BIBLICAL ETHICS: AN INTRODUCTION

From the beginning of the Bible to the end, God gives people specific instructions about how he wants them to conduct their lives. The study of these instructions and their wise application to life is known as the discipline of biblical ethics. These instructions from God about ethical living involve many commands, laws, moral standards, ideals, prohibitions, and principles of wisdom relating to moral judgment. They also concern matters of moral accountability, including rewards and punishments that provide incentives for pleasing God and avoiding what he abhors. From start to finish, ethical understanding in the Bible is about applying the holiness of God to human life on earth (Lev. 11:44–45; 19:2; 20:7; 1 Pet. 1:14–16). This article offers an overview of such biblical ethics as based on the totality of moral revelation in the Word of God, and several articles that follow it show the application of Christian ethics to specific moral issues.

AN OVERVIEW OF ETHICAL INSTRUCTION AND EXAMPLE IN THE BIBLE

The first example of ethical instruction in the Bible is seen when God gave Adam and Eve commands, both positively, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28), and negatively, “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat” (Gen. 2:17). Later in the Bible God gave his people the foundational guidelines set forth in the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:1–17; cf. Deut. 5:6–21), and then he added the numerous, even more detailed laws that are found in large portions of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. These laws not only prescribed and prohibited certain actions but also taught people about right attitudes of heart: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart” (Deut. 6:5; cf. Lev. 19:18; Ps. 40:8; 119:16). In addition to direct commands, the Bible also teaches about moral living through narrative literature (revealing what pleases or displeases God), wisdom literature (revealing characteristics of good judgment), and prophetic words (revealing how people and nations are accountable to God), all of which indicate the kinds of conduct, character, and goals that God either approves or disapproves.

When Jesus came, he lived a life of perfect obedience to God, for he said, “I always do the things that are pleasing to him” (John 8:29), and many passages affirm that Jesus’ life was completely free of sin: He was “one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15), and he was “obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8; cf. John 15:10; Acts 3:14; 2 Cor. 5:21;Heb. 7:26; 1 Pet. 1:19; 1 John 2:1; 3:5). Jesus employed three characteristic motifs in his ethical teaching. First, he often described moral living in terms of God reigning as a king and his people’s duty as citizens to obey the rules of his kingdom (cf. esp. Matt. 5:3, 10, 19–20; 6:10, 33; 13:37–43, 47–50; 18:23–35; 21:31–32, 43). Second, he frequently described moral living in terms of the obligations, loyalties, and privileges of children in a family headed by God as a loving Father (cf. esp. Matt. 5:9, 16, 43–48; 6:1–4, 14–15; 12:50; 23:9; Mark 3:35; John 12:36). Third, Jesus taught in terms of disciples following, imitating, and obeying him as a beloved teacher, mentor, and role model (cf. esp. Matt. 10:24–25; 16:24; Mark 10:43–45; Luke 6:40; John 13:15–17; 14:15, 21, 23–24; 15:10, 12). And at the end of his ministry he commissioned his followers to teach other disciples from all nations “to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:20). In addition to his teaching, Jesus’ life is also a pattern for believers to imitate, for “whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (1 John 2:6).

The Bible ends with a picture of the new Jerusalem, a city in which the only residents are those who obey God’s moral standards, for “nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false” (Rev. 21:27), and those who are kept “outside” are “sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood” (Rev. 22:15). Obedience to God’s ethical standards brings him glory (Matt. 5:16; 1 Cor. 6:20) and is also best for his people (Ps. 1:1; John 14:21; Rom. 12:2; Heb. 12:10).

JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH AND THE IMPORTANCE OF MORAL OBEDIENCE

The NT clearly teaches that justification, that is, pardon and acceptance with God, comes to people only through faith in Christ alone, who is offered to sinful humanity as Savior by God’s grace alone: “by grace you have been saved through faith” and “this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works” (Eph. 2:8–9). But then Paul immediately says that God wants Christians to live in obedience to him: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). It is impossible to read the NT epistles, or to listen to the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels, without hearing dozens upon dozens of moral commands, standards, warnings, and promises telling Christians how they should live in order to please God in their daily conduct. Therefore it must be seen as a matter of great importance to God that his people, who have been justified by faith alone, live every day of their lives walking in obedience to God’s moral standards (Heb. 12:14). In fact, in John 14, Jesus four times stresses the essential connection between loving him and obeying what he commands (John 14:15, 21, 23, 24). Empowered by the Holy Spirit, daily obedience expressing faith, loyalty, and love toward Christ will have a transforming effect. The conscience will be clear (1 Tim. 3:9; cf. 1:5); the heart will know great peace (Phil. 4:9); joy will abound (Rom. 14:17); assurance will be strong (2 Pet. 1:5–10); and distressing experiences will be taken in stride (1 Pet. 2:18–24).

GOD’S HOLY CHARACTER AS THE SOURCE OF HIS MORAL STANDARDS

God’s moral standards are never arbitrary or capricious, but are all consistent with and derived from his own moral character. This is why Paul can say, “be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Eph. 5:1). This theme of imitating God’s moral character is found throughout the Bible: “we love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:15, quoting Lev. 11:44). The commands not to lie but to speak truthfully are grounded in the imperative that believers should increasingly live out the image of their Creator, who does not lie (Col. 3:9–10).

Other commands also reflect the pattern of imitation of God. “Honor your father and your mother” (Ex. 20:12) is a reflection of the Son honoring the Father and being obedient to the Father’s will within the counsels of the Trinity (cf. John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38). The command not to murder (Ex. 20:13) is grounded in the fact that God is the Creator and sustainer of life and places immense value on the lives of human beings created in his image (Gen. 9:6). The command “You shall not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14) is a command to be faithful in marriage relationships, based on imitating God’s faithfulness in all his covenant commitments. The command not to steal (Ex. 20:15) is grounded in a respect for the fact that a sovereign God has entrusted stewardship of possessions to various individuals, and people should respect that stewardship. The command not to covet (Ex. 20:17) is based on imitation of the fact that God himself delights in the excellence of his holy character and his providential arranging of things; therefore, we too should delight in his arrangements and never be discontented with them.

But if all God’s moral standards are grounded in his unchanging moral character, it follows that he could not have given commands that were substantially different from these. He could not have commanded people, e.g., to be unfaithful, or to lie, or to murder others. Why? Because such commands would be contrary to the moral character of God himself, or would suggest that God’s moral character changes so that he is sometimes actually unfaithful, or tells lies, or unjustly hates and destroys human lives. Anything contrary to the holiness of God is abhorrent and dishonoring to God because it violates his moral character (cf. Prov. 30:9). God cannot issue, and could never have issued, moral standards in contradiction to those he gave, not because God’s sovereignty is limited by anything or anyone other than himself, but only because God can never be other than he is. He can never cease to be God. And he can never be untrue to his unchanging moral character.

If one understands the ethical system found in the Bible to be grounded in the moral character of God, this also provides an answer to the age-old philosophical question, “How can one ever reason from what is (a description of reality) to what ought to be (a prescription of right and wrong)?” If what is (that is, what exists in the universe) begins with God himself and his moral character, then God’s very beingdetermines the nature of the things that are right and wrong, and thus God’s being determines, in an ultimate sense, what ought to be.

This understanding of the Bible’s ethical system also implies that God’s moral standards (when rightly understood and applied) are for all people and all cultures throughout all history, because they are the moral standards of the eternal Creator of the universe.

HOW CAN PEOPLE DISCOVER GOD’S MORAL STANDARDS?

It may at first seem overwhelming when someone is told, “Just obey the entire Bible as it applies to your situation in life.” The Bible is a large and diverse book and contains some stipulations (esp. in the OT) that hardly seem to apply today. Must all biblical commands be treated the same, or does the Bible itself provide reasons for classifying various commands in different categories? To address this, most Christian interpreters have agreed to some broad principles for determining how various biblical commands apply today. These principles of interpretation include the following:

1. The NT is written directly for followers of Christ living under the new covenant. Though “all Scripture” (including all of the OT) is “profitable” for the Christian (2 Tim. 3:16), immediate application to life is clearer when reading the NT, for these books were written to Christian believers who were in the same situation as Christians are today with respect to God’s overall plan for the history of salvation; they were living in the new covenant age, and so are God’s people today. Searching the NT is a good “first step” in resolving an ethical question.

2. Many details of the Mosaic law are either no longer binding or were never meant for everyone. While some aspects of God’s law delivered to Moses reflected God’s standards of moral holiness for all time, many other aspects did not deal directly with morality but with procedures for conducting the Levitical worship system under the old covenant, or with ceremonies and rituals that showed Israel to be a distinct nation, or with administrating the civil government of Israel upon entering the Promised Land. Most interpreters agree, therefore, that what God ordered for the civil government of Israel (though wise) was never meant for other nations and other governments, and that the ceremonial requirements of the old covenant are not applicable today. Thus, e.g., laws concerning circumcision, sacrifices, unclean foods, and clothing are part of the “ceremonial” regulations that set Israel apart from other nations but are no longer binding today, in the NT (or new covenant) age (cf. Heb. 9:1–10:18). Similarly, many of the laws and penalties in the Mosaic law code were intended only for the civil government of the nation of Israel at that period of time (such as laws in Israel that applied the death penalty to the serving of other gods, witchcraft, persistently disobedient children, adultery, and homosexual behavior). But many other sections of the OT (e.g., Proverbs, but also other parts of the OT including many Mosaic laws) contain teaching that conveys God’s wisdom regarding human conduct in general. (A detailed solution to the question of which, and in what way, OT laws apply to NT believers is beyond the scope of this article.)

3. Some general principles must be applied with wisdom from the rest of the Bible. There are some passages, especially in Jesus’ earthly teaching, that are difficult to understand in terms of how broadly they should be taken and to whom they should apply. Passages like “Do not refuse the one who would borrow from you” (Matt. 5:42) are generalizations that powerfully address attitudes of the heart. But like every command, applying them to specific situations requires interpreting them in light of the whole of Scripture, including passages that command wisdom and good stewardship. Similarly, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matt. 7:1) must be interpreted in light of Jesus’ other command to “judge with right judgment” (John 7:24).

4. Where it is necessary to apply a command under far different cultural circumstances, there is usually enough similarity between the biblical context and present circumstances for Christian readers to make an appropriate connection. For example, it is not difficult to move from “the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud” (James 5:4) to “the wages of the employees who work in your factory, which you kept back by fraud.” It is not difficult to move from “honor theemperor” (1 Pet. 2:17) to “honor government officials.” And it is not difficult to move from “You shall not covet your neighbor’s … ox” (Ex. 20:17) to “You shall not covet you neighbor’s car or boat.”

Similarly adjusted application seems to be required in the case of certain NT commands dealing with physical actions that carried symbolic meaning, when the meaning of the same action would be different today. In such cases, Christians should not apply the commands as first expressed unless situated in a similar cultural circumstance where the physical action would have the same meaning. Such physical actions with culturally-variable symbolic meaning include at least these: (1) Greeting one another with a holy kiss (Rom. 16:16; 1 Cor. 16:20; 2 Cor. 13:12; 1 Thess. 5:26; 1 Pet. 5:14) simply conveyed the idea of a welcoming greeting, and other actions (such as shaking hands, or bowing, or hugging) symbolize the same thing in different cultures. (2) Washing one another’s feet (John 13:14) symbolized taking a servant-like attitude that can be expressed in other ways in settings where it is not customary for people to take off their shoes and wash their feet on coming in from the outside. (3) Women or wives wearing head coverings in worship (1 Cor. 11:4–16) apparently symbolized that a woman was married (see notes on 1 Corinthians 11), which is similar to what a wedding band symbolizes in many cultures today. But while a few such physical actions, by their symbolic nature, are culturally relative, readers should understand that the number of commands in this category is really quite small, and that it would be a mistake to exaggerate their significance and begin to wonder if vast sections of the ethical teachings of the Bible are culturally relative. The vast majority of NT ethical teachings, together with those OT teachings that apply to NT believers, require the direct obedience of Christians today just as in the first century.

DEVELOPING A FRAMEWORK FOR ETHICAL DECISION MAKING

The overall goal for making ethical decisions should be to understand and then obey the teaching of the entire Bible with regard to any particular situation. Here are some steps readers should follow when having to make important ethical decisions: (1) Pray. All decisions should rely on praying for God’s wisdom at the beginning and throughout the process (James 1:5). (2) Study the Bible. Search for and seek understanding of all biblical passages and their principles that have relevance for the situation under consideration. (3) Study the situation. Understand the situation by gathering and assessing relevant information (it is often impossible to make a wise decision until the facts become more clear). (4) Study the people involved. Try to understand the character, motives, and values of the people involved or affected by the decision to be made, including any relevant background, personal habits and characteristics, motivations, and relationships, as well as special interests that may be influencing the reactions of each relevant party. (5) The goal. Understand that the glory of God and the good of others are ever the twin purposes of moral action, and that the merely good or permissible must never be allowed to obstruct the quest for the best.

Wisdom is the skill of combining these factors so as to rightly apply the teachings of the Bible to real people in real-life situations, in such a way that one is truly thinking God’s thoughts after him. Such wisdom is a skill that can be improved over time through repeated practice and nearness to God (Heb. 5:14; James 1:5–8). Mature Christians who have grown through testing (James 1:2–4; 2 Pet. 1:5–9), pastors, and pastoral counselors are often especially skilled in doing this.

A good answer to an ethical question will not limit itself to a discussion of right and wrong actions, for good moral conduct in any situation will involve (1) good ends (that is, the results sought or achieved), (2) good motives (the desires and attitudes that people have in the situation), and (3) good means (the actions that are taken to achieve the ends). The Bible itself requires people to consider all three of these factors, for good ends are mentioned (see 1 Cor. 10:31; 14:26), good motives are required (see Ex. 20:17and Matt. 5:28), and good means or actions are commanded while bad ones are prohibited (Ex. 20:12–15). A life fully pleasing to God will conform to each of these three standards set by Scripture.

THE BEGINNING OF LIFE AND ABORTION

THE IMAGE OF GOD

The ethics of abortion, embryonic stem cell research, fetal tissue transplantation, and other issues at the beginning of life will not be fully and rightly understood apart from God’s revelation about the origin and sanctity of human life. At the zenith of God’s creative activity, he made man (as male and female) in his own image and likeness (Gen. 1:26–27). From the “dust from the ground” God made a “living creature,” Adam (Gen. 2:7), whose material body was absolutely earthly (cf. Ps. 90:3 and 103:14) but whose source of life was decidedly divine. Therefore, any view of origins that does not affirm that humanity began through a special creative act of God is sub-biblical.

Since God is the Creator of human life, all human beings belong to God. As the apostle Paul would later declare before the philosophers in Athens, “In [God] we live and move and have our being; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring’” (Acts 17:28). Thus, being created by God both elevates human beings in that they are not accidents of history and humbles them because God is gracious and sovereign over them.

Although God’s words when he first created human beings were, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen. 1:26), the Bible nowhere explains precisely what constitutes the image of God (Latin, imago Dei). Interpreters have suggested that it includes: (1) humankind’s upright bodily form, (2) human dominion over nature, (3) human reason, (4) human pre-fallen righteousness, (5) human capacities, (6) the juxtaposition between man and woman, (7) responsible creaturehood and moral conformity to God, (8) personhood, and (9) various composites of the above views. Because the Hebrew words for “image” (tselem) and “likeness” (demut) are used for things that are similar to, and representative of, something else, a combination of the above views is best: the image of God means that human beings are like God (in several ways) and represent God on the earth. The image of God is a rich relational and functional status that human beings enjoy by virtue of being God’s creation.

