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10 | And the LORD said unto Mo 11 And be ready against the third ses, Go unto the people, and r sanc- day: for the third day the Lord city them to-day and to-morrow, will come down in the sight of all and let them wash their clothes, the people upon mount Sinai. r Lev. 11. 44, 45. Hebr. 10. 22. S ver. 14.
t ver. 16, 18. ch. 31. 5. Deut. 33. 2.
Gen, 35, 2. Lev. 15, 5.
which he was to introduce among the sons;' i. e. ordered them to sanctify people in the name of God might be themselves; the agent, according to clothed with due authority. The gran- Scripture usage, being said to do that deur and solemnity of the scene in which he orders or procures to be done. which their leader was to act such a We see at once the propriety of their conspicuous part would eminently tend being fitted by a special preparation for to produce this effect. And their hear- such a solemn interview with the Most ing with their own ears the voice of God High as now awaited them. When but speaking to his servant, would utterly a friend or neighbor is expected some. cut off all future pretext for saying that what formally to visit us, the natural Moses palined upon them a system of sentiment of decorum requires that our laws and statutes of his own devising, persons, our houses, our entertainment, or imposed upon their credulity in any should be invested with an air of more way whatever. In affirming this they than usual neatness, order, and style. would be witnesses against themselves. How much more, when the visiter is to They had an ocular demonstration that be no other than the King of Kings the laws to which they were required to himself! They were about to approach submit, were promulgated from the high- a holy God, a God of infinite purity, est authority in the universe, of which who cannot bear any unclean thing in Moses was merely the ministering me. his presence, and therefore they were diator. It was not, however, merely to take care that no defilement was upon from the men of that generation that them. They were to wash their clothes God would exact this profound defer- and preserve their persons free from all ence to the official character of Moses, impurity. They were even to abstain (v. but it was to be perpetuated in the line 15) from all such innocent and lawful of their posterity to the latest days— gratifications as might be unfavorable
that they may believe thee for ever,' to the utmost degree of spirituality and not only as long as they live, but as abstractedness of soul in the exercises long as their descendants shall live. before them. Not that there was any Accordingly our Savior himself recog. intrinsic virtue in mere external ablunises his authority, when he says in the tions and abstinences; they were to do parable of the rich man and Lazarus, this in token of their cleansing them"They have Moses and the prophets, let-selves from all sinful pollutions. While them hear them,' and 'if they believe they were washing their clothes they not Moses and the prophets, neither will were to think of washing their souls by they believe, though one rose from the repentance from the sins which they dead.
had contracted. Comp. Gen. 35.2. Lev. 10. Go unto the people and sanctify | 15.5. them, &c. That is, command and see 11. The third day the Lord will come that they sanctify themselves, as ap. down, &c. That is, will come down in pears from the next clause, and from the cloudy and fiery pillar, the symbol v. 14. In like manner it is said that of his presence, the visible Shekinah; Job (ch. 1.5.) 'Sent and sanctified his another of the innumerable instances in
12 And thou shalt set bounds unto 13 There shall not a hand touch the people round about, saying, it
, but he shall surely be stoned or Take heed to yourselves, that ye go shot through: whether it be beast not up into the mount, or touch the or man, it shall not live: wlien the border of it: u whosoever toucheth * trumpet soundeth long, they shall the mount shall be surely put to come up to the mount. death:
x ver. 16, 19.
u Hebr. 12. 20.
which 'Lord' is used interchangeably the trumpet soundeth long, they shall with the term denoting his visible repre- come up to the mount,' where the phra.
entative. His descent was to be in seology in the original is precisely the sight of all the people. We infer from same, na bahar, in or upon the mount. this that the cloudy pillar rose to a It undoubtedly signifies something more great height in the heavens, for we be than merely approaching the base of lieve there is no one of the several peaks the mountain, its 'border' or extreme of the Sinai group of mountains that foot, and conveys the idea of some de. could be seen from all the points where gree of ascent or climbing towards the a body of two millions of men must summit. have been encamped. Consequently, 13. There shall not an hand touch it. the pillar that surmounted the summit Heb. 77 72 yan k3 lo tigga bo yad, there must have been very lofty.
