Exodus 19

At Mount Sinai

1 On the first day of the third month after the Israelites left Egypt—on that very day—they came to the Desert of Sinai.
2 After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain.
3 Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel:
4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.
5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine,
6 you[a] will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”
7 So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the LORD had commanded him to speak.
8 The people all responded together, “We will do everything the LORD has said.” So Moses brought their answer back to the LORD.
9 The LORD said to Moses, “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you.” Then Moses told the LORD what the people had said.
10 And the LORD said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes
11 and be ready by the third day, because on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.
12 Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not approach the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain is to be put to death.
13 They are to be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on them. No person or animal shall be permitted to live.’ Only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they approach the mountain.”
14 After Moses had gone down the mountain to the people, he consecrated them, and they washed their clothes.
15 Then he said to the people, “Prepare yourselves for the third day. Abstain from sexual relations.”
16 On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled.
17 Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.
18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain[b] trembled violently.
19 As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.[c]
20 The LORD descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up
21 and the LORD said to him, “Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the LORD and many of them perish.
22 Even the priests, who approach the LORD, must consecrate themselves, or the LORD will break out against them.”
23 Moses said to the LORD, “The people cannot come up Mount Sinai, because you yourself warned us, ‘Put limits around the mountain and set it apart as holy.’ ”
24 The LORD replied, “Go down and bring Aaron up with you. But the priests and the people must not force their way through to come up to the LORD, or he will 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 53

  • 1. S Exodus 6:6
  • 2. Numbers 1:1; Numbers 3:14; Numbers 33:15
  • 3. S Exodus 17:1
  • 4. S ver 17; S Exodus 3:1; Deuteronomy 5:2-4
  • 5. Exodus 20:21
  • 6. S Exodus 3:4; S Exodus 25:22; Acts 7:38
  • 7. Deuteronomy 29:2; Joshua 24:7
  • 8. Deuteronomy 32:11; Psalms 103:5; Isaiah 40:31; Jeremiah 4:13; Jeremiah 48:40; Revelation 12:14; Isaiah 63:9
  • 9. Deuteronomy 33:12; Isaiah 31:5; Ezekiel 16:6
  • 10. Exodus 15:26; Deuteronomy 6:3; Psalms 78:10; Jeremiah 7:23
  • 11. S Genesis 17:9; S Exodus 3:1; Deuteronomy 5:2
  • 12. S Exodus 8:22; S Exodus 34:9; S Deuteronomy 8:1; S Titus 2:14; Deuteronomy 14:2; Psalms 135:4
  • 13. S Exodus 9:29; Deuteronomy 10:14; 1 Corinthians 10:26
  • 14. Isaiah 61:6; Isaiah 66:21; S 1 Peter 2:5
  • 15. Genesis 18:19; Leviticus 11:44-45; Deuteronomy 4:37; Deuteronomy 7:6; Deuteronomy 26:19; Deuteronomy 28:9; Deuteronomy 29:13; Deuteronomy 33:3; Isaiah 4:3; Isaiah 62:12; Jeremiah 2:3; Amos 3:2
  • 16. Exodus 18:12; Leviticus 4:15; Leviticus 9:1; Numbers 16:25
  • 17. Exodus 4:30; 1 Samuel 8:10
  • 18. Exodus 24:3,7; Deuteronomy 5:27; Deuteronomy 26:17
  • 19. ver 16; Exodus 20:21; Exodus 24:15-16; Exodus 33:9; Exodus 34:5; Deuteronomy 4:11; 2 Samuel 22:10,12; 2 Chronicles 6:1; Psalms 18:11; Psalms 97:2; Psalms 99:7; Matthew 17:5
  • 20. Deuteronomy 4:12,36; John 12:29-30
  • 21. S Exodus 4:5
  • 22. ver 14,22; Leviticus 11:44; Numbers 11:18; 1 Samuel 16:5; Joel 2:16; Hebrews 10:22
  • 23. S Genesis 35:2; Revelation 22:14
  • 24. ver 16
  • 25. S Genesis 11:5
  • 26. ver 3,20; S Exodus 3:1; Exodus 24:16; Exodus 31:18; Exodus 34:2,4,29,32; Leviticus 7:38; Leviticus 26:46; Leviticus 27:34; Numbers 3:1; Deuteronomy 10:5; Nehemiah 9:13; Galatians 4:24-25
  • 27. ver 23
  • 28. Hebrews 12:20*
  • 29. Joshua 6:4; 1 Chronicles 15:28; Psalms 81:3; Psalms 98:6
  • 30. ver 21; Exodus 34:3
  • 31. S Genesis 35:2
  • 32. 1 Samuel 21:4; 1 Corinthians 7:5
  • 33. 1 Samuel 2:10; Isaiah 29:6
  • 34. S ver 9
  • 35. Hebrews 12:18-19; Revelation 4:1
  • 36. S Genesis 3:10; 1 Samuel 13:7; 1 Samuel 14:15; 1 Samuel 28:5; Psalms 99:1; Hebrews 12:21
  • 37. S ver 2; Deuteronomy 4:11
  • 38. Exodus 20:18; Psalms 104:32; Isaiah 6:4; Revelation 15:8
  • 39. S Exodus 3:2; Exodus 24:17; Leviticus 9:24; Deuteronomy 4:11,24,33,36">Deuteronomy 4:11,24,33,36; Deuteronomy 4:11; Deuteronomy 5:4; Deuteronomy 9:3; 1 Kings 18:24,38; 1 Chronicles 21:26; 2 Chronicles 7:1; Psalms 18:8; Hebrews 12:18
  • 40. S Genesis 19:28; Revelation 9:2
  • 41. Judges 5:5; 2 Samuel 22:8; Psalms 18:7; Psalms 68:8; Isaiah 2:19; Isaiah 5:25; Isaiah 41:15; Isaiah 64:1; Jeremiah 4:24; Jeremiah 10:10; Micah 1:4; Nahum 1:5; Habakkuk 3:6,10; Haggai 2:6
  • 42. S ver 9; Deuteronomy 4:33; Nehemiah 9:13
  • 43. Psalms 81:7
  • 44. S ver 11
  • 45. Exodus 24:10-11; Exodus 3:5; Numbers 4:20; 1 Samuel 6:19
  • 46. S ver 13
  • 47. Leviticus 10:3
  • 48. 1 Samuel 16:5; 2 Chronicles 29:5; Joel 2:16
  • 49. ver 24; 2 Samuel 6:7
  • 50. ver 11
  • 51. ver 12
  • 52. Exodus 24:1,9
  • 53. ver 22

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. Or "possession, for the whole earth is mine. " 6"You"
  • [b]. Most Hebrew manuscripts; a few Hebrew manuscripts and Septuagint "and all the people"
  • [c]. Or "and God answered him with thunder"

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

Scripture quoted by permission.  Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide.