Renewal of the Tablets. 1The LORD said to Moses: “Cut two stone tablets like the former,a that I may write on them the words* which were on the former tablets that you broke. 2Get ready for tomorrow morning, when you are to go up Mount Sinai and there present yourself to me on the top of the mountain. 3No one shall come up with you, and let no one even be seen on any part of the mountain;b even the sheep and the cattle are not to graze in front of this mountain.” 4Moses then cut two stone tablets like the former, and early the next morning he went up Mount Sinai as the LORD had commanded him, taking in his hand the two stone tablets.
5The LORD came down in a cloud and stood with him there and proclaimed the name, “LORD.” 6So the LORD passed before him and proclaimed: The LORD, the LORD, a God gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in love and fidelity,* 7continuing his love for a thousand generations, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin; yet not declaring the guilty guiltless, but bringing punishment for their parents’ wickedness on children and children’s children to the third and fourth generation!c 8Moses at once knelt and bowed down to the ground. 9Then he said, “If I find favor with you, Lord, please, Lord, come along in our company. This is indeed a stiff-necked people; yet pardon our wickedness and sins, and claim us as your own.”
Religious Laws. 10The LORD said: Here is the covenant I will make. Before all your people I will perform marvels never before done* in any nation anywhere on earth, so that all the people among whom you live may see the work of the LORD. Awe-inspiring are the deeds I will perform with you! 11As for you, observe what I am commanding you today.d
See, I am about to drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 12e Take care not to make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land that you are to enter; lest they become a snare among you. 13Tear down their altars; smash their sacred stones, and cut down their asherahs.* 14You shall not bow down to any other god, for the LORD—“Jealous”* his name—is a jealous God. 15Do not make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land; else, when they prostitute themselves with their gods and sacrifice to them, one of them may invite you and you may partake of the sacrifice. 16And when you take their daughters as wives for your sons, and their daughters prostitute themselves with their gods, they will make your sons do the same.
17You shall not make for yourselves molten gods.f
18You shall keep the festival of Unleavened Bread.g For seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib you are to eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you; for in the month of Abib you came out of Egypt.
19To me belongs every male that opens the womb among all your livestock, whether in the herd or in the flock.h 20The firstling of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb; if you do not redeem it, you must break its neck. The firstborn among your sons you shall redeem.
No one shall appear before me empty-handed.
21Six days you may labor,i but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the seasons of plowing and harvesting you must rest.
22j You shall keep the feast of Weeks with the first fruits of the wheat harvest, likewise, the feast of the Ingathering at the close of the year.* 23Three times a year all your men shall appear before the Lord, the LORD God of Israel. 24Since I will drive out the nations before you and enlarge your territory, no one will covet your land when you go up three times a year to appear before the LORD, your God.
25You shall not offer me the blood of sacrifice with anything leavened, nor shall the sacrifice of the Passover feast be kept overnight for the next day.
26The choicest first fruits of your soil you shall bring to the house of the LORD, your God.
You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.k
Radiance of Moses’ Face. 27Then the LORD said to Moses: Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel. 28So Moses was there with the LORD for forty days and forty nights,l without eating any food or drinking any water, and he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the ten words.
29As Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant in his hands, he did not know that the skin of his face had become radiant* while he spoke with the LORD. 30When Aaron, then, and the other Israelites saw Moses and noticed how radiant the skin of his face had become, they were afraid to come near him. 31Only after Moses called to them did Aaron and all the leaders of the community come back to him. Moses then spoke to them. 32Later, all the Israelites came up to him, and he enjoined on them all that the LORD had told him on Mount Sinai. 33When Moses finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. 34Whenever Moses entered the presence of the LORD to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out again.m On coming out, he would tell the Israelites all that he had been commanded. 35Then the Israelites would see that the skin of Moses’ face was radiant; so he would again put the veil over his face until he went in to speak with the LORD.
* [34:1] Words: a common term for commandments, especially the Decalogue (see v. 28). In v. 27 “words” connotes the commands given in vv. 11–26.
* [34:6] Gracious…fidelity: this succinct poetic description of God is an often-repeated statement of belief (see Nm 14:18; Ps 103:8; 145:8; Jl 2:13; Jon 4:2). All the terms describe God’s relationship to the covenant people.
* [34:10] Never before done: lit., “created.” The verb used here (Heb. bara’) is predicated only of God (see Gn 1:1, 21, 27; Ps 51:12). These wonders are a new creation and can be performed only by God.
* [34:13] Asherah was the name of a Canaanite goddess. In her honor wooden poles (asherot) were erected, just as stone pillars (massebot) were erected in honor of the god Baal. Both were placed near the altar in a Canaanite shrine.
* [34:14] Jealous: see note on 20:5. Some, by a slight emendation, render, “The Lord is jealous for his name.” Cf. Ez 39:25.
* [34:22] Feast of Weeks: the festival of thanksgiving for the harvest, celebrated seven weeks or fifty days after the beginning of the harvest. It was also called Pentecost (fiftieth) and coincided with the giving of the law on Mount Sinai, fifty days after the offering of the first fruits; cf. Lv 23:10–11; Dt 16:9. Feast of the Ingathering: feast of Booths.
* [34:29] Radiant: the Hebrew word translated “radiant” is spelled like the term for “horns.” Thus the artistic tradition of portraying Moses with horns.
c. [34:6–7] Ex 20:5–6; Nm 14:18; Dt 5:9–10; Jer 32:18.
e. [34:12–16] Ex 23:32–33; Dt 7:1–5; 12:2–3.
g. [34:18] Ex 12:15–20; 13:3–4.
h. [34:19–20] Ex 13:2, 12–13; 23:15.
j. [34:22–23] Ex 23:16–17; Dt 16:10, 13, 16.
l. [34:28] Ex 24:18; Dt 9:9, 18; 10:2, 4.
m. [34:33–34] 2 Cor 3:13, 16.