I'm confused about a "contradiction"


I’ll cut right to this:

Genesis 18:1-2 states that God appeared to him (Abraham). Exodus 33:11 states that the Lord spoke directly to Moses, face to face, “as a man speaks to his friend.”

However, in John 1:18 and in 1 Timothy 6:16 states that no man has ever seen God physically (as he is unapproachable).

Can someone please clear this up for me? Thanks!


Hint: read a bit further in Exodus 33 – through the end of the chapter would be good. :wink:

(In other words, “face to face” appears to be a figure of speech, indicating the manner in which they spoke (i.e., “like friends”), but not a literal description.)


Thank you; that was very helpful. I’m positive that I’ve read that before, now that I remember it, though.

God bless!


God also spoke to Moses through a burning bush, so t:eek:hat definitely rules out :eek:literal face to face


In Exodus 33 what does it mean that Moses sees God’s “back parts”?


I’ve always wondered if it was a kind of theophany, which is a fancy word for a vision of Jesus that happened before His incarnation. Maybe Moses got to see what Jesus would look like from behind?


I cannot think of a good way to explain the contradiction, however, you might be intersted to see what can happen to you when you DO talk to God face-to-face:eek::



Okay, I’ll explain what my husband is telling me now about Moses. (He knows his scripture!). He was busy when I posted, with a guest, who just left, so I told him your question about no one seeing the face of God but Moses did, and he said, “No, Moses only saw his [insert here my husband’s favorite slang for rear-end]”. I said “No!” and he said "Yes - that its a strange verse but its pretty clear - Moses only saw his “back side”. * Basically *he allowed Moses to see Him as He was moving away from him. * And he quoted Exodus 33:23, and here it is, in context.

Moses trying to convince God to show Him His face, but God says He cannot :

Exodus 33:11-23

11 And the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man is wont to speak to his friend…

[my husband explains that God spoke face-to- face in “a pillar of cloud”]

So Moses asks:

13 If therefore I have found favour in thy sight, shew me thy face, that I may know thee, and may find grace before thy eyes: look upon thy people this nation.

[Moses keeps asking. God is very patient…]

18 And he said: shew me thy glory.

God answers:

20 And again he said: Thou canst not see my face: for man shall not see me and live.
21 And again he said: Behold there is a place with me, and thou shalt stand upon the rock.
22 And when my glory shall pass, I will set thee in a hole of the rock, and protect thee with my right hand, till I pass:
23 And I will take away my hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face thou canst not see.*



Right! When you do talk to God face-to-face, someone will mistranslate “his face shone” as “his face had horns”… :sad_yes:


Moses did not really have horns. It is due to a mistranslation in the Latin Vulgate Bible.


This thread is amusing to me and Eliza10’s post made me laugh.

God was simply saying what you said and also that we can’t BEAR to see His face.

I often say that He is such a bright light that we would be blinded by it if we were to stand in its presence. I think Eliza means this with the little emoticon.

Anyway, a nice break from all that serious stuff!

not that this isn’t serious –


The OT does not differentiate between God the Father and God the Son. Many of the early Church Fathers believed that it was God the Son [in his divine being] that appeared to people in the OT. This would clear up the contradiction.


Some passages of the OT appear to distinguish between the Father and the Son. E.g. Proverbs 30:4 – “Who has created the whole wide world? What is his name–and his son’s name? Tell me if you know!”

The Douay Old Testament identifies the Son of the Creator mentioned in Proverbs 30:4 as Jesus in Marginal Note B: books.google.com/books?pg=PA309&id=yobWAAAAMAAJ#v=onepage&q&f=false


“Moses wist not that his face had horns”:eek:
Yes, most likely it is a mistranslation. But I like the pictures of Moses with Horns.:smiley: (And its a lot easier to depict on statuary than shining light!)

Thanks for sharing a laugh, Franguiliano115! :whackadoo:


I think the second and third pictures posted on this page are intended to portray a kind of compromise between horns and light beams. Certainly the protrusions in the third picture look more to me like thin rays than a horn.



Here is the comparison I saw with the 4th picture:



You’re too quick, Eliza 10 !





What Abraham and Moses had seen were angelic manifestations of Jesus; according to the angel He sent. Jesus has said that no one has seen His Father but to whom He wishes to reveal Him to. Looking upon Jesus, the King, is looking upon God. Remember Jesus says, no one has seen the Father, except for the son; and to whomever the son wishes to reveal Himself. Jesus also says, if you have seen me then you have seen the Father. Jesus was the one who revealed Himself to Abraham and Moses. He manifested Himself, it says in the bible, as the angel of the Lord.

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