Highlights of Exodus 30‒33

Highlights From Bible Reading ‒ Exodus 30‒33

Exodus 30‒33

Exodus 30:12-16 - *** w11 11/1 p. 12 Did You Know? ***
(Exodus 30:12-16) 12 “Whenever you take a census and count the sons of Israel, each one must give a ransom for his life to Jehovah at the time of the census. This is so that no plague may be brought upon them when they are registered. 13 This is what all those who are registered will give: a half shekel by the standard shekel of the holy place. Twenty ge′rahs equal a shekel. A half shekel is the contribution to Jehovah. 14 Everyone registered who is 20 years old and up will give Jehovah’s contribution. 15 The rich should not give more and the poor should not give less than the half shekel as a contribution to Jehovah to make atonement for your lives. 16 You are to take the silver money of the atonement from the Israelites and give it in behalf of the service of the tent of meeting, that it may serve as a remembrance before Jehovah for the Israelites, to make atonement for your lives.”
How were the services at Jehovah’s temple in Jerusalem financed?
▪ The various temple services were maintained through taxation, mainly obligatory tithing. But other forms of taxation were also used. For example, at the time of the construction of the tabernacle, Jehovah instructed Moses to collect half a silver shekel from every registered Israelite, as a “contribution to Jehovah.”—Exodus 30:12-16.
Apparently, it became customary for each Jew to contribute this fixed amount as an annual temple tax. It was this tax that Jesus instructed Peter to pay with a coin taken from a fish’s mouth.—Matthew 17:24-27.
Several years ago, two silver coins of types used to pay the temple tax were discovered in Jerusalem. One coin, minted in Tyre in 22 C.E., was found in a first-century drainage channel. This shekel bears the head of Melkart, or Baal, the chief deity of Tyre, on one side and an eagle perched on a ship’s prow on the other. The second coin, found in rubble removed from the temple mount, dates to the first year of the Jewish revolt against Rome, 66-67 C.E. It bears a chalice and three budding pomegranates, as well as the inscriptions “Half Shekel” and “Holy Jerusalem.” Regarding this find, Professor Gabriel Barkay says that the coin has “signs of having been damaged by fire, most likely the fires that destroyed the Second Temple in 70 CE.”

Exodus 30:26-28 - *** it-1 p. 113 Anointed, Anointing ***
(Exodus 30:26-28) 26 “You are to anoint the tent of meeting and the ark of the Testimony with it, 27 as well as the table and all its utensils, the lampstand and its utensils, the altar of incense, 28 the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the basin and its stand.
Things dedicated as sacred were also anointed. Jacob took the stone on which he rested his head when he had an inspired dream, set it up as a pillar, and anointed it, thus marking that place as sacred; and he called the place Bethel, meaning “House of God.” (Ge 28:18, 19) A short time later Jehovah acknowledged that this stone had been anointed. (Ge 31:13) In the wilderness of Sinai, at Jehovah’s command, Moses anointed the tabernacle and its furnishings, indicating that they were dedicated, holy things.—Exodus 30:26-28.

Exodus 31:2 - *** it-2 p. 1021 Spirit ***
(Exodus 31:2) 2 “See, I have chosen Bez′al•el the son of U′ri the son of Hur of the tribe of Judah.
The spirit has qualifying force or capacity; it can qualify persons for a work or for an office. Though Bezalel and Oholiab may have had knowledge of crafts before their appointment in connection with the making of the tabernacle equipment and priestly garments, God’s spirit ‘filled them with wisdom, understanding, and knowledge’ so that the work could be done in the way purposed. It heightened whatever natural abilities and acquired knowledge they already had, and it enabled them to teach others. (Exodus 31:1-11; 35:30-35)

Exodus 31:16,17 - *** rs p. 345 par. 2 Sabbath ***
Ex. 31:16, 17: “The sons of Israel must keep the sabbath, so as to carry out the sabbath during their generations. It is a covenant to time indefinite [“a perpetual covenant,” RS]. Between me and the sons of Israel it is a sign to time indefinite.” (Notice that sabbath observance was a sign between Jehovah and Israel; this would not be the case if everyone else were also obligated to keep the Sabbath. The Hebrew word rendered “perpetual” in RS is ‛oh•lam′, which basically means a period of time that, from the standpoint of the present, is indefinite or hidden from sight but of long duration. That can mean forever, but not necessarily so. At Numbers 25:13 the same Hebrew word is applied to the priesthood, which later ended, according to Hebrews 7:12.)