It is clear from Scripture that only human beings are said to bear the image of God. Humans are unique. In fact, the covenant with Noah specifies that while humans may kill animals for food, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Gen. 9:6). Animals may be killed for human sustenance, but human beings may not murder other human beings. Thus the entire human race is morally distinguishable from other living species. Even before homicide was forbidden by a direct command not to murder (Ex. 20:13), unjustifiable killing was a violation of the special dignity vested in human beings by God himself (cf. Gen. 4:8–16). This is the foundation of the doctrine of the sanctity, or sacredness, of every human life.

When the second person of the Trinity, God the Son, took on human flesh through the incarnation, God sanctified humanity. In Jesus we see both perfect God and real humanity, and in his incarnation and resurrection we see the importance of the physical aspect of human nature. The affirmation of the Apostles’ Creed that Jesus was “born of the Virgin Mary” entails that, like every other member of the human race, Jesus was once a human embryo. The creedal affirmations of “the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting” mean that the body is a constituent aspect of humanity from the beginning of life throughout eternity. Thus every human life—from conception to natural death—is to be received as a gift from the sovereign Creator, is to be treated with reverence and respect, and is not to be harmed without biblical justification.

OT TEXTS

God’s people were warned not to imitate their neighbors who committed infanticide through child sacrifice. The law strictly instructed them to “not give any of your children to offer them to Molech” (Lev. 18:21), prescribing the death penalty for violating this command (Lev. 20:2–5). Child sacrifice was also known during Solomon’s reign (1 Kings 11:7). The brutal practice spread to Moab (2 Kings 3:27), Judah (2 Kings 16:3), and the northern kingdom of Israel (2 Kings 17:17). But Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel condemned the practice, calling on God’s people to repent of it (Isa. 57:5; Jer. 7:31; Ezek. 16:20–21).

It is in this context that the ethics of abortion should be determined. Like infanticide, abortion was not unknown in the ancient world. The most common means were mechanical methods and drugs delivered through pessaries (devices placed in the vagina).

OT Judaism always forbade abortion. Only one biblical text has been used to argue to the contrary (Ex. 21:22–25), and its interpretation is disputed. The text says, “When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined” (Ex. 21:22). Some interpret “that her children come out” as a miscarriage (“so that there is a miscarriage, but there is no further harm”). According to this interpretation, unborn human life does not have the same value as someone already born, because the normal penalty for causing death is a capital sentence (a life for a life), and yet, in this passage, the one causing the injury is merely fined.

There are good textual reasons, however, for another interpretation, namely, that the Bible is describing a premature live birth (“so that she gives birth prematurely, but there is no injury”). First, the Hebrew word yeled is used for what comes from the womb in this case. This word is never used for anything other than for a child who can live outside the womb. Another Hebrew word, golem, means “fetus” and is used only one time in the OT (Ps. 139:16, “unformed substance”). Furthermore, yatsa’, the verb that refers to what happened to the child, ordinarily refers to live births (Gen. 25:26; 38:28–30; Job 3:11; 10:18; Jer. 1:5; 20:18). The word normally used for miscarriage, shakal, is not used here (cf. Gen. 31:38;Ex. 23:26; Job 21:10; Hos. 9:14). Finally, even if the text were referring to a miscarriage, it would not indicate that an unborn child is valued less than one who is already born, for this hypothetical situation refers to an accidental occurrence. Most societies, including ancient Israel, recognized that unintentional manslaughter should be distinguished from premeditated killing. In the latter case, the death penalty was imposed. In the former, cities of refuge were established (cf. Num. 35:6). Thus, more literal translations render Exodus 21:22, “When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so thather children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined” (esv). This text then places great protection on the unborn child, for “if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life” (Ex. 21:23). The death of the baby is at least judged according to the same principles that apply to the taking of other human life (e.g., the death of the mother); see note on Exodus 21:22–25.

Psalm 139 speaks powerfully to the nature of unborn human life. David exults in God’s omniscience and his omnipresence (Ps. 139:1–12). In verse 13 he celebrates God’s intricate involvement in his own fetal development: “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” The word kilyah is used to refer to the “inward parts” (lit., kidneys). In Hebrew poetry the inward parts were typically the seat of the affections, the hidden part of a person where grief may be experienced (Job 16:13), where the conscience exists (Ps. 16:7), and where deep spiritual distress can be felt (Ps. 73:21). God formed David’s deepest being. He wove him, or colorfully embroidered him, in his mother’s womb, so that he was “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14). In verse 16 the psalmist refers to his “unformed substance” being observed by God. David suggests that God’s knowledge of him reached even to his earliest development in utero (in the uterus). No wonder the Hebrews found abortion and infanticide morally blameworthy. In addition, David’s confession that he was a sinner from conception (Ps. 51:5) further testifies to his belief in personhood from conception, since only persons can be considered sinners.

God’s judgment fell on those who killed the unborn. Elisha wept when he foresaw the crimes of the king of Syria, who would “kill their young men with the sword and dash in pieces their little ones and rip open their pregnant women” (2 Kings 8:12). Amos prophesied against the Ammonites because they “have ripped open pregnant women in Gilead, that they might enlarge their border” (Amos 1:13).

EXTRABIBLICAL JEWISH LITERATURE

The noncanonical Jewish wisdom literature further clarifies first-century Judaism’s view of abortion. For example, the Sentences of Pseudo-Phocylides 184–186 (c. 50 b.c.–a.d. 50) says that “a woman should not destroy the unborn in her belly, nor after its birth throw it before the dogs and vultures as a prey.” Included among those who do evil in the apocalyptic Sibylline Oracles were women who “aborted what they carried in the womb” (2.281–282). Similarly, the apocryphal book 1 Enoch (2nd or 1st centuryb.c.) declares that an evil angel taught humans how to “smash the embryo in the womb” (69.12). Finally, the first-century Jewish historian Josephus wrote that “the law orders all the offspring to be brought up, and forbids women either to cause abortion or to make away with the fetus” (Against Apion 2.202).

Contrast these injunctions with the barbarism of Roman culture. Cicero (106–43 b.c.) records that according to the Twelve Tables of Roman Law, “deformed infants shall be killed” (De Legibus 3.8). Plutarch (c. a.d. 46–120) spoke of those who he said “offered up their own children, and those who had no children would buy little ones from poor people and cut their throats as if they were so many lambs or young birds; meanwhile the mother stood by without a tear or moan” (Moralia 2.171D).

EARLY CHRISTIAN LITERATURE

Against the bleak backdrop of Roman culture, the Hebrew “sanctity of human life” ethic provided the moral framework for early Christian condemnation of abortion and infanticide. For instance, theDidache 2.2 (c. a.d. 85–110) commands, “thou shalt not murder a child by abortion nor kill them when born.” Another noncanonical early Christian text, the Letter of Barnabas 19.5 (c. a.d. 130), said: “You shall not abort a child nor, again, commit infanticide.” There are numerous other examples of Christian condemnation of both infanticide and abortion. In fact, some biblical scholars have argued that the silence of the NT on abortion per se is due to the fact that it was simply assumed to be beyond the pale of early Christian practice. Nevertheless, Luke (a physician) points to fetal personhood when he observes that the unborn John the Baptist “leaped for joy” in his mother’s womb when Elizabeth came into the presence of Mary, who was pregnant with Jesus at the time (Luke 1:44).

More than merely condemning abortion and infanticide, however, early Christians provided alternatives by rescuing and adopting children who were abandoned. For instance, Callistus (d. c. a.d. 223) provided refuge to abandoned children by placing them in Christian homes, and Benignus of Dijon (3rd century) offered nourishment and protection to abandoned children, including some with disabilities caused by unsuccessful abortions.

ETHICAL CONCLUSIONS

Based on the consistent testimony of Scripture, the early Jewish and Christian tradition, and what can be known of God’s moral law through natural revelation (Rom. 2:15), the unborn child should be protected as a person from the moment of conception. A strong argument can in fact be made for this even apart from biblical revelation, for the only differences between babies in utero and babies that are born are: (1) their location; (2) their size; (3) their level of dependence; and (4) their level of development—but these are not morally relevant factors that would allow death for one set of babies (the preborn) and life for the other (those who have been born).

What then of the “hard cases” concerning pregnancy resulting from rape or incest? Christians should give compassionate care to those affected by such sins—including both the mother and the unborn child. But if it is wrong to put such a child to death after it is born (and surely this is wrong), then surely it is wrong to put that same child to death before it is born. The preborn baby should be treated as a person in the image of God.

For this reason, embryonic stem cell research, which involves the creation of human embryos in order to harvest their stem cells for medical uses, should be viewed as the intentional creation and destruction of distinct, individual, tiny human lives. Other sources of stem cells should be used instead, where the removal of the cells does not harm a human being.

What if abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother? Here it is necessary to recognize that removing the unborn child (e.g., from the fallopian tube) is done with the direct intention of saving the life of the mother, not with the direct intention of taking the child’s life (which, if the medical technology exists, should also be preserved). Nevertheless, in such a rare and tragic case the choice would be between the loss of one life (the baby’s) and the loss of two lives (both the baby’s and the mother’s). This is the only type of situation in which abortion would be morally justified, as making the best of an extremely difficult situation.

The witness of Scripture, as confirmed by the testimony of the early church, is that every human being, from conception through natural death, is to be respected as a person created in the image of God, whose life has special dignity by virtue of his or her relationship to the Creator. Like the early church, Christians should be known as a people who protect, nurture, and cherish children as gifts from the Lord (Ps. 127:3).

BIOETHICS

Bioethics is a relatively new term that literally means “life ethics.” The umbrella category of bioethics generally includes the ethics of human medicine, the biosciences, and biotechnology.

THE ETHICS OF WESTERN MEDICINE AND THE HIPPOCRATIC OATH

Medicine has a long and laudable history. Western scientific medicine began with the Greeks, who developed much of the early knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and even modern symbols of medicine. From the start, both Jews and Christians have had a positive view of medicine. The healing ministry of Jesus, the Great Physician (Matt. 4:23; 9:35; Luke 9:6), did much to provide the warrant for medicine among Christians.

The ethics of Western medicine reaches back to the Greek physician Hippocrates (460–370 b.c.). The son of a physician himself, Hippocrates practiced as an itinerant doctor in Thrace, Thessaly, and Macedonia. The philosopher Plato referred to Hippocrates as “a professional trainer of students” (Phaedrus 270C–D). The medical oath that bears his name was probably formulated by the Hippocratic school after his death. Jewish and Christian versions of the oath were produced after that time.

Over against the charlatans of the day, a Hippocratic physician could be counted on as someone who had mastered a particular set of skills and whose ethical standards were reflected in the oath he swore. Those who took the Hippocratic Oath promised to use their skills to help the sick and pledged not to euthanize a patient, perform abortions, prescribe abortifacient drugs, or have a sexual relationship with a patient, among other things. They also promised to teach their skills to worthy apprentices. The so-called Hippocratic consensus dominated medicine for nearly 2,500 years. Jews and Christians rejected the polytheism of the Hippocratic school but affirmed its ethical and professional ideals. Medical historian Albert Jonsen writes in The Birth of Bioethics: “The Judeo-Christian religious tradition, with its strong emphasis on divine commands that enforce respect for the sanctity of life, enhanced the prohibitions of abortion and euthanasia that are obscurely expressed in the Oath and prescribed caring compassion for the poor and even enemies. The literature of medical duty is profoundly marked by these moral traditions” (p. 7).

Only a very few medical schools still require that graduating physicians affirm the original oath. In a recent survey of the schools that used some form of the oath, only 8 percent of the oaths forbade abortion and only 14 percent prohibited euthanasia. Thus, Christians today have the opportunity to revive life-affirming ethics amid a very pluralistic medical and scientific culture in which affirmation of life is frequently downplayed.

CONTEMPORARY MEDICAL ETHICS

Current discussions of medical ethics have arisen in large part from the Nuremberg Trials in post-World War II Germany (1945–1949), which focused on the way human subjects were abused in medical research, and from debates in the 1960s over the allocation of scarce medical resources, like kidney dialysis. Early ethics committees serving medical treatment centers were disparaged in the media as “God squads” because they determined who did and did not receive life-sustaining treatment. Today, hospital ethics committees meet regularly to consult on difficult moral questions that arise in patient care and to help fashion hospital policies that enhance overall medical care.

Increasingly, emerging biotechnologies are coming under the scrutiny of the bioethics community. Genetic engineering, human stem cell research, human and animal cloning, artificial intelligence, cybernetics, nanotechnology, robotics, and an ever-expanding array of technologies require wise ethical reflection and careful policy recommendations.

Theologian Nigel Cameron has helpfully categorized the issues in bioethics under the rubric of “taking life,” “making life,” and “remaking life.”

TAKING LIFE

While Christians differ on the issues of euthanasia, assisted suicide, and abortion, which have long been within the realm of bioethics, it is accurate to say that in general Christians are life-affirming. In fact, as the article on The End of Life argues in more detail, the vast majority of Christians agree, for various reasons, that euthanasia and assisted suicide are not consistent with the biblical witness concerning the sanctity of human life (cf. Ex. 20:13) and the role of others in providing compassionate care. Likewise, most Christians believe that inducing abortion is wrong, except to save a mother’s life (see The Beginning of Life and Abortion).

Christians are often at the forefront of alternatives to medicalized forms of killing. The early church, e.g., rescued children from infanticide by providing homes and building orphanages. Many contemporary Christians support pregnancy care centers that provide alternatives to abortion by offering pregnant mothers education, resources, and shelter as they await the delivery of their children. The hospice and palliative care movement was begun by a Christian nurse and physician, Dame Cicely Saunders (1918–2005), as a means of caring compassionately for the terminally ill.

MAKING LIFE

The range of ethical issues surrounding procreation and contraception fall under the category of “making life.” Contraception has been debated since ancient times. Christians generally divide into two camps. Those who affirm so-called natural family planning believe that every act of sexual union should be open to the possibility of procreation. From this viewpoint, no method of birth control is allowed that either presents a barrier to fertilization or introduces hormones that make the uterus inhospitable to a maturing embryo. Other Christians believe that contraception may be used to limit the number of children born to a family as long as the method is not abortifacient (i.e., something that causes an abortion).

Assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) pose significant moral questions for Bible believers. Louise Brown, the world’s first “test tube” baby, was born in 1978. Since then, in vitro fertilization (IVF, the fertilization of egg cells by sperm outside the woman’s womb) has been quite controversial. Typically, IVF involves the fertilization of about a dozen ova in a medical laboratory. Only two or three ova are transferred to a woman’s uterus, leaving the others to be cryopreserved (frozen) for later use. Given that the embryo is a human person with a right to life, many Christians have repudiated the practice due to the fact that 25 percent of these human embryos often die in the thawing process and many are likely to be discarded or used for research purposes. (However, it is possible that newer technology will allow the fertilization of only one or two ova that will actually be implanted in the woman’s womb.)

Additional reproductive arrangements—like surrogate motherhood, artificial insemination using donor sperm, and sperm or egg donation—introduce third parties or their gametes into the reproductive relationship. The biblical ideal, however, is for procreation to take place within the context of a one-man, one-woman union (see Marriage and Sexual Morality). Intentionally causing conception outside of that framework and introducing third parties into the procreative relationship raises significant ethical, legal, social, psychological, and familial concerns. The intrusion of the sperm of a man other than a woman’s husband into the intimate process of pregnancy and birth, e.g., can introduce significant difficulties into a marriage relationship. The relationship of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar in the OT illustrates the tensions that may be present in even “low-tech” reproductive relationships (Genesis 16).

