These were some interesting tidbits I pulled from a study on Exodus 34. Thought I would share.
Stuart, Douglas K. Exodus. The New American commentary, v. 2. Nashville, Tenn: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2006.
34:1 – Moses supplying the tablets provides some assumptions 1) all new covenants would require human initiation “chisel out” in the imperative form could refer to Israel having to start the process of restoration. 2) By having Israel supply the tablets it is a physical reminder to them that it wont be so easy.
34;2 – The command of first thing in the morning refers to the belief that what one person does first thing in the morning is the most important.
34:3 – When the NIV refers to “in front of the mountain” should be translated as toward/in the vicinity of the mountain.”
34:4 How did the words get on the tablets? 1 Kings 5:18 suggests that even much later the Israelites were not skilled or renowned stone cutters. However, the text makes no mention of this.
34:5 – Moses is able to perceive that a real personal being had come to him and not just in a concept, or a feeling. As before he employed a cloud as the visible portion of his manifestation. Yahweh’s self proclamation allows for Moses to know that Yahweh would be with him and Israel when they left Mt. Sinai.
34:6 – This delayed response (the fulfillment of the promise made by God in 33:19 has been delayed until now) is one of the techniques of Moses’ narrative style. Hebrew word hesed translated as love by the NIV connotes a long term, reliable loyalty of one member of a covenant relationship to another.
34:7 – God lets Israel know that they can not think that they would not be punished because He already punished an earlier generation.
34:29 – God’s presence was obviously there if Moses’ face was obviously reflecting it. This shows that God had not withdrawn himself from Israel as He was still with Israel’s mediator. W.H Propp argued that Moses’ face was disfigured and although it didn’t hurt Moses it was not pleasant to look at. Another link has been placed in a link between the words ‘horns’ and ‘rays’ giving an allusion to the idolatry of the golden bull in Ch. 32.
34:30 – Hebrew verb qrn is not well understood, so there is an argument between the translation of ‘rays,’ ‘horns,’ or ‘radiant.’ The people understood that Moses had been with and was accepted by the God they needed to fear. This answered their question as to where Moses went in verse 1.
34:31 – Moses ‘spoke to them’ indicates that he told Aaron and the others where he had been. Aaron is mentioned and comes to Moses as well as the other leaders of the people indicates that they are confirming Moses leadership over them.
34:33-35 – There is no connection between the veil on Moses’ face and the veil of the Tabernacle. The veil of the Tabernacle blocks out all visibility whereas Moses could see out and the veil lowered the intensity of his encounter with God.