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The Song of Moses

15 Moses and the Israelites sang this song in praise of the Lord:

I sing praises to the Lord
    for his great victory!
He has thrown the horses
and their riders
    into the sea.
The Lord is my strength,
the reason for my song,
    because he has saved me.
I praise and honor the Lord
he is my God
and the God
    of my ancestors.
The Lord is his name,
    and he is a warrior!
He threw the chariots and army
of Egypt’s king[a]
    into the Red Sea,[b]
and he drowned the best
    of the king’s officers.
They sank to the bottom
    just like stones.

With the tremendous force
of your right arm, our Lord,
    you crushed your enemies.
What a great victory was yours,
as you defeated everyone
    who opposed you.
Your fiery anger wiped them out,
    as though they were straw.
You were so furious
that the sea piled up
    like a wall,
and the ocean depths
    curdled like cheese.

Your enemies boasted
    that they would
pursue and capture us,
divide up our possessions,
treat us as they wished,
then take out their swords
    and kill us right there.
10 But when you got furious,
they sank like lead,
    swallowed by ocean waves.

11 Our Lord, no other gods
compare with you—
    Majestic and holy!
    Fearsome and glorious!
    Miracle worker!
12 When you signaled
    with your right hand,
your enemies were swallowed
    deep into the earth.

13 The people you rescued
were led by your powerful love
    to your holy place.
14 Nations learned of this
    and trembled—
Philistines shook with horror.
15 The leaders of Edom and of Moab
    were terrified.
Everyone in Canaan fainted,
16     struck down by fear.
Our Lord, your powerful arm
    kept them still as a rock
until the people you rescued
for your very own
    had marched by.

17 You will let your people settle
    on your chosen mountain,
where you built your home
    and your temple.
18 Our Lord, you will rule forever!

The Song of Miriam

19 The Lord covered the royal Egyptian cavalry and chariots with the sea, after the Israelites had walked safely through on dry ground. 20 Miriam the sister of Aaron was a prophet. So she took her tambourine and led the other women out to play their tambourines and to dance. 21 Then she sang to them:

“Sing praises to the Lord
    for his great victory!
He has thrown the horses
and their riders into the sea.”

Bitter Water at Marah

22 After the Israelites left the Red Sea,[c] Moses led them through the Shur Desert for three days, before finding water. 23 They did find water at Marah, but it was bitter, which is how that place got its name.[d] 24 The people complained and said, “Moses, what are we going to drink?”

25 Moses asked the Lord for help, and the Lord told him to throw a piece of wood into the water. Moses did so, and the water became fit to drink.

At Marah the Lord tested his people and also gave them some laws and teachings. 26 Then he said, “I am the Lord your God, and I cure your diseases. If you obey me by doing right and by following my laws and teachings, I won’t punish you with the diseases I sent on the Egyptians.”

27 Later the Israelites came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees. So they camped there.

The Lord Sends Food from Heaven

16 On the fifteenth day of the second month after the Israelites had escaped from Egypt, they left Elim and started through the western edge of the Sinai Desert[e] in the direction of Mount Sinai. There in the desert they started complaining to Moses and Aaron, “We wish the Lord had killed us in Egypt. When we lived there, we could at least sit down and eat all the bread and meat we wanted. But you have brought us out here into this desert, where we are going to starve.”

The Lord said to Moses, “I will send bread[f] down from heaven like rain. Each day the people can go out and gather only enough for that day. That’s how I will see if they obey me. But on the sixth day of each week they must gather and cook twice as much.”

Moses and Aaron told the people, “This evening you will know that the Lord was the one who rescued you from Egypt. And in the morning you will see his glorious power, because he has heard your complaints against him. Why should you grumble to us? Who are we?”

Then Moses continued, “You will know it is the Lord when he gives you meat each evening and more than enough bread each morning. He is really the one you are complaining about, not us—we are nobodies—but the Lord has heard your complaints.”

Moses turned to Aaron and said, “Bring the people together, because the Lord has heard their complaints.”

10 Aaron was speaking to them, when everyone looked out toward the desert and saw the bright glory of the Lord in a cloud. 11 The Lord said to Moses, 12 “I have heard my people complain. Now tell them that each evening they will have meat and each morning they will have more than enough bread. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God.”

13 That evening a lot of quails came and landed everywhere in the camp, and the next morning dew covered the ground. 14 After the dew had gone, the desert was covered with thin flakes that looked like frost. 15 The people had never seen anything like this, and they started asking each other, “What is it?”[g]

Moses answered, “This is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. 16 And he orders you to gather about two quarts for each person in your family—that should be more than enough.”

17 They did as they were told. Some gathered more and some gathered less, 18 according to their needs, and none was left over.

19 Moses told them not to keep any overnight. 20 Some of them disobeyed, but the next morning what they kept was stinking and full of worms, and Moses was angry.

21 Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and in the heat of the day the rest melted. 22 However, on the sixth day of the week, everyone gathered enough to have four quarts, instead of two. When the leaders reported this to Moses, 23 he told them that the Lord had said, “Tomorrow is the Sabbath, a sacred day of rest in honor of me. So gather all you want to bake or boil, and make sure you save enough for tomorrow.”

24 The people obeyed, and the next morning the food smelled fine and had no worms. 25 “You may eat the food,” Moses said. “Today is the Sabbath in honor of the Lord, and there won’t be any of this food on the ground today. 26 You will find it there for the first six days of the week, but not on the Sabbath.”

27 A few of the Israelites did go out to look for some, but there was none. 28 Then the Lord said, “Moses, how long will you people keep disobeying my laws and teachings? 29 Remember that I was the one who gave you the Sabbath. That’s why on the sixth day I provide enough bread for two days. Everyone is to stay home and rest on the Sabbath.” 30 And so they rested on the Sabbath.

31 The Israelites called the bread manna.[h] It was white like coriander seed and delicious as wafers made with honey. 32 Moses told the people that the Lord had said, “Store up two quarts of this manna, because I want future generations to see the food I gave you during the time you were in the desert after I rescued you from Egypt.”

33 Then Moses told Aaron, “Put some manna in a jar and store it in the place of worship for future generations to see.”

34 Aaron followed the Lord’s instructions and put the manna in front of the sacred chest for safekeeping. 35-36 The Israelites ate manna for forty years, before they came to the border of Canaan that was a settled land.[i]

The Lord Gives Water from a Rock

17 The Israelites left the desert and moved from one place to another each time the Lord ordered them to. Once they camped at Rephidim,[j] but there was no water for them to drink.

The people started complaining to Moses, “Give us some water!”

Moses replied, “Why are you complaining to me and trying to put the Lord to the test?”

But the people were thirsty and kept on complaining, “Moses, did you bring us out of Egypt just to let us and our families and our animals die of thirst?”

Then Moses prayed to the Lord, “What am I going to do with these people? They are about to stone me to death!”

