||[God] did not unleash His power against the leaders of the Israelites. They had a vision of the Divine, and they ate and drank.
Ve'el-atsiley beney Yisra'el lo shalach yado vayechezu et-ha'Elohim vayochlu vayishtu.
|unleash His power|
(Targum Yonathan; Saadia; Rashi; Rashbam; Ibn Ezra; Ramban). Literally, 'send forth His hand.' Or, 'did not send forth His hand [to grant prophecy]' (Lekach Tov; Tzeror HaMor; Sforno; Hirsch; Malbim); or, 'did not send forth His hand [to conceal Himself]' (Baaley Tosafoth).
Those who went with Moses (Targum Yonathan; Rashi). Or possibly, those lower in stature (Abarbanel).
|ate and drank|
Some say that this was disrespectful (Rashi), or that they lacked true meditation (Moreh Nevukhim 1:5; Ralbag). Others state that they did not need meditation (Abarbanel). Still others say that they made a feast later to celebrate (Ramban; Sforno), possibly eating the peace offerings (Ibn Ezra).
According to others, 'They saw the Divine, but they could still eat and drink' (Malbim). Or, unlike Moses who went forty days without food when he saw the Divine (Exodus 34:28), they had to eat and drink (Tanchuma B. Acharey 13a; Midrash Agadah on Leviticus 16:1; Ibn Ezra). Others say that the vision of the Divine nourished them like food (Zohar 1:135a,b; cf. VaYikra Rabbah 20:10; Berakhoth 17a; Targum; Lekach Tov).