The name of the
first one was Gershom, because Moses had declared, "I was a
foreigner (ger) in a strange land." The name of the
other one was Eliezer, because, "My father's G-d (El) was my Helper
me from Pharaoh's sword."
Jethro came together with
Moses' wife and sons
to the desert, where Moses was staying, near HaShem's
mountain. He sent word to Moses: "I, your father-in-law
Jethro, am on my way to you, along with your wife. Her
two sons are with her."
Moses went out to greet his father-in-law, bowing
down low and kissing him. They asked about each
other's welfare and went into the tent. Moses told his father-in-law about all that
had done to Pharaoh and Egypt for the sake of Israel,
as well as all the frustrations they had encountered
on the way, and how HaShem had rescued them.
Jethro expressed joy because of all the good that
HaShem had done for Israel, rescuing them from Egypt's
"Praised be HaShem, who rescued you from
the power of Egypt and Pharaoh - who liberated the
people from Egypt's power. Now I know that HaShem is the greatest of all
deities. Through their very plots, He rose above them."
Jethro brought burnt offerings and
sacrifices to HaShem. Aaron and all the elders of Israel
came to share the meal with Moses' father-in-law
The next day, Moses sat to judge the people.
They stood around Moses from morning to evening. When Moses' father-in-law saw all that
was doing for the people, he said, "What are you doing
to the people? Why are you sitting by yourself and
letting all the people stand around you from morning
"The people come to me to seek
Moses to his father-in-law. "Whenever they have a problem, they come to me.
I judge between man and his neighbor, and I teach HaShem's decrees and
Moses' father-in-law said to him,
"What you are
doing is not good.
You are going to wear yourself out, along with
this nation that is with you. Your responsibility is
too great. You cannot do it all alone.
Now listen to me. I will give you advice, and HaShem will be with you. You must be
for the people, and bring their concerns to Him. Clarify the decrees and laws for
Show them the path they must take, and the things they
must do. But you must also seek out from among all the
people capable, G-d-fearing men - men of truth, who
hate injustice. You must then appoint them over the people as leaders of thousands, leaders of hundreds,
leaders of fifties, and leaders of tens. Let them administer justice for the people on a
regular basis. Of course, they will have to bring
every major case to you, but they can judge the minor
cases by themselves. They will then share the burden,
making things easier for you. If you agree to this, and HaShem
agrees, you will
be able to survive. This entire nation will then also
be able to attain its goal of peace."
Moses took his father-in-law's advice, and did
all that he said. He chose capable men from all Israel, and he
appointed them as administrators over the people,
leaders of thousands, leaders of hundreds, leaders of
fifties, and leaders of tens. They administered justice on a regular basis,
bringing the difficult cases to Moses, and judging the
simple cases by themselves.
Moses let his father-in-law depart, and he went
away to his homeland.
The Ten Commandments
In the third month after the Israelites left
Egypt, on the first of the month, they came to the
desert of Sinai. They had departed from Rephidim and had arrived
in the Sinai Desert, camping in the wilderness. Israel
camped opposite the mountain.
Moses went up to
HaShem. HaShem called to him from the
mountain and said, "This is what you must say to the
family of Jacob and tell the Israelites: You saw what I did in Egypt, carrying you on
eagles' wings and bringing you to Me. Now if you obey Me and keep My covenant, you
shall be My special treasure among all nations, even
though all the world is Mine. You will be a kingdom of priests and a holy
nation to Me. These are the words that you must
relate to the Israelites."
back and summoned the elders of the
people, conveying to them all that HaShem had said. All the people answered as one and said,
that HaShem has spoken, we will do."
Moses brought the people's reply back to HaShem. HaShem said to Moses,
"I will come to you in a thick
cloud, so that all the people will hear when I speak
to you. They will then believe in you forever."
Moses told HaShem the people's response to that. HaShem said to Moses,
"Go to the people, and
sanctify them today and tomorrow. Let them even
immerse their clothing. They will then be ready for the third day, for
on the third day, HaShem will descend on Mount Sinai in
the sight of all the people. Set a boundary for the people around
the mountain, and tell them to be careful not to climb
the mountain, or even to touch its edge. Anyone
touching the mountain will be put to death. You will not have to lay a hand on him for he
will be stoned or cast down. Neither man nor beast
will be allowed to live. But when the trumpet is
sounded with a long blast, they will then be allowed
to climb the mountain."
