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The Interpretation of Exodus Xxiv 9-11

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(1) Exodus xxiv 9-11 is identifiable as a separate unit of tradition within the Sinai pericope. Of the present introduct on to these verses in Exodus xxiv 1-2, verses 1b-2 are not original. Whether verse 1a forms the original introduction will be discussed in a later article. (2) The tradition in Exodus xxiv 9-11 neither knows of nor implies the existence of a covenant between Israel and 'the God of Israel'. It is a theophany tradition and the expression at its conclusion, 'they ate and drank', is best understood, as in other cultic contexts in the Old Testament, as meaning that those who experienced this remarkable manifestation of God 'rejoiced' or 'worshipped' in the presence of God. (3) This theophany tradition is unique among and independent of other theophany traditions contained elsewhere in the Sinai narrative: it knows nothing of the mountain of the theophany being enwrapped in cloud, smoke, etc.; though it implies that the usual consequences of seeing God were fatal (verse 11a), it states in the most direct manner that a delegation of Israel's ancestors saw God, whereas in other theophany traditions in the Sinai narrative the hiddenness of God from human view is emphasised; finally, the figure of Moses in this tradition is strikingly 'reduced' when compared with the dominating role he plays in other theophany traditions. Here in Exodus xxiv 9-11 he cannot even be said to be primus inter pares.


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