shall not an hand touch him. Our pres. 12. Thou shalt set bounds, &c. Not- ent translation evidently understands withstanding all the grandeurs and ter- the mountain' as the object not to be rors of the scene, it was on the whole touched with the hand. But that is for. an illustrious instance of God's grace bidden in the clause immediately preand condescension that he was pleased ceding, and here the true sense is doubtto vouchsafe to them such a signal dis- less that which is yielded by a literal play of himself on this occasion. Yet rendering of the original. If a man or he would have them reminded of the a beast should break through the prehumble awful reverence which should scribed limits and advance towards the possess the minds of all those that wor- mountain, they were not to rush in aster ship him. Every semblance of unhal- him, apprehend him, and thrust him lowed freedom and familiarity was to back, but on the contrary were to slay be studiously repressed. While Jeho him on the spot by casting stones or vah makes himself known as a Father, shooting darts at him from a distance. a Protector, a Guide, a Portion, he still Such a hold intruder upon forbidden would have his servants remember that ground, such a daring transgressor of he is the great and terrible God. He an express divine precept, was to be retherefore requires that they should wor- garded as so profane, execrable, and ship him at a respectful and reverential abominable, that they were not permitdistance, as being really unworthy even ted to pollute their hands by touching to lift up their eyes to the place which him. What a speaking commentary his footsteps were to make glorious. upon God's estimate of presumptuous
That ye go not up into the mount. sin !- When the trumpet soundeth Heb. 773 bahar, in or upon the mount. long they shall come up, &c, Heb. yena It is important, if possible, to ascertain 3377 bimshok ha-yobel, in the drawing the exact idea, as otherwise it will be out of the trumpet; i. e. of the sound of difficult to determine what is meant by the trumpet. On the true import of the the permission in the next verse, 'when I word 55 yobël here rendered 'trumpet,
see Note on Josh. 6. 4, 5. It is the A comparison of the present passage word applied in the sounding of the with Josh. 6. 4, 5, seems rather to contrum; et of jubilee, a term derived in firm the first of these as the genuine tact from this very root, and supposed sense. Then the Israelites were com. to denote an wstrument either made of manded to compass the walls of Jericho rain's horns, or constructed in that form. for six days in succession, the priests It was blown as a signal for the camp continually blowing the rams' horns, or congregation to assemble, or to do and on the seventh when they make something in concert. Throughout the a long blast with the ram's horn (Heb. rest of the context the word for 'trum. 3277 1723 yana bimshok be-keren pet is entirely different, viz., DD sho- ha-yobel, in the drawing out of the phar, for which reason some critics have sound made) by the horn of the ram, supposed that the phrase in this place &c.—all the people shall shout. By denotes a signal given by order of Mo- this is probably implied that when the ses in the camp for the approach of the sounding shall have been long continued, people to the base of the mount, where after they shall have heard it from day as in the sequel the sound of the new to day for six days, and through nearly shophar was among the supernatural the whole day on the seventh, then at sounds and sights that distinguished the completion of the last circuit they the august occasion. This however is should shout, and the walls would fall an interpretation which cannot well be down. So here we are probably to un. reconciled with the context. Again, derstand that when the signal blast of there is great uncertainty as to what is the trumpet had been for a considerable precisely to be understood by the sound time continued, they were to come up of the trumpet's being drawn out or to the mount.' But this latter clause is prolonged; whether it signifies a grou- if any thing still inore difficult of ex. ing intensity, or a remission, softening, plication than the preceding. Does it dying audy, of the sound. The Gr.gives mean the removal of the foregoing re the latter sense, 'When the voices, ard striction? It would seem that our trans the trumpets, and the cloud are departed lators supposed it did not, but implied from the mountain, then shall ye