Exodus Chapter 17 to 19 : Easy-to-Read Version  | SearchSearch | Next Version | Previous Page | Next Page |

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17 All the people of Israel traveled together from the desert of Sin. They traveled from place to place as the Lord commanded. The people traveled to Rephidim and camped there. There was no water there for the people to drink. 2So the people turned against Moses and started arguing with him. The people said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why have you turned against me? Why are you testing the Lord? {Do you think the Lord is not with us?}” 3But the people were very thirsty for water. So they continued complaining to Moses. The people said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt? Did you bring us out here so that we, our children, and our cattle will all die without water?” 4So Moses cried to the Lord, "What can I do with these people? They are ready to kill me.” 5The Lord said to Moses, “Go before the people of Israel. Take some of the elders (leaders) of the people with you. Carry your walking stick with you. This is the stick that you used when you hit the Nile River. 6I will stand before you on a rock at Horeb (Mount Sinai). Hit that rock with the walking stick and water will come out of it. Then the people can drink.” Moses did these things and the elders (leaders) of Israel saw it. 7Moses named that place Meribah* and Massah,* because this was the place that the people of Israel turned against him and tested the Lord. The people wanted to know if the Lord was with them or not. 8At Rephidim the Amalekite people came and fought against the people of Israel. 9So Moses said to Joshua, "Choose some men and go and fight the Amalekites tomorrow. I will stand on the top of the hill and watch you. I will be holding the walking stick God gave me.” 10Joshua obeyed Moses and went to fight the Amalekite people the next day. At the same time, Moses, Aaron, and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11Any time Moses held his hands in the air, the men of Israel would win the fight. But when Moses put his hands down, the men of Israel began to lose the fight. 12After some time, Moses’ arms became tired. {The men with Moses wanted to find a way to keep Moses’ hands in the air.} So they put a large rock under Moses for him to sit on. Then Aaron and Hur held Moses’ hands in the air. Aaron was on one side of Moses and Hur was on the other side. They held his hands up like this until the sun went down. 13So Joshua {and his men} defeated the Amalekites in this battle. 14Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write about this battle. Write these things in a book so people will remember what happened here. And be sure to tell Joshua that I will completely destroy the Amalekite people from the earth.” 15Then Moses built an altar.* Moses named the altar, “The Lord is my flag.” 16Moses said, “I lifted my hands toward the Lord’s throne. So the Lord fought against the Amalekites, like he always has.”

Meribah This name means “rebellion.” Massah This name means “trial,” “temptation,” or “test.” altar A table or raised area used for offering sacrifices.

Advice from Moses’ Father-in-Law

18 Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, was a priest in Midian. Jethro heard about the many ways that God helped Moses and the people of Israel. Jethro heard about the Lord leading the people of Israel out of Egypt. 2So Jethro went to Moses while Moses was camped near the mountain of God.* Jethro brought Moses’ wife, Zipporah, with him. (Zipporah was not with Moses, because Moses had sent her home.) 3Jethro also brought Moses’ two sons with him. The first son was named Gershom,* because when he was born, Moses said, “I am a stranger in a foreign country.” 4The other son was named Eliezer,* because when he was born, Moses said, “The God of my father helped me and saved me from the king of Egypt.” 5So Jethro went to Moses while Moses was camped in the desert near the mountain of God (Mount Sinai). Moses’ wife and his two sons were with Jethro. 6{Jethro sent a message to Moses.} Jethro said, “This is your father-in-law Jethro. I am bringing your wife and her two sons to you.” 7So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law. Moses bowed down before him and kissed him. The two men asked about each other’s health. Then they went into Moses’ tent to talk more. 8Moses told Jethro everything the Lord had done for the people of Israel. Moses told about the things the Lord did to Pharaoh and the people of Egypt. Moses told about all the problems they had along the way. And Moses told his father-in-law how the Lord saved the people of Israel every time there was trouble. 9Jethro was happy when he heard all the good things the Lord had done for Israel. He was glad that the Lord had freed the people of Israel from the Egyptians. 10Jethro said, “Praise the Lord! He freed you from the power of Egypt. The Lord saved you from Pharaoh. 11Now I know the Lord is greater than all the gods. They thought they were in control, but look what God did! 12Jethro got some sacrifices* and offerings to honor God. Then Aaron and all the elders (leaders) of Israel came to eat with Moses’ father-in-law Jethro. They all ate together there with God. 13The next day, Moses had the special job of judging the people. {There were very many people,} so the people had to stand before Moses all day. 14Jethro saw Moses judging the people. He asked, “Why are you doing this? Why are you the only judge? And why do people come to you all day?” 15Then Moses said to his father-in-law, “The people come to me and ask me to ask for God’s decision to their problem. 16If people have an argument, they come to me. I decide which person is right. In this way, I teach the people God’s laws and teachings.” 17But Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “This isn’t the right way to do this. 18It is too much work for you to do alone. You can’t do this job by yourself. It wears you out. And it makes the people tired too! 19Now, listen to me. Let me give you some advice. And I pray God will be with you. You should continue listening to the problems of the people. And you should continue to speak to God about these things. 20You should teach God’s laws and teachings to the people. Warn them not to break the laws. Tell them the right way to live. Tell them what they should do. 21But you should also choose some of the people to be judges and leaders. “Choose good men you can trust—men who respect God. Choose men who will not change their decisions for money. And make these men rulers over the people. There should be rulers over 1,000 people, 100 people, 50 people, and even over ten people. 22Let these rulers judge the people. If there is a very important case, then they can come to you and let you decide what to do. But they can decide the other cases themselves. In this way, these men will share your work with you and it will be easier for you to lead the people. 23If you do these things, Lord willing, then you will be still able to do your job. And at the same time, the people can go home with their problems solved.” 24So Moses did what Jethro told him. 25Moses chose good men from among the people of Israel. Moses made them leaders over the people. There were rulers over 1,000 people, 100 people, 50 people, and ten people. 26These rulers were judges for the people. The people could always bring their arguments to these rulers. And Moses had to decide only the most important cases. 27After a short time, Moses said goodbye to his father-in-law Jethro. And Jethro went back to his own home.

