Dear Rabbi Simon
In Exodus 33:20 God Tells Moshe “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” but in Psalm 104:29, it says “When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust.” also Psalm 30 says “LORD, when you favored me, you made my royal mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed.” How would you reconcile these apparently contradicting verses?
TY for your Q.
The vv. you cite from Psalms are in the spirit of Dt. 31:17-18: “I will surely hide My face on that day” (when misfortune overtakes the Jewish People). Ex. 33:20 is in response to Moshe’s request in v. 19 “Show me your glory”. In v. 23 Hashem tells Moshe that he will be able to see “My back, but My face cannot be seen.”
I would suggest that the meaning of this enigmatic anthropomorphism is that man cannot perceive, ie understand G-d’s ways in prospect, ie “My face” but sometimes in retrospect “you will see My back”, ie in looking back at events of my life or even history itself, G-d’s purpose may become apparent.
This important and complex philosophical matter warrants further elaboration, but the lines above will have to suffice for now.
rabbi rashi simon