Even more ethical objections arise when a human embryo is conceived and allowed to develop for a short time solely for the purpose of harvesting its stem cells for the purpose of scientific research. In such cases, a new human life is created (see The Beginning of Life and Abortion) solely so that it would be destroyed for research purposes. This is inconsistent with the Bible’s view of the sanctity of human life (cf. Ex. 20:13). Other sources of stem cells (such as those taken from adults or from umbilical cord blood) can be used in medical research without destroying a human life.

Adoption has always been commended as an ethical option for Christian couples facing infertility, and is a practical way to care for orphans (cf. James 1:27) and to provide a living parable of the Christian’s spiritual adoption by God. A particular form of adoption seems morally commendable for Christians, in which a husband and wife decide to adopt a so-called “snowflake baby” (a previously frozen embryo that would otherwise have been discarded). The embryo is implanted in the adopting wife’s womb, develops as a normal baby, and is born as a normal, healthy child. In this case, conception of the baby had already occurred as a result of the decision of others, and the couple who adopts such a baby is actually saving a life. (However, the potential “third-party” difficulties mentioned in the previous paragraph should be fully taken into account.)

REMAKING LIFE

Researchers are increasing exploration into new ways to either repeat or reconstruct God’s fundamental design for human life. These new scientific technologies are laudable when used for healing purposes. Thus, e.g., Christians should affirm the use of implantable computer chips to assist the blind to see, and the development of high-tech prostheses to replace limbs lost in accidents or war. But using these technologies for reasons beyond healing to allegedly “enhance” human capacities is problematic.

Using pharmaceuticals (such as steroids) or genetic engineering to create higher-than-normal IQs or faster-than-normal athletes not only raises profound ethical questions about justice in academics or sports respectively but also challenges the understanding of what it means to be human and who has the authority to alter the human species.

Some suggest that life-prolonging technologies might enable people to live forever, either in their physical bodies or in some other way. Again, while few question the morality of using technology for therapeutic purposes, many worry that enhancement technologies entail a sort of hubris, sometimes described as “playing God.” The Bible warns against the sin of questioning the Creator. “Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’” (Rom. 9:20). After all, Christians know that they are already guaranteed immortality through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:12–20) and that physical death will be followed by a resurrection to a renewed, eternally healthy physical body freed from the ravages of disease and death. This hope does not totally nullify health-enhancing and life-prolonging technologies, but it does mean that they should never be the believer’s ultimate hope (1 Cor. 15:51–54; Rev. 21:4). The wise use or nonuse of new technologies—medical or otherwise—must be seen as part of Christian discipleship.

SCIENCE AND ETHICS WITHIN A CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW

Christians have often been at the cutting edge of science, medicine, and compassionate care. Because they believe that all truth is God’s truth, there is no arena excluded from the lordship of Christ, including the biological sciences. At the same time, Christians are “people of the Book” and bring a Christian world- and life-view—including ethical perspectives—into their thinking about science. The world cannot afford the development of science without ethical reflection. Ethical reflection must be developed in the context of accurate information. Therefore, Christians should see it as an expression of their discipleship to celebrate biological sciences that enable them to better understand just how fearfully and wonderfully made humans are (Ps. 139:14). Christians should seek to be good stewards over the opportunities that these developments offer (Gen. 1:28; 1 Cor. 4:2; 1 Pet. 4:10). At the same time, Christians should affirm that science is to serve the glory of God and the good of his creatures (1 Chron. 16:24; Ps. 96:3; Isa. 6:3), not to provide yet another opportunity for the self-aggrandizement that constitutes idolatry. Finally, Christians must continue to demonstrate love for God and neighbor that extends itself in compassionate care of those who are suffering (Luke 10:33–37).

THE END OF LIFE

THE ORIGIN OF DEATH

God did not originally create human beings to be subject to death, but “sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12). This refers to the sin of Adam recorded in Genesis 3.

God had previously instructed Adam, “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:17). Therefore when Adam and Eve sinned, they immediately experienced spiritual “death,” that is, a separation from God. In addition, the just sentence of physical death began to be gradually imposed on them in that they experienced aging, leading eventually to death. God told Adam, “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen. 3:19). Since the time of Adam, all human beings have been subject to aging and inevitable physical death (except Enoch in Gen. 5:24; cf. Heb. 11:5; and Elijah in 2 Kings 2:11–12).

WHY DO CHRISTIANS DIE?

Although Christians have been forgiven of their sins and are no longer under sentence to suffer the penalty of death for those sins (Rom. 6:23; 8:1; 1 Cor. 15:3), they are still subject to physical death because God has not yet applied to their lives all of the benefits that were earned by Christ for his people. In fact, Paul says that death will be the “last enemy to be destroyed” (1 Cor. 15:26). For this reason, believers today, living in a fallen world, are still subject to aging and death.

Yet death does not come to believers because God is punishing them, for, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). Rather, death is the final outcome of living in a fallen world. Just as Christians are not kept from all sicknesses, floods, and earthquakes, etc., and just as the agricultural fields of Christians still grow as many weeds as the fields of non-Christians, so Christians will experience death as well.

However, Christians should have confidence that God will use even the experience of final illness and death as one of those events that “work together for good” for those who “love God and are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). Jesus Christ, who himself experienced physical death as a human being, often seems particularly near to Christians as they die, for they “suffer with him” (Rom. 8:17; cf. Phil. 3:10; 1 Pet. 4:13). Paul hoped to honor Christ in his death as he had in his life: “it is my eager expectation and hope that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death” (Phil. 1:20). The risen Lord Jesus encouraged Christians in Smyrna, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10; cf. Heb. 11:35; Rev. 12:11).

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN PEOPLE DIE?

When Christians die, their physical bodies are buried in the earth, but their spirits (or souls) go immediately into the Lord’s presence in heaven. Paul said, “My desire is to depart and be with Christ” (Phil. 1:23), and “we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8). When Stephen was dying, he cried out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59; cf. Gen. 35:18; Eccles. 12:7; Luke 23:43; Heb. 12:23; Rev. 6:9). Then at Christ’s second coming, when he returns to the earth, believers’ bodies will be raised from the dead, made perfect, and reunited with their spirits (1 Cor. 15:23, 51–52; 1 Thess. 4:16–17).

When unbelievers die, their bodies also are buried in the earth, but their spirits go immediately to experience separation from God and punishment for their sins. “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Heb. 9:27; cf. Luke 16:24–26; see also notes on 1 Pet. 3:18; 4:6).

FUNERALS AND BURIAL

It is not wrong for Christians to grieve deeply over the loss of fellowship with those who have died, even if the deceased were believers and there is great confidence that they are with the Lord in heaven. Grief at loss of any sort is natural. Although the apostles themselves were present in the early church in Jerusalem, and the believers in Jerusalem were sure that Stephen was in heaven with Christ (cf. Acts 7:59), they still expressed profound grief: “Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him” (Acts 8:2). Although Jesus knew he would raise Lazarus from the dead, when he came to the tomb of Lazarus, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). These examples indicate that it is right and proper to grieve at the death of a Christian loved one. But Christians should not “grieve as others do who have no hope” (1 Thess. 4:13), that is, their grief should not be the grief of despair, but grief mixed with joy and hope for future reunion (see 1 Cor. 15:55–57; Rev. 14:13).

When unbelievers die, if there has been no indication of saving faith in the person’s life, it would not be right to give the person’s loved ones assurance that the one who has died is in heaven. But it is still right to recall and speak of pleasant memories, and to remember the good things that the person did in his or her lifetime, much as David did after hearing that Saul had died (see 2 Sam. 1:19–25).

The Bible does not give any direct commands about how to treat the body of a person who has died, but there are recurring instances in Scripture of treating a person’s body with dignity and respect, up to and including the time of burial (cf. 1 Sam. 31:11–12; 1 Kings 13:29–30; Mark 6:29; Luke 23:56; John 19:38–42). This can be done in a variety of ways according to what is understood in each culture as signifying respect and honor to the memory of the person who has died.

Regarding cremation, Christians have held differing views. Some object that cremation (which entails destroying the physical body) undermines the expectation of a future resurrection of the body when Christ returns. (When Jesus rose from the dead, it was his same body that was raised and made perfect, and so it will be with Christian believers; see 1 Cor. 15:35–45.) Others, however, think cremation is sometimes the wisest choice, perhaps for economic reasons, because burial land is scarce, or for other reasons. The body is eventually going to die and disintegrate in any case, and God will raise it from the dead and re-create it in its more perfect condition (i.e., in its glorified prime), no matter how scattered it is. If cremation is chosen for a Christian who has died, care should be taken to make clear that the family still should expect a future resurrection of the very same body that has died and now returns “to dust” (Gen. 3:19). But many Christians still prefer a simple and dignified burial of the person’s body in the ground, in part because this gives a clear picture of awaiting the resurrection on the day Christ returns.

EUTHANASIA

The sixth commandment, “You shall not murder” (Ex. 20:13), prohibits any act that would intentionally, or through carelessness, take the life of another human being (see note on Deut. 5:17; the exceptions of capital punishment, killing in war, and self-defense are not in view here, nor are they implied by the meaning of the Hebrew terminology in the passage). The expression most frequently used for violating the sixth commandment is “shedding innocent blood” (cf. Ex. 23:7; Deut. 19:10, 13;Ps. 10:8; Prov. 6:17).

This prohibition against murder applies to all human beings, including: the elderly, those who are terminally ill, and those who wish to die. Intentionally taking the life of any of these people would break the commandment, “You shall not murder” (cf. also 2 Sam. 1:10, 14–15). Nations that have allowed for physician-assisted suicide find that a society can quickly move from merely allowing “the right to die” to the belief that there is “an obligation to die” on the part of the elderly and the very ill people who are “draining resources” from the society. In such situations it becomes likely that a number of elderly people will be put to death against their will.

It is important, however, to maintain a clear distinction between killing a person and letting someone die. Killing in the wrongful sense of murder, as prohibited in Exodus 20:13, means actively doing something to a patient that hastens or causes his or her death. But “letting someone die” means allowing someone to die without interfering with the process that is already taking place. In cases where it is clearly known to be the patient’s wish to be allowed to die, and when there is no reasonable human hope of recovery, and where death seems imminent—then it does not seem wrong to allow such a person to die, rather than either to initiate an artificial life support system or to prolong the natural dying process by artificial means. For such situations, nothing in Scripture would prohibit a dying person from praying for God to take his life. On the other hand, where there is a reasonable human hope of recovery, and where there is a realistic, practical ability to help, the obligation to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39) implies that active measures should be taken to save the person’s life. In the parable of the good Samaritan, Jesus indicated that the priest and the Levite were both wrong for neglecting to do what could be done to save a badly injured man, who with care was able to recover (Luke 10:30–37).

The hardest end-of-life decisions are often related to removing a dying patient from artificial life support, which can involve various measures from an artificial lung to simply providing artificial hydration and nutrition. Christians hold different positions over exactly when in such cases the moral line is crossed from letting someone die to killing. When considering the proper course of action, Christians should remember that while death is an enemy to resist (1 Cor. 15:26), natural mortality is still part of living in a fallen world (cf. Gen. 2:17; Rom. 5:12; Heb. 9:27). There is therefore nothing wrong with accepting natural mortality by removing a dying patient from artificial means that are only slowing the natural death process.

There are more complex cases where medication given to alleviate a patient’s pain may also have a secondary effect of hastening a person’s death. In such cases, some Christian ethicists say that the two most important considerations are: (1) the primary purpose for giving the medication and (2) the patient’s own wishes regarding the alleviation of pain. Other Christian ethicists claim that, in such cases, the moral value of improving life quality is always less than the moral value of honoring the sanctity of human life, and, while doing what they can to alleviate pain, Christians should never give higher priority to improving the quality of life (reducing pain) over honoring the sanctity of life (not killing a person).

Wherever possible, it is both wise and loving for people who are still in good health to complete the appropriate legal and medical forms to make known their wishes regarding medical care at the end of life. These decisions should also be verbally communicated to those who will likely have to make end-of-life decisions about each person.

SUICIDE

Suicide is murder of oneself, and it is prohibited by the command, “You shall not murder” (Ex. 20:13). It is a serious sin against God and brings immense, lifelong grief to loved ones who are left, but the Bible nowhere teaches that suicide is a unique and unforgiveable sin that prevents a person who has lived by faith in Christ from being saved.

CHRIST’S VICTORY OVER DEATH

Finally, Christians need have no fear of death: “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The verse continues, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:55–57).

MARRIAGE AND SEXUAL MORALITY

WHAT IS MARRIAGE?

Marriage is the fundamental institution of all human society. It was established by God at creation, when God created the first human beings as “male and female” (Gen. 1:27) and then said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28).

Marriage begins with a commitment before God and other people to be husband and wife for life. InMalachi 2:14, marriage is viewed as a “covenant” commitment in which God stands as a “witness.” And Jesus says that a married couple constitutes a unity that “God has joined together” (Matt. 19:6). Therefore when a marriage occurs, a man and woman have a new status before God: he now considers them to be husband and wife together.

Some kind of public commitment is also necessary to a marriage, for a society must know to treat a couple as married and not as single. Sexual intercourse alone does not constitute a marriage, as was evident from the conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well in Samaria, where he said to her, “For you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband” (John 4:18). She was living with a man but that did not mean she was married to him, for there had been no public commitment recognized by God or by the community (cf. also Ex. 22:16–17).

Both Genesis 2:24 and Matthew 19:5 view the “one flesh” unity that occurs as an essential part of the marriage. That is why sexual intercourse after a marriage ceremony is often said to “consummate” the marriage, and (except in cases where it is physically impossible, because of disability, injury, or advanced age) it is thought that a marriage has not fully begun until sexual intercourse has occurred.

Marriage is a picture of the covenantal relationship between Christ and the church, with the husband representing the former and the wife representing the latter: “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:32).

SOME WILL NOT BE MARRIED

The Bible also recognizes that not everyone will be married, and even among those who are married some will be widowed or divorced and therefore will become single again. In 1 Corinthians 7:7–40, Paul sees advantages to both being single and being married. Jesus himself was never married, and Paul was not married at the time of his ministry (see 1 Cor. 7:7; 9:5; it is impossible to know whether he was previously married or not). Jesus and Paul are examples of godly singleness coupled with wonderful effectiveness in ministry. But Paul says, “Each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another” (1 Cor. 7:7), and therefore both remaining single and becoming married are morally permissible choices depending on the kind of life that God has called each person to live (see 1 Cor. 7:17, 27–28, 36–38).