go up.' rather that at the given signal the peoThus too ihe Syriac, 'When the trumpet ple were to approach to or touards the shall have become silent, then it shall mount as far as the prescribed limits be permitted to you to go up.' So also would permit. But this view of the the Chal. according to Fagius' version ; matter is not favored by the original, "When the trumpet shall be withdrawn, which has 973 73 99 yaalu bahar, come then shall they have leave to go up.' | up in, into, or upon the mount. The But it is very doubtful whether this is phrase is most evidently directly the recorrectly rendered. The original na verse of the prohibition in v. 12, "Take *7072 be-migad shophura signifies ac- heed to yourselves that ye go not up cording to Cartwright, Cum protracta into the mount (Heb. 1733 33 77207 fuerit buccina, when the (sound of the) 1072 hishshameru lakem aloth bahar, trumpet shall have been prolonged; and beware for yourselves of going up in, thus substantially agrees with the He. into, or upon the mount.' Such is the brew, the root 732 negad answering pre- literal rendering of the two clauses, cisely to 72a mashak, and both signi. and how are they to be reconciled? As fying to draw out, extend, prolong. read in the letter they show a plain disThe Vulg. on the other hand adopts the crepancy, the one permitting what the former, Cum cæperit clangere buccina, other forbids. Some have proposed to when the trumpet shall begin to sound. surmount the difficulty by understand
8. 5. & 11. 19.
14 | And Moses went down from is | And it came to pass on the the mount unio the people, and third day in the morning, that there y sanctined the peuple; and they were bthunders and lightnings, and washed their clothes.
a cthick cloud upon the mount, and 15 And he said unto the people, the d voice of the trumpet exceedz Be ready against the third day: ing loud; so that all the people that a come not at your wives.
was in the camp e trembled.
b Ps. 77. 18. Hebr. 12. 18, 19. Rev. 4. 5. & y ver. 10, z ver. 11. a 1 Sam. 21. 4, 5, Zech.
c ver. 9. ch. 40. 34. 2 Chron, 7.3. 1 Cor. 7. 5.
5. 14. d Rev. 1. 10. & 4. 1. e llebr. 12. 21. ing the clause as an ironical concession; and the fiftieth after the departure from as if God had intended to intimate that Egypt. The morning was ushered in before the trumpet blast was heard they with terrible thunders and lightnings, should be strictly charged not to over. and a cloud of deep lowering darkness pass the boundaries, but that after that resting upon the summit of the mount. time, and when the sound began to wax The heavens and the earth and the ele. louder and louder, then they might ments conspired to signalize, in the ascend if they pleased, if they dared; most impressive manner, the advent of for then the terrors of the scene would the Creator and Lord of the universe to be of themselves so tremendous and re. this part of his dominions. Nearly pulsive, that there would be no special every object of grandeur and awe of need of any express veto to forbid a which we can conceive, enters into the nearer approach. But such a sense description. Thunder, lightning, tem. seems hardly consistent with the so- pest, the blackness of durkness, sinoke, lemnity of the scene, and we are con- fire, earthquake, and the trumpet of strained on the whole to yield our assent God! Never, in all probability, till the to the import affixed to the words by the light of the last morning shall dawn, old versions, viz., that the limitation was and the trump of the archangel shall to be annulled and the inountain freely peal its summons to arouse the dead, ascended when the blast of the trump will such a spectacle be again witnessed et and the other supernatural sounds on earth. We have
to reflect upon had been so long drawn out and pro- the design of this august visitation to tracted as to have become scarcely aud- be satisfied that such an apparatus of ible, and to be dying auny upon the ear. awful accompaniments was in the highIn other words we think that the Sept. est degree appropriate and seasonable. rendering, though paraphrastic, gives a deep moral impression in regard to the true sense ; "When the voices, and the law about to be delivered was to be the trumpets, and the cloud, are departed produced. Every thing accordingly was from the mountain, then shall ye go so ordered as to afford the most strikup. As they were to remain encamped ing display of the glorious majesty of for a year at the base of the mountain the Lawgiv :r, to point out the character it might be important for them to be of the law in its strictness and rigor, assured of the divine permission to and its tremendous penalty, and withal ascend from time to time to its top, to furnish a preintimation of the day of and devoutly contemplate a spot recent- judgment, when every transgression of ly hallowed by the footsteps of the glory it will come into account. He who has of Jehovah,
