Study Guide

Book of Exodus Chapter 34

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Chapter 34

Moses Becomes Stanley Kubrick and Everyone Goes Home Semi-Happy

  • God tells Moses to recut some stone for new tablets and meet him on the mountain alone. Spooky much?
  • God proclaims his power with this nifty poem in 34:6-8:
  • "The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,/ Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation."
  • Basically, God wants to have his cake and eat it too. He wants to be seen as mercifully stern and sternly merciful at the same time. Confused? Read about God in our "Figures" section.
  • God renews the covenant with Moses and tells him that new wonders will be on their way when God drives the inhabitants of Canaan out for the Israelites.
  • One warning, though: there must be no hanky-panky with any Canaanite girls or Canaanite gods. He tells Moses that the Israelites must stick to their ritual guns, or else.
  • God reiterates that all the firstborn belong to him (in terms of circumcision). He repeats festival law and notes that "the best of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring to the house of the Lord your God" (34:26). Gotta give God the best. 
  • In an interesting twist, God tells Moses that the Ten Commandments will now be dictated; God won't write them himself, but Moses will write down what God says.
  • When Moses comes down from the mountain this time, his face shines when he looks at the people. 
  • Everyone's freaked out, naturally, so Moses puts on a veil to cover himself.

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