POLYGAMY

Why did God allow polygamy in the OT? Nowhere in the Bible did God ever command polygamy or tell anyone to marry more than one wife. Rather, God temporarily allowed polygamy to occur (he did not give any general prohibition against it) without giving it any explicit moral approval. Nevertheless, in the OT narratives, whenever a man has two or more wives, it seems to lead to trouble (see Genesis 16; 29–31; 1 Samuel 1; 1 Kings 11; note the prohibition in Deut. 17:17). In addition, polygamy is horribly dehumanizing for women, for it does not treat them as equal in value to their husbands, and therefore it does not recognize that they share fully in the high status of being created “in the image of God” (Gen. 1:27) and of being worthy of honor as “heirs with you of the grace of life” (1 Pet. 3:7). The requirement that an elder be “husband of one wife” (1 Tim. 3:2) would exclude polygamists from being elders (evidence for polygamy among Jews in the 1st century is found in Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 17.14; Mishnah, Yebamoth 4.11; Ketuboth 10.1, 4, 5; Sanhedrin 2.4; Kerithoth 3.7; Kiddushin 2.7; Bechoroth8.4; and Justin Martyr, Dialogue 134; for polygamy among non-Jews, see 2 Macc. 4:30; Josephus,Jewish Antiquities 17.19; Tertullian, Apology 46). This has practical application today in missionary contexts in cultures where polygamy is still practiced: the Bible would not encourage a husband to divorce any of his multiple wives when this would leave them without support and protection. But it would not allow a man with multiple wives to be an elder. This restriction would provide a pattern that would generally lead to the abolition of polygamy in a church in a generation or two.

SEXUAL INTIMACY AND MORAL STANDARDS FOR MARRIAGE

The Bible views sexual intimacy in marriage as a blessing from God. God said to Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28), which implies that God created them so that they would have sexual intercourse together and thereby bear children (cf. Gen. 1:31). Sex is seen within the context of marriage (“his wife,” Gen. 2:24) from the very beginning of creation. After the fall, sexual intimacy in marriage is still viewed positively (see Prov. 5:15–19; Song of Solomon; 1 Cor. 7:2–5).

Why is adultery wrong? (1) Because God says it is wrong: “You shall not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14). (2) Adultery pictures unfaithfulness in the relationship between Christ and the church, giving a picture of Christ being unfaithful to his people and abandoning them, and not keeping his covenant with them, or else picturing the church as worshiping other gods and being unfaithful to Christ (cf. Mal. 2:14; Eph. 5:31–32). (3) Adultery intrudes another person into the “one flesh” relationship of marriage (cf. Gen. 2:24; Eph. 5:31). (4) Adultery destroys trust within a marriage because it is the most serious kind of violation of a marriage vow. (5) Adultery often leads to children being born without two parents to raise them or else leads to abortion to end an unwanted pregnancy, both of which consequences contradict God’s ideal. (6) Adultery is thus frequently and understandably pictured in Scripture as destroying a person’s life: “He does not know that it will cost him his life” (Prov. 7:23; cf. 5:3–14; 6:27–29, 32–33; 7:21–23).

Sexual intercourse between unmarried persons is also consistently viewed as morally wrong throughout Scripture, from the laws of Moses (Ex. 22:16–17; Deut. 22:13–21) to the teachings of Jesus, who implicitly rebuked the woman at the well for living with someone to whom she was not married (John 4:16–18; cf. also Gen. 38:24; Matt. 15:19 [porneia or “sexual immorality” is distinguished from adultery, and the 1st-century understanding of the word would certainly include any sexual intercourse outside of marriage]; John 8:41; Acts 15:20; 1 Cor. 6:18; 7:2, 9; 1 Thess. 4:3; note the imagery in 2 Cor. 11:2).

God requires not only right conduct but also purity of heart: “You shall not covet … your neighbor’s wife” (Ex. 20:17; cf. Prov. 6:25; Matt. 5:27). The opposite of desiring to commit adultery is having a deep love for one’s wife or husband and a strong desire for a positive sexual relationship within one’s own marriage, as well as a sense of revulsion at the thought of embracing anyone else in the same way. This purity of heart, like other inward virtues, needs prayerful cultivation if it is to be sustained.

Looking at pornography is a direct violation of Jesus’ command against gazing at a woman “with lustful intent” (Matt. 5:28; cf. Job 31:1–2). Pornography attracts a man’s affections and desires away from his marriage and away from his wife. It inevitably brings moral uncleanness in the heart, long-lasting harmful memories, and destructive consequences to one’s marriage relationship (the same is true for the future marriage of those who are single). It ultimately leads in many cases to other sins, such as prostitution, rape, and other kinds of violence against women, because it dehumanizes them and fails to recognize and respect them as persons made in God’s image and valuable in his sight.

DIFFERING ROLES IN MARRIAGE

The Bible clearly affirms that both men and women are created in God’s image and have equal value and dignity in God’s sight and for the work of his kingdom on earth (Gen. 1:27, 31; Acts 2:17–18; 8:12; Gal. 3:28; 1 Pet. 3:7). At the same time, the Bible indicates that husband and wife are called to different roles in marriage. God gives to the husband a responsibility for loving, humble headship (or leadership) in the marriage. Husbands are to love their wives “as Christ loved the church” (Eph. 5:25), and “the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church” (Eph. 5:23). God has given to the wife a responsibility for joyful, intelligent submission to her husband’s headship and support of her husband’s leadership role (though never to comply if her husband tells her to sin against God). The NT says, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (Eph. 5:22). These distinct roles are affirmed in a number of NT passages (cf. 1 Cor. 11:3; Col. 3:18–19; Titus 2:5; 1 Pet. 3:1–7). Since these responsibilities are patterned on the relationship between Christ and the church, they are not due to particular circumstances in individual cultures or societies but are applicable for all marriages, for all cultures and all time. They are a part of the “very good” creation that God established from the beginning. In addition, such “equality in value” but “difference in roles” between husbands and wives reflects the equality in deity but differences in roles between the Father and the Son in the Trinity (see note on 1 Cor. 11:3).

Are there other distinctive roles for men and women in marriage? Husbands and wives will often share in responsibilities and help each other as partners in establishing a household and raising a family. Yet a number of passages suggest that the primary responsibility for providing for the family and protecting the family belongs to the husband, while the primary responsibility for caring for the home and children belongs to the wife. See, e.g., Genesis 3:14–19 (note that pain is introduced into Eve’s responsibility of childbearing and Adam’s responsibility of tilling the ground to raise food); Isaiah 4:1 (a reversal of the normal order in a time of God’s judgment); 1 Timothy 5:3–16 (widows, not widowers, are to be supported by the church); and Titus 2:5. There is a pattern of men having responsibility to protect women and children in Numbers 1:2–3; Deuteronomy 3:18–19; 20:7–8; 24:5; Joshua 1:14; 23:10;Judges 4:8–10; 9:54; 1 Samuel 4:9; Nehemiah 4:13–14; Jeremiah 50:37; Nahum 3:13. Yet these passages (concerning men providing for and protecting their loved ones, and women caring for children) present narrative patterns rather than direct commands (as with headship and submission), so it seems that Scripture gives somewhat more freedom for individual differences in these areas.

DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE

GOD’S ORIGINAL PLAN

God’s original plan for the human race, as indicated in his creation of Adam and Eve as husband and wife, is lifelong, monogamous marriage. Jesus affirmed this in responding to a question about divorce:

And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female [from Gen. 1:27], and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’ [from Gen. 2:24]? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matt. 19:3–6).

In this reply Jesus rebukes and corrects a first-century practice of easy divorce for trivial reasons. For example, the Mishnah said, “The school of Shammai say: A man may not divorce his wife unless he has found unchastity in her. … And the school of Hillel say [he may divorce her] even if she spoiled a dish for him. … Rabbi Akiba says, [he may divorce her] even if he found another fairer than she” (Mishnah,Gittin 9.10). Rather than entering into this debate among rabbis, Jesus first affirms God’s original plan for marriage and shows that it remains God’s ideal for all marriages.

Malachi views marriage as a “covenant” between a husband and wife, a covenant to which God was a witness and to which therefore God will hold people accountable: “the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant” (Mal. 2:14). Therefore marriage is an especially serious commitment (1) between husband and wife, (2) to the society in which they live, and (3) before God himself (whether or not he is explicitly acknowledged in the marriage ceremony).

BUT WHAT IF ONE SPOUSE IS UNFAITHFUL?

In marriage, a man and a woman commit to live with each other as husband and wife for life. In order for them to keep this commitment, both parties have to remain in the marriage. But when one party decides to leave the marriage for another partner, it becomes impossible for the remaining spouse to faithfully fulfill his or her commitment (a husband, e.g., cannot live with and act as a husband to a wife who is living with another man). Because of such cases, it seems that in both the OT and the NT God allowed divorce, in order to give some relief to the one spouse when the other has deserted the marriage or desecrated it by adultery.

Although divorces took place in OT times (assumed by Lev. 21:7, 14; Num. 30:9; Deut. 24:1–4), the only OT law concerning divorce is found in Deuteronomy 24:1–4 (see note). It envisions a situation in which a man divorces and sends away his wife, she subsequently remarries, and then becomes divorced or widowed. In such a case the law forbids the first husband to marry her again.

JESUS’ TEACHINGS ON DIVORCE

Many of the first-century rabbis expanded on Deuteronomy 24:1–4, using it to justify divorce for many reasons, even trivial ones (see above). This fact lies behind the remainder of the exchange between the Pharisees and Jesus in Matthew 19:

They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery” (vv. 7–9).

Jesus’ statement, “Because of your hardness of heart,” should not be understood to imply that only “hard-hearted” individuals initiate divorce but rather, “because your hard-hearted rebellion against God led to serious defilement of marriages.” The presence of sin in the community meant that some marriages would be deeply harmed, and God therefore provided divorce as a solution in those cases.

When Jesus says that anyone who divorces his wife “except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery” (Matt. 19:9), he implies the converse: divorce and remarriage on the ground of one’s spouse’s sexual immorality are not prohibited and do not constitute adultery. It is the one exception Jesus makes to the requirement that marriage be lifelong, for sexual immorality seriously defiles, indeed disrupts, the “one flesh” union (Matt. 19:5). When Jesus says, “and marries another,” he implies that both divorce and remarriage are allowed in the case of sexual immorality and that someone who divorces because his spouse has committed adultery may marry someone else without committing sin (see notes on Matt. 19:3–9). Therefore, if “sexual immorality” (Gk. porneia, which included any sexual intercourse contrary to the moral commands of Scripture) occurs, then divorce is allowed but not required. In fact, forgiveness and reconciliation, restoring the marriage, should always be the first option.

Where divorce was allowed—in Greek, Roman, and Jewish culture—the right to remarry (another person) was always assumed in the first century. For example, the Mishnah says, “The essential formula in the bill of divorce is, ‘lo, thou art free to marry any man’” (Mishnah, Gittin 9.3).

But in Matthew 19:1–9 where Jesus allows divorce on the grounds of porneia, Jesus was simultaneously prohibiting divorce on the numerous other grounds that were being invoked in the first century. If divorce is secured for other reasons (but see a further exception below), then God does not count the divorce as valid (for such divorcers would be committing adultery should they marry someone else; see Matt. 19:9).

In Matthew 5:32, Jesus affirms essentially the same teaching:

But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Jesus says that the husband who wrongfully divorces his wife “makes her commit adultery” because in that society, it was assumed that a divorced woman would usually need to marry someone else for financial support and protection, and yet Jesus still says this new relationship is, at least initially, “adultery” because there was not a proper reason for the divorce. But Jesus places most of the blame on the husband who wrongly divorced her, saying that he thereby “makes her commit adultery.” In the last sentence of the passage, “whoever marries a divorced woman” should be taken in context with the preceding sentences, and so it means, “and whoever marries such a wrongly divorced woman as I have just spoken about …” (see note on Matt. 5:31–32).

In the parallel statements about divorce in Mark 10:11–12 and Luke 16:18, Jesus does not include the exception clause, “except for sexual immorality.” The most likely reason is that there was no dispute or disagreement among Jews, or in Greek or Roman culture, that adultery was a legitimate ground for divorce, and Jesus is not addressing that issue (see notes on Mark 10:10–11 and Luke 16:18). This does not invalidate the more extensive teaching given in Matthew, because Jesus’ acceptance of the exception for adultery, though not stated explicitly by Mark and Luke, was assumed as being beyond question. (Other interpreters think that Mark 10:11–12 and Luke 16:18 prohibit all divorces and they then understand Matt. 5:32 and 19:9 to refer to special circumstances of some kind, not divorce in general.)

DOES PAUL ADD A SECOND REASON FOR DIVORCE?

Many interpreters hold that Paul adds a second legitimate reason for divorce in 1 Corinthians 7:12–15. Paul is facing a new situation that was not addressed by Jesus—the situation of a Christian and non-Christian married to one another. (In the context to which Jesus was speaking, Jewish people only married other Jews, and both husband and wife therefore were part of the Jewish religious community.) When a believer has an unbelieving spouse, Paul says that they should remain married if the unbeliever is willing to do so (1 Cor. 7:12–14). “But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace” (1 Cor. 7:15). Most interpreters think this implies the freedom to obtain a legal divorce and the freedom to marry someone else. When an unbelieving spouse has deserted the marriage, God releases the believing spouse from the twin unending stresses of (1) a lifelong vain hope of reconciling with an unbeliever who has left, and (2) a lifelong prohibition against enjoying the good blessings of marriage again. (But some interpreters hold that remarriage is never allowed after divorce. On that view, Paul is saying only that the believing spouse is not bound to continue to seek reconciliation.)

Would this passage apply to desertion by someone who professes to be a Christian? In such cases, a question arises as to whether the person is genuinely a believer or is making a false profession of faith. Each situation will be different, and a Christian involved in such a difficult circumstance should seek wise counsel from the leaders of his or her church. Where possible, the steps of church discipline outlined in Matthew 18:15–17 should be followed in an attempt to bring reconciliation to the marriage. If that process results in the final step of excommunication from the church, then it would seem appropriate to treat the deserting spouse as an unbeliever (“let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector”; Matt. 18:17). But it must be emphasized that, if reconciliation of the marriage can at all be brought about, that should always be the first goal.

ARE THERE OTHER GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE?

In addition to the two grounds of sexual immorality or desertion by an unbelieving spouse, are there any other legitimate, biblical grounds for divorce? Some interpreters have argued that repeated instances of physical abuse should be seen as an additional legitimate ground for divorce. Others would respond that many other means should be used to bring the abuse to an immediate halt, including separation (for the eventual purpose of bringing restoration along with the complete cessation of the abuse), church discipline, confrontation and counseling, police action, a court order, and other kinds of intervention by church members, family, and friends. But these would stop short of adding a reason for divorce that neither Jesus nor Paul specified.

Some have argued that a prominent school of rabbinic interpretation in the time of Jesus allowed divorce in cases where a husband did not provide enough material or emotional support to his wife. This was based on their interpretation of a law concerning a slave woman in Exodus 21:10–11. Since Jesus did not explicitly correct this view, they argue that he must have allowed the legitimacy of some other kinds of divorces, such as divorce for prolonged, unrepented physical or emotional abuse. But an argument from what Jesus did not say is of dubious validity, especially since Jesus’ words “whoever divorces his wife” (Matt. 19:9) are so extensive in scope and seem to rule out additional exceptions not specified in the Bible itself.

What should be done if someone has been divorced for other reasons than those given in the Bible and then has married someone else? Jesus says that in such a case the person has committed “adultery” (Matt. 19:9), so the marriage began with adultery. But when Jesus says, “and marries another” in that same verse, he implies that the second marriage is in fact a true marriage. Jesus does not say, “and lives outside of marriage with another” (which was possible, see John 4:18), but “and marries another.” Therefore, once a second marriage has occurred, it would be further sin to break it up, for it would be destroying another marriage. The second marriage should not be thought of as continually living in adultery, for the man and woman are married to each other, not to anyone else. The responsibility of the husband and wife in such a case is to ask God for his forgiveness for previous sin, and then for his blessing on the current marriage, and to strive to make the current marriage a good and lasting one.