Moses went down from the mountain to the people.
He sanctified them, and they immersed themselves and
their clothing. Moses said to the people, "Keep yourselves in
readiness for three days."
The third day arrived. There was thunder and
lightning in the morning, with a heavy cloud on the
mountain, and an extremely loud blast of a ram's horn.
The people in the camp trembled. Moses led the people out of the camp toward the
Divine Presence. They stood transfixed at the foot of
Mount Sinai was all in smoke because of the
Presence that had come down on it. HaShem was in the
fire, and its smoke went up like the smoke of a lime
kiln. The entire mountain trembled violently. There was the sound of a ram's horn, increasing
in volume to a great degree. Moses spoke, and HaShem replied with a Voice.
came down on Mount Sinai, to the peak of the
mountain. He summoned Moses to the mountain peak, and
Moses climbed up.
said to Moses, "Go back down and warn the
people that they must not cross the boundary in order
to see the Divine, because this will cause many to
die. The priests, who usually come near the Divine
must also sanctify themselves, or else I will send
destruction among them."
Moses replied to
HaShem, "The people cannot climb
Mount Sinai. You already warned them to set a boundary
around the mountain and to declare it sacred."
said to him, "Go down. You can then come
[back] up along with Aaron. But the priests and the
[other] people must not violate the boundary to go up
to the Divine; if they do, He will send destruction among
Moses went down to the people and conveyed this
The First Two Commandments
spoke all these words, saying:
I am HaShem your Lord, who brought you out of Egypt,
from the place of slavery. Do not have any other g-ds before Me.
Do not represent G-d by any carved statue
or picture of anything in the heaven above, on the
earth below, or in the water below the land. Do not bow down to
or worship them. I
am HaShem your Lord, a HaShem who demands exclusive worship.
Where My enemies are concerned, I keep in mind the sin
of the fathers for their descendants, to the third
and fourth generation. But for those who love Me and keep My
commandments, I show love for thousands of
The Third Commandment
Do not take the name of
HaShem your Lord in vain. HaShem will not allow the one who takes His name in vain
to go unpunished.
The Fourth Commandment
Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy.
You can work during the six weekdays and do all
your tasks. But Saturday is the Sabbath to HaShem your Lord. Do
not do anything that constitutes work. This includes
you, your son, your daughter, your slave, your maid,
your animal, and the foreigner in your gates. It was during the six weekdays that
I made the
heaven, the earth, the sea, and all that is in them,
but he rested on Saturday. I therefore blessed the
Sabbath day and made it holy.
The Fifth Commandment
Honor your father and mother. You will then live
long on the land that HaShem your Lord is giving you.
The Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Commandments
Do not commit murder.
Do not commit adultery.
Do not steal.
Do not testify as a false witness against your
The Tenth Commandment
Do not be envious of your neighbor's house. Do not be envious of your neighbor's wife, his slave,
his maid, his ox, his donkey, or anything else that is
Aftermath of the Ten Commandments
All the people saw the sounds, the flames, the
blast of the ram's horn, and the mountain smoking. The
people trembled when they saw it, keeping their
They said to Moses,
"You speak to us, and we
will listen. But let HaShem not speak with us any more,
for we will die if He does."
"Do not be
afraid," replied Moses to the people. "HaShem only came to raise you up. His fear will then be
on your faces, and you will not sin."
The people kept their distance while Moses
entered the mist where the Divine was revealed.
said to Moses: This is what you must tell
the Israelites: "You have seen that I spoke to you from heaven.
Do not make a representation of anything that is
with Me. Do not make silver or gold g-ds for
yourselves. Make an earthen altar for Me. You can sacrifice
your burnt offerings, your peace offerings, your sheep
and your cattle on it. Wherever I allow My name to be
mentioned, I will come to you and bless you. When you eventually build a stone altar for Me,
do not build it out of cut stone. Your sword will have
been lifted against it, you will have profaned it. Do not climb up to My altar with steps, so that
your nakedness not be revealed on it."
See the Ten Commandments in Hebrew
Mishpatim Exodus 21:1
Jeremiah 34.8-22, 33.25-26