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Exodus 19

Listen to Exodus 19

Israel at Mount Sinai

1 On the third new moon after the people of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that day they 1came into the wilderness of Sinai.
2 They set out from 2Rephidim and came into the wilderness of Sinai, and they encamped in the wilderness. There Israel encamped before 3the mountain,
3 while 4Moses went up to God. 5The LORD called to him out of the mountain, saying, "Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel:
4 6You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how 7I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself.
5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be 8my treasured possession among all peoples, for 9all the earth is mine;
6 and you shall be to me a 10kingdom of priests and 11a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel."
7 So Moses came and called the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the LORD had commanded him.
8 12All the people answered together and said, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do." And Moses reported the words of the people to the LORD.
9 And the LORD said to Moses, "Behold, I am coming to you 13in a thick cloud, that 14the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also 15believe you forever."When Moses told the words of the people to the LORD,
10 the LORD said to Moses, "Go to the people and 16consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them 17wash their garments
11 and be ready for the third day. For on the third day 18the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.
12 And you shall set limits for the people all around, saying, 'Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. 19Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death.
13 No hand shall touch him, but he shall be stoned or shot;[a] whether beast or man, he shall not live.' When 20the trumpet sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain."
14 So Moses 21went down from the mountain to the people and 22consecrated the people; 23and they washed their garments.
15 And he said to the people, "Be ready for the 24third day; 25do not go near a woman."
16 On the morning of the 26third day there were 27thunders and lightnings and 28a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud 29trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp 30trembled.
17 Then 31Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain.
18 Now 32Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the LORD had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and 33the whole mountain trembled greatly.
19 And as the 34sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and 35God answered him in thunder.
20 The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.
21 And the LORD said to Moses, "Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the LORD 36to look and many of them perish.
22 Also let the priests who come near to the LORD 37consecrate themselves, lest the LORD 38break out against them."
23 And Moses said to the LORD, "The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, for you yourself warned us, saying, 39'Set limits around the mountain and consecrate it.'"
24 And the LORD said to him, "Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you. But do not let the priests and the people 40break through to come up to the LORD, lest he break out against them."
25 So Moses went down to the people and told them.

Exodus 19 Commentary

Chapter 19

The people come to Sinai, God's message to them, and their answer. (1-8) The people directed to prepare to hear the law. (9-15) The presence of God on Sinai. (16-25)

Verses 1-8 Moses was called up the mountain, and was employed as the messenger of this covenant. The Maker and first Mover of the covenant, is God himself. This blessed charter was granted out of God's own free grace. The covenant here mentioned was the national covenant, by which the Israelites were a people under the government of Jehovah. It was a type of the new covenant made with true believers in Christ Jesus; but, like other types, it was only a shadow of good things to come. As a nation they broke this covenant; therefore the Lord declared that he would make a new covenant with Israel, writing his law, not upon tables of stone, but in their hearts, ( Jeremiah 31:33 , Hebrews 8:7-10 ) . The covenant spoken of in these places as ready to vanish away, is the national covenant with Israel, which they forfeited by their sins. Unless we carefully attend to this, we shall fall into mistakes while reading the Old Testament. We must not suppose that the nation of the Jews were under the covenant of works, which knows nothing of repentance, faith in a Mediator, forgiveness of sins, or grace; nor yet that the whole nation of Israel bore the character, and possessed the privileges of true believers, as being actually sharers in the covenant of grace. They were all under a dispensation of mercy; they had outward privileges and advantages for salvation; but, like professing Christians, most rested therein, and went no further. Israel consented to the conditions. They answered as one man, All that the Lord hath spoken we will do. Oh that there had been such a heart in them! Moses, as a mediator, returned the words of the people to God. Thus Christ, the Mediator, as a Prophet, reveals God's will to us, his precepts and promises; and then, as a Priest, offers up to God our spiritual sacrifices, not only of prayer and praise, but of devout affections, and pious resolutions, the work of his own Spirit in us.

Verses 9-15 The solemn manner in which the law was delivered, was to impress the people with a right sense of the Divine majesty. Also to convince them of their own guilt, and to show that they could not stand in judgment before God by their own obedience. In the law, the sinner discovers what he ought to be, what he is, and what he wants. There he learns the nature, necessity, and glory of redemption, and of being made holy. Having been taught to flee to Christ, and to love him, the law is the rule of his obedience and faith.