Exodus 31:18 - *** si p. 10 par. 20 “All Scripture Is Inspired of God and Beneficial” ***
(Exodus 31:18) 18 Now as soon as he had finished speaking with him on Mount Si′nai, he gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone written on by God’s finger.
20 In harmony with these uses of the word “finger,” it can be appreciated that “God’s finger” has great power and that this designation well applies to his spirit as he used it in the writing of the Bible. So the Scriptures inform us that by means of “God’s finger,” he wrote the Ten Commandments on the two tablets of stone. (Ex. 31:18; Deut. 9:10)

Exodus 32:1 - *** w09 5/15 p. 11 par. 11 Press On to Maturity—“The Great Day of Jehovah Is Near” ***
(Exodus 32:1) 32 Meanwhile, the people saw that Moses was taking a long time coming down from the mountain. So the people gathered around Aaron and said to him: “Get up, make for us a god who will go ahead of us, because we do not know what has happened to this Moses, the man who led us up out of the land of Egypt.”
Less than two months after entering into a divine covenant and agreeing to do “all the words that Jehovah [had] spoken,” they violated his law on idolatry. (Ex. 24:3, 12-18; 32:1, 2, 7-9) Was this because the prolonged absence of Moses while he was being instructed on Mount Horeb made them fearful? Did they perhaps think that the Amalekites would strike again and that the Israelites would be helpless without Moses, whose upheld hands had brought them victory earlier? (Ex. 17:8-16) That is possible, but whatever the case, the Israelites “refused to become obedient.” (Acts 7:39-41)

Exodus 32:4 - *** it-1 p. 10 Aaron ***
(Exodus 32:4) 4 Then he took the gold from them, and he formed it with an engraving tool and made it into a statue of a calf. They began to say: “This is your God, O Israel, who led you up out of the land of Egypt.”
Why was Aaron not punished for making the golden calf?
Despite his privileged position, Aaron had his shortcomings. During Moses’ first 40-day stay on Mount Sinai, “the people congregated themselves about Aaron and said to him: ‘Get up, make for us a god who will go ahead of us, because as regards this Moses, the man who led us up out of the land of Egypt, we certainly do not know what has happened to him.’” (Exodus 32:1) Aaron acceded and cooperated with these rebellious ones in making a golden calf statue. (Exodus 32:2-6) When later confronted by Moses, he gave a weak excuse. (Exodus 32:22-24) However, Jehovah did not single him out as the prime wrongdoer but told Moses: “So now let me be, that my anger may blaze against them and I may exterminate them.” (Exodus 32:10) Moses brought the matter to a showdown by crying: “Who is on Jehovah’s side? To me!” (Exodus 32:26) All the sons of Levi responded, and this undoubtedly included Aaron. Three thousand idolaters, probably the prime movers of the rebellion, were slain by them. (Exodus 32:28) Nevertheless, Moses later reminded the rest of the people that they, too, bore guilt. (Exodus 32:30) Aaron, therefore, was not alone in receiving God’s mercy. His subsequent actions indicated that he was not in heart harmony with the idolatrous movement but simply gave in to the pressure of the rebels. (Exodus 32:35) Jehovah showed that Aaron had received his forgiveness by maintaining as valid Aaron’s appointment to become high priest.—Exodus 40:12, 13.

Exodus 32:6 - *** w95 3/1 p. 16 par. 11 Living Up to Our Dedication “Day After Day” ***
(Exodus 32:6) 6 So they got up early on the next day and began offering up burnt offerings and presenting communion sacrifices. After that the people sat down to eat and drink. Then they got up to have a good time.
The people made sacrifices in front of the calf, and then they “sat down to eat and drink. Then they got up to have a good time.” (Exodus 32:4-6) Today, some may claim that they worship Jehovah. But their lives may be centered, not on worship of Jehovah, but on enjoyment of the things of this world, and they try to fit their service to Jehovah around these. True, this is not as extreme as bowing down to a golden calf, but it is not too different in principle. Making a god of one’s own desire is far from living up to one’s dedication to Jehovah.—Philippians 3:19.