The Lord answered, “Take some of the leaders with you and go ahead of the rest of the people. Also take along the walking stick you used to strike the Nile River, and when you get to the rock at Mount Sinai,[k] I will be there with you. Strike the rock with the stick, and water will pour out for the people to drink.” Moses did this while the leaders watched.

The people had complained and tested the Lord by asking, “Is the Lord really with us?” So Moses named that place Massah, which means “testing” and Meribah, which means “complaining.”

Israel Defeats the Amalekites

When the Israelites were at Rephidim, they were attacked by the Amalekites. So Moses told Joshua, “Have some men ready to attack the Amalekites tomorrow. I will stand on a hilltop, holding this walking stick that has the power of God.”

10 Joshua led the attack as Moses had commanded, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur stood on the hilltop. 11 The Israelites out-fought the Amalekites as long as Moses held up his arms, but they started losing whenever he had to lower them. 12 Finally, Moses was so tired that Aaron and Hur got a rock for him to sit on. Then they stood beside him and supported his arms in the same position until sunset. 13 That’s how Joshua defeated the Amalekites.

14 Afterwards, the Lord said to Moses, “Write an account of this victory and read it to Joshua. I want the Amalekites to be forgotten forever.”

15 Moses built an altar and named it “The Lord Gives Me Victory.” 16 Then Moses explained, “This is because I depended on the Lord.[l] But in future generations, the Lord will have to fight the Amalekites again.”

Jethro Visits Moses

18 Jethro was the priest of Midian and the father-in-law of Moses. And he heard what the Lord God had done for Moses and his people, after rescuing them from Egypt.

2-4 In the meantime, Moses had sent his wife Zipporah and her two sons to stay with Jethro, and he had welcomed them. Moses was still a foreigner in Midian when his first son was born, and so Moses said, “I’ll name him Gershom.”[m]

When his second son was born, Moses said, “I’ll name him Eliezer,[n] because the God my father worshiped has saved me from the king of Egypt.”[o]

5-6 While Israel was camped in the desert near Mount Sinai,[p] Jethro sent Moses this message: “I am coming to visit you, and I am bringing your wife and two sons.”

When they arrived, Moses went out and bowed down in front of Jethro, then kissed him. After they had greeted each other, they went into the tent, where Moses told him everything the Lord had done to protect Israel against the Egyptians and their king. He also told him how the Lord had helped them in all of their troubles.

Jethro was so pleased to hear this good news about what the Lord had done, 10 that he shouted, “Praise the Lord! He rescued you and the Israelites from the Egyptians and their king. 11 Now I know that the Lord is the greatest God, because he has rescued Israel from their arrogant enemies.” 12 Jethro offered sacrifices to God. Then Aaron and Israel’s leaders came to eat with Jethro there at the place of worship.

Judges Are Appointed

13 The next morning Moses sat down at the place where he decided legal cases for the people, and everyone crowded around him until evening. 14 Jethro saw how much Moses had to do for the people, and he asked, “Why are you the only judge? Why do you let these people crowd around you from morning till evening?”

15 Moses answered, “Because they come here to find out what God wants them to do. 16 They bring their complaints to me, and I make decisions on the basis of God’s laws.”

17 Jethro replied:

That isn’t the best way to do it. 18 You and the people who come to you will soon be worn out. The job is too much for one person; you can’t do it alone. 19 God will help you if you follow my advice. You should be the one to speak to God for the people, 20 and you should teach them God’s laws and show them what they must do to live right.

21 You will need to appoint some competent leaders who respect God and are trustworthy and honest. Then put them over groups of ten, fifty, a hundred, and a thousand. 22 These judges can handle the ordinary cases and bring the more difficult ones to you. Having them to share the load will make your work easier. 23 This is the way God wants it done. You won’t be under nearly as much stress, and everyone else will return home feeling satisfied.

24 Moses followed Jethro’s advice. 25 He chose some competent leaders from every tribe in Israel and put them over groups of ten, fifty, a hundred, and a thousand. 26 They served as judges, deciding the easy cases themselves, but bringing the more difficult ones to Moses.

27 After Moses and his father-in-law Jethro had said good-by to each other, Jethro returned home.

At Mount Sinai

19 1-2 The Israelites left Rephidim.[q] 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.

Moses went up the mountain to meet with the Lord God, who told him to say to the people:

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. Now if you will faithfully obey me, you will be my very own people. The whole world is mine, but you will be my holy nation and serve me as priests.

Moses, that is what you must tell the Israelites.

After Moses went back, he reported to the leaders what the Lord had said, and they promised, “We will do everything the Lord has commanded.” So Moses told the Lord about this.

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.

The Ten Commandments

20 God said to the people of Israel:

I am the Lord your God, the one who brought you out of Egypt where you were slaves.

Do not worship any god except me.

Do not make idols that look like anything in the sky or on earth or in the ocean under the earth. 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. But if you love me and obey my laws, I will be kind to your families for thousands of generations.

Do not misuse my name.[r] I am the Lord your God, and I will punish anyone who misuses my name.

Remember that the Sabbath Day belongs to me. 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

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.

Idols and Altars

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.[s]

24 Build an altar out of earth, and offer on it your sacrifices[t] 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.

Hebrew Slaves

21 The Lord gave Moses the following laws for his people:

If you buy a Hebrew slave, he must remain your slave for six years. But in the seventh year you must set him free, without cost to him. If he was single at the time you bought him, he alone must be set free. But if he was married at the time, both he and his wife must be given their freedom. If you give him a wife, and they have children, only the man himself must be set free; his wife and children remain the property of his owner.

But suppose the slave loves his wife and children so much that he won’t leave without them. Then he must stand beside either the door or the doorpost at the place of worship,[u] while his owner punches a small hole through one of his ears with a sharp metal rod. This makes him a slave for life.

A young woman who was sold by her father doesn’t gain her freedom in the same way that a man does. If she doesn’t please the man who bought her to be his wife, he must let her be bought back.[v] He cannot sell her to foreigners; this would break the contract he made with her. If he selects her as a wife for his son, he must treat her as his own daughter.

10 If the man later marries another woman, he must continue to provide food and clothing for the one he bought and to treat her as a wife. 11 If he fails to do any of these things, she must be given her freedom without cost.

Murder and Other Violent Crimes

The Lord said:

12 Death is the punishment for murder. 13 But if you did not intend to kill someone, and I, the Lord, let it happen anyway, you may run for safety to a place that I have set aside. 14 If you plan in advance to murder someone, there’s no escape, not even by holding on to my altar.[w] You will be dragged off and killed.

15 Death is the punishment for attacking your father or mother.

16 Death is the punishment for kidnapping. If you sell the person you kidnapped, or if you are caught with that person, the penalty is death.

