Exodus 19: Moses and the people reach Sinai in this chapter. God tells Moses to tell the people that “if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples” (Ex. 19.5). God then tells Moses that he will come to him in the form of a dense cloud and he wants the people to witness it so they will continue to trust Moses. The people are told this will happen in three days, so they prepare. They are also told that they may not touch the mountain or they will be put to death. Moses also says “Prepare for the third day; do not go near a woman” (Ex. 19.15). As in, sex is not allowed. According to the notes this causes impurity. Based on all the sex going on in Genesis, I was a little surprised by this command.
On the third day, everyone went to the base of the mountain. God descended upon Mount Sinai and asked Moses to come to the top. God tells him to make sure the people are kept away, but then says for him to bring Aaron up.
Exodus 20: God presents the ten commandments to his people. It’s interesting to read these, especially since how they are numbered depends on your denomination. I didn’t quite realize that. Here they are in the order in this chapter:
- You shall have no other gods before me (verse 3)
- You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. ⁵ You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, ⁶ but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments. (4-6)
- You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name. (7)
- Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. ⁹ Six days you shall labor and do all your work. ¹⁰ But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. ¹¹ For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it. (8-11)
- Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. (12)
- You shall not murder. (13)
- You shall not commit adultery. (14)
- You shall not steal. (15)
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. (16)
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. (17)
Not too much to say on these except for the second one. I totally agree that God is jealous. His destruction of Egypt was evidence of that jealousy.
Exodus 21: This chapter presents “ordinances” from God. These are a bunch of rules for different scenarios. There are a bunch. I’m only going to focus on a few that are just a little strange to me. Instead of copying them over like I did with the ten commandments, I will just summarize and give my thoughts:
- Purchase a male Hebrew slave (2-6): This part shares rules that should be followed when purchasing a slave. This definitely seems like a promotion of slavery, which I am against. As I’ve said before, I am looking at this through a 21st century lens, but to me it still isn’t right.
- When a man sells his daughter as a slave (7-11): Um…not good. Not cool at all. I don’t care that there are rules here on how someone is supposed to treat your daughter after you sell her. This is just flat out wrong.
- If you kill someone, you’re dead, unless it was an act of God (12-14)
- If you hit your father or mother, you’re dead (15)
- If you kidnap someone, you’re dead (16)
- If you curse your parents, you’re dead (17)
- If you hurt someone, but they don’t die, then you are free of liability except to pay for lost time and to arrange full recovery (18-19)
- If a slaveowner strikes a slave and the slave dies right away, then the owner is punished. If the slave is alive for a few days, then no punishment. You know, since the slave is property and not a person. Again, not cool. (20-21)
- If you fight someone and hurt a pregnant women who then miscarried, but only miscarried, the responsible party will be “fined what the husband demands.” If there’s any further harm, the responsible party is dead: “shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe” (23-24). Full bit is 22-24. Um…yeah, not good again. But here we get the “eye for eye” statement. Definitely more catchy than “tooth for tooth.”
- If a slaveowner hits his/her slave and destroys either an eye or tooth, the slave is free. (26-27)
The remaining ordinances here are related to if an ox gores different people and the punishment. There’s even an ordinance for when someone digs a pit and an ox or donkey falls into the pit.
Psalm 15: This is an interesting psalm. It lists 10 actions that someone who is a true worshiper follows. Honestly, if this were the litmus test, I don’t see how anyone would be in heaven. Thankfully we are allowed to ask for forgiveness and encouraged to admit our wrongdoings. Here’s what it says:
“Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right, and speak the truth from their heart; ³ who do not slander with their tongue, and do no evil to their friends, nor take up a reproach against their neighbors; ⁴ in whose eyes the wicked are despised, but who honor those who fear the Lord; who stand by their oath even to their hurt; ⁵ who do not lend money at interest, and do not take a bribe against the innocent” (Psalm 15.2-5).
Definitely high expectations! I’m not saying this is impossible, but back to what I’ve read in Luke and Exodus, the “requirements” to be a follower are tough to fulfill. Again, as I just said, thankfully we are encouraged to admit our sins and seek forgiveness.
Psalm 16: To me this is about the importance of following God and believing in the one God. It seems like the author is expressing thanks and gratitude for God being there. Pretty much if God is in your corner, you are good to go.
Psalm 17: The author is asking for God’s help in a difficult time. The author is asking for God to protect him from his enemies. The author indicates that they are not a sinner and a good person.