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Exodus Chapter 34
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The Second Tablets
34:1 God said to Moses, 'Carve out two tablets for yourself, just like the first ones. I will write on those tablets the same words that were on the first tablets that you broke.
34:2 Be ready in the morning, so that you will be able to climb Mount Sinai in the morning and stand waiting for Me on the mountain peak.
34:3 No man may climb up with you, and no one else may appear on the entire mountain. Even the cattle and sheep may not graze near the mountain.'
34:4 Moses carved out two stone tablets like the first. He then got up early in the morning and climbed Mount Sinai, as God had commanded him, taking the two stone tablets in his hand.
34:5 God revealed Himself in a cloud, and it stood there with [Moses]. [Moses] called out in God's name.
34:6 God passed by before [Moses] and proclaimed, 'God, God, Omnipotent, merciful and kind, slow to anger, with tremendous [resources of] love and truth.
34:7 He remembers deeds of love for thousands [of generations], forgiving sin, rebellion and error. He does not clear [those who do not repent], but keeps in mind the sins of the fathers to their children and grandchildren, to the third and fourth generation.'
34:8 Moses quickly bowed his head and prostrated himself.
34:9 He said, 'If You are indeed pleased with me, O God, let my Lord go among us. This nation may be unbending, but forgive our sins and errors, and make us Your own.'
34:10 God said: I will make a covenant before all your people, and will do miracles that have never been brought into existence in all the world, among any nation. All the people among whom you [dwell] will see how fearsome are the deeds that I, God, am doing with you.
34:11 Be very careful with regard to what I am instructing you today. I will drive the Amorites, Canaanites, Hivites, Perizzites, Hittites and Yebusites out before you.
34:12 Be most careful not to make a treaty with the people who live in the land where you are coming, since they can be a fatal trap to you.
34:13 You must shatter their altars, break down their sacred pillars, and cut down their Asherah trees.
34:14 Do not bow down to any other god, for God is known as one who demands exclusive worship, and He does indeed demand it.
34:15 [Be careful] that you not make a treaty with [the people] who live in the land. When they practice their religion and sacrifice to their gods, they will invite you, and you will end up eating their sacrifice.
34:16 You will then allow their daughters to marry your sons, and when their daughters worship their gods, they will lead your sons to follow their religion.
34:17 Do not make any cast metal idols.
34:18 Keep the Festival of Matzahs. Eat matzahs for seven days as I commanded, in the designated time in the month of standing grain. It was in the month of standing grain that you left Egypt.
34:19 The first-born initiating every womb is Mine. Among all your livestock, you must separate out the males of the first-born cattle and sheep.
34:20 The first-born of a donkey must be redeemed with a sheep, and if it is not redeemed, you must decapitate it. You must [also] redeem every first-born among your sons.

Do not appear before Me empty-handed.

34:21 You may work during the six weekdays, but on Saturday, you must stop working, ceasing from all plowing and reaping.
34:22 Keep the Festival of Shavuoth through the first fruits of your wheat harvest. Also keep the Harvest Festival soon after the year changes.
34:23 Three times each year, all your males shall thus present themselves before God the Master, Lord of Israel.
34:24 When I expel the other nations before you and extend your boundaries, no one will be envious of your land when you go to be seen in God's presence three times each year.
34:25 Do not slaughter the Passover sacrifice with leaven in your possession. Do not allow the Passover sacrifice to remain overnight until morning.
34:26 Bring the first fruits of your land to the Temple of God your Lord. Do not [eat] meat cooked in milk [even that of] its own mother.

Moses Returns with the Tablets
34:27 God said to Moses, 'Write these words down for yourself, since it is through these words that I have made a covenant with you and Israel.'
34:28 [Moses] remained there with God [on the mountain] for 40 days and 40 nights without eating bread nor drinking water. [God] wrote the words of the covenant, consisting of the Ten Commandments, on the Tablets.
34:29 Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two Tablets of the Testimony in his hand. As Moses descended from the mountain, he did not realize that the skin of his face had become luminous when [God] had spoken to him.
34:30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw that the skin of Moses' face was shining with a brilliant light, they were afraid to come close to him.
34:31 Moses summoned them, and when Aaron and all the community leaders returned to him, Moses spoke to them.
34:32 After that, all the Israelites approached, and [Moses] gave them instructions regarding all that God had told him on Mount Sinai.
34:33 When Moses finished speaking with them, he placed a hood over his face.
34:34 Whenever Moses came before God to speak with Him, he would remove the hood until he was ready to leave. He would then go out and speak to the Israelites, [telling them] what he had been commanded.
34:35 The Israelites would see that the skin of Moses' face was glowing brilliantly. Moses would then replace the hood over his face until he would [once again] speak with God.



