The Moses speech (Bar 2:29-2:31)

“‘If you will not obey

My voice,

This very great multitude

Will surely turn

Into a small number

Among the nations,

Where I will scatter them.

I know that they will not

Obey me.

They are a stiff-necked people.

But in the land of their exile

They will come to themselves.

They will know

That I am

The Lord their God.

I will give them

A heart

That obeys.

I will give them

Ears that hear.’”

This is reminiscent of the end of chapter 28 in Deuteronomy. There was no explicit mention of an exile in that chapter. However in chapter 30, there was a call to return from the scattered countries. The Israelites were to obey the voice of Yahweh. Otherwise this great multitude would become a small number of people among many nations, since they were going to be scattered. Moses and Yahweh knew that the Israelites would not obey the Mosaic Law because they were a stiff-necked people. However, they would discover themselves in the land of their exile. This happens a lot. When separated from their basic culture, people tend to re-discover all the great things of their original culture that they had overlooked. The Israelites would come to realize that Yahweh was their true God. Thus Yahweh would give them an obeying heart and hearing ears so that they would be more attentive to him.

Ezra explains the rebellion of the Israelites (Neh 9:26-9:31)

Nevertheless they were disobedient.

They rebelled against you.

They cast your law behind their backs.

They killed your prophets.

The prophets had warned them

To turn them back to you.

They committed great blasphemies.

Therefore you gave them into the hand of their enemies.

Their enemies made them suffer.

Then in the time of their suffering,

They cried out to you.

You heard them from heaven.

According to your great mercies,

You gave them saviors.

These saviors saved them from the hands of their enemies.

But after they had rest,

They again did evil again before you.

You abandoned them to the hands of their enemies.

Their enemies had dominion over them.

Yet when they turned and cried to you,

You heard them from heaven.

Many times you rescued them according to your mercies.

You warned them in order to turn them back to your law.

Yet they acted presumptuously.

They did not obey your commandments.

They sinned against your ordinances.

By the observance of which a person shall live.

They turned a stubborn shoulder.

They stiffened their neck.

They would not obey.

Many years you were patient with them.

You warned them by thy Spirit through your prophets.

Yet they would not listen.

Therefore you handed them over to the peoples of the lands.

Nevertheless in your great mercies,

You did not make an end of them or forsake them.

You are a gracious and merciful God.”

Their ancestors were disobedient and rebelled against God. They turned their backs on the law. They killed his prophets. They were defeated by their enemies, who made them suffer. Then they cried to God for help. After God saved them, they turned their backs on him again by doing evil. Once again they cried out after their enemies defeated them. Again they acted presumptuously and would not follow his commandments. They were stiff necked people, yet God in his mercy heard their prayer of distress. He did not abandon them because of his great mercy. God is gracious and merciful.


The order to depart (Ex 33:1-33:6)

“Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Go leave this place, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt.  Go to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, to your descendants I will give it. I will send an angel before you.  I will drive out the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.   Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey.  But I will not go up among you, or I would consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.’”

Yahweh told Moses to leave this place.  He wanted them to go to a land flowing with milk and honey that he promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob because he was going to destroy the inhabitants there.  However, he was not going to be among them because he might consume these stiff-necked people.

“When the people heard these harsh words, they mourned.  No one put on ornaments.  Yahweh had said to Moses, ‘Say to the Israelites, `You are a stiff-necked people.  If for a single moment I should go up among you, I would consume you. So now take off your ornaments, and I will decide what to do with you.’ Therefore the Israelites stripped themselves of their ornaments from Mount Horeb onward.”

The Israelites mourned when they heard the harsh words of Yahweh.  They took off their ornaments from Mount Horeb onward.  It is not called Sinai but Horeb