With respect to the phrase “husband of one wife” in 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6, some argue that this means that a person has never been married more than once, and therefore that it excludes from the office of elder all men who have been divorced for whatever reason and also all whose wives have died and who have subsequently married someone else. But a better understanding of this passage is that it refers to the present status of a man, either to his character of being faithful to his wife, or else to the fact that he does not have more than one wife (see note on 1 Tim. 3:2–3). In either of these better interpretations, the verse does not prohibit all divorced men from being elders, but each case should be evaluated on an individual basis.

Since marriage is not an institution only for Jews and Christians but is an institution established by God at creation, it is for all people, believers and unbelievers alike, and is in fact universal in the human community. The standards expressed here for divorce and remarriage are therefore applicable to all people. The church, where it has opportunity, should encourage non-Christians as well as Christians to abide by God’s high moral standards regarding divorce and remarriage. However, in cultures where rampant divorce for all sorts of reasons is common and has been occurring for decades, individual Christians as well as churches should seek to support and minister to the many women and men and children who have been hurt by divorces in the past, as well as the casualties of divorces in the present.

The principles expressed in this article represent the most commonly held view among Protestants since the time of the Reformation (e.g., see the 17th-century Westminster Confession of Faith 24.5, 6). Other views are also held by some evangelicals, however. Some hold that the exception clauses in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 apply only to sexual immorality committed during the betrothal period (when a couple was legally pledged to be married), and do not apply to marriage proper, and therefore there are no legitimate grounds for divorce. Others argue that, where a divorce has occurred, for whatever reason, remarriage is never allowed. And others have argued that there should be some additional, but limited, grounds for divorce. But these views have not gained majority support among evangelical interpreters of the Bible.

HOMOSEXUALITY

GOD’S ORIGINAL DESIGN

In God’s original design, human sexual conduct was to occur within the context of marriage between one man and one woman. The first chapter of the Bible says, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27). Differentiation of the human race into two complementary sexes (“male and female”) is the first fact mentioned in connection with being “in the image of God.” In Genesis 2, which describes in more detail the process summarized in 1:27, God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Gen. 2:18). Genesis then applies the example of Adam and Eve to all marriages: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). This “one flesh” sexual union was thus established as the pattern for marriage generally, and Jesus citesGenesis 1:27 and 2:24 as the normative pattern that God expects all marriages to follow (see Matt. 19:4–6). Furthermore Paul, as a good disciple of Jesus, likewise strongly echoes Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 in his two primary texts on homosexual practice, Romans 1:23–27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9. Jesus and Paul both assume the logic of sexual intercourse implied in Genesis: a sexual bond between a man and a woman requires two (and only two) different sexual halves (“a man” and “his wife”) being brought together into a sexual whole (“one flesh”).

This is further emphasized in the story of the creation of Eve from Adam’s side:

And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh (Gen. 2:22–24).

The word “therefore” connects the making of Eve from a part of Adam’s body with the “one flesh” sexual union between a man and a woman in marriage: it is the reunion of the two constituent parts of a sexual whole. It is not another man who is the missing part or sexual complement of a man, but rather a woman. (Jesus emphasizes this connection between the two different sexes, “male and female,” in Matt. 19:4–6 and Mark 10:6–8.)

PROHIBITED SEXUAL RELATIONS

Consistent with the pattern in Genesis 1–2, sexual intercourse outside of the marriage relationship between one man and one woman is prohibited. For example, “You shall not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14; reaffirmed by Jesus in Matt. 19:18; cf. Rom. 13:9; James 2:11). In addition, other specific kinds of sexual intercourse outside of marriage are also prohibited, such as prostitution (1 Cor. 6:15–18), incest (Lev. 20:11–21; 1 Cor. 5:1–2), and bestiality (Lev. 18:23; 20:15–16).

Homosexual conduct is also viewed as a sin (something contrary to God’s will) in several passages of the Bible. Leviticus 18:22 says, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination [Hb.to‘ebah, actions that are extremely displeasing to God].” Similarly, “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination” (Lev. 20:13; cf. Genesis 19; also Jude 7). These absolute Levitical prohibitions are grouped with other relevant sex proscriptions (incest, adultery, bestiality) and are considered first-tier sexual offenses that are grouped together in Leviticus 20:10–16.

In the NT, Paul speaks of homosexual conduct:

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error (Rom. 1:26–27).

The phrase “contrary to nature” means that homosexual conduct does not represent what God intended when he made men and women with physical bodies that have a “natural” way of interacting with each other and “natural” desires for each other. (See note on Rom. 1:26–27; cf. also Rom. 1:19–20, that the truth about God and his moral law is visible and apparent in the material creation.) Homosexual desires are “dishonorable” both because they are contrary to God’s purpose and because they treat a person’s biological sex as only half of what it is. While the logic of a heterosexual bond is that of bringing together the two (and only two) different and complementary sexual halves into a sexual whole, the logic of a homosexual bond is that another person of the same sex complements, and fills what is lacking in, that same sex, implying that each participant is only half of his or her own sex: two half males making a full male or two half females making a full female. In other words, the logic of sexual intercourse requires a sexual complement, and thus a same-sex bond is a self-devaluing of one’s own gender inasmuch as one sees the need to complement structurally one’s own sex with someone of the same sex.

In a long list of sins, Paul also includes “men who practice homosexuality” (1 Cor. 6:9).This phrase translates two different Greek terms: malakos means “soft” or “effeminate” and was commonly used in the Greco-Roman world to refer to the “passive” partner in homosexual acts, while arsenokoitēs is a combination of Gk. arsēn (meaning “man”) and koitē (here meaning “sexual intercourse”). The termarsenokoitēs was apparently coined by Paul from the Septuagint (Greek translation) of Leviticus 20:13, and means (in plural) “men who have intercourse with men.” In 1 Timothy 1:10 Paul uses the same word arsenokoitēs in the midst of vices derived from “the law” (here, the second half of the Ten Commandments), which means that this verse also should be interpreted as an absolute prohibition of male-with-male intercourse, in keeping with Leviticus 18:22; 20:13. Early Jewish interpretation ofLeviticus 18:22 and 20:13, and early Christian interpretation of 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10, also show that these verses were understood as absolute prohibitions against all types of homosexual conduct.

Does the Bible address the question of homosexual attitudes and desires? It must be remembered that God ultimately requires moral perfection, not only in human actions but also in attitudes of the heart. Therefore the Bible prohibits not only adultery but also a desire for adultery (Ex. 20:17; cf. Matt. 5:28), not only theft but also coveting (Ex. 20:17). This is because “the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). Therefore Scripture teaches that any desire to break God’s commandments is also viewed as wrong in God’s sight. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). While an impulse to do what God expressly forbids is (by definition) an impulse contrary to God’s will, the Bible recognizes that Christians will be “tempted” by their “own desire” (James 1:14) and encourages Christians in such circumstances to “remain steadfast” (James 1:12) and to “be doers of the word” (James 1:22). This implies not actively entertaining the wrongful impulse (cf. Matt. 5:28), and not dwelling on it so that it “gives birth to sin” (James 1:15).

It is not surprising, therefore, that not only homosexual conduct but also homosexual desires are viewed as contrary to God’s will. Homosexual desires are viewed as “dishonorable passions” (Rom. 1:26), and Paul also says that homosexual partners are “consumed with passion for one another” (Rom. 1:27), giving a strong image of a powerful but destructive inward craving.

This is not to say that homosexual desire is as harmful as homosexual conduct. Though all sin is wrong and brings legal guilt before God (cf. James 2:10–11), a distinction between wrongful desires and wrongful actions can be made with regard to many areas of life. Hatred of another person is wrong in God’s sight, but murdering the person is far more harmful. Coveting a neighbor’s farm animals is wrong, but actually stealing them is much more harmful. And lustful desires for adultery are wrong, but actually committing adultery is far more harmful. Similarly, homosexual desires are wrong in God’s sight, but actually committing homosexual acts is far more harmful.

THE BIBLE’S SOLUTION REGARDING HOMOSEXUALITY

As with every other sin, the Bible’s solution to homosexuality is trusting in Christ for the forgiveness of sin, the imputation of righteousness, and the power to change. After talking about the “sexually immoral” and “adulterers” and “men who practice homosexuality” and “thieves” and “drunkards” (1 Cor. 6:9–10), Paul tells the Corinthian Christians, “And such were some of you” (1 Cor. 6:11). Then he tells them, “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11; cf. Rom. 6:23; Phil. 2:13; 1 John 1:9). This implies that some former homosexuals in the church at Corinth had left their previous homosexual lifestyle and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, were seeking to live lives of sexual purity, whether in celibacy or in faithful, heterosexual marriages.

It is important that the Christian community always show love and compassion toward those engaged in homosexual conduct, and also extend friendship toward them where opportunities arise, though not in a way that signals approval of homosexual practice. It is also important to extend hope for change, since many homosexuals will say that they long to establish a different pattern of life. However, a number of studies have concluded that long-term change from a homosexual lifestyle seldom occurs without a program of help and encouragement from others.

OBJECTIONS

Numerous objections have been presented against the view that homosexuality is morally wrong. One objection is that some people are “born gay,” that is, that many homosexuals do not choose their homosexual orientation but it is part of their genetic makeup from birth, and so homosexuals can never change, and for them homosexual behavior cannot be wrong. But, as noted above, Paul, in talking about “men who practice homosexuality” (1 Cor. 6:9), says to the Corinthian church, “And such were some of you” (1 Cor. 6:11), indicating that homosexuals can change and become former homosexuals. This does not mean that homosexual desires will automatically or necessarily be eradicated for those who come to Christ. Becoming a Christian does not mean that people will no longer experience intense sinful urges (sexual or otherwise). But genuine faith does produce the fruit of obedience and real, substantive change, and Paul indicates that this is precisely what happened with some who had practiced homosexuality in Corinth.

Some argue that science supports the argument that homosexuality is determined by one’s biological makeup from before the time of birth. Studies have in fact shown some indirect, congenital influences on homosexual development that may increase the likelihood of homosexual development. But there are certain hereditary factors that give people a greater likelihood of developing all sorts of different sinful behavior patterns (such as frequent wrongful anger, violence, adultery, alcoholism, and so forth), and it would not be surprising to find that some people, from certain hereditary backgrounds, have a greater likelihood of developing homosexual desires and conduct. But this is far different from proving congenital determinism of homosexuality, that is, that some people are genetically incapable of making any other choice than to entertain homosexual desires and engage in homosexual conduct. Especially significant are studies of identical twins, where one has become a homosexual and the other has not, even though they have identical genetic makeup.

The moral teachings of God’s Word, not people’s inward desires, must be the final standard of right and wrong. It is important to recognize that (1) virtually all behavior is, at some level, biologically influenced, and that (2) no command of God is predicated for its validity on humans first losing all desire to violate the command in question.

As for environmental factors that have been shown to increase the likelihood of homosexual behavior, two of the most significant, particularly for male homosexuals, are the physical or emotional absence of a caring father during childhood years, and sexual abuse sometime during childhood or adolescence.

Another objection is to say that the biblical passages concerning homosexuality only prohibit certain kinds of homosexual conduct, such as homosexual prostitution or pedophilia, or unfaithful homosexual relationships. (This is sometimes called the “exploitation argument”: the Bible only prohibits exploitative forms of homosexuality.) But there is no legitimate evidence in the words of any of these verses, or their contexts, or in evidence from the ancient world, to prove that the verses were referring to anything less than all kinds of homosexual conduct by all kinds of people. Two biblical counterarguments against the “exploitation argument” may be briefly mentioned: (1) In Romans 1:23–27 Paul clearly echoes Genesis 1:27, indicating that Paul viewed any sexual relationship that did not conform to the creation paradigm of “male and female” to be a violation of God’s will, irrespective of whether the relationship is loving. (2) Paul’s absolute indictment against all forms of homosexuality is underscored by his mention of lesbian intercourse in Romans 1:26, since this form of intercourse in the ancient world was not typically characterized by sex with adolescents, slaves, or prostitutes.

Some have suggested that the Sodom and Gomorrah episode does not point to judgment on homosexual practice, but relates only to coercive homosexual practice. But Genesis 19:4–5 indicates that homosexual conduct was characteristic of the entire city and was a primary reason for God’s judgment (cf. the note on Jude 7).

Some object that the phrase “contrary to nature” in Romans 1:26–27 shows that Paul is only talking about people who “naturally” feel desires toward a person of the opposite sex but who then practice homosexuality. Paul says, “For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another” (Rom. 1:26–27). According to this view, Paul is not saying anything about people who “naturally” feel desires for a person of the same sex, for such desires would not be “contrary to that person’s nature.” However, this is reading into the text a restriction that has no basis in the actual words that Paul wrote. He does not say “contrary to their nature,” but “contrary to nature” (Gk. para physin), a phrase that is used several times in literature outside the Bible to speak of all kinds of homosexual conduct as something contrary to the natural order of the world. In other words, Paul is not saying inRomans 1:24–27 that some people switched their innate heterosexual urges for contrived homosexual urges, but rather that people exchanged or left behind sexual relations with a true sexual complement (someone of the other sex) to gratify their inward urges for sex with members of the same sex. Paul sees such people as choosing to follow their desires over God-ordained creation structures.

Finally, there is an objection from experience: some homosexual “couples” have faithful, fulfilling relationships, so why should these be thought immoral? But experience should not be used as a higher standard for moral right and wrong than the teaching of the Bible. In addition, many studies indicate that, particularly among male homosexuals, long-term one-partner relationships are uncommon, and the widespread pattern is many sexual partners, often numbering many hundreds over the years. An additional harmful result of homosexual conduct is often immense damage to the family structures of a society and also to physical health (e.g., various studies have shown a significant reduction in life expectancy for homosexual males compared to the general population).

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE?

Proposals for governments to recognize “same-sex marriage” should be evaluated in light of the Bible’s teaching that one role of civil government is to “praise those who do good” (1 Pet. 2:14). Government recognition of a relationship as a “marriage” carries with it the endorsement and encouragement of that relationship by a society. Married couples enjoy many protections and benefits (legal, financial, and interpersonal) that society has granted in order to encourage marriage and signal that the institution of marriage brings benefits to society as a whole. So the question is really whether a society, through its laws, should give approval and encouragement to homosexual relationships that both the Bible and most cultures throughout history have considered to be morally wrong rather than “good,” and that also bring significant harmful consequences. Governmental recognition of “same-sex marriage” would imply a requirement to allow homosexual couples to adopt and raise children, and this would rob many children of the opportunity to be raised in a home with both a father and a mother, which is by far the best environment for them. In addition, government recognition would likely soon carry with it governmental prohibitions against criticizing homosexual conduct.

CONCLUSION

Homosexual conduct of all kinds is consistently viewed as sin in the Bible, and recent reinterpretations of the Bible that have been raised as objections to that view do not give a satisfactory explanation of the words or the context of the relevant verses. Sexual intimacy is to be confined to marriage, and marriage is to be only between one man and one woman, following the pattern established by God in creation. The church should always act with love and compassion toward homosexuals, yet never affirm homosexual conduct as morally right. The gospel of Jesus Christ offers the “good news” of forgiveness of sins and real hope for a transformed life to homosexuals as well as to all sinners.

