Exodus 20

God's 10 special commands

1 Then God spoke all these words:

2 ‘I am the Lord your God. I brought you out of Egypt, the country where you were slaves.

3 You must not have any other gods except me.

4 You must not make any idol for yourself. Do not make a false god in the shape of anything that is in the sky above. Do not make one in the shape of anything on the earth or in the sea. 5 You must not bend down your head to any idol or worship it. I am the Lord your God and I want you to belong to me alone. I will punish children because of the bad things that their fathers have done. I will also punish their children and their grandchildren too. That is how I will punish everyone who turns against me. 6 But I will truly love all those who love me. They are the people who obey my laws. I will continue to love them and their families for ever.

7 You must not speak the name of the Lord your God in a wrong way. The Lord will punish anyone who speaks his name in a wrong way.

8 Remember the Sabbath day. Keep it as a special day for me. 9 You have six days every week to do all your work. 10 But the seventh day is a Sabbath day. It is special for the Lord your God. You must not do any work on that day. Your son and your daughter must not work on that day. Your servants, male or female, must not work on that day. The foreign person who lives among you and even your animals must not work on that day. 11 In six days, the Lord made the heavens, the earth and the sea. He made everything that is in them. But on the seventh day, the Lord rested. So he blessed the Sabbath day and he made it special.

12 Always respect your father and your mother. Then you will live for many years in the land that the Lord your God will give to you.

13 You must not murder anyone.

14 You must not have sex with another person's husband or wife.

15 You must not take another person's things for yourself.

16 You must not say false things against your neighbour.

17 You must not want to take your neighbour's house for yourself. You must not want to take his wife, or his servants, male or female. You must not want to take his ox, or his donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbour.’

The people are very afraid

18 The people heard the loud thunder and they saw the bright lightning. They heard the noise of the trumpet. They saw the smoke on the mountain. They were so afraid that their bodies were shaking. They would not come near. 19 They said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself. We will listen to you. But do not let God speak to us. If he does, we will die.’

20 Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. God has come to test you. He wants you to respect him and to obey him. Then you will not do things that are wrong.’

21 So the people stayed away from the mountain. But Moses walked towards the thick, dark cloud, where God was.

Rules about certain things

22 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell this to the Israelites: “You yourselves have heard me speak to you from heaven. 23 Do not make any idols to take my place. Do not use silver or gold to make an idol that you will worship.

24 Instead, use earth to make an altar for me. You must offer sacrifices to me on the altar. You may take your sheep, your goats or your cows to make burnt offerings or friendship offerings or other sacrifices to me. Make an altar like this in any place that I choose for you to worship me. In those places, I will come to you and I will bless you. 25 You may also use stones from the ground to make an altar for me. But do not use any tools to cut the stones. If you use a tool on the stones, the altar will not be right for you to worship me there.

26 Do not make an altar which has stairs going up to it. If you do that, someone may see under your clothes when you climb up the stairs. Then you would be ashamed.”