December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- In the third month after their departure from the land of Egypt, on its first day, the Israelites came to the desert of Sinai.
- After the journey from Rephidim to the desert of Sinai, they pitched camp. While Israel was encamped here in front of the mountain,
- Moses went up the mountain to God. Then the LORD called to him and said, "Thus shall you say to the house of Jacob;
- tell the Israelites: You have seen for yourselves how I treated the Egyptians and how I bore you up on eagle wings and brought you here to myself.
- Therefore, if you hearken to my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my special possession, dearer to me than all other people, though all the earth is mine.
- 1 You shall be to me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. That is what you must tell the Israelites."
- So Moses went and summoned the elders of the people. When he set before them all that the LORD had ordered him to tell them,
- the people all answered together, "Everything the LORD has said, we will do." Then Moses brought back to the LORD the response of the people.
- The LORD also told him, "I am coming to you in a dense cloud, so that when the people hear me speaking with you, they may always have faith in you also." When Moses, then, had reported to the LORD the response of the people,
- the LORD added, "Go to the people and have them sanctify themselves today and tomorrow. Make them wash their garments
- and be ready for the third day; for on the third day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai before the eyes of all the people.
- Set limits for the people all around the mountain, and tell them: Take care not to go up the mountain, or even to touch its base. If anyone touches the mountain, he must be put to death.
- No hand shall touch him; he must be stoned to death or killed with arrows. Such a one, man or beast, must not be allowed to live. Only when the ram's horn resounds may they go up to the mountain."
- Then Moses came down from the mountain to the people and had them sanctify themselves and wash their garments.
- He warned them, "Be ready for the third day. Have no intercourse with any woman."
- On the morning of the third day there were peals of thunder and lightning, and a heavy cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled.
- But Moses led the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stationed themselves at the foot of the mountain.
- Mount Sinai was all wrapped in smoke, for the LORD came down upon it in fire. The smoke rose from it as though from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently.
- The trumpet blast grew louder and louder, while Moses was speaking and God answering him with thunder.
- When the LORD came down to the top of Mount Sinai, he summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up to him.
- Then the LORD told Moses, "Go down and warn the people not to break through toward the LORD in order to see him; otherwise many of them will be struck down.
- The priests, too, who approach the LORD must sanctify themselves; else he will vent his anger upon them."
- Moses said to the LORD, "The people cannot go up to Mount Sinai, for you yourself warned us to set limits around the mountain to make it sacred."
- The LORD repeated, "Go down now! Then come up again along with Aaron. But the priests and the people must not break through to come up to the LORD; else he will vent his anger upon them."
- So Moses went down to the people and told them this.
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1  Kingdom of priests: inasmuch as the whole Israelite nation was consecrated to God in a special way, it formed a race of royal priests who participated in the liturgical sacrifices, even though the actual offering of the sacrifices was the exclusive prerogative of the Aaronic priesthood. The same condition exists in the New Dispensation as regards the whole Christian people and the Christian priesthood in the strict sense. Cf Isaiah 61:6; 1 Peter 2:5, 9.
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