The renewed Covenant (Ex 34:10-34:28)

“He said, ‘I hereby make a covenant.  Before all your people I will perform marvels, such as have not been performed in all the earth or in any nation.  All the people among whom you live shall see the work of Yahweh.  For it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.’”

Yahweh says that he will make a covenant.  He will perform great unforeseen miracles. Everyone will see how awesome he is. This comes after the beautiful poetic proclamation of the preceding verses. Here the restrictions are more precise.

“Observe what I command you today.  See, I will drive out before you the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.  Take care not to make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which you are going, or it will become a snare among you.   You shall tear down their altars, break their pillars, and cut down their sacred poles.   You shall worship no other god, for Yahweh, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.   You shall not make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land.  When they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to their gods, someone among them will invite you, and you will eat of the sacrifice.   You will take wives from among their daughters for your sons.  Their daughters who prostitute themselves to their gods will make yours sons also prostitute themselves to their gods.  You shall not make cast idols.”

Yahweh asks them to observe what he commands today. This is an elaboration and a repetition of many of the cultic demands of chapter 23.  Once again there is a mention of the six groups that will be driven out of Canaan.  They are not to make a covenant with these people.  On the contrary they are to tear down the various religious objects among these people, their altars, their pillars, and their sacred totem poles. Yahweh is a jealous God.  They are not to get involved with any of these people, eat their sacrificial food, or marry their sons or daughters.  Finally the reminder that they should not make any idols.

“You shall keep the festival of unleavened bread.  Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib.  In the month Abib you came out from Egypt.”

The festival of the seven days of unleavened bread is in the month of Abib as an important reminder that you came out of Egypt in that month.

“All that opens the womb is mine, all your male livestock, the first-born of cow and sheep.   The first-born of a donkey, you shall redeem with a lamb.  If you will not redeem it you shall break its neck.  All the first-born of your sons you shall redeem.  No one shall appear before me empty-handed.” 

All of the first-born of humans and animals shall be consecrated to Yahweh.   As in chapter 13, you can substitute with a sheep for a donkey. If you do not substitute or redeem the first-born donkey you must break its neck.  Every first born of your sons shall be redeemed.  No one should appear before Yahweh empty-handed.

“Six days you shall work.  But on the seventh day you shall rest.  Even in plowing time and in harvest time you shall rest.  You shall observe the festival of weeks the first fruits of wheat harvest, and the festival of ingathering at the turn of the year.  Three times in the year all your males shall appear before Yahweh God, the God of Israel.  I will cast out nations before you, and enlarge your borders.  No one shall covet your land when you go up to appear before Yahweh your God three times in the year.”

You work for six days and rest on the seventh even in plowing and harvest time. You shall observe the festival of weeks and the festival of ingathering. 3 times a year all the males shall appear before Yahweh.  The 3 feasts are the Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, and Booths.

“You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven, and the sacrifice of the festival of the Passover shall not be left until the morning.  The best of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring to the house of Yahweh your God.  You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.”

Like in chapter 23, almost word for word, you cannot mix your blood sacrifice with leavened bread.  You had to eat the sacrifice or burn it the next day.  You only bring the best to Yahweh.  Of course you do not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.  This last admonition refers to a Canaanite sacrifice practice as mentioned in chapter 23.

“Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Write these words.  In accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.’   He was there with Yahweh forty days and forty nights.  He neither ate bread nor drank water. He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.”

Then Yahweh told Moses to write the words of the covenant with him and the Israelites on the tablets.  Moses was there with Yahweh, fasting for 40 days and 40 nights.  So he wrote the 10 commandments of the covenant on the tablets. This is different from the first broken tablets that were written with the finger of Yahweh.

 

 

The conclusion of the covenant (Ex 24:1-24:11)

“Then he said to Moses, ‘Come up to Yahweh, you and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship at a distance.  Moses alone shall come near to Yahweh.  But the others shall not come near, and the people shall not come up with him.”

Then Moses went up the mountain with all the people at a distance.  Nadab and Abihu were the first and second sons of Aaron.  There is no mention of the sons of Moses.

“Moses came and told the people all the words of Yahweh and all the ordinances. All the people answered with one voice, and said, ‘All the words that Yahweh has spoken we will do.’  Moses wrote down all the words of Yahweh.  He rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and set up twelve pillars, corresponding to the twelve tribes of Israel. He sent young men of the Israelites, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed oxen as offerings of well-being to Yahweh.  Moses took half of the blood and put it in the basins and half of the blood he dashed against the altar.  Then he took the book of the covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people.  They said, ‘All that Yahweh has spoken we will do.  We will be obedient.’  Moses took the blood and dashed in on the people. and said, ‘See the blood of the covenant that Yahweh has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

Moses then came down and told them all the words of Yahweh and all the ordinances.  The people answered that they would do it.   So Moses wrote down all the words of Yahweh.  This is the first mention of any writing in the Torah.  Up until now, all explanations were oral.  Moses then built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and set up twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel.  They had burnt offerings and offerings of well-being to Yahweh.  Then Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins while the other half he dashed against the altar.  Then he took the book of the covenant, and read it to everyone.  They all agreed to follow it.  Moses took the blood in the basins and dashed in on the people.  The covenant has now become a “book” with a blood oath.

“Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel.   Under his feet there was something like a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for its clearness. God did not lay his hand on the chief men of the Israelites.  They beheld God, and they ate and drank.”

Moses with Aaron, and his sons, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel.  There was sapphire stone under his feet.  They saw God and still lived to eat and drink.  This is as close as anyone gets to God.