Exodus 19-21 Bible in Basic English

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Israel at Mount Sinai

19 1  In the third month after the children of Israel went out from Egypt, on the same day, they came into the waste land of Sinai. 2  And when they had gone away from Rephidim and had come into the waste land of Sinai, they put up their tents in the waste land before the mountain: there Israel put up its tents. 3  And Moses went up to God, and the voice of the Lord came to him from the mountain, saying, Say to the family of Jacob, and give word to the children of Israel: 4  You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I took you, as on eagles' wings, guiding you to myself. 5  If now you will truly give ear to my voice and keep my agreement, you will be my special property out of all the peoples: for all the earth is mine: 6  And you will be a kingdom of priests to me, and a holy nation. These are the words which you are to say to the children of Israel. 7  And Moses came and sent for the chiefs of the people and put before them all these words which the Lord had given him orders to say. 8  And all the people, answering together, said, Whatever the Lord has said we will do. And Moses took back to the Lord the words of the people.

9  And the Lord said to Moses, See, I will come to you in a thick cloud, so that what I say to you may come to the ears of the people and they may have belief in you for ever. And Moses gave the Lord word of what the people had said. 10  And the Lord said to Moses, Go to the people and make them holy today and tomorrow, and let their clothing be washed. 11  And by the third day let them be ready: for on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai, before the eyes of all the people. 12  And let limits be marked out for the people round the mountain, and say to them, Take care not to go up the mountain or near the sides of it: whoever puts his foot on the mountain will certainly come to his death: 13  He is not to be touched by a hand, but is to be stoned or have an arrow put through him; man or beast, he is to be put to death: at the long sounding of a horn they may come up to the mountain. 14  Then Moses went down from the mountain to the people, and made the people holy; and their clothing was washed. 15  And he said to the people, Be ready by the third day: do not come near a woman.

16  And when morning came on the third day, there were thunders and flames and a thick cloud on the mountain, and a horn sounding very loud; and all the people in the tents were shaking with fear. 17  And Moses made the people come out of their tents and take their places before God; and they came to the foot of the mountain, 18  And all the mountain of Sinai was smoking, for the Lord had come down on it in fire: and the smoke of it went up like the smoke of a great burning; and all the mountain was shaking. 19  And when the sound of the horn became louder and louder, Moses' words were answered by the voice of God. 20  Then the Lord came down on to Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain, and the Lord sent for Moses to come up to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. 21  And the Lord said to Moses, Go down and give the people orders to keep back, for fear that a great number of them, forcing their way through to see the Lord, may come to destruction. 22  And let the priests who come near to the Lord make themselves holy, for fear that the Lord may come on them suddenly. 23  And Moses said to the Lord, The people will not be able to come up the mountain, for you gave us orders to put limits round the mountain, marking it out and making it holy. 24  And the Lord said to him, Go down, and you and Aaron may come up; but let not the priests and the people make their way through to the Lord, or he will come on them suddenly. 25  So Moses went down to the people and said this to them.

The Ten Commandments

20 1  And God said all these words: 2  I am the Lord your God who took you out of the land of Egypt, out of the prison-house. 3  You are to have no other gods but me. 4  You are not to make an image or picture of anything in heaven or on the earth or in the waters under the earth: 5  You may not go down on your faces before them or give them worship: for I, the Lord your God, am a God who will not give his honour to another; and I will send punishment on the children for the wrongdoing of their fathers, to the third and fourth generation of my haters; 6  And I will have mercy through a thousand generations on those who have love for me and keep my laws. 7  You are not to make use of the name of the Lord your God for an evil purpose; whoever takes the Lord's name on his lips for an evil purpose will be judged a sinner by the Lord 8  Keep in memory the Sabbath and let it be a holy day. 9  On six days do all your work: 10  But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; on that day you are to do no work, you or your son or your daughter, your man-servant or your woman-servant, your cattle or the man from a strange country who is living among you: 11  For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and the sea, and everything in them, and he took his rest on the seventh day: for this reason the Lord has given his blessing to the seventh day and made it holy.

12  Give honour to your father and to your mother, so that your life may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you. 13  Do not put anyone to death without cause. 14  Do not be false to the married relation. 15  Do not take the property of another. 16  Do not give false witness against your neighbour. 17  Let not your desire be turned to your neighbour's house, or his wife or his man-servant or his woman-servant or his ox or his ass or anything which is his.

