Exodus 19

At Mount Sinai

1 The Israelites left Rephidim. Then two months after leaving Egypt, they arrived at the desert near Mount Sinai, where they set up camp at the foot of the mountain.
    3 Moses went up the mountain to meet with the Lord God, who told him to say to the people:
    4 You saw what I did in Egypt, and you know how I brought you here to me, just as a mighty eagle carries its young. 5 Now if you will faithfully obey me, you will be my very own people. The whole world is mine, 6 but you will be my holy nation and serve me as priests.
    Moses, that is what you must tell the Israelites.
    7 After Moses went back, he reported to the leaders what the Lord had said, 8 and they promised, “We will do everything the Lord has commanded.” So Moses told the Lord about this.
    9 The Lord said to Moses, “I will come to you in a thick cloud and let the people hear me speak to you. Then they will always trust you.” Again Moses reported to the people what the Lord had told him.
    10 Once more the Lord spoke to Moses:
    Go back and tell the people that today and tomorrow they must get themselves ready to meet me. They must wash their clothes 11 and be ready by the day after tomorrow, when I will come down to Mount Sinai, where all of them can see me.
    12 Warn the people that they are forbidden to touch any part of the mountain. Anyone who does will be put to death, 13 either with stones or arrows, and no one must touch the body of a person killed in this way. Even an animal that touches this mountain must be put to death. You may go up the mountain only after a signal is given on the trumpet.
    14 After Moses went down the mountain, he gave orders for the people to wash their clothes and make themselves acceptable to worship God. 15 He told them to be ready in three days and not to have sex in the meantime.

The Lord Comes to Mount Sinai

    16 On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning. A thick cloud covered the mountain, a loud trumpet blast was heard, and everyone in 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 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the Lord had come down in a flaming fire. Smoke poured out of the mountain just like a furnace, and the whole mountain shook. 19 The trumpet blew louder and louder. Moses spoke, and God answered him with thunder.
    20 The Lord came down to the top of Mount Sinai and told Moses to meet him there. 21 Then he said, “Moses, go and warn the people not to cross the boundary that you set at the foot of the mountain. They must not cross it to come and look at me, because if they do, many of them will die. 22 Only the priests may come near me, and they must obey strict rules before I let them. If they don’t, they will be punished.”
    23 Moses replied, “The people cannot come up the mountain. You warned us to stay away because it is holy.”
    24 Then the Lord told Moses, “Go down and bring Aaron back here with you. But the priests and people must not try to push their way through, or I will rush at them like a flood!”
    25 After Moses had gone back down, he told the people what the Lord had said.

Exodus 20

The Ten Commandments
(Deuteronomy 5.1-21)

1 God said to the people of Israel:
    2 I am the Lord your God, the one who brought you out of Egypt where you were slaves.
    3 Do not worship any god except me.
    4 Do not make idols that look like anything in the sky or on earth or in the ocean under the earth. 5 Don’t bow down and worship idols. I am the Lord your God, and I demand all your love. If you reject me, I will punish your families for three or four generations. 6 But if you love me and obey my laws, I will be kind to your families for thousands of generations.
    7 Do not misuse my name. I am the Lord your God, and I will punish anyone who misuses my name.
    8 Remember that the Sabbath Day belongs to me. 9 You have six days when you can do your work, 10 but the seventh day of each week belongs to me, your God. No one is to work on that day—not you, your children, your slaves, your animals, or the foreigners who live in your towns. 11 In six days I made the sky, the earth, the oceans, and everything in them, but on the seventh day I rested. That’s why I made the Sabbath a special day that belongs to me.
    12 Respect your father and your mother, and you will live a long time in the land I am giving you.
    13 Do not murder.
    14 Be faithful in marriage.
    15 Do not steal.
    16 Do not tell lies about others.
    17 Do not want anything that belongs to someone else. Don’t want anyone’s house, wife or husband, slaves, oxen, donkeys or anything else.

The People Are Afraid
(Deuteronomy 5.23-33)

    18 The people trembled with fear when they heard the thunder and the trumpet and saw the lightning and the smoke coming from the mountain. They stood a long way off 19 and said to Moses, “If you speak to us, we will listen. But don’t let God speak to us, or we will die!”
    20 “Don’t be afraid!” Moses replied. “God has come only to test you, so that by obeying him you won’t sin.” 21 But when Moses went near the thick cloud where God was, the people stayed a long way off.
22 The Lord told Moses to say to the people of Israel:
    With your own eyes, you saw me speak to you from heaven. 23 So you must never make idols of silver or gold to worship in place of me.
    24 Build an altar out of earth, and offer on it your sacrifices of sheep, goats, and cattle. Wherever I choose to be worshiped, I will come down to bless you. 25 If you ever build an altar for me out of stones, do not use any tools to chisel the stones, because that would make the altar unfit. 26 And don’t build an altar that requires steps; you might expose yourself when you climb up.


The Contemporary English Version c1995 by the American Bible Society.
Selected texts provided for use with the Amos: Hypertext Bible Commentary