Bible Book List

Exodus 20-35 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 20

The Ten Commandments.[a] Then God spoke all these words:

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall not have other gods beside me.[b] You shall not make for yourself an idol or a likeness of anything[c] in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or serve them. For I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their ancestors’ wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation[d]; but showing love down to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

You shall not invoke the name of the Lord, your God, in vain.[e] For the Lord will not leave unpunished anyone who invokes his name in vain.

Remember the sabbath day—keep it holy.[f] Six days you may labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God. You shall not do any work, either you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your work animal, or the resident alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.[g]

12 [h]Honor your father and your mother, that you may have a long life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

13 You shall not kill.[i]

14 You shall not commit adultery.

15 You shall not steal.

16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

17 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female slave, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Moses Accepted as Mediator. 18 Now as all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the blast of the shofar and the mountain smoking, they became afraid and trembled. So they took up a position farther away 19 and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we shall die.” 20 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid, for God has come only to test you and put the fear of him upon you so you do not sin.” 21 So the people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the dark cloud where God was.

The Covenant Code. 22 [j]The Lord said to Moses: This is what you will say to the Israelites: You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from heaven. 23 You shall not make alongside of me gods of silver, nor shall you make for yourselves gods of gold. 24 An altar of earth make for me, and sacrifice upon it your burnt offerings and communion sacrifices, your sheep and your oxen. In every place where I cause my name to be invoked[k] I will come to you and bless you. 25 But if you make an altar of stone for me, do not build it of cut stone, for by putting a chisel to it you profane it. 26 You shall not ascend to my altar by steps, lest your nakedness be exposed.

Chapter 21

Laws Regarding Slaves. These are the ordinances[l] you shall lay before them. When you purchase a Hebrew slave,[m] he is to serve you for six years, but in the seventh year he shall leave as a free person without any payment. If he comes into service alone, he shall leave alone; if he comes with a wife, his wife shall leave with him. But if his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children belong to her master and the man shall leave alone. If, however, the slave declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children; I will not leave as a free person,’ his master shall bring him to God[n] and there, at the door or doorpost, he shall pierce his ear with an awl, thus keeping him as his slave forever.

When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go free as male slaves do. But if she displeases her master, who had designated her[o] for himself, he shall let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has broken faith with her. If he designates her for his son, he shall treat her according to the ordinance for daughters. 10 If he takes another wife, he shall not withhold her food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights. 11 If he does not do these three things for her, she may leave without cost, without any payment.

Personal Injury. 12 [p]Whoever strikes someone a mortal blow must be put to death. 13 However, regarding the one who did not hunt another down, but God caused death to happen by his hand, I will set apart for you a place to which that one may flee. 14 But when someone kills a neighbor after maliciously scheming to do so, you must take him even from my altar and put him to death. 15 Whoever strikes father or mother shall be put to death.[q]

16 A kidnapper, whether he sells the person or the person is found in his possession, shall be put to death.

17 Whoever curses[r] father or mother shall be put to death.

18 When men quarrel and one strikes the other with a stone or with his fist, not mortally, but enough to put him in bed, 19 the one who struck the blow shall be acquitted, provided the other can get up and walk around with the help of his staff. Still, he must compensate him for his recovery time and make provision for his complete healing.

20 When someone strikes his male or female slave with a rod so that the slave dies under his hand, the act shall certainly be avenged. 21 If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property.

22 [s]When men have a fight and hurt a pregnant woman, so that she suffers a miscarriage, but no further injury, the guilty one shall be fined as much as the woman’s husband demands of him, and he shall pay in the presence of the judges. 23 But if injury ensues, you shall give life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

26 When someone strikes his male or female slave in the eye and destroys the use of the eye, he shall let the slave go free in compensation for the eye. 27 If he knocks out a tooth of his male or female slave, he shall let the slave go free in compensation for the tooth.

28 When an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox must be stoned; its meat may not be eaten. The owner of the ox, however, shall be free of blame. 29 But if an ox was previously in the habit of goring people and its owner, though warned, would not watch it; should it then kill a man or a woman, not only must the ox be stoned, but its owner also must be put to death. 30 If, however, a fine is imposed on him, he must pay in ransom[t] for his life whatever amount is imposed on him. 31 This ordinance applies if it is a boy or a girl that the ox gores. 32 But if it is a male or a female slave that it gores, he must pay the owner of the slave thirty shekels of silver, and the ox must be stoned.

Property Damage. 33 When someone uncovers or digs a cistern and does not cover it over again, should an ox or a donkey fall into it, 34 the owner of the cistern must make good by restoring the value of the animal to its owner, but the dead animal he may keep.

35 When one man’s ox hurts another’s ox and it dies, they shall sell the live ox and divide this money as well as the dead animal equally between them. 36 But if it was known that the ox was previously in the habit of goring and its owner would not watch it, he must make full restitution, an ox for an ox; but the dead animal he may keep.

37 When someone steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters or sells it, he shall restore five oxen for the one ox, and four sheep for the one sheep.

Chapter 22

[If a thief is caught[u] in the act of housebreaking and beaten to death, there is no bloodguilt involved. But if after sunrise he is thus beaten, there is bloodguilt.] He must make full restitution. If he has nothing, he shall be sold to pay for his theft. If what he stole is found alive in his possession, be it an ox, a donkey or a sheep, he shall make twofold restitution.

When someone causes a field or a vineyard to be grazed over, by sending his cattle to graze in another’s field, he must make restitution with the best produce of his own field or vineyard. If a fire breaks out, catches on to thorn bushes, and consumes shocked grain, standing grain, or the field itself, the one who started the fire must make full restitution.

Trusts and Loans. When someone gives money or articles to another for safekeeping and they are stolen from the latter’s house, the thief, if caught, must make twofold restitution. If the thief is not caught, the owner of the house shall be brought to God,[v] to swear that he himself did not lay hands on his neighbor’s property. In every case of dishonest appropriation, whether it be about an ox, or a donkey, or a sheep, or a garment, or anything else that has disappeared, where another claims that the thing is his, the claim of both parties shall be brought before God; the one whom God convicts must make twofold restitution to the other.

When someone gives an ass, or an ox, or a sheep, or any other animal to another for safekeeping, if it dies, or is maimed or snatched away, without anyone witnessing the fact, 10 there shall be an oath before the Lord between the two of them that the guardian did not lay hands on his neighbor’s property; the owner must accept the oath, and no restitution is to be made. 11 But if the guardian has actually stolen from it, then he must make restitution to the owner. 12 If it has been killed by a wild beast, let him bring it as evidence; he need not make restitution for the mangled animal.

13 When someone borrows an animal from a neighbor, if it is maimed or dies while the owner is not present, that one must make restitution. 14 But if the owner is present, that one need not make restitution. If it was hired, this was covered by the price of its hire.

Social Laws. 15 When a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed, and lies with her, he shall make her his wife by paying the bride price. 16 If her father refuses to give her to him, he must still pay him the bride price for virgins.[w]

17 You shall not let a woman who practices sorcery live.

18 Anyone who lies with an animal shall be put to death.

19 Whoever sacrifices to any god, except to the Lord alone, shall be put under the ban.

20 You shall not oppress or afflict a resident alien, for you were once aliens residing in the land of Egypt. 21 You shall not wrong any widow or orphan. 22 If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely listen to their cry. 23 My wrath will flare up, and I will kill you with the sword; then your own wives will be widows, and your children orphans.

24 If you lend money to my people, the poor among you, you must not be like a money lender; you must not demand interest from them. 25 If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, you shall return it to him before sunset; 26 for this is his only covering; it is the cloak for his body. What will he sleep in? If he cries out to me, I will listen; for I am compassionate.

27 You shall not despise God,[x] nor curse a leader of your people.

28 You shall not delay the offering of your harvest and your press. You shall give me the firstborn of your sons. 29 You must do the same with your oxen and your sheep; for seven days the firstling may stay with its mother, but on the eighth day you must give it to me.

30 You shall be a people sacred to me. Flesh torn to pieces in the field you shall not eat; you must throw it to the dogs.

Chapter 23

You shall not repeat a false report. Do not join your hand with the wicked to be a witness supporting violence. You shall not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When testifying in a lawsuit, you shall not follow the crowd in perverting justice. You shall not favor the poor in a lawsuit.

When you come upon your enemy’s ox or donkey going astray, you must see to it that it is returned. When you notice the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you should not desert him; you must help him with it.

