In Exodus 34:2 we read

And be ready for the morning, and go up in the morning to Mount Sinai and present yourself to me there on the top of the mountain.

Does it mean at the highest peak of the mount?

2 Answers 2


There are two ideas that come together in Ex 34:2 -

1. Top of the Mountain

The operative word here is רֹאשׁ (rosh) meaning "head"; in the case of the mountain, it means "head of the mountain", that is, its top. It is so used many times in the OT such as: Gen 8:5, 11:4, Ex 17:9, 19:20, 24:17, 34:2, Prov 1:21, 8:2, etc.

2. Pillar of Cloud

The pillar of cloud is mentioned numerous times in the Exodus narrative, eg, Ex 13:21, 22, 14:19, 24, 19:9, 33:9, 10, Num 9:15, 12:5, 14:14, Deut 1:33, 31:15, Neh 9:12. It is often depicted as moving in some sense, either ahead of the Israelites as they traveled, behind them to protect against the Egyptian army.

In Ex 34:2 the pillar of cloud is depicted as descending on the mountain obviously from the direction of heaven/sky. Whether this was the highest point of a convenient flat point on which Moses could stand is not stated. However, we are given some further data.

In Ex 33:12-21 Moses asks to see God's glory (V18) but this request is denied because Moses would not live (V20). Then God says to Moses (V21-23)

The LORD continued, “There is a place near Me where you are to stand upon a rock, and when My glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take My hand away, and you will see My back; but My face must not be seen.”

Following this conversation, Ex 34:5-7 then describes what actually happened. Note v6 -

Then the LORD passed in front of Moses and called out: “The LORD, the LORD God, is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in loving devotion and faithfulness,

Note that this occurred while Moses was in a 'cleft of the rock" (Ex 33:22) which cannot be the very highest point of the mountain but was close to it (Ex 33:21). Thus Moses was in the "head of the mountain" very near the top.


I would say no, as in verse 5 we read

And Yahweh descended in the cloud, and he stood with him there, and he proclaimed the name of Yahweh.

Which seem to indicate that the cloud of Shekinah abode at peak.

However Moses probably had to be on a not so distant point of the summit.

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