The Renewed Covenant

Mar 1, 2015

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה פְּסָל־לְךָ שְׁנֵי־לֻחֹת אֲבָנִים כָּרִאשֹׁנִים וְכָתַבְתִּי עַל־הַלֻּחֹת אֶת־הַדְּבָרִים אֲשֶׁר הָיוּ עַל־הַלֻּחֹת הָרִאשֹׁנִים אֲשֶׁר שִׁבַּרְתָּ׃

Hashem said to Moshe: “Carve two tablets of stone like the first, and I will inscribe upon the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you shattered.

Exodus 34:1

וְרָאוּ בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת־פְּנֵי מֹשֶׁה כִּי קָרַן עוֹר פְּנֵי מֹשֶׁה וְהֵשִׁיב מֹשֶׁה אֶת־הַמַּסְוֶה עַל־פָּנָיו עַד־בֹּאוֹ לְדַבֵּר אִתּוֹ׃

the Israelites would see how radiant the skin of Moshe' face was. Moshe would then put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with Him.

Exodus 34:35

God tells Moses to carve two more tablets of stone like the ones he broke and return to the summit of Mount Sinai. Once there, God reveals to him His thirteen attributes of mercy. Appealing to that mercy, Moses again asks God to promise that He will remain amidst the people. God says He is making a covenant with the people that He will do wonders on their behalf, and drive out their enemies from the Promised Land, on condition that the people wipe out the idolatry from the land. He warns them, too, not to make any treaties with them or intermingle with them, lest they serve as a snare to tempt the Children of Israel away from God.


God then reiterates the command to observe the Pilgrimage holidays, starting with Passover; the Sabbath; and the consecration of the firstborn animals. He commands the nation not to bring sacrifices with leavened bread nor to leave any of the Passover sacrifice until morning. He prohibits cooking a kid in its mother’s milk.


For forty days and nights, Moses remains at the top of the mountain, neither eating nor drinking. When he descends with the new tablets, his face is aglow with the holiness of the experience. The people are blinded by it, and Moses must veil his face at all times unless in the presence of God.


It should be noted, as the Israel Bible points out, the Hebrew phrase which describes Moses’s radiant face is karan-ohr. The same word for ray of light (keren) also means “horn” in Hebrew. It is this dual meaning which led to Michelangelo’s famous, but mistaken, depiction of Moses with horns.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think Moses’s face glowed only after he descends with the second set of tablets?

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