Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics
THE MOUNTAIN THAT SMOKED AND THE WORDS THAT WERE SPOKEN FROM IT
Exodus xvii: 1, to xxxi: 18.
HILE 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 anger:
"Give us water, or we shall die. Why have you brought
us up from Egypt to kill us here in the desert?"
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 Moses did:
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.
MOSES STRIKES THE ROCK
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
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,
as we read in Story 21.
The Israelites made their camp in front of Mount Sinai, and
stayed there for many days. And God said to Moses:
"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 glory."
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:
Thou shalt have none other gods but me.
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 my commandments.
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
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.
Honor thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long
upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
Thou shalt not kill.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Thou shalt not steal.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
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 will."
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 clouds.
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.
MOSES COMES DOWN FROM MT. SINAI WITH TABLES OF STONE