You shall not pervert justice for the needy among you in a lawsuit. You shall keep away from anything dishonest. The innocent and the just you shall not put to death, for I will not acquit the guilty. Never take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and distorts the words of the just. You shall not oppress a resident alien; you well know how it feels to be an alien, since you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt.

Religious Laws. 10 For six years you may sow your land and gather in its produce. 11 But the seventh year you shall let the land lie untilled and fallow, that the poor of your people may eat of it and their leftovers the wild animals may eat. So also shall you do in regard to your vineyard and your olive grove.

12 For six days you may do your work, but on the seventh day you must rest, that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and that the son of your maidservant and the resident alien may be refreshed. 13 Give heed to all that I have told you.

You shall not mention the name of any other god; it shall not be heard from your lips.

14 Three times a year you shall celebrate a pilgrim feast to me.[y] 15 You shall keep the feast of Unleavened Bread. As I have commanded you, you must eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for it was then that you came out of Egypt. No one shall appear before me[z] empty-handed. 16 You shall also keep the feast of the grain harvest with the first fruits of the crop that you sow in the field; and finally, the feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you collect your produce from the fields. 17 Three times a year shall all your men appear before the Lord God.

18 You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with anything leavened; nor shall the fat of my feast be kept overnight till the next day. 19 The choicest first fruits of your soil you shall bring to the house of the Lord, your God.

You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.[aa]

Reward of Fidelity. 20 See, I am sending an angel before you, to guard you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared. 21 Be attentive to him and obey him. Do not rebel against him, for he will not forgive your sin. My authority is within him.[ab] 22 If you obey him and carry out all I tell you, I will be an enemy to your enemies and a foe to your foes.

23 My angel will go before you and bring you to the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites; and I will wipe them out. 24 Therefore, you shall not bow down to their gods and serve them, nor shall you act as they do; rather, you must demolish them and smash their sacred stones.[ac] 25 You shall serve the Lord, your God; then he will bless your food and drink, and I will remove sickness from your midst; 26 no woman in your land will be barren or miscarry; and I will give you a full span of life.

27 I will have the terror of me precede you, so that I will throw into panic every nation you reach. I will make all your enemies turn from you in flight, 28 and ahead of you I will send hornets[ad] to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way. 29 But I will not drive them all out before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild animals multiply against you. 30 Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have grown numerous enough to take possession of the land. 31 I will set your boundaries from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines,[ae] and from the wilderness to the Euphrates; all who dwell in this land I will hand over to you and you shall drive them out before you. 32 You shall not make a covenant with them or their gods. 33 They must not live in your land. For if you serve their gods, this will become a snare to you.

Chapter 24

Ratification of the Covenant. Moses himself was told: Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, with Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel. You shall bow down at a distance. Moses alone is to come close to the Lord; the others shall not come close, and the people shall not come up with them.

When Moses came to the people and related all the words and ordinances of the Lord, they all answered with one voice, “We will do everything that the Lord has told us.” Moses then wrote down all the words of the Lord and, rising early in the morning, he built at the foot of the mountain an altar and twelve sacred stones[af] for the twelve tribes of Israel. Then, having sent young men of the Israelites to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice young bulls as communion offerings to the Lord, Moses took half of the blood and put it in large bowls; the other half he splashed on the altar. Taking the book of the covenant, he read it aloud to the people, who answered, “All that the Lord has said, we will hear and do.” Then he took the blood and splashed it on the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you according to all these words.”

Moses then went up with Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy elders of Israel, 10 and they beheld the God of Israel. Under his feet there appeared to be sapphire tilework, as clear as the sky itself. 11 Yet he did not lay a hand on these chosen Israelites. They saw God,[ag] and they ate and drank.

Moses on the Mountain. 12 The Lord said to Moses: Come up to me on the mountain and, while you are there, I will give you the stone tablets on which I have written the commandments intended for their instruction. 13 So Moses set out with Joshua, his assistant, and went up to the mountain of God. 14 He told the elders, “Wait here for us until we return to you. Aaron and Hur are with you. Anyone with a complaint should approach them.” 15 Moses went up the mountain. Then the cloud covered the mountain. 16 The glory of the Lord settled upon Mount Sinai. The cloud covered it for six days, and on the seventh day he called to Moses from the midst of the cloud. 17 To the Israelites the glory of the Lord was seen as a consuming fire on the top of the mountain. 18 But Moses entered into the midst of the cloud and went up on the mountain. He was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.

Chapter 25

Collection of Materials. The Lord spoke to Moses: Speak to the Israelites: Let them receive contributions for me. From each you shall receive the contribution that their hearts prompt them to give me. These are the contributions you shall accept from them: gold, silver, and bronze; violet, purple, and scarlet yarn; fine linen and goat hair; rams’ skins dyed red, and tahash[ah] skins; acacia wood; oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; onyx stones and other gems for mounting on the ephod and the breastpiece. They are to make a sanctuary for me, that I may dwell in their midst. According to all that I show you regarding the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of its furnishings, so you are to make it.

Plan of the Ark. 10 You shall make an ark of acacia wood, two and a half cubits[ai] long, one and a half cubits wide, and one and a half cubits high. 11 Plate it inside and outside with pure gold, and put a molding of gold around the top of it. 12 Cast four gold rings and put them on the four supports of the ark, two rings on one side and two on the opposite side. 13 Then make poles of acacia wood and plate them with gold. 14 These poles you are to put through the rings on the sides of the ark, for carrying it; 15 they must remain in the rings of the ark and never be withdrawn. 16 In the ark you are to put the covenant which I will give you.

17 You shall then make a cover[aj] of pure gold, two and a half cubits long, and one and a half cubits wide. 18 Make two cherubim[ak] of beaten gold for the two ends of the cover; 19 make one cherub at one end, and the other at the other end, of one piece with the cover, at each end. 20 The cherubim shall have their wings spread out above, sheltering the cover with them; they shall face each other, with their faces looking toward the cover. 21 This cover you shall then place on top of the ark. In the ark itself you are to put the covenant which I will give you. 22 There I will meet you and there, from above the cover, between the two cherubim on the ark of the covenant, I will tell you all that I command you regarding the Israelites.

The Table. 23 You shall also make a table of acacia wood, two cubits long, a cubit wide, and a cubit and a half high. 24 Plate it with pure gold and make a molding of gold around it. 25 Make a frame[al] for it, a handbreadth high, and make a molding of gold around the frame. 26 You shall also make four rings of gold for it and fasten them at the four corners, one at each leg. 27 The rings shall be alongside the frame as holders for the poles to carry the table. 28 These poles for carrying the table you shall make of acacia wood and plate with gold. 29 You shall make its plates[am] and cups, as well as its pitchers and bowls for pouring libations; make them of pure gold. 30 On the table you shall always keep showbread set before me.

The Menorah. 31 You shall make a menorah[an] of pure beaten gold—its shaft and branches—with its cups and knobs and petals springing directly from it. 32 Six branches are to extend from its sides, three branches on one side, and three on the other. 33 [ao]On one branch there are to be three cups, shaped like almond blossoms, each with its knob and petals; on the opposite branch there are to be three cups, shaped like almond blossoms, each with its knob and petals; and so for the six branches that extend from the menorah. 34 On the menorah there are to be four cups,[ap] shaped like almond blossoms, with their knobs and petals. 35 The six branches that go out from the menorah are to have a knob under each pair. 36 Their knobs and branches shall so spring from it that the whole will form a single piece of pure beaten gold. 37 [aq]You shall then make seven lamps for it and so set up the lamps that they give their light on the space in front of the menorah. 38 These, as well as the trimming shears and trays,[ar] must be of pure gold. 39 Use a talent[as] of pure gold for the menorah and all these utensils. 40 See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.

Chapter 26

The Tent Cloth. The tabernacle itself you shall make out of ten sheets[at] woven of fine linen twined and of violet, purple, and scarlet yarn, with cherubim embroidered on them. The length of each shall be twenty-eight cubits, and the width four cubits; all the sheets shall be of the same size. Five of the sheets are to be joined one to another; and the same for the other five. Make loops of violet yarn along the edge of the end sheet in one set, and the same along the edge of the end sheet in the other set. Make fifty loops along the edge of the end sheet in the first set, and fifty loops along the edge of the corresponding sheet in the second set, and so placed that the loops are directly opposite each other. Then make fifty clasps of gold and join the two sets of sheets, so that the tabernacle forms one whole.

