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XII.  1 And Moses came down: and whereas he was covered with invisible light--for he had gone down into the place where is the light of the sun and moon,--the light of his face overcame the brightness of the sun and moon, and he knew it
Ex. 34:29, etc.
not. And it was so, when he came down to the children of Israel, they saw him and knew him not. But when he spake, then they knew him. And this was like that which was done in Egypt
Gen. 42:8
when Joseph knew his brethren but they knew not him. And it came to pass after that, when Moses knew that his face was become glorious, he made him a veil to cover his face.

Ex. 32
2. But while he was in the mount, the heart of the people was corrupted, and they came together to Aaron saying: Make us gods that we may serve them, as the other nations also have. For this Moses by whom the wonders were done before us,

p. 111

is taken from us. And Aaron said unto them: Have patience, for Moses will come and bring judgement near to us, and light up a law for us, and set forth from his mouth the great excellency of God, and appoint judgements unto our people. 3. And when he said this, they hearkened not unto him, that the word might be fulfilled which was spoken in the day when the people sinned in building the tower, when God said: And now if I forbid them not, they will adventure all that they
Gen. 11:6
take in mind to do, and worse. But Aaron feared, because the people was greatly strengthened, and said to them: Bring us the earrings of your wives.
Ex. 32:2
And the men sought every one his wife, and they gave them straightway, and they put them in the fire and they were made into a figure, and there came out a molten calf.

4. 1 And the Lord said to Moses: Make haste
Ex. 32:7
hence, for the people is corrupted and hath dealt deceitfully with my ways which I commanded them. What and if the promises are at an end which I made to their fathers when I said: To your seed will I give this land wherein ye dwell? For behold the people is not yet entered into the land, even though they bear my judgements, yet have they forsaken me. And therefore I know that if they enter the land they will do yet greater iniquities. Now therefore I also will forsake them: and I will turn again and make peace with them, that a house may be built for me among them; and that house also shall be done away, because they will sin against me, and the race of men shall be unto me as a drop of a pitcher, and shall be counted as
Isa. 40:1, etc.
spittle. 5. And Moses hasted and came down and

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saw the calf, and he looked upon the tables and saw that they were not written: 1 and he hasted and brake them; and his hands were opened and he became like a woman travailing of her firstborn, which when she is taken in her pangs her hands are upon her bosom, and she shall have no strength to help her to bring forth. 6. And it came to pass after an hour he said within himself: Bitterness prevaileth not for ever, neither hath evil the dominion alway. Now therefore will I arise, and strengthen my loins: for albeit they have sinned, yet shall not these things be in vain that were
Ex. 32:20
declared unto me above. 7. 2 And he arose and brake the calf and cast it into the water, and made the people drink. And it was so, if any man's will in his mind were that the calf should be made, his tongue was cut off, but if any had been constrained thereto by fear, his face shone.

8. And then Moses went up into the mount and prayed the Lord, saying: Behold now, thou art God which hast planted this vineyard and set the roots thereof in the deep, and stretched out the shoots of it unto thy most high seat. Look upon it at this time, for the vineyard hath put forth her fruit and hath not known him that tilled her. And now if thou be wroth with thy vineyard and root it up out of the deep, and wither up the shoots from thy most high eternal seat, the deep will come no more to nourish it, neither thy throne to refresh that

p. 113

thy vineyard which thou hast burned. 9. For thou art he that art all light, and hast adorned thy house 1 with precious stones and gold and perfumes and spices (or and jasper), and wood of balsam and cinnamon, and with roots of myrrh and costum 2 hast thou strewed thine house, and with divers meats and sweetness of many drinks hast thou satisfied it. If therefore thou have not pity upon thy vineyard, all these things are done in vain, Lord, and thou wilt have none to glorify thee. For even if thou plant another vineyard, neither will that one trust in thee, because thou didst destroy the former. For if verily thou forsake the world, who will do for thee that that thou hast spoken as God? And now let thy wrath be restrained from thy vineyard the more <<because of>> that thou hast said and that which remaineth to be spoken, and let not thy labour be in vain, neither let thine heritage be torn asunder in humiliation. 10. And God said to him: Behold I am become merciful according to thy words. Hew thee out therefore two tables of stone from the place whence thou hewedst the former, and write upon them again my judgements which were on the first.


110:1 XII. 1. descended into the place where is the light of the suit and moon. Compare with this the Revelation vouchsafed to Moses which is related in Jerahmeel, c. 52, as reported by R. Joshua ben Levi.

111:1 4. even though they bear my judgements: etiam portans iudicium; i.e. even though they carry with them the law I have given.

112:1 5. the writing vanishes from the tables. Cf. XIX. 7. The Pirke R. Eliezer, c. 45 (tr. Friedlander), says, "the writing fled from off the tables," and Cohn quotes the same story from other Midrashim.

112:2 7. The common story is that the beards of those who had sinned appeared gilt (Historia Scholastica). This detail was occasionally embodied in mediæval pictures of the scene.

113:1 9. p. 112 The house, which is described in terms somewhat resembling Enoch (see Introd., p. 44), is Paradise.

113:2 9. costum, for which there is no English equivalent, occurs in Jub. 16:24, and fairly often in Latin literature.

Next: Chapter XIII