171The whole Israelite community left the desert of Sin, moving from one place to another at the command of the LORD. They made camp at Rephidim, but there was no water there to drink. 2They complained to Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.”
Moses answered, “Why are you complaining? Why are you putting the LORD to the test?”
3But the people were very thirsty and continued to complain to Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt? To kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”
4Moses prayed earnestly to the LORD and said, “What can I do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.”
5The LORD said to Moses, “Take some of the leaders of Israel with you, and go on ahead of the people. Take along the stick with which you struck the Nile. 6I will stand before you on a rock at Mount Sinai. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” Moses did so in the presence of the leaders of Israel.
7The place was named Massah and Meribah,17.7 Massah… Meribah: These names in Hebrew mean “testing” and “complaining”. because the Israelites complained and put the LORD to the test when they asked, “Is the LORD with us or not?”
8The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. 9Moses said to Joshua, “Pick out some men to go and fight the Amalekites tomorrow. I will stand on top of the hill holding the stick that God told me to carry.” 10Joshua did as Moses commanded him and went out to fight the Amalekites, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11As long as Moses held up his arms, the Israelites won, but when he put his arms down, the Amalekites started winning. 12When Moses' arms grew tired, Aaron and Hur brought a stone for him to sit on, while they stood beside him and held up his arms, holding them steady until the sun went down. 13In this way Joshua totally defeated the Amalekites.
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write an account of this victory, so that it will be remembered. Tell Joshua that I will completely destroy the Amalekites.” 15Moses built an altar and named it “The LORD is my Banner”. 16He said, “Hold high the banner of the LORD!17.16 Probable text Hold… LORD; Hebrew unclear. The LORD will continue to fight against the Amalekites for ever!”
181Moses' 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. 2
So he came to Moses, bringing with him Moses' wife Zipporah, who had been left behind, 3
and 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.18.3 Gershom: This name sounds like the Hebrew for “foreigner”. 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.18.4 Eliezer: This name sounds like the Hebrew for “God helps me”.) 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.
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.
191-2The 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, 6
a 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. 12
Mark 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.”
On 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.