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Exodus Chapter 19
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The Ten Commandments
19:1 In the third month after the Israelites left Egypt, on the first of the month, they came to the desert of Sinai.
19:2 They had departed from Rephidim and had arrived in the Sinai Desert, camping in the wilderness. Israel camped opposite the mountain.
19:3 Moses went up to God. God called to him from the mountain and said, 'This is what you must say to the family of Jacob and tell the Israelites:
19:4 'You saw what I did in Egypt, carrying you on eagles' wings and bringing you to Me.
19:5 Now if you obey Me and keep My covenant, you shall be My special treasure among all nations, even though all the world is Mine.
19:6 You will be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation to Me.' These are the words that you must relate to the Israelites.'
19:7 Moses came [back] and summoned the elders of the people, conveying to them all that God had said.
19:8 All the people answered as one and said, 'All that God has spoken, we will do.'

Moses brought the people's reply back to God.

19:9 God said to Moses, 'I will come to you in a thick cloud, so that all the people will hear when I speak to you. They will then believe in you forever.'

Moses told God the people's response [to that].

19:10 God said to Moses, 'Go to the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow. Let them [even] immerse their clothing.
19:11 They will then be ready for the third day, for on the third day, God will descend on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.
19:12 'Set a boundary for the people around [the mountain], and tell them to be careful not to climb the mountain, or [even] to touch its edge. Anyone touching the mountain will be put to death.
19:13 You will not have to lay a hand on him for he will be stoned or cast down. Neither man nor beast will be allowed to live. But when the trumpet is sounded with a long blast, they will then be allowed to climb the mountain.'
19:14 Moses went down from the mountain to the people. He sanctified them, and they immersed [themselves and] their clothing.
19:15 Moses said to the people, 'Keep yourselves in readiness for three days. Do not come near a woman.'
19:16 The third day arrived. There was thunder and lightning in the morning, with a heavy cloud on the mountain, and an extremely loud blast of a ram's horn. The people in the camp trembled.
19:17 Moses led the people out of the camp toward the Divine Presence. They stood transfixed at the foot of the mountain.
19:18 Mount Sinai was all in smoke because of the Presence that had come down on it. God was in the fire, and its smoke went up like the smoke of a lime kiln. The entire mountain trembled violently.
19:19 There was the sound of a ram's horn, increasing in volume to a great degree. Moses spoke, and God replied with a Voice.
19:20 God came down on Mount Sinai, to the peak of the mountain. He summoned Moses to the mountain peak, and Moses climbed up.
19:21 God said to Moses, 'Go back down and warn the people that they must not cross the boundary in order to see the Divine, because this will cause many to die.
19:22 The priests, who [usually] come near the Divine must also sanctify themselves, or else God will send destruction among them.'
19:23 Moses replied to God, 'The people cannot climb Mount Sinai. You already warned them to set a boundary around the mountain and to declare it sacred.'
19:24 God said to him, 'Go down. You can then come [back] up along with Aaron. But the priests and the [other] people must not violate the boundary to go up to the Divine; if they do, He will send destruction among them.'
19:25 Moses went down to the people and conveyed this to them.



Commentary:

first of the month
  (Shabbath 86b; Mekhilta; Targum Yonathan; Rashi; cf. Ibn Ezra). Literally, 'on that day.' This was the first of the Hebrew month of Sivan, around June.

desert of Sinai
  This might have occurred before Jethro came; see Exodus 18:5. Alternatively, they may still have been in Rephidim, but since Jethro was coming from the east, he may have sent word to Moses when he arrived at 'God's Mountain.'

Rephidim
  See Exodus 17:1,8.

up to God
  Through meditation (Abarbanel. Cf. Moreh Nevukhim 1:10).

family of Jacob
  See note on Exodus 16:31.

special treasure
  (Rashi; Ibn Ezra; Septuagint). Cf. Ecclesiastes 2:8, 1 Chronicles 29:3. The word is often used to denote Israel's special status as a chosen people; Deuteronomy 7:6, 14:2, 26:18. Or 'beloved' (Targum). Alternatively, 'then you must belong to Me exclusively' (Hirsch).

even though
  (Ibn Ezra). Or, 'because all the world is Mine' (cf. Rashbam); Or, 'among all the nations that are on the face of the earth' (Targum Yonathan).

people's response...
  (Rashi).

even
  They must also immerse their bodies (Mekhilta; Ramban; Chizzkuni; cf. Leviticus 17:16). See Exodus 19:14. Along with circumcision (Exodus 12:48), this was part of the conversion process through which the Israelites entered the covenant of the Torah (Yevamoth 46b).

immerse
  In Torah law, 'washing' always denotes immersion in a mikvah or other natural body of water (cf. 2 Kings 5:10,14).

third day
  This was said on the 4th of Sivan, and the Commandments would be given on the 6th.

descend
  Reveal Himself to people who are otherwise unworthy (cf. Moreh Nevukhim 1:10).

You will not have to...
  (Targum Yonathan). Or, 'Do not touch him with your hand' (Lekach Tov; Rashbam; Ibn Ezra; Baaley Tosafoth). Or, 'Let no hand touch [the mountain]' (Mekhilta).

cast down
  (Sanhedrin 45a; Rashi; MeAm Lo'ez; cf. Malbim; Hirsch). Or, 'he shall be stoned or shot [with an arrow]' (Rashbam; Ibn Ezra; Bachya; Abarbanel; cf. 2 Chronicles 26:15) or, 'He will be stoned or killed with lightning bolts' (Targum Yonathan). Others, 'Let no man touch [the mountain] with his hand, for he must then be put to death by stoning [after being] thrown down' (Mekhilta; Sanhedrin 45a) See Exodus 21:31, Leviticus 4:23.

trumpet
  Yovel in Hebrew. The ram's horn mentioned Exodus 19:16 (Rashi; Ibn Ezra; Targum). See Joshua 6:5. Also see Leviticus 25:10.

Do not come near...
  Some say that the narrative continues with Exodus 24:1.

thunder
  Or 'noises.' See Exodus 20:15. There was also a heavy rain and great winds (Judges 5:4, Psalms 68:9, 77:18; Josephus 3:5:2).

Divine Presence
  (cf. Targum; Mekhilta; Rashi). Literally, 'God.'

lime kiln
  (Rashi). See Genesis 19:28.

warn
  (Rashi). Literally, 'bear witness.' See Exodus 19:23.

come back up...
  See Exodus 24:12.





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