"If someone steals an ox or a lamb and slaughters or sells it, the thief must pay five cattle in place of the ox and four sheep in place of the lamb.
If the thief is caught while breaking in and is hit hard and dies, there is no bloodguilt.
But if it happens after daybreak, there is bloodguilt.
If caught red-handed with the stolen goods, and the ox or donkey or lamb is still alive, the thief pays double.
"If someone grazes livestock in a field or vineyard but lets them loose so they graze in someone else's field, restitution must be made from the best of the owner's field or vineyard.
"If fire breaks out and spreads to the brush so that the sheaves of grain or the standing grain or even the whole field is burned up, whoever started the fire must pay for the damages.
"If someone gives a neighbor money or things for safekeeping and they are stolen from the neighbor's house, the thief, if caught, must pay back double.
If the thief is not caught, the owner must be brought before God to determine whether the owner was the one who took the neighbor's goods.
"In all cases of stolen goods, whether oxen, donkeys, sheep, clothing, anything in fact missing of which someone says, 'That's mine,' both parties must come before the judges. The one the judges pronounce guilty must pay double to the other.
"If someone gives a donkey or ox or lamb or any kind of animal to another for safekeeping and it dies or is injured or lost and there is no witness,
an oath before God must be made between them to decide whether one has laid hands on the property of the other. The owner must accept this and no damages are assessed.
But if it turns out it was stolen, the owner must be compensated.
If it has been torn by wild beasts, the torn animal must be brought in as evidence; no damages have to be paid.
"If someone borrows an animal from a neighbor and it gets injured or dies while the owner is not present, he must pay for it.
But if the owner was with it, he doesn't have to pay. If the animal was hired, the payment covers the loss.
"If a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the marriage price and marry her.
If her father absolutely refuses to give her away, the man must still pay the marriage price for virgins.
"Don't let a sorceress live.
"Anyone who has sex with an animal gets the death penalty.
"Anyone who sacrifices to a god other than God alone must be put to death.
"Don't abuse or take advantage of strangers; you, remember, were once strangers in Egypt.
"Don't mistreat widows or orphans.
If you do and they cry out to me, you can be sure I'll take them most seriously;
I'll show my anger and come raging among you with the sword, and your wives will end up widows and your children orphans.
"If you lend money to my people, to any of the down-and-out among you, don't come down hard on them and gouge them with interest.
"If you take your neighbor's coat as security, give it back before nightfall;
it may be your neighbor's only covering - what else does the person have to sleep in? And if I hear the neighbor crying out from the cold, I'll step in - I'm compassionate.
"Don't curse God; and don't damn your leaders.
"Don't be stingy as your wine vats fill up.
The same with your cattle and sheep - they are to stay for seven days with their mother, then give them to me.
"Be holy for my sake. "Don't eat mutilated flesh you find in the fields; throw it to the dogs.
"Don't pass on malicious gossip.
Don't go along with the crowd in doing evil and don't fudge your testimony in a case just to please the crowd.
And just because someone is poor, don't show favoritism in a dispute.
"If you find your enemy's ox or donkey loose, take it back to him.
If you see the donkey of someone who hates you lying helpless under its load, don't walk off and leave it. Help it up.
"When there is a dispute concerning your poor, don't tamper with the justice due them.
"Stay clear of false accusations. Don't contribute to the death of innocent and good people. I don't let the wicked off the hook.
"Don't take bribes. Bribes blind perfectly good eyes and twist the speech of good people.
"Don't take advantage of a stranger. You know what it's like to be a stranger; you were strangers in Egypt.
"Sow your land for six years and gather in its crops,
but in the seventh year leave it alone and give it a rest so that your poor may eat from it. What they leave, let the wildlife have. Do the same with your vineyards and olive groves.
"Work for six days and rest the seventh so your ox and donkey may rest and your servant and migrant workers may have time to get their needed rest.
"Listen carefully to everything I tell you. Don't pay attention to other gods - don't so much as mention their names.