Gershom This name is like the Hebrew words meaning “a stranger there.” Eliezer This name means “My God helps.” sacrifice(s) A gift to God. Usually, it was a special animal that was killed and burned on an altar. mountain of God That is, “Mount Horeb,” also called “Mount Sinai.”

God’s Agreement with Israel

19 The people of Israel reached the Sinai desert in the third month of their trip from Egypt. 2They had traveled from Rephidim to the Sinai desert. The people of Israel camped in the desert near the mountain (Mount Horeb). 3Then Moses climbed up the mountain to meet with God. God spoke to him on the mountain and said, “Tell these things to the people of Israel, the great family of Jacob: 4‘You people have seen what I can do to my enemies. You saw what I did to the people of Egypt. You saw that I carried you out of Egypt like an eagle and brought you here to me. 5So now I tell you to obey my commands. Keep my Agreement. If you do this, then you will be my own special people. The whole world belongs to me. But I am choosing you to be my own special people. 6You will be a special nation—a kingdom of priests.’ Moses, you must tell the people of Israel what I have said.” 7So Moses climbed down the mountain and called the elders (rulers) of the people together. Moses told the elders everything the Lord had commanded him to tell them. 8All the people spoke at the same time and said, “We will obey everything the Lord says.” Then Moses went back to God on the mountain. Moses told God that the people would obey him. 9And the Lord said to Moses, “I will come to you in the thick cloud. I will speak to you. All of the people will hear me talking to you. I will do this so that the people will always believe the things you tell them.” Then Moses told God all the things the people had said. 10And the Lord said to Moses, “Today and tomorrow you must prepare the people for a special meeting. The people must wash their clothes 11and be ready for me on the third day. On the third day the Lord will come down to Mount Sinai. And all the people will see me. 12–13But you must tell the people to stay away from the mountain. Make a line and don’t let the people cross that line. Any person or animal that touches the mountain must be killed. He must be killed with rocks or shot with arrows. But don’t let anyone touch him. The people must wait until the trumpet blows. Only then can they go up the mountain.” 14So Moses climbed down the mountain and went to the people. Moses got them ready for the special meeting and they washed their clothes. 15Then Moses said to the people, “Be ready for the meeting with God in three days. Until that time, the men must not touch the women.” 16On the morning of the third day, a thick cloud came down onto the mountain. There was thunder and lightning and a very loud sound from a trumpet. All the people in the camp were frightened. 17Then Moses led the people out of the camp to a place near the mountain to meet God. 18Mount Sinai was covered with smoke. Smoke rose off the mountain like smoke from a furnace. This happened because the Lord came down to the mountain in fire. Also, the whole mountain began to shake. 19The noise from the trumpet became louder and louder. Every time Moses spoke to God, God answered him with a voice like thunder. 20So the Lord came down to Mount Sinai. The Lord came from heaven to the top of the mountain. Then the Lord called Moses to come up to the top of the mountain with him. So Moses went up the mountain. 21The Lord said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people not to come near me and look at me. If they do this, then many people will die. 22Also tell the priests who will come near me that they must prepare themselves for this special meeting. If they don’t do this, then I will punish them.” 23Moses told the Lord, “But the people cannot come up the mountain. You yourself told us to make a line and not allow the people to cross the line to holy ground.” 24The Lord said to him, “Go down to the people. Get Aaron and bring him back with you. But don’t let the priests or the people come near me. I will punish them if they come too close.” 25So Moses went down to the people and told them these things.

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