Exodus 33:12-23

Exodus 33:12-23
Ordinary A47


12 MosesA said to the Lord,B “See,C you have said to me, ‘Bring up this people’;D

Notes on verse 12a

A “Moses” = mosheh. From mashah (to pull out in a literal or figurative sense, to draw out) OR from Egyptian mes or mesu (child, son i.e. child of…). This is Moses – the one drawn out from the water, which is to say, rescued. If derived from the Egyptian, his name would share a root with Rameses and Thutmose.
B “Lord” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
C “see” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
D “people” = am. From amam (to darken, hide, associate; creating shadows by huddling together). This is people or nation. It can be used specifically for a tribe, collectively of troops or armies, or figuratively to refer to a flock of animals.

but you have not let me knowE whom you will sendF with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name,G and you have also foundH favorI in my sight.’J 

Notes on verse 12b

E “know” = yada. This is to know, acknowledge, advise, answer, be aware, be acquainted with. Properly, this is to figure something out by seeing. It includes ideas of observation, recognition, and care about something. It can be used causatively for instruction, designation, and punishment.
F “send” = shalach. This is to send out, away, send for, forsake. It can also mean to divorce or set a slave free.
G “name” = shem. May be from sum (to put, place, set). This is name, fame, renown. A name was thought to indicate something essential about a person – something about their individuality. So, this word can also mean honor, authority, or character.
H “found” = matsa. This is to find, catch or acquire. It can also mean to come forth or appear. Figuratively, this can mean to meet or be together with.
I “favor” = chen. From chanan (beseech, show favor, be gracious; properly, to bend in kindness to someone with less status). This is grace, favor, kindness, beauty, precious.
J “sight” = ayin. This is eye in a literal or figurative sense so eye, appearance, favor, or a fountain (the eye of the landscape).

13 Now ifK I have found favor in your sight, showL, M me your ways,N so that I may know you and find favor in your sight. ConsiderO too that this nationP is your people.” 

Notes on verse 13

K {untranslated} = na. This particle is used for requests or for urging. It can be we pray, now, I ask you, oh. This is the same “na” in “hosanna.”
L “show” = yada. Same as “know” in v12. See note E above.
M {untranslated} = na. Same as {untranslaed} in v13. See note K above.
N “ways” = derek. From darak (to tread, march, to walk. Can also mean affixing a string to a box since one needs to step on it to bend it in the process; so also an archer). This is a road as a thing that is walked on. Can be used figuratively for the path that one’s life takes or how one chooses to live one’s life.
O “consider” = raah. Same as “see” in v12. See note C above.
P “nation” = goy. From the same root as gevah (the back, person, or body); related to gev (among); related to gaah (to rise up). This is nation or people. Often used to refer to Gentiles or foreign nations. It can also be used figuratively for a group of animals. This is where the Yiddish “goy” comes from.

14 He said, “My presenceQ will goR with you, and I will give you rest.”S 

Notes on verse 14

Q “presence” = paneh. From panah (to turn, face, appear). This is face in a literal or figurative sense. It could be face, presence, anger, respect. It can also be used of God to indicate divine favor or presence.
R “go” = halak. This is go, come, walk. It is walk literally and figuratively and includes people and animals. It can be used figuratively for one’s moral life – how we walk according to God’s way or against it. It can also refer to the walk of life as in the course one’s life takes, the choices we make, etc.
S “give…rest” = nuach. This is to rest, calm, camp, free, place, remain, satisfy, settle, station, or wait. It is rest and so implies settling down in a literal or figurative sense. This is perhaps the root verb of the name “Noah.”

15 And he said to him, “If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here. 16 For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people, unless you go with us? In this way, we shall be distinct,T I and your people, from every people on the faceU of the earth.”V

Notes on verses 15-16

T “be distinct” = palah. 7x in OT. This is to distinguish in a literal or figurative sense. It can also be to sever, set apart, or show self to be marvelous.
U “face” = paneh. Same as “presence” in v14. See note Q above.
V “earth” = adamah. From the same as adam (man, humankind); perhaps from ‘adom (to be red). This is ground, earth, soil as red, or land.