Commentary:

God said...
  This was on 1 Elul (Seder Olam 6). Moses would remain on the mountain for a third period of 40 days (Exodus 34:28; Deuteronomy 10:10), finally coming down with the second Tablets on Yom Kippur.

revealed Himself
  (Targum). Literally, 'descended.' See note on Genesis 11:7, Exodus 19:11.

it...
  The cloud (Ibn Ezra; Avraham ben HaRambam). Or, '[God] stood with [Moses]' (Ramban; Emunoth VeDeyoth 2:12); or, '[Moses] stood there with [God]' (Targum Yonathan; Sforno).

Moses called...
  (Targum Yonathan; Mizrachi). Or, '[God] proclaimed the Divine Name' (Lekach Tov; Ibn Ezra).

and proclaimed
  (Rashbam; Ibn Ezra; Sforno). Or, 'and [Moses] prayed' (Targum Yerushalmi; Pirkey Rabbi Eliezer 46; Mizrachi).

Omnipotent
  (Saadia). Or, 'the merciful and kind God' (Targum).

of generations
  (Targum). See Exodus 20:6.

sin, rebellion and error
  (see Yoma 36b).

those who do not repent
  (Targum; Yoma 88a; Rashi). Or, 'He does not completely destroy' (cf. Jeremiah 30:11).

third and fourth generation
  See Exodus 20:5.

make us Your own
  Literally, 'make us Your inheritance' (Saadia; Radak, Sherashim). Or, 'grant us an inheritance' (Rashi).

Be most careful...
  See Exodus 23:32,33. This is virtually a repetition of that chapter, see note on Exodus 34:27.

Asherah trees
  These were sacred trees or poles (Rashi). See Deuteronomy 16:21. Asherah was a popular fertility goddess in the near east, worshipped by Sidon (1 Kings 11:5,33), Tyre (Josephus, Contra Apion 1:18), and the Philistines (1 Samuel 31:10). She is often identified with Astarte and Aphrodite (Septuagint; Herodianus 5:6:10). While stone pillars were erected in honor of Baal, wooden poles or pillars were erected in honor of Asherah.

separate out the males
  (see Ibn Janach; Radak, Sherashim).

decapitate
  See Exodus 13:13.

from all plowing and reaping
  (Lekach Tov; Rashbam; Ibn Ezra). Or, '[even] during plowing and planting season' (Saadia).

Shavuoth
  Literally, 'Weeks.' See Exodus 23:16.

Harvest festival...
  Sukkoth. See Exodus 23:16.

Do not slaughter...
  See Exodus 23:18.

Do not eat
  (Saadia; Chullin 115b).

even that of...
  See Exodus 23:19.

Write these words...
  Because of the Golden Calf, the covenant now had to be renewed (Ramban). The above verses, Exodus 34:11-26, are virtually a repetition of Exodus 23:10-23, which may have been the original 'book of the covenant' (Exodus 24:7).

40 days...
  From 1 Elul until Yom Kippur (Seder Olam 6).

God wrote
  (Rashbam; Ibn Ezra; see Exodus 34:1). However, according to others, '[Moses] wrote' (Lekach Tov on Exodus 34:27; Abarbanel).

Ten Commandments
  Assereth HaDevarim in Hebrew, literally, 'ten statements.'

had become luminous
  Karan in Hebrew. Literally, 'was giving off rays ('horns') of light' (Ibn Ezra).

Moses gave them instructions...
  Some say that this relates to Exodus 35:4-17, which was told to him during the last 40 days (see note on Exodus 25:1).

hood
  (Targum Yonathan). Or, 'mask' (Rashi; Targum); or 'veil' (Lekach Tov; Radak, Sherashim).





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