Israel at Mt. Sinai

Three months after leaving Egypt, the Israelites came to the wilderness of Sinai, where they camped at the foot of the mount. (Exod. 19:1,2) There, God spoke to Moses, and reminded him of their recent deliverance from Egyptian bondage by divine power.—vss. 3,4

God then proposed to Moses his desire to make a covenant with the Israelites, offering to them the opportunity to be “a peculiar treasure, … a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation,” if they would obey his laws and instructions. (vss. 5,6) Moses called together representatives of all the people, and explained the wonderful offer which God had made. In unison, the people answered, “All that the LORD hath spoken we will do.” Moses returned their affirmative response to God.—vss. 7,8

Moses was instructed that prior to the giving of God’s Law to the people, they were to be made ready for this important occasion. Moses was told to “go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes.” On the third day, the people were to gather at the bottom of Mount Sinai.—vss. 9-11
When the people gathered on the third day at the foot of the mount, God’s great power was demonstrated. There was thunder, lightning, and the sound of a trumpet. A thick cloud of smoke covered the mount, and it quaked violently, causing the people to tremble. (vss. 16-19) God told Moses that the people were not to ascend the mount. Only Moses and his brother Aaron were to come up. There, God would give his Law to them, which they in turn would present to the people.—vss. 21-25; Heb. 12:18-21

Exodus, chapters 20-23, provides a record of the laws given to Moses and Aaron by God at Mount Sinai. They covered many different aspects of daily life. There were the “Ten Commandments.” These were followed by laws governing altars and offerings; servants; restitution; social matters; the Sabbath and other festivals; and instructions regarding their eventual conquest of the land of Canaan. Finally, God confirmed his covenant in the presence of Moses, Aaron, Aaron’s sons, and seventy of the elders of Israel.—Exod. 24:1-8

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