The Mountain That Smoked
and Words That Were Spoke
The Ten Commandments
Exodus xvii: 1, to
the Israelites were journeying through the desert
they had great trouble from want of water. Between
the wells of Elim and Mount Sinai, they found no
streams nor springs. Their sheep and men suffered
from thirst, and the little children were crying for
water. The people came to Moses, and said in great
"Give us water, or we shall die. Why have you
brought us up from Egypt to kill us here in the
And Moses called on God, and said:
"Lord, what shall I do to this people? They are
almost ready to stone me in their anger. How can I
give them water?"
Then God told Moses what to do; and this was what
He brought the people together before a great rock,
and with his rod he struck the rock. Then out of the
rock came forth a stream of water, which ran like a
little river through the camp, and gave them plenty
of water for themselves and for their flocks.
While they were in camp around this rock at Rephidim
the wild people who had their homes in the desert,
and were called the Amalekites, made sudden war on
the Israelites. They came down upon them from the
mountains, while they were weary with marching, and
killed some of the Israelites. Then Moses called out
those of the people who were fit for war, and made a
young man named Joshua their leader; and they fought
a battle with the Amalekites.
While they were fighting, Moses stood on a rock,
where all could see him, and prayed the Lord God to
help his people. His hands were stretched out toward
heaven; and while Moses' hands were reaching upward
the Israelites were strong, and drove back the
enemy. But when Moses' arms fell down, then the
enemy drove back the men of Israel.
So Aaron, Moses' brother, and Hur (who is thought to
have been Moses' brother-in-law, the husband of his
sister Miriam), stood beside Moses, and held up his
hands until the Israelites won the victory, and
overcame the men of Amalek.
In the third month after the Israelites had left the
land of Egypt they came to a great mountain which
rises straight up from the plain, so straight that
one can walk up to it and touch it with his hand.
This was Mount Sinai; and it was one of a group of
mountains called Horeb, where Moses saw the burning
bush, and heard God's voice.
The Israelites made their camp in front of Mount
Sinai, and stayed there for many days. And God said
"Let none of the people go up on the mount, or come
near to touch it. If even one of your cattle or
sheep shall touch the mountain it must be killed.
This is a holy place, where God will show his
And a few days after this, the people heard the
voice as of many trumpets sounding on the top of the
mountain. They looked, and saw that the mountain was
covered with clouds and smoke, and lightnings were
flashing from it, while the thunder rolled and
crashed. And the mountain shook and trembled, as
though an earthquake were tearing it in pieces.
The people were filled with alarm. They came out of
their tents, and ran back from the foot of the
mountain, and stood far off, trembling with fear.
Then God spoke in the hearing of all the people, as
with a voice of thunder, and said:
"I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the
land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage."
And then God spoke to all the people the words of
the Ten Commandments, to which you have listened
many times. The words are these:
I. Thou shalt have no other
gods but me.
II. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image,
nor any likeness of anything that is in heaven
above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is
in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow
down thyself to them, nor serve them; for I the Lord
thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of
the fathers upon the children, unto the third and
fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing
mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep
III. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy
God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him
guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
IV. Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy. Six
days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; but the
seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in
it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son,
nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy
maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that
is within thy gates; for in six days the Lord made
heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is,
and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord
blessed the Sabbath-day, and hallowed it.
V. Honor thy father and thy mother; that thy days
may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God
VI. Thou shalt not kill.
VII. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
VIII. Thou shalt not steal.
IX. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy
X. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou
shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his
man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor
his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor's.
And all the people heard these words spoken by the
Lord God; and they saw the mountain smoking, and the
lightning flashing, and they were frightened. They
said to Moses:
"Let not God speak to us any more; for the sound of
his voice will take away our lives. Let God speak to
you, Moses, and do you speak to us God's words."
"Fear not," said Moses, "for God has come to you, to
speak with you, that you may fear him, and do his
And Moses drew near to the mountain, where the
clouds and darkness and lightnings were. Then God
called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses
went up, and with him was his helper, the young man
Joshua. Joshua stayed on the side of the mountain,
but Moses went up alone to the top, among the
And there Moses stayed upon the mountain, alone with
God, for forty days, talking with God, and listening
to the words which God spoke to him, the laws for
the people of Israel to obey. And God gave to Moses
two flat tablets of stone, upon which God had
written with his own hand the Ten Commandments.
The Ten Commandments