17 Death is the punishment for cursing your father or mother.

18 Suppose two of you are arguing, and you hit the other with either a rock or your fist, without causing a fatal injury. If the victim has to stay in bed, 19 and later has to use a stick when walking outside, you must pay for the loss of time and do what you can to help until the injury is completely healed. That’s your only responsibility.

20 Death is the punishment for beating to death any of your slaves. 21 However, if the slave lives a few days after the beating, you are not to be punished. After all, you have already lost the services of that slave who was your property.

22 Suppose a pregnant woman suffers a miscarriage[x] as the result of an injury caused by someone who is fighting. If she isn’t badly hurt, the one who injured her must pay whatever fine her husband demands and the judges approve. 23 But if she is seriously injured, the payment will be life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, cut for cut, and bruise for bruise.

26 If you hit one of your slaves and cause the loss of an eye, the slave must be set free. 27 The same law applies if you knock out a slave’s tooth—the slave goes free.

28 A bull that kills someone with its horns must be killed and its meat destroyed, but the owner of the bull isn’t responsible for the death.

29 Suppose you own a bull that has been in the habit of attacking people, but you have refused to keep it fenced in. If that bull kills someone, both you and the bull must be put to death by stoning. 30 However, you may save your own life by paying whatever fine is demanded. 31 This same law applies if the bull gores someone’s son or daughter. 32 If the bull kills a slave, you must pay the slave owner thirty pieces of silver for the loss of the slave, and the bull must be killed by stoning.

33 Suppose someone’s ox or donkey is killed by falling into an open pit that you dug or left uncovered on your property. 34 You must pay for the dead animal, and it becomes yours.

35 If your bull kills someone else’s, yours must be sold. Then the money from your bull and the meat from the dead bull must be divided equally between you and the other owner.

36 If you refuse to fence in a bull that is known to attack others, you must pay for any animal it kills, but the dead animal will belong to you.

Property Laws

The Lord said:

22 If you steal an ox and slaughter or sell it, you must replace it with five oxen; if you steal a sheep and slaughter it or sell it, you must replace it with four sheep. 2-4 But if you cannot afford to replace the animals, you must be sold as a slave to pay for what you have stolen. If you steal an ox, donkey, or sheep, and are caught with it still alive, you must pay the owner double.

If you happen to kill a burglar who breaks into your home after dark, you are not guilty. But if you kill someone who breaks in during the day, you are guilty of murder.

If you allow any of your animals to stray from your property and graze[y] in someone else’s field or vineyard, you must repay the damage from the best part of your own harvest of grapes and grain.

If you carelessly let a fire spread from your property to someone else’s, you must pay the owner for any crops or fields destroyed by the fire.

Suppose a neighbor asks you to keep some silver or other valuables, and they are stolen from your house. If the thief is caught, the thief must repay double. But if the thief isn’t caught, some judges[z] will decide if you are the guilty one.

Suppose two people claim to own the same ox or donkey or sheep or piece of clothing. Then the judges[aa] must decide the case, and the guilty person will pay the owner double.

10 Suppose a neighbor who is going to be away asks you to keep a donkey or an ox or a sheep or some other animal, and it dies or gets injured or is stolen while no one is looking. 11 If you swear with me as your witness that you did not harm the animal, you do not have to replace it. Your word is enough. 12 But if the animal was stolen while in your care, you must replace it. 13 If the animal was attacked and killed by a wild animal, and you can show the remains of the dead animal to its owner, you do not have to replace it.

14 Suppose you borrow an animal from a neighbor, and it gets injured or dies while the neighbor isn’t around. Then you must replace it. 15 But if something happens to the animal while the owner is present, you do not have to replace it. If you had leased the animal, the money you paid the owner will cover any harm done to it.

Laws for Everyday Life

The Lord said:

16 Suppose a young woman has never been married and isn’t engaged. If a man talks her into having sex, he must pay the bride price[ab] and marry her. 17 But if her father refuses to let her marry the man, the bride price must still be paid.

18 Death is the punishment for witchcraft.

19 Death is the punishment for having sex with an animal.

20 Death is the punishment for offering sacrifices to any god except me.

21 Do not mistreat or abuse foreigners who live among you. Remember, you were foreigners in Egypt.

22 Do not mistreat widows or orphans. 23 If you do, they will beg for my help, and I will come to their rescue. 24 In fact, I will get so angry that I will kill your men and make widows of their wives and orphans of their children.

25 Don’t charge interest when you lend money to any of my people who are in need. 26 Before sunset you must return any coat taken as security for a loan, 27 because that is the only cover the poor have when they sleep at night. I am a merciful God, and when they call out to me, I will come to help them.

28 Don’t speak evil of me[ac] or of the ruler of your people.

29 Don’t fail to give me the offerings of grain and wine that belong to me.[ad]

Dedicate to me your first-born sons 30 and the first-born of your cattle and sheep. Let the animals stay with their mothers for seven days, then on the eighth day give them to me, your God.

31 You are my chosen people, so don’t eat the meat of any of your livestock that was killed by a wild animal. Instead, feed the meat to dogs.

Equal Justice for All

The Lord said:

23 Don’t spread harmful rumors or help a criminal by giving false evidence.

Always tell the truth in court, even if everyone else is[ae] dishonest and stands in the way of justice. And don’t favor the poor, simply because they are poor.

If you find an ox or a donkey that has wandered off, take it back where it belongs, even if the owner is your enemy.

If a donkey is overloaded and falls down, you must do what you can to help, even if it belongs to someone who doesn’t like you.[af]

Make sure that the poor are given equal justice in court. Don’t bring false charges against anyone or sentence an innocent person to death. I won’t forgive you if you do.

Don’t accept bribes. Judges are blinded and justice is twisted by bribes.

Don’t mistreat foreigners. You were foreigners in Egypt, and you know what it is like.

Laws for the Sabbath

The Lord said:

10 Plant and harvest your crops for six years, 11 but let the land rest during the seventh year. The poor are to eat what they want from your fields, vineyards, and olive trees during that year, and when they have all they want from your fields, leave the rest for wild animals.

12 Work the first six days of the week, but rest and relax on the seventh day. This law is not only for you, but for your oxen, donkeys, and slaves, as well as for any foreigners among you.

13 Make certain that you obey everything I have said. Don’t pray to other gods or even mention their names.

Three Annual Festivals

The Lord said:

14 Celebrate three festivals each year in my honor.

15 Celebrate the Festival of Thin Bread by eating bread made without yeast, just as I have commanded.[ag] Do this at the proper time during the month of Abib,[ah] because it is the month when you left Egypt. And make certain that everyone brings the proper offerings.

16 Celebrate the Harvest Festival[ai] each spring when you start harvesting your wheat, and celebrate the Festival of Shelters[aj] each autumn when you pick your fruit.

17 Your men must come to these three festivals each year to worship me.

18 Do not offer bread made with yeast when you sacrifice an animal to me. And make sure that the fat of the animal is burned that same day.

19 Each year bring the best part of your first harvest to the place of worship.

Don’t boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.

