Israel at Sinai
1Exactly three months after the Israelites had left Egypt, they reached the Desert of Sinai. 2They had left Rephidim and had come to the Desert of Sinai. The Israelites camped in the desert in front of Mount Sinai. 3Then Moses went up on the mountain to God. The Lord called to him from the mountain. The Lord said, “Say this to the family of Jacob. And tell this to the people of Israel: 4‘Every one of you has seen what I did to the people of Egypt. You saw how I carried you out of Egypt. I did it as an eagle carries her young on her wings. And I brought you here to me. 5So now obey me and keep my agreement. Do this, and you will be my own possession, chosen from all nations. Even though the whole earth is mine, 6you will be my kingdom of priests. You will be a nation that belongs to me alone.’ You must tell the Israelites these words.”
7So Moses went down and called the elders of the people together. He told them all the words the Lord had commanded him to say. 8And all the people answered together, “We will do everything he has said.” Then Moses took their answer back to the Lord.
9And the Lord said to Moses, “I will come to you in a thick cloud. I will speak to you. The people will hear me talking to you. I will do this so the people will always trust you.” Then Moses told the Lord what the people had said.
10The Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and have them spend today and tomorrow preparing themselves. They must wash their clothes 11and be ready by the day after tomorrow. On that day I, the Lord, will come down on Mount Sinai. And all the people will see me. 12But you must set a limit around the mountain. The people are not to cross it. Tell the people not to go up on the mountain. Tell them not to touch the foot of it. Anyone who touches the mountain must be put to death. 13He must be put to death with stones or shot with arrows. No one is allowed to touch him. Whether it is a person or an animal, he will not live. But the trumpet will make a long blast. Only then may the people go up on the mountain.”
14So Moses went down from the mountain to the people. He made them prepare themselves for service to God. And the people washed their clothes. 15Then Moses said to the people, “Be ready in three days. Do not have physical relations during this time.”
16It was the morning of the third day. There was thunder and lightning with a thick cloud on the mountain. And there was a very loud blast from a trumpet. All the people in the camp were frightened. 17Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet God. They stood at the foot of the mountain. 18Mount Sinai was covered with smoke. This happened because the Lord came down on it in fire. The smoke rose from the mountain like smoke from a furnace. And the whole mountain shook wildly. 19The sound from the trumpet became louder. Then Moses spoke, and the voice of God answered him.
20So the Lord came down on the top of Mount Sinai. Then he called Moses to come up to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up. 21The Lord said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people. They must not force their way through to see me. If they do, many of them will die. 22Even the priests, who may come near me, must first prepare themselves. If they don’t, I, the Lord, will punish them.”
23Moses told the Lord, “The people cannot come up Mount Sinai. You yourself told us to set a limit around the mountain. We made it holy.”
24The Lord said to him, “Go down and bring Aaron with you. But don’t allow the priests or the people to force their way through. They must not come up to the Lord. If they do, I will punish them.”
25So Moses went down to the people and told them these things.