to eat his sacrifice (meal), 16 and you might take some of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters would play the prostitute with their gods and cause your sons also to play the prostitute (commit apostasy) with their gods [that is, abandon the true God for man-made idols]. 17 You shall make for yourselves no molten gods.
18 “You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover). For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I have commanded you, at the appointed time in the month of Abib; for in the month of Abib you came out of Egypt.
19 “All the firstborn males among your livestock belong to Me, whether cattle or sheep. 20 You shall redeem the firstborn of a donkey with a lamb; but if you do not redeem it, then you shall break its neck. You shall redeem all the firstborn of your sons. None of you are to appear before Me empty-handed.
21 “You shall work for six days, but on the seventh day you shall rest; [even] in plowing time and in harvest you shall rest [on the Sabbath]. 22 You shall observe and celebrate the Feast of Weeks (Harvest, First Fruits, or Pentecost), the first fruits of the wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering (Booths or Tabernacles) at the year’s end. 23 Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord [d]God, the God of Israel. 24 For I will drive out and dispossess nations before you and enlarge your borders; nor shall any man covet (actively seek for himself) your land when you go up to appear before the Lord your God three times a year.
25 “You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leavened bread, nor shall the sacrifice of the Feast of the Passover (Unleavened Bread) be left over until morning.
26 “You shall bring the very first of the first fruits of your ground to the house of the Lord your God.
“You shall not [e]boil a young goat in his mother’s milk [as some pagans do].”
27 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” 28 Moses was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he ate no bread and drank no water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.
Moses’ Face Shines
29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hand, he did not know that the skin of his face was shining [with a unique radiance] because he had been speaking with God. 30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to approach him. 31 But Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him; and he spoke to them. 32 Afterward all the Israelites approached him, and he commanded them to do everything that the Lord had said to him on Mount Sinai. 33 When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. 34 But whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with Him, [f]he would take off the veil until he came out. When he came out and he told the Israelites what he had been commanded [by God], 35 the Israelites would see the face of Moses, how his skin shone [with a unique radiance]. So Moses put the veil on his face again until he went in to speak with God.
- Exodus 34:4 Some expositors suggest that the two tablets of stone were small enough to be easily carried. The pictures of Moses carrying large tombstone-size tablets are the result of an artist’s rendering, and are not supported in the Bible.
- Exodus 34:13 Symbols of the mother-goddess Asherah, usually a tree or pole dedicated to her and placed near her many shrines.
- Exodus 34:15 Lit and you would eat. It was commonplace in ancient cultures to invite friends to a sacrifice to a pagan deity. Aside from its religious implications, at the end of the ceremony the sacrifice became a meal for all present and served as a social occasion.
- Exodus 34:23 Heb YHWH (Yahweh), usually rendered Lord.
- Exodus 34:26 This may have been a pagan practice, perhaps a fertility rite.
- Exodus 34:34 The apostle Paul refers to this incident when he says that we all may, with unveiled faces, behold the glory of the Lord, and be transformed (2 Cor 3:13-18). That ability to personally approach God was once given only to the great leader of Israel, but it is now within reach of each individual believer. The gospel has no boundary keeping people at a distance from God; all believers may reverently approach Him.