Bible Society of South Africa

Bible Reading Plan – Day 21

Bible text(s)

Jethro Visits Moses

1Moses' father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, heard about everything that God had done for Moses and the people of Israel when he led them out of Egypt. 2So he came to Moses, bringing with him Moses' wife Zipporah, who had been left behind, 3and Gershom and Eliezer, her two sons. (Moses had said, “I have been a foreigner in a strange land”; so he had named one son Gershom. 4He had also said, “The God of my father helped me and saved me from being killed by the king of Egypt”; so he had named the other son Eliezer.) 5Jethro came with Moses' wife and her two sons into the desert where Moses was camped at the holy mountain. 6He had sent word to Moses that they were coming, 7so Moses went out to meet him, bowed before him, and kissed him. They asked about each other's health and then went into Moses' tent. 8Moses told Jethro everything that the LORD had done to the king and the people of Egypt in order to rescue the Israelites. He also told him about the hardships the people had faced on the way and how the LORD had saved them. 9When Jethro heard all this, he was happy 10and said, “Praise the LORD, who saved you from the king and the people of Egypt! Praise the LORD, who saved his people from slavery! 11Now I know that the LORD is greater than all the gods, because he did this when the Egyptians treated the Israelites with such contempt.” 12Then Jethro brought an offering to be burnt whole and other sacrifices to be offered to God; and Aaron and all the leaders of Israel went with him to eat the sacred meal as an act of worship.

The Appointment of Judges

13The next day Moses was settling disputes among the people, and he was kept busy from morning till night. 14When Jethro saw everything that Moses had to do, he asked, “What is all this that you are doing for the people? Why are you doing this all alone, with people standing here from morning till night to consult you?”

15Moses answered, “I must do this because the people come to me to learn God's will. 16When two people have a dispute, they come to me, and I decide which one of them is right, and I tell them God's commands and laws.”

17Then Jethro said, “You are not doing it the right way. 18You will wear yourself out and these people as well. This is too much for you to do alone. 19Now let me give you some good advice, and God will be with you. It is right for you to represent the people before God and bring their disputes to him. 20You should teach them God's commands and explain to them how they should live and what they should do. 21But in addition, you should choose some capable men and appoint them as leaders of the people: leaders of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. They must be God-fearing men who can be trusted and who cannot be bribed. 22Let them serve as judges for the people on a permanent basis. They can bring all the difficult cases to you, but they themselves can decide all the smaller disputes. That will make it easier for you, as they share your burden. 23If you do this, as God commands, you will not wear yourself out, and all these people can go home with their disputes settled.”

24Moses took Jethro's advice 25and chose capable men from among all the Israelites. He appointed them as leaders of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. 26They served as judges for the people on a permanent basis, bringing the difficult cases to Moses but deciding the smaller disputes themselves.

27Then Moses said goodbye to Jethro, and Jethro went back home.

The Israelites at Mount Sinai

1-2The people of Israel left Rephidim, and on the first day of the third month after they had left Egypt they came to the desert of Sinai. There they set up camp at the foot of Mount Sinai, 3and Moses went up the mountain to meet with God.

The LORD called to him from the mountain and told him to say to the Israelites, Jacob's descendants: 4“You saw what I, the LORD, did to the Egyptians and how I carried you as an eagle carries her young on her wings, and brought you here to me. 5 Now, if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own people. The whole earth is mine, but you will be my chosen people, 6a people dedicated to me alone, and you will serve me as priests.” 7So Moses went down and called the leaders of the people together and told them everything that the LORD had commanded him. 8Then all the people answered together, “We will do everything that the LORD has said,” and Moses reported this to the LORD.

9The LORD said to Moses, “I will come to you in a thick cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will believe you from now on.”

Moses told the LORD what the people had answered, 10and the LORD said to him, “Go to the people and tell them to spend today and tomorrow purifying themselves for worship. They must wash their clothes 11and be ready the day after tomorrow. On that day I will come down on Mount Sinai, where all the people can see me. 12Mark a boundary round the mountain that the people must not cross, and tell them not to go up the mountain or even get near it. If anyone sets foot on it, he is to be put to death; 13he must either be stoned or shot with arrows, without anyone touching him. This applies to both men and animals; they must be put to death. But when the trumpet is blown, then the people are to go up to the mountain.”

14Then Moses came down the mountain and told the people to get ready for worship. So they washed their clothes, 15and Moses said to them, “Be ready by the day after tomorrow and don't have sexual intercourse in the meantime.”

16On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, a thick cloud appeared on the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast was heard. All the people in the camp trembled with fear. 17Moses led them out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18The whole of Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD had come down on it in fire. The smoke went up like the smoke of a furnace, and all the people trembled violently. 19The sound of the trumpet became louder and louder. Moses spoke, and God answered him with thunder. 20The LORD came down on the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. Moses went up 21and the LORD said to him, “Go down and warn the people not to cross the boundary to come and look at me; if they do, many of them will die. 22Even the priests who come near me must purify themselves, or I will punish them.”

23Moses said to the LORD, “The people cannot come up, because you commanded us to consider the mountain sacred and to mark a boundary round it.”

24The LORD replied, “Go down and bring Aaron back with you. But the priests and the people must not cross the boundary to come up to me, or I will punish them.” 25Moses then went down to the people and told them what the LORD had said.

The Ten Commandments

(Deut 5.1–21)

1God spoke, and these were his words: 2“I am the LORD your God who brought you out of Egypt, where you were slaves.

3“Worship no god but me.

