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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.

The Ten Commandments(E)

20 God spoke, and these were his words: “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, where you were slaves.

“Worship no god but me.

(F)“Do not make for yourselves images of anything in heaven or on earth or in the water under the earth. (G)Do not bow down to any idol or worship it, because I am the Lord your God and I tolerate no rivals. I bring punishment on those who hate me and on their descendants down to the third and fourth generation. But I show my love to thousands of generations[a] of those who love me and obey my laws.

(H)“Do not use my name for evil purposes, for I, the Lord your God, will punish anyone who misuses my name.

(I)“Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy. (J)You have six days in which to do your work, 10 but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to me. On that day no one is to work—neither you, your children, your slaves, your animals, nor the foreigners who live in your country. 11 (K)In six days I, the Lord, made the earth, the sky, the seas, and everything in them, but on the seventh day I rested. That is why I, the Lord, blessed the Sabbath and made it holy.

12 (L)“Respect your father and your mother, so that you may live a long time in the land that I am giving you.

13 (M)“Do not commit murder.

14 (N)“Do not commit adultery.

15 (O)“Do not steal.

16 (P)“Do not accuse anyone falsely.

17 (Q)“Do not desire another man's house; do not desire his wife, his slaves, his cattle, his donkeys, or anything else that he owns.”

Footnotes

  1. Exodus 20:6 thousands of generations; or thousands.

The Ten Commandments(A)

Moses called together all the people of Israel and said to them, “People of Israel, listen to all the laws that I am giving you today. Learn them and be sure that you obey them. At Mount Sinai the Lord our God made a covenant, not only with our fathers, but with all of us who are living today. There on the mountain the Lord spoke to you face-to-face from the fire. I stood between you and the Lord at that time to tell you what he said, because you were afraid of the fire and would not go up the mountain.

“The Lord said, ‘I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from Egypt, where you were slaves.

“‘Worship no god but me.

(B)“‘Do not make for yourselves images of anything in heaven or on earth or in the water under the earth. (C)Do not bow down to any idol or worship it, for I am the Lord your God and I tolerate no rivals. I bring punishment on those who hate me and on their descendants down to the third and fourth generation. 10 But I show my love to thousands of generations[a] of those who love me and obey my laws.

11 (D)“‘Do not use my name for evil purposes, for I, the Lord your God, will punish anyone who misuses my name.

12 (E)“‘Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy, as I, the Lord your God, have commanded you. 13 (F)You have six days in which to do your work, 14 but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to me. On that day no one is to work—neither you, your children, your slaves, your animals, nor the foreigners who live in your country. Your slaves must rest just as you do. 15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt, and that I, the Lord your God, rescued you by my great power and strength. That is why I command you to observe the Sabbath.

16 (G)“‘Respect your father and your mother, as I, the Lord your God, command you, so that all may go well with you and so that you may live a long time in the land that I am giving you.

17 (H)“‘Do not commit murder.

18 (I)“‘Do not commit adultery.

19 (J)“‘Do not steal.

20 (K)“‘Do not accuse anyone falsely.

21 (L)“‘Do not desire another man's wife; do not desire his house, his land, his slaves, his cattle, his donkeys, or anything else that he owns.’

22 (M)“These are the commandments the Lord gave to all of you when you were gathered at the mountain. When he spoke with a mighty voice from the fire and from the thick clouds, he gave these commandments and no others. Then he wrote them on two stone tablets and gave them to me.

The People's Fear(N)

23 “When the whole mountain was on fire and you heard the voice from the darkness, your leaders and the chiefs of your tribes came to me 24 and said, ‘The Lord our God showed us his greatness and his glory when we heard him speak from the fire! Today we have seen that it is possible for people to continue to live, even though God has spoken to them. 25 But why should we risk death again? That terrible fire will destroy us. We are sure to die if we hear the Lord our God speak again. 26 Has any human being ever lived after hearing the living God speak from a fire? 27 Go back, Moses, and listen to everything that the Lord our God says. Then return and tell us what he said to you. We will listen and obey.’

28 “When the Lord heard this, he said to me, ‘I have heard what these people said, and they are right. 29 If only they would always feel this way! If only they would always honor me and obey all my commands, so that everything would go well with them and their descendants forever. 30 Go and tell them to return to their tents. 31 But you, Moses, stay here with me, and I will give you all my laws and commands. Teach them to the people, so that they will obey them in the land that I am giving them.’

32 “People of Israel, be sure that you do everything that the Lord your God has commanded you. Do not disobey any of his laws. 33 Obey them all, so that everything will go well with you and so that you will continue to live in the land that you are going to occupy.

Footnotes

  1. Deuteronomy 5:10 thousands of generations; or thousands.

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