Three times (vv. 29, 30, 35) this unit uses the verb qāran for Moses’s face “radiating light” or “glowing.” All three of these occurrences are in the Qal stem. The only other occurrence of this verb is once in the Hiphil, Ps. 69:31 : NIV, “This will please the LORD more than an ox, more than a bull with its horns [maqrin, Hiphil participle, and so better “developing its horns”] and hoofs.” The uncommon verb qāran provides the common related noun qeren which means “a horn.” It occurs about a hundred times in the Bible, and refers to: (1) a projection on an altar, the altar's horns; (2) the horn of an animal; (3) as a metaphor for pride and vanity or for strength. It is this cognate connection between the verb qāran and the noun qeren that has led to the idea that Moses's face developed horns, or hornlike phenomena that emanated from his face. Thus, among the ancient versions, LXX translates the verb nonliterally, Moses's face “shone” (dedoxastai), while Vulgate translates more literally, Moses's face “was horned,” that is, v. 29, “he knew not that his face was horned [ignorabat quad cornuta esset facies sua].” I shall have more to say on this in the commentary section. See Kasher (1997), who documents instances in postbiblical literature of a “horned” Moses, and Propp (1987), who debates whether the biblical text suggests Moses’s face was “transfigured” or “disfigured,” and who opts for the latter.
Hamilton, Exodus: An Exegetical Commentary. Published by Baker Academic.