In an early interaction, God told Moses that He will send his angel to guide Israel along the way. The people of Israel were warned not to disobey God’s messenger, because he would not forgive their transgressions. (Ex. 23:21)

Moses approached God with a very bold request indeed; He asked for God to personally accompany Israel instead, refusing to move anywhere without His own personal presence. Why did Moses take the risk of challenging God? Why did he think that the original arrangement would not work?

In the end of incredible experience of seeing the back of God, hearing the words that described his fundamentally gracious and forgiving nature (Ex.34:6), Moses disclosed his real reason: “If I have gained Your favor… let the Adonai go in our midst, because this is a stiff-necked people. Pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for Your own!” (Ex.34:9)

In other words, God should go with Israel and forgive them, precisely because they are stiff-necked people! Since God already said that angel would not forgive Israel if they rebel against him (Ex.23:21), Moses knew that his only hope was to persuade God Himself to come instead. While being hidden in the cleft of the Rock, Moses understood that YHWH (unlike His angel) was able to forgive “iniquity, transgression, and sin” (Ex.34:7). It was a match made in heaven: Israel had sins, YHWH had forgiveness.

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60 COMMENTS

  1. I have never had those two scripture portions connected before. As usual more of the puzzle picture comes into view when the pieces fit together in a logical manner. Thank you. J.

  2. I believe the word forgiveness is beautiful, but too many times I have heard it translated poorly (making it sound like we are stuck in limbo). I am not sure how to weed out these poor translations, but I hope to do just that thru your amazing articles and staff!

  3. Moshe could not settle for less than being guided by our “Father”, to ensure the much needed protection and security that children require. When we fall or go astray we are lifted and guided once again in the right direction. God of Love and Mercy, Justice and Righteousness

    • Roberto Flores. I suggest you read John1:14 Jesus made everything. John5:37 New King James Version And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. tells us it was Jesus who Moses Talked to

  4. After the death of Moses; YHWH made the same promise to Joshua that Moses had beseeched from Him. “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave nor forsake you.”(Joshua 1:5) Now what I take from this; when in life at times what seems appears to be insurmountable/incomprehensible challenges that may stack up against us, we can take heart that He is always with us. This is repeated in Hebrews 13:5. “Then could’ve Moses been interceding for us all?”

    • “Then could’ve Moses been interceding for us all?” Yes he could. He was leading a nation from Egypt to Canaan. And he testified that the commandments he gave them were for them and their children, and multiple generations. Indeed, in Deuteronomy 30, he spoke of matters due at the end of the age. So, his prayer for the nation transcended that particular generation.

  5. Dear Dr. Eli: I am so thankful to our God our Lord for leading me to your site. These courses will heighten my awareness of how much the Lord really loves. These courses will also help my teaching of the Wonderful Word of Our Father. I now will comprehend just how and what Jesus Christ Himself studied and took part in. Thank you and your staff again. God bless and Shalom!, Lydia Roskey

  6. Thank you so much for the teaching you are giving. I am sorry that I do not have the time for a course. Can you tell me if there are any English Bibles that include the original names for God rather than upper or lower case Lord? Sue

    • Sue, what do you mean????????????????????????????? How can you not have any time for a course? (the course takes just an hour a week) – everyone has that. I am outrageously busy but even I would have that 🙂 There are a few Bibles out there that claim to restore God’s names in translation (I am not sure they do what they claim). You should search for these words on Amazon and on the web.

  7. Shalom. Thank you for this beautful lesson. And thank God for Moses and for God’s mercy and forgiveness to the Jews and to the Gentiles also.

  8. “While being hidden in the cleft of the Rock, Moses understood that YHWH (unlike His angel) was able to forgive “iniquity, transgression, and sin” (Ex.34:7).” Does this mean that angels are unable to forgive or that the angel assigned to Moses and the children of Israel would not forgive? My dilemma is this…God forgives, our Messiah forgives and men forgive each other (when properly trained to do so). Does the angel not possess this ability or does the angel not possess the patience required to forgive the Israelites if and when they sinned? Your insight would be appreciated. Shalom.

    • Only the offended party can forgive. If Joe offends Jim, it makes no sense for Jake to forgive him, right? When man sins, he offends God. Only God can forgive sins, and Yeshua can because God has given Him all judgement (John 5:22). He never gave this authority to angels, rather angels are messengers only.

      • What a wonderful explanation. ..I really enjoy your studies…they keep me up till the wee hours of the morning….I am prayerfully considering your course…

        • I’m glad to hear that you are blessed by these insights. These are just the tip of the iceberg. Our 30 courses (and counting) go a lot deeper.

        • Israel Bible Center equips you with the tools you need to enter into the Jewish world of Scripture. We provide first-rate teaching, and the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s top scholars. As a student, you will be able to interact personally with our teaching faculty, and gain access to hundreds of hours of Bible courses, including The Jewish Apostle Paul I: His World and The Jewish Gospel of John I: The Arrival of the King. Become a part of the community of teachers and students at Israel Bible Center today!

      • Thank you Dr.Eli for your explanation on forgiveness and who alone can forgive. God and Yeshua.
        So grateful for the ultimate sacrifice that God sent His only Son to die for our sins.
        Because of this there is no other name under heaven whereby one can be saved. Hallelujah!

      • If God is the only One who can forgive sin against Him (which I agree) then this proves Jesus is God because He forgives sin against God.

      • This passage (Ex 23:21) seems to leave room for understanding that YHVH can use messengers to act in his stead even in this capacity (forgivening). Significant to me is that the messenger WILL not (lo yissa) forgive, rather than CAN not forgive. Malakim often acts in his stead throughout scripture.