Also make sheets woven of goat hair for a tent[au] over the tabernacle. Make eleven such sheets; the length of each shall be thirty cubits, and the width four cubits: all eleven sheets shall be of the same size. Join five of the sheets into one set, and the other six sheets into another set. Use the sixth sheet double at the front of the tent.[av] 10 Make fifty loops along the edge of the end sheet in one set, and fifty loops along the edge of the end sheet in the second set. 11 Also make fifty bronze clasps and put them into the loops, to join the tent into one whole. 12 There will be an extra half sheet of tent covering, which shall be allowed to hang down over the rear of the tabernacle. 13 Likewise, the sheets of the tent will have an extra cubit’s length to be left hanging down on either side of the tabernacle to cover it. 14 Over the tent itself make a covering of rams’ skins dyed red, and above that, a covering of tahash skins.

The Framework. 15 You shall make frames for the tabernacle, acacia-wood uprights. 16 The length of each frame is to be ten cubits, and its width one and a half cubits. 17 Each frame shall have two arms[aw] joined one to another; so you are to make all the frames of the tabernacle. 18 Make the frames of the tabernacle as follows: twenty frames on the south side, 19 with forty silver pedestals under the twenty frames, two pedestals under each frame for its two arms; 20 twenty frames on the other side of the tabernacle, the north side, 21 with their forty silver pedestals, two pedestals under each frame. 22 At the rear of the tabernacle, to the west, six frames, 23 and two frames for the corners of the tabernacle, at its rear. 24 These two shall be double at the bottom, and likewise double at the top, to the first ring. That is how both corner frames are to be made. 25 Thus, there shall be eight frames, with their sixteen silver pedestals, two pedestals under each frame. 26 Also make bars of acacia wood: five for the frames on one side of the tabernacle, 27 five for those on the other side, and five for those at the rear, to the west. 28 The center bar, at the middle of the frames, shall reach across from end to end. 29 Plate the frames with gold, and make gold rings on them as holders for the bars, which are also to be plated with gold. 30 You shall set up the tabernacle according to its plan, which you were shown on the mountain.

The Veils. 31 You shall make a veil woven of violet, purple, and scarlet yarn, and of fine linen twined, with cherubim embroidered on it. 32 It is to be hung on four gold-plated columns of acacia wood, which shall have gold hooks[ax] and shall rest on four silver pedestals. 33 Hang the veil from clasps. The ark of the covenant you shall bring inside, behind this veil which divides the holy place from the holy of holies. 34 Set the cover on the ark of the covenant in the holy of holies.

35 Outside the veil you shall place the table and the menorah, the latter on the south side of the tabernacle, opposite the table, which is to be put on the north side. 36 For the entrance of the tent make a variegated[ay] curtain of violet, purple, and scarlet yarn and of fine linen twined. 37 Make five columns of acacia wood for this curtain; plate them with gold, with their hooks of gold; and cast five bronze pedestals for them.

Chapter 27

The Altar for Burnt Offerings. You shall make an altar of acacia wood, on a square, five cubits long and five cubits wide; it shall be three cubits high. At the four corners make horns[az] that are of one piece with the altar. You shall then plate it with bronze. Make pots for removing the ashes, as well as shovels, basins, forks, and fire pans; all these utensils you shall make of bronze. Make for it a grating,[ba] a bronze network; make four bronze rings for it, one at each of its four corners. Put it down around the altar, on the ground. This network is to be half as high as the altar. You shall also make poles of acacia wood for the altar, and plate them with bronze. These poles are to be put through the rings, so that they are on either side of the altar when it is carried. Make the altar itself in the form of a hollow[bb] box. Just as it was shown you on the mountain, so it is to be made.

Court of the Tabernacle. You shall also make a court for the tabernacle. On the south side the court shall have hangings, of fine linen twined, a hundred cubits long, 10 with twenty columns and twenty pedestals of bronze; the hooks and bands on the columns shall be of silver. 11 On the north side there shall be similar hangings, a hundred cubits long, with twenty columns and twenty pedestals of bronze; the hooks and bands on the columns shall be of silver. 12 On the west side, across the width of the court, there shall be hangings, fifty cubits long, with ten columns and ten pedestals. 13 The width of the court on the east side shall be fifty cubits. 14 On one side there shall be hangings to the extent of fifteen cubits, with three columns and three pedestals; 15 on the other side there shall be hangings to the extent of fifteen cubits, with three columns and three pedestals.

16 At the gate of the court there shall be a variegated curtain, twenty cubits long, woven of violet, purple, and scarlet yarn and of fine linen twined. It shall have four columns and four pedestals.

17 All the columns around the court shall have bands and hooks of silver, and pedestals of bronze. 18 The court is to be one hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide, and five cubits high. Fine linen twined must be used, and the pedestals must be of bronze. 19 All the fittings of the tabernacle, whatever be their use, as well as all its tent pegs and all the tent pegs of the court, must be of bronze.

Oil for the Lamps. 20 You shall command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of crushed olives, to be used for the light, so that you may keep lamps burning always. 21 From evening to morning Aaron and his sons shall maintain them before the Lord in the tent of meeting, outside the veil which hangs in front of the covenant. This shall be a perpetual statute for the Israelites throughout their generations.

Chapter 28

The Priestly Vestments. Have your brother Aaron, and with him his sons, brought to you, from among the Israelites, that they may be my priests: Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons. For the glorious adornment of your brother Aaron you shall have sacred vestments made. Therefore, tell the various artisans whom I have endowed with skill[bc] to make vestments for Aaron to consecrate him as my priest. These are the vestments they shall make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a brocade tunic, a turban, and a sash. In making these sacred vestments which your brother Aaron and his sons are to wear in serving as my priests, they shall use gold, violet, purple, and scarlet yarn and fine linen.

The Ephod and Breastpiece. The ephod[bd] they shall make of gold thread and of violet, purple, and scarlet yarn, embroidered on cloth of fine linen twined. It shall have a pair of shoulder straps joined to its two upper ends. The embroidered belt of the ephod shall extend out from it and, like it, be made of gold thread, of violet, purple, and scarlet yarn, and of fine linen twined.

Get two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel: 10 six of their names on one stone, and the names of the remaining six on the other stone, in the order of their birth. 11 As a gem-cutter engraves a seal, so shall you have the two stones engraved with the names of the sons of Israel and then mounted in gold filigree work. 12 Set these two stones on the shoulder straps of the ephod as memorial stones of the sons of Israel. Thus Aaron shall bear their names on his shoulders as a reminder before the Lord. 13 Make filigree rosettes of gold, 14 as well as two chains of pure gold, twisted like cords, and fasten the cordlike chains to the filigree rosettes.

15 The breastpiece[be] of decision you shall also have made, embroidered like the ephod with gold thread and violet, purple, and scarlet yarn on cloth of fine linen twined. 16 It is to be square when folded double, a span high and a span wide. 17 [bf]On it you shall mount four rows of precious stones: in the first row, a carnelian, a topaz, and an emerald; 18 in the second row, a garnet, a sapphire, and a beryl; 19 in the third row, a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; 20 in the fourth row, a chrysolite, an onyx, and a jasper. These stones are to be mounted in gold filigree work, 21 twelve of them to match the names of the sons of Israel, each stone engraved like a seal with the name of one of the twelve tribes.

22 When the chains of pure gold, twisted like cords, have been made for the breastpiece, 23 you shall then make two rings of gold for it and fasten them to the two upper ends of the breastpiece. 24 The gold cords are then to be fastened to the two rings at the upper ends of the breastpiece, 25 the other two ends of the cords being fastened in front to the two filigree rosettes which are attached to the shoulder straps of the ephod. 26 Make two other rings of gold and put them on the two lower ends of the breastpiece, on its edge that faces the ephod. 27 Then make two more rings of gold and fasten them to the bottom of the shoulder straps next to where they join the ephod in front, just above its embroidered belt. 28 Violet ribbons shall bind the rings of the breastpiece to the rings of the ephod, so that the breastpiece will stay right above the embroidered belt of the ephod and not swing loose from it.

29 Whenever Aaron enters the sanctuary, he will thus bear the names of the sons of Israel on the breastpiece of decision over his heart as a constant reminder before the Lord. 30 In this breastpiece of decision you shall put the Urim and Thummim,[bg] that they may be over Aaron’s heart whenever he enters the presence of the Lord. Thus he shall always bear the decisions for the Israelites over his heart in the presence of the Lord.

Other Vestments. 31 The robe of the ephod you shall make entirely of violet material. 32 It shall have an opening for the head in the center, and around this opening there shall be a selvage, woven as at the opening of a shirt, to keep it from being torn. 33 At the hem at the bottom you shall make pomegranates, woven of violet, purple, and scarlet yarn and fine linen twined, with gold bells between them; 34 a gold bell, a pomegranate, a gold bell, a pomegranate, all around the hem of the robe. 35 Aaron shall wear it when ministering, that its sound may be heard as he enters and leaves the Lord’s presence in the sanctuary; else he will die.