A Promise and a Warning

The Lord said:

20 I am sending an angel to protect you and to lead you into the land I have ready for you. 21 Carefully obey everything the angel says, because I am giving him complete authority, and he won’t tolerate rebellion. 22 If you faithfully obey him, I will be a fierce enemy of your enemies. 23 My angel will lead you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites, and Jebusites, and I will wipe them out. 24 Don’t worship their gods or follow their customs. Instead, destroy their idols and shatter their stone images.

25 Worship only me, the Lord your God! I will bless you with plenty of food and water and keep you strong. 26 Your women will give birth to healthy children, and everyone will live a long life.

27 I will terrify those nations and make your enemies so confused that they will run from you. 28 I will make the Hivites, Canaanites, and Hittites panic as you approach. 29 But I won’t do all this in the first year, because the land would become poor, and wild animals would be everywhere. 30 Instead, I will force out your enemies little by little and give your nation time to grow strong enough to take over the land.

31 I will see that your borders reach from the Red Sea[ak] to the Euphrates River and from the Mediterranean Sea to the desert. I will let you defeat the people who live there, and you will force them out of the land. 32 But you must not make any agreements with them or with their gods. 33 Don’t let them stay in your land. They will trap you into sinning against me and worshiping their gods.

The People Agree To Obey God

24 The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on this mountain. Bring along Aaron, as well as his two sons Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of Israel’s leaders. They must worship me at a distance, but you are to come near. Don’t let anyone else come up.”

Moses gave the Lord’s instructions to the people, and they promised, “We will do everything the Lord has commanded!” Then Moses wrote down what the Lord had said.

The next morning Moses got up early. He built an altar at the foot of the mountain and set up a large stone for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. He also sent some young men to burn offerings and to sacrifice bulls as special offerings[al] to the Lord. Moses put half of the blood from the animals into bowls and sprinkled the rest on the altar. Then he read aloud the Lord’s commands and promises, and the people shouted, “We will obey the Lord and do everything he has commanded!”

Moses took the blood from the bowls and sprinkled it on the people. Next, he told them, “With this blood the Lord makes his agreement with you.”

Moses and Aaron, together with Nadab and Abihu and the seventy leaders, went up the mountain 10 and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something that looked like a pavement made out of sapphire,[am] and it was as bright as the sky.

11 Even though these leaders of Israel saw God, he did not punish them. So they ate and drank.

Moses on Mount Sinai

12 The Lord said to Moses, “Come up on the mountain and stay here for a while. I will give you the two flat stones on which I have written the laws that my people must obey.” 13 Moses and Joshua his assistant got ready, then Moses started up the mountain to meet with God.

14 Moses had told the leaders, “Wait here until we come back. Aaron and Hur will be with you, and they can settle any arguments while we are away.”

15 When Moses went up on Mount Sinai, a cloud covered it, 16 and the bright glory of the Lord came down and stayed there. The cloud covered the mountain for six days, and on the seventh day the Lord told Moses to come into the cloud. 17-18 Moses did so and stayed there forty days and nights. To the people, the Lord’s glory looked like a blazing fire on top of the mountain.

The Sacred Tent

25 The Lord said to Moses:

Tell everyone in Israel who wants to give gifts that they must bring them to you. Here is a list of what you are to collect: Gold, silver, and bronze; blue, purple, and red wool; fine linen; goat hair; tanned ram skins; fine leather; acacia wood; olive oil for the lamp; sweet-smelling spices to mix with the oil for dedicating the tent and ordaining the priests; and onyx[an] stones for the sacred vest and the breastpiece. I also want them to build a special place where I can live among my people. Make it and its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.

The Sacred Chest

The Lord said to Moses:

10 Tell the people to build a chest of acacia wood forty-five inches long, twenty-seven inches wide, and twenty-seven inches high. 11 Cover it inside and out with pure gold and put a gold edging around the lid. 12 Make four gold rings and fasten one of them to each of the four legs of the chest. 13 Make two poles of acacia wood. Cover them with gold 14 and put them through the rings, so the chest can be carried by the poles. 15 Don’t ever remove the poles from the rings. 16 When I give you the Ten Commandments written on two flat stones, put them inside the chest.

17 Cover the lid of the chest with pure gold. 18-19 Then hammer out two winged creatures of pure gold and fasten them to the lid at the ends of the chest. 20 The creatures must face each other with their wings spread over the chest. 21 Inside it place the two flat stones with the Ten Commandments and put the gold lid on top of the chest. 22 I will meet you there[ao] between the two creatures and tell you what my people must do and what they must not do.

The Table for the Sacred Bread

The Lord said:

23 Make a table of acacia wood thirty-six inches long, eighteen inches wide, and twenty-seven inches high. 24-25 Cover it with pure gold and put a gold edging around it with a border three inches wide.[ap] 26 Make four gold rings and attach one to each of the legs 27-28 near the edging. The poles for carrying the table are to be placed through these rings and are to be made of acacia wood covered with gold. 29-30 The table is to be kept in the holy place, and the sacred loaves of bread must always be put on it. All bowls, plates, jars, and cups for wine offerings are to be made of pure gold and set on this table.

The Lampstand

The Lord said:

31 Make a lampstand of pure gold. The whole lampstand, including its decorative flowers, must be made from a single piece of hammered gold 32 with three branches on each of its two sides. 33 There are to be three decorative almond blossoms on each branch 34 and four on the stem. 35 There must also be a blossom where each pair of branches comes out from the stem. 36 The lampstand, including its branches and decorative flowers, must be made from a single piece of hammered pure gold. 37 The lamp on the top and those at the end of each of its six branches must be made so as to shine toward the front of the lampstand. 38 The tongs and trays for taking care of the lamps are to be made of pure gold. 39 The lampstand and its equipment will require seventy-five pounds of pure gold, 40 and they must be made according to the pattern I showed you on the mountain.

Curtains and Coverings for the Sacred Tent

The Lord said to Moses:

26 Furnish the sacred tent with curtains made from ten pieces of the finest linen. They must be woven with blue, purple, and red wool and embroidered with figures of winged creatures. Make each piece fourteen yards long and two yards wide and sew them together into two curtains with five sections each. 4-6 Put fifty loops of blue cloth along one of the wider sides of each curtain, then fasten the two curtains at the loops with fifty gold hooks.

7-8 As the material for the tent, use goat hair to weave eleven sections fifteen yards by two yards each. Sew five of the sections together to make one panel. Then sew the other six together to make a second panel, and fold the sixth section double over the front of the tent. 10 Put fifty loops along one of the wider sides of each panel 11 and fasten the two panels at the loops with fifty bronze hooks. 12-13 The panel of goat hair will be a yard longer than the tent itself, so fold half a yard of the material behind the tent and on each side as a protective covering. 14 Make two more coverings—one with ram skins dyed red and the other with fine leather.

