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The Israelites at Mount Sinai

19 1-2 The people of Israel left Rephidim, and on the first day of the third month after they had left Egypt they came to the desert of Sinai. There they set up camp at the foot of Mount Sinai, and Moses went up the mountain to meet with God.

The Lord called to him from the mountain and told him to say to the Israelites, Jacob's descendants: “You saw what I, the Lord, did to the Egyptians and how I carried you as an eagle carries her young on her wings, and brought you here to me. (A)Now, if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own people. The whole earth is mine, but you will be my chosen people, (B)a people dedicated to me alone, and you will serve me as priests.” So Moses went down and called the leaders of the people together and told them everything that the Lord had commanded him. Then all the people answered together, “We will do everything that the Lord has said,” and Moses reported this to the Lord.

The Lord said to Moses, “I will come to you in a thick cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will believe you from now on.”

Moses told the Lord what the people had answered, 10 and the Lord said to him, “Go to the people and tell them to spend today and tomorrow purifying themselves for worship. They must wash their clothes 11 and be ready the day after tomorrow. On that day I will come down on Mount Sinai, where all the people can see me. 12 (C)Mark a boundary around the mountain that the people must not cross, and tell them not to go up the mountain or even get near it. If any of you set foot on it, you are to be put to death; 13 you must either be stoned or shot with arrows, without anyone touching you. This applies to both people and animals; they must be put to death. But when the trumpet is blown, then the people are to go up to the mountain.”

14 Then Moses came down the mountain and told the people to get ready for worship. So they washed their clothes, 15 and Moses told them, “Be ready by the day after tomorrow and don't have sexual intercourse in the meantime.”

16 (D)On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, a thick cloud appeared on the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast was heard. All the people in the camp trembled with fear. 17 Moses led them out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 All of Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord had come down on it in fire. The smoke went up like the smoke of a furnace, and all the people trembled violently. 19 The sound of the trumpet became louder and louder. Moses spoke, and God answered him with thunder. 20 The Lord came down on the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. Moses went up 21 and the Lord said to him, “Go down and warn the people not to cross the boundary to come and look at me; if they do, many of them will die. 22 Even the priests who come near me must purify themselves, or I will punish them.”

23 Moses said to the Lord, “The people cannot come up, because you commanded us to consider the mountain sacred and to mark a boundary around it.”

24 The Lord replied, “Go down and bring Aaron back with you. But the priests and the people must not cross the boundary to come up to me, or I will punish them.” 25 Moses then went down to the people and told them what the Lord had said.

At Mount Sinai

19 On the first day of the third month after the Israelites left Egypt(A)—on that very day—they came to the Desert of Sinai.(B) After they set out from Rephidim,(C) they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain.(D)

Then Moses went up to God,(E) and the Lord called(F) to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt,(G) and how I carried you on eagles’ wings(H) and brought you to myself.(I) Now if you obey me fully(J) and keep my covenant,(K) then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.(L) Although the whole earth(M) is mine, you[a] will be for me a kingdom of priests(N) and a holy nation.’(O) These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”

So Moses went back and summoned the elders(P) of the people and set before them all the words the Lord had commanded him to speak.(Q) The people all responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has said.”(R) So Moses brought their answer back to the Lord.

The Lord said to Moses, “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud,(S) so that the people will hear me speaking(T) with you and will always put their trust(U) in you.” Then Moses told the Lord what the people had said.

10 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate(V) them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes(W) 11 and be ready by the third day,(X) because on that day the Lord will come down(Y) on Mount Sinai(Z) in the sight of all the people. 12 Put limits(AA) for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not approach the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain is to be put to death. 13 They are to be stoned(AB) or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on them. No person or animal shall be permitted to live.’ Only when the ram’s horn(AC) sounds a long blast may they approach the mountain.”(AD)

14 After Moses had gone down the mountain to the people, he consecrated them, and they washed their clothes.(AE) 15 Then he said to the people, “Prepare yourselves for the third day. Abstain(AF) from sexual relations.”

16 On the morning of the third day there was thunder(AG) and lightning, with a thick cloud(AH) over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast.(AI) Everyone in the camp trembled.(AJ) 17 Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.(AK) 18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke,(AL) because the Lord descended on it in fire.(AM) The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace,(AN) and the whole mountain[b] trembled(AO) violently. 19 As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice(AP) of God answered(AQ) him.[c]

20 The Lord descended to the top of Mount Sinai(AR) and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up 21 and the Lord said to him, “Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see(AS) the Lord and many of them perish.(AT) 22 Even the priests, who approach(AU) the Lord, must consecrate(AV) themselves, or the Lord will break out against them.”(AW)

23 Moses said to the Lord, “The people cannot come up Mount Sinai,(AX) because you yourself warned us, ‘Put limits(AY) around the mountain and set it apart as holy.’”

24 The Lord replied, “Go down and bring Aaron(AZ) up with you. But the priests and the people must not force their way through to come up to the Lord, or he will break out against them.”(BA)

25 So Moses went down to the people and told them.

Footnotes

  1. Exodus 19:6 Or possession, for the whole earth is mine. You
  2. Exodus 19:18 Most Hebrew manuscripts; a few Hebrew manuscripts and Septuagint and all the people
  3. Exodus 19:19 Or and God answered him with thunder

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