Ratification of the Covenant. 1Moses himself was told: Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, with Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel. You shall bow down at a distance. 2Moses alone is to come close to the LORD; the others shall not come close, and the people shall not come up with them.
3When Moses came to the people and related all the words and ordinances of the LORD, they all answered with one voice, “We will do everything that the LORD has told us.”a 4Moses then wrote down all the words of the LORD and, rising early in the morning, he built at the foot of the mountain an altar and twelve sacred stones* for the twelve tribes of Israel. 5b Then, having sent young men of the Israelites to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice young bulls as communion offerings to the LORD, 6Moses took half of the blood and put it in large bowls; the other half he splashed on the altar. 7Taking the book of the covenant, he read it aloud to the people, who answered, “All that the LORD has said, we will hear and do.” 8Then he took the blood and splashed it on the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you according to all these words.”
9Moses then went up with Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy elders of Israel, 10and they beheld the God of Israel. Under his feet there appeared to be sapphire tilework, as clear as the sky itself. 11Yet he did not lay a hand on these chosen Israelites. They saw God,* and they ate and drank.
Moses on the Mountain. 12The LORD said to Moses: Come up to me on the mountain and, while you are there, I will give you the stone tabletsc on which I have written the commandments intended for their instruction. 13So Moses set out with Joshua, his assistant, and went up to the mountain of God. 14He told the elders, “Wait here for us until we return to you. Aaron and Hur are with you. Anyone with a complaint should approach them.” 15Moses went up the mountain. Then the cloud covered the mountain. 16The glory of the LORD settled upon Mount Sinai. The cloud covered it for six days, and on the seventh day he called to Moses from the midst of the cloud.d 17To the Israelites the glory of the LORD was seen as a consuming fire on the top of the mountain.e 18But Moses entered into the midst of the cloud and went up on the mountain. He was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.f
* [24:4] Sacred stones: stone shafts or slabs, erected as symbols of the fact that each of the twelve tribes had entered into this covenant with God; see 23:24; Gn 28:18.
* [24:11] They saw God: the ancients thought that the sight of God would bring instantaneous death. Cf. 33:20; Gn 16:13; 32:31; Jgs 6:22–23; 13:22. Ate and drank: partook of the sacrificial meal.
c. [24:12] Ex 31:18; 32:15–16; Dt 5:22.
e. [24:17] Ex 19:18; Heb 12:18.