The Framework for the Sacred Tent

The Lord said:

15 Build a framework of acacia wood for the walls of the sacred tent. 16 Each frame is to be fifteen feet high and twenty-seven inches wide 17 with two wooden pegs near the bottom. 18-21 Place two silver stands under each frame with sockets for the pegs, so the frames can be joined together. Twenty of these frames are to be used along the south side and twenty more along the north. 22 For the back wall along the west side use six frames 23-24 with two more at the southwest and northwest corners. Make certain that these corner frames are joined from top to bottom. 25 Altogether, this back wall will have eight frames with two silver stands under each one.

26-27 Make five crossbars for each of the wooden frames, 28 with the center crossbar running the full length of the wall. 29 Cover the frames and the crossbars with gold and attach gold rings to the frames to run the crossbars through. 30 Then set up the tent in the way I showed you on the mountain.

The Curtain inside the Sacred Tent

The Lord said:

31-33 Make a curtain to separate the holy place from the most holy place. Use fine linen woven with blue, purple, and red wool, and embroidered with figures of winged creatures. Cover four acacia wood posts with gold and set them each on a silver stand. Then fasten gold hooks to the posts and hang the curtain there.

34 Inside the most holy place, you must put the sacred chest that has the place of mercy on its lid.[aq] 35 Outside the curtain put the table for the sacred bread on the right side and the gold lampstand on the left.

36 For the entrance to the tent, use a piece of fine linen woven with blue, purple, and red wool and embroidered with fancy needlework. 37 Cover five acacia wood posts with gold and set them each on a bronze stand. Then put gold hooks on the posts and hang the curtain there.

The Altar for Offering Sacrifices

The Lord said to Moses:

27 Use acacia wood to build an altar seven and a half feet square and four and a half feet high, and make each of the four top corners stick up like the horn of a bull. Then cover the whole altar with bronze, including the four horns. All the equipment for the altar must also be made of bronze—the pans for the hot ashes, the shovels, the sprinkling bowls, the meat forks, and the fire pans. 4-5 Midway up the altar build a ledge around it, and cover the bottom half of the altar with a decorative bronze grating. Then attach a bronze ring beneath the ledge at the four corners of the altar. 6-7 Cover two acacia wood poles with bronze and put them through the rings for carrying the altar. Construct the altar in the shape of an open box, just as you were shown on the mountain.

The Courtyard around the Sacred Tent

The Lord said:

9-15 Surround the sacred tent with a courtyard one hundred fifty feet long on the south and north and seventy-five feet wide on the east and west. Use twenty bronze posts on bronze stands for the south and north and ten for the west. Then hang a curtain of fine linen on the posts along each of these three sides by using silver hooks and rods.

Place three bronze posts on each side of the entrance at the east and hang a curtain seven and a half yards wide on each set of posts. 16 Use four more of these posts for the entrance way, then hang on them an embroidered curtain of fine linen ten yards long and woven with blue, purple, and red wool.

17-18 The curtains that surround the courtyard must be two and a half yards high and are to be hung from the bronze posts with silver hooks and rods. 19 The rest of the equipment for the sacred tent must be made of bronze, including the pegs for the tent and for the curtain surrounding the courtyard.

The Oil for the Lamp in the Holy Place

The Lord said to Moses:

20 Command the people of Israel to supply you with the purest olive oil. Do this so the lamp will keep burning 21 in front of the curtain that separates the holy place from the most holy place, where the sacred chest is kept. Aaron and his sons are responsible for keeping the lamp burning every night in the sacred tent. The Israelites must always obey this command.

The Clothes for the High Priest

The Lord said to Moses:

28 Send for your brother Aaron and his sons Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. They are the ones I have chosen from Israel to serve as my priests. Make Aaron some beautiful clothes that are worthy of a high priest. Aaron is to be dedicated as my high priest, and his clothes must be made only by persons who possess skills that I have given them. Here are the items that need to be made: a breastpiece, a priestly vest, a robe, an embroidered shirt, a turban, and a sash. These sacred clothes are to be made for your brother Aaron and his sons who will be my priests. Only gold and fine linen, woven with blue, purple, and red wool, are to be used for making these clothes.

The Vest for the High Priest

The Lord said:

6-8 The entire priestly vest must be made of fine linen skillfully woven with blue, purple, and red wool, and decorated with gold. It is to have two shoulder straps to support it and a sash that fastens around the waist.

9-12 Put two onyx[ar] stones in gold settings, then attach one to each of the shoulder straps. On one of these stones engrave the names of Israel’s first six sons in the order of their birth. And do the same with his remaining six sons on the other stone. In this way Aaron will always carry the names of the tribes of Israel when he enters the holy place, and I will never forget my people.

13-14 Attach two gold settings to the shoulder straps and fasten them with two braided chains of pure gold.

The Breastpiece for the High Priest

The Lord said:

15 From the same costly material make a breastpiece for the high priest to use in learning what I want my people to do. 16 It is to be nine inches square and folded double 17 with four rows of three precious stones: In the first row put a carnelian, a chrysolite, and an emerald; 18 in the second row a turquoise, a sapphire, and a diamond; 19 in the third row a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; 20 and in the fourth row a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper.[as] Mount the stones in delicate gold settings 21 and engrave on each of them the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel.

22-25 Attach two gold rings to the upper front corners of the breastpiece and fasten them with two braided gold chains to gold settings on the shoulder straps. 26 Attach two other gold rings to the lower inside corners next to the vest 27 and two more near the bottom of the shoulder straps right above the sash. 28 Then take a blue cord and tie the two lower rings on the breastpiece to those on the vest. This will keep the breastpiece in place.

29 In this way Aaron will have the names of the twelve tribes of Israel written on his heart each time he enters the holy place, and I will never forget my people. 30 He must also wear on his breastpiece the two small objects[at] that he uses to receive answers from me.

The Other High-Priestly Clothes

The Lord said:

31 Under his vest Aaron must wear a robe of blue wool 32 with an opening in the center for his head. Be sure to bind the material around the collar to keep it from raveling. 33-34 Along the hem of the robe weave pomegranates[au] of blue, purple, and red wool with a gold bell between each of them. 35 If Aaron wears these clothes when he enters the holy place as my high priest, the sound of the bells will be heard, and his life will not be in danger.

36 On a narrow strip of pure gold engrave the words: “Dedicated to the Lord.” 37 Fasten it to the front of Aaron’s turban with a blue cord, 38 so he can wear it on his forehead. This will show that he will take on himself the guilt for any sins the people of Israel commit in offering their gifts to me, and I will forgive them.

39 Make Aaron’s robe and turban of fine linen and decorate his sash with fancy needlework.

The Clothes for the Other Priests

40 Since Aaron’s sons are priests, they should also look dignified. So make robes, sashes, and special caps for them. 41 Then dress Aaron and his sons in these clothes, pour olive oil on their heads, and ordain them as my priests.

