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The Ten Commandments

(Exodus 20.1-17)

Moses called together the people of Israel and said:

Today I am telling you the laws and teachings that you must follow, so listen carefully. The Lord our God made an agreement with our nation at Mount Sinai.[a] That agreement wasn't only with[b] our ancestors but with us, who are here today. The Lord himself spoke to you out of the fire, but you were afraid of the fire and refused to go up the mountain. So I spoke with the Lord for you, then I told you that he had said:

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.

(A) Do not make idols that look like anything in the sky or on earth or in the ocean under the earth. (B) Don't bow down and worship idols. I am the Lord your God, and I demand all your love. If you reject me and worship idols, I will punish your families for three or four generations. 10 But if you love me and obey my laws, I will be kind to your families for thousands of generations.

11 (C) Do not misuse my name.[c] I am the Lord your God, and I will punish anyone who misuses my name.

12 (D) Show respect for the Sabbath Day—it belongs to me. 13 (E) You have six days when you can do your work, 14 but the seventh day of the week belongs to me, your God. No one is to work on that day—not you, your children, your oxen or donkeys or any other animal, not even those foreigners who live in your towns. And don't make your slaves do any work. 15 This special day of rest will remind you that I reached out my mighty arm and rescued you from slavery in Egypt.

16 (F) Respect your father and mother, and you will live a long and successful life in the land I am giving you.

17 (G) Do not murder.

18 (H) Be faithful in marriage.

19 (I) Do not steal.

20 (J) Do not tell lies about others.

21 (K) Do not desire to possess anything that belongs to another person—not a house, a wife, a husband, a slave, an ox, a donkey, or anything else.

22 (L) When we were gathered at the mountain, the Lord spoke to us in a loud voice from the dark fiery cloud. The Lord gave us these commands, and only these. Then he wrote them on two flat stones and gave them to me.

The People Were Afraid

(Exodus 20.18-21)

Moses said to Israel:

23 When fire blazed from the mountain, and you heard the voice coming from the darkness, your tribal leaders came to me 24 and said:

Today the Lord our God has shown us how powerful and glorious he is. He spoke to us from the fire, and we learned that people can live, even though God speaks to them. 25 But we don't want to take a chance on being killed by that terrible fire, and if we keep on hearing the Lord's voice, we will die. 26 Has anyone else ever heard the only true God speaking from fire, as we have? And even if they have, would they live to tell about it? 27 Moses, go up close and listen to the Lord. Then come back and tell us, and we will do everything he says.

28 The Lord heard you and said:

Moses, I heard what the people said to you, and I approve. 29 I wish they would always worship me with fear and trembling and be this willing to obey me! Then they and their children would always enjoy a successful life.

30 Now, tell them to return to their tents, 31 but you come back here to me. After I tell you my laws and teachings, you will repeat them to the people, so they can obey these laws in the land I am giving them.

Moses said:

32 Israel, you must carefully obey the Lord's commands. 33 Follow them, because they make a path that will lead to a long successful life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

The Most Important Commandment

Moses said to Israel:

The Lord told me to give you these laws and teachings,[d] so you can obey them in the land he is giving you. Soon you will cross the Jordan River and take that land. And if you and your descendants want to live a long time, you must always worship the Lord and obey his laws. Pay attention, Israel! Our ancestors worshiped the Lord, and he promised to give us this land that is rich with milk and honey. Be careful to obey him, and you will become a successful and powerful nation.

(M) Listen, Israel! The Lord our God is the only true God![e] (N) So love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength. (O) Memorize his laws and tell them to your children over and over again. Talk about them all the time, whether you're at home or walking along the road or going to bed at night, or getting up in the morning. Write down copies and tie them to your wrists and foreheads to help you obey them. Write these laws on the door frames of your homes and on your town gates.

Worship Only the Lord

Moses said to Israel:

10 (P) The Lord promised your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that he would give you this land. Now he will take you there and give you large towns, with good buildings that you didn't build, 11 and houses full of good things that you didn't put there. The Lord will give you wells[f] that you didn't have to dig, and vineyards and olive orchards that you didn't have to plant. But when you have eaten so much that you can't eat any more, 12 don't forget it was the Lord who set you free from slavery and brought you out of Egypt. 13 (Q) Worship and obey the Lord your God with fear and trembling, and promise that you will be loyal to him.