CIVIL GOVERNMENT

GOD ESTABLISHED CIVIL GOVERNMENT

God has established civil government for the good of all people: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. … [T]he one who is in authority … is God’s servant for your good” (Rom. 13:1, 3, 4). This indicates that God has established an order of authority regarding civil government: those who are in authority have responsibility to judge right from wrong and to distinguish good from evil by rewarding good behavior and punishing wrongdoing. This means that those in authority should not use power in ways that are arbitrary or that merely serve their own personal advantage. Those who are not in authority are to “be subject” to those who are in authority.

Paul also indicates that God is sovereign over both evil governments and good ones. God not only raises nations up, he also brings them down: “He makes nations great, and he destroys them; he enlarges nations, and leads them away” (Job 12:23; cf. Ps. 75:7). In fact, he will sometimes use one nation to judge another (cf. Jer. 25:7–14). Isaiah 10:5–11 says that God raised up Assyria, which he used to judge all of the surrounding nations. But then he judged Assyria as well, at the appropriate time, using another nation. When God allows evil governments to persist, sometimes believers suffer greatly, but in such situations they also glorify God through their courage and faithfulness (cf. Dan. 3:16–23; Matt. 14:10–11; Acts 5:29, 40–42; 12:2; Heb. 11:35–38; Rev. 2:10; 12:11).

All citizens should obey the laws of the state (for exceptions, see below): Romans 13:2 says, “Whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” In other words, those who reject the authority of a civil government reject God’s authority as well. Romans 13:3–4 says,

For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.

This passage also indicates the purpose of government: it is established by God in order to restrain evil, punish wrongdoers, and promote the order and well-being of society.

First Peter 2:13–17 articulates similar truths: “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution” (v. 13), which includes persons in authority like “the emperor,” or “governors,” or, by implication, other officials who are sent “to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good” (v. 14). The reason Christians must obey in this way is because “this is the will of God” (v. 15), and, further, “that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people” (v. 15). This also means that Christians should honor those in authority, show them proper respect, and pray for them (cf. 1 Tim. 2:1–3).

CHRISTIAN INFLUENCE ON GOVERNMENTS

Since the moral standards of the Bible come from the God of all creation, who holds all people in all societies accountable to him, Christians should act upon opportunities given them to influence government to make laws consistent with the Bible’s moral standards (cf. Dan. 4:27; Luke 3:18–19; Acts 24:24–25; also the prophetic warnings to pagan nations in Isaiah 13–23; Ezekiel 25–32; Amos 1–2; Obadiah; Jonah; Nahum; Habakkuk 2; Zephaniah 2). Influencing a government to make good laws is one way of obeying Jesus’ command, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39), for good laws bring many benefits to people. However, civil governments should not make laws enforcing allegiance to, or prohibiting the practice of, any particular religion, for Jesus divided the realms of responsibilities between the things that “are Caesar’s” and the things that “are God’s,” thus establishing two distinct areas or spheres of authority (Matt. 22:21; cf. also Luke 9:52–55; 12:13–14; John 18:36).

WHEN OBEDIENCE TO GOVERNMENT IS WRONG

Christians should not obey the government, however, when obedience would mean disobeying a command of God. This is indicated by several passages showing approval of disobedience to governments. For example, when commanded not to preach the gospel, Peter says, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Another example is found in Daniel 3:13–27, where Nebuchadnezzar commanded Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to worship the golden statue; they stood firm against the king: “we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Dan. 3:18). God rescued them from the fiery furnace, thus confirming his approval of their stand (Dan. 3:19–30). Other examples of obeying God through disobedience to civil governments include the Egyptian midwives (Ex. 1:17, 21), Esther (Est. 4:16); Daniel (Dan. 6:10); and the wise men (Matt. 2:8, 12).

IS REVOLUTION OR A WAR OF INDEPENDENCE EVER RIGHT?

Christians have differed over the question of whether God’s people should ever support revolutions against evil governments or wars to gain independence from evil governments. Some Christians argue that Romans 13:1–5 prohibits this, especially where Paul says, “whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed.” Others have argued that Paul has in mind here only the conduct of private individuals, but that lower officials who are under a wicked higher official are in a different situation. They argue that lower officials may in fact be obeying God by leading a revolution or fighting a civil war against wicked rulers, in order to protect those whom God has given into their charge, and that thus, in protecting their people, they are fulfilling their responsibility before God to be “not a terror to good conduct, but to bad” (Rom. 13:3). Biblical examples would be Moses against Pharaoh (Exodus 1–14), and some of the judges (Judg. 2:14–16; cf. Heb. 11:33).

METHODS OF SELECTING LEADERS FOR GOVERNMENT

Because the Bible speaks so frequently about kings, for many centuries it was assumed that only a monarchy fit the biblical pattern for civil government. People believed in the “divine right of kings,” by which kings were thought to rule by God’s ordination (an idea that some supported from Rom. 13:1–2), and the people were thought to be subject to their almost unlimited power. The common method of succession was hereditary monarchy, in which the king’s oldest son would succeed him on the throne.

But over the course of centuries more careful examination of the Bible has brought a widespread recognition among Christians that the Bible does not endorse hereditary monarchy as the only proper form of government. When read in their overall context, the tragic narratives of the hereditary monarchies that followed after David, beginning with Solomon and then continuing in both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah (see 1–2 Kings), show a progressive turning of these kingdoms away from God and a decline in their circumstances until both Israel and Judah were carried away into exile in disgrace. Though there were a few good kings, most of the kings of Israel and Judah fulfilled Samuel’s dire warnings about the ways in which kings would abuse their powers and eventually enslave the people (1 Sam. 8:10–18). And many of the pagan kings who opposed God’s people were quite uniformly evil. The overall portrait of monarchies in the Bible is not a positive one (except for the future rule of Jesus, who will one day reign over a renewed world as “King of kings and Lord of lords,” Rev. 19:16).

But what is the alternative to a hereditary monarchy? Several strands of biblical teaching combine to show the benefits of some sort of system by which (1) government gains legitimacy by the consent of the governed, (2) rulers are selected by the consent of those who are governed, and are accountable to them, and (3) the power of government is divided among several persons and groups in order to provide a check against the tendency of all sinful human beings to abuse power, especially great power. The arguments in favor of such a form of government are these:

  1. All human beings share equally the status of being made “in the image of God” (see notes on Gen. 1:26; 1:27). This is a powerful concept that leads to the conclusion that no family should think it has by heredity a “right” to rule over other families and people, or to govern others without their consent.
  2. If the government is to be “God’s servant for your good” (Rom. 13:4), government should exist for the benefit of the people, not for the special benefit of the king and his family (cf. the negative example in 1 Sam. 8:10–18 in contrast with the good examples in 1 Sam. 12:3–5; Num. 16:15). But who can best judge what is best for the people of a nation? A good argument can be made that, over the long run, the people themselves are the best judge of what is good for them. To be sure, the people may err, but they are not likely to err as grievously as a non-accountable paternalist ruler, making decisions on their behalf, might be expected to do.
  3. Scripture contains several positive examples of rulers seeking the consent of those whom they govern (cf. Ex. 4:29–31; 1 Sam. 7:5–6; 10:24; 2 Sam. 2:4; 1 Kings 1:39–40; 12:1; and, in the early church, cf.Acts 6:3).
  4. The fact that “there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Rom. 13:1) does not require a monarchy, for God can institute governments through a process by which the people are able to select their own leaders and keep a check on their powers.

CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

The Bible places much importance on the sanctity of human life; therefore any theological argument for capital punishment—the legal execution of someone guilty of a heinous crime—must meet high standards of biblical support and practical justice. Since human beings are made in God’s image and likeness, only God has the ultimate authority to specify if, and under what conditions, it is morally justified to take a human life.

THE COVENANT WITH NOAH

After the flood, God commanded Noah and his children to be fruitful, to multiply, and to have dominion and stewardship over the earth and all of its creatures. Permission was given to kill animals for food (Gen. 9:3); but murdering a human being meant forfeiting one’s own life, for God said, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Gen. 9:5–6). In this verse, “shedding blood” refers to the violent, unjustified taking of human life (cf. Gen. 37:22; Num. 35:33; 1 Kings 2:31; Ezek. 22:4).

This part of God’s covenant with Noah (Gen. 9:1–17) is a crucial text related to capital punishment for two reasons: (1) the provisions of this covenant were not limited to one specific nation for one specific period of time, as the Mosaic laws were, but were given at the time of a new beginning for all of human society following the flood; and (2) the reason for the command regarding murder is one that remains perpetually valid: “for God made man in his own image” (Gen. 9:6). The previous verse indicates that this command shows how God will execute justice on a murderer, namely, by requiring that other human beings, as God’s representatives, put the murderer to death: “From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man” (Gen. 9:5).

This passage in Genesis explains what is wrong with murdering a human being and why the punishment for intentional murder should be execution: because human beings are made in the image of God. The severity of the crime dictates the severity of the punishment. This is consistent with an overarching principle known as lex talionis (i.e., the law of retribution). Exodus 21:22–25 (see note) is one example: “if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” In contrast to the malicious practices of the nations surrounding God’s people, the lex talionis was a civilizing influence in three ways (cf. Gen. 4:23–24). First, it prevented private vengeance, since the context of such laws showed that this was a principle reserved for judges. Second, it prevented excessive punishment by insuring that only an eye could be taken for damaging an eye. (For example, one could not kill another in return for blinding him.) Third, it prevented insufficient punishment by ensuring that social prejudice did not lead to treating some lives as less valuable than others. One could not require an eye for damaging an eye in one case but not another.

In biblical moral understanding, equally shared reflection of the divine image is what demands taking the life of the one who has wrongly taken the life of another. But the Bible never requires more than the life of the murderer; e.g., it never allows killing a whole village to avenge the murder of one person. According to the Bible, the value of human life does not come from anything that human beings control. It comes from reflecting something (or someone) other than themselves; it is something that all possess and that they can never lose.

Some interpreters disagree with this view. They argue that Genesis 9:6 does not prescribe capital punishment but merely describes what often results from living a life of violence. They claim that the statement “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed” is only a prediction equivalent to the saying “all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matt. 26:52). Against this interpretation is (1) the fact that Genesis 9:5 says God himself will require this “reckoning” for the taking of human life; (2) the reason given for taking human life is not to satisfy a subjective feeling but is rather to hold perpetrators accountable for destroying God’s “own image”; and (3) subsequent laws show that God in fact commanded that human beings carry out the death penalty for various crimes (cf.Num. 35:16–21).

Many who oppose the death penalty subscribe to the so-called “seamless garment” argument. For them, the sanctity of human life means that killing another human being is never permissible, whether in abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, or war. Those who support the death penalty respond that specific teachings of the Bible, not an abstract theory (such as “never take a human life”), should determine the Christian position. And specific teachings of the Bible do give support to the principle of capital punishment. One of the strongest biblical refutations of the “seamless garment” theory is inEzekiel 13:19 where God not only condemns “putting to death souls who should not die” but also “keeping alive souls who should not live.” Someone who is “pro-life” on abortion and euthanasia can, therefore, at the same time consistently favor capital punishment. The principle remains the same in both cases: justice for and protection of the innocent, and punishment for the guilty in proportion to what they have done.

THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT

The sixth of the Ten Commandments forbids the unjustified taking of a person’s life: “You shall not murder” (Ex. 20:13). The esv footnote to this verse explains that the Hebrew term used (ratsakh) is somewhat broader than the contemporary English word “murder” when it says, “The Hebrew word also covers causing human death through carelessness or negligence.” The commandment does not, however, prohibit all killing. The verb ratsakh is never used, e.g., for killing in war. Another reason the sixth commandment cannot prohibit capital punishment is that God himself said in the very next chapter of Exodus that “if a man willfully attacks another to kill him by cunning, you shall take him from my altar, that he may die” (Ex. 21:14). (However, cities of refuge were established for those guilty of accidental [unintentional] manslaughter [Ex. 21:13; cf. Joshua 20].)

In the OT it was God who prescribed the death penalty. Therefore capital punishment cannot be contrary to God’s character or inconsistent with God’s command to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18). God’s laws are always consistent with his moral character, and his moral character never changes (Ps. 102:27; Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8; James 1:17).

The laws God gave Moses at Sinai for governing Israel in the Promised Land included death penalties for several other crimes besides the intentional shedding of innocent human blood, which had already been prohibited under the Noahic covenant (Gen. 9:5–6). But these additional death penalties wereonly given to govern the theocracy of Israel and were never universally applied even in the OT. While the death penalty for murder is universally commanded based on an enduring theological principle (i.e., man being made in the image of God; Gen. 9:5–6), the other death penalties later included in the Mosaic law are not. Therefore these laws were specific to the particular history of Israel at that time, and they should not be treated as necessary patterns for civil governments today. (For many of these cases regarding worship of other gods, the NT parallel would be excommunication from the fellowship of the church.)

Methods of execution in the OT included stoning (Lev. 20:2, 27; 24:14; Deut. 21:21), hanging (Deut. 21:22–23; Josh. 8:29), burning (Lev. 20:14; 21:9), and the sword (Ex. 32:27–28). OT law also ensured that capital punishment could only be carried out based on the testimony of at least two witnesses (Num. 35:30; Deut. 17:6, 19). In some cases, the punishment was to be executed by the witnesses themselves (Deut. 13:6–10; 17:7), while in others it was to be inflicted by the congregation (Num. 15:32–36), the nearest of kin, or the avenger of blood (Deut. 19:11–12).

THE NT ON CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

The most definitive NT text on capital punishment is Romans 13, where the apostle Paul discusses the nature of punishment and the role of civil magistrates. He writes, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. … Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (Rom. 13:1–4). It is important to recall, however, that just three verses earlier Paul forbids personal revenge: “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’” (Rom. 12:19). Then in Romans 13, with no sense of inconsistency, Paul moves right on to explain that leaving punishment “to the wrath of God” means allowing punishment to come through the civil government, which is “the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (13:4). So, while personal retaliation is forbidden, civil authorities are to punish evildoers justly and dispassionately.

Both proponents and opponents of capital punishment point to “the sword” (Gk. machaira) in Romans 13:4 to support their view. Opponents note that “the sword” is sometimes used as a symbol or metaphor (i.e., the “sword of the Spirit,” Eph. 6:17; the word of God is “sharper than any two-edged sword,” Heb. 4:12). They understand “the sword” in Romans 13:4 to be only a symbol of governing authorities. Against this, proponents of capital punishment maintain that the image of “the sword” stands for governmental authority to use even lethal force if necessary. They note that even where “the sword” symbolizes authority, that symbol has no meaning without the reality backing it up. The NT also uses the same word for sword (Gk. machaira) on several occasions that clearly refer to the real use of lethal force, e.g., when Herod “killed James the brother of John with the sword” (Acts 12:2), and when it refers to martyrs who were “killed with the sword” (Heb. 11:37; cf. also Matt. 26:52; Acts 16:27; Rom. 8:35;Rev. 13:10).

The apostle Paul, who used the word “sword” in this text, showed that he knew that some crimes are worthy of death, saying, “If … I … have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death” (Acts 25:11). It is unlikely that Paul would have said this if he thought capital punishment was never justifiable. Even so, except for crimes of murder, neither God’s command to Noah in Genesis 9:6 nor any NT statement makes it necessary to treat any other specific crime as so horrible that all societies everywhere must always apply capital punishment when someone commits it. Apparently that question is left for each society or government to seek to decide wisely and justly.

