The Lord Ratifies the Covenant, 1-18
24:1 But to Moses the LORD said, “Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from a distance. 24:2 Moses alone may come near the LORD, but the others must not come near, nor may the people go up with him.”
24:3 Moses came and told the people all the LORD’s words and all the decisions. All the people answered together, “We are willing to do all the words that the LORD has said,” 24:4 and Moses wrote down all the words of the LORD. Early in the morning he built an altar at the foot of the mountain and arranged twelve standing stones—according to the twelve tribes of Israel. 24:5 He sent young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls for peace offerings to the LORD. 24:6 Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and half of the blood he splashed on the altar. 24:7 He took the Book of the Covenant and read it aloud to the people, and they said, “We are willing to do and obey all that the LORD has spoken.” 24:8 So Moses took the blood and splashed it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
‘The so-called ‘burnt offering’ described in Exodus 24:5-8 and Leviticus 1 could be translated ‘ascension offering’. The Hebrew word comes from the verb ‘to go up’. So it could simply mean ‘to go up in smoke’, but it could also have the sense of ‘the sacrifice for going up’. In Exodus 24 this sacrifice prepares for the ascension of the seventy elders of Israel into the presence of God. ‘Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as bright blue as the sky. But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank’ (Exod. 24:9-11). The offering enables the representatives of God’s people to ascend to share a meal in God’s presence because God’s hand is raised against the sacrifice in the place of His people. This is replicated in the tabernacle offerings (Lev. 1). During this offering the animal is burnt up and is turned into smoke that replicates the cloud of Mount Sinai. So the offering does not simply deal with sin, but deals with sin so that we can ascend into the presence of God.’ (Chester, The Ascension)
24:9 Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up, 24:10 and they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear like the sky itself. 24:11 But he did not lay a hand on the leaders of the Israelites, so they saw God, and they ate and they drank.
24:12 The LORD said to Moses, “Come up to me to the mountain and remain there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the law and the commandments that I have written, so that you may teach them.” 24:13 So Moses set out with Joshua his attendant, and Moses went up the mountain of God. 24:14 He told the elders, “Wait for us in this place until we return to you. Here are Aaron and Hur with you. Whoever has any matters of dispute can approach them.”
The tablets of stone – Ex 31:18; 32:15; 34:1, etc., the law was inscribed on two tablets. We tend to think that the first four or five commandments were written on one stone, and the rest on the other stone. However, Hittite treaties (which have several features in common with the Decalogue) were written in two copies, one for the king and the other for the vassal. This raises the possibility that each stone contained a complete copy of the Decalogue.