18 Now Yitro the priest of Midyan, Moshe’s father-in-law, heard about all that God had done for Moshe and for Isra’el his people, how Adonai had brought Isra’el out of Egypt. 2 After Moshe had sent away his wife Tzipporah and her two sons, Yitro Moshe’s father-in-law had taken them back. 3 The name of the one son was Gershom, for Moshe had said, “I have been a foreigner in a foreign land.” 4 The name of the other was Eli‘ezer [my God helps], “because the God of my father helped me by rescuing me from Pharaoh’s sword.” 5 Yitro Moshe’s father-in-law brought Moshe’s sons and wife to him in the desert where he was encamped, at the mountain of God. 6 He sent word to Moshe, “I, your father-in-law Yitro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons.”
7 Moshe went out to meet his father-in-law, prostrated himself and kissed him. Then, after inquiring of each other’s welfare, they entered the tent. 8 Moshe told his father-in-law all that Adonai had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Isra’el’s sake, all the hardships they had suffered while traveling and how Adonai had rescued them. 9 Yitro rejoiced over all the good that Adonai had done for Isra’el by rescuing them from the Egyptians. 10 Yitro said, “Blessed be Adonai, who has rescued you from the Egyptians and from Pharaoh, who has rescued the people from the harsh hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that Adonai is greater than all other gods, because he rescued those who were treated so arrogantly.” 12 Yitro Moshe’s father-in-law brought a burnt offering and sacrifices to God, and Aharon came with all the leaders of Isra’el to share the meal before God with Moshe’s father-in-law.
(ii) 13 The following day Moshe sat to settle disputes for the people, while the people stood around Moshe from morning till evening. 14 When Moshe’s father-in-law saw all that he was doing to the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing to the people? Why do you sit there alone, with all the people standing around you from morning till evening?” 15 Moshe answered his father-in-law, “It’s because the people come to me seeking God’s guidance. 16 Whenever they have a dispute, it comes to me; I judge between one person and another, and I explain to them God’s laws and teachings.”
17 Moshe’s father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing isn’t good. 18 You will certainly wear yourself out — and not only yourself, but these people here with you as well. It’s too much for you — you can’t do it alone, by yourself. 19 So listen now to what I have to say. I will give you some advice, and God will be with you. You should represent the people before God, and you should bring their cases to God. 20 You should also teach them the laws and the teachings, and show them how to live their lives and what work they should do. 21 But you should choose from among all the people competent men who are God-fearing, honest and incorruptible to be their leaders, in charge of thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Normally, they will settle the people’s disputes. They should bring you the difficult cases; but ordinary matters they should decide themselves. In this way, they will make it easier for you and share the load with you. 23 If you do this — and God is directing you to do it — you will be able to endure; and all these people too will arrive at their destination peacefully.”
(iii) 24 Moshe paid attention to his father-in-law’s counsel and did everything he said. 25 Moshe chose competent men from all Isra’el and made them heads over the people, in charge of thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 26 As a general rule, they settled the people’s disputes — the difficult cases they brought to Moshe, but every simple matter they decided themselves.
27 Then Moshe let his father-in-law leave, and he went off to his own country.
19 (iv) In the third month after the people of Isra’el had left the land of Egypt, the same day they came to the Sinai Desert. 2 After setting out from Refidim and arriving at the Sinai Desert, they set up camp in the desert; there in front of the mountain, Isra’el set up camp.
3 Moshe went up to God, and Adonai called to him from the mountain: “Here is what you are to say to the household of Ya‘akov, to tell the people of Isra’el: 4 ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now if you will pay careful attention to what I say and keep my covenant, then you will be my own treasure from among all the peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you will be a kingdom of cohanim for me, a nation set apart.’ These are the words you are to speak to the people of Isra’el.”
(v) 7 Moshe came, summoned the leaders of the people and presented them with all these words which Adonai had ordered him to say. 8 All the people answered as one, “Everything Adonai has said, we will do.” Moshe reported the words of the people to Adonai. 9 Adonai said to Moshe, “See, I am coming to you in a thick cloud, so that the people will be able to hear when I speak with you and also to trust in you forever.” Moshe had told Adonai what the people had said; 10 so Adonai said to Moshe, “Go to the people; today and tomorrow separate them for me by having them wash their clothing; 11 and prepare for the third day. For on the third day, Adonai will come down on Mount Sinai before the eyes of all the people. 12 You are to set limits for the people all around; and say, ‘Be careful not to go up on the mountain or even touch its base; whoever touches the mountain will surely be put to death. 13 No hand is to touch him; for he must be stoned or shot by arrows; neither animal nor human will be allowed to live.’ When the shofar sounds, they may go up on the mountain.”
