Exodus 19

The Israelites come to Mount Sinai

1 Three whole months after the Israelites left Egypt, they came to the Desert of Sinai. 2 After they left Rephidim, they arrived in the Desert of Sinai. The Israelites put up their tents in the desert, in front of the mountain.

3 Then Moses went up the mountain to God. The LORD spoke to him from the mountain. He said: ‘This is what you must say to Jacob's children and grandchildren and to the Israelites. 4 “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt. You know how I carried you. I carried you like a large bird carries her young birds on her wings. And I brought you to myself. 5 Now, obey me completely and love my promises. Then I will make you my special people that I love. I have chosen you only, from all the people in other countries. The whole world is mine, 6 but you will all become my priests. You will become a special family to me, a family that I can love.” These are the words that you must speak to the Israelites.’

7 So Moses returned and he brought together all the leaders of the Israelites. He repeated to them all the words that the LORD had commanded him. 8 The people all replied together. They said: ‘We will do everything that the LORD has said.’ Then Moses repeated their answer to the LORD.

9 The LORD said to Moses: ‘I will come to you in a thick cloud. Then the people will hear me speak to you. And they will always believe everything that you say.’ Then Moses told the LORD the words that the people had said.

10 And the LORD said to Moses: ‘Go to the people. Make them ready to meet with me. Today and tomorrow they must wash their clothes. 11 They must be ready on the third day. On that day, the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai. And all the people will see him. 12 Do not let the people come too near to the mountain. Say to them: “Be careful! Do not go up the mountain or touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain must die. 13 You must throw stones at him until he dies. Or you must shoot at him with arrows. Nobody must touch him. You must not let him live, whether he is a man or an animal. The people must wait until they hear a loud sound of music. Then they can go up to the mountain.” ’

14 Then Moses came down from the mountain. He commanded the people to make themselves ready for God. And the people washed their clothes. 15 Then Moses said to them: ‘Prepare yourselves for the third day. Do not have sex with anyone.’

16 On the morning of the third day, there was a great storm. The people heard loud thunder and they saw bright lightning. A dark cloud was there over the mountain and the people heard the noise of a loud trumpet. They were so afraid that their bodies were shaking.

17 Then Moses led the people away from their tents to meet with God. They went and they stood at the edge of the mountain. 18 Smoke covered Mount Sinai because the LORD came down on the mountain, like a fire. The smoke rose up from the mountain, like smoke from a great fire. The whole mountain moved about, 19 and the sound of the trumpet became louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.

20 The LORD came down to the top of Mount Sinai. Then the LORD told Moses that he must come to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up the mountain 21 and the LORD spoke to him. He said: ‘Go down to the people. Tell them that they must stay away from the mountain. They must not try to see the LORD. If they do, they will die. 22 Even the priests, who come near to the LORD, must make themselves ready for God. If they do not obey this word, the LORD will be very angry with them.’

23 Moses said to the LORD: ‘The people cannot come up Mount Sinai. You yourself told us that we must put things round the mountain. You told us that we must make the mountain special. You told us that we must stay away from the edge of the mountain.’

24 The LORD replied: ‘Go down. Bring Aaron up with you. But the priests and the people must obey my command. They must not try to come up to the LORD. If they did, the LORD would be very angry with them.’

25 So Moses went down to the people and he repeated these words to them.