42 Make linen shorts for them that reach from the waist down to the thigh, so they won’t expose themselves. 43 Whenever they enter the sacred tent or serve at the altar or enter the holy place, they must wear these shorts, or else they will be guilty and die. This same rule applies to any of their descendants who serve as priests.

Instructions for Ordaining Priests

The Lord said to Moses:

29 When you ordain one of Aaron’s sons as my priest, choose a young bull and two rams that have nothing wrong with them. Then from your finest flour make three batches of dough without yeast. Shape some of it into larger loaves, some into smaller loaves mixed with olive oil, and the rest into thin wafers brushed with oil. Put all of this bread in a basket and bring it when you come to sacrifice the three animals to me.

Bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance of the sacred tent and have them wash themselves. Dress Aaron in the priestly shirt, the robe that goes under the sacred vest, the vest itself, the breastpiece, and the sash. Put on his turban with its narrow strip of engraved gold and then ordain him by pouring olive oil on his head.

Next, dress Aaron’s sons in their special shirts and caps and their sashes,[av] then ordain them, because they and their descendants will always be priests.

10 Lead the bull to the entrance of the sacred tent, where Aaron and his sons will lay their hands on its head. 11 Kill the bull near my altar in front of the tent. 12 Use a finger to smear some of its blood on each of the four corners of the altar and pour out the rest of the blood on the ground next to the altar. 13 Then take the fat from the animal’s insides, as well as the lower part of the liver and the two kidneys with their fat, and send them up in smoke on the altar. 14 But the meat, the skin, and the food still in the bull’s stomach must be burned outside the camp as an offering to ask forgiveness for the sins of the priests.[aw]

15 Bring one of the rams to Aaron and his sons and have them lay their hands on its head. 16 Kill the ram and splatter its blood against all four sides of the altar. 17 Cut up the ram, wash its insides and legs, and lay all of its parts on the altar, including the head. 18 Then make sure that the whole animal goes up in smoke with a smell that pleases me.

19 Bring the other ram to Aaron and his sons and have them lay their hands on its head. 20 Kill the ram and place some of its blood on Aaron’s right ear lobe, his right thumb, and the big toe of his right foot. Do the same for each of his sons and splatter the rest of the blood against the four sides of the altar. 21 Then take some of the blood from the altar, mix it with the oil used for ordination, and sprinkle it on Aaron and his clothes, and also on his sons and their clothes. This will show that they and their clothes have been dedicated to me.

22 This ram is part of the ordination service. So remove its right hind leg,[ax] its fat tail, the fat on its insides, as well as the lower part of the liver and the two kidneys with their fat. 23 Take one loaf of each kind of bread[ay] from the basket, 24 and put this bread, together with the meat, into the hands of Aaron and his sons. Then they will lift it all up[az] to show that it is dedicated to me. 25 After this, the meat and bread are to be placed on the altar and sent up in smoke with a smell that pleases me.

26 You may eat the choice ribs from this second ram, but you must first lift them up[ba] to show that this meat is dedicated to me.

27-28 In the future, when anyone from Israel offers the ribs and a hind leg of a ram either to ordain a priest or to ask for my blessing, the meat belongs to me, but it may be eaten by the priests. This law will never change.

29-30 After Aaron’s death, his priestly clothes are to be handed down to each descendant who succeeds him as high priest, and these clothes must be worn during the seven-day ceremony of ordination.

31 Boil the meat of the ordination ram in a sacred place, 32 then have Aaron and his sons eat it together with the three kinds of bread [bb] at the entrance to the sacred tent. 33 At their ordination, a ceremony of forgiveness was performed for them with this sacred food, and only they have the right to eat it. 34 If any of the sacred food is left until morning, it must be burned up.

35 Repeat this ordination ceremony for Aaron and his sons seven days in a row, just as I have instructed you. 36 Each day you must offer a bull as a sacrifice for sin and as a way of purifying the altar. In addition, you must smear the altar with olive oil to make it completely holy. 37 Do this for seven days, and the altar will become so holy that anyone who touches it will become holy.

Daily Sacrifices

The Lord said:

38 Each day you must sacrifice two lambs a year old, 39 one in the morning and one in the evening. 40-41 With each lamb offer two pounds of your finest flour mixed with a quart of pure olive oil, and also pour out a quart of wine as an offering. The smell of this sacrifice on the fires of the altar will be pleasing to me. 42-43 You and your descendants must always offer this sacrifice on the altar at the entrance to the sacred tent.

People of Israel, I will meet and speak with you there, and my shining glory will make the place holy. 44 Because of who I am, the tent will become sacred, and Aaron and his sons will become worthy to serve as my priests. 45 I will live among you as your God, 46 and you will know that I am the Lord your God, the one who rescued you from Egypt, so that I could live among you.

The Altar for Burning Incense

The Lord said to Moses:

30 Build an altar of acacia wood where you can burn incense. Make it eighteen inches square and thirty-six inches high, and make each of its four corners stick up like the horn of a bull. Cover it with pure gold and put a gold edging around it. Then below the edging on opposite sides attach two gold rings through which you can put the poles for carrying the altar. These poles are also to be made of acacia wood covered with gold.

Put the altar in front of the inside curtain of the sacred tent. The chest with the place of mercy[bc] is kept behind that curtain, and I will talk with you there. 7-8 From now on, when Aaron tends the lamp each morning and evening, he must burn sweet-smelling incense to me on the altar. Burn only the proper incense on the altar and never use it for grain sacrifices or animal sacrifices or drink offerings. 10 Once a year Aaron must purify the altar by smearing on its four corners[bd] the blood of an animal sacrificed for sin, and this practice must always be followed. The altar is sacred because it is dedicated to me.

The Money for the Sacred Tent

11 The Lord said to Moses:

12 Find out how many grown men there are in Israel and require each of them to pay me to keep him safe from danger while you are counting them. 13-15 Each man over nineteen, whether rich or poor, must pay me the same amount of money, weighed according to the official standards. 16 This money is to be used for the upkeep of the sacred tent, and because of it, I will never forget my people.

The Large Bronze Bowl

17 The Lord said to Moses:

18-21 Make a large bronze bowl and a bronze stand for it. Then put them between the altar for sacrifice and the sacred tent, so the priests can wash their hands and feet before entering the tent or offering a sacrifice on the altar. Each priest in every generation must wash himself in this way, or else he will die right there.

The Oil for Dedication and Ordination

22 The Lord said to Moses:

23-25 Mix a gallon of olive oil with the following costly spices: twelve pounds of myrrh, six pounds of cinnamon, six pounds of cane, and twelve pounds of cassia. Measure these according to the official standards. Then use this sacred mixture 26 for dedicating the tent and chest, 27 the table with its equipment, the lampstand with its equipment, the incense altar with all its utensils, 28 the altar for sacrifices, and the large bowl with its stand. 29 By dedicating them in this way, you will make them so holy that anyone who even touches them will become holy.

