ויאמר לא יוכל העם לעלות. אמר הגאון כי שנים רבות חשב בזה הפסוק ולא ידע טעמו עד שראה בספר מוסרי מלכי פרס שאין רשות לשליח לומר למלך עשיתי שליחותך עד שיצונו לעשות דבר אחר. אז יאמר לו. ולפי דעתי בעבור שאמר לו השם פן יהרסו אל ה' לראות לא ידע משה אם צריך להזהירם שלא יראו כי כבר הזהירם על הגבול שלא יעברו. אז אמר לו השם לך רד כאשר צויתיך שתעיד בהם. כי היו צריכין ישראל שיעיד בהם שנית: AND MOSES SAID UNTO THE LORD: THE PEOPLE CANNOT COME UP TO MOUNT SINAI. Saadiah says that he contemplated this verse for many years and could not understand its meaning218Verse 21 states, And the Lord said unto Moses: Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the Lord to gaze, and many of them perish. Moses in verse 23 responds, The people cannot come up to mount Sinai; for Thou didst charge us saying: Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it. Saadiah did not understand Moses’ reply, as Moses was apparently merely repeating what had God told him earlier in verse 12. The question thus arises, why did Moses repeat what God had previously told him? until he came across a book dealing with the customs of the Persian kings in which it is stated that a king’s messenger does not have permission to tell the king that he has accomplished his mission until the king commands him to do another task. Only then may he tell the king.219Now God gave Moses a new command, namely, to tell the people not to gaze upon the Lord (v. 21). Moses told God, I did as you told me previously; that is, I told the people that they cannot come up to mount Sinai; for Thou didst charge us saying, etc. However, I believe that because God220Now. told Moses, lest they break through unto the Lord to gaze, Moses did not know whether he had to warn the people not to gaze.221That is, whether God now wants him to tell the people not to gaze upon the Lord. He had already warned them222In verse 12. that they were not to pass the boundary.223In other words, And Moses said unto the Lord: The people cannot come up to mount Sinai; for Thou didst charge us… was Moses’ way of asking God whether he should warn the people a second time not to cross the boundary. God then told Moses, Go, get thee down and charge them as I commanded you.224I.E. will point out later that “gazing” from where they were standing was permitted. As to why “gazing” is mentioned in our verse, see I.E. on verse 21. For Israel needed to be charged a second time.225Not to pass the boundary. I.E. will later explain why it was necessary for Israel to be charged twice.