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Bible Commentaries

Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Exodus 34

Verse 1

Former. Deuteronomy x. 1, adds, and come up to me into the mount, and I, &c. Here.

Verse 2

Go up. From these expressions we might infer, that God gave the order first on Mount Sinai, and repeated it to Moses in the tabernacle, the night before he commenced his third fast and supplication of 40 days. (Haydock) --- After the first tables were broken, others were given; so after baptism we may obtain remission of sin by penance. (St. Jerome, ad Dem.) (Worthington)

Verse 3

Let no, &c. This was to impress all with sentiments of reverence.

Verse 6

He said. Some refer this to Moses; others, more probably, to God, who had promised, by this signal of the name of the Lord, to testify his presence. (Calmet) --- The angel addresses God in this manner, while Moses lies concealed in the rock, covered with the hand or cloud of God’s representative. (Haydock) --- Of the eleven attributes here claimed by God, three regard his essence, six his mercy, and the last two his justice. (Calmet)

Verse 7

Keepest. So the Targum of Jerusalem reads. Hebrew and Septuagint have, "keepeth." --- No man, &c. All have sinned, Romans iii. 23. Hebrew, "who will not clear the guilty," which is followed by the Chaldean and Septuagint. God is a just judge, who will assuredly punish the impenitent. Yet even in justice, he will remember mercy, and will stop at the third and fourth generation, (Calmet) when the influence of the progenitors’ example can have but small influence upon their descendants. If, however, they prove guilty, they must expect chastisement, Exodus xx. 5.

Verse 9

(For it, &c.) If thou do not support me, I shall not be able to govern. (Haydock) --- Possess us. Take us for thy peculiar inheritance. (Menochius)

Verse 10

Covenant. The first had been made void by idolatry. (Calmet) --- Notwithstanding the former threats, (chap. xxxiii. 3,) God here promises new benefits. (Worthington)

Verse 11

Observe, O my people, (Menochius) you who shall serve under Josue, when these promises shall be fulfilled. (Haydock) --- The Septuagint add the Gergesite to the list of people who should be expelled. But Lyranus thinks they are omitted in Hebrew, because they had already retired before the approach of the Hebrews. (Calmet)

Verse 13

Statues. Septuagint have, "pillars," and subjoin after groves, (unless it be another translation, as Grabe insinuates) "you shall burn with fire the graven things of their gods."

Verse 14

Jealous. Like a husband, He will watch all your motions.

Verse 15

Covenant. The same word occurs here, as (ver. 12,) in Hebrew and Septuagint. (Haydock) --- It relates chiefly to contracts of marriage, which God forbids the faithful to enter into with the Chanaanites, and with other idolatrous nations, lest they should follow their example. Solomon is reprehended for transgressing this law, (3 Kings xi. 1,) and such marriages are called abominations. (1 Esdras ix. 1.; x. 2, 10.; Josephus) But if any of those people became converts, the reason of the prohibition ceased. Hence a captive woman might be married, (Deuteronomy xxi. 11,) and Salmon took Rahab to wife. If Samson and Esther married with heathens, it might be done by God’s dispensation, for weighty reasons. (Tirinus) --- Fornication. On account of the dissolute behaviour of those idolater, their worship is often condemned under this name, Jeremias ii. and iii.; Ezechiel xvi. (Calmet) --- Sacrificed, and thus thou be drawn into a participation in his guilt. The other laws are here repeated from chap. xxiii. (Menochius)

Verse 16

Son. The Chaldean and Septuagint add, "nor give any of thy daughters to their sons;" or, joining this verse with the 15th, the Septuagint say, "make no covenant....lest they commit fornication after their gods....and call thee and thou eat....and thou take of thier daughters wives for thy sons, and thou wilt give some of thy daughters to their sons, and thy daughters shall go fornicating after their gods." The most imminent dangers attend those women, who have infidel husbands. (Haydock) --- The intention of Moses, and the custom of the Hebrews, justly reprobated such marriages. (Calmet)

Verse 18

New corn. Hebrew, Abib; the name of the month Nisan, which corresponds with our March and April.