14 Don't have anything to do with gods that are worshiped by the nations around you. 15 If you worship other gods, the Lord will be furious and wipe you off the face of the earth. The Lord your God is with you, 16 (R) so don't try to make him prove that he can help you, as you did at Massah.[g] 17 Always obey the laws that the Lord has given you 18-19 and live in a way that pleases him. Then you will be able to go in and take this good land from your enemies, just as he promised your ancestors.

20 Someday your children will ask, “Why did the Lord give us these laws and teachings?”

21 Then you will answer:

We were slaves of the king of Egypt, but the Lord used his great power and set us free. 22 We saw him perform miracles and make horrible things happen to the king, his officials, and everyone else. 23 The Lord rescued us from Egypt, so he could bring us into this land, as he had promised our ancestors. 24-25 That's why the Lord our God demands that we obey his laws and worship him with fear and trembling. And if we do, he will protect us and help us be successful.

Force the Other Nations Out of the Land

(Exodus 34.11-16)

Moses said:

(S) People of Israel, the Lord your God will help you take the land of the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. These seven nations have more people and are stronger than Israel, but when you attack them, the Lord will force them out of the land. Then you must destroy them without mercy. Don't make any peace treaties with them, and don't let your sons and daughters marry any of them. If you do, those people will lead your descendants to worship other gods and to turn their backs on the Lord. That will make him very angry, and he will quickly destroy Israel.

(T) So when you conquer these nations, tear down the altars where they worship their gods. Break up their sacred stones, cut down the poles that they use in worshiping the goddess Asherah, and throw their idols in the fire.

The Lord's Chosen People

Moses said:

(U) Israel, you are the chosen people of the Lord your God. There are many nations on this earth, but he chose only Israel to be his very own. You were the weakest of all nations, but the Lord chose you because he loves you and because he had made a promise to your ancestors. Then with his mighty arm, he rescued you from the king of Egypt, who had made you his slaves.

(V) You know that the Lord your God is the only true God. So love him and obey his commands, and he will faithfully keep his agreement with you and your descendants for a thousand generations. 10 But if you turn against the Lord, he will quickly destroy you. 11 So be sure to obey his laws and teachings I am giving you today.

The Lord Will Bless You if You Obey

(Deuteronomy 28.1-14; Leviticus 26.3-13)

Moses said to Israel:

12 (W) If you completely obey these laws, the Lord your God will be loyal and keep the agreement he made with you, just as he promised our ancestors. 13 The Lord will love you and bless you by giving you many children and plenty of food, wine, and olive oil. Your herds of cattle will have many calves, and your flocks of sheep will have many lambs. 14 God will bless you more than any other nation—your families will grow and your livestock increase. 15 You will no longer suffer with the same horrible diseases that you sometimes had in Egypt. You will be healthy, but the Lord will make your enemies suffer from those diseases.

Destroy the Nations and Their Gods

Moses said to Israel:

16 When the Lord helps you defeat your enemies, you must destroy them without pity! And don't get trapped into worshiping their gods.

17 You may be thinking, “How can we destroy these nations? They are more powerful than we are.” 18 But stop worrying! Just remember what the Lord your God did to Egypt and its king. 19 You saw how the Lord used his tremendous power to work great miracles and bring you out of Egypt. And he will again work miracles for you when you face these enemies you fear so much. 20 Some of them may try to survive by hiding from you, but the Lord will make them panic, and soon they will be dead.[h] 21 So don't be frightened when you meet them in battle. The Lord your God is great and fearsome, and he will fight at your side.

22 As you attack these nations, the Lord will force them out little by little. He won't let you get rid of them all at once—if he did, there wouldn't be enough people living in the land to keep down the number of wild animals. 23-24 But when you attack your enemies, the Lord will make them panic, and you will easily destroy them. You will defeat their kings one after another until they are gone, and no one will remember they ever lived.

25 After you conquer a nation, burn their idols. Don't get trapped into wanting the silver or gold on an idol. Even the metal on an idol is disgusting to the Lord, 26 so destroy it. If you bring it home with you, both you and your house will be destroyed. Stay away from those disgusting idols!


  1. 5.2 Mount Sinai: See the note at 1.1-5.
  2. 5.3 wasn't only with: Hebrew “wasn't with.”
  3. 5.11 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.
  4. 6.1 these laws and teachings: Or “the following commandment with its laws and teachings” (see 6.4,5).
  5. 6.4 The Lord … true God: Or “Only the Lord is our God.”
  6. 6.11 wells: Cisterns cut into the rock to collect rainwater.
  7. 6.16 Massah: See Exodus 17.1-7; Numbers 20.2-13.
  8. 7.20 make them … dead: Or “send hornets to kill them.”

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