And the LORD spoke unto Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.
Read Chapter 33
Basil the Great
The whole life of the saints and of the blessed, the example of the Lord himself while he was with us in the flesh, are aids to us in this matter. Moses, through long perseverance in fasting and prayer, received the law and heard the words of God, “as a man is inclined to speak to his friend.”
Face to face. That is, in a most familiar manner. Though, as we learn from this very chapter, Moses could not see the face of the Lord. (Challoner)
The angel assumed a human form, (Menochius) which Moses knew could not fully display the majesty of God; and hence he begs to see his face, or his glory, (ver. 13, 18,) which God declares is impossible for any mortal to do, ver. 20. (Haydock)
He addresses him, however, with unusual condescension, and speaks to him without any ambiguity, "without any medium "as the Arabic expresses it. Other prophets were instructed by visions, and were filled with terror, Daniel x. 8.
Young man, though 50 years old, and the general who defeated the Amalecites, chap. xvii. 13. Puer means a servant also, in which capacity Josue waited on Moses, and was alone allowed to be present with him in the tabernacle. He did not sleep there, (Calmet) but guarded it from all profanation. Some say he was still called young, because he was unmarried; in which sense the ...
Fasting these forty days and nights holy Moses too merited to speak with God, to stand and stay with him and to receive the precepts of the law from his hand. For although this human condition prevented him from seeing God, yet the grace of his fasting drew him into close contact with the Divinity. For to fast frequently is a portion of God’s virtues in ourselves, since God himself always fasts. He is more familiar, intimate and friendly with the person in whom he sees more of his works, as Scripture says: “And Moses spoke with God face to face like one speaking with his friend.”