Verse 21

Reap; when the most urgent necessity might seem to authorize labour. (Haydock)

Verse 22

Harvest. Pentecost. --- Laid in, at the feast of tabernacles, in September. (Menochius) --- The Septuagint have, "the feast of gathering, in the middle of the (sacred) year." The greatest solemnity of the Passover is mentioned, ver. 18. (Haydock)

Verse 23


Verse 24

In wait. Hebrew and Septuagint, "shall desire." (Calmet) --- God engages to protect their land. (Menochius)

Verse 25

Sacrifice of the paschal lamb, to which the Chaldean properly restrains this verse. (Calmet)

Verse 26

Dam. Chaldean, "thou shalt not eat flesh with milk." See chap. xxiii. 19.

Verse 28

Wrote. God wrote on the tables, as he had promised, ver. 1. (Calmet) --- Moses recorded all in this book, as he was ordered, ver. 27. St. Cyprian (de Sp. S.) and St. Augustine (q. 186,) infer, however, from this text, that the second tables had not the same honour as the first. The contrary appears from Deuteronomy x. 4, He (God) before. Estius, Calmet, and Menochius think the forty days here mentioned, were those which Moses spent with God to obtain the people’s pardon, and the law, at the same time. See chap. xxxii. 35. He continued all that time without meat or sleep, by the power of God, who supports Enoch and Elias in the vigour of health without corporal sustenance. Salien., A. 2544, in which year of the world he fixes the death of Job, the great prophet of the Gentiles.

Verse 29

Horned. That is, shining, and sending forth rays of light like horns. (Challoner) --- Septuagint, "encircled with glory." St. Paul (2 Corinthians iii. 7,) says, the Hebrews could not look steadfastly at the face of Moses, on account of the glory of his countenance. Hence, he was forced to have a veil, which, the apostle observes, was not taken off from the old law till Christ appeared. The Jews and heretics still read the law and the gospel with a veil over their eyes and heart, without understanding them, as they are hidden to those who perish, 2 Corinthians iv. 3. The Jews are much enraged at some Christians, who have represented Moses with horns, as if, they say, he were a devil, or his wife an adulteress. (Stacchus and Drusius.) --- Hebrew, "his skin was radiant" all over his face. These rays commanded respect and awe from the people, who had before said contemptuously, Moses---the man, (chap. xxxii. 1,) as they shewed that God was with him. They had not appeared before, though he had often conversed with the Lord: but now, having seen the glorious vision, they adhered to him during the remainder of his life, particularly when he enforced the obligations of the law to the people. (Haydock) --- The Arabs make their hair stand up like little horns, when they are about 40 years old. (Patric. ii. 4. Navig.) Homer mentions the like custom, and Diomed laughs at Paris calling him the pretty-horned. (Iliad xi.) Many of the ancient heroes and gods are represented with horns, particularly Bacchus, whose history reminds us of many particulars, which belong to Moses. He was born or educated in the confines of Egypt, was exposed on the waters, in a box; had two mothers, and very beautiful. While his army enjoyed the light, the Indians were in darkness. He was preceded by a pillar, had women in his train, dried up rivers with his thyrsus or wand, which had crawled, like a serpent, &c. (Huet. &c.) St. Epiphanius (her. 55,) says the Idumeans adored Moses. Their idol is called Choze by Josephus, (Antiquities xviii. 11,) which may be derived from Chus, the ancestor of Sephora, as Bacchus and Iacchus may denote "the son Bar, or the god Chus," Jah-Chus, who was adored in Arabia; so that Moses, Choze, and Bacchus, probably mean the same person. Chus peopled that part of Arabia where the Hebrews sojourned, Numbers xii. 1. (Calmet)

Verse 33

And having, &c. At first, he spoke uncovered. (Menochius) --- The Protestants insert the word till in Italics, to insinuate that Moses spoke with a veil on, as St. Paul mentions; (Haydock) and Calmet would translate, "for Moses had ceased to address the people, and had put a veil upon his face," as soon as he perceived that they could not bear the blaze of his countenance. This he did out of modesty, that they might not be afraid of coming to speak freely to him, (Jansenius) though it was also mysterious, as St. Paul remarks. For even until this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart, (2 Corinthians iii. 15,) as it is upon that of heretics, who cannot see the church. (St. Augustine in Psalm xxx.) (Worthington)

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Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Exodus 34". "Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.