Mount Sinai and “The Promised Land”
Debby wonders about the second trip Moses took up Mount Sinai.
Moses went up Mount Sinai to get all the laws In the process of the Lord’s giving them to the people, the mountain so quaked and thundered that it frightened the people terribly. They begged Moses to get the laws himself and be the intermediary to relay them. The Lord said, “All right, but now keep the people and animals away from the mountain, because if they get too close they will die.”
Moses then went back up the mountain, not to get more laws, but to get (1) two stones (edut) that were to be put in the Ark and (2) the detail for building the tabernacle. The reason for this was that both the Lord and Moses must have seen that direct communication wouldn’t work. Too dangerous. Rather it was necessary to build a specific safe place for the process (the inner area of the tabernacle) and a specific instrument for communication (the Ark, which held the edut).
That, then, is the reason for the two trips up Mount Sinai. However, equally important to this event was the fact that those who were allowed at the mountain had to be conditioned, that is, properly protected from the effects of the cloud, which was covering the mountain. So they made sacrifices and sprinkled protective animal blood on them. In other words, they had to have proper protection from the extreme danger. (I have drastically foreshortened this explanation. The detail is in the book on pages 2–5.)