Exodus Chapter 20 to 21 : Easy-to-Read Version  | SearchSearch | Next Version | Previous Page | Next Page |

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The Ten Commandments

20 Then God said, 2“I am the Lord* your God. I led you out of the land of Egypt where you were slaves. {So you must obey these commands:} 3“You must not worship any other gods except me. 4“You must not make any idols.* Don’t make any statues or pictures of anything up in the sky or of anything on the earth or of anything down in the water. 5Don’t worship or serve idols of any kind. Why? Because I, the Lord, am your God. I hate my people worshiping other gods.* People who sin against me become my enemies. And I will punish those people. And I will punish their children, their grandchildren, and even their great-grandchildren. 6But I will be very kind to people who love me and obey my commands. I will be kind to their families for thousands of generations!* 7“You must not use the name of the Lord your God in a wrong way. If a person uses the Lord’s name in a wrong way, then that person is guilty. And the Lord will not make him innocent. 8“You must remember to keep the Sabbath* a special day. 9Work at your job six days a week. 10But the seventh day is a day of rest in honor of the Lord your God. So on that day no person should work—not you, your sons and daughters, or your men and women slaves. Even your animals and the foreigners living in your cities must not work! 11Why? Because the Lord worked six days and made the sky, the earth, the sea, and everything in them. And on the seventh day, God rested. In this way, the Lord blessed the Sabbath—the day of rest. The Lord made that a very special day. 12“You must honor (respect) your father and your mother. Do this so you will have a full life in the land that the Lord your God gives you. 13“You must not murder anyone. 14“You must not do the sin of adultery.* 15“You must not steal anything. 16“You must not tell lies about other people.* 17“You must not want to take your neighbor’s house. You must not want his wife. And you must not want his men and women servants, or his cattle, or his donkeys. You must not want to take anything that belongs to another person!”

The People Are Afraid of God

18During all this time, the people in the valley heard the thundering and saw the lightning on the mountain. They saw smoke rising from the mountain. The people were afraid, and they shook with fear. They stood away from the mountain and watched. 19Then the people said to Moses, “If you want to speak to us, then we will listen. But please don’t let God speak to us. If this happens, we will die.” 20Then Moses said to the people, “Don’t be afraid! The Lord has come to prove that he loves you. He wants you to respect him so that you will not sin.” 21The people stood away from the mountain while Moses went to the dark cloud where God was. 22Then the Lord told Moses to say these things to the people of Israel: “You people have seen that I talked with you from heaven. 23So you must not make idols using gold or silver to compete with me. You must not make these false gods. 24“Make a special altar* for me. Use dirt to make this altar. Offer burnt offerings and fellowship offerings on this altar as a sacrifice* to me. Use your sheep and your cattle to do this. Do this in every place where I tell you to remember me. Then I will come and bless you. 25If you use stones to make an altar, then don’t use stones that were cut with an iron tool.* If you do that, it will make the altar not acceptable. 26And you must not make steps leading up to the altar. If there are steps, then when people look up to the altar, they will be able to see under your clothes.”

Lord Or, “YAHWEH.” idols Statues of false gods that people worshiped. I hate … gods Or, “I am El Kanah—the Jealous God.” But I will be … generations Or, “But I will show mercy to thousands of people that love me and obey my commands.” Sabbath Saturday, a special day of rest and worship for Jews. adultery Breaking the marriage promise by doing sexual sin. You … other people Or, “You must not be a false witness against your neighbor.” altar A table or raised area used for offering sacrifices. sacrifice A gift to God. Usually, it was a special animal that was killed and burned on an altar. iron tool Literally, “sword.”