36 You shall also make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it, as on a seal engraving, “Sacred to the Lord.” 37 This plate is to be tied over the turban with a violet ribbon in such a way that it rests on the front of the turban, 38 over Aaron’s forehead. Since Aaron bears whatever guilt the Israelites may incur in consecrating any of their sacred gifts, this plate must always be over his forehead, so that they may find favor with the Lord.

39 The tunic of fine linen shall be brocaded. The turban shall be made of fine linen. The sash shall be of variegated work.

40 Likewise, for the glorious adornment of Aaron’s sons you shall have tunics and sashes and skullcaps made, for glorious splendor. 41 With these you shall clothe your brother Aaron and his sons. Anoint and install them,[bh] consecrating them as my priests. 42 You must also make linen pants for them, to cover their naked flesh from their loins to their thighs. 43 Aaron and his sons shall wear them whenever they go into the tent of meeting or approach the altar to minister in the sanctuary, lest they incur guilt and die. This shall be a perpetual ordinance for him and for his descendants.

Chapter 29

Consecration of the Priests. This is the rite you shall perform in consecrating them as my priests. Procure a young bull and two unblemished rams. With bran flour make unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers spread with oil, and put them in a basket. Take the basket of them along with the bull and the two rams. Aaron and his sons you shall also bring to the entrance of the tent of meeting, and there wash them with water. Take the vestments and clothe Aaron with the tunic, the robe of the ephod, the ephod itself, and the breastpiece, fastening the embroidered belt of the ephod around him. Put the turban on his head, the sacred diadem on the turban. Then take the anointing oil and pour it on his head, and anoint him. Bring forward his sons also and clothe them with the tunics, gird them with the sashes, and tie the skullcaps on them. Thus shall the priesthood be theirs by a perpetual statute, and thus shall you install Aaron and his sons.

Installation Sacrifices. 10 Now bring forward the bull in front of the tent of meeting. There Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on its head. 11 Then slaughter the bull before the Lord, at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 12 Take some of its blood and with your finger put it on the horns of the altar. All the rest of the blood you shall pour out at the base of the altar. 13 All the fat that covers its inner organs, as well as the lobe of its liver and its two kidneys, together with the fat that is on them, you shall take and burn on the altar. 14 But the meat and hide and dung of the bull you must burn up outside the camp, since this is a purification offering.

15 Then take one of the rams, and after Aaron and his sons have laid their hands on its head, 16 slaughter it. The blood you shall take and splash on all the sides of the altar. 17 Cut the ram into pieces; you shall wash its inner organs and shanks and put them with the pieces and with the head. 18 Then you shall burn the entire ram on the altar, since it is a burnt offering, a sweet-smelling oblation to the Lord.

19 After this take the other ram, and when Aaron and his sons have laid their hands on its head, 20 slaughter it. Some of its blood you shall take and put on the tip of Aaron’s right ear and on the tips of his sons’ right ears and on the thumbs of their right hands and the great toes of their right feet. Splash the rest of the blood on all the sides of the altar. 21 Then take some of the blood that is on the altar, together with some of the anointing oil, and sprinkle this on Aaron and his vestments, as well as on his sons and their vestments, that he and his sons and their vestments may be sacred.

22 Now, from this ram you shall take its fat: its fatty tail,[bi] the fat that covers its inner organs, the lobe of its liver, its two kidneys with the fat that is on them, and its right thigh, since this is the ram for installation; 23 then, out of the basket of unleavened food that you have set before the Lord, you shall take one of the loaves of bread, one of the cakes made with oil, and one of the wafers. 24 All these things you shall put into the hands of Aaron and his sons, so that they may raise them as an elevated offering[bj] before the Lord. 25 After you receive them back from their hands, you shall burn them on top of the burnt offering on the altar as a sweet-smelling oblation to the Lord. 26 Finally, take the brisket of Aaron’s installation ram and raise it as an elevated offering before the Lord; this is to be your own portion.

27 [bk]Thus shall you set aside the brisket of whatever elevated offering is raised, as well as the thigh of whatever contribution is raised up, whether this be the installation ram or anything else belonging to Aaron or to his sons. 28 Such things are due to Aaron and his sons from the Israelites by a perpetual statute as a contribution. From their communion offerings, too, the Israelites shall make a contribution, their contribution to the Lord.

29 The sacred vestments of Aaron shall be passed down to his sons after him, that in them they may be anointed and installed. 30 The son who succeeds him as priest and who is to enter the tent of meeting to minister in the sanctuary shall be clothed with them for seven days.

31 You shall take the installation ram and boil its meat in a holy place. 32 At the entrance of the tent of meeting Aaron and his sons shall eat the meat of the ram and the bread that is in the basket. 33 They themselves are to eat of these things by which atonement was made at their installation and consecration; but no unauthorized person may eat of them, since they are sacred. 34 If some of the meat of the installation sacrifice or some of the bread remains over on the next day, this remnant you must burn up; it is not to be eaten, since it is sacred.

35 Carry out all these commands in regard to Aaron and his sons just as I have given them to you. Seven days you shall spend installing them, 36 sacrificing a bull each day as a purification offering, to make atonement. Thus you shall purify the altar[bl] by purging it, and you shall anoint it in order to consecrate it. 37 Seven days you shall spend in purging the altar and in consecrating it. Then the altar will be most sacred, and whatever touches it will become sacred.

38 [bm]Now, this is what you shall regularly offer on the altar: two yearling lambs as the sacrifice established for each day; 39 one lamb in the morning and the other lamb at the evening twilight. 40 With the first lamb there shall be a tenth of an ephah of bran flour mixed with a fourth of a hin[bn] of oil of crushed olives and, as its libation, a fourth of a hin of wine. 41 The other lamb you shall offer at the evening twilight, with the same grain offering and libation as in the morning. You shall offer this as a sweet-smelling oblation to the Lord. 42 Throughout your generations this regular burnt offering shall be made before the Lord at the entrance of the tent of meeting, where I will meet you and speak to you.

43 There, at the altar, I will meet the Israelites; hence, it will be made sacred by my glory. 44 Thus I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar, just as I also consecrate Aaron and his sons to be my priests. 45 I will dwell in the midst of the Israelites and will be their God. 46 They shall know that I, the Lord, am their God who brought them out of the land of Egypt, so that I, the Lord, their God, might dwell among them.

Chapter 30

Altar of Incense. For burning incense you shall make an altar of acacia wood, with a square surface, a cubit long, a cubit wide, and two cubits high, with horns that are of one piece with it. Its grate on top, its walls on all four sides, and its horns you shall plate with pure gold. Put a gold molding around it. Underneath the molding you shall put gold rings, two on one side and two on the opposite side, as holders for the poles used in carrying it. Make the poles, too, of acacia wood and plate them with gold. This altar you are to place in front of the veil that hangs before the ark of the covenant where I will meet you.

On it Aaron shall burn fragrant incense. Morning after morning, when he prepares the lamps, and again in the evening twilight, when he lights the lamps, he shall burn incense. Throughout your generations this shall be the regular incense offering before the Lord. On this altar you shall not offer up any profane incense, or any burnt offering or grain offering; nor shall you pour out a libation upon it. 10 Once a year Aaron shall purge its horns. Throughout your generations he is to purge it once a year with the blood of the atoning purification offering. This altar is most sacred to the Lord.

Census Tax. 11 The Lord also told Moses: 12 When you take a census of the Israelites who are to be enrolled, each one, as he is enrolled, shall give the Lord a ransom for his life, so that no plague may come upon them for being enrolled. 13 This is what everyone who is enrolled must pay: a half-shekel, according to the standard of the sanctuary shekel—twenty gerahs to the shekel—a half-shekel contribution to the Lord. 14 Everyone who is enrolled, of twenty years or more, must give the contribution to the Lord. 15 The rich need not give more, nor shall the poor give less, than a half-shekel in this contribution to the Lord to pay the ransom for their lives. 16 When you receive this ransom money from the Israelites, you shall donate it to the service of the tent of meeting, that there it may be a reminder of the Israelites before the Lord of the ransom paid for their lives.