(S: vi) 14 Moshe went down from the mountain to the people and separated the people for God, and they washed their clothing. 15 He said to the people, “Prepare for the third day; don’t approach a woman.”
16 On the morning of the third day, there was thunder, lightning and a thick cloud on the mountain. Then a shofar blast sounded so loudly that all the people in the camp trembled. 17 Moshe brought the people out of the camp to meet God; they stood near the base of the mountain. 18 Mount Sinai was enveloped in smoke, because Adonai descended onto it in fire — its smoke went up like the smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain shook violently. 19 As the sound of the shofar grew louder and louder, Moshe spoke; and God answered him with a voice.
(A: vi, S: vii) 20 Adonai came down onto Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain; then Adonai called Moshe to the top of the mountain; and Moshe went up. 21 Adonai said to Moshe, “Go down and warn the people not to force their way through to Adonai to see him; if they do, many of them will perish. 22 Even the cohanim, who are allowed to approach Adonai, must keep themselves holy; otherwise, Adonai may break out against them.” 23 Moshe said to Adonai, “The people can’t come up to Mount Sinai, because you ordered us to set limits around the mountain and separate it.” 24 But Adonai answered him, “Go, get down! Then come back up, you and Aharon with you. But don’t let the cohanim and the people force their way through to come up to Adonai, or he will break out against them.”
25 So Moshe went down to the people and told them.
20 Then God said all these words:
א 2 “I am Adonai your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the abode of slavery.
ב 3 “You are to have no other gods before me. 4 You are not to make for yourselves a carved image or any kind of representation of anything in heaven above, on the earth beneath or in the water below the shoreline. 5 You are not to bow down to them or serve them; for I, Adonai your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sins of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but displaying grace to the thousandth generation of those who love me and obey my mitzvot.
ג 7 “You are not to use lightly the name of Adonai your God, because Adonai will not leave unpunished someone who uses his name lightly.
ד 8 “Remember the day, Shabbat, to set it apart for God. 9 You have six days to labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Shabbat for Adonai your God. On it, you are not to do any kind of work — not you, your son or your daughter, not your male or female slave, not your livestock, and not the foreigner staying with you inside the gates to your property. 11 For in six days, Adonai made heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. This is why Adonai blessed the day, Shabbat, and separated it for himself.
ה 12 “Honor your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land which Adonai your God is giving you.
ו 13 “Do not murder.
ז (14) “Do not commit adultery.
ח (15) “Do not steal.
ט (16) “Do not give false evidence against your neighbor.
י 14 (17) “Do not covet your neighbor’s house; do not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female slave, his ox, his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
(A: vii) 15 (18) All the people experienced the thunder, the lightning, the sound of the shofar, and the mountain smoking. When the people saw it, they trembled. Standing at a distance, 16 (19) they said to Moshe, “You, speak with us; and we will listen. But don’t let God speak with us, or we will die.” 17 (20) Moshe answered the people, “Don’t be afraid, because God has come only to test you and make you fear him, so that you won’t commit sins.” 18 (21) So the people stood at a distance, but Moshe approached the thick darkness where God was.
(A: Maftir) 19 (22) Adonai said to Moshe, “Here is what you are to say to the people of Isra’el: ‘You yourselves have seen that I spoke with you from heaven. 20 (23) You are not to make with me gods of silver, nor are you to make gods of gold for yourselves. (S: Maftir) 21 (24) For me you need make only an altar of earth; on it you will sacrifice your burnt offerings, peace offerings, sheep, goats and cattle. In every place where I cause my name to be mentioned, I will come to you and bless you. 22 (25) If you do make me an altar of stone, you are not to build it of cut stones; for if you use a tool on it, you profane it. 23 (26) Likewise, you are not to use steps to go up to my altar; so that you won’t be indecently uncovered.’”
Haftarah Yitro: Yesha‘yahu (Isaiah) 6:1–7:6; 9:5(6)– 6(7) (A); 6:1–13 (S)
B’rit Hadashah suggested readings for Parashah Yitro: Mattityahu (Matthew) 5:21–30; 15:1–11; 19:16–30; Mark 7:5–15; 10:17–31; Luke 18:18–30; Acts 6:1–7; Romans 2:17–29; 7:7–12; 13:8–10; Ephesians 6:1–3; 1 Timothy 3:1–14; 2 Timothy 2:2; Titus 1:5–9; Messianic Jews (Hebrews) 12:18–29; Ya‘akov (James) 2:8–13; 1 Kefa (1 Peter) 2:9–10