Exodus 20:18-19

18 When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance
19 and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”

Exodus 20:18-19 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO EXODUS 20

In this chapter we have an account of the giving of the law on Mount Sinai; the preface to it, Ex 20:1,2, the ten commandments it consists of, Ex 20:8-17, the circumstances attending it, which caused the people to remove at some distance, Ex 20:18, when they desired of Moses, that he would speak to them and not God, who bid them not fear, since this was for the trial of them; but still they kept at a distance, while Moses drew nigh to God, Ex 20:19-21 who ordered him to caution the children of Israel against idolatry, and directed what sort of an altar he would have made whereon to offer their sacrifices, promising that where his name was recorded he would grant his presence and blessing, Ex 20:22-26.

Exodus 20:18-19 In-Context

16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
18 When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance
19 and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”
20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”
21 The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.

Cross References 5

  • 1. Exodus 19:16-19; Deuteronomy 4:36; Isaiah 58:1; Jeremiah 6:17; Ezekiel 33:3; Hebrews 12:18-19; Revelation 1:10
  • 2. S Exodus 19:18
  • 3. S Genesis 3:10; S Exodus 14:31; S Exodus 19:16
  • 4. Job 37:4,5; Job 40:9; Psalms 29:3-4
  • 5. Dt 5:5,23-27; Deuteronomy 18:16; Galatians 3:19