Other Laws and Commands

21 {Then God said to Moses,} “These are the other laws that you will give to the people: 2“If you buy a Hebrew* slave, then that slave will serve for only six years. After six years he will become free. He will have to pay nothing. 3If the person is not married when he becomes your slave, then when he becomes free, he will leave without a wife. But if the man is married when he becomes your slave, then he will keep his wife at the time he is made free. 4If the slave is not married, the master can give him a wife. If that wife gives birth to sons or daughters, then she and her children will belong to the master. After the slave is finished with his years of service, then he will be made free. 5“But maybe the slave will decide that he wants to stay with the master. Then he must say, ‘I love my master. I love my wife and my children. I will not become free—I will stay.’ 6If this happens, then the master will bring the slave before God. The master will take the slave to a door or the wooden frame around the door. And the master will make a hole through the slave’s ear using a sharp tool. Then the slave will serve that master for all his life. 7“A man might decide to sell his daughter as a slave. If this happens, the rules for making her free are not the same as the rules for making the men slaves free. 8If the master is not pleased with the woman, then he can sell the woman back to her father. If the master promised {to marry the woman}, then he loses the right to sell the woman to other people. 9If the master promised to let the slave woman marry his son, then she must not be treated like a slave. She must be treated like a daughter. 10“If the master marries another woman, then he must not give less food or clothing to the first wife. And he must continue to give her the things she has a right to have in marriage. 11The man must do these three things for her. If he does not, then the woman is made free, and it will cost her nothing. She owes no money to the man. 12“If a person hits someone and kills him, then that person must be killed too. 13But if an accident happens, and a person kills someone without planning it, then God allowed that thing to happen. I will choose some special places where people can run for safety. So that person can run to one of those places. 14But if a person planned to kill another person because he is angry or hates him, then that killer must be punished. Take him away from my altar* and kill him. 15“Any person who hits his father or his mother must be killed. 16“If a person steals someone to sell him as a slave or to keep him for his own slave, then that person must be killed. 17“Any person who curses* his father or his mother must be killed. 18“Two men might argue and one might hit the other with a rock or with his fist. {How should you punish that man?} If the man who was hurt is not killed, then the man who hurt him should not be killed. 19If the man was hurt and must stay in bed for some time, then the man who hurt him must support him. The man who hurt him must pay for the loss of his time. The man must support him until he is completely healed. 20“Sometimes people beat their men or women slaves. If the slave dies after he is beaten, then the killer must be punished. 21But if the slave does not die and after a few days the slave becomes well, then that person will not be punished.* Why? Because the master paid his money for the slave, and the slave belongs to him. 22“Two men might be fighting and they might hurt a pregnant woman. This might make the woman give birth to her babies {before their time}. If the woman was not hurt badly,* then the man who hurt her must pay a fine. The woman’s husband will decide how much the man must pay. The judges will help the man decide how much the fine will be. 23But if the woman was hurt badly,* then the man who hurt her must be punished. {If a person is killed, then the person who caused it must be killed.} You must trade one life for another life. 24You must trade an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot, 25a burn for a burn, a bruise for a bruise, a cut for a cut. 26“If a man hits a slave in the eye, and the slave is blinded in that eye, then the slave will be allowed to go free. His eye is the payment for his freedom. This is the same for a man or a woman slave. 27If a master hits his slave in the mouth, and the slave loses a tooth, then the slave will be allowed to go free. The slave’s tooth is payment for the slave’s freedom. This is the same for a man or a woman slave. 28“If a man’s bull kills a man or woman, then you should use rocks and kill that bull. You should not eat the bull. But the owner of the bull is not guilty. 29But if the bull had hurt people in the past, and if the owner was warned, then the owner is guilty. Why? Because he did not keep the bull tied or locked in its place. So if the bull is allowed to be free and kills someone, then that owner is guilty. You should kill the bull with rocks and also kill the owner. 30But the family of the dead man may accept money. If they accept money, then the man who owned the bull should not be killed. But he must pay as much money as the judge decides. 31“This same law must be followed if the bull kills a person’s son or daughter. 32But if the bull kills a slave, then the owner of the animal must pay the master 30 pieces of silver.* And the bull must also be killed with rocks. This law will be the same for men and women slaves. 33“A man might take a cover off a well or he might dig a hole and not cover it. If another man’s animal comes and falls into that hole, then the man who owns the hole is guilty. 34The man who owns the hole must pay for the animal. But after he pays for the animal, then he will be allowed to keep the body of that animal. 35“If one man’s bull kills another man’s bull, then they should sell the bull that is alive. Both men will get half of the money that comes from selling the bull, and both men will also get half of the bull that was killed. 36But if a man’s bull has hurt other animals in the past, then that owner is responsible for his bull. If his bull kills another bull, then he is guilty because he allowed the bull to be free. That man must pay bull for bull. He must trade his bull for the bull that was killed.

Hebrew Or, “Israelite.” altar A table or raised area used for offering sacrifices. It was one of the special places an innocent person could run for safety.  curse To ask for bad things to happen to someone. punished Or, “punished for murder.” hurt badly Or, “killed.” 30 pieces of silver The price for a new slave. 

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