Moses on Sinai
1In the third month after the children of Israel had left the land of Egypt, the very same day, they came into the Wilderness of Sinai. 2When they moved out from Rephidim, they came to the Wilderness of Sinai and they camped there; Israel camped at the base of the mountain [of Sinai]. 3Moses went up to God [on the mountain], and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Say this to the house of Jacob and tell the Israelites: 4‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. 5Now therefore, if you will in fact obey My voice and keep My covenant (agreement), then you shall be My own special possession and treasure from among all peoples [of the world], for all the earth is Mine; 6and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation [set apart for My purpose].’ These are the words that you shall speak to the Israelites.”
7So Moses called for the elders of the people, and told them all these words which the Lord commanded him. 8All the people answered together and said, “We will do everything that the Lord has spoken.” And Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord. 9The Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will come to you in a thick cloud, so that the people may hear when I speak with you and may believe and trust in you forever.” Then Moses repeated the words of the people to the Lord.
10The Lord also said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow [that is, prepare them for My sacred purpose], and have them wash their clothes 11and be ready by the third day, because on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai [in the cloud] in the sight of all the people. 12You shall set barriers for the people all around [the mountain], saying, ‘Beware that you do not go up on the mountain or touch its border; whoever touches the mountain must be put to death. 13No hand shall touch him [that is, no one shall try to save the guilty party], but the offender must be stoned or shot through [with arrows]; whether man or animal [that touches the mountain], he shall not live.’ When the ram’s horn sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.” 14So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and sanctified them [for God’s sacred purpose], and they washed their clothes. 15He said to the people, “Be prepared for the third day; do not be intimate with a woman.”
16So it happened on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and flashes of lightning, and a thick cloud was on the mountain, and a very loud blast was sounded on a ram’s horn, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. 17Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood and presented themselves at the foot of the mountain.
The Lord Visits Sinai
18Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord descended upon it in fire; its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently. 19And it happened, as the blast of the ram’s horn grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him with [a voice of] thunder. 20The Lord came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain; and the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and he went up. 21Then the Lord spoke to Moses, “Go down, warn the people, so that they do not break through [the barriers around the mountain] to the Lord to see [Me], and many of them perish [as a result]. 22Also have the priests who approach the Lord consecrate (sanctify, set apart) themselves [for My sacred purpose], or else the Lord will break forth [in judgment] against them [and destroy them].” 23Moses said to the Lord, “The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, because You warned us, saying, ‘Set barriers around the mountain and consecrate it.’ ” 24Then the Lord said to him, “Go down and come up again, you and Aaron with you; but do not let the priests and the people break through [the barriers] to come up to the Lord, or He will break forth [in judgment] against them [and destroy them].” 25So Moses went down to the people and told them [again about God’s warning].