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The Second Tables of Stone
by Wayne Blank
"The Lord said to Moses, "Cut two tables of stone like the first; and I will write upon the tables the words that were on the first tables, which you broke"
Moses had just been before the True God; the people of Israel had witnessed the power of the True God from below the shaking mountain. And yet, when Moses returned to the people, he found them running amok in idolatry, worshipping a golden calf. Moses "threw the tables out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain," not merely in a fit of anger, but also perhaps as an object lesson in how the people had "broken" the Commandments of God with their idol worship.
Nevertheless, for the sake of all that was to come, The Lord instructed Moses to prepare a second set of tables of stone upon which The Decalogue would again be written.
"The Lord said to Moses, "Cut two tables of stone like the first; and I will write upon the tables the words that were on the first tables, which you broke. Be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai [see also Why Did Paul Say That Sinai Was In Arabia?], and present yourself there to me on the top of the mountain. No man shall come up with you, and let no man be seen throughout all the mountain; let no flocks or herds feed before that mountain." (Exodus 34:1-3 RSV)
Moses obeyed, and then experienced something that very few humans have ever done - to have The Lord appear to him and speak to him directly.
"So Moses cut two tables of stone like the first [see also What Did The Ten Commandments Look Like?]; and he rose early in the morning and went up on Mount Sinai, as The Lord had commanded him, and took in his hand two tables of stone. And The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of The Lord. The Lord passed before him, and proclaimed, "The Lord, The Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation." (Exodus 34:4-7 RSV)
Moses was also unique in that he was one of only three people recorded in the Holy Scriptures to have survived a 40 day fast (see The Forty Day Fasts).
"And The Lord said to Moses, "Write these words; in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel."
Moses' appearance upon his return was also unique (see the Fact Finder question below to see how Moses "shining" had greater significance than that event alone).
"When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tables of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. And when Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them; and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses talked with them. And afterward all the people of Israel came near, and he gave them in commandment all that The Lord had spoken with him in Mount Sinai." (Exodus 34:29-32 RSV)
Fact Finder: What is meant by, in describing Moses' appearance when he came down from the mountain, that "the skin of his face shone"? When did the same sort of "shining" happen with Jesus Christ, and how was Moses involved then too?