The Basin. 17 The Lord told Moses: 18 For ablutions you shall make a bronze basin with a bronze stand. Place it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it. 19 Aaron and his sons shall use it in washing their hands and feet. 20 When they are about to enter the tent of meeting, they must wash with water, lest they die. Likewise when they approach the altar to minister, to offer an oblation to the Lord, 21 they must wash their hands and feet, lest they die. This shall be a perpetual statute for him and his descendants throughout their generations.

The Anointing Oil. 22 The Lord told Moses: 23 Take the finest spices: five hundred shekels of free-flowing myrrh; half that amount, that is, two hundred and fifty shekels, of fragrant cinnamon; two hundred and fifty shekels of fragrant cane; 24 five hundred shekels of cassia—all according to the standard of the sanctuary shekel; together with a hin of olive oil; 25 and blend them into sacred anointing oil, perfumed ointment expertly prepared. With this sacred anointing oil 26 you shall anoint the tent of meeting and the ark of the covenant, 27 the table and all its utensils, the menorah and its utensils, the altar of incense 28 and the altar for burnt offerings with all its utensils, and the basin with its stand. 29 When you have consecrated them, they shall be most sacred; whatever touches them shall be sacred. 30 Aaron and his sons you shall also anoint and consecrate as my priests. 31 Tell the Israelites: As sacred anointing oil this shall belong to me throughout your generations. 32 It may not be used in any ordinary anointing of the body, nor may you make any other oil of a like mixture. It is sacred, and shall be treated as sacred by you. 33 Whoever prepares a perfume like this, or whoever puts any of this on an unauthorized person, shall be cut off from his people.

The Incense. 34 The Lord told Moses: Take these aromatic substances: storax and onycha and galbanum, these and pure frankincense in equal parts; 35 and blend them into incense. This fragrant powder, expertly prepared, is to be salted and so kept pure and sacred. 36 Grind some of it into fine dust and put this before the covenant in the tent of meeting where I will meet you. This incense shall be treated as most sacred by you. 37 You may not make incense of a like mixture for yourselves; you must treat it as sacred to the Lord. 38 Whoever makes an incense like this for his own enjoyment of its fragrance, shall be cut off from his people.

Chapter 31

Choice of Artisans. The Lord said to Moses: See, I have singled out[bo] Bezalel, son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with a divine spirit of skill and understanding and knowledge in every craft: in the production of embroidery, in making things of gold, silver, or bronze, in cutting and mounting precious stones, in carving wood, and in every other craft. As his assistant I myself have appointed Oholiab, son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. I have also endowed all the experts with the necessary skill to make all the things I have commanded you: the tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant with its cover, all the furnishings of the tent, the table with its utensils, the pure gold menorah with all its utensils, the altar of incense, the altar for burnt offerings with all its utensils, the basin with its stand, 10 the service cloths,[bp] the sacred vestments for Aaron the priest, the vestments for his sons in their ministry, 11 the anointing oil, and the fragrant incense for the sanctuary. According to all I have commanded you, so shall they do.

Sabbath Laws. 12 The Lord said to Moses: 13 You must also tell the Israelites: Keep my sabbaths, for that is to be the sign between you and me throughout the generations, to show that it is I, the Lord, who make you holy. 14 [bq]Therefore, you must keep the sabbath for it is holiness for you. Whoever desecrates it shall be put to death. If anyone does work on that day, that person must be cut off from the people. 15 Six days there are for doing work, but the seventh day is the sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord. Anyone who does work on the sabbath day shall be put to death. 16 So shall the Israelites observe the sabbath, keeping it throughout their generations as an everlasting covenant. 17 Between me and the Israelites it is to be an everlasting sign; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, but on the seventh day he rested at his ease.

18 When the Lord had finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the covenant, the stone tablets inscribed by God’s own finger.

VII. Israel’s Apostasy and God’s Renewal of the Covenant

Chapter 32

The Golden Calf. When the people saw that Moses was delayed in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for that man Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him.” Aaron replied, “Take off the golden earrings that your wives, your sons, and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He received their offering, and fashioning it with a tool, made a molten calf. Then they cried out, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you[br] up from the land of Egypt.” On seeing this, Aaron built an altar in front of the calf and proclaimed, “Tomorrow is a feast of the Lord.” Early the next day the people sacrificed burnt offerings and brought communion sacrifices. Then they sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to revel.

Then the Lord said to Moses: Go down at once because your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt, have acted corruptly. They have quickly turned aside from the way I commanded them, making for themselves a molten calf and bowing down to it, sacrificing to it and crying out, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!” I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are, continued the Lord to Moses. 10 Let me alone, then, that my anger may burn against them to consume them. Then I will make of you a great nation.

11 [bs]But Moses implored the Lord, his God, saying, “Why, O Lord, should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a strong hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent he brought them out, that he might kill them in the mountains and wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning wrath; change your mind about punishing your people. 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and how you swore to them by your own self, saying, ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky; and all this land that I promised, I will give your descendants as their perpetual heritage.’” 14 So the Lord changed his mind about the punishment he had threatened to inflict on his people.

15 Moses then turned and came down the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hands, tablets that were written on both sides, front and back. 16 The tablets were made by God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets. 17 Now, when Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, “That sounds like a battle in the camp.” 18 But Moses answered,

“It is not the noise of victory,
    it is not the noise of defeat;
    the sound I hear is singing.”

19 As he drew near the camp, he saw the calf and the dancing. Then Moses’ anger burned, and he threw the tablets down and broke them on the base of the mountain. 20 Taking the calf they had made, he burned it in the fire and then ground it down to powder, which he scattered on the water[bt] and made the Israelites drink.

21 [bu]Moses asked Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you should lead them into a grave sin?” 22 Aaron replied, “Do not let my lord be angry. You know how the people are prone to evil. 23 They said to me, ‘Make us a god to go before us; as for this man Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him.’ 24 So I told them, ‘Whoever is wearing gold, take it off.’ They gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and this calf came out.”

25 Moses saw that the people were running wild because Aaron had lost control—to the secret delight of their foes. 26 Moses stood at the gate of the camp and shouted, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me!” All the Levites then rallied to him, 27 and he told them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Each of you put your sword on your hip! Go back and forth through the camp, from gate to gate, and kill your brothers, your friends, your neighbors!” 28 The Levites did as Moses had commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people fell. 29 Then Moses said, “Today you are installed as priests[bv] for the Lord, for you went against your own sons and brothers, to bring a blessing upon yourselves this day.”

The Atonement. 30 On the next day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a grave sin. Now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I may be able to make atonement for your sin.” 31 So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Ah, this people has committed a grave sin in making a god of gold for themselves! 32 Now if you would only forgive their sin! But if you will not, then blot me out of the book that you have written.”[bw] 33 The Lord answered Moses: Only the one who has sinned against me will I blot out of my book. 34 Now, go and lead the people where I have told you. See, my angel will go before you. When it is time for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin.

35 Thus the Lord struck the people for making the calf, the one that Aaron made.

Chapter 33

The Lord spoke to Moses: Go! You and the people whom you have brought up from the land of Egypt are to go up from here to the land about which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: I will give it to your descendants. Driving out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, I will send an angel before you to a land flowing with milk and honey. But I myself will not go up in your company, because you are a stiff-necked people; otherwise I might consume you on the way. When the people heard this painful news, they mourned, and no one wore any ornaments.

The Lord spoke to Moses: Speak to the Israelites: You are a stiff-necked people. Were I to go up in your company even for a moment, I would destroy you. Now off with your ornaments! Let me think what to do with you. So, from Mount Horeb onward, the Israelites stripped off their ornaments.

Moses’ Intimacy with God. Moses used to pitch a tent outside the camp at some distance. It was called the tent of meeting. Anyone who wished to consult the Lord would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. Whenever Moses went out to the tent, the people would all rise and stand at the entrance of their own tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. As Moses entered the tent, the column of cloud would come down and stand at its entrance while the Lord spoke with Moses. 10 On seeing the column of cloud stand at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise and bow down at the entrance of their own tents. 11 The Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a person speaks to a friend. Moses would then return to the camp, but his young assistant, Joshua, son of Nun, never left the tent. 12 Moses said to the Lord, “See, you are telling me: Lead this people. But you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said: You are my intimate friend;[bx] You have found favor with me. 13 Now, if I have found favor with you, please let me know your ways so that, in knowing you, I may continue to find favor with you. See, this nation is indeed your own people. 14 The Lord answered: I myself[by] will go along, to give you rest. 15 Moses replied, “If you are not going yourself, do not make us go up from here. 16 For how can it be known that I and your people have found favor with you, except by your going with us? Then we, your people and I, will be singled out from every other people on the surface of the earth.” 17 The Lord said to Moses: This request, too, which you have made, I will carry out, because you have found favor with me and you are my intimate friend.