17 The Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thingW that you have asked;X for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” 

18 Moses said, “Show me your glory,Y I pray.”Z 

Notes on verses 17-18

W “thing” = dabar. From dabar (to speak, declare, discuss). This is speech, a word, a matter, an affair, charge, command, message, promise, purpose, report, request. It is a word, which implies things that are spoken of in a wide sense.
X “asked” = dabar. Related to “thing” in v17. See note W above.
Y “glory” = kabod. From kabad (to be heavy, weighty, burdensome). This is weighty. Figuratively, glorious, abundant, riches, honor, splendor – a reference to one’s reputation or character. This word is often used to describe God and God’s presence.
Z “pray” = na. Same as {untranslated} in v13. See note K above.

19 And he said, “I will make all my goodnessAA passBB before you,CC and will proclaimDD before you the name, ‘The Lord’; and I will be graciousEE to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercyFF on whom I will show mercy. 

Notes on verse 19

AA “goodness” = tub. From tob (to be pleasing, to be good). This is goodness, gladness, something that is good. It can also be beauty, welfare, or joy.
BB “pass” = abar. This is to pass over or cross over. It is used for transitions, whether literal or figurative. It can also mean to escape, alienate, or fail. This is the root verb from which “Hebrew” is drawn.
CC “you” = paneh. Same as “presence” in v14. See note Q above.
DD “proclaim” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth.
EE “be gracious” = chanan. Related to “favor” in v12. See note I above.
FF “show mercy” = racham. From racham (compassion, tender love, womb, compassion; the womb as that which cherishes the fetus); from the same as rechem (womb). This is to love, fondle, have mercy, have or show compassion.

20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face; for no oneGG shall see me and live.” 21 And the Lord continued, “See,HH there is a placeII by me where you shall standJJ on the rock;KK 

Notes on verses 20-21

GG “one” = adam. Perhaps related to “earth” in v16. Perhaps from adam (to be red, make ruddy); related to adamah (see note V above). This is man, humankind, also Adam’s name. It refers to a human individual or humanity.
HH “see” = hinneh. From hen (lo! Behold! If, though; an expression of surprise). This is to draw attention, show suddenness or surprise, or to emphasize the importance of the coming statement. See! Lo! Behold!
II “place” = maqom. From qum(to arise, stand, accomplish, establish, abide; rising against, getting up after being sick or asleep, arising from one state to another, becoming powerful, or rising for action; standing in a figurative sense). This is a standing, which is to say a spot or space a place. It can also refer to a locality or a physical/mental condition. HaMaqom is also a Jewish name for God – the place, i.e. the Omnipresent One.
JJ “stand” = natsab. This is to station, appoint, establish, take a stand.
KK “rock” = tsur. From tsur (to confine, cramp, or bind in a literal or figurative sense; to besiege, assault, or distress). This is rock, tone, cliff, boulder, rocky. It can also be a refuge, a way to refer to God.

22 and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleftLL of the rock, and I will coverMM you with my handNN until I have passed by; 23 then I will take awayOO my hand, and you shall see my back;PP but my face shall not be seen.”

Notes on verses 22-23

LL “cleft” = neqarah. 2x in OT. From naqar (to dig, pick, quarry, or penetrate; gouging out eyes, having eyes pecked out, and a quarry being dug). This is a hole, crevice, fissure, or cavern.
MM “cover” = sakak. This is to cover or overshadow. It could also be to hedge or fence it. Figuratively, this could be to defend, protect, or join together.
NN “hand” = kaph. From kaphaph (to bend – from a root meaning curve or bend down). This is palm of the hand or sole of the foot, footstep, grasp. Figuratively, it can also mean power.
OO “take away” = sur. This is to turn aside in a literal or figurative sense – to depart, decline, rebel, remove, or withdraw.
PP “back” = achor. From achar (to be behind, delay, be late, procrastinate, continue). This is the back, behind, backward, time to come. It can also refer to facing to the north or the west.

Image credit: “Mount Sinai” by El Greco, 1560-1565.

You May Also Like

Leave a Reply