Epistles of Thomas

February 5, 2009

Exodus 34-36

Filed under: Old Testament — Thomas @ 12:21
Tags: ,

Chapter 34 includes a list of laws revolving around practices such as festivals and a repetition of the most important points related to the giving of the Law, such as avoiding the sins of the people of the land. There is one interesting point of departure among translations at 34:28. Who wrote the words on the second set of tablets? Most English translations say “he” did and because Moses is the subject of the immediately preceding narrative we are led to think it is Moses. However, this would seem to contradict the first verse of the chapter in which God said: “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke.” Some translations translate 34:28 to make it specify that God was the writer (CUV, Chinese; Living; NIrV; NLT; capitalised “He” within sentence: NKJV; SVV, Dutch) while at least one specifies it was Moses (NCV). I find it very interesting that the NIrV says that it was “the Lord” who wrote on the tablets when reading both the NIV and TNIV would lead you to think it was Moses, although like most English translations they make it a new sentence. Some do not start a new sentence with “and” forcing you to see it as a continuation of what is being said about Moses (NAB; NJB; JPS; RST, Russian; YLT). If it wasn’t for the statement at 34:1, I think most translations would take this “he” to refer to Moses. Regardless, it is clear that the source of the Ten Commandments is God and Moses relayed them to the people. The chapter concludes with describing Moses’ glowing appearance after he had spoken with the Lord.

The people began to bring donations for the work God required and soon Moses had to make this announcement: “‘No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.’ And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work” (36:6-7). I would be willing to bet that a lot of pastors and boards undertaking a building project have turned to this verse! The rest of the chapter and those following will detail the work in accordance with the instructions given earlier. It might seem boring, having to read everything again. Can you imagine reading a mystery novel and every time a witness recounts the details of the crime the entire story is repeated? However, this repetition in Exodus accentuates the fact that they did everything according to the Lord’s instructions.

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