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The covenant "I have made" of Exodus 34:27

Covenant, Exodus 34, Mt. Sinai, Moses, forty days, Horeb, Israel, tablets, words of the covenant

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Once Moses realized what Israel did in the episode of the golden calf he fell to the ground and begged the Creator not to destroy Israel (Deu 9:18, Ex 32:10-14).  He was still pleading for Israel after this when he went back up Mount Sinai to get the replacement tablets (Ex 34:9, Deu 10:1-4).  The conversation on that 40-day occasion included Exodus 34:27.

 

Exodus 34:27  'Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write these words, for according to the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel"'.

 

Is God talking about yet another covenant here.  Did He impose upon Israel another covenant to which they never agreed?  Or was He simply reinforcing with Moses the importance of doing what Moses and Israel had already agreed in Exodus 24?  Below are quotes from the Creator’s statements in Exodus 34 followed by similar statements from the Sinai covenant.  It seems apparent that His instruction in Exodus 34 is repeating the earlier terms of the Sinai covenant.

 

34:12  "Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be a snare in your midst."

Ex 23:32 "You shall make no covenant with them, nor with their gods."

 

34:13  "But you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images"

23:24 "You shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their works; but you shall utterly overthrow them and completely break down their sacred pillars."

 

34:14  "(for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God),"

20:3  "You shall have no other gods before Me.  :5ab "you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God"

 

34:15  "lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they play the harlot with their gods and make sacrifice to their gods, and one of them invites you and you eat of his sacrifice,"

See above:  this is additional instruction warning against serving and/or involvement in the works of other gods.  It is simply a continuation of verse 14 with a connection to verse 12 as well.

 

34:16  "and you take of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters play the harlot with their gods and make your sons play the harlot with their gods."

23:33  "They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against Me. For if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you."

 

34:17  "You shall make no molded gods for yourselves."

20:23  "You shall not make anything to be with Me––gods of silver or gods of gold you shall not make for yourselves." (Although molded gods were not specifically mentioned, it is fairly obvious they were forbidden in principle.  Likely due to the sin of the golden calf specific mention was made here of molded gods.)

 

34:18  "The Feast of Unleavened Bread you shall keep. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, in the appointed time of the month of Abib; for in the month of Abib you came out from Egypt."

23:15  "You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt; none shall appear before Me empty);"

 

34:19  "All that open the womb are Mine, and every male firstborn among your livestock, whether ox or sheep."

22:29  "You shall not delay to offer the first of your ripe produce and your juices. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to Me. 30 "Likewise you shall do with your oxen and your sheep. It shall be with its mother seven days; on the eighth day you shall give it to Me."

 

34:20  "But the firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb. And if you will not redeem him, then you shall break his neck. All the firstborn of your sons you shall redeem. And none shall appear before Me empty–handed."

See 23:15 above and Ex 13:13  "But every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb; and if you will not redeem it, then you shall break its neck. And all the firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem." (Although redeeming is not specifically recorded in Exodus 20-23, Exodus 22:29-30 establishes the firstborn as belonging to God.  Earlier precedent in Exodus 13:13, established how that would typically be handled.)

 

34:21  "Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; in plowing time and in harvest you shall rest."

Ex 20:9  "Six days you shall labor and do all your work,  10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work:  23:12  "Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female servant and the stranger may be refreshed."

 

34:22  "And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year’s end.  23  "Three times in the year all your men shall appear before the Lord, the LORD God of Israel.  24  "For I will cast out the nations before you and enlarge your borders; neither will any man covet your land when you go up to appear before the LORD your God three times in the year."

23:16  "and the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors which you have sown in the field; and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field.  17  "Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord GOD."

 

34:25  "You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leaven, nor shall the sacrifice of the Feast of the Passover be left until morning."

23: 18  "You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leavened bread; nor shall the fat of My sacrifice remain until morning."  Ex 12:10  You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire." (Although the handling of the Passover sacrifice was not specifically mentioned in Exodus 20-23 the expected procedure was recorded earlier)

 

34:26  "The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring to the house of the LORD your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk."

23:19  "The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the LORD your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk." Also see 22:29 above.

 

Galatians 3:15 is clear that one does not amend or annul a covenant.  So the covenant confirmed in Exodus 24 still stood.  It seems another covenant with the same terms would have been redundant and superfluous. 

 

The early chapters of Deuteronomy rehearse the important events of Israel's journey from the time they left Egypt until the day Moses spoke the words of Deuteronomy.  Particularly chapters nine and ten cover this occasion when Moses met with the Creator on Mount Sinai.  There is no indication there or anywhere else that another covenant was made with Israel on Moses second 40-day stay on Mount Sinai.  The only prior covenant referred to in Deuteronomy is His Covenant that was made with the Patriarchs (Deu 8:18) and Israel in Exodus 20-24 (Deu 4:12-13, 23)

 

When the Covenant of Exodus 20-24 was made, the basic if not the detailed terms were rehearsed with Israel at least three times (Ex 19:7-8, 24:3, 7).  It is likely they knew the terms even before this (Ex 16:28).  Great effort was put forth to make sure they knew the terms.  This also gave opportunity to ask questions or seek clarification.  This approach has nothing in common with a covenant being imposed on a people without their even hearing the terms or having a chance to understand or affirm their agreement, which must have been the case if Exodus 34:27 is talking of a third covenant.  Imposing a covenant on someone is out of character with the God of Israel.

 

Therefore, it seems apparent that Exodus 34:27 and the terms mentioned beginning in verse 12 are simply reinforcing the importance of continuing with the original agreement, at least until the covenant that was in the making (verse 10) was finalized and confirmed. "according to the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel"

 

Exodus 34:10 is a direct response to verse 9.  Then he said, "If now I have found grace in Your sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray, go among us, even though we are a stiff–necked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your inheritance." ” (Ex 34:9)

 

Verse 10 explains how the Creator will deal with this stiff-necked people.  He plans to “make a covenant”.  "And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the LORD: for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee."  Verse 27 documents the fact that one covenant was already made. That was done in Exodus 24.  So another covenant is coming.  Deuteronomy contains an account of another covenant being confirmed.  It follows that the covenant being ‘made’ in Exodus 34:10 is the covenant that was confirmed in Deuteronomy.