18 Then Moses said, “Please let me see your glory!” 19 The Lord answered: I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim my name, “Lord,” before you; I who show favor to whom I will, I who grant mercy to whom I will. 20 But you cannot see my face, for no one can see me and live.[bz] 21 Here, continued the Lord, is a place near me where you shall station yourself on the rock. 22 When my glory passes I will set you in the cleft of the rock and will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand, so that you may see my back; but my face may not be seen.

Chapter 34

Renewal of the Tablets. The Lord said to Moses: “Cut two stone tablets like the former, that I may write on them the words[ca] which were on the former tablets that you broke. Get ready for tomorrow morning, when you are to go up Mount Sinai and there present yourself to me on the top of the mountain. No one shall come up with you, and let no one even be seen on any part of the mountain; even the sheep and the cattle are not to graze in front of this mountain.” Moses then cut two stone tablets like the former, and early the next morning he went up Mount Sinai as the Lord had commanded him, taking in his hand the two stone tablets.

The Lord came down in a cloud and stood with him there and proclaimed the name, “Lord.” So the Lord passed before him and proclaimed: The Lord, the Lord, a God gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in love and fidelity,[cb] continuing his love for a thousand generations, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin; yet not declaring the guilty guiltless, but bringing punishment for their parents’ wickedness on children and children’s children to the third and fourth generation! Moses at once knelt and bowed down to the ground. Then he said, “If I find favor with you, Lord, please, Lord, come along in our company. This is indeed a stiff-necked people; yet pardon our wickedness and sins, and claim us as your own.”

Religious Laws. 10 The Lord said: Here is the covenant I will make. Before all your people I will perform marvels never before done[cc] in any nation anywhere on earth, so that all the people among whom you live may see the work of the Lord. Awe-inspiring are the deeds I will perform with you! 11 As for you, observe what I am commanding you today.

See, I am about to drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 12 Take care not to make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land that you are to enter; lest they become a snare among you. 13 Tear down their altars; smash their sacred stones, and cut down their asherahs.[cd] 14 You shall not bow down to any other god, for the Lord—“Jealous”[ce] his name—is a jealous God. 15 Do not make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land; else, when they prostitute themselves with their gods and sacrifice to them, one of them may invite you and you may partake of the sacrifice. 16 And when you take their daughters as wives for your sons, and their daughters prostitute themselves with their gods, they will make your sons do the same.

17 You shall not make for yourselves molten gods.

18 You shall keep the festival of Unleavened Bread. For seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib you are to eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you; for in the month of Abib you came out of Egypt.

19 To me belongs every male that opens the womb among all your livestock, whether in the herd or in the flock. 20 The firstling of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb; if you do not redeem it, you must break its neck. The firstborn among your sons you shall redeem.

No one shall appear before me empty-handed.

21 Six days you may labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the seasons of plowing and harvesting you must rest.

22 You shall keep the feast of Weeks with the first fruits of the wheat harvest, likewise, the feast of the Ingathering at the close of the year.[cf] 23 Three times a year all your men shall appear before the Lord, the Lord God of Israel. 24 Since I will drive out the nations before you and enlarge your territory, no one will covet your land when you go up three times a year to appear before the Lord, your God.

25 You shall not offer me the blood of sacrifice with anything leavened, nor shall the sacrifice of the Passover feast be kept overnight for the next day.

26 The choicest first fruits of your soil you shall bring to the house of the Lord, your God.

You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.

Radiance of Moses’ Face. 27 Then the Lord said to Moses: Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel. 28 So Moses was there with the Lord for forty days and forty nights, without eating any food or drinking any water, and he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the ten words.

29 As Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant in his hands, he did not know that the skin of his face had become radiant[cg] while he spoke with the Lord. 30 When Aaron, then, and the other Israelites saw Moses and noticed how radiant the skin of his face had become, they were afraid to come near him. 31 Only after Moses called to them did Aaron and all the leaders of the community come back to him. Moses then spoke to them. 32 Later, all the Israelites came up to him, and he enjoined on them all that the Lord had told him on Mount Sinai. 33 When Moses finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. 34 Whenever Moses entered the presence of the Lord to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out again. On coming out, he would tell the Israelites all that he had been commanded. 35 Then the Israelites would see that the skin of Moses’ face was radiant; so he would again put the veil over his face until he went in to speak with the Lord.

VIII. The Building of the Tabernacle and the Descent of God’s Glory Upon It

Chapter 35

Sabbath Regulations. Moses assembled the whole Israelite community and said to them, “These are the words the Lord has commanded to be observed. On six days work may be done, but the seventh day shall be holy to you as the sabbath of complete rest to the Lord. Anyone who does work on that day shall be put to death. You shall not even light a fire in any of your dwellings on the sabbath day.”

Collection of Materials. Moses said to the whole Israelite community, “This is what the Lord has commanded: Receive from among you contributions for the Lord. Everyone, as his heart prompts him, shall bring, as a contribution to the Lord, gold, silver, and bronze; violet, purple, and scarlet yarn; fine linen and goat hair; rams’ skins dyed red, and tahash skins; acacia wood; oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; onyx stones and other gems for mounting on the ephod and on the breastpiece.

Call for Artisans. 10 “Let every artisan among you come and make all that the Lord has commanded: 11 the tabernacle, with its tent, its covering, its clasps, its frames, its bars, its columns, and its pedestals; 12 the ark, with its poles, the cover, and the curtain veil; 13 the table, with its poles and all its utensils, and the showbread; 14 the menorah, with its utensils, the lamps, and the oil for the light; 15 the altar of incense, with its poles; the anointing oil, and the fragrant incense; the entrance curtain for the entrance of the tabernacle; 16 the altar for burnt offerings, with its bronze grating, its poles, and all its utensils; the basin, with its stand; 17 the hangings of the court, with their columns and pedestals; the curtain for the gate of the court; 18 the tent pegs for the tabernacle and for the court, with their ropes; 19 the service cloths for use in the sanctuary; the sacred vestments for Aaron, the priest, and the vestments for his sons in their ministry.”

The Contribution. 20 When the whole Israelite community left Moses’ presence,


  1. 20:1–17

    The precise numbering and division of these precepts into “ten commandments” is somewhat uncertain. Traditionally among Catholics and Lutherans vv. 1–6 are considered as only one commandment, and v. 17 as two. The Anglican, Greek Orthodox, and Reformed churches count vv. 1–6 as two, and v. 17 as one. Cf. Dt 5:6–21. The traditional designation as “ten” is not found here but in 34:28 (and also Dt 4:13 and 10:4), where these precepts are alluded to literally as “the ten words.” That they were originally written on two tablets appears in Ex 32:15–16; 34:28–29; Dt 4:13; 10:2–4.

    The present form of the commands is a product of a long development, as is clear from the fact that the individual precepts vary considerably in length and from the slightly different formulation of Dt 5:6–21 (see especially vv. 12–15 and 21). Indeed they represent a mature formulation of a traditional morality. Why this specific selection of commands should be set apart is not entirely clear. None of them is unique in the Old Testament and all of the laws which follow are also from God and equally binding on the Israelites. Even so, this collection represents a privileged expression of God’s moral demands on Israel and is here set apart from the others as a direct, unmediated communication of God to the Israelites and the basis of the covenant being concluded on Sinai.

  2. 20:3

    Beside me: this commandment is traditionally understood as an outright denial of the existence of other gods except the God of Israel; however, in the context of the more general prohibitions in vv. 4–5, v. 3 is, more precisely, God’s demand for Israel’s exclusive worship and allegiance.

    The Hebrew phrase underlying the translation “beside me” is, nonetheless, problematic and has been variously translated, e.g., “except me,” “in addition to me,” “in preference to me,” “in defiance of me,” and “in front of me” or “before my face.” The latter translation, with its concrete, spatial nuances, has suggested to some that the prohibition once sought to exclude from the Lord’s sanctuary the cult images or idols of other gods, such as the asherah, or stylized sacred tree of life, associated with the Canaanite goddess Asherah (34:13). Over the course of time, as vv. 4–5 suggest, the original scope of v. 3 was expanded.

