“Yahweh” is believed to be the original pronunciation of the name of Israel’s god. In most English translations it is rendered “the Lord.”


“Veil” is the probable meaning of the Hebrew word masweh, which occurs only in this context.


An extremely informative and readable treatment is Ruth Mellinkoff, The Horned Moses in Medieval Art and Thought (Berkeley: Univ. of California, 1970).


H. Schirmann, Hebrew Poetry in Spain and Provence, Book 2, vol. 2 (Hebrew, Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1960), p. 375, line 174. I owe this reference to M. Saperstein.


This translation, with some modification is the interpretation of Mitchell Dahood, who takes the “horn” to be a type of lamp (Psalms III [Anchor Bible 17A; Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1970], p. 248). There are two difficulties with this translation however. First, the word rendered “shine” has that meaning only in Aramaic, while in Hebrew it elsewhere means “sprout.” Moreover, due to the lack of vowels in ancient Hebrew manuscripts, we could read niµr, “fiefdom,” instead of neµr, “flame” If, however, we do read “flame” (compare 2 Samuel 21:17, which calls David “Israel’s name”), then Dahood’s understanding of “horn” may indeed be correct, and such a usage could have generated a verb “shine.”


The aleph (’) and the ayin (‘), though not distinguished by many speakers of modern Hebrew, were originally distinct consonants; Jews from Arabic-speaking countries still pronounce the ayin as a voiced construction of the throat.


Called ’al tiqreµ, “do not read,” this method substitutes one reading for another. “Do not read” is short for “Do not read X, but rather Y,” where X and Y are similar words. To this punning interpretation of Exodus 34:29, modern Hebrew owes the phrase qeren ’oÆr, “horn of light,” in other words, “light ray.”


On “Hiwi,” see Judah Rosenthal, Hiwi al-Balkhi (Philadelphia: Dropsie College, 1949).


French, corné; German, Hornhaut, hornig; Latin, cornus; Arabic qarniµ, ’aqran, ’istaqrana; Syriac qarnaµ’.


Bernardus D. Eerdmans, The Covenant at Mount Sinai Viewed in the Light of Antique Thought (Leyden: Burgersdijk and Niermans, 1939).


For example, Greta Hort, “The Plagues of Egypt,” Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 69 (1957), pp. 84–103; and also 70 (1958), pp. 48–59.


James B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press, 1969), p. 433.


Most biblical scholars today accept that the Torah is a composite text assembled by an editor in the Exilic or early post-Exilic period (sixth-fifth centuries B.C.) out of four documents: J (the Yahwistic source), E (the Elohistic source), P (the Priestly source) and D (the Deuteronomic source). For a recent synthesis, see Richard E. Friedman, Who Wrote the Bible? (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987).


Note that the P source also says that when God’s glory filled the Tabernacle Moses was unable to enter (Exodus 40:35).


For a more detailed exposition of my views, see William H. Propp, “The Skin of Moses’ Face—Transfigured or Disfigured?” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 49 (1987), pp. 375–386.