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Exodus 33 Commentary

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Exodus 33:1-6 meaning

Chapter 33 begins with the LORD commanding Moses to tell the people to leave Sinai and begin their journey to the land He promised them. He would guide them using an angel and would guarantee victory in their conquest of the land. When the people heard that the LORD would not be leading them from their midst, they went into mourning and refrained from wearing jewelry from then on.

Exodus 33:7-11 meaning

The LORD had just announced that He would no longer reside in the midst of His people. Instead, He met Moses in a tent that was outside the camp. When the LORD met Moses, a pillar of cloud would appear at the tent. When the people saw the pillar of cloud descend upon the tent, they worshipped the LORD by standing in reverence. Moses would enter the tent to fellowship with the LORD like a friend. When he returned to the camp, his assistant Joshua would remain at the tent.

Exodus 33:12-17 meaning

Moses approached the LORD ("face to face") with concerns in the Tent of Meeting. The LORD had said that He would not go with Israel to the Promised Land or remain in their midst as a result of their sin in chapter 32. The first concern (vv. 12 – 14) was about what the LORD's intentions were concerning the people of Israel. The second concern (vv. 15 – 17) was about whether the LORD was going to accompany His people as they travel to the Promised Land.

Exodus 33:18-23 meaning

Moses needed a visible sign that would confirm the LORD’s promised presence, so he asked Him to make Himself visible to him. The LORD answered Him by allowing Moses to see His back but not His face.