Exodus 33:18 (DRB):

And he said: Shew me thy glory.

Did Moses see the Glory of the LORD in Exodus 33:19?, Or No One see the Glory of the LORD and live, in Exodus 33:20?

Exodus 33:18-20, (KJV):

  1. And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.
  2. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.
  3. And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

I mean, May the Face of the LORD in Exodus 33:20 be metaphor for the Glory of the LORD?, Hence, Exodus 33:19 is not the Glory of the LORD.

Exodus 33. Did Moses see the Glory of the LORD or not?, Did Moses see the Face of the LORD or not?

May Moses saw the Face of the LORD, but he can't see the Glory of the LORD, because no one see the Glory of the LORD and live?

I mean, The Face of the LORD used one time literal in Exodus 33:11, and another time allegorical in Exodus 33:20.

Exodus 33:11, (KJV):

  1. And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.

I hope you understand me.

3 Answers 3


God revealed Himself to Moses in very limited yet remarkable expressions, 33:19 - 34:9. Moses wanted to experience the nature of God first-hand. What Moses asked to see was the glory of God. What God said he would show Moses to satisfy his request was:

"I myself will make all my goodness to pass before you."

"I will proclaim the name of Jehovah before you."

God would then declare his graciousness and his compassion. These are all extended moral attributes that are characteristic of God’s glory.

God issued this one limitation for Moses' sake - “You cannot see my face, for no man can see Me and live!”

Back and face here do not seem to be used in any corporeal sense as we understand the use of these terms. These are anthropomorphic terms that are limited to the context; It suggests the lesser as opposed to the greater. In the context provided, back and face seem to be defined in the following ways.

Face - the greater - intrinsic attributes - These cannot be seen. These would be attributes that relate to the essence of God, that which makes a thing what it is. Intrinsically, the essence of God is, Spirit, Ever-present, Immortal, Holy, Eternal, Self-existing, All-powerful, Invisible, Self-sustaining, All-knowing, Unified, and Transcendent. These are attributed that make God, God. These are also attributes God did not declare to Moses as he passed by.

Back - the lesser - extended attributes - This seems to represent the character of God. These are qualities that define His moral integrity. The character of God as defined in scripture is: Holy, Good, Faithful, Patient, Righteous, Honest, Loving, Just, Fair, Forgiving, Pure, Consistent, and Merciful These are the qualities God agreed to reveal to Moses in an intimate way.

God also made a provision to shield Moses from the effects of the presence of the Lord

"Behold, there is a place by me, and you shall stand there on the rock; and it will come about, while my glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take my hand away and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.”

The rendering of "back" in the Hebrews offers two possibilities.

  1. “The back of me, or back parts.” In other words, Moses would be permitted to see only the least glorious of God's attributes. These would be the moral attributes of God, representing the "back" or lesser of God's glory.

  2. "That which is left behind." Moses would not be permitted to see even the least glorious of God's attributes but would only be allowed to see where these attributes had "passes by," witnessing only the residual glory from those attributes. Whatever God allowed Moses to see would be all that Moses would be able to endure in the flesh and still live. What Moses could not see were those attributes that characterize God's intrinsic nature.

When God passed before Moses, there was a pattern that had been laid out by the Lord as to how this would be done.

"So, he cut out two stone tablets like the former ones, and Moses rose up early in the morning and went up to Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and he took two stone tablets in his hand. The Lord descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the Lord. Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, 'The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness and truth; who keeps loving kindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.'”

Moses ascended the mountain to the place the Lord instructed.

God then descended in the cloud just as he had at other times.

God stood there with Moses as Moses called upon the name of the Lord.

Then the Lord "passed by in front of him."

As he "passed by in front of him" the Lord placed Moses in the cleft of the rock and shielded him with his hand against the glory that was passing before him.

Then the Lord began to declare his name and his extended attributes of goodness.

His compassion

His graciousness

His slowness to anger

His abundance of loving kindness

His abundance in truth

His forgiveness

His justice and judgment

  • Seeing God's back can also represent that we see God's actions best after he already did them. hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/35132/…
    – Perry Webb
    Apr 26, 2020 at 0:01
  • He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ex 3:12). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
    – Perry Webb
    Apr 26, 2020 at 0:51

I think the fact that no one can see the face of God and live is referring to conviction/ repentance. When you “see the face of God “ you crucify the old man and become the new creature. Of course the terms we know about this now were not known at that time but the truths were still true.


This is really a question about the Hebrew language. The word here for glory is כבוד which has two meanings, the first being glory and the second being presence. Here it makes more sense to mean "presence" as frequently in the book of Ezekiel the words כבוד ה׳ (G-d's glory/presence) are used to mean "G-d's presence."

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