Exodus 32:8 - *** it-1 p. 207 Astrologers ***
(Exodus 32:8) 8 They have quickly deviated from the way I commanded them to go. They have made for themselves a statue of a calf, and they keep bowing down to it and sacrificing to it and saying, ‘This is your God, O Israel, who led you up out of the land of Egypt.’”
Molech and Astrology in Israel. There is evidence to show that astrology was closely allied with the worship of Molech, a god who was sometimes depicted with a bull’s head. The bull was worshiped by the Babylonians, Canaanites, Egyptians, and others as a symbol of their deities—Marduk, Molech, Baal, and so forth. The bull was one of the most important signs of the zodiac, Taurus. The sun-god was often represented by bulls, the horns signifying the rays, and the bull’s strong reproductive power, the sun’s power as “giver of life.” The female, the cow, was given equal honor as a symbol of Ishtar or Astarte, as she was variously called. So when Aaron and Jeroboam introduced in Israel such worship of the bull (calf worship) it was indeed a great sin in Jehovah’s eyes.—Exodus 32:4, 8; De 9:16; 1Ki 12:28-30; 2Ki 10:29.

Exodus 32:10 - *** w10 10/15 pp. 5-6 pars. 13-15 “Who Has Come to Know the Mind of Jehovah?” ***
For example, consider Jehovah’s words to Moses after the Israelites had made a golden calf to worship. God said: “I have looked at this people and here it is a stiff-necked people. So now let me be, that my anger may blaze against them and I may exterminate them, and let me make you into a great nation.”—Ex. 32:9, 10.
14 The account goes on to say: “Moses proceeded to soften the face of Jehovah his God and to say: ‘Why, O Jehovah, should your anger blaze against your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a strong hand? Why should the Egyptians say, “With evil intent he brought them out in order to kill them among the mountains and to exterminate them from the surface of the ground”? Turn from your burning anger and feel regret over the evil against your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac and Israel your servants, to whom you swore by yourself, in that you said to them, “I shall multiply your seed like the stars of the heavens, and all this land that I have designated I shall give to your seed, that they may indeed take possession of it to time indefinite.”’ And Jehovah began to feel regret over the evil that he had spoken of doing to his people.”—Ex. 32:11-14.
15 Did Moses really need to correct Jehovah’s thinking? By no means! Although Jehovah expressed what he was inclined to do, this was not his final judgment. In effect, Jehovah was here testing Moses, just as Jesus later did Philip and the Greek woman. Moses was given an opportunity to express his view. Jehovah had appointed Moses as mediator between Israel and Himself, and Jehovah respected His appointment of Moses to that role. Would Moses succumb to frustration? Would he take this opportunity to encourage Jehovah to forget about Israel and to make a mighty nation from Moses’ own descendants?

Exodus 32:12,13 - *** it-2 p. 437 Moses ***
(Exodus 32:12, 13) 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘He had evil intentions when he led them out. He wanted to kill them in the mountains and exterminate them from the surface of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and reconsider your decision to bring this calamity on your people. 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, to whom you swore by yourself and said: ‘I will multiply your offspring like the stars of the heavens, and I will give all this land that I have designated to your offspring, so that they may take it as a permanent possession.’”
On this first occasion Moses showed himself to be fittingly qualified as mediator between Jehovah and Israel and leader of this great nation of perhaps three million or more. When Moses was in the mountain, Jehovah informed him that the people had turned to idolatry and Jehovah said: “Now let me be, that my anger may blaze against them and I may exterminate them, and let me make you into a great nation.” Moses’ immediate reply revealed that the sanctification of Jehovah’s name was the thing of primary importance to him—that he was completely unselfish and did not desire fame for himself. He asked nothing for himself but, rather, showed concern for Jehovah’s name that He had recently exalted by the Red Sea miracle, and regard for God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jehovah, in approval of Moses’ plea, spared the people. Here it is seen that Jehovah regarded Moses as satisfactorily filling his mediatorial role and that He respected the arrangement through which he had appointed Moses to that office. Thus, Jehovah “began to feel regret over the evil that he had spoken of doing to his people”—that is, because of altered circumstances, he changed his attitude regarding bringing evil upon them.—Exodus 32:7-14.

