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Moses and Facial Veils

Did you know that Moses had to veil his face around the Israelites? Read the account is taken from Exodus 34:29-35 CEV:

Moses came down from Mount Sinai, carrying the Ten Commandments. His face was shining brightly because the Lord had been speaking to him. But Moses did not know at first that his face was shining. When Aaron and the others looked at Moses, they saw that his face was shining, and they were afraid to go near him. Moses called out for Aaron and the leaders to come to him, and he spoke with them. Then the rest of the people of Israel gathered around Moses, and he gave them the laws that the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai.

The face of Moses kept shining, and after he had spoken with the people, he covered his face with a veil. Moses would always remove the veil when he went into the sacred tent to speak with the Lord. And when he came out, he would tell the people everything the Lord had told him to say. They could see that his face was still shining. So after he had spoken with them, he would put the veil back on and leave it on until the next time he went to speak with the Lord.

The apostle Paul referenced this account in a letter to the Corinthians:

The Law of Moses brought only the promise of death, even though it was carved on stones and given in a wonderful way. Still the Law made Moses’ face shine so brightly that the people of Israel could not look at it, even though it was a fading glory. So won’t the agreement that the Spirit brings to us be even more wonderful? If something that brings the death sentence is glorious, won’t something that makes us acceptable to God be even more glorious? In fact, the new agreement is so wonderful that the Law is no longer glorious at all. The Law was given with a glory that faded away. But the glory of the new agreement is much greater, because it will never fade away.

This wonderful hope makes us feel like speaking freely. We are not like Moses. His face was shining, but he covered it to keep the people of Israel from seeing the brightness fade away. The people were stubborn, and something still keeps them from seeing the truth when the Law is read. Only Christ can take away the covering that keeps them from seeing.

When the Law of Moses is read, they have their minds covered over with a covering that is removed only for those who turn to the Lord.  The Lord and the Spirit are one and the same, and the Lord’s Spirit sets us free. So our faces are not covered. They show the bright glory of the Lord, as the Lord’s Spirit makes us more and more like our glorious Lord. (2 Cor. 3:7-18 CEV)

Most people are familiar with a bride wearing a veil as part of the wedding ceremony. There are some deep roots to this tradition that traces back to Rebekah and Jacob in the book of Genesis. The Jewish tradition incorporates a veiling ceremony known as “Bedeken”. An article over at Chabad.org features some intriguing points behind this tradition:

There are a number of interpretations of the veil’s symbolism, all of which reflect truths that are worthy of being dramatically enacted before the wedding service.

The veil is a symbol of the married woman. It expresses a dignity, which Isaiah (3:18) calls tiferet, and which was reserved for women of station. Ezekiel (16:20) speaks of “covering with silk” the woman he loves. Interestingly, Rebecca does not wear a veil while on the journey in the company of the servant, Eliezer, but instinctively dons it when sighting Isaac. This may account for the insistence of major authorities that the groom himself veil the bride, and that it should never be done without him—it is only his presence that makes her veil significant.

The veil is symbolic of her new unapproachability to others, not only sexually, but as hekdesh, a sanctified object in the temple. The sacred objects of the tabernacle were “veiled” before being taken up to be carried by the Levites. The betrothal ceremony is likened, in a legal sense, to those sanctified objects of the temple. This is the significance of the term kiddushin: the groom, in marriage, sets the bride aside as hekdesh. The analogy strikes deeper if we compare it to the face of Moses, which radiated light after he received the commandments. Moses placed masveh (a veil) over his face as though to imply separateness, withdrawal, almost an other-worldliness. [source]

See also: White Cloth, Fire and the Glory of God

  • Rob

    The covering of Moses’ face depicts the failure of God’s People at that time to be able to ascend to the Higher Law that Moses brought down from the mountain the first time around. Moses broke those Higher Commandments and went up for a second try. Only when Christ Himself came with the Higher Law, did some of the People of God enter into the Law of Consecration where all things were held in common among them.

    Seems that Joseph Smith also attempted to bring the People of God the Higher Law for which they ALSO rejected, like the people of Moses did.

    Speaking collectively and not for individuals who can access the Lord any time they like as long as they meet those requirements, then I would say that we as a collective whole are in a world of spiritual mess…Just as the Lord declared in the D&C that the church was then proclaimed by Him to be under a COLLECTIVE curse when failing to abide the Law of Consecration. Meaning, that we are moving AWAY from establishing Zion, rather than drawing closer to it, UNTIL that curse is lifted by the “Man like unto Moses”, or the “One Mighty & Strong” whom the Lord’s sends from His Presence in Heaven to set God’s House in Order.

    Also seems that we are still under that curse as stated by Ezra Taft Benson and as far as I know, no one has said anything different since that time. So WHERE do we as a BODY of Christ, REALLY STAND before God ?….On His Left, or to His Right ? I would say that the Body represents the vast COLLECTIVE majority of the members who are way farther away from the Lord & Zion than we REALIZE, & it seems that not too many are in a big rush to get there in a world that is currently falling apart…..HUM….Doesn’t make sense, does it ?

    Is what we have now considered Zion ? Not according to every definition of Zion in the scriptures and HOW it is to be established.

    Seems we are REPEATING the very same mistakes the people of Moses made when rejecting the Higher Law. Remember that we were ALSO given the Lower law of TITHING to live, as the people of Moses were given the Lower Law of Ten Commandments ? And look what followed their rejection of the Higher Law. History has repeated itself, and just like those wicked ones who were in rebellion against God upon Moses’ first return from the mount, so too are God’s people of today, who stand in condemnation and soon to be Judged of God….D&C 112.

    According to the Lord in the curse He pronounced upon the Body of the Church, the BEST of us can only claim to be Spiritual DRIFTERS in a Desert of apostasy, waiting for the Lord’s redemption and forgiveness of the sins of those willing to say we have them. So I think Moses’ veil takes on a much deeper meaning and a not so good one, when seen as a foreshadowing type for the future of God’s People. Except for those who Repent when the Lord’s Servant eventually confronts us with our apostasy & sins.

    Biblical consistent patterns of the past, present, & future, seem to be the thing we should adhere to as NOT coming from a biased point of contemporary views, but rather the Lord’s Point of view as pointed out in these patterns that MUST be consistent with ALL of the scriptures and not just paring them against a few to suite our biases.