30 When you ordain Aaron and his sons as my priests, sprinkle them with some of this oil, 31 and say to the people of Israel: “This oil must always be used in the ordination service of a priest. It is holy because it is dedicated to the Lord. 32 So treat it as holy! Don’t ever use it for everyday purposes or mix any for yourselves. 33 If you do, you will no longer belong to the Lord’s people.”

The Sweet-Smelling Incense

34-35 Mix equal amounts of the costly spices stacte, onycha, galbanum, and pure frankincense, then add salt to make the mixture pure and holy. 36 Pound some of it into powder and sprinkle it in front of the sacred chest, where I meet with you. Be sure to treat this incense as something very holy. 37 It is truly holy because it is dedicated to me, so don’t ever make any for yourselves. 38 If you ever make any of it to use as perfume, you will no longer belong to my people.

The Lord Chooses Bezalel and Oholiab

31 The Lord said to Moses:

I have chosen Bezalel[be] from the Judah tribe to make the sacred tent and its furnishings. 3-5 Not only have I filled him with my Spirit, but I have given him wisdom and made him a skilled craftsman who can create objects of art with gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood. I have appointed Oholiab[bf] from the tribe of Dan to work with him, and I have also given skills to those who will help them make everything exactly as I have commanded you: 7-11 the sacred tent with its furnishings, the sacred chest with its place of mercy, the table with all that is on it, the lamp with its equipment, the incense altar, the altar for sacrifices with its equipment, the bronze bowl with its stand, the beautiful priestly clothes for Aaron and his sons, the oil for dedication and ordination services, and the sweet-smelling incense for the holy place.

Laws for the Sabbath

12-13 Moses told the Israelites that the Lord had said:

The Sabbath belongs to me. Now I command you and your descendants to always obey the laws of the Sabbath. By doing this, you will know that I have chosen you as my own. 14-15 Keep the Sabbath holy. You have six days to do your work, but the Sabbath is mine, and it must remain a day of rest. If you work on the Sabbath, you will no longer be part of my people, and you will be put to death.

16 Every generation of Israelites must respect the Sabbath. 17 This day will always serve as a reminder, both to me and to the Israelites, that I made the heavens and the earth in six days, then on the seventh day I rested and relaxed.

18 When God had finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two flat stones on which he had written all of his laws with his own hand.

The People Make an Idol To Worship

32 After the people saw that Moses had been on the mountain for a long time, they went to Aaron and said, “Make us an image of a god who will lead and protect us. Moses brought us out of Egypt, but nobody knows what has happened to him.”

Aaron told them, “Bring me the gold earrings that your wives and sons and daughters are wearing.” Everybody took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron, then he melted them and made an idol in the shape of a young bull.

All the people said to one another, “This is the god who brought us out of Egypt!”

When Aaron saw what was happening, he built an altar in front of the idol and said, “Tomorrow we will celebrate in honor of the Lord.” The people got up early the next morning and killed some animals to be used for sacrifices and others to be eaten. Then everyone ate and drank so much that they began to carry on like wild people.

The Lord said to Moses:

Hurry back down! Those people you led out of Egypt are acting like fools. They have already stopped obeying me and have made themselves an idol in the shape of a young bull. They have bowed down to it, offered sacrifices, and said that it is the god who brought them out of Egypt. Moses, I have seen how stubborn these people are, 10 and I’m angry enough to destroy them, so don’t try to stop me. But I will make your descendants into a great nation.

11 Moses tried to get the Lord God to change his mind:

Our Lord, you used your mighty power to bring these people out of Egypt. Now don’t become angry and destroy them. 12 If you do, the Egyptians will say that you brought your people out here into the mountains just to get rid of them. Please don’t be angry with your people. Don’t destroy them!

13 Remember the solemn promise you made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You promised that someday they would have as many descendants as there are stars in the sky and that you would give them land.

14 So even though the Lord had threatened to destroy the people, he changed his mind and let them live.

15-16 Moses went back down the mountain with the two flat stones on which God had written all of his laws with his own hand, and he had used both sides of the stones.

17 When Joshua heard the noisy shouts of the people, he said to Moses, “A battle must be going on down in the camp.”

18 But Moses replied, “It doesn’t sound like they are shouting because they have won or lost a battle. They are singing wildly!”

19 As Moses got closer to the camp, he saw the idol, and he also saw the people dancing around. This made him so angry that he threw down the stones and broke them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. 20 He melted the idol the people had made, and he ground it into powder. He scattered it in their water and made them drink it. 21 Moses asked Aaron, “What did these people do to harm you? Why did you make them sin in this terrible way?”

22 Aaron answered:

Don’t be angry with me. You know as well as I do that they are determined to do evil. 23 They even told me, “That man Moses led us out of Egypt, but now we don’t know what has happened to him. Make us a god to lead us.” 24 Then I asked them to bring me their gold earrings. They took them off and gave them to me. I threw the gold into a fire, and out came this bull.

25 Moses knew that the people were out of control and that it was Aaron’s fault. And now they had made fools of themselves in front of their enemies. 26 So Moses stood at the gate of the camp and shouted, “Everyone who is on the Lord’s side come over here!”

Then the men of the Levi tribe gathered around Moses, 27 and he said to them, “The Lord God of Israel commands you to strap on your swords and go through the camp, killing your relatives, your friends, and your neighbors.”

28 The men of the Levi tribe followed his orders, and that day they killed about three thousand men. 29 Moses said to them, “You obeyed the Lord and did what was right, and so you will serve as his priests for the people of Israel. It was hard for you to kill your own sons and brothers, but the Lord has blessed you and made you his priests today.”

30 The next day Moses told the people, “This is a terrible thing you have done. But I will go back to the Lord to see if I can do something to keep this sin from being held against you.”

31 Moses returned to the Lord and said, “The people have committed a terrible sin. They have made a gold idol to be their god. 32 But I beg you to forgive them. If you don’t, please wipe my name out of your book.”[bg]

33 The Lord replied, “I will wipe out of my book the name of everyone who has sinned against me. 34 Now take my people to the place I told you about, and my angel will lead you. But when the time comes, I will punish them for this sin.”

35 So the Lord punished the people of Israel with a terrible disease for talking Aaron into making the gold idol.

The Lord Tells Israel To Leave Mount Sinai

33 The Lord said to Moses:

You led the people of Israel out of Egypt. Now get ready to lead them to the land I promised their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 2-3 It is a land rich with milk and honey, and I will send an angel to force out those people who live there—the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. I would go with my people, but they are so rebellious that I would destroy them before they get there.

4-5 Even before the Lord said these harsh things, he had told Moses, “These people really are rebellious, and I would kill them at once, if I went with them. But tell them to take off their fancy jewelry, then I’ll decide what to do with them.” So the people started mourning, and after leaving Mount Sinai,[bh] they stopped wearing fancy jewelry.

