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Israel at Sinai

19 Exactly three months after the Israelites had left Egypt, they reached the Desert of Sinai. They had left Rephidim and had come to the Desert of Sinai. The Israelites camped in the desert in front of Mount Sinai. Then Moses went up on the mountain to God. The Lord called to him from the mountain. The Lord said, “Say this to the family of Jacob. And tell this to the people of Israel: ‘Every one of you has seen what I did to the people of Egypt. You saw how I carried you out of Egypt. I did it as an eagle carries her young on her wings. And I brought you here to me. So now obey me and keep my agreement. Do this, and you will be my own possession, chosen from all nations. Even though the whole earth is mine, you will be my kingdom of priests. You will be a nation that belongs to me alone.’ You must tell the Israelites these words.”

So Moses went down and called the elders of the people together. He told them all the words the Lord had commanded him to say. And all the people answered together, “We will do everything he has said.” Then Moses took their answer back to the Lord.

And the Lord said to Moses, “I will come to you in a thick cloud. I will speak to you. The people will hear me talking to you. I will do this so the people will always trust you.” Then Moses told the Lord what the people had said.

10 The Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and have them spend today and tomorrow preparing themselves. They must wash their clothes 11 and be ready by the day after tomorrow. On that day I, the Lord, will come down on Mount Sinai. And all the people will see me. 12 But you must set a limit around the mountain. The people are not to cross it. Tell the people not to go up on the mountain. Tell them not to touch the foot of it. Anyone who touches the mountain must be put to death. 13 He must be put to death with stones or shot with arrows. No one is allowed to touch him. Whether it is a person or an animal, he will not live. But the trumpet will make a long blast. Only then may the people go up on the mountain.”

14 So Moses went down from the mountain to the people. He made them prepare themselves for service to God. And the people washed their clothes. 15 Then Moses said to the people, “Be ready in three days. Do not have physical relations during this time.”

16 It was the morning of the third day. There was thunder and lightning with a thick cloud on the mountain. And there was a very loud blast from a trumpet. All the people in the camp were frightened. 17 Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet God. They stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke. This happened because the Lord came down on it in fire. The smoke rose from the mountain like smoke from a furnace. And the whole mountain shook wildly. 19 The sound from the trumpet became louder. Then Moses spoke, and the voice of God answered him.

20 So the Lord came down on the top of Mount Sinai. Then he called Moses to come up to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up. 21 The Lord said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people. They must not force their way through to see me. If they do, many of them will die. 22 Even the priests, who may come near me, must first prepare themselves. If they don’t, I, the Lord, will punish them.”

23 Moses told the Lord, “The people cannot come up Mount Sinai. You yourself told us to set a limit around the mountain. We made it holy.”

24 The Lord said to him, “Go down and bring Aaron with you. But don’t allow the priests or the people to force their way through. They must not come up to the Lord. If they do, I will punish them.”

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

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