The Giving of the Law at Sinai
Exodus 19 - 24


The Law Proposed and Accepted (Exodus 19)

CHAPTER 19
In the third month after the departure of the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai: 2 they departed from Rephidim, and came into the wilderness of Sinai, and encamped in the wilderness; and Israel encamped there before the mountain. 3 And Moses went up to God, and Jehovah called to him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: 4 Ye have seen what I have done to the Egyptians, and how I have borne you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 And now, if ye will hearken to my voice indeed and keep my covenant, then shall ye be my own possession out of all the peoples -- for all the earth is mine -- 6 and ye shall be to me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak to the children of Israel. 

v.6 This was always Jehovah’s desire. However, they never became a nation of priests. But He has saved the best wine until now. See John 4:23 and I Peter 2:5+9.


7 And Moses came and called the elders of the people, and laid before the mall these words which Jehovah had commanded him. 8 And all the people answered together, and said, All that Jehovah has spoken will we do! And Moses brought the words of the people back to Jehovah. 9 And Jehovah said to Moses, Lo, I will come to thee in the cloud’s thick darkness, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee also for ever. And Moses told the words of the people to Jehovah. 10 And Jehovah said to Moses, Go to the people, and hallow them to-day and to-morrow, and let them wash their clothes; 11 and let them be ready for the third day; for on the third day Jehovah will come down before the eyes of all the people on mount Sinai. 12 And set bounds round about the people, saying, Take heed to yourselves, not to go up unto the mountain nor touch the border of it: whatever toucheth the mountain shall certainly be put to death: 13 not a hand shall touch it, but it shall certainly be stoned, or shot through; whether it be a beast or a man, it shall not live. When the long drawn note of the trumpet soundeth, they shall come up to the mountain. 14 And Moses came down from the mountain to the people, and hallowed the people; and they washed their clothes. 15 And he said to the people, Be ready for the third day; do not come near your wives. 16 And it came to pass on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunders and lightnings and a heavy cloud on the mountain, and the sound of the trumpet exceeding loud; and the whole people that was in the camp trembled. 17 And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 And the whole of mount Sinai smoked, because Jehovah descended on it in fire; and its smoke ascended as the smoke of a furnace; and the whole mountain shook greatly. 19 And the sound of the trumpet increased and became exceeding loud; Moses spoke, and God answered him by a voice. 20 And Jehovah came down on mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain; and Jehovah called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. 21 And Jehovah said to Moses, Go down, testify to the people that they break not through to Jehovah to gaze, and many of them perish. 22 And the priests also, who come near to Jehovah, shall hallow themselves, lest Jehovah break forth on them. 23 And Moses said to Jehovah, The people cannot come up to mount Sinai; for thou hast testified to us, saying, Set bounds about the mountain, and hallow it. 24 And Jehovah said to him, Go, descend, and thou shalt come up, thou, and Aaron with thee; but the priests and the people shall not break through to go up to Jehovah, lest he break forth on them. 25 So Moses went down to the people, and told them. 


The Ten Commandments (20:1-17)

CHAPTER 20
And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 I am Jehovah thy God, who have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 4 Thou shalt not make thyself any graven image, or any form of what is in the heavens above, or what is in the earth beneath, or what is in the waters under the earth: 5 thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them; for I, Jehovah thy God, am a jealous GOD, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons to the third and to the fourth generation of them that hate me, 6 and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments. 7 Thou shalt not idly utter the name of Jehovah thy God; for Jehovah will not hold him guiltless that idly uttereth his name. 8 Remember the sabbath day to hallow it. 9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work; 10 but the seventh day is the sabbath of Jehovah thy God: thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy bondman, nor thy handmaid, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates. 11 For in six days Jehovah made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore Jehovah blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. 12 Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be prolonged in the land that Jehovah thy God giveth thee. 13 Thou shalt not kill. 14 Thou shalt not commit adultery. 15 Thou shalt not steal. 16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. 17 Thou shalt not desire thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not desire thy neighbour’s wife, nor his bondman, nor his handmaid, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbour’s. 


The Reaction of the People to God's Fiery Presence (20:18-21)

18 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the flames, and the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled, and stood afar off, 19 and said to Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die. 20 And Moses said to the people, Fear not; for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before you, that ye sin not. 21 And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near to the obscurity where God was. 