The Lord Is with His People

Moses used to set up a tent far from camp. He called it the “meeting tent,” and whoever needed some message from the Lord would go there. Each time Moses went out to the tent, everyone would stand at the entrance to their own tents and watch him enter. 9-11 Then they would bow down because a thick cloud would come down in front of the tent, and the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, just like a friend. Afterwards, Moses would return to camp, but his young assistant Joshua[bi] would stay at the tent.

The Lord Promises To Be with His People

12 Moses said to the Lord, “I know that you have told me to lead these people to the land you promised them. But you have not told me who my assistant will be. You have said that you are my friend and that you are pleased with me. 13 If this is true, let me know what your plans are, then I can obey and continue to please you. And don’t forget that you have chosen this nation to be your own.”

14 The Lord said, “I will go with you and give you peace.”

15 Then Moses replied, “If you aren’t going with us, please don’t make us leave this place.


  1. 15.4 Egypt’s king: See the note at 1.11.
  2. 15.4,22 Red Sea: See the note at 13.18.
  3. 15.4,22 Red Sea: See the note at 13.18.
  4. 15.23 Marah. . . name: In Hebrew “Marah” means “bitter.”
  5. 16.1 the western edge of the Sinai Desert: Hebrew “the Sin Desert.”
  6. 16.4 bread: This was something like a thin wafer, and it was called “manna,” which in Hebrew means, “What is it?”
  7. 16.15 What is it: See the note at 16.4.
  8. 16.31 manna: See the note at 16.4.
  9. 16.35,36 land: The Hebrew text adds, “An omer is one tenth of an ephah.” In the CEV “omer” is usually translated “two quarts.”
  10. 17.1 Rephidim: The last stopping place for the Israelites between the Red Sea and Mount Sinai; the exact location is not known.
  11. 17.6 Sinai: The Hebrew text has “Horeb,” another name for Sinai.
  12. 17.16 This. . . Lord: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  13. 18.2-4 Gershom: See the note at 2.22.
  14. 18.2-4 Eliezer: In Hebrew “Eliezer” means “God has helped me.”
  15. 18.2-4 saved. . . Egypt: See 2.1-15.
  16. 18.5,6 Mount Sinai: Hebrew “the mountain of God.”
  17. 19.1,2 Rephidim: See the note at 17.1.
  18. 20.7 misuse my name: Probably includes breaking promises, telling lies after swearing to tell the truth, using the Lord’s name as a curse word or a magic formula, and trying to control the Lord by using his name.
  19. 20.23 in place of me: Or “together with me.”
  20. 20.24 sacrifices: The Hebrew text mentions two types of sacrifices: Sacrifices to please the Lord (traditionally called “whole burnt offerings”) and sacrifices to ask the Lord’s blessing (traditionally called “peace offerings”).
  21. 21.6 at the place of worship: The Hebrew text has “in the presence of God,” which probably refers to the place where God was worshiped.
  22. 21.8 bought back: Either by her family or by another Israelite who wanted to marry her.
  23. 21.14 altar: As a rule, anyone who ran to the altar was safe from the death penalty, until proven guilty.
  24. 21.22 suffers a miscarriage: Or “gives birth before her time.”
  25. 22.5 graze: Or “eat everything.”
  26. 22.8 some judges: Or “I.”
  27. 22.9 the judges: Or “I.”
  28. 22.16 bride price: It was the custom for a man to pay his wife’s family a bride price before the actual wedding ceremony took place.
  29. 22.28 me: Or “your judges.”
  30. 22.29 Don’t fail. . . me: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  31. 23.2 everyone else is: Or “the authorities are.”
  32. 23.5 you: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 5.
  33. 23.15 as I have commanded: See 12.14-20.
  34. 23.15 Abib: See the note at 12.2.
  35. 23.16 Harvest Festival: Traditionally called the “Festival of Weeks” and known in New Testament times as “Pentecost.”
  36. 23.16 Festival of Shelters: The Hebrew text has “Festival of Ingathering” (so also in 34.22), which was the final harvesting of crops and fruits before the autumn rains began. But the usual name was “Festival of Shelters.”
  37. 23.31 Red Sea: Hebrew yam suph, here referring to the Gulf of Aqaba, since the term is extended to include the northeastern arm of the Red Sea (see also the note at 13.18).
  38. 24.5 special offerings: Often translated “peace offerings,” which were to make peace between God and his people, who ate certain parts of the sacrificed animal.
  39. 24.10 sapphire: A precious stone, blue in color.
  40. 25.7 onyx: A precious stone with bands of different colors.
  41. 25.22 I will meet you there: It was believed that God had his earthly throne on the lid of the sacred chest.
  42. 25.24,25 a gold edging. . . wide: Or “a gold edging around it three inches wide.”
  43. 26.34 place of mercy on its lid: It was believed that God had his earthly throne on the lid of the sacred chest, and from this place he showed mercy to his people.
  44. 28.9-12 onyx: See the note at 25.7.
  45. 28.20 jasper: The stones mentioned in verses 17-20 are of different colors: carnelian is deep red or reddish white; chrysolite is olive green; emerald is green; turquoise is blue or blue green; sapphire is blue; diamond is colorless or white; jacinth is reddish orange; agate has circles of brown and white; amethyst is deep purple; beryl is green or bluish green; onyx has bands of different colors; and jasper is usually green or clear.
  46. 28.30 two small objects: The Hebrew text has “urim and thummim,” which may have been made of wood, stone, or metal, and were used in some way to receive answers from God.
  47. 28.33,34 pomegranates: A bright red fruit that looks like an apple.
  48. 29.9 their sashes: One ancient translation; Hebrew “the sashes of Aaron and his sons.”
  49. 29.14 for the sins of the priests: When a sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins was made for someone other than priests, the part that was not burned on the altar could be eaten by the priests (see Leviticus 5.13; 6.26).
  50. 29.22 right hind leg: This was usually given to the officiating priest (see Leviticus 7.33).
  51. 29.23 each kind of bread: See verses 2,3.
  52. 29.24,26 lift it all up: Or “wave it all.”
  53. 29.32 three kinds of bread: See verses 2,3.
  54. 22.9 the judges: Or “I.”
  55. 30.6 place of mercy: See the note at 26.34.
  56. 30.10 four corners: See 27.2; 30.2.
  57. 31.2 Bezalel: Hebrew “Bezalel, son of Uri and grandson of Hur.”
  58. 31.6 Oholiab: Hebrew “Oholiab son of Ahisamach.”
  59. 32.32 your book: The people of Israel believed that the Lord kept a record of the names of his people, and anyone whose name was removed from that book no longer belonged to the Lord.
  60. 33.6 Mount Sinai: The Hebrew text has “Mount Horeb,” another name for Sinai.
  61. 33.9-11 Joshua: Hebrew “Joshua son of Nun.”