Exodus 33:12-34:26: Observing the Festivals

The Torah reading for the Shabbat that falls on the intermediate days of Sukkot.

The portion in this Torah reading that related directly to Sukkot is detailed in verse 34:22.  Verses 34:6-7 are recited during the Torah service on festivals, as well as being part of the High Holiday liturgy. This portion begins after the incident with the golden calf and the destruction of the first set of commandments.  Moses, back on Mount Sinai, appears to have a moment of spiritual crisis and asks to see God.  Told that he cannot see God and live, Moses is then instructed to take shelter in the cleft of a rock, protected by God’s “hand.” God then passes before Moses.  It is interesting to contemplate the possible association of the sukkah, Moses’ shelter, and God’s “sheltering” presence while reading the Sukkot portion.

This English translation is reprinted with permission from Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures published by the Jewish Publication Society.

33:12.     Moses said to the LORD, “See, You say to me, ‘Lead this people forward,’ but You have not made known to me whom You will send with me. Further, You have said, ‘I have singled you out by name, and you have, indeed, gained My favor.’

33:13.     Now, if I have truly gained Your favor, pray let me know Your ways, that I may know You and continue in Your favor. Consider, too, that this nation is Your people.”

33:14.     And He said, “I will go in the lead and will lighten your burden.”

33:15.     And he said to Him, “Unless You go in the lead, do not make us leave this place.

33:16.     For how shall it be known that Your people have gained Your favor unless You go with us, so that we may be distinguished, Your people and I, from every people on the face of the earth?”

33:17.     And the LORD said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have asked; for you have truly gained My favor and I have singled you out by name.”

33:18.     He said, “Oh, let me behold Your Presence!”

33:19.     And He answered, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim before you the name LORD, and the grace that I grant and the compassion that I show.

33:20.     But,” He said, “you cannot see My face, for man may not see Me and live.”

33:21.     And the LORD said, “See, there is a place near Me. Station yourself on the rock

33:22.     and, as My Presence passes by, I will put you in a cleft of the rock and shield you with My hand until I have passed by.

33:23.     Then I will take My hand away and you will see My back; but My face must not be seen.”

34:1.         The LORD said to Moses: “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.

34:2.         Be ready by morning, and in the morning come up to Mount Sinai and present yourself there to Me, on the top of the mountain.

34:3.         No one else shall come up with you, and no one else shall be seen anywhere on the mountain; neither shall the flocks and the herds graze at the foot of this mountain.”

34:4.         So Moses carved two tablets of stone, like the first, and early in the morning he went up on Mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, taking the two stone tablets with him.

34:5.         The LORD came down in a cloud; He stood with him there, and proclaimed the name LORD.

34:6.         The LORD passed before him and proclaimed: “The LORD! the LORD! a God compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and faithfulness,

34:7.         extending kindness to the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; yet He does not remit all punishment, but visits the iniquity of fathers upon children and children’s children, upon the third and fourth generations.”

34:8.         Moses hastened to bow low to the ground in homage,

34:9.         and said, “If I have gained Your favor, O Lord, pray, let the Lord go in our midst, even though this is a stiff-necked people. Pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for Your own!”

34:10.     He said: I hereby make a covenant. Before all your people I will work such wonders as have not been wrought on all the earth or in any nation; and all the people who are with youshall see how awesome are the LORD’S deeds which I will perform for you.

34:11.     Mark well what I command you this day. I will drive out before you the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

34:12.     Beware of making a covenant with the inhabitants of the land against which you are advancing, lest they be a snare in your midst.

34:13.     No, you must tear down their altars, smash their pillars, and cut down their sacred posts;

34:14.     for you must not worship any other god, because the LORD, whose name is Impassioned, is an impassioned God.

34:15.     You must not make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, for they will lust after their gods and sacrifice to their gods and invite you, and you will eat of their sacrifices.

34:16.     And when you take wives from among their daughters for your sons, their daughters will lust after their gods and will cause your sons to lust after their gods.

34:17.     You shall not make molten gods for yourselves.

34:18.     You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened bread — eating unleavened bread for seven days, as I have commanded you — at the set time of the month” of Abib, for in the month of Abib you went forth from Egypt.

34:19.     Every first issue of the womb is Mine, from all your livestock that drop a male as firstling, whether cattle or sheep.

34:20.     But the firstling of an ass you shall redeem with a sheep; if you do not redeem it, you must break its neck. And you must redeem every first-born among your sons.

None shall appear before Me empty-handed.

34:21.     Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall cease from labor; you shall cease from labor even at plowing time and harvest time.

34:22.     You shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the first fruits of the wheat harvest; and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year.

34:23.     Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Sovereign LORD, the God of Israel.

34:24.     I will drive out nations from your path and enlarge your territory; no one will covet your land when you go up to appear before the LORD your God three times a year.

34:25.     You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with anything leavened; and the sacrifice of the Feast of Passover shall not be left lying until morning.

34:26.     The choice first fruits of your soil you shall bring to the house of the LORD your God.

You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.

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