Exodus 32:34 - *** dp chap. 12 pp. 204-205 Strengthened by a Messenger From God ***
(Exodus 32:34) 34 Go now, lead the people to the place about which I have spoken to you. Look! My angel will go ahead of you, and on the day when I make an accounting, I will bring punishment on them for their sin.”
First of all, we note that Michael was called “one of the foremost princes” and “the prince of you people.” Later, Michael was referred to as “the great prince who is standing in behalf of the sons of [Daniel’s] people.” (Daniel 10:21; 12:1) This points to Michael as the angel assigned by Jehovah to lead the Israelites through the wilderness.—Exodus 23:20-23; 32:34; 33:2.
Lending support to this conclusion is the disciple Jude’s statement that “Michael the archangel had a difference with the Devil and was disputing about Moses’ body.” (Jude 9)
Exodus 33:11 - *** w04 3/15 p. 27 par. 5 Highlights From the Book of Exodus ***
(Exodus 33:11) 11 Jehovah spoke to Moses face-to-face, just as one man would speak to another man. When he returned to the camp, Joshua the son of Nun, his minister and attendant, would not depart from the tent.
33:11, 20—How did God speak to Moses “face to face”? This expression denotes intimate two-way conversation. Moses talked with God’s representative and orally received instruction from Jehovah through him. But Moses did not see Jehovah, since ‘no man can see God and yet live.’ In fact, Jehovah did not personally speak to Moses. The Law “was transmitted through angels by the hand of a mediator,” states Galatians 3:19.

Exodus 33:12 - *** it-2 pp. 466-467 Name ***
(Exodus 33:12) 12 Now Moses said to Jehovah: “See, you are saying to me, ‘Lead this people up,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Moreover, you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my eyes.’
What is included in knowing the name of God?
The material creation testifies to God’s existence, but it does not reveal God’s name. (Ps 19:1; Ro 1:20) For an individual to know God’s name signifies more than a mere acquaintance with the word. (2Ch 6:33) It means actually knowing the Person—his purposes, activities, and qualities as revealed in his Word. (Compare 1Ki 8:41-43; 9:3, 7; Ne 9:10.) This is illustrated in the case of Moses, a man whom Jehovah ‘knew by name,’ that is, knew intimately. (Exodus 33:12) Moses was privileged to see a manifestation of Jehovah’s glory and also to ‘hear the name of Jehovah declared.’ (Exodus 34:5) That declaration was not simply the repetition of the name Jehovah but was a statement about God’s attributes and activities. “Jehovah, Jehovah, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth, preserving loving-kindness for thousands, pardoning error and transgression and sin, but by no means will he give exemption from punishment, bringing punishment for the error of fathers upon sons and upon grandsons, upon the third generation and upon the fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6, 7) Similarly, the song of Moses, containing the words “for I shall declare the name of Jehovah,” recounts God’s dealings with Israel and describes his personality.—De 32:3-44.

Exodus 33:13 - *** yb03 p. 15 Highlights of the Past Year ***
Long ago Moses prayed to Jehovah: “Make me know, please, your ways, that I may know you, in order that I may find favor in your eyes.” (Ex. 33:13) This prayer was uttered after Moses witnessed the Ten Plagues, experienced the parting of the Red Sea, communed with Jehovah for 40 days at Mount Sinai, and received the Ten Commandments. At 80 years of age and after being mightily used by Jehovah, Moses recognized his spiritual need. In harmony with this example, elders and ministerial servants were encouraged to continue progressing as spiritual men, no matter how long they had been serving Jehovah.

Exodus 33:19 - *** w89 12/1 p. 4 The Amazing Scope of God’s Goodness ***
(Exodus 33:19) 19 But he said: “I will make all my goodness pass before your face, and I will declare before you the name of Jehovah; and I will favor the one whom I favor, and I will show mercy to the one to whom I show mercy.”
The wide range of God’s goodness is seen in his words to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai. There, he promised his faithful servant: “I myself shall cause all my goodness to pass before your face.” Fulfilling that promise and using his own name, God further says: “Jehovah, Jehovah, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth, preserving loving-kindness for thousands, pardoning error and transgression and sin, but by no means will he give exemption from punishment.”—Exodus 33:19; 34:6, 7.
Therefore, God’s goodness includes his mercy as well as his graciousness, his loving-kindness, and his truth. In addition, his goodness is seen in that he is “slow to anger,” long-suffering.

Exodus 33:20 - *** cl chap. 1 pp. 12-13 pars. 16-17 “Look! This Is Our God” ***
Besides, if a flesh-and-blood human were to stand in the immediate presence of Jehovah God, the experience would prove fatal. Jehovah himself told Moses: “You are not able to see my face, because no man may see me and yet live.”—Exodus 33:20; John 1:18.
17 That should not surprise us. Moses got to see just a part of Jehovah’s glory, evidently through an angelic representative. With what effect? Moses’ face “emitted rays” for some time afterward. The Israelites feared even to look directly at Moses’ face. (Exodus 33:21-23; 34:5-7, 29, 30) Surely, then, no mere human could look upon the Sovereign Lord himself in all his glory!

References consulted on: Watchtower Library 2013

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