In the NKJV there are footnotes which indicate that Hebrews 12:21 is a quote from Deutoronomy 9:19 but there seem to be some differences there.

Hebrews 12:18-21 NKJV.

18 For you have not come [g]to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and [h]darkness and tempest, 19 and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. 20 (For they could not endure what was commanded: “And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned [i]or shot with an arrow.” 21 And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.”)

Deutoronomy 9:18-19 NKJV

18 And I fell[e] down before the Lord, as at the first, forty days and forty nights; I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all your sin which you committed in doing wickedly in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger. 19 For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure with which the Lord was angry with you, to destroy you. But the Lord listened to me at that time also

In the book of hebrews it seems Moses's fear emanated from their first meeting with presense of God when the mountain quaked and shook. In the book of Deutoronomy it was after Aaron had built a golden calf that Moses was now afraid of God.

How can we reconcile the above texts?

  • See Exodus 19:16 and 20:18-21.
    – Lucian
    Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 14:23

1 Answer 1


In fact, Hebrews 12:21 does not quote the Hebrew version of Deuteronomy directly but the translation of Deuteronomy in the Greek, namely the Septuagint (LXX). The total quote in the Greek is just two words long. The two words are: "ekphobos eime" = "[exceedingly/very] fearful I am".

You are correct that the original Hebrew of Deut 9:19 is slightly different: "For I was afraid and because of the anger and the fury with which Jehovah had been angry..." (J P Green). This is commonly the case - when NT writers quote the OT they usually quote the LXX rather than the Hebrew. Further, NT writers often place a slight twist on the meaning of the original OT quote and as you have observed, this has occurred here.

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