Exodus – Chapter 34

The Bible – Old Testament



Chapter 34


The LORD said to Moses, «Cut two stone tablets like the former, that I may write on them the commandments which were on the former tablets that you broke.


Get ready for tomorrow morning, when you are to go up Mount Sinai and there present yourself to me on the top of the mountain.


No one shall come up with you, and no one is even to be seen on any part of the mountain; even the flocks and the herds are not to go grazing toward this mountain.»


Moses then cut two stone tablets like the former, and early the next morning he went up Mount Sinai as the LORD had commanded him, taking along the two stone tablets.


Having come down in a cloud, the LORD stood with him there and proclaimed his name, «LORD.»


Thus the LORD passed before him and cried out, «The LORD, the LORD, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity,


continuing his kindness for a thousand generations, and forgiving wickedness and crime and sin; yet not declaring the guilty guiltless, but punishing children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation for their fathers’ wickedness!»


Moses at once bowed down to the ground in worship.


Then he said, «If I find favor with you, O Lord, do come along in our company. This is indeed a stiff-necked people; yet pardon our wickedness and sins, and receive us as your own.»


«Here, then,» said the LORD, «is the covenant I will make. Before the eyes of all your people I will work such marvels as have never been wrought in any nation anywhere on earth, so that this people among whom you live may see how awe-inspiring are the deeds which I, the LORD, will do at your side.


But you, on your part, must keep the commandments I am giving you today. «I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.


Take care, therefore, not to make a covenant with these inhabitants of the land that you are to enter; else they will become a snare among you.


1 Tear down their altars; smash their sacred pillars, and cut down their sacred poles.


2 You shall not worship any other god, for the LORD is ‘the Jealous One’; a jealous God is he.


Do not make a covenant with the inhabitants of that land; else, when they render their wanton worship to their gods and sacrifice to them, one of them may invite you and you may partake of his sacrifice.


Neither shall you take their daughters as wives for your sons; otherwise, when their daughters render their wanton worship to their gods, they will make your sons do the same.


«You shall not make for yourselves molten gods.


«You shall keep the feast of Unleavened Bread. For seven days at the prescribed time in the month of Abib you are to eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you; for in the month of Abib you came out of Egypt.


«To me belongs every first-born male that opens the womb among all your livestock, whether in the herd or in the flock.


The firstling of an ass you shall redeem with one of the flock; if you do not redeem it, you must break its neck. The first-born among your sons you shall redeem. «No one shall appear before me empty-handed.


«For six days you may work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; on that day you must rest even during the seasons of plowing and harvesting.


3 «You shall keep the feast of Weeks with the first of the wheat harvest; likewise, the feast at the fruit harvest at the close of the year.


Three times a year all your men shall appear before the Lord, the LORD God of Israel.


Since I will drive out the nations before you to give you a large territory, there will be no one to covet your land when you go up three times a year to appear before the LORD, your God.


«You shall not offer me the blood of sacrifice with leavened bread, nor shall the sacrifice of the Passover feast be kept overnight for the next day.


«The choicest first fruits of your soil you shall bring to the house of the LORD, your God. «You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.»


Then the LORD said to Moses, «Write down these words, for in accordance with them I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.»


So Moses stayed there with the LORD for forty days and forty nights, without eating any food or drinking any water, and he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.


As Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the commandments in his hands, he did not know that the skin of his face had become radiant while he conversed with the LORD.


When Aaron, then, and the other Israelites saw Moses and noticed how radiant the skin of his face had become, they were afraid to come near him.


Only after Moses called to them did Aaron and all the rulers of the community come back to him. Moses then spoke to them.


Later on, all the Israelites came up to him, and he enjoined on them all that the LORD had told him on Mount Sinai.


4 When he finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face.


Whenever Moses entered the presence of the LORD to converse with him, he removed the veil until he came out again. On coming out, he would tell the Israelites all that had been commanded.


Then the Israelites would see that the skin of Moses’ face was radiant; so he would again put the veil over his face until he went in to converse with the LORD.

1 [13] Sacred poles: «Ashera» was the name of a Canaanite goddess. In her honor wooden poles (asherot) were erected, just as stone pillars (massebot) were erected in honor of the god Baal. Both were placed near the altar in a Canaanite shrine.
2 [14] The LORD is «the Jealous One»: see note on ⇒ Exodus 20:5. Some, by a slight emendation, render, «The LORD is jealous for his name.» Cf ⇒ Ezekiel 39:25.
3 [22] Feast of Weeks: the festival of thanksgiving for the harvest, celebrated seven weeks or fifty days after the beginning of the harvest. It was also called Pentecost (fiftieth) and coincided with the giving of the law on Mount Sinai, fifty days after the offering of the first fruits (⇒ Lev 23:10-11; ⇒ Deut 16:9).
4 [33] He put a veil over his face: St. Paul sees in this a symbol of the failure of the Jews to recognize Jesus as the promised Messiah: the true spiritual meaning of the writings of Moses and the prophets is still veiled from the unbelieving Jews. Cf ⇒ 2 Cor 3:7-18.