The two sides on the issue of capital punishment also differ over Jesus’ command to turn the other cheek (Matt. 5:38–39). Proponents of capital punishment think that Jesus only addressed personal conduct, not how governments carry out assigned duties, while opponents claim that Jesus addressed government duties as well. The story of the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 7:53–8:11) is not thought to be as relevant by either side, both because there is doubt about whether the text itself was originally part of John’s Gospel (see note) and because Jesus’ words in the story (“Let him who is without sin … be the first to throw a stone at her”) do not pertain to the crime of murder.

JUSTICE AND THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT

At the heart of the moral debate over capital punishment are often different views of justice and the role that is assigned to government in relation to it. Those favoring capital punishment usually stress the retributive view of justice (i.e., wrongdoing calls for proportional punishment). They argue that the Bible reveals that God has ordained human government to act as his agent in applying retributive justice to wrongdoers. Human government is “an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (Rom. 13:4; cf. 1 Pet. 2:14). Thus capital punishment is seen as (1) an outpouring of divine justice in this present life, (2) a deterrent from personal vengeance (Rom. 12:19), and (3) a deterrent from further crimes (see Eccles. 8:11; Rom. 13:3–4). Those opposing capital punishment either define justice differently (e.g., as distributing benefits or restoring damages), or hold that government should be less concerned with retribution (treating people as they deserve) than with mercy (not treating people as badly as they deserve).

Finally, Christians who believe that capital punishment has biblical justification also hold that it must be carried out in a just manner. So, among other things, this means that holding people accountable for wrongdoing should be done in a way that requires: (1) clear evidence of guilt established by eyewitnesses or irrefutable forensic evidence (cf. Num. 35:30; Deut. 17:6, 19); (2) granting the accused due process without discrimination based on social status, beliefs, race, or economic class; (3) rendering judgment based on adequate proof of moral culpability; and (4) making sure that any punishment assigned is proportional to the crime.

WAR

DEFINITION OF WAR

War is a large-scale armed conflict between countries or between groups within a country aiming at changing or dividing established government. Throughout history, wars have frequently been started by rulers seeking to expand their territory and power, but wars can be started for a variety of economic, political, religious, or ethnic reasons.

BIBLICAL JUSTIFICATIONS FOR SOME WARS

No recognized Christian group or Christian leader today argues that any government should engage in war to compel people to support the Christian religion. This is because of the recognition that Christian faith, by its nature, must be voluntary if it is to be genuine (note the invitations in various parts of the Bible that appeal to people’s freedom to choose whether or not they will follow God: Ezek. 33:11; Matt. 11:28–30; Rev. 22:17). Jesus distinguished between “the things that are Caesar’s” and “the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21), thus establishing that the civil government (“Caesar”) and the church (“the things that are God’s”) have different responsibilities and different tasks, and that the government should not use its power to attempt to control people’s religious faith. Jesus himself refused to use deadly force to advance his kingdom or compel allegiance to him (see Matt. 26:52–55; John 18:36).

However, God does give civil government the responsibility and the authority to use superior force, even deadly force, to protect its citizens from evil. This is because, until Jesus returns (Dan. 9:26; Matt. 24:6), there are some people so deeply committed to doing evil that they can be restrained, not by reason and persuasion, but only by superior force. Therefore, in the OT God says that rulers must “give justice to the weak” and must “deliver them from the hand of the wicked” (Ps. 82:3–4). The NT maintains that the civil government has been established by God with responsibility for maintaining justice. This is why the government has a rightful duty to “bear the sword” (Rom. 13:4), to be “a terror” to bad conduct, and thus to be “God’s servant” to do “good” for its citizens (Rom. 13:3–4). Part of this responsibility is acting as a “servant of God … who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (Rom. 13:4). Peter likewise affirms that civil government is sent “to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good” (1 Pet. 2:14). Therefore one of the primary duties of government is to protect its citizens, even through the use of force (“the sword”) if that is necessary in order to restrain evil. This is the justification for police forces that protect citizens from any harm that would come from others within a nation. And this responsibility from God also provides justification for nations to engage in armed conflict (“to bear the sword”) in order to protect their citizens from evildoers who would attack them from outside the nation, including a defense against armies sent by other nations when those armies and nations are “those who do evil” (1 Pet. 2:14) in the pursuit of such a war.

Several wars in the OT fall under this category of a war of defense against evil aggression (such as Abraham’s war to rescue Lot in Gen. 14:1–16; Saul’s war against the Ammonites in 1 Sam. 11:1–11; and Gideon’s war to defend Israel against the Midianites in Judges 6–7). Therefore it should not be thought inconsistent in the OT for God to command people to go to war (see Deuteronomy 20, for example) andalso to command his people, “You shall not murder” (Ex. 20:13; Deut. 5:17). The Hebrew word translated “murder” (ratsakh) in the sixth commandment is used 49 times in the OT but is never used to refer to killing in war (for which other Hebrew words are used; see note on Deut. 5:17).

Over the ages, Christians have adopted three different views on the ethics of war: crusade, just war, and pacifism.

CRUSADE

The crusade ethic treats war as the most effective means for destroying all resistance to establishing some idealistic vision of social order: it does so by religious authority; it is led by a religious figure such as a prophet, pope, or imam; it accepts no compromise; it spares no prisoners; it sets no limits on force; it sends soldiers into battle with zeal; it ignores all odds; it demonizes opponents; it distinguishes only between friend or foe (not between combatants and noncombatants); it never surrenders; and it never ceases so long as opposition exists. But while God does order wars of crusade in the OT (such as Moses’ war of vengeance against the Midianites in Numbers 31, and Joshua’s conquest of Canaan in the book of Joshua; see The Destruction of the Canaanites), and while Jesus is pictured as leading a war of crusade when he returns to rule the earth on all levels (Rev. 19:11–21), the Bible never gives humanrulers a choice of electing to fight wars of crusade on their own initiative.

Biblically approved use of the crusade ethic occurs only at God’s initiative (see Num. 31:1–2), is led only by God himself (see Josh. 5:13–15), and occurs only in such a way that those called to participate can readily verify that this is done at the direct command of God (see Rev. 19:11–16). When Pope Urban II launched wars of crusade during the Middle Ages, he violated biblical moral boundaries in a way that has shamed the cause of Christ and the reputation of the church ever since.

JUST WAR

The just war ethic argues that warfare is sometimes necessary in order to resist or reverse specific unjust actions taken by one government or nation against another, but it also insists that war is always regrettable, is always something to avoid if possible, and is never to be used to establish some new vision of a social order.

The just war ethical tradition arises from both biblical and classical sources. In the Bible, just war principles can be found in rules revealed for engaging enemies outside the territory of the Promised Land (Deut. 20:1–20), in God’s judgment of war actions taken by the Gentile nations around Israel (Amos 1), and in the regard Jesus had for moral wisdom relating to the way kings go to war (Luke 14:31).

The NT church included many soldiers serving on active duty and saw nothing morally inconsistent with Christians serving as military professionals. The conversion of Cornelius, a Roman centurion, was confirmed by the Holy Spirit with no question of his profession compromising his faith (Acts 10). John the Baptist responded to soldiers in a way that implied they were serving in a morally legitimate profession (Luke 3:14). And when Paul was imprisoned in Rome, many in the Praetorian guard became Christians (cf. Phil. 1:13). As a result, Christians soon came to fill the Roman “fortresses,” military “camps,” and army “companies” (see evidence provided by Tertullian in Apology 37; c. a.d. 200), and the first persecutions of the church arose because of the high number of Christians serving in the Roman army. While some early Christians opposed military service (cf. Tertullian and Origen), the majority tradition of the church has never considered military service to be inconsistent with biblical standards.

Over time, the just war ethic has developed a common set of criteria that can be used to decide if going to war in a specific situation is right. These include the following: (1) just cause (is the reason for going to war a morally right cause, such as defense of a nation? cf. Rev. 19:11); (2) competent authority (has the war been declared not simply by a renegade band within a nation but by a recognized, competent authority within the nation? cf. Rom. 13:1); (3) comparative justice (it should be clear that the actions of the enemy are morally wrong, and the motives and actions of one’s own nation in going to war are, in comparison, morally right; cf. Rom. 13:3); (4) right intention (is the purpose of going to war to protect justice and righteousness rather than simply to rob and pillage and destroy another nation? cf. Prov. 21:2); (5) last resort (have all other reasonable means of resolving the conflict been exhausted? cf. Matt. 5:9; Rom. 12:18); (6) probability of success (is there a reasonable expectation that the war can be won? cf. Luke 14:31); (7) proportionality of projected results (will the good results that come from a victory in a war be significantly greater than the harm and loss that will inevitably come with pursuing the war? cf.Rom. 12:21 with 13:4); and (8) right spirit (is the war undertaken with great reluctance and sorrow at the harm that will come rather than simply with a “delight in war,” as in Ps. 68:30?).

In addition to these criteria for deciding whether a specific war is “just,” advocates of just war theory have also developed some moral restrictions on how a just war should be fought. These include the following: (1) proportionality in the use of force (no greater destruction should be caused than is needed to win the war; cf. Deut. 20:10–12); (2) discrimination between combatants and noncombatants(insofar as it is feasible in the successful pursuit of a war, is adequate care being taken to prevent harm to noncombatants? cf. Deut. 20:13–14, 19–20); (3) avoidance of evil means (will captured or defeated enemies be treated with justice and compassion, and are one’s own soldiers being treated justly in captivity? cf. Ps. 34:14); and (4) good faith (is there a genuine desire for restoration of peace and eventually living in harmony with the attacking nation? cf. Matt. 5:43–44; Rom. 12:18).

If a war is just, it should not be viewed as morally wrong but still necessary, nor as morally neutral, but as something that is morally right, carried out (with sorrow and regret) in obedience to responsibilities given by God (Rom. 13:4). Those who serve in a just war should understand that such service is not sinful in God’s sight but that they do this as “God’s servant for your good” (Rom. 13:4; cf. Luke 3:14;John 15:13; also Num. 32:6, 20–23; Ps. 144:1).

Most nations throughout history, and most Christians in every age, have held that fighting in combat is a responsibility that should fall only to men, and that it is contrary to the very idea of womanhood, and shameful for a nation, to have women risk their lives as combatants in a war. The assumption that only men and not women will fight in battle is also a frequent pattern in the historical narratives and is affirmed by leaders and prophets in the OT (see Num. 1:2–3; Deut. 3:18–19; 20:7–8; 24:5; Josh. 1:14; 23:10; Judg. 4:8–10; 9:54; 1 Sam. 4:9; Neh. 4:13–14; Jer. 50:37; Nah. 3:13).

PACIFISM

Since the time of Tertullian and Origen (2nd–3rd centuries a.d.), some Christians have advocated pacifism, the idea that participating in war is always wrong, or is always wrong at least for Christians. Arguments used to support pacifism are: (1) Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek (Matt. 5:39); (2) Jesus taught us that “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39); (3) Jesus refused to use the power of the sword to advance his kingdom (Matt. 26:52–53); (4) the use of military force shows lack of trust in God; and (5) violence always begets more violence and does not really solve the underlying problems.

Those who differ with pacifism respond to each of those arguments as follows: (1) Jesus’ teaching on turning the other cheek was intended as a guide for individual conduct, not for the conduct of governments or soldiers or police in the service of governments (see note on Matt. 5:39). (2) The command to love one’s neighbor is consistent with going to war to protect one’s neighbor from an aggressor, as is evident from the fact that the OT commanded love for one’s neighbor (Lev. 19:18) as well as directions for the conduct of war (Deuteronomy 20). It is also evident from the example of David, who loved his son Absalom but sent the army against him when Absalom sought to usurp the throne (2 Sam. 18:1–33). (3) It is never right to use military force to advance the gospel message, or compel adherence to Christianity, but that is different from the responsibility of government to protect its citizens. (4) The believer’s trust in God must be defined by what Scripture says, including its teachings on God’s appointment of civil government to use force to protect its citizens. Therefore one should trust God to work through the power of the sword exercised by government. (5) It is simply not true that wars never solve problems: war was necessary to defeat slavery in the nineteenth century in the United States and to defeat Hitler in World War II, as well as to defeat other tyrants throughout history. In addition, non-pacifist Christians also note (6) that although Jesus stopped Peter from using a sword to resist arrest on his way to the cross (Matt. 26:52), he did not consider it inconsistent with directions given hours earlier that same evening when he instructed his disciples to carry weapons for self-defense (Luke 22:35–36; see note); and if using deadly force is justified as required under individual circumstances, there can be no objection to using deadly force as required under civil community circumstances.

LYING AND TELLING THE TRUTH

The God of the Bible is the God of truth, beauty, and goodness. As seen in the Ten Commandments (“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor,” Ex. 20:16), God expects his people to adhere to his standard of truth. But is it ever permissible to tell a lie?

Telling the truth and the permissibility of lying have been perennial issues of concern for both Christian ethicists and for the individual Christian facing an ethical dilemma. For instance, if a killer inquires about the whereabouts of his next potential victim, is a Christian permitted to lie in order to protect the innocent? Is it acceptable to lie in order to achieve great good? May a Christian falsify documents in order to smuggle Bibles into a “closed” country?

THE SANCTITY OF TRUTH AND THE CONDEMNATION OF LYING

The Bible clearly emphasizes the sanctity of truth. God “never lies” (Titus 1:2) and his people are to imitate him by being people “of the truth” (John 18:37). Jesus described himself as “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Moreover, Jesus promises that “the truth will set you free” from the bondage of sin (John 8:32). Finally, one of the evidences of human depravity is that people “exchanged the truth about God for a lie” (Rom. 1:25).

By contrast, lying is condemned in Scripture: “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord” (Prov. 12:22). The devil “is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Paul tells Christians, “Do not lie to one another” (Col. 3:9). He also commands, “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor” (Eph. 4:25) and says that believers should be “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). At the final judgment, those who are thrown in the lake of fire include “all liars” (Rev. 21:8). Telling the truth, therefore, is to characterize followers of Christ.

DOES SCRIPTURE SOMETIMES APPROVE OF LYING?

At the same time, however, Scripture records incidents that seem to approve certain examples of telling a lie. For instance, in Exodus 1, the midwives disobeyed the pharaoh’s command to kill the male Hebrew children (“the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live,” v. 17). When asked why they did not kill the male babies, they said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them” (v. 20). In other words, the midwives claimed that the births happened so quickly that they could not get to the mothers in time to make it appear that there had been a stillbirth. This was at best a half-truth (applying in only some cases), and the explanation that they “let the male children live” (v. 17) suggests that they were lying to the king. But at the beginning and end of the narrative, it says that “the midwives feared God” (vv. 17, 21).

Another example is the case of Rahab the prostitute, who hid two Hebrew spies (Joshua 2). When Joshua sent two men to evaluate the situation in Jericho, Rahab took them to her rooftop, where she hid them under stalks of flax (v. 6). When a messenger from the king insisted that Rahab turn the men over to the authorities, she replied, “True, the men came to me, but I do not know where they were from. And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went” (vv. 4–5). Despite her lies, Rahab is commended in the so-called “hall of faith” in Hebrews 11:31 “because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.”

On the other hand, some interpreters argue that in neither case were the lies to be considered morally praiseworthy. Their lifesaving acts had a good motivation (to save lives) and good results, but those should be distinguished from the wrongful means that they chose to employ (i.e., telling a lie). In addition, some would argue that since Rahab was a Canaanite prostitute (Josh. 2:1), there is no indication that she had any knowledge of God’s moral instructions to Israel. This makes it doubtful that every aspect of her conduct is intended to be read as an example for believers to imitate.

