Exodus 33:17 Verse Commentary

Exo 33:17 And the LORD said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.”

The context of Exodus 33 is the Golden Calf event in Exodus 32. Israel rebels. God seeks to destroy them. Moses intercedes. God then changes His mind. Later in Exodus 32, God promises that the people are not getting out Scot-free, whenever His presence comes to be with them again He will “visit their sin against them”:

Exo 32:34 But now go, lead the people to the place about which I have spoken to you; behold, my angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them.”

This leads to a conversation in the beginning of Exodus 33 between God and Moses. God tells Israel that He will no longer travel with them, but instead send an angel. This is because if God were among them, God would destroy them:

Exo 33:3 Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.”

The people mourn, and Moses is compelled to change God’s mind again. Moses inquires who God is sending, and appeals to God’s relationship with Moses and Israel. God then changes His mind and resolves to go personally with Israel, as had been the original plan, as had been changed to an angel.

God’s statement that if He would go with Israel then Israel would be consumed on the way to the Promised Land never materialized. God did not destroy Israel before they reached the Promise Land, although they were diverted back into the wilderness after further rebellion in the Promised Land.

Exodus 33:17 represents God’s second change within two chapters. It represents God’s attempts to advert destroying Israel due to emotions caused by proximity. It represents God overcoming what He saw as what would occur if He were to travel with Israel.

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