Exodus 24:1-8

Exodus 24:1-8

[1] And he said  unto Moses,  Come up  unto the LORD,  thou, and Aaron,  Nadab,  and Abihu,  and seventy  of the elders  of Israel;  and worship  ye afar off.  [2] And Moses  alone shall come near  the LORD:  but they shall not come nigh;  neither shall the people  go up  [3] And Moses  came  and told  the people  all the words  of the LORD,  and all the judgments:  and all the people  answered  with one  voice,  and said,  All the words  which the LORD  hath said  will we do.  [4] And Moses  wrote  all the words  of the LORD,  and rose up early  in the morning,  and builded  an altar  under  the hill,  and twelve pillars,  according to the twelve  tribes  of Israel.  [5] And he sent  young men  of the children  of Israel,  which offered  burnt offerings,  and sacrificed  peace  offerings  of oxen  unto the LORD.  [6] And Moses  took  half  of the blood,  and put  it in basons;  and half  of the blood  he sprinkled  on the altar.  [7] And he took  the book  of the covenant,  and read  in the audience  of the people:  and they said,  All that the LORD  hath said  will we do,  and be obedient.  [8] And Moses  took  the blood,  and sprinkled  it on the people,  and said,  Behold the blood  of the covenant,  which the LORD  hath made  with you concerning all these words. 

What does Exodus 24:1-8 Mean?

Contextual Meaning

The remaining verses in this section contain God"s directions to Moses personally. Hebrews , Aaron, Aaron"s two eldest sons, and70 of the elders of Israel were to ascend the mountain to worship God. God permitted only Moses to approach Him closely, however.
Moses first related the content of God"s covenant with Israel orally, and the people submitted to it ( Exodus 24:3). Then he wrote out God"s words to preserve them permanently for the Israelites ( Exodus 24:4). The altar he built memorialized this place as where God had revealed Himself to His people. The12pillars were probably not part of the altar but separate from it. They probably represented the permanent relationship of the12tribes with God that God established when He made this covenant.
"In the ceremony to be performed, the altar will represent the glory of the Lord, whilst the pillars will represent the tribes of Israel; the two contrasting parties will stand facing each other." [1]
The12pillars may also have served as memorial standing stones to commemorate the occasion (cf. Genesis 31:45). [1] The young men ( Exodus 24:5) were probably assistants to Moses chosen for this special occasion to serve as priests (cf. Exodus 19:22; Exodus 19:24).
"In the blood sprinkled on the altar [3], the natural life of the people was given up to God, as a life that had passed through death, to be pervaded by His grace; and then through the sprinkling upon the people [4] it was restored to them again, as a life renewed by the grace of God. In this way the blood not only became a bond of union between Jehovah and His people, but by the blood of the covenant, it became a vital power, holy and divine, uniting Israel and its God; and the sprinkling of the people with this blood was an actual renewal of life, a transposition of Israel into the kingdom of God, in which it was filled with the powers of God"s spirit of grace, and sanctified into a kingdom of priests, a holy nation of Jehovah ( Exodus 19:6)." [5]
"The throwing of half of the blood of the offerings against the altar, which represented the Lord, and half on the people, or that which represented them, signifies a joining together of the two contracting parties (communio), and symbolized the execution of the deed of covenant between them.
"Between one blood-throwing and the other, the content of the covenant was finally and solemnly ratified by Moses" reading from the Book of the Covenant and by the people"s expression of consent." [6]
This ritual constituted the formal ratification of the Mosaic Covenant by which Yahweh adopted Israel as His "son" (cf. Genesis 15). The parallel with the inauguration of the New Covenant is striking (cf. Matthew 26:28; 1 Corinthians 11:25).
"In all such ceremonies the oath of obedience [7] implied the participants" willingness to suffer the fate of the sacrificed animals if the covenant stipulations were violated by those who took the oath." [8]
"Virtually every sovereign-vassal treaty incorporated a list of deities before whom the solemn oaths of mutual fidelity were sworn. These "witnesses" could not, of course, be invoked in the case of the biblical covenants, for there were not gods but Yahweh and no higher powers to whom appeal could be made in the event of covenant violation. The counterpart of this is not lacking, however, for the ceremony of covenant-making described in Exodus 24clearly includes "witnesses" to the transaction. These are in the form of the altar, which represented Yahweh, and the twelve pillars, which represented the twelve tribes. Although there is no explicit word to the effect that these objects were witnesses as well as representations, the use of inanimate objects in that capacity elsewhere certainly allows for that possibility here." [9]
"This is the covenant meal, the peace offering, that they are eating there on the mountain. To eat from the sacrifice meant that they were at peace with God, in covenant with him. Likewise, in the new covenant believers draw near to God on the basis of sacrifice, and eat of the sacrifice because they are at peace with him, and in Christ they see the Godhead revealed." [10]
There is some disagreement among the commentators about the meaning of "the Book of the Covenant" ( Exodus 24:7). Most take it to mean the "Bill of Rights" that God had just given ( Exodus 20:22 to Exodus 23:33). [11] Some feel it included "the whole corpus of Sinai laws." [12] Others hold that ". . . it denotes a short general document, a kind of testimony and memorial to the making of the covenant." [6] I prefer the view that it refers to the covenant stipulations God had made known to the Israelites at this time including the Decalogue and the "Bill of Rights." This seems most consistent with other references to this book in the text. [14]