Highlights From Bible Reading ‒ Exodus 34‒37
Highlights From the Book of Exodus 34-37
Exodus 34:5 - *** it-2 pp. 466-467 Name ***
(Exodus 34:5) 5 Then Jehovah came down in the cloud and stationed himself with him there and declared the name of Jehovah.
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 34:6 - *** g 7/11 pp. 6-7 Does God Care? ***
God is “merciful and gracious . . . and abundant in loving-kindness.” (Exodus 34:6) The word “mercy,” as used in the Bible, conveys the warm sympathy and pity that move one person to help another. The root of the Hebrew word translated “gracious” is defined as “a heartfelt response by someone who has something to give to one who has a need.” According to the Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, the word translated “loving-kindness” includes “intervention on behalf of someone suffering misfortune or distress.”
Exodus 34:7 - *** w09 5/1 p. 18 When Jehovah Described Himself ***
Another great truth that Jehovah wants us to know about himself is that he pardons “error and transgression and sin.” (Verse 7) He is “ready to forgive” repentant sinners. (Psalm 86:5) At the same time, Jehovah never condones badness. He explains that “by no means will he give exemption from punishment.” (Verse 7) The holy and just God will not leave willful sinners unpunished. Sooner or later the consequences of their sinful behavior will catch up with them.
Exodus 34:12 - *** it-1 p. 240 Babylon the Great ***
(Exodus 34:12) 12 Be careful that you do not make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which you are going, or it may prove to be a snare among you.
The symbol of a harlot or a fornicatrix is used frequently in the Hebrew Scriptures. The nation of Israel was warned against entering into covenant relations with the nations of Canaan because this would lead them to commit “immoral intercourse [“play the harlot,” RS] with their gods.” (Exodus 34:12-16) Both Israel and Judah apostatized from the true worship of Jehovah God and were condemned by him as having engaged in harlotry, prostituting themselves to the political nations and their gods. (Isa 1:21; Jer 3:6-10, 13; Eze 16:15-17, 28, 29, 38; Ho 6:10; 7:11; 8:9, 10) It may be noted here that God was not viewing Israel or Judah as mere political entities entering into relations with other political governments. Instead God reprimanded them on the basis of their being in a sacred covenant with him, hence responsible to be a holy people devoted to him and his pure worship.—Jer 2:1-3, 17-21.
Exodus 34:14 - *** w02 10/15 p. 28 Should Christians Be Jealous? ***
(Exodus 34:14) 14 You must not bow down to another god, for Jehovah is known for requiring exclusive devotion. Yes, he is a God who requires exclusive devotion.
JEALOUSY—is it a quality that Christians should cultivate? As Christians, we are encouraged to “pursue love,” and we are told that “love is not jealous.” (1 Corinthians 13:4; 14:1) On the other hand, we are also told that “Jehovah . . . is a jealous God” and are commanded to “become imitators of God.” (Exodus 34:14; Ephesians 5:1) Why the seeming contradiction?
It is because the Hebrew and Greek words translated “jealousy” in the Bible carry a wide range of meanings. They can have either a positive or a negative connotation, depending on how the words are used. For instance, the Hebrew word translated “jealousy” can mean “insistence on exclusive devotion; toleration of no rivalry; zeal; ardor; jealousy [righteous or sinful]; envying.” The corresponding Greek word has a similar meaning. These words can refer to a warped, distorted emotion toward a suspected rival or one believed to be enjoying an advantage. (Proverbs 14:30) They can also refer to a positive expression of a God-given quality—wanting to protect a loved one from harm.—2 Corinthians 11:2.
Exodus 34:24 - *** w98 9/1 p. 20 Be Sure to Put First Things First! ***
Three times a year every male Israelite and proselyte in the land was commanded to appear before Jehovah. Realizing that the entire family would benefit spiritually from such occasions, many family heads arranged for their wife and children to accompany them. But who would protect their homes and their fields from enemy attack while the family was away? Jehovah promised: “Nobody will desire your land while you are going up to see the face of Jehovah your God three times in the year.” (Exodus 34:24) It took faith for the Israelites to believe that if they put spiritual interests first, they would not lose out materially. Did Jehovah prove true to his word? He certainly did!