  3. 20:4 Or a likeness of anything: compare this formulation to that found in Dt 5:8, which understands this phrase and the following phrases as specifications of the prohibited idol (Hebrew pesel), which usually refers to an image that is carved or hewn rather than cast.
  4. 20:5 Jealous: demanding exclusive allegiance. Inflicting punishment…the third and fourth generation: the intended emphasis is on God’s mercy by the contrast between punishment and mercy (“to the thousandth generation”—v. 6). Other Old Testament texts repudiate the idea of punishment devolving on later generations (cf. Dt 24:16; Jer 31:29–30; Ez 18:2–4). Yet it is known that later generations may suffer the punishing effects of sins of earlier generations, but not the guilt.
  5. 20:7 In vain: i.e., to no good purpose, a general framing of the prohibition which includes swearing falsely, especially in the context of a legal proceeding, but also goes beyond it (cf. Lv 24:16; Prv 30:8–9).
  6. 20:8 Keep it holy: i.e., to set it apart from the other days of the week, in part, as the following verse explains, by not doing work that is ordinarily done in the course of a week. The special importance of this command can be seen in the fact that, together with vv. 9–11, it represents the longest of the Decalogue’s precepts.
  7. 20:11 Here, in a formulation which reflects Priestly theology, the veneration of the sabbath is grounded in God’s own hallowing of the sabbath in creation. Compare 31:13; Dt 5:15.
  8. 20:12–17 The Decalogue falls into two parts: the preceding precepts refer to God, the following refer primarily to one’s fellow Israelites.
  9. 20:13 Kill: as frequent instances of killing in the context of war or certain crimes (see vv. 12–18) demonstrate in the Old Testament, not all killing comes within the scope of the commandment. For this reason, the Hebrew verb translated here as “kill” is often understood as “murder,” although it is in fact used in the Old Testament at times for unintentional acts of killing (e.g., Dt 4:41; Jos 20:3) and for legally sanctioned killing (Nm 35:30). The term may originally have designated any killing of another Israelite, including acts of manslaughter, for which the victim’s kin could exact vengeance. In the present context, it denotes the killing of one Israelite by another, motivated by hatred or the like (Nm 35:20; cf. Hos 6:9).
  10. 20:22–23:33 This collection consists of the civil and religious laws, both apodictic (absolute) and casuistic (conditional), which were given to the people through the mediation of Moses. They will be written down by Moses in 24:4.
  11. 20:24 Where I cause my name to be invoked: i.e., at the sacred site where God wishes to be worshiped. Dt 12 will demand the centralization of all sacrificial worship in one place chosen by God.
  12. 21:1 Ordinances: judicial precedents to be used in settling questions of law and custom. More than half of the civil and religious laws in this collection (20:22–23:33), designated in 24:7 as “the book of the covenant,” have parallels in the cuneiform laws of the ancient Near East. It is clear that Israel participated in a common legal culture with its neighbors.
  13. 21:2 Slave: an Israelite could become a slave of another Israelite as a means of paying a debt, or an Israelite could be born into slavery due to a parent’s status as a slave. Here a time limit is prescribed for such slavery; other stipulations (vv. 20–21, 26–27) tried to reduce the evils of slavery, but slavery itself is not condemned in the Old Testament.
  14. 21:6 To God: the ritual of the piercing of the slave’s ear, which signified a lifetime commitment to the master, probably took place at the door of the household, where God as protector of the household was called upon as a witness. Another possible location for the ritual would have been the door of the sanctuary, where God or judges would have witnessed the slave’s promise of lifetime obedience to his master.
  15. 21:8 Designated her: intended her as a wife of second rank.
  16. 21:12–14 Unintentional homicide is to be punished differently from premeditated, deliberate murder. One who kills unintentionally can seek asylum by grasping the horns of the altar at the local sanctuary. In later Israelite history, when worship was centralized in Jerusalem, cities throughout the realm were designated as places of refuge. Apparently the leaders of the local community were to determine whether or not the homicide was intentional.
  17. 21:15 The verb used most often signifies a violent, sometimes deadly, attack. The severe penalty assigned is intended to safeguard the integrity of the family.
  18. 21:17 Curses: not merely an angrily uttered expletive at one’s parents, but a solemn juridical formula of justifiable retribution which was considered to be legally binding and guaranteed by God.
  19. 21:22–25 This law of talion is applied here in the specific case of a pregnant woman who, as an innocent bystander, is injured by two fighting men. The law of talion is not held up as a general principle to be applied throughout the book of the covenant. (But see note on Lv 24:19–20.) Here this principle of rigorous accountability aimed to prevent injury to a woman about to give birth by apparently requiring the assailant to have his own wife injured as she was about to bring new life into his family. However, it is debatable whether talion was ever understood or applied literally in Israel. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus challenges his audience to find a deeper form of justice than the supposed equilibrium offered by talion (Mt 5:38–40).
  20. 21:30 Ransom: the amount of money or material goods required to restore the relationship between the relatives of the victim and the negligent owner of the goring ox.
  21. 22:1–2 If a thief is caught: this seems to be a fragment of what was once a longer law on housebreaking, which has been inserted here into the middle of a law on stealing animals. At night the householder would be justified in killing a burglar outright, but not so in the daytime, when the burglar could more easily be caught alive. He must make full restitution: this stood originally immediately after 21:37.
  22. 22:7 Brought to God: either within the household or at the sanctuary, the owner of the house is required to take an oath before God.
  23. 22:16 The bride price for virgins: fifty shekels according to Dt 22:29.
  24. 22:27 Despise God: a turning away from God’s authority and so failing to honor God (cf. 1 Sm 2:30).
  25. 23:14 These three feasts—Passover/Unleavened Bread, Weeks (Pentecost), and Booths (Tabernacles or Succoth/Sukkoth)—are also listed in 34:18–26; Lv 23; Dt 16.
  26. 23:15 Appear before me: the original expression was “see my face”; so also in several other places, as 23:17; 34:23–24; Dt 16:16; 31:11.
  27. 23:19 Boil a young goat in its mother’s milk: this command, repeated in 34:26 and Dt 14:21, is difficult to understand. It may originate from a taboo that forbade killing the young that were still nursing from the mother, or that forbade the mixing of life and death: the slaughtered young goat with the milk that previously had nourished its life. The Jewish dietary custom of keeping meat and dairy products separate is based on this command.
  28. 23:21 My authority is within him: lit., “My name is within him.”
  29. 23:24 Sacred stones: objects that symbolized the presence of Canaanite deities. In general, standing stones served as memorials for deities, persons, or significant events such as military victories or covenant-making. See 24:4.
  30. 23:28 Hornets: the Hebrew sir’ah is a disputed term, but according to ancient interpreters it refers to hornets that were unleashed against the enemy to sting them and cause panic (cf. Dt 7:20; Jos 24:12; Wis 12:8). Others associate the word with plagues or troublesome afflictions.
  31. 23:31 The sea of the Philistines: the Mediterranean. Only in the time of David and Solomon did the territory of Israel come near to reaching such distant borders.
  32. 24:4 Sacred stones: stone shafts or slabs, erected as symbols of the fact that each of the twelve tribes had entered into this covenant with God; see 23:24; Gn 28:18.
  33. 24:11 They saw God: the ancients thought that the sight of God would bring instantaneous death. Cf. 33:20; Gn 16:13; 32:31; Jgs 6:22–23; 13:22. Ate and drank: partook of the sacrificial meal.
  34. 25:5 Tahash: perhaps a kind of specially finished leather. The Greek and Latin versions took it for the color hyacinth.
  35. 25:10 Cubits: the distance between the elbow and tip of the middle finger of an average-size person, about eighteen inches. The dimensions of the ark of the covenant were approximately 3 3/4 feet long, 2 1/4 feet wide, and 2 1/4 feet high.
  36. 25:17 Cover: the Hebrew term, kapporet, has been connected with kippur, as in the feast of Yom Kippur or Day of Atonement (Lv 16; 23:26–32): hence, influenced by the Greek and Latin versions, and Luther’s German, English translations have rendered it “propitiatory,” “mercy seat,” and the like.
  37. 25:18–20 Cherubim: probably in the form of human-headed winged lions. The cherubim over the ark formed the throne for the invisible Lord. Cf. Ps 80:2. For a more detailed description of the somewhat different cherubim in the Temple of Solomon, see 1 Kgs 6:23–28; 2 Chr 3:10–13.
  38. 25:25 A frame: probably placed near the bottom of the legs to keep them steady. The golden table of Herod’s Temple is pictured thus on the Arch of Titus.
