Exodus chapter 33

They are a stiff-necked people. The Tent of Meeting. Moses beholds the LORD’s glory.





VERSE 1. The LORD spoke to Moses, “Depart, go up from here, you and the people that you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’


VERSE 2. I will send an angel before you; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite.

an angel. In other passages this entity is referred to as “the hornet”:

Exodus 23:28. I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way.

Exodus 33:2. I will send an angel before you; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite.

Deuteronomy 7:20. Moreover the LORD your God will send the hornet among them, until those who are left, and hide themselves, perish from before you.


VERSE 3. Go to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, for you are a stiff-necked people, lest I consume you on the way.”

you are a stiff-necked people. We first encountered this phrase in the previous chapter:

Exodus 32:9. The LORD said to Moses, “I have seen these people, and behold, they are a stiff-necked people.


VERSE 4. When the people heard this evil news, they mourned; and no one put on his jewelry.


VERSE 5. The LORD had said to Moses, “Tell the children of Israel, ‘You are a stiff-necked people. If I were to go up among you for one moment, I would consume you. Therefore now take off your jewelry from you, that I may know what to do to you.’ ”


VERSE 6. The children of Israel stripped themselves of their jewelry from Mount Horeb onward.




VERSE 7. Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far away from the camp, and he called it “The Tent of Meeting.” Everyone who sought the LORD went out to the Tent of Meeting, which was outside the camp.

The Tent of Meeting. Moses had a place to meet the LORD God. He called it the Tent of Meeting.

In our day, we too can have a Tent of Meeting. For us, it doesn’t have to be a physical tent. Instead, it can be a habit.

It can be a time and place where we spend time in prayer each day.

Everyone who sought the LORD. This implies that only some people sought the LORD.

That is true in our day. Not all people actively seek the LORD God.


VERSE 8. When Moses went out to the Tent, all the people rose up, and stood, everyone at their tent door, and watched Moses, until he had gone into the Tent.


VERSE 9. When Moses entered into the Tent, the pillar of cloud descended, stood at the door of the Tent, and the LORD spoke with Moses.

When Moses entered into the Tent. Moses had a habit of meeting the LORD God regularly. Perhaps some days were routine or even boring. But other days were great.

In our own lives, as we meet God daily, some days might feel routine or even a little boring. But other days might be great. The victory is to keep at it.

For a farmer, the victory is found in plowing the whole field. The farmer doesn’t plow only when it feels wonderful.

the pillar of cloud descended. When Moses went to the Tent of Meeting, the Pillar of Cloud arrived. There, God spoke to Moses as an intimate friend, face-to-face.


VERSE 10. All the people saw the pillar of cloud stand at the door of the Tent, and all the people rose up and worshiped, everyone at their tent door.


VERSE 11. The LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. He turned again into the camp, but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, didn’t depart from the Tent.

Joshua, the son of Nun. Joshua had been with Moses on the mountain. Now we learn that Joshua is with Moses at the Tent of Meeting.




VERSE 12. Moses said to the LORD, “Behold, you tell me, ‘Bring up this people;’ and you haven’t let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’


VERSE 13. Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me your way, now, that I may know you, so that I may find favor in your sight; and consider that this nation is your people.”

that I may know you. Moses wants to know the LORD God more fully.

Do you?


VERSE 14. He said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

My presence will go with you. The LORD God promises to be with us always, even to the ends of the world. Read more »


VERSE 15. Moses said to him, “If your presence doesn’t go with me, don’t carry us up from here.


VERSE 16. For how would people know that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Isn’t it that you go with us, so that we are separated, I and your people, from all the people who are on the surface of the earth?”

we are separated. Moses already realizes his people are separate from all other peoples.

They are the chosen people.


VERSE 17. The LORD said to Moses, “I will do this thing also that you have spoken; for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.”

I know you by name. Moses had the great favor to be an intimate friend of the LORD God.


VERSE 18. Moses said, “Please show me your glory.”

Please show me your glory. This is the boldness we need in prayer! This is the appetite we need for God!


VERSE 19. He said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the LORD’s name before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.”

all my goodness. Does this mean the totality of the LORD God passed before Moses?

pass before you. The LORD God will pass by Moses. In the future, the LORD God will do this again. He will pass before Elijah:

1 Kings 19:11a. He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” Behold, the LORD passed by.


VERSE 20. He said, “You cannot see my face, for man may not see me and live.”

You cannot see my face. Even for Moses, there was a limitation to how close he could draw to God.

Apparently Moses could see the “form” of the LORD God, but not his “face”:

Exodus 33:20. He said, “You cannot see my face, for man may not see me and live.”

Numbers 12:8. With him, I will speak mouth to mouth, even plainly, and not in riddles; and he shall see the LORD’s form. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant, against Moses?”

Isaiah 45:15. Most certainly you are a God who has hidden yourself, God of Israel, the Savior.’ ”

Later in the biblical narrative, Gideon will see the face of an angel. He interprets the angel to be the LORD God. And so he expects to die:

Judges 6:23. The LORD said to him, “Peace be to you! Don’t be afraid. You shall not die.”


VERSE 21. The LORD also said, “Behold, there is a place by me, and you shall stand on the rock.


VERSE 22. It will happen, while my glory passes by, that I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and will cover you with my hand until I have passed by;


VERSE 23. then I will take away my hand, and you will see my back; but my face shall not be seen.”


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Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.


Author: todd

At Explore the Faith, I share insights into the Bible and theological writings. If you like what I write, become my partner by donating. Help me reach the world for the Lord Jesus Christ.