Exodus 19

The Israelites arrive at Sinai mountain

1-2 After the Israelites left Rephidim, they went into the Sinai desert. The Israelites put up their tents in the desert, at the side of Sinai mountain. That happened on the first day of the third month since they came out of Egypt.

3 Moses went up the mountain to speak with God. The Lord spoke to him from the mountain. He said, ‘This is what you must say to the Israelites, Jacob's descendants: 4 “You yourselves have seen what I did against the Egyptians. You know how I took care of you. I carried you carefully, like an eagle carries her babies on her wings. I brought you here to come to me. 5 Now you must be careful to obey me and my covenant with you. Then you will belong to me as my special people. The whole earth belongs to me, and I have chosen you from among all the nations. 6 You will be my priests who serve in my kingdom. You will be a nation that is special to me.” These are the words that you must speak to the Israelites.’

7 So Moses came back down from the mountain. He brought together all the leaders of the Israelites. He told 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 when I speak to you. Then they will always believe what you say.’ Moses told the Lord the words that the people had said.

10 Then 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, I will come down on Sinai mountain, so that all the people see me. 12 Make a line round the edge of the mountain so that the people do not cross it. Say to them, “Be careful! Do not go up the mountain or even touch the edge of it. If any people or animals touch the mountain, they must die. 13 Nobody must go near them. You must throw stones at them to kill them. Or you must shoot arrows at them. You must not let them live, whether they are people or animals.” The people must wait until they hear the sound of a trumpet. When they hear a long noise, then they may go up on the mountain.’

14 Then Moses came down from the mountain to speak to the people. He told them to make themselves ready for God. So the people washed their clothes. 15 Then Moses said to them, ‘Prepare yourselves for the third day. While you wait, do not have sex with your wives, or anyone.’

16 On the morning of the third day, there was thunder and lightning. A thick cloud was there over the mountain. 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 Sinai mountain because the Lord had come down on the mountain, like a fire. The smoke rose up from the mountain, like smoke from a great fire. The whole mountain shook very much. 19 The noise of the trumpet became louder and louder. Moses spoke to God and God answered him with a loud voice.

20 The Lord came down onto the top of Sinai mountain. Then the Lord told Moses that he must come up to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up the mountain. 21 The Lord said to Moses, ‘Go down to the people. Warn them that they must stay away from the mountain. They must not cross the line to try to see me, the Lord. If they do that, many of them will die. 22 Even the priests must make themselves clean before they come near to me. If they do not obey this command, I will punish them. I am the Lord.’

23 Moses said to the Lord, ‘The people cannot come up Sinai mountain. You warned us that we must make a line round the edge of the mountain. You said that we must make the mountain a special place.’

24 The Lord replied, ‘Now go back down. Then bring Aaron up with you. But the priests and the people must stay where they are. They must not try to come up here where I am. If they come across the line, I will punish them.’

25 So Moses went down to the people. He told them what the Lord had said.