The People's Fear

18  And all the people were watching the thunderings and the flames and the sound of the horn and the mountain smoking; and when they saw it, they kept far off, shaking with fear. 19  And they said to Moses, To your words we will give ear, but let not the voice of God come to our ears, for fear death may come on us. 20  And Moses said to the people, Have no fear: for God has come to put you to the test, so that fearing him you may be kept from sin. 21  And the people kept their places far off, but Moses went near to the dark cloud where God was.

22  And the Lord said to Moses, Say to the children of Israel, You yourselves have seen that my voice has come to you from heaven 23  Gods of silver and gods of gold you are not to make for yourselves. 24  Make for me an altar of earth, offering on it your burned offerings and your peace-offerings, your sheep and your oxen: in every place where I have put the memory of my name, I will come to you and give you my blessing. 25  And if you make me an altar of stone do not make it of cut stones: for the touch of an instrument will make it unclean. 26  And do not go up by steps to my altar, for fear that your bodies may be seen uncovered.

The Treatment of Servants

21 1  Now these are the laws which you are to put before them. 2  If you get a Hebrew servant for money, he is to be your servant for six years, and in the seventh year you are to let him go free without payment. 3  If he comes to you by himself, let him go away by himself: if he is married, let his wife go away with him. 4  If his master gives him a wife, and he gets sons or daughters by her, the wife and her children will be the property of the master, and the servant is to go away by himself. 5  But if the servant says clearly, My master and my wife and children are dear to me; I have no desire to be free: 6  Then his master is to take him to the gods of the house, and at the door, or at its framework, he is to make a hole in his ear with a sharp-pointed instrument; and he will be his servant for ever. 7  And if a man gives his daughter for a price to be a servant, she is not to go away free as the men-servants do. 8  If she is not pleasing to her master who has taken her for himself, let a payment be made for her so that she may go free; her master has no power to get a price for her and send her to a strange land, because he has been false to her. 9  And if he gives her to his son, he is to do everything for her as if she was his daughter. 10  And if he takes another woman, her food and clothing and her married rights are not to be less. 11  And if he does not do these three things for her, she has the right to go free without payment.

Laws concerning Acts of Violence

12  He who gives a man a death-blow is himself to be put to death. 13  But if he had no evil purpose against him, and God gave him into his hand, I will give you a place to which he may go in flight. 14  But if a man makes an attack on his neighbour on purpose, to put him to death by deceit, you are to take him from my altar and put him to death. 15  Any man who gives a blow to his father or his mother is certainly to be put to death. 16  Any man who gets another into his power in order to get a price for him is to be put to death, if you take him in the act. 17  Any man cursing his father or his mother is to be put to death. 18  If, in a fight, one man gives another a blow with a stone, or with the shut hand, not causing his death, but making him keep in bed; 19  If he is able to get up again and go about with a stick, the other will be let off; only he will have to give him payment for the loss of his time, and see that he is cared for till he is well. 20  If a man gives his man-servant or his woman-servant blows with a rod, causing death, he is certainly to undergo punishment. 21  But, at the same time, if the servant goes on living for a day or two, the master is not to get punishment, for the servant is his property.

22  If men, while fighting, do damage to a woman with child, causing the loss of the child, but no other evil comes to her, the man will have to make payment up to the amount fixed by her husband, in agreement with the decision of the judges. 23  But if damage comes to her, let life be given in payment for life, 24  Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25  Burning for burning, wound for wound, blow for blow.

Laws concerning Responsibility of Owners

26  If a man gives his man-servant or his woman-servant a blow in the eye, causing its destruction, he is to let him go free on account of the damage to his eye. 27  Or if the loss of a tooth is caused by his blow, he will let him go free on account of his tooth. 28  If an ox comes to be the cause of death to a man or a woman, the ox is to be stoned, and its flesh may not be used for food; but the owner will not be judged responsible. 29  But if the ox has frequently done such damage in the past, and the owner has had word of it and has not kept it under control, so that it has been the cause of the death of a man or woman, not only is the ox to be stoned, but its owner is to be put to death. 30  If a price is put on his life, let him make payment of whatever price is fixed. 31  If the death of a son or of a daughter has been caused, the punishment is to be in agreement with this rule. 32  If the death of a man-servant or of a woman-servant is caused by the ox, the owner is to give their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox is to be stoned. 33  If a man makes a hole in the earth without covering it up, and an ox or an ass dropping into it comes to its death; 34  The owner of the hole is responsible; he will have to make payment to their owner, but the dead beast will be his. 35  And if one man's ox does damage to another man's ox, causing its death, then the living ox is to be exchanged for money, and division made of the price of it, and of the price of the dead one. 36  But if it is common knowledge that the ox has frequently done such damage in the past, and its owner has not kept it under control, he will have to give ox for ox; and the dead beast will be his.

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