Exodus 34:26 - *** w04 3/15 p. 27 par. 2 Highlights From the Book of Exodus ***
(Exodus 34:26) 26 “The best of the first ripe fruits of your soil you are to bring to the house of Jehovah your God. “You must not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.”
23:19; 34:26—What was the significance of the command not to boil a kid in its mother’s milk? Boiling a kid (the young of a goat or other animal) in its mother’s milk reportedly was a pagan ritual thought to produce rain. Moreover, since the mother’s milk is for nourishing her young, boiling her offspring in it would be an act of cruelty. This law helped to show God’s people that they should be compassionate.
Exodus 34:27 - *** w12 6/15 p. 26 par. 5 “They Were Borne Along by Holy Spirit” ***
Jehovah also used dictation when precise wording was crucial. At Exodus 34:27, for example, we read: “Jehovah went on to say to Moses: ‘Write down for yourself these words, because it is in accordance with these words that I do conclude a covenant with you and Israel.’” Likewise, Jehovah told the prophet Jeremiah: “Write for yourself in a book all the words that I will speak to you.”—Jer. 30:2.
Exodus 34:28 - *** it-1 p. 1228 Israel ***
(Exodus 34:28) 28 And he remained there with Jehovah 40 days and 40 nights. He ate no bread and drank no water. And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.
Within three months after Israel left Egypt it became an independent nation under the Law covenant inaugurated at Mount Sinai. (Heb 9:19, 20) The Ten Words, or Ten Commandments, written “by God’s finger” formed the framework of that national code, to which some 600 other laws, statutes, regulations, and judicial decisions were added. This made it the most comprehensive set of laws possessed by any ancient nation, spelling out as it did in great detail the relationship between man and God, as well as between man and his fellowmen.—Exodus 31:18; 34:27, 28.
Exodus 34:29 - *** w90 3/15 p. 7 Moses With Horns—An Artistic Curio ***
(Exodus 34:29, 30) 29 Moses then came down from Mount Si′nai, and the two tablets of the Testimony were in his hand. When he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face was emitting rays because he had been speaking with God. 30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, they noticed that the skin of his face emitted rays and they were afraid to go near him.
The Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible tells us that following his conversation with God on Mount Sinai, Moses’ face was “horned.” (Exodus 34:29, 30, 35; compare Douay Version.) The Vulgate enjoyed great popularity in much of Christendom and thus influenced the way scriptures were understood.
However, the Hebrew word translated “horned” also has the meaning ‘send forth rays’ or ‘shine.’ (See footnote of the Douay Version at Exodus 34:29.) According to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, the word “denotes the form of a horn(s) rather than the substance.” And viewed pictorially, rays of light do actually resemble horns.
The fact that Moses’ face emitted rays is explainable, as Jehovah’s glory had just passed by. (Exodus 33:22; 34:6, 7) Paul confirms this to be the accurate understanding, writing about “the glory” of Moses’ face, not of his “horns.”—2 Corinthians 3:7.
Exodus 35:21 - *** w00 11/1 pp. 28-29 Riches of Generosity Bring Joy ***
(Exodus 35:21) 21 Then everyone whose heart impelled him and everyone whose spirit incited him came and brought their contribution for Jehovah to be used for the tent of meeting, for all its service, and for the holy garments.
The apostle Paul may have had in mind an earlier example of generous giving, one that took place in the wilderness more than 15 centuries before his time. The 12 tribes of Israel had been freed from slavery in Egypt. They were now at the foot of Mount Sinai, and Jehovah commanded them to build a tabernacle for worship and equip it with implements of worship. This would take many resources, and the nation was invited to contribute.
How did those Israelites respond? “They came, everyone whose heart impelled him, and they brought, everyone whose spirit incited him, Jehovah’s contribution for the work of the tent of meeting.” (Exodus 35:21) Did the nation make a generous offering? Very much so! The following report was given to Moses: “The people are bringing much more than what the service needs for the work that Jehovah has commanded to be done.”—Exodus 36:5.
