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English Standard Version

Exodus 18:1–20:23

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Jethro’s Advice

18 mJethro, nthe priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for Israel his people, how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt. Now Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, had taken Zipporah, Moses’ wife, after he had sent her home, along with her otwo sons. The name of the one was Gershom (pfor he said, q“I have been a sojourner1 in a foreign land”), and the name of the other, Eliezer2 (for he said, “The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh”). Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife to Moses in the wilderness where he was encamped at the rmountain of God. And when he sent word to Moses, “I,3 your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons with her,” Moses swent out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and tkissed him. And they asked each other of their welfare and went into the tent. Then Moses told his father-in-law uall that the Lord had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, all the hardship that had come upon them in the way, and how the Lord had delivered them. And Jethro rejoiced for all the good that the Lord had done to Israel, in that he had delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptians.

10 Jethro said, v“Blessed be the Lord, who has delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of Pharaoh and has delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that wthe Lord is greater than all gods, because in this affair they xdealt arrogantly with the people.”4 12 And Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and sacrifices to God; and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law ybefore God.

13 The next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening. 14 When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening?” 15 And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because zthe people come to me to inquire of God; 16 awhen they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I bmake them know the statutes of God and his laws.” 17 Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. cYou are not able to do it alone. 19 Now obey my voice; I will give you advice, and God be with you! You shall drepresent the people before God and ebring their cases to God, 20 and you shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know fthe way in which they must walk and gwhat they must do. 21 Moreover, look for hable men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. 22 And ilet them judge the people at all times. jEvery great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will kbear the burden with you. 23 If you do this, God will direct you, you will be lable to endure, and all this people also will go to their place in peace.”

24 So Moses listened to the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said. 25 mMoses chose able men out of all Israel and made them heads over the people, chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. 26 And nthey judged the people at all times. Any hard case they brought to Moses, but any small matter they decided themselves. 27 Then Moses let his father-in-law depart, and ohe went away to his own country.

Israel at Mount Sinai

19 On the third new moon after the people of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that day they pcame into the wilderness of Sinai. They set out from qRephidim and came into the wilderness of Sinai, and they encamped in the wilderness. There Israel encamped before rthe mountain, while sMoses went up to God. tThe Lord called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: u‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how vI bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be wmy treasured possession among all peoples, for xall the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a ykingdom of priests and za holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

So Moses came and called the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. aAll the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” And Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord. And the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am coming to you bin a thick cloud, that cthe people may hear when I speak with you, and may also dbelieve you forever.”

When Moses told the words of the people to the Lord, 10 the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and econsecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them fwash their garments 11 and be ready for the third day. For on the third day gthe Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12 And you shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. hWhoever touches the mountain shall be put to death. 13 No hand shall touch him, but he shall be stoned or shot;1 whether beast or man, he shall not live.’ When ithe trumpet sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.” 14 So Moses jwent down from the mountain to the people and econsecrated the people; fand they washed their garments. 15 And he said to the people, “Be ready for the kthird day; ldo not go near a woman.”

16 On the morning of the kthird day there were mthunders and lightnings and na thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud otrumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp ptrembled. 17 Then qMoses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now rMount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and sthe whole mountain trembled greatly. 19 And as the osound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and tGod answered him in thunder. 20 The Lord came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.

21 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the Lord uto look and many of them perish. 22 Also let the priests who come near to the Lord vconsecrate themselves, lest the Lord wbreak out against them.” 23 And Moses said to the Lord, “The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, for you yourself warned us, saying, x‘Set limits around the mountain and consecrate it.’ ” 24 And the Lord said to him, “Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you. But do not let the priests and the people ybreak through to come up to the Lord, lest he break out against them.” 25 So Moses went down to the people and told them.

The Ten Commandments

20 zAnd aGod spoke all these words, saying,

b“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

c“You shall have no other gods before1 me.

d“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. eYou shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am fa jealous God, gvisiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands2 of those who love me and keep my commandments.

h“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

i“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. jSix days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the kseventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the lsojourner who is within your gates. 11 For min six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

12 n“Honor your father and your mother, othat your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

13 p“You shall not murder.3

14 q“You shall not commit adultery.

15 r“You shall not steal.

16 s“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

17 t“You shall not covet uyour neighbor’s house; vyou shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

18 Now when all the people saw wthe thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid4 and trembled, and they stood far off 19 and said to Moses, x“You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” 20 yMoses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to ztest you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” 21 The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the athick darkness where God was.

Laws About Altars

22 And the Lord said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the people of Israel: ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have btalked with you from heaven. 23 cYou shall not make gods of silver to be with me, nor shall you make for yourselves gods of gold.

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Gershom sounds like the Hebrew for sojourner

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Eliezer means My God is help

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Hebrew; Samaritan, Septuagint, Syriac behold

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Hebrew with them

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That is, shot with an arrow

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Or besides

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Or to the thousandth generation

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The Hebrew word also covers causing human death through carelessness or negligence

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Samaritan, Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate; Masoretic Text the people saw

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