Verses 16-25 Never was there such a sermon preached, before or since, as this which was preached to the church in the wilderness. It might be supposed that the terrors would have checked presumption and curiosity in the people; but the hard heart of an unawakened sinner can trifle with the most terrible threatenings and judgments. In drawing near to God, we must never forget his holiness and greatness, nor our own meanness and pollution. We cannot stand in judgment before him according to his righteous law. The convinced transgressor asks, What must I do to be saved? and he hears the voice, Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. The Holy Ghost, who made the law to convince of sin, now takes of the things of Christ, and shows them to us. In the gospel we read, Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us. We have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins. Through him we are justified from all things, from which we could not be justified by the law of Moses. But the Divine law is binding as a rule of life. The Son of God came down from heaven, and suffered poverty, shame, agony, and death, not only to redeem us from its curse, but to bind us more closely to keep its commands.

Cross References 40

  • 1. Numbers 33:15
  • 2. Exodus 17:1, 8
  • 3. See Exodus 3:1
  • 4. Exodus 20:21; [Acts 7:38]
  • 5. Exodus 3:4
  • 6. Deuteronomy 29:2
  • 7. Deuteronomy 32:11, 12; Isaiah 63:9; Revelation 12:14
  • 8. Deuteronomy 7:6; Deuteronomy 14:2; Deuteronomy 26:18; Psalms 135:4; Malachi 3:17; Titus 2:14
  • 9. Exodus 9:29; Deuteronomy 10:14; Job 41:11; Psalms 24:1; Psalms 50:12; 1 Corinthians 10:26
  • 10. 1 Peter 2:5, 9; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10; Revelation 20:6
  • 11. Leviticus 20:26; Deuteronomy 7:6; Deuteronomy 14:21; Deuteronomy 26:19; Deuteronomy 28:9; Isaiah 62:12; 1 Peter 2:9
  • 12. Exodus 24:3, 7; Deuteronomy 5:27; Deuteronomy 26:17
  • 13. Exodus 20:21; Exodus 24:16; Deuteronomy 4:11; Psalms 18:11; Psalms 97:2; [Matthew 17:5]
  • 14. Deuteronomy 4:12, 36; [John 12:28, 29]
  • 15. Exodus 14:31
  • 16. Leviticus 11:44, 45; [Joshua 3:5]
  • 17. [Genesis 35:2; Leviticus 15:5]
  • 18. Exodus 34:5; [Deuteronomy 33:2]
  • 19. Cited Hebrews 12:20
  • 20. ver. 16, 19
  • 21. ver. 3
  • 22. [See ver. 10 above]
  • 23. [See ver. 10 above]
  • 24. ver. 11
  • 25. [1 Samuel 21:4, 5; 1 Corinthians 7:5]
  • 26. [See ver. 15 above]
  • 27. Psalms 77:18; Hebrews 12:18; Revelation 4:5; Revelation 8:5; Revelation 11:19
  • 28. ver. 9
  • 29. ver. 13
  • 30. Hebrews 12:21
  • 31. Deuteronomy 4:10
  • 32. Exodus 24:17; Judges 5:5; [Psalms 144:5; Isaiah 6:4; Revelation 15:8]
  • 33. Psalms 68:8; Hebrews 12:26
  • 34. [See ver. 16 above]
  • 35. Nehemiah 9:13; Psalms 81:7
  • 36. [Exodus 3:6; 1 Samuel 6:19]
  • 37. Leviticus 10:3
  • 38. 2 Samuel 6:8; 1 Chronicles 13:11
  • 39. ver. 12; [Joshua 3:4]
  • 40. 2 Samuel 6:8; 1 Chronicles 13:11

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. That is, shot with an arrow

Chapter Summary


In this chapter we have an account of the coming of the children of Israel to Mount Sinai, Ex 19:1,2, of the covenant made with them there, the proposal on the part of God, and their acceptance of it, Ex 19:3-8, the previous notice God gave three days before of his appearance on the mount, the orders for their preparation to meet him, and the execution of them, Ex 19:9-15, the awful and tremendous appearance of God upon the mount, Ex 19:6-20 and the strict charge given, that neither people nor priests should come near and gaze, only Moses and Aaron with him were to come up, bounds being set to prevent the rest, Ex 19:21-24, and the chapter is closed with observing, that Moses went down from the mount, and delivered to the people what the Lord spoke to and by him, Ex 19:25.

Exodus 19 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.