4“Do not make for yourselves images of anything in heaven or on earth or in the water under the earth. 5Do not bow down to any idol or worship it, because I am the LORD your God and I tolerate no rivals. I bring punishment on those who hate me and on their descendants down to the third and fourth generation. 6But I show my love to thousands of generations of those who love me and obey my laws.

7“Do not use my name for evil purposes, for I, the LORD your God, will punish anyone who misuses my name.

8“Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy. 9You have six days in which to do your work, 10but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to me. On that day no one is to work — neither you, your children, your slaves, your animals, nor the foreigners who live in your country. 11In six days I, the LORD, made the earth, the sky, the sea, and everything in them, but on the seventh day I rested. That is why I, the LORD, blessed the Sabbath and made it holy.

12“Respect your father and your mother, so that you may live a long time in the land that I am giving you.

13“Do not commit murder.

14“Do not commit adultery.

15“Do not steal.

16“Do not accuse anyone falsely.

17“Do not desire another man's house; do not desire his wife, his slaves, his cattle, his donkeys, or anything else that he owns.”

The People's Fear

(Deut 5.22–33)

18When the people heard the thunder and the trumpet blast and saw the lightning and the smoking mountain, they trembled with fear and stood a long way off. 19They said to Moses, “If you speak to us, we will listen; but we are afraid that if God speaks to us, we will die.”

20Moses replied, “Don't be afraid; God has only come to test you and make you keep on obeying him, so that you will not sin.” 21But the people continued to stand a long way off, and only Moses went near the dark cloud where God was.

Laws about Altars

22The LORD commanded Moses to say to the Israelites: “You have seen how I, the LORD, have spoken to you from heaven. 23Do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gold to be worshipped in addition to me. 24Make an altar of earth for me, and on it sacrifice your sheep and your cattle as offerings to be completely burnt and as fellowship offerings. In every place that I set aside for you to worship me, I will come to you and bless you. 25If you make an altar of stone for me, do not build it out of cut stones, because when you use a chisel on stones, you make them unfit for my use. 26Do not build an altar for me with steps leading up to it; if you do, you will expose yourselves as you go up the steps.

The Treatment of Slaves

1“Give the Israelites the following laws: 2If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve you for six years. In the seventh year he is to be set free without having to pay anything. 3If he was unmarried when he became your slave, he is not to take a wife with him when he leaves; but if he was married when he became your slave, he may take his wife with him. 4If his master gave him a wife and she bore him sons or daughters, the woman and her children belong to the master, and the man shall leave by himself. 5But if the slave declares that he loves his master, his wife, and his children and does not want to be set free, 6then his master shall take him to the place of worship. There he is to make him stand against the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear. Then he will be his slave for life.

7“If a man sells his daughter as a slave, she is not to be set free, as male slaves are. 8If she is sold to someone who intends to make her his wife, but he doesn't like her, then she is to be sold back to her father; her master cannot sell her to foreigners, because he has treated her unfairly. 9If a man buys a female slave to give to his son, he is to treat her like a daughter. 10If a man takes a second wife, he must continue to give his first wife the same amount of food and clothing and the same rights that she had before. 11If he does not fulfil these duties to her, he must set her free and not receive any payment.

Laws about Violent Acts

12“Whoever hits someone and kills him is to be put to death. 13But if it was an accident and he did not mean to kill him, he can escape to a place which I will choose for you, and there he will be safe. 14But when anyone gets angry and deliberately kills someone else, he is to be put to death, even if he has run to my altar for safety.

15“Whoever hits his father or his mother is to be put to death.

16“Whoever kidnaps someone, either to sell him or to keep him as a slave, is to be put to death.

17“Whoever curses his father or his mother is to be put to death.

18-19“If there is a fight and one person hits another with a stone or with their fist, but does not kill them, they are not to be punished. If the one who was hit has to stay in bed, but later is able to get up and walk outside with the help of a stick, the one who hit them is to pay for their lost time and take care of them until they get well.

20“If a slave owner takes a stick and beats his slave, whether male or female, and the slave dies on the spot, the slave owner is to be punished. 21But if the slave does not die for a day or two, the master is not to be punished. The loss of his property is punishment enough.

22“If some men are fighting and hurt a pregnant woman so that she loses her child, but she is not injured in any other way, the one who hurt her is to be fined whatever amount the woman's husband demands, subject to the approval of the judges. 23But if the woman herself is injured, the punishment shall be life for life, 24eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

26“If someone hits his male or female slave in the eye and puts it out, he is to free the slave as payment for the eye. 27If he knocks out a tooth, he is to free the slave as payment for the tooth.

The Responsibility of Owners

28“If a bull gores someone to death, it is to be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten; but its owner is not to be punished. 29But if the bull had been in the habit of attacking people and its owner had been warned, but did not keep it penned up — then if it gores someone to death, it is to be stoned, and its owner is to be put to death also. 30However, if the owner is allowed to pay a fine to save his life, he must pay the full amount required. 31If the bull kills a boy or a girl, the same rule applies. 32If the bull kills a male or female slave, its owner shall pay the owner of the slave thirty pieces of silver, and the bull shall be stoned to death.

33“If someone takes the cover off a pit or if he digs one and does not cover it, and a bull or a donkey falls into it, 34he must pay for the animal. He is to pay the money to the owner and may keep the dead animal. 35If someone's bull kills someone else's bull, the two of them shall sell the live bull and divide the money; they shall also divide up the meat from the dead animal. 36But if it was known that the bull had been in the habit of attacking and its owner did not keep it penned up, he must make good the loss by giving the other man a live bull, but he may keep the dead animal.

Exodus 18:1-21:36GNBOpen in Bible reader
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