Okay, it’s a weird title, but we sure amused ourselves as we talked about Exodus 24, in which Moses and friends are somehow back at the foot of the mountain and about to go up it for the first time, even though Moses has been at the top of Mt. Sinai for the last four chapters. You can see why we got a little wacky. Enjoy!
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1 – And to Moses He said, “Come up…: ” This section was [actually] said before the Ten Commandments [were given] (Mechilta 19:10). On the fourth of Sivan, “Come up” was said to him [Moses]. [Midrash Lekach Tov, based on Mechilta and Mechilta d’Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai on Exod. 19:10, Shab. 88a] See also Midrash Hagadol on this.
3 – and all the ordinances: The seven commandments that the Noachides were commanded [to observe], in addition to [keeping] the Sabbath, honoring one’s father and mother, [the laws of] the red cow, and laws of jurisprudence, which were given to them in Marah. -[Mechilta on Exod. 19:10, Sanh. 56b] [Since this was before the giving of the Torah, there were only these commandments and ordinances.]
4 – And Moses wrote: [the Torah’s text] from “In the beginning” (Gen 1:1), until the giving of the Torah. He [also] wrote the commandments that they were commanded in Marah. [Again, since all this took place before the giving of the Torah, Moses could write only up to that point.]
A number of wilderness narratives in Exodus and Numbers are very similar, in particular, the incidents of water from the rock, and the stories about manna and the quail…perhaps both of these incidents actually happened once, but parallel traditions about these events eventually developed, both of which made their way into the Torah.
6 – And Moses took half the blood: Who [first] divided it [exactly in half]? An angel came and divided it. -[From Lev. Rabbah 6:5]
Sforno – עשה ונשמע, a reference to action designed to ensure that they could obey G’d’s directives without thought of any reward that might be in store for them by doing this. We find a similar construction in Psalms 103,20 עושי דברו לשמוע בקולו, “who do His bidding, ever obedient to His bidding.”
Is learning greater or deed greater? Rabbi Tarfon answered, deed is greater. Rabbi Eli’ezer responded and said, learning is greater. Then someone else responded to both of them and said that learning is greater, as learning leads to deed.
10 – and they perceived the God of Israel: They gazed and peered and [because of this] were doomed to die, but the Holy One, blessed is He, did not want to disturb the rejoicing of [this moment of the giving of] the Torah. So He waited for Nadab and Abihu [i.e., to kill them,] until the day of the dedication of the Mishkan, and for [destroying] the elders until [the following incident:] “And the people were as if seeking complaints… and a fire of the Lord broke out against them and devoured at the edge (בִּקְצֵה) of the camp” (Num. 11:1). [בִקְצֵה denotes] the officers (בִקְצִינִים) of the camp [i.e., the elders]. -[From Midrash Tanchuma Beha’alothecha 16]
12 — And the Lord said to Moses: After the giving of the Torah.
Come up to Me to the mountain and remain there: for forty days.
the stone tablets, the Law and the commandments, which I have written to instruct them: All 613 mitzvoth are included in the Ten Commandments. In the “Azharoth” that he composed for each commandment [of the Ten], Rabbenu Saadiah [Goan] explained the mitzvoth dependent upon it [each commandment]. [from Jonathan, Num. Rabbah 13:16]