The idea that the receiving of the Torah took place at a time different from the giving of the Torah—is not merely a metaphorical way of saying something.
It is a recurring theme in the Bible itself.
Indeed, it may be said that the Bible as a whole is a detailed account of the conflicts, the rises and falls, the deviations, the errors, and the reconciliations in the process of receiving the Torah.
And this is true not only of the time the Torah was being absorbed but even prior to Sinai, the long period of inner preparation.
Time is needed for any truly revolutionary teaching to be understood, and there are any number of intermediate stages.
In the history of Israel, it may be assumed, on the basis of what the sages have written, that only during the time of the Second Temple did the people of Israel as a whole accept the Torah as an obligatory way of life.
From that time until recent generations, there has no longer been any serious division between the Jews and Torah.
They have been one consistent entity.
More than a thousand years elapsed, then, between the giving of the Torah and some sort of total receiving of the Torah.
–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz