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The Ten Commandments

Moses called together all the Israelites and said to them, “Israelites, listen to the laws and rules that I tell you today. Learn these laws and be sure to obey them. The Lord our God made an agreement with us at Mount Horeb. The Lord did not make this agreement with our ancestors, but with us—yes, with all of us who are alive here today. The Lord spoke with you face to face at that mountain. He spoke to you from the fire. But you were afraid of the fire. And you did not go up the mountain. So I stood between you and the Lord to tell you what the Lord said. He said,

‘I am the Lord your God. I am the one who freed you from Egypt, where you were slaves.

‘You must not worship any other gods except me.

‘You must not make any idols. Don’t make any statues or pictures of anything up in the sky or of anything on the earth or of anything down in the water. Don’t worship or serve idols of any kind, because I am the Lord your God. I hate for my people to worship other gods.[a] People who sin against me become my enemies. And I will punish them, and their children, their grandchildren, and even their great-grandchildren. 10 But I will be very kind to people who love me and obey my commands. I will be kind to their families for thousands of generations![b]

11 ‘You must not use the name of the Lord your God to make empty promises. If you do, the Lord will not let you go unpunished.

12 ‘You must keep the Sabbath a special day like the Lord your God commanded. 13 Work six days a week and do your job, 14 but the seventh day is a day of rest in honor of the Lord your God. So on that day no one should work—not you, your sons and daughters, foreigners living in your cities or your men and women slaves. Not even your cattle, donkeys, and other animals should do any work! Your slaves should be able to rest just as you do. 15 Don’t forget that you were slaves in the land of Egypt. The Lord your God brought you out of Egypt with his great power and made you free. That is why the Lord your God commands you to always make the Sabbath a special day.

16 ‘You must honor your father and your mother. The Lord your God has commanded you to do this. If you follow this command, you will live a long time, and everything will go well for you in the land that the Lord your God gives you.

17 ‘You must not murder anyone.

18 ‘You must not commit the sin of adultery.

19 ‘You must not steal.

20 ‘You must not tell lies about other people.[c]

21 ‘You must not want another man’s wife. You must not want his house, his fields, his men and women servants, his cattle, or his donkeys. You must not want to take anything that belongs to another person.’”

The People Were Afraid of God

22 Moses said, “The Lord gave these commands to all of you when you were together there at the mountain. He spoke in a loud voice that came from the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness. After he gave us these commands, he didn’t say any more. He wrote his words on two stone tablets and gave them to me.

23 “You heard the voice from the darkness while the mountain was burning with fire. Then all the elders and the other leaders of your tribes came to me. 24 They said, ‘The Lord our God has shown us his Glory and his greatness! We heard him speak from the fire. We have seen today that it is possible to continue living even after God speaks to us. 25 But if we hear the Lord our God speak to us again, surely we will die! That terrible fire will destroy us. We don’t want to die. 26 No one has ever heard the living God speak from the fire like we have and still lived! 27 Moses, you go near and hear everything the Lord our God says. Then tell us everything the Lord tells you. We will listen to you, and we will do everything you say.’

The Lord Speaks to Moses

28 “The Lord heard what you said and told me, ‘I heard what the people said. And that is fine. 29 I only wanted to change their way of thinking—I wanted them to respect me and obey all my commands from the heart. Then everything would be fine with them and with their descendants forever.

30 “‘Go and tell the people to go back to their tents, 31 but you stand here near me. I will tell you all the commands, laws, and rules that you must teach them. They must do these things in the land that I am giving them to live in.’

32 “So you people must be careful to do everything the Lord commanded you. Do not stop following God! 33 You must live the way the Lord your God commanded you. Then you will continue to live, and everything will be fine with you. You will live a long life in the land that will belong to you.

Always Love and Obey God

“These are the commands, the laws, and the rules that the Lord your God told me to teach you. Obey these laws in the land that you are entering to live in. You and your descendants must respect the Lord your God as long as you live. You must obey all his laws and commands that I give you. If you do this, you will have a long life in that new land. Israelites, listen carefully and obey these laws. Then everything will be fine with you. You will have many children, and you will get the land filled with many good things[d]—just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised.

“Listen, people of Israel! The Lord is our God. The Lord is the only God. You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Always remember these commands that I give you today. Be sure to teach them to your children. Talk about these commands when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road. Talk about them when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them on your hands and wear them on your foreheads to help you remember my teachings. Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.

10 “The Lord your God made a promise to your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He promised to give you this land, and he will give it to you. He will give you great and rich cities that you did not build. 11 He will give you houses full of good things that you did not put there. He will give you wells that you did not dig. He will give you vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant, and you will have plenty to eat.

12 “But be careful! Don’t forget the Lord. You were slaves in Egypt, but he brought you out of the land of Egypt. 13 Respect the Lord your God and serve only him. You must use only his name to make promises. 14 You must not follow other gods. You must not follow the gods of the people who live around you. 15 The Lord your God is always with you, and he hates for his people to worship other gods![e] So if you follow those other gods, the Lord will become very angry with you. He will destroy you from the face of the earth.

16 “You must not test the Lord your God like you tested him at Massah. 17 You must be sure to obey the commands of the Lord your God. You must follow all the teachings and laws he has given you. 18 You must do what is right and good—what pleases the Lord. Then everything will go well for you, and you can go in and take the good land that the Lord promised your ancestors. 19 And you will force out all your enemies, just as the Lord said.

Teach Your Children the Things God Did

20 “In the future, your children might ask you, ‘The Lord our God gave you teachings, laws, and rules. What do they mean?’ 21 Then you will say to them, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with his great power. 22 The Lord did great and amazing things. We saw him do these things to the Egyptian people, to Pharaoh, and to the people in Pharaoh’s house. 23 He brought us out of Egypt so that he could give us the land that he promised our ancestors. 24 The Lord commanded us to follow all these teachings. We must respect the Lord our God. Then he will always keep us alive and doing well, as we are today. 25 If we carefully obey the whole law, exactly as the Lord our God told us to, he will say that we have done a very good thing.’[f]

Israel, God’s Special People

“The Lord your God will lead you into the land that you are entering to take for your own. He will force out many nations for you—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites—seven nations greater and more powerful than you. The Lord your God will put these nations under your power. And you will defeat them. You must destroy them completely. Don’t make an agreement with them or show them mercy. Don’t marry any of them, and don’t let your sons or daughters marry any of the people from those other nations. If you do, they will turn your children away from following me. Then your children will serve other gods, and the Lord will be very angry with you. He will quickly destroy you!

Destroy False Gods

“This is what you must do to those nations: You must smash their altars and break their memorial stones into pieces. Cut down their Asherah poles and burn their statues. Do this because you are the Lord’s own people. From all the people on earth, the Lord your God chose you to be his special people—people who belong only to him. Why did the Lord love and choose you? It was not because you are such a large nation. You had the fewest of all people! But the Lord brought you out of Egypt with great power and made you free from slavery. He freed you from the control of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. The Lord did this because he loves you and he wanted to keep the promise he made to your ancestors.

“So remember that the Lord your God is the only God, and you can trust him! He keeps his agreement. He shows his love and kindness to all people who love him and obey his commands. He continues to show his love and kindness through a thousand generations, 10 but the Lord punishes people who hate him. He will destroy them. He will not be slow to punish those who hate him. 11 So you must be careful to obey the commands, laws, and rules that I give you today.

12 “If you listen to these laws, and if you are careful to obey them, the Lord your God will keep his agreement of love with you. He promised this to your ancestors. 13 He will love you and bless you. He will make your nation grow. He will bless your children. He will bless your fields with good crops and will give you grain, new wine, and oil. He will bless your cows with calves and your sheep with lambs. You will have all these blessings in the land that he promised your ancestors to give you.

14 “You will be blessed more than all people. Every husband and wife will be able to have children. Your cows will be able to have calves. 15 The Lord will take away all sickness from you and he will not let you catch any of the terrible diseases that you had in Egypt. But he will make your enemies catch those diseases. 16 You must destroy all the people the Lord your God helps you defeat. Don’t feel sorry for them, and don’t worship their gods! They will trap you—they will ruin your life.

The Lord Promises to Help His People

17 “Don’t say in your heart, ‘These nations are stronger than we are. How can we force them out?’ 18 You must not be afraid of them. You must remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all the people of Egypt. 19 You saw the great troubles he gave them and the amazing things he did. You saw the Lord use his great power and strength to bring you out of Egypt. The Lord your God will use that same power against all the people you fear.

20 “The Lord your God will send the hornet[g] against them. He will do this until he destroys all the people who escaped and tried to hide. 21 Don’t be afraid of them, because the Lord your God is with you. He is a great and awesome God. 22 The Lord your God will force those nations to leave your country little by little. You will not destroy them all at once. If you did, the wild animals would grow to be too many for you. 23 But the Lord your God will let you defeat those nations. He will confuse them in battle, until they are destroyed. 24 He will help you defeat their kings. You will kill them, and the world will forget they ever lived. No one will be able to stop you. You will destroy them all!

25 “You must throw the statues of their gods into the fire and burn them. You must not want to keep the silver or the gold that is on those statues for yourselves. It will be like a trap to you—it will ruin your life. The Lord your God hates those idols. 26 You must not bring any of those disgusting idols into your homes, or you will be destroyed just as they will be. You must treat them as the disgusting things they are! They are to be destroyed.


  1. Deuteronomy 5:9 I hate … gods Or “I am El Kanah—the Jealous God.”
  2. Deuteronomy 5:10 Or “But I will show mercy to thousands of people who love me and obey my commands.”
  3. Deuteronomy 5:20 Or “You must not be a false witness against your neighbor.”
  4. Deuteronomy 6:3 land … things Literally, “land flowing with milk and honey.”
  5. Deuteronomy 6:15 he … gods Or “The Lord your God is El Kanah—the Jealous God.”
  6. Deuteronomy 6:25 Or “The Lord our God will credit us with righteousness if we carefully obey the whole law, exactly as he commanded us.”
  7. Deuteronomy 7:20 hornet A stinging insect like a large wasp or bee. Here, it might mean God’s angel or his great power.

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