Israel Comes to Mount Sinai
1Exactly three months after the people of Israel left Egypt, they came to the Desert of Sinai. 2After they started out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai. They camped there in the desert in front of the mountain.
3Then Moses went up to God. The Lord called out to him from the mountain. He said, “Here is what I want you to say to my people, who belong to Jacob’s family. Tell the Israelites, 4‘You have seen for yourselves what I did to Egypt. You saw how I carried you on the wings of eagles and brought you to myself. 5Now obey me completely. Keep my covenant. If you do, then out of all the nations you will be my special treasure. The whole earth is mine. 6But you will be a kingdom of priests to serve me. You will be my holy nation.’ That is what you must tell the Israelites.”
7So Moses went back. He sent for the elders of the people. He explained to them everything the Lord had commanded him to say. 8All the people answered together. They said, “We will do everything the Lord has said.” So Moses brought their answer back to the Lord.
9The Lord spoke to Moses. He said, “I am going to come to you in a thick cloud. The people will hear me speaking with you. They will always put their trust in you.” Then Moses told the Lord what the people had said.
10The Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people. Today and tomorrow set them apart for me. Have them wash their clothes. 11Have the people ready by the third day. On that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai. Everyone will see it. 12Put limits for the people around the mountain. Tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not go near the mountain. Do not even touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain must be put to death. 13Do not lay a hand on any of them. Kill them with stones or shoot them with arrows. Whether they are people or animals, do not let them live.’ They may go near the mountain only when the ram’s horn gives out a long blast.”
14Moses went down the mountain to the people. After he set them apart for the Lord, they washed their clothes. 15Then he spoke to the people. He said, “Get ready for the third day. Don’t have sex.”
16On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning. A thick cloud covered the mountain. A trumpet gave out a very loud blast. Everyone in the camp trembled with fear. 17Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God. They stood at the foot of the mountain. 18Smoke covered Mount Sinai, because the Lord came down on it in fire. The smoke rose up from it like smoke from a furnace. The whole mountain trembled and shook. 19The sound of the trumpet got louder and louder. Then Moses spoke. And the voice of God answered him.
20The Lord came down to the top of Mount Sinai. He told Moses to come to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up. 21The Lord said to him, “Go down and warn the people. They must not force their way through to see the Lord. If they do, many of them will die. 22The priests approach the Lord when they serve him. But even they must set themselves apart for the Lord. If they do not, his anger will break out against them.”
23Moses said to the Lord, “The people can’t come up Mount Sinai. You yourself warned us. You said, ‘Put limits around the mountain. Set it apart as holy.’ ”
24The Lord replied, “Go down. Bring Aaron up with you. But the priests and the people must not force their way through. They must not come up to the Lord. If they do, his anger will break out against them.”
25So Moses went down to the people and told them.