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Preparation for Receiving the Covenant at Mount Sinai

19 In the third month after the Israelites[a] went out from the land of Egypt, on this day they came to the Sinai desert. They set out from Rephidim, and they came to the desert of Sinai, and they camped in the desert, and Israel camped there in front of the mountain.

And Moses went up to God, and Yahweh called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you will say to the house of Jacob and you will tell the Israelites,[b] ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and I brought you to me. And now if you will carefully listen to my voice and keep my covenant, you will be a treasured possession for me out of all the peoples, for all the earth is mine,[c] but you, you will belong to me as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you will speak to the Israelites.”[d]

And Moses came and called the elders of the people, and he placed before them all these words that Yahweh had commanded him. And all the people together answered and said, “All that Yahweh has spoken we will do.” And Moses brought back the words of the people to Yahweh. And Yahweh said to Moses, “Look, I am going to come to you in a thick cloud[e] in order that the people will hear when I speak with you and will also trust in you forever.” And Moses told the words of the people to Yahweh.

10 And Yahweh said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. They must wash their clothes, 11 and they must be prepared for the third day, because on the third day, Yahweh will go down on Mount Sinai before the eyes of all the people. 12 And you must set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Guard yourselves against[f] going up to the mountain and touching its edge. Anyone touching the mountain will certainly be put to death. 13 Not a hand will touch it, because he will certainly be stoned or certainly be shot; whether an animal or a man, he will not live.’ At the blowing of the ram’s horn they may go up to the mountain.”

14 And Moses went down from the mountain to the people, and he consecrated the people, and they washed their clothes. 15 And he said to the people, “Be ready for the third day.[g] Do not go near to a woman.”

16 And[h] on the third day, when it was morning, there was thunder and lightning, and a heavy cloud over the mountain and a very loud ram’s horn sound, and all the people who were in the camp trembled. 17 And Moses brought the people out from the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. 18 And Mount Sinai was all wrapped in smoke because Yahweh went down on it in the fire, and its smoke went up like the smoke of a smelting furnace, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. 19 And the sound of the ram’s horn became louder and louder,[i] and Moses would speak, and God would answer him with a voice.

20 And Yahweh went down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain, and Yahweh called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. 21 And Yahweh said to Moses, “Go down, warn the people, lest they break through to Yahweh to see and many from them fall. 22 And even the priests who come near Yahweh must consecrate themselves, lest Yahweh break out against them.” 23 And Moses said to Yahweh, “The people are not able to go up to Mount Sinai, because you yourself warned us, saying, ‘Set limits around the mountain and consecrate it.’” 24 And Yahweh said to him, “Go, go down, and come up, you and Aaron with you and the priests, but the people must not break through to go up to Yahweh, lest he break out against them.” 25 And Moses went down to the people, and he told them.[j]


  1. Exodus 19:1 Literally “sons/children of Israel”
  2. Exodus 19:3 Literally “sons/children of Israel”
  3. Exodus 19:5 Literally “because all of the earth is for me”
  4. Exodus 19:6 Literally “sons/children of Israel”
  5. Exodus 19:9 Literally “the cloud of the cloud”
  6. Exodus 19:12 Literally “watch to/for you”
  7. Exodus 19:15 Literally “for third of days”
  8. Exodus 19:16 Literally “and it was”
  9. Exodus 19:19 Literally “was going and strong very” (compare 2 Sam 3:1)
  10. Exodus 19:25 Or “and he said to them”