The Book of the Covenant (20:22 - 23:33)

Prologue (20:22-26)

22 And Jehovah said to Moses, Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel: Ye have seen that I have spoken with you from the heavens. 23 Ye shall not make beside me gods of silver, and ye shall not make to you gods of gold. 24 An altar of earth shalt thou make unto me, and shalt sacrifice on it thy burnt-offerings, and thy peace-offerings, thy sheep and thine oxen: in all places where I shall make my name to be remembered, I will come unto thee, and bless thee. 25 And if thou make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone; for if thou lift up thy sharp tool upon it, thou hast profaned it. 26 Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon. 

Laws on Slaves: The Hebrew Servant (21:1-11)

CHAPTER 21
And these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them. 2 If thou buy a Hebrew bondman, six years shall he serve; and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. 

v.2 The Hebrew Servant is a picture of the Lord Jesus as a servant in three capacities:

  1. as the perfect servant to the Father (the “Master”),
  2. as a loving bridegroom to the Church (the “wife”), and 
  3. as a faithful shepherd to the house of Israel (the “children”). He has chosen to remain a man forever.
3 If he came in alone, he shall go out alone: if he had a wife, then his wife shall go out with him. 4 If his master have given him a wife, and she have borne him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out alone. 5 But if the bondman shall say distinctly, I love my master, my wife, and my children, I will not go free; v.5 When He had fulfilled His personal service on earth, He would not abandon either His assembly or His people. He is ever God, but ever man, the humbled man, the glorified and reigning man, the subject man. – JND

6 then his master shall bring him before the judges, and shall bring him to the door, or to the door-post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall be his bondman for ever. 
v.6 Thou shalt bring him to the judges - is the acceptance of the penalty of love. The ear was bored, or fastened with an awl to the door. This was done to express that the servant was attached to the house as an obedient slave for ever. The door post is like the cornerstone - it gives the thought of the strength and identity of the household. The pain involved with this dedication ritual is a picture of the suffering on Calvary. The ear of the Lord Jesus was:
  1. digged (prepared) at His incarnation (Psalm 40:6), 
  2. opened morning by morning throughout His life (Isaiah 50:4), 
  3. pierced at His death (Exodus 21:6).
7 And if a man shall sell his daughter as a handmaid, she shall not go out as the bondmen go out. 8 If she is unacceptable in the eyes of her master, who had taken her for himself, then shall he let her be ransomed: to sell her unto a foreign people he hath no power, after having dealt unfaithfully with her. 9 And if he have appointed her unto his son, he shall deal with her after the law of daughters. 10 If he take himself another, her food, her clothing, and her conjugal rights he shall not diminish. 11 And if he do not these three things unto her, then shall she go out free without money. 

Laws on Homicide (21:12-17)

12 He that striketh a man, so that he die, shall certainly be put to death. 13 But if he have not lain in wait, and God have delivered him into his hand, I will appoint thee a place to which he shall flee. 14 But if a man act wantonly toward his neighbour, and slay him with guile, thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die. 15 And he that striketh his father, or his mother, shall certainly be put to death. 16 And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall certainly be put to death. 17 And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall certainly be put to death. 

Laws on Bodily Injuries (21:18-32)

18 And if men dispute, and one strike the other with a stone, or with the fist, and he die not, but take to his bed, 19 -- if he rise, and walk abroad upon his staff, then shall he that struck him be guiltless; only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall cause him to be thoroughly healed. 20 And if a man strike his bondman or his handmaid with a staff, and he die under his hand, he shall certainly be avenged. 21 Only, if he continue to live a day or two days, he shall not be avenged; for he is his money. 22 And if men strive together, and strike a woman with child, so that she be delivered, and no mischief happen, he shall in any case be fined, according as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and shall give it as the judges estimate. 23 But if mischief happen, then thou shalt give life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 branding for branding, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. 26 And if a man strike the eye of his bondman or the eye of his handmaid, and it be marred, he shall let him go for his eye. 27 And if he knock out his bondman’s tooth or his handmaid’s tooth, he shall let him go free for his tooth. 28 And if an ox gore a man or a woman, so that they die, then the ox shall certainly be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be guiltless. 29 But if the ox have gored heretofore, and it have been testified to its owner, and he have not kept it in, and it kill a man or a woman, -- the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death. 30 If there be imposed on him a satisfaction, then he shall give the ransom of his life, according to what is imposed on him. 31 Whether it gore a son or gore a daughter, according to this judgment shall it be done to him. 32 If the ox gore a bondman or a handmaid, he shall give to their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned. 

