Exodus 19-21 World English Bible

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Israel at Mount Sinai

19 1  In the third month after the children of Israel had gone forth out of the land of Egypt, on that same day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. 2  When they had departed from Rephidim, and had come to the wilderness of Sinai, they encamped in the wilderness; and there Israel encamped before the mountain. 3  Moses went up to God, and Yahweh called to him out of the mountain, saying, “This is what you shall tell the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: 4  ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to myself. 5  Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice, and keep my covenant, then you shall be my own possession from among all peoples; for all the earth is mine; 6  and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” 7  Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which Yahweh commanded him. 8  All the people answered together, and said, “All that Yahweh has spoken we will do.”

Moses reported the words of the people to Yahweh.

9  Yahweh said to Moses, “Behold, I come to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe you forever.” Moses told the words of the people to Yahweh. 10  Yahweh said to Moses, “Go to the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments, 11  and be ready against the third day; for on the third day Yahweh will come down in the sight of all the people on Mount Sinai. 12  You shall set bounds to the people all around, saying, ‘Be careful that you don’t go up onto the mountain, or touch its border. Whoever touches the mountain shall be surely put to death. 13  No hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned or shot through; whether it is animal or man, he shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds long, they shall come up to the mountain.” 14  Moses went down from the mountain to the people, and sanctified the people; and they washed their clothes. 15  He said to the people, “Be ready by the third day. Don’t have sexual relations with a woman.”

16  It happened on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain, and the sound of an exceedingly loud trumpet; and all the people who were in the camp trembled. 17  Moses led the people out of the camp to meet God; and they stood at the lower part of the mountain. 18  Mount Sinai, all it, smoked, because Yahweh descended on it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. 19  When the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by a voice. 20  Yahweh came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. Yahweh called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. 21  Yahweh said to Moses, “Go down, warn the people, lest they break through to Yahweh to gaze, and many of them perish. 22  Let the priests also, who come near to Yahweh, sanctify themselves, lest Yahweh break forth on them.” 23  Moses said to Yahweh, “The people can’t come up to Mount Sinai, for you warned us, saying, ‘Set bounds around the mountain, and sanctify it.’” 24  Yahweh said to him, “Go down and you shall bring Aaron up with you, but don’t let the priests and the people break through to come up to Yahweh, lest he break forth on them.” 25  So Moses went down to the people, and told them.

The Ten Commandments

20 1  God [1] spoke all these words, saying, 2  “I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3  “You shall have no other gods before me. 4  “You shall not make for yourselves an idol, nor any image of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 5  you shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them, for I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and on the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6  and showing loving kindness to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. 7  “You shall not take the name of Yahweh your God in vain, for Yahweh will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. 8  “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9  You shall labor six days, and do all your work, 10  but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your God. You shall not do any work in it, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your livestock, nor your stranger who is within your gates; 11  for in six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore Yahweh blessed the Sabbath day, and made it holy.

12  “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which Yahweh your God gives you. 13  “You shall not murder. 14  “You shall not commit adultery. 15  “You shall not steal. 16  “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. 17  “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

The People's Fear

18  All the people perceived the thunderings, the lightnings, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking. When the people saw it, they trembled, and stayed at a distance. 19  They said to Moses, “Speak with us yourself, and we will listen; but don’t let God speak with us, lest we die.” 20  Moses said to the people, “Don’t be afraid, for God has come to test you, and that his fear may be before you, that you won’t sin.” 21  The people stayed at a distance, and Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.

22  Yahweh said to Moses, “This is what you shall tell the children of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen that I have talked with you from heaven. 23  You shall most certainly not make alongside of me gods of silver, or gods of gold for yourselves. 24  You shall make an altar of earth for me, and shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your cattle. In every place where I record my name I will come to you and I will bless you. 25  If you make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of cut stones; for if you lift up your tool on it, you have polluted it. 26  Neither shall you go up by steps to my altar, that your nakedness may not be exposed to it.’

The Treatment of Servants

21 1  “Now these are the ordinances which you shall set before them. 2  “If you buy a Hebrew servant, he shall serve six years and in the seventh he shall go out free without paying anything. 3  If he comes in by himself, he shall go out by himself. If he is married, then his wife shall go out with him. 4  If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself. 5  But if the servant shall plainly say, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children. I will not go out free;’ 6  then his master shall bring him to God, and shall bring him to the door or to the doorpost, and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall serve him for ever. 7  “If a man sells his daughter to be a female servant, she shall not go out as the male servants do. 8  If she doesn’t please her master, who has married her to himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, seeing he has dealt deceitfully with her. 9  If he marries her to his son, he shall deal with her after the manner of daughters. 10  If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, and her marital rights. 11  If he doesn’t do these three things for her, she may go free without paying any money.

Laws concerning Acts of Violence

12  “One who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death, 13  but not if it is unintentional, but God allows it to happen: then I will appoint you a place where he shall flee. 14  If a man schemes and comes presumptuously on his neighbor to kill him, you shall take him from my altar, that he may die. 15  “Anyone who attacks his father or his mother shall be surely put to death. 16  “Anyone who kidnaps someone and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death. 17  “Anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. 18  “If men quarrel and one strikes the other with a stone, or with his fist, and he doesn’t die, but is confined to bed; 19  if he rises again and walks around with his staff, then he who struck him shall be cleared: only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall provide for his healing until he is thoroughly healed. 20  “If a man strikes his servant or his maid with a rod, and he dies under his hand, he shall surely be punished. 21  Notwithstanding, if he gets up after a day or two, he shall not be punished, for he is his property.

22  “If men fight and hurt a pregnant woman so that she gives birth prematurely, and yet no harm follows, he shall be surely fined as much as the woman’s husband demands and the judges allow. 23  But if any harm follows, then you must take life for life, 24  eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25  burning for burning, wound for wound, and bruise for bruise.

Laws concerning Responsibility of Owners

26  “If a man strikes his servant’s eye, or his maid’s eye, and destroys it, he shall let him go free for his eye’s sake. 27  If he strikes out his male servant’s tooth, or his female servant’s tooth, he shall let him go free for his tooth’s sake. 28  “If a bull gores a man or a woman to death, the bull shall surely be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the bull shall not be held responsible. 29  But if the bull had a habit of goring in the past, and it has been testified to its owner, and he has not kept it in, but it has killed a man or a woman, the bull shall be stoned, and its owner shall also be put to death. 30  If a ransom is laid on him, then he shall give for the redemption of his life whatever is laid on him. 31  Whether it has gored a son or has gored a daughter, according to this judgment it shall be done to him. 32  If the bull gores a male servant or a female servant, thirty shekels of silver shall be given to their master, and the ox shall be stoned. 33  “If a man opens a pit, or if a man digs a pit and doesn’t cover it, and a bull or a donkey falls into it, 34  the owner of the pit shall make it good. He shall give money to its owner, and the dead animal shall be his. 35  “If one man’s bull injures another’s, so that it dies, then they shall sell the live bull, and divide its price; and they shall also divide the dead animal. 36  Or if it is known that the bull was in the habit of goring in the past, and its owner has not kept it in, he shall surely pay bull for bull, and the dead animal shall be his own.

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Footnotes

[1] 20:1 After “God,” the Hebrew has the two letters “Aleph Tav” (the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet), not as a word, but as a grammatical marker.

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