In relaying the story when B'nai Israel arrived at Mt. Sinai, the Torah mentions 3 cycles of G-d speaking to Moses to tell B'nai Isra'el something. You usually see a few verses of G-d saying something followed by Moses going to relay that to the people except for one instance. All verses are from Shemot chapter 19.

  1. Verses 3 - 6 First time G-d speaks to Moses.

    Verses 7 - 8 Moses speaks to the people, and returns to G-d

  2. Verse 9 Beginning of verse, G-d speaks to Moses. At the end of the verse, it says "Moses returned the people's words to G-d".

    This is the exception. Why don't we see any mention of Moses speaking to the people or knowing what they actually said?

    1. Verses 10 - 13 G-d commands Moses to tell the people to prepare themselves and cordon part of Mt. Sinai.

    Verse 14 - 15 Moses returns and tells them to prepare themselves for 3 days.

2 Answers 2


The Mechilta derabbi Yishmael itself contains this question.

וכי מה אמר המקום למשה לאמר לישראל או מה אמרו ישראל למשה לאמר למקום

What said G-d to say to Israel and what said Israel to Moses to answer to G-d?

We would learn at the end the answer which is written in the Mechilta. But this answer needs an introduction.

Many Rishonim and Acharonim Commentators addresses the question, the following words of the Keli Yakar may help to answer this question and to understand further the answer of the Mechilta. Here is a stuff of the Keli Yakar.

כי היה להם לומר סתם כן נעשה אלא שאמרו כל אשר דבר ה' למעט דברי משה, גם רמזו באמרם כל אשר דבר ה' נעשה.‏

There was no next words of the people which were hidden by the Tora. The verse 9 does only explain the verse 8.

G-d expected Moses to act as an intermediary, and Moses anticipated the refusal of Israel making a diuk from the previous answer written in the verse 8. In the verse 8, "כֹּ֛ל אֲשֶׁר-דִּבֶּ֥ר יְהוָֹ֖ה נַֽעֲשֶׂ֑ה ". We agree to make every thing that G-d said. From the formulation they did not say simply "we will make this". Here is a diuk: "ולא מה שתדבר אתה" "but not what you would say". Actually the fact that Moses did make this diuk is written in the verse 9 "'וַיַּגֵּ֥ד מֹשֶׁ֛ה אֶת-דִּבְרֵ֥י הָעָ֖ם אֶל-ה". The verse reported the fragment of the diuk by paraphrasing the fragment of sentence "אשר דיבר ה'" in a clearer way "אל ה".

So, there is no new dialog which was hidden, but verse 9 contains a comment of Moses regarding the previous dialog between him and Israel.

And now we can read more pshatic the answer of the Mechilta:

אלא אמרו, רצוננו לשמוע מפי מלכנו, לא דומה שומע מפי פרגוד לשומע מפי המלך

Moses said "They said: Our wish is to listening from our King (G-d). To listening from the emissary is not similar as to listening from the King".

I hope that it makes sense. Without the question it is quite impossible to understand this Mechilta.


Rav Hirsch explains that the ויגד that we have in 13:9 is actually a repetition of what the people had said in 13:8 and that Moshe was suggesting that the people had already accepted everything that Hashem wanted them to do. Thus, he did not need to go to them and repeat the same commands. Hashem then emphasized in 13:10 that Moshe did indeed need to go back to the people and have them get ready.

Rav Hirsch translates 13:9 as:

And Hashem said to Moses: Lo, I come unto thee in a thickening of the cloud, so that the people may hear when I speak with thee and so they will have faith in thee too forever. And Moses held out the words of the people unto Hashem.

Rav Hirsch then explains his unusual translation of ויגד:

וייגד As we have already been told in V.8 that Moses had brought the reply of the people back to Hashem, this ויגד here can only be a repetition of that reply. With this repetition of the words of the people Moses wanted to suggest, that, as the people had already completely and unanimously declared themselves ready to carry out everything that Hashem would command them, and thereby also proclaimed their complete confidence in Moses as the transmitter of those commands, such an overwhelming revelation might possibly not be necessary to establish and ensure this confidence. Hence we have dared to translate this ויגד as to hold out.

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