Laws on Property Damage (21:33 - 22:15)

33 -- And if a man open a pit, or if a man dig a pit, and do not cover it, and an ox or an ass fall into it, 34 the owner of the pit shall make it good, shall give money to the owner of them; and the dead ox shall be his. 35 -- And if one man’s ox gore his neighbour’s ox, and it die, then they shall sell the live ox, and divide the money thereof, and divide the dead also. 36 Or if it be known that the ox have gored heretofore, and its owner have not kept him in, he shall in any case restore ox for ox; and the dead shall be his. 
 
CHAPTER 22
If a man steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it, he shall restore five oxen for the ox, and four sheep for the sheep. 2 If the thief be encountered breaking in, and be smitten so that he die, there shall be no blood-guiltiness for him. 3 If the sun be risen on him, there shall be blood-guiltiness for him; he should have made full restitution: if he had nothing, he would have been sold for his theft. 4 If the stolen thing be actually found alive in his hand, whether it be ox, or ass, or sheep, he shall restore double. 5 If a man shall cause a field or vineyard to be eaten, and put in his cattle, and pasture in another man’s field, of the best of his own field, and of the best of his own vineyard shall he make it good. 6 -- If fire break out, and seize the thorns, and the stacks of corn, or the standing corn, or the field be consumed, he that kindled the fire shall fully make it good. 7 -- If a man deliver unto his neighbour money or stuff to keep, and it be stolen out of the man’s house; if the thief be found, let him restore double; 8 if the thief be not found, the master of the house shall be brought before the judges, to see if he has not put his hand unto his neighbour’s goods. 9 As to all manner of fraud, -- as to ox, as to ass, as to sheep, as to clothing, as to everything lost, of which a man saith, It is this -- the cause of both parties shall come before the judges: he whom the judges shall condemn shall restore double to his neighbour. 10 If a man deliver unto his neighbour an ass, or an ox, or a sheep, or any cattle, to keep, and it die, or be hurt, or driven away, and no man see it11 an oath of Jehovah shall be between them both, that he hath not put his hand unto his neighbour’s goods; and the owner of it shall accept it, and he shall not make it good. 12 But if it have been stolen from him, he shall make it good unto its owner. 13 If it have been torn in pieces, let him bring it as witness: he shall not make good what was torn. 14 -- And if a man borrow anything of his neighbour, and it be hurt, or die, its owner not being with it, he shall fully make it good; 15 if the owner thereof be with it, he shall not make it good; if it be a hired thing, it came for its hire. 

Laws on Society (22:16-31)

16 And if a man seduce a virgin that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall certainly endow her, to be his wife. 17 If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall weigh money according to the dowry of virgins. 18 -- Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. 19 -- Every one that lieth with a beast shall certainly be put to death. 20 -- He that sacrificeth to any god, save to Jehovah only, shall be devoted to destruction. 21 Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him; for ye have been strangers in the land of Egypt. 22 Ye shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. 23 If thou afflict him in any way, if he cry at all unto me, I will certainly hear his cry; 24 and my anger shall burn, and I will slay you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless. 25 -- If thou lend money to my people, the poor with thee, thou shalt not be to him as a usurer: ye shall charge him no interest. 26 -- If thou at all take thy neighbour’s garment in pledge, thou shalt return it to him before the sun goes down; 27 for that is his only covering, his garment for his skin: on what shall he lie down? And it shall come to pass, when he crieth unto me, that I will hear; for I am gracious. 28 Thou shalt not revile the judges, nor curse a prince amongst thy people. 29 -- Thou shalt not delay the fulness of thy threshing-floor and the outflow of thy winepress. The firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto me. 30 Likewise shalt thou do with thy calf, with thy sheep: seven days shall it be with its dam; on the eighth day thou shalt give it me. 31 -- And ye shall be holy men unto me; and ye shall not eat flesh torn in the field: ye shall cast it to the dog. 

Laws on Justice and Neighborliness (23:1-9)

CHAPTER 23
Thou shalt not accept a false report; extend not thy hand to the wicked, to be an unrighteous witness. 2 Thou shalt not follow the multitude for evil; neither shalt thou answer in a cause, to go after the multitude to pervert judgment3 Neither shalt thou favour a poor man in his cause. 4 -- If thou meet thine enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt certainly bring it back to him. 5 If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under its burden, beware of leaving it to him: thou shalt certainly loosen it with him. 6 Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of thy poor in his cause. 7 Thou shalt keep far from the cause of falsehood; and the innocent and righteous slay not; for I will not justify the wicked. 8 And thou shalt take no bribe; for the bribe blindeth those whose eyes are open, and perverteth the words of the righteous. 9 And the stranger thou shalt not oppress; for ye know the spirit of the stranger, for ye have been strangers in the land of Egypt. 