What was the financial condition of the Israelites back then? Not long before, they had been miserable slaves, ‘oppressed in burden-bearing,’ leading a ‘bitter life,’ a life of “affliction.” (Exodus 1:11, 14; 3:7; 5:10-18) It is unlikely, then, that they were materially prosperous. True, the Israelites left the land of their slavery with flocks and herds. (Exodus 12:32) But those may not have amounted to much, since soon after leaving Egypt, they complained that they had neither meat nor bread to eat.—Exodus 16:3.
Where, then, did the Israelites get the valuables that they contributed to the building of the tabernacle? From their former masters, the Egyptians. The Bible says: “The sons of Israel . . . went asking from the Egyptians articles of silver and articles of gold and mantles. . . . [The Egyptians] granted them what was asked.” These generous acts on the part of the Egyptians were a blessing from Jehovah, not from Pharaoh. The divine record says: “Jehovah gave the people favor in the eyes of the Egyptians, so that these granted them what was asked.”—Exodus 12:35, 36.
Imagine, then, how the Israelites felt. Generations had suffered through bitter slavery and deprivation. Now they were free and had rich material possessions. How would they feel about parting with some of those possessions? They might have felt that they had earned them and had a right to keep them. However, when called upon to contribute financially to support pure worship, they did so—and not reluctantly or stingily! They did not forget that Jehovah had made it possible for them to have those material things. Thus, they gave abundantly of their silver and gold and livestock. They were “willing-hearted.” Their ‘hearts impelled them.’ ‘Their spirit incited them.’ It truly was “a voluntary offering to Jehovah.”—Exodus 25:1-9; 35:4-9, 20-29; 36:3-7.
Exodus 37:7 - *** it-1 p. 432 Cherub ***
(Exodus 37:7) 7 He then made two cherubs of hammered gold on both ends of the cover.
Representative figures of cherubs were included in the furnishings of the tabernacle set up in the wilderness. Rising above each end of the Ark’s cover were two cherubs of hammered gold. They were facing each other and bowing toward the cover in an attitude of worship. Each had two wings that spread upward and screened over the cover in a guarding and protecting manner. (Exodus 25:10-21; 37:7-9) Also, the inner covering of tent cloths for the tabernacle and the curtain dividing the Holy from the Most Holy had embroidered cherub figures.—Exodus 26:1, 31; 36:8, 35.
These were not grotesque figures fashioned after the monstrous winged images worshiped by pagan nations round about, as some contend. According to the unanimous testimony of ancient Jewish tradition (the Bible is silent on this matter), these cherubs had human form. They were finest works of art, representing angelic creatures of glorious beauty, and were made in every detail “according to . . . the pattern” Moses received from Jehovah himself. (Exodus 25:9) The apostle Paul describes them as “glorious cherubs overshadowing the propitiatory cover.” (Heb 9:5) These cherubs were associated with the presence of Jehovah: “And I will present myself to you there and speak with you from above the cover, from between the two cherubs that are upon the ark of the testimony.” (Exodus 25:22; Nu 7:89) Hence, Jehovah was said to be “sitting upon [or, between] the cherubs.” (1Sa 4:4; 2Sa 6:2; 2Ki 19:15; 1Ch 13:6; Ps 80:1; 99:1; Isa 37:16) In symbol, the cherubs served as “the representation of the chariot” of Jehovah upon which he rode (1Ch 28:18), and the wings of the cherubs offered both guarding protection and swiftness in travel. So David, in poetic song, described the speed with which Jehovah came to his aid, like one who “came riding upon a cherub and came flying” even “upon the wings of a spirit.”—2Sa 22:11; Ps 18:10.
Exodus 37:25 - *** it-1 p. 82 Altar ***
(Exodus 37:25) 25 He now made the altar of incense out of acacia wood. It was square, a cubit long, a cubit wide, and two cubits high. Its horns were one piece with it.
Altar of incense. The altar of incense (also called “the altar of gold” [Exodus 39:38]) was likewise made of acacia wood, the top and sides being overlaid with gold. A border of gold ran around the top. The altar measured 44.5 cm (17.5 in.) square and 89 cm (2.9 ft) high, and also had “horns” extending out from the four top corners. Two gold rings were made for the insertion of the carrying poles made of acacia overlaid with gold, and these rings were placed underneath the gold border on opposite sides of the altar. (Exodus 30:1-5; 37:25-28)
References consulted on: Watchtower Library 2013 CD-ROM
Download file with all references