"Three times a year you are to hold a festival for me.
"Hold the spring Festival of Unraised Bread when you eat unraised bread for seven days at the time set for the month of Abib, as I commanded you. That was the month you came out of Egypt. No one should show up before me empty-handed.
"Hold the summer Festival of Harvest when you bring in the firstfruits of all your work in the fields. "Hold the autumn Festival of Ingathering at the end of the season when you bring in the year's crops.
"Three times a year all your males are to appear before the Master, God.
"Don't offer the blood of a sacrifice to me with anything that has yeast in it. "Don't leave the fat from my festival offering out overnight.
"Bring the choice first produce of the year to the house of your God. "Don't boil a kid in its mother's milk.
"Now get yourselves ready. I'm sending my Angel ahead of you to guard you in your travels, to lead you to the place that I've prepared.
Pay close attention to him. Obey him. Don't go against him. He won't put up with your rebellions because he's acting on my authority.
But if you obey him and do everything I tell you, I'll be an enemy to your enemies, I'll fight those who fight you.
When my Angel goes ahead of you and leads you to the land of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, I'll clear the country of them.
So don't worship or serve their gods; don't do anything they do because I'm going to wipe them right off the face of the Earth and smash their sacred phallic pillars to bits.
"But you - you serve your God and he'll bless your food and your water. I'll get rid of the sickness among you;
there won't be any miscarriages nor barren women in your land. I'll make sure you live full and complete lives.
"I'll send my Terror on ahead of you and throw those peoples you're approaching into a panic. All you'll see of your enemies is the backs of their necks.
"And I'll send Despair on ahead of you. It will push the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites out of your way.
I won't get rid of them all at once lest the land grow up in weeds and the wild animals take over.
Little by little I'll get them out of there while you have a chance to get your crops going and make the land your own.
I will make your borders stretch from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea and from the Wilderness to the Euphrates River. I'm turning everyone living in that land over to you; go ahead and drive them out.
"Don't make any deals with them or their gods.
They are not to stay in the same country with you lest they get you to sin by worshiping their gods. Beware. That's a huge danger."
He said to Moses, "Climb the mountain to God, you and Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel. They will worship from a distance;
only Moses will approach God. The rest are not to come close. And the people are not to climb the mountain at all."
So Moses went to the people and told them everything God had said - all the rules and regulations. They all answered in unison: "Everything God said, we'll do."
Then Moses wrote it all down, everything God had said. He got up early the next morning and built an Altar at the foot of the mountain using twelve pillar-stones for the twelve tribes of Israel.
Then he directed young Israelite men to offer Whole-Burnt-Offerings and sacrifice Peace-Offerings of bulls.
Moses took half the blood and put it in bowls; the other half he threw against the Altar.
Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it as the people listened. They said, "Everything God said, we'll do. Yes, we'll obey."
Moses took the rest of the blood and threw it out over the people, saying, "This is the blood of the covenant which God has made with you out of all these words I have spoken."
Then they climbed the mountain - Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel -
and saw the God of Israel. He was standing on a pavement of something like sapphires - pure, clear sky-blue.
He didn't hurt these pillar-leaders of the Israelites: They saw God; and they ate and drank.
God said to Moses, "Climb higher up the mountain and wait there for me; I'll give you tablets of stone, the teachings and commandments that I've written to instruct them."
So Moses got up, accompanied by Joshua his aide. And Moses climbed up the mountain of God.
He told the elders of Israel, "Wait for us here until we return to you. You have Aaron and Hur with you; if there are any problems, go to them."
Then Moses climbed the mountain. The Cloud covered the mountain.
The Glory of God settled over Mount Sinai. The Cloud covered it for six days. On the seventh day he called out of the Cloud to Moses.
In the view of the Israelites below, the Glory of God looked like a raging fire at the top of the mountain.
Moses entered the middle of the Cloud and climbed the mountain. Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)