Laws on Sacred Seasons (23:10-19)

10 And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and gather in its produce; 11 but in the seventh thou shalt let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of thy people may eat of it; and what they leave, the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thine olive-tree. 12 -- Six days thou shalt do thy work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest; that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger may be refreshed. 13 And ye shall be on your guard as to everything that I have said unto you; and shall make no mention of the name of other gods -- it shall not be heard in thy mouth. 14 Thrice in the year thou shalt celebrate a feast to me. 15 Thou shalt keep the feast of unleavened bread, (thou shalt eat unleavened bread seven days, as I have commanded thee, in the time appointed of the month Abib; for in it thou camest out from Egypt; and none shall appear in my presence empty;) 16 and the feast of harvest, the first-fruits of thy labours which thou hast sown in the field, and the feast of in-gathering, at the end of the year, when thou gatherest in thy labours out of the field. 17 Three times in the year all thy males shall appear in the presence of the Lord Jehovah. 18 Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread; neither shall the fat of my feast remain all night until the morning. 19 The first of the first-fruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of Jehovah thy God. Thou shalt not boil a kid in its mother’s milk. 

Epilogue (23:20-33)

20 Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee to the place that I have prepared. 
vv.20-25 The Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament was the pre-incarnate Son of God.

21 Be careful in his presence, and hearken unto his voice: do not provoke him, for he will not forgive your transgressions; for my name is in him. 22 But if thou shalt diligently hearken unto his voice, and do all that I shall say, then I will be an enemy to thine enemies, and an adversary to thine adversaries. 23 For mine Angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites; and I will cut them off. 24 Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their deeds; but thou shalt utterly destroy them, and utterly shatter their statues. 25 And ye shall serve Jehovah your God; and he shall bless thy bread and thy water; and I will take sickness away from thy midst. 26 There shall nothing cast their young, nor be barren, in thy land; the number of thy days will I fulfil. 27 I will send my fear before thee, and confound every people to which thou comest, and will make all thine enemies turn their back to thee. 28 And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee. 29 I will not drive them out from before thee in one year: lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee. 30 By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou art fruitful, and possess the land. 31 And I will set thy bounds from the Red Sea even unto the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness unto the river; for I will give the inhabitants of the land into your hand, that thou mayest dispossess them from before thee. 32 Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. 
v.32 Compare Exodus 23:32 with the Gibeonites (Joshua 9:6) and the Canaanites (Judges 1:30, etc.).

33 They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me; for if thou serve their gods, it is sure to be a snare unto thee. 


Ratification of the Covenant (Exodus 24)

CHAPTER 24
And he said to Moses, Go up to Jehovah, thou and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship afar off. 2 And let Moses alone come near Jehovah; but they shall not come near; neither shall the people go up with him. 3 And Moses came and told the people all the words of Jehovah, and all the judgments; and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words that Jehovah has said will we do! 4 And Moses wrote all the words of Jehovah, and rose up early in the morning, and built an altar under the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 And he sent the youths of the children of Israel, and they offered up burnt-offerings, and sacrificed sacrifices of peace-offering of bullocks to Jehovah. 6 And Moses took half the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. 7 And he took the book of the covenant, and read it in the ears of the people; and they said, All that Jehovah has said will we do, and obey! 8 And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant that Jehovah has made with you concerning all these words. 9 And Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up; 10 and they saw the God of Israel; and there was under his feet as it were work of transparent sapphire, and as it were the form of heaven for clearness. 11 And on the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: they saw God, and ate and drank. 12 And Jehovah said to Moses, Come up to me into the mountain, and be there; and I will give thee the tables of stone, and the law, and the commandment that I have written, for their instruction. 13 And Moses rose up, and Joshua his attendant; and Moses went up to the mountain of God. 14 And he said to the elders, Wait here for us, until we return to you; and behold, Aaron and Hur are with you: if any man have any matter, let him come before them. 15 And Moses went up to the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. 16 And the glory of Jehovah abode on mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days; and on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. 17 And the appearance of the glory of Jehovah was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain, before the eyes of the children of Israel. 18 And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and ascended the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.