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Israel at Mount Sinai

19 Two months after the Israelites left Egypt, they came to the desert of Sinai. Israel had moved from Rephidim and had come into the desert of Sinai. They had set up camp there in front of the mountain.

Then Moses went up the mountain to Elohim, and Yahweh called to him from the mountain, “This is what you must say to the descendants of Jacob. Tell the Israelites, ‘You have seen for yourselves what I did to Egypt and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to my mountain. If you carefully obey me and are faithful to the terms of my promise,[a] then out of all the nations you will be my own special possession, even though the whole world is mine. You will be my kingdom of priests and my holy nation.’ These are the words you must speak to the Israelites.”

So Moses went down and called for the leaders of the people. He repeated to them all the words that Yahweh had commanded him. All the people answered together, “We will do everything Yahweh has said.” So Moses brought their answer back to Yahweh.

Yahweh said to Moses, “I am coming to you in a storm cloud so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always believe you.” Moses told Yahweh what the people had said.

10 So Yahweh said to Moses, “Go to the people, and tell them they have two days to get ready. They must set themselves apart as holy. Have them wash their clothes 11 and be ready by the day after tomorrow. On that day Yahweh will come down on Mount Sinai as all the people watch. 12 Mark off a boundary around the mountain for the people, and tell them not to go up the mountain or even touch it. Those who touch the mountain must be put to death. 13 No one should touch them. They must be stoned or shot with arrows. No matter whether it’s an animal or a person, it must not live. The people may go up the mountain only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast.”

14 After Moses went down the mountain to the people, he had them get ready, and they washed their clothes. 15 Then Moses said to the people, “Be ready two days from now. Don’t disqualify yourselves by having sexual intercourse.”

16 On the morning of the second day, there was thunder and lightning with a heavy cloud over the mountain, and a very loud blast from a ram’s horn was heard. All the people in the camp shook with fear. 17 Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with Elohim, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 All of Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because Yahweh had come down on it in fire. Smoke rose from the mountain like the smoke from a kiln, and the whole mountain shook violently. 19 As the sound of the horn grew louder and louder, Moses was speaking, and the voice of Elohim answered him.

20 Yahweh came down on top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up. 21 Yahweh said to him, “Go down and warn the people not to force their way through the boundary to see Yahweh, or many of them will die. 22 Even the priests who are allowed to come near Yahweh must set themselves apart as holy, or Yahweh will violently kill them.”

23 Moses said to Yahweh, “The people can’t come up Mount Sinai, because you warned us yourself to mark off a boundary around the mountain and consider it holy.”

24 Yahweh said to him, “Go down, and bring Aaron back with you. But the priests and the people must not force their way through the boundary to come up to Yahweh, or he will violently kill them.”

25 So Moses went down to the people and told them.


  1. Exodus 19:5 Or “terms of my covenant.”