made us, and who perfectly knows our 16. And it came to pass on the third frame, knows how best to suit his dis. day, &c. The eventful day at length pensations to our condition. It is nc arrived, the sixth of the month Sivan, matter of surprise, therefore, that He
who has an unlimited control over all scenery of the Apocalypse, ch. 4. 5, the inlets to our sentient spirits should 'And out of the throne proceeded lightsee fit, when the occasion warrants, to nings and thunderings ar 1 voices.make the senses an avenue to the mind, 1 The voice of the trumpet. Het. SP and to seize the conscience or overawe kol shophar, the voice or suund of the heart by speaking to the eyes or the a trumpet. There is no clear authority ears, or to both at once. Such was his in the original for the use of the inoie good pleasure on the delivery of the law definite expression the trumpet,' as il from Sinai; and it is a consideration in allusion to some trumpet previously full of solemn import, that if God was mentioned. At the same time we are truly awful in the harmless unconsum- not prepared to affirm, although the ing tire at the bush of Horeb, and in the 307 yobel and the hou shophar were guiding and protecting pillar of cloud ; undoubtedly different, that they may not if he was dreadful at Sinai, coming in both refer to the same supernatura! fierce and threatening fames to promul. sounds heard on this occasion. The gate his law; what must he becoming use of the term in either case may pei in flaming fire to take vengeance on haps simply be to intimate that a sound thein that know not God, and obey not was miraculously produced bearing a the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ !” strong resemblance to that of a trumpet, If the sound of that trumpet which pro- though immeasurably louder. Perhaps claimed the approach of God to Israel the clangor of an unearthly trumpet was was almost sufficient to kill the living mingled in the din of the elements to with fear; what must be the trumpet deepen the conviction that the whole which shall awake the dead? Whatever scene was preternatural. Thunder and majesty and solemnity distinguished the lightning, and earthquake, and dark giving of the Law, the whole earth shall clouds were phenomena with which they eventually behold it exceeded in the con. were in some degree acquainted, and sumination of the gospel.- In the had there been nothing more, it might morning. Heb. par 077bihyoth possibly have been thought, either then habboker, in the being made to be of the or in after ages, that the spectacle wit. morning; implying something peculiar nessed was merely an extraordinary and «xtraorvinary in the atınospherical tempest, the effect solely of natural phenomena that ushered in that mem. causes, though acting with inwonted orable morn.
The usual phrase for in violence. But when a sound was heard the morning' is paz babboker, and if shrill and piercing like the notes of a nothing more than that simple idea was trumpet, but rising above the hoarse meant, it is not easy to account for the peals, the roaring and the crash of the present unusual phraseology.
:- And thunder, such as was never heard be. there were voices and lightnings, &c. fore in any commotion of the elements, Heb. 037 7777 va-yehi koloth. Thun and such as never could issue from an ders are undoubtedly meant, a sense instrument made by human hands or frequently conveyed by the Heb. word blown by human breath, no wonder that Ivoice,' in proof of which see Note on the impression upon the pecple was ter. Gen. 3.8. The gloomy mass of cloud was rific beyond all conception. No wonder unquestionably the seat of the thunders that the terms 'voice of the archangel and lightnings which pealed and flashed and trump of God' should have arisen from its bosom. And as the pillar of from this incident of the dread pheno. cloud was regarded as the throne of mena which struck the senses of assem God, we see the pertinency of the allu- bled Israel at the base of the holy mouni. sion to this narrative in the mystic It is undoubteilly from the circumstance