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The Revelation on Mount Sinai

The Revelation on Mount Sinai

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The Preparations

On Rosh Chodesh Sivan, the first day of the third month after the exodus from Egypt, the children of Israel reached the desert of Sinai and camped near the mountain. During the few weeks of traveling in the desert under Divine protection, with daily miracles, such as the manna and the birds, the miraculous sweetening of the water, the defeat of Amalek, and the crossing of the Red Sea, the Jewish people had become more and more conscious of G-d. Their faith grew more intense daily, until they attained a standard of holiness, solidarity, and unity, never achieved before or after by any other nation.

Moses ascended Mount Sinai, and G-d spoke to him the following words (Exodus 3-6): "So shall you say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel. You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and [how] I bore you on eagles' wings, and I brought you to Me. And now, if you obey Me and keep My covenant, you shall be to Me a treasure out of all peoples, for Mine is the entire earth. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of princes and a holy nation."

Moses returned from Sinai and called for the elders of the people and put all these words of G-d before them. Unanimously, with one voice and one mind, the people answered: Naaseh Venishma - "Everything G-d has said, we will do." Thus they accepted the Torah outright, with all its precepts, not even asking for a detailed enumeration of the obligations and duties it involved. When Israel had voiced its eagerness to receive the Torah, G-d spoke to Moses again (Exodus: 20:17): "Go to the people and prepare them today and tomorrow, and they shall wash their garments. And they shall be prepared for the third day, for on the third day, the L-rd will descend before the eyes of all the people upon Mount Sinai. And you shall set boundaries for the people around, saying, Beware of ascending the mountain or touching its edge; whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death.' No hand shall touch it, for he shall be stoned or cast down; whether man or beast, he shall not live. When the ram's horn sounds a long, drawn out blast, they may ascend the mountain."

The Revelation on Sinai

The dawn of the third day broke amid thunder and lightning that filled the air. Heavy clouds hung over the mountain, and steadily growing sound of the Shofar horn  made the people shake and tremble with fear. Moses led the children of Israel out of the camp and placed them at the foot of Mount Sinai, which was all covered by smoke and was quaking, for G-d had descended upon it in fire.

The Ten Commandments

The blasting of the Shofar horn grew louder, but suddenly all sounds ceased, and an absolute silence ensued; and then G-d proclaimed the Ten Commandments as follows:

1. "I am the Lord, your God, Who took you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

2. You shall not have the gods of others in My presence. You shall not make for yourself a graven image or any likeness which is in the heavens above, which is on the earth below, or which is in the water beneath the earth. You shall neither prostrate yourself before them nor worship them, for I, the Lord, your God, am a zealous God, Who visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons, upon the third and the fourth generation of those who hate Me, and [I] perform loving kindness to thousands [of generations], to those who love Me and to those who keep My commandments.

3. You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain, for the Lord will not hold blameless anyone who takes His name in vain.

4. Remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it. Six days may you work and perform all your labor, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord, your God; you shall perform no labor, neither you, your son, your daughter, your manservant, your maidservant, your beast, nor your stranger who is in your cities. For [in] six days the Lord made the heaven and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and sanctified it.

5. Honor your father and your mother, in order that your days be lengthened on the land that the Lord, your God, is giving you.

6. You shall not murder.

7. You shall not commit adultery.

8. You shall not steal.

9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

10. You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, his manservant, his maidservant, his ox, his donkey, or whatever belongs to your neighbor."

Moses Receives the Torah

The entire people heard the words of G-d, and they became frightened.

They begged Moses to be the intermediary between G-d and them, for if G-d Himself would continue to give them the entire Torah, they would surely die. Moses told them not to be afraid, for G-d had revealed Himself to them so that they would fear Him and not sin.

Then G-d asked Moses to ascend the mountain; for he alone was able to stand in the presence of G-d. There Moses was to receive the two tablets containing the Ten Commandments, and the entire Torah, to teach it to the children of Israel. Moses went up the mountain and stayed there forty days and forty nights, without food or sleep, for he had become like an angel. During this time, G-d revealed to Moses the entire Torah, with all its laws and the interpretations thereof. Finally, G-d gave Moses the two stone Tables of Testimony, containing the Ten Commandments, written by G-d Himself.

From Our People by Jacob Isaacs published and copyrighted by Kehot Publication Society 1946-1948
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