        • Israel Bible Center equips you with the tools you need to enter into the Jewish world of Scripture. We provide first-rate teaching, and the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s top scholars. As a student, you will be able to interact personally with our teaching faculty, and gain access to hundreds of hours of Bible courses, including The Story of Our Hebrew Fathers: Abraham and Isaac and Jewish Insights Into Scriptures I. Become a part of the community of teachers and students at Israel Bible Center today!

        • Completely tangential comment here:

          As a native English speaker who definitely knows the rules of grammar very well, it is just as instructive as it is embarrassing when I post typos and bad grammar in a public forum like this. It reinforces my need for tolerance of non-native speakers’ mistakes.

          • 🙂 Thank you. We have people from over 100 different countries communicating MOSTLY successfully with each other :-).

  9. Didn’t the early Church fathers connect that the one being sent before them was prophetically the Messiah, that the messenger after Moses was Joshua, the name of Joshua revealing the name of the Messiah?

  10. I have a question. What is Hades and do we go there when we die? Recently I was told that it is real but I’ve never heard about Hades at Church.

    • In the ancient Greek culture Hades is mythical, but in the Septuagint and New Testament, “hades” is the word that Jews used to convey the Hebrew “she’ol” which is a physical grave/pit. As to where dead people go, yes, they go to the grave, and then resurrect at the last day.

    • We are very happy that you’ve joined our discussion forum. Would you believe that these articles are only a taste of what Israel Bible Center has to offer? We also provide comprehensive teaching on a variety of biblical, historical, and cultural topics. You might begin with The Jewish Apostle Paul I: His World or The Jewish Gospel of John I: The Arrival of the King. You’ll be amazed at the Jewish world that awaits you. Don’t delay another minute: enroll now!

  11. I have a question. What day was Jesus crucified. Christians say Friday and he rose Sunday but according to my calculations that does not work

    • It depends on how flexible your definition for “day” and “night” is. If you need exactly three days and three nights (72 hours) then he was buried on fourth day (Wednesday), Nisan 14 before sunset and arose at the end of Shabbat (Nisan 17) around evening time.

  12. As a Born Again Christian, filled with the Holy Spirit, I personally believe that when I eventually die, I will immediately be standing in the presence of Yeshua in my heavenly home. Can you provide a deeper account of your account of dead ppl sleeping until resurrection day?

    • There is no single understanding of heaven and hell in Judaism; “Two Jews, three opinions” right? Frankly, Judaism cares more about what you do than about what you believe. Judaism does recognize sheol (the pit/grave) and Gehinnom (more or less, pergatory). But Judaism rejects hell as a place of conscious infinite fiery torture. That would require God to sustain those souls while he inflicted suffering on them, as a sadist. Judaism rejects this.

      • Revelation20 Gives us 2 resurrections 1 when Jesus Comes. :5 the rest of the dead :13 are judged and 15 into the lake of fire. Malachi4:3 ashes. I could never love any God who is punis
        hing people no matter how evil forever. That in not Our God. Thank God.

  13. Sorry to disagree, but Moses uses the same term as David did “Lord(God the Father) my Lord(Jesus the Son) incarnate. No other angel, Pope, priest can forgive sin except Jesus, and thus God’s name in Jesus. God knows angels cannot forgive, but THE ANGEL, JESUS can in the NT.

    • God is spirit (John 4:24a) and spirits do not have bodies (Luk.24:39); God is invisible (1Tim.1:17,Col.1:15), and no man has ever seen Him at any time (John 1:18,1Tim.6:16). Therefore the “back parts” of Exo.33:23 seems to be that of a visible representative of God in whom is God’s spirit and/or authority.

    • We are very happy that you’ve joined our discussion forum. Would you believe that these articles are only a taste of what Israel Bible Center has to offer? We also provide comprehensive teaching on a variety of biblical, historical, and cultural topics. You might begin with The Jewish Apostle Paul I: His World or The Revelation in a Jewish Context II : Discovery. You’ll be amazed at the Jewish world that awaits you. Don’t delay another minute: enroll now!

  14. Thank you for your explanation about Jesus’s death. It makes sense that he died on a Wednesday and rose on a Saturday. Most Christian churches say he was crucified on a Friday. How can they get it so wrong. Daniel 9 explains he died in the middle of the week.

    • Simply by not recognizing that “Preparation Day” means the day before any no-work-allowed holiday (not just the weekly Shabbat). So the day before the first day of the feast of Unleven bread is also a preparation day, even if it doesn’t fall on a Friday.

  15. G-D walked in the cool of the evening with Adam and Eve. Wasn’t he in a corporeal body then. You said no one has ever seen G-D because he is unseen. Thanks.

    • Well, I’m only repeating what God Himself and Yeshua say (Exo.33:20;Joh.5:37;6:46). So it stands to reason that apparent theophanies in the Bible are either God in a diminished, or corporeal form or else it is a representative bearing His authority.

    • We are very happy that you’ve joined our discussion forum. Would you believe that these articles are only a taste of what Israel Bible Center has to offer? We also provide comprehensive teaching on a variety of biblical, historical, and cultural topics. You might begin with The Story of Our Hebrew Fathers: Abraham and Isaac or The Revelation in a Jewish Context II : Discovery. You’ll be amazed at the Jewish world that awaits you. Don’t delay another minute: enroll now!

    • Hi Linda John 1:18 Jesus said I have come to reveal the Father. Jesus created all things. Therefore The God we know in the OT wasn’t the Father but was Jesus. Before Abraham was I Am

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