Preparing for the Covenant
1 Exactly two months after the Israelites had left Egypt, they arrived at the wilderness of Sinai. 2 They arrived there coming from Rephidim and camped in the wilderness of Sinai.
3 The Israelites camped there in front of the mountain, but Moses went up to God and Yahweh called to him from the mountain, saying, “This is what you are to say and to explain to the Israelites: 4 You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I carried you on eagle’s wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now if you listen to me and keep my covenant, you shall be my very own possession among all the nations. For all the earth is mine, 6 but you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
6 And he added, “This is what you are to say to the people of Israel.”
7 So Moses went and summoned all the elders of the people and related to them all that Yahweh had commanded him to say. 8 All the people responded with one voice, “All that Yahweh has said, we will do.” Moses then brought back to Yahweh the people’s response.
9 Yahweh spoke to Moses, “I am go ing to come to you in a dense cloud so that the people may hear me speaking with you and trust you always.” Then Moses related to Yahweh what the peo ple had said.
10 Again Yahweh spoke to Moses, “Go to the people and have them sanctified today and tomorrow; let them wash their garments 11 and be ready for the third day. For on the third day Yahweh will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12 You will fix a limit for the people all around, saying: ‘Take care not to go up to the moun tain or touch its base. Whoever touches the mountain will die. 13 No hand shall touch him but he will be stoned or shot down by arrows; be it man or beast he shall not live.’ Only when the ram’s horn sounds may some of them go up to the mountain.”
14 Moses came down from the moun tain to the people and purified them, and they washed their garments. 15 He then said to the people, “Be ready in three days and abstain from sexual relations.”
16 On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning and a dense cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast was heard. All the people in the camp trembled. 17 Moses then made the people leave the camp to meet God and stand at the foot of the mountain.
18 Mount Sinai was completely covered in smoke because Yahweh had come down in fire, and the smoke rose as from a furnace. The whole mountain shook violently, 19 while the blast of the trumpet be came louder and louder. Mo ses spoke and God replied in thunder.
20 When Yahweh had come down to the summit of Mount Sinai, God called Moses who went to the summit 21 where Yahweh said to him, “Go down and give this warning to the people, lest they rush to see Yahweh and many of them perish. 22 Even the priests who come near Yahweh must purify themselves lest Yahweh break out against them.”
23 Moses answered Yahweh, “The peo ple cannot ascend Mount Sinai be cause you yourself ordered us to put limits around the mountain, and set it apart as holy.” 24 Yahweh re plied, “Go down and bring up Aaron with you, but do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to Yahweh or he will break out against them.”
25 So Moses went down to the people and said to them...