Exodus 20:18-21

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.

Exodus 20:18 in Other Translations

KJV
18 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.
ESV
18 Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off
NLT
18 When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the ram’s horn, and when they saw the flashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear.
MSG
18 All the people, experiencing the thunder and lightning, the trumpet blast and the smoking mountain, were afraid - they pulled back and stood at a distance.
CSB
18 All the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain [surrounded by] smoke. When the people saw [it] they trembled and stood at a distance.

Exodus 20:18-21 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 20:18-21 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.
22 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites this: ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from heaven:
23 Do not make any gods to be alongside me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold.

Cross References 10

  • 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
  • 6. S Genesis 15:1
  • 7. S Genesis 22:1
  • 8. Deuteronomy 4:10; Deuteronomy 6:2,24; Deuteronomy 10:12; Psalms 111:10; Psalms 128:1; Proverbs 1:7; Ecclesiastes 12:13; Isaiah 8:13
  • 9. Job 1:8; Job 2:3; Job 28:28; Proverbs 3:7; Proverbs 8:13; Proverbs 14:16; Proverbs 16:6
  • 10. S Exodus 19:9; Deuteronomy 5:22; Psalms 18:9; Psalms 68:4; Psalms 97:2; Isaiah 19:1
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