  39. 25:29–30 The plates held the showbread, that is, the holy bread which was placed upon the table every sabbath as an offering to God, and was later eaten by the priests. The cups held the incense which was strewn upon the bread. Cf. Lv 24:5–9. The libation wine was poured from the pitchers into the bowls. All these vessels were kept on the golden table.
  40. 25:31 Menorah: this traditional lampstand is still used today in Jewish liturgy.
  41. 25:33 In keeping with the arrangement of the ornaments on the shaft, the three sets of ornaments on each branch were probably so placed that one was at the top and the other two equally spaced along the length of the branch. Knob: the cup-shaped seed capsule at the base of a flower.
  42. 25:34–35 Of the four ornaments on the shaft, one was at the top and one was below each of the three sets of side branches.
  43. 25:37 The lamps were probably shaped like small boats, with the wick at one end; the end with the wick was turned toward the front of the menorah.
  44. 25:38 Trays: small receptacles for the burnt-out wicks.
  45. 25:39 Talent: Heb. kikkar. The largest unit of weight used in the Bible, equivalent to 3,000 shekels (see 38:24). It is difficult to be precise about biblical weights; the Israelite talent may have weighed between 75–80 pounds.
  46. 26:1 Sheets: strips of tapestry, woven of white linen, the colored threads being used for the cherubim which were embroidered on them. These sheets were stretched across the top of the tabernacle to form a roof, their free ends hanging down inside the framework that formed the walls.
  47. 26:7 Tent: the cloth made of sheets of goat hair to cover the tabernacle.
  48. 26:9 Half the width of the end strip was folded back at the front of the tabernacle, thus leaving another half-strip to hang down at the rear. Cf. v. 12.
  49. 26:17 Arms: lit., “hands.” According to some, they served as “tongue and groove” to mortise the structural elements; according to others, they were pegs that fitted into sockets in the pedestals.
  50. 26:32 Hooks: probably placed near the tops of the columns, to hold the rope from which the veils and curtains hung.
  51. 26:36 Variegated: without definite designs such as the cherubim on the inner veil.
  52. 27:2 Horns: the horn of a ram, goat or ox is a common Old Testament figure for strength and dignity; they represent the divine character of the altar itself or the deity worshiped there.
  53. 27:4 Grating: it is not clear whether this was flush with the altar or at some small distance from it; in the latter case the space between the altar and the grating would be filled with stones and serve as a platform around the altar, which would otherwise be too high for the priest to reach conveniently.
  54. 27:8 Hollow: probably filled with earth or stones when in use. Cf. 20:24–25.
  55. 28:3 Artisans…endowed with skill: lit., “wise of heart,” and “filled with a spirit of wisdom.” In Hebrew wisdom includes practical skills. Cf. 35:35; 36:1–2.
  56. 28:6 Ephod: this Hebrew word is retained in the translation because it is the technical term for a peculiar piece of the priestly vestments, the exact nature of which is uncertain. It seems to have been a sort of apron that hung from the shoulders of the priest by shoulder straps (v. 7) and was tied around his waist by the loose ends of the attached belt (v. 8).
  57. 28:15–30 Breastpiece: an approximately nine-inch square, pocketlike receptacle for holding the Urim and Thummim (v. 30). It formed an integral part of the ephod, to which it was attached by an elaborate system of rings and chains. Both the ephod and its breastpiece were made of brocaded linen. Span: Heb. zeret, the distance between the top of the little finger and the thumb; one half a cubit, approximately nine inches.
  58. 28:17–20 The translation of the Hebrew names of some of these gems is quite conjectural.
  59. 28:30 Urim and Thummim: both the meaning of these Hebrew words and the exact nature of the objects so designated are uncertain. They were apparently lots of some kind which were drawn or cast by the priest to ascertain God’s decision on particular questions. Hence, the pocket in which they were kept was called “the breastpiece of decision.”
  60. 28:41 Install them: lit., “fill their hands,” a technical expression used for the installation of priests.
  61. 29:22 Fatty tail: the thick layer of fat surrounding the tails of sheep and rams bred in the Middle East. It is regarded as a choice food. Cf. Lv 3:9.
  62. 29:24–26 Elevated offering: the portions of a communion offering, brisket and right thigh, which the officiating priest raised in the presence of the Lord. They were reserved for Aaron and his sons.
  63. 29:27–30 These verses are a parenthetical interruption of the installation ritual; v. 31 belongs logically immediately after v. 26.
  64. 29:36–37 Purify the altar: the purpose of the purification offering here is to cleanse, or purify, the newly constructed altar of any defilement resulting from presumably minor and inadvertent sins, but the text is not explicit about what the offenses were or who committed them. So various theories have been proposed to explain the cause of the altar’s contamination. Note, however, that the offering appears to be demanded of Aaron and his sons; they are the ones who lay hands upon it (v. 10).
  65. 29:38–42 A parenthesis inserted into the rubrics for consecrating the altar; v. 43 belongs directly after v. 37.
  66. 29:40 Hin: see note on Ez 45:24.
  67. 31:2 Singled out: lit., “called by name”; cf. 35:30.
  68. 31:10 The service cloths: so the Greek. They were perhaps the colored cloths mentioned in Nm 4:4–15.
  69. 31:14–15 For the distinction between work proscribed on certain festivals and weekly Sabbaths, see note on Lv 23:3.
  70. 32:4–5 Who brought you…a feast of the Lord: it seems that the golden calf was intended as an image, not of another god, but of the Lord, whose strength was symbolized by the strength of a young bull. The Israelites, however, had been forbidden to represent the Lord under any visible form. Cf. 20:4. In the tenth century Jeroboam made golden calves for the shrines at Bethel and Dan, presumably to function as thrones for the Lord as the ark did in Jerusalem (see 1 Kgs 12:27–30).
  71. 32:11–13 Moses uses three arguments to persuade the Lord to remain faithful to the Sinai covenant even though the people have broken it: (1) they are God’s own people, redeemed with God’s great power; (2) God’s reputation will suffer if they are destroyed; (3) the covenant with Abraham still stands. The Lord’s change of mind is a testimony to Israel’s belief in the power of intercessory prayer.
  72. 32:20 The water: according to Dt 9:21, this was the stream that flowed down Mount Sinai.
  73. 32:21–24 Aaron attempts to persuade Moses not to act in anger, just as Moses persuaded the Lord. He also shifts the blame from himself to the people.
  74. 32:29 Installed as priests: lit., “fill your hands,” a term for the ordination of priests (see 28:41; 29:9, 29, 33, 35; Nm 3:3). Because of their zeal for the true worship of the Lord, the Levites were chosen to be special ministers of the ritual service.
  75. 32:32 The book that you have written: a symbolic reference to the list of God’s faithful people.
  76. 33:12 Intimate friend: lit., “know by name.” The root word meaning “know” or “make known” appears four times in vv. 12–13.
  77. 33:14 I myself: lit., “my face,” that is, “my presence.” The making of the calf (32:1–4) is an attempt to control the Lord’s presence. In response the Lord refuses to accompany the people (33:3) until Moses persuades him.
  78. 33:20 No one can see me and live: reflecting the tradition that to see God meant instant death. This is contradicted by the statements that Hagar (Gn 16:13), Jacob (Gn 32:31), and Manoah and his wife (Jgs 13:22) all “see God” and yet live (see also Ex 24:10–11).
  79. 34:1 Words: a common term for commandments, especially the Decalogue (see v. 28). In v. 27 “words” connotes the commands given in vv. 11–26.
  80. 34:6 Gracious…fidelity: this succinct poetic description of God is an often-repeated statement of belief (see Nm 14:18; Ps 103:8; 145:8; Jl 2:13; Jon 4:2). All the terms describe God’s relationship to the covenant people.
  81. 34:10 Never before done: lit., “created.” The verb used here (Heb. bara’) is predicated only of God (see Gn 1:1, 21, 27; Ps 51:12). These wonders are a new creation and can be performed only by God.
  82. 34:13 Asherah was the name of a Canaanite goddess. In her honor wooden poles (asherot) were erected, just as stone pillars (massebot) were erected in honor of the god Baal. Both were placed near the altar in a Canaanite shrine.
  83. 34:14 Jealous: see note on 20:5. Some, by a slight emendation, render, “The Lord is jealous for his name.” Cf. Ez 39:25.
  84. 34:22 Feast of Weeks: the festival of thanksgiving for the harvest, celebrated seven weeks or fifty days after the beginning of the harvest. It was also called Pentecost (fiftieth) and coincided with the giving of the law on Mount Sinai, fifty days after the offering of the first fruits; cf. Lv 23:10–11; Dt 16:9. Feast of the Ingathering: feast of Booths.
  85. 34:29 Radiant: the Hebrew word translated “radiant” is spelled like the term for “horns.” Thus the artistic tradition of portraying Moses with horns.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.


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