Bible: Exodus 19-20


Israel at Sinai


In the third month after the Israelites went out 2  from the land of Egypt, on the very day, 3  they came to the Desert of Sinai. 19:2 After they journeyed 4  from Rephidim, they came to the Desert of Sinai, and they camped in the desert; Israel camped there in front of the mountain. 5 

19:3 Moses 6  went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, “Thus you will tell the house of Jacob, and declare to the people 7  of Israel: 19:4 You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt and how I lifted you on eagleswings 8  and brought you to myself. 9  19:5 And now, if you will diligently listen to me 10  and keep 11  my covenant, then you will be my 12  special possession 13  out of all the nations, for all the earth is mine, 19:6 and you will be to me 14  a kingdom of priests 15  and a holy nation.’ 16  These are the words that you will speak to the Israelites.”

19:7 So Moses came and summoned the elders of Israel. He set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him, 19:8 and all the people answered together, “All that the Lord has commanded we will do!” 17  So Moses brought the words of the people back to the Lord.

19:9 The Lord said to Moses, “I am going to come 18  to you in a dense cloud, 19  so that the people may hear when I speak with you and so that they will always believe in you.” 20  And Moses told the words of the people to the Lord.

19:10 The Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and sanctify them 21  today and tomorrow, and make them wash 22  their clothes 19:11 and be ready for the third day, for on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 19:12 You must set boundaries 23  for the people all around, saying, ‘Take heed 24  to yourselves not to go up on the mountain nor touch its edge. Whoever touches the mountain will surely be put to death! 19:13 No hand will touch him 25  – but he will surely be stoned or shot through, whether a beast or a human being; 26  he must not live.’ When the ram’s horn sounds a long blast they may 27  go up on the mountain.”

19:14 Then Moses went down from the mountain to the people and sanctified the people, and they washed their clothes. 19:15 He said to the people, “Be ready for the third day. Do not go near your wives.” 28 

19:16 On 29  the third day in the morning there was thunder and lightning and a dense 30  cloud on the mountain, and the sound of a very loud 31  horn; 32  all the people who were in the camp trembled. 19:17 Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their place at the foot of the mountain. 19:18 Now Mount Sinai was completely covered with smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire, and its smoke went up like the smoke of a great furnace, 33  and the whole mountain shook 34  violently. 19:19 When the sound of the horn grew louder and louder, 35  Moses was speaking 36  and God was answering him with a voice. 37 

19:20 The Lord came down on Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain, and the Lord summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. 19:21 The Lord said to Moses, “Go down and solemnly warn 38  the people, lest they force their way through to the Lord to look, and many of them perish. 39  19:22 Let the priests also, who approach the Lord, sanctify themselves, lest the Lord break through 40  against them.”

19:23 Moses said to the Lord, “The people are not able to come up to Mount Sinai, because you solemnly warned us, 41  ‘Set boundaries for the mountain and set it apart.’ 42  19:24 The Lord said to him, “Go, get down, and come up, and Aaron with you, but do not let the priests and the people force their way through to come up to the Lord, lest he break through against them.” 19:25 So Moses went down to the people and spoke to them. 43 


The Decalogue


God spoke all these words: 45 

20:2I, 46  the Lord, am your God, 47  who brought you 48  from the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery. 49 

20:3You shall have no 50  other gods before me. 51 

20:4You shall not make for yourself a carved image 52  or any likeness 53  of anything 54  that is in heaven above or that is on the earth beneath or that is in the water below. 55  20:5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, 56  for I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous 57  God, responding to 58  the transgression of fathers by dealing with children to the third and fourth generations 59  of those who reject me, 60  20:6 and showing covenant faithfulness 61  to a thousand generations 62  of those who love me and keep my commandments.

20:7You shall not take 63  the name of the Lord your God in vain, 64  for the Lord will not hold guiltless 65  anyone who takes his name in vain.

20:8Remember 66  the Sabbath 67  day to set it apart as holy. 68  20:9 For six days 69  you may labor 70  and do all your work, 71  20:10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; on it 72  you shall not do any work, you, 73  or your son, or your daughter, or your male servant, or your female servant, or your cattle, or the resident foreigner who is in your gates. 74  20:11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them, and he rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.

20:12Honor 75  your father and your mother, that you may live a long time 76  in the land 77  the Lord your God is giving to you.

20:13You shall not murder. 78 

20:14You shall not commit adultery. 79 

20:15You shall not steal. 80 

20:16You shall not give 81  false testimony 82  against your neighbor.

20:17You shall not covet 83  your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that belongs to your neighbor.” 84 

20:18 All the people were seeing 85  the thundering and the lightning, and heard 86  the sound of the horn, and saw 87  the mountain smoking – and when 88  the people saw it they trembled with fear 89  and kept their distance. 90  20:19 They said to Moses, “You speak 91  to us and we will listen, but do not let God speak with us, lest we die.” 20:20 Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, 92  that the fear of him 93  may be before you so that you do not 94  sin.” 20:21 The people kept 95  their distance, but Moses drew near the thick darkness 96  where God was. 97 


The Altar


The Lord said 99  to Moses: “Thus you will tell the Israelites: ‘You yourselves have seen that I have spoken with you from heaven. 20:23 You must not make gods of silver alongside me, 100  nor make gods of gold for yourselves. 101 

20:24You must make for me an altar made of earth, 102  and you will sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, 103  your sheep and your cattle. In every place 104  where I cause my name to be honored 105  I will come to you and I will bless you. 20:25 If you make me an altar of stone, you must not build it 106  of stones shaped with tools, 107  for if you use your tool on it you have defiled it. 108  20:26 And you must not go up by steps to my altar, so that your nakedness is not exposed.’ 109 

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