One after another, the laws are conveyed to Moses in a long speech (Exodus 20:19–23:19), ending with words of promise and exhortation (Exodus 23:20–33). One of these (P) continues into Leviticus and Numbers. [13] Throughout P, the object presented to Moses is called the testimony, with no mention of the tablets (Exodus 16:34, 25:16, 21, 22, 26:33–34, 27:21, 30:6, 36, 40:20; Leviticus 16:13, 24:3; Numbers 17:19, 25), while E and D refer everywhere to tablets, never mentioning the testimony. Returning to the camp, Moses convenes the people and conveys to them the instructions for building the Tabernacle and fashioning the sacred articles and vestments (Exodus 35:1–20). Moses descends Sinai not once but eight times, and more and more laws keep coming all the time. Deuteronomy seems to follow E in several respects: Like the Elohistic narrative, D emphasizes that the events at the mountain (D calls it Horeb) consist only of speech; no visual experience of the divine takes place (Deuteronomy 4:12, 15). In the material preceding Deuteronomy, three narrative strands can be detected (known as J, E and P); in Deuteronomy we hear a fourth (D), similar to one of the three preceding but not identical. In P the Israelites arrive at Sinai in the third month after the Exodus (Exodus 19:1). Fourth, since the testimony received according to P was placed in the ark and kept there for good, while the tablets in E were destroyed and replaced, the testimony of P must have been given twice. [5] J, or the Yahwistic source (in German, Jahwistic), is named for its assumption that the divine name, YHWH (often vocalized Yahweh), was known from the beginning of time (Genesis 4:26). The Israelites were then forced to drink it. In this lesson we look at the Israelites' arrival at Mount Sinai, and some of the events there —including God's appearance on the mountain while the people watched below (Exodus 19:1-25; 20:18-22).. 1 Camping at Mount Sinai. (35) Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting, because the cloud had settled upon it and the Majesty of the LORD had filled the tabernacle. The Lord comes down in the sight of all the people, but the different groups of participants, arranged in tiers, experience it in varying ways. Meanwhile, the people have made the golden calf (Exodus 32:1–6). With their presentation to Moses, the story ends (Exodus 34:28). Extensive measures are necessary to prevent them from storming the mountain, since this would have fatal consequences. Further, when the covenant is jeopardized by the people’s infidelity, Moses reacts in classical prophetic manner, interceding on the people’s behalf to save them from God’s wrath (Exodus 32:11–13).[6]. The essence of the covenant, as expressed in the opening of the Decalogue (Exodus 20:3), as well as at the beginning and end of the covenant speech (Exodus 20:20, 23:32), is the prohibition of other gods—in other words, the demand for absolute fidelity to the covenantal liege. P, the Priestly source, is distinguished for its interest in the priesthood and in ritual law. They may not even approach until the signal is given that it is safe to do so (Exodus 19:18, 20–21). God does not dwell on the mountain; the fire cloud comes from heaven, settles temporarily on the mountain and finally descends to earth. One of the first works to present a synopsis of the separate sources in English is William Edward Addis, The Documents of the Hexateuch (London: Nutt; New York: Putnam, 1893–1898). Please support us. (36) (Thenceforth, whenever the cloud would lift from the tabernacle, the Israelites would set out on their various journeys; (37) but if the cloud did not lift, they would not set out until such time as it did lift. [4] It begins by acknowledging that (1) the laws given on the mountaintop and conveyed immediately to the people as part of a covenant (Exodus 20:19–23:33), (2) the laws given to Moses as part of another covenant when he returns to have the new tablets inscribed (Exodus 34:11–26), (3) the laws conveyed to Moses in the Tabernacle over a 40-year period (Leviticus 1:1- Numbers 36:13), and (4) the laws given on the mountaintop but conveyed to the people only 40 years later (Deuteronomy 6:1–28:69) are four separate law codes. (11) Yet He did not raise His hand against the leaders of the Israelites; they gazed upon God, and they ate and drank. Apparently he has abandoned the Tabernacle project for the time being. Biblical authors narrate what happened at Sinai; they allude to those events, and they evoke them for rhetorical purposes. Biblical Archaeology Society Online Archive. The theophany as described in J takes place all at once on the third day. (16) They said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will obey; but let not God speak to us, lest we die.” (17) Moses answered the people, “Do not worry, for God has only come in order to give you an experience, so that the fear of Him may be ever with you, in order that you go not astray.” (18) So the people remained at a distance, while Moses entered the thick cloud where God was. [12] Scholars have suggested numerous theories. The sudden shifts, doublets, contradictions and internal tensions act as signposts, alerting the reader that he may have left one document behind and shifted to another. (13) No hand shall touch him, but he shall be either stoned or shot. Other verses, though, give the opposite impression. Stricken with terror, the people beg Moses to excuse them from listening any further to God’s voice and pledge to obey whatever Moses relays to them in God’s name. Even D, which is clearly parallel to E, does not pick up where E leaves off. Aaron, on the other hand, who serves as the Tabernacles’ chief priest, is distinguished by his ornate vestments. ), when the imperial Persian authorities granted legal and religious autonomy to the Jews in Judea, allowing them—actually ordering them (Ezra 7:1–26)—to govern themselves according to their written teachings, perhaps requiring them to produce a single, authoritative version of their sacred law. (32) Afterwards all the Israelites came near, and Moses commanded them everything that the LORD had told him on Mount Sinai. We may never know when this extremely sophisticated literary process took place. But when he arrives, he learns that he will first receive lengthy instructions for the construction and dedication of the divine abode (the Tabernacle) and for the consecration of the priests and their vestments (Exodus 25:1–31:17). From where do the prophets describe that the Lord shall reign for ever? The danger that the deity may surge forth and destroy those who come too close is so great that the Lord refuses to make his appearance until he is absolutely certain that his warnings have been received and heeded (Exodus 19:20–25). It was a totally unique event in all of human history. Whereas the preceding 68 chapters, from Genesis 1 to Exodus 18, have covered thousands of years, here the pace suddenly slows. When this is done, the same picture emerges in the story of the lawgiving as has emerged elsewhere in the Torah. Then, his life ’ s story, enough is clear to connect it other... Source, makes up most of the divine fire are part of a of. 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