IS LYING EVER PERMISSIBLE?

Several notable Christian theologians, including Augustine (a.d. 354–430), John Wesley (1703–1791), and John Murray (1898–1975), have taught that deliberate lying is never permissible. For instance, Augustine argued in his essay On Lying that telling a lie had the effect of eroding confidence in the truth and therefore weakened the Christian faith. Like every good theologian, he first defined his terms. A joke, even if involving factual falsehoods, is not a lie because everyone knows from the tone of the voice or the mood of the person telling it that it is meant to be taken not literally but humorously. Lying, strictly speaking, is seriously affirming as true something that one knows to be false. Augustine stated explicitly that one should never lie, even to prevent rape or to save a life. Lying, he argued, would ultimately undermine the gospel by destroying all certainty that one is telling the truth. If one cannot be trusted to speak truthfully about some things, how could one be believed when it comes to matters as important as the resurrection of Christ? Besides, Augustine observed, lying is a web that entangles a person. One lie requires another lie to cover it up, which requires yet another lie, and so on.

Others, such as Martin Luther (1483–1546) and Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906–1945), have argued that, while Christians should be known for their commitment to the sanctity of truth, there are exceptions to the rule against lying. Present-day ethicists who identify themselves as hierarchialists maintain that Scripture teaches that some moral principles take precedence over others. Lying may be appropriate in cases where telling the truth conflicts with obeying a higher commandment of God. For instance, one may lie in order to save a life. This hierarchialist view does not represent a cavalier attitude toward lying but holds that one is sometimes faced with conflicting moral absolutes, and it takes this situation seriously and tries to find the solution that more fully expresses God’s ideals and priorities. Thus, someone who tries to smuggle Bibles into another country probably believes that the Great Commission takes precedence over atheistic law (as in Acts 5:29, where the apostles said, “We must obey God rather than men”).

While some hierarchialists hold that breaking a lower moral command to obey a higher one is what God requires, and is therefore not sinful, others hold that breaking any of God’s commands is always sinful even though sometimes it is morally necessary. Against this position, it is argued that such a view cannot be reconciled with the life of Christ. If one is ever tempted with a situation in which all of his choices require him to disobey something in God’s Word, and so commit sin, then Jesus must have been faced with a situation like that too, because he is the “one who in every respect has been tempted as we are” (Heb. 4:15). However, that would mean that Jesus actually disobeyed a moral command of God, and if disobeying any of God’s moral laws is sin, then that contradicts the final phrase of verse 15that says Jesus “in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Therefore the life of Christ encourages believers to think that they will never face a situation in which they are forced to disobey one of God’s commands in order to obey another one.

German theologian Helmut Thielicke (1908–1986) maintained that an individual or group may forfeit its right to be told the truth. In those cases, some would argue, truth telling is not obligatory. An example would be the deception and concealment involved in military contexts. In war, the “tacit agreement” of truthfulness has been made null and void. No one expects the enemy to speak truthfully about military strategy, prowess, or power. As a result, says Thielicke, the situation involves “mutual mistrust.” These are the rules of the game, as it were. Lying is not wrong in these cases because the parties involved are not committed to mutual trust. Another example might be when someone intends to use truth as a weapon against an innocent individual. If, e.g., someone is holding innocent people hostage at gunpoint, some would argue that the police are not obligated to tell the truth when negotiating with the hostage-taker. By harming others, the criminal has forfeited his claim to the truth.

In response, those who hold that it is always wrong to lie would say that there will always be another solution, often involving various ways of hiding facts but not lying (cf. 1 Cor. 10:13). They would argue that the obligation to speak truthfully is not annulled by the debased moral condition of those to whom one speaks, but is based on an obligation to always reflect the character of God (cf. Matt. 5:48; Eph. 5:1;Col. 3:9–10). And God himself “never lies” (Titus 1:2; cf. Heb. 6:18), not even to sinful unbelievers. Therefore God’s people should not do so either.

IS IT PERMISSIBLE TO CONCEAL TRUTH IN ORDER TO MISLEAD?

What about actions intended to conceal truth or to mislead others? While such actions are related to the issue of lying, they are still a distinct issue, and individual examples are more complex because the meaning of an action is often ambiguous. In addition, an examination of particular cases in the Bible reveals some instances where misleading actions are wrong (cf. 1 Sam. 14:2–6; 28:8; 1 Kings 22:30;Prov. 13:7b; 2 Cor. 11:15) and other situations where they seem to be right (cf. Josh. 8:1–21; 1 Sam. 16:1–3: 19:11–13; 21:13–15; Ps. 34:1; Prov. 13:7a; Matt. 6:17–18). In any case, careful thought about lying requires treating such actions as a distinct category.

Finally, whether or not one believes that God ever approves of false statements, there are surely conditions under which it is appropriate to tell someone less than one knows or believes. For example, candor—being totally frank, or saying exactly what is on one’s mind—must be used judiciously. Charity should temper how one responds to another person. To say to the pastor bluntly, “Your sermon was terrible,” would not be edifying, but destructive. Speaking the truth in love requires discernment and restraint. Tact is a Christian virtue. In any case, the obligation never to speak a falsehood does not imply that one has an obligation to tell everything that one knows. There are many times when silence is appropriate (cf. Matt. 26:63).

CHARITABLE TRUTHFULNESS

In sum, followers of Christ are to live lives characterized by charitable truthfulness. Failure to speak the truth in love to, or about, one’s neighbor should be resisted. Lying is a sin of which one should repent. Even those ethicists who argue that there may be rare occasions when it is appropriate to lie agree that the temptation to lie to protect one’s ego or status is so great, that few in practice are able to limit their lying to appropriate cases. In an age in which “everyone utters lies to his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak” (Ps. 12:2), Christians should, by contrast, be known as those who speak the truth and whose words can always be trusted.

RACIAL DISCRIMINATION

THE UNITY OF THE HUMAN RACE: EVIDENCE FROM SCRIPTURE

Racial discrimination has a long and sad history, but the Bible consistently views it as contrary to God’s moral will. The entire human race has descended from Adam and Eve (Gen. 1:26–28), and Eve is “the mother of all living” (Gen. 3:20), that is, of all living human beings. This means that all human beings share equally in the exalted status of being made “in the image of God” (Gen. 1:27). Furthermore, Paul says in Acts 17:26 that God “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.” The biblical record clearly indicates there is only one fundamental race of human beings, all descended from a single set of parents.

THE UNITY OF THE HUMAN RACE: EVIDENCE FROM GENETIC SCIENCE

Recent genetic studies from the Human Genome Project give interesting confirmation to the very large degree of genetic similarity shared by all human beings and the extremely small degree of genetic dissimilarity distinguishing one people group from another. The best of contemporary science shows that the human genome sequence is almost exactly the same (99.9%) in all people. In fact,

DNA studies do not indicate that separate classifiable subspecies (races) exist within modern humans. While different genes for physical traits such as skin and hair color can be identified between individuals, no consistent patterns of genes across the human genome exist to distinguish one race from another. There also is no genetic basis for divisions of human ethnicity. People who have lived in the same geographic region for many generations may have some alleles [possible forms in which a gene for a specific trait can occur] in common, but no allele will be found in all members of one population and in no members of any other.

Why then do people with different racial characteristics originate from different regions of the world? The human race, starting with Adam and Eve, has always included not only genetic variations of eye color, height, and facial appearance, but also of skin and hair color now associated with different racial groups. At some early point when people began migrating to various parts of the earth, some variations within the one human gene pool became geographically isolated from other variations, so that people living in what is now northern Europe came to look more like each other and different from people living in what is now Africa, or Asia, or North America.

Another interesting implication of this has to do with genetic inheritance of skin color. Modern genetic studies show that when a lighter-skin person has a child with a darker-skin person, none of their children will have skin darker than that of the darkest parent. This means that if the hereditary transfer of skin color has operated in the same way from the beginning of human history, then the genetic variety in skin color (which is a very tiny difference from the standpoint of human genetics) must have existed from the very beginning. This suggests that Adam and Eve’s children (see Gen. 5:4) would have likely had different skin colors, and that Adam and Eve would have likely had different skin colors as well.

INTERRACIAL MARRIAGE IN THE BIBLE

Given the biblical evidence regarding the unity of the human race, it is not surprising to find that the Bible includes examples of marriages between different ethnicities or “races” that are treated as perfectly normal and good. For instance, Joseph (who was of Semitic origin, a descendant of Abraham) married Asenath (Gen. 41:50), the daughter of an Egyptian priest (who was African). From this marriage came Ephraim and Manasseh, two of the largest of the 12 tribes of Israel (Gen. 41:51–52). In addition, Moses married a “Cushite” woman, also an African woman from the region of modern Ethiopia and Sudan (Num. 12:1). Indeed, God punished Miriam and Aaron for criticizing this marriage (Num. 12:4–9). In addition, there are non-Jewish ancestors in the line of Jesus the Messiah. Matthew’s genealogy mentions that Jesus’ ancestry included Rahab, who was a Canaanite (Matt. 1:5), and Ruth, who was a Moabite (Ruth 1:4, 22; 2:2, 6, 21; 4:5, 10; Matt. 1:5).

There was some prohibition of marrying foreigners in the OT (see Deut. 7:3; Ezra 10:11), but as the verses in the previous paragraph show, this did not necessarily prohibit marrying people of a different ethnic group but only prohibited marrying outside of faith in the one true God (see Deut. 7:1–2; Ezra 9:1–2, 11, 14). The NT counterpart to this OT law has nothing to do with race or ethnic identity, but only teaches that believers should not marry unbelievers (cf. 1 Cor. 7:39; 2 Cor. 6:14–18).

THE CURSE OF CANAAN

Sometimes in the history of the church an invalid and indeed shameful argument has been used to justify racial discrimination. The argument is based on a false interpretation of the curse uttered against Noah’s grandson, Canaan: “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers” (Gen. 9:25). It is simply not possible to connect this curse of Canaan’s descendants with people of dark skin, or with the members of any contemporary portion of the human race. Genesis 10:15–19 shows that the descendants of Canaan actually moved to the region of modern Palestine, where they lived in Sodom and Gomorrah as well as other nearby cities. Therefore, Noah’s curse on the descendants of Canaan was fulfilled initially when God, in the day of Abraham, destroyed the cities of the Jordan plain (Gen. 19:24), and then later when Israel, led by Joshua, conquered the land of Canaan and in the process destroyed what remained of the sinful Canaanite tribes (see Deut. 7:1–2). These groups were not connected to the people of Africa.

NT TEACHING

Several NT teachings are relevant to the issue of racial prejudice and discrimination. The parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–27) was in part designed to expose the wrong of the ethnic prejudice that existed between Jews and Samaritans (the Samaritans were a mixed race of people—half Jewish, half Gentile). In Matthew 28:19 (cf. Acts 1:8), Jesus told his followers that they should “make disciples of all nations” (i.e., all ethnic groups), and Paul condemned racial discrimination in the church when he said, “There is neither Jew nor Greek … for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). Paul also taught that the wonderful “mystery” revealed in God’s plan for the church is that “the Gentiles are fellow heirs [with the Jews], members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Eph. 3:6). He taught that unity among multiple ethnic and racial groups in the church demonstrates in an amazing way “the manifold [Gk. polypoikilos, “having many facets, diversified, very many-sided”] wisdom of God” so that it is “made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Eph. 3:10). In other words, when the gospel brings Jews and Gentiles, and by implication people of every ethnic background, together in one church, it gives testimony, even to the angels and demons in the spiritual realm, of how wonderful God’s plan is to unite all different kinds of human beings in one body, the church of Jesus Christ.

It is therefore a terrible tragedy when Christians of any particular racial background exclude people of other racial or ethnic backgrounds from participating in certain local churches. Such thinking is completely contrary to what God intends. In the book of Revelation John’s heavenly vision of the glorified church is described as:

a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev. 7:9–10).

If this is God’s great plan from the beginning of time until the end, then surely the Christian church of today should be a living example of racial harmony, characterized by full inclusion of people from all racial and ethnic backgrounds united in serving Christ and his universal kingdom on earth.

STEWARDSHIP

THE CONCEPT OF STEWARDSHIP

The entire earth belongs to God, for he created it: “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (Ps. 24:1; cf. Gen. 1:1; Lev. 25:23; Ps. 50:10–12; Hag. 2:8). But while God made animals simply to dwell on the earth and eat the food they found on it (Gen. 1:30), he made man (as male and female) to rule over all the earth and develop its resources in wise and useful ways: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen. 1:28). To “subdue” the earth meant to exercise wise control over it in such a way that it will produce useful goods for the people who “subdued” it. This command therefore implied an expectation that Adam and Eve, and their descendants, as God’s image-bearers, would investigate, understand, develop, and enjoy the resources of the earth, with thanksgiving to God who had entrusted such a responsibility to them. This implied not merely harvesting food from the vines and fruit trees in the garden of Eden but also domesticating animals (cf. note on Gen. 2:20), developing the mineral resources of the earth (cf. Gen. 2:11–12), and eventually developing dwelling places and means of transportation, learning artistry and craftsmanship, and so forth. The ability to develop and enjoy the resources of the earth in this way is an ability unique to human beings, one that is shared neither by animals nor by angels. Therefore the innate human desire to develop the resources of the earth and produce useful goods for human beings should not be immediately dismissed as sinful or greedy, but is an essential aspect of how God created human beings to function on the earth.

STEWARDSHIP AND THE ENVIRONMENT

The responsibility to be stewards of God’s creation does not mean that humans have a right to abuse or destroy his material creation, for wisdom dictates that they should take appropriate steps to protect this gift of God from unwarranted defilement and inappropriate use. Nor does stewardship mean that people are to ignore God’s material creation, either through passive neglect or through a philosophical decision to leave nature in its “natural state.” After the fall, “the creation was subjected to futility” (Rom. 8:20; cf.Gen. 3:17–18) in such a way that nature now includes floods, forest fires, hurricanes, weeds, insects that can destroy crops, etc. Wise stewardship involves active steps to “subdue” and “have dominion” over such factors, with thoughtful development of the world’s resources, in gratitude to God and in accord with his moral laws.

STEWARDSHIP IN ALL OF LIFE

Whatever a person “owns,” he or she is to manage as a steward who is responsible to God. Stewardship responsibilities extend not only to the creation, material possessions, and natural resources, but also to other things such as talents or skills that have been given by God (1 Cor. 4:7), time and opportunities (Eph. 5:15–16), the wonderful responsibility of bearing and raising children (Eph. 6:4), and spiritual gifts and ministries (1 Cor. 4:1–2; Eph. 3:2; 1 Pet. 4:10).

STEWARDSHIP AND OWNERSHIP OF PROPERTY

The idea of private stewardship or ownership of property is implicit in the Ten Commandments, for when God says, “You shall not steal” (Ex. 20:15), it implies that one should not steal his neighbor’s ox or donkey because it belongs to the neighbor. It is, in a sense, “private property.” This becomes more explicit when the tenth commandment focuses on the desires of one’s heart: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house … or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s” (Ex. 20:17). The neighbor’s ownership of his house and his donkey gives him control over those things and also provides the basis on which God will hold him responsible for faithfully discharging his stewardship responsibilities. Therefore the Bible does not view the ownership of property as something that is wrong or evil in itself, but rather as a solemn responsibility that God entrusts to human beings created in his image. (Regarding the statement in Acts 2:44 that believers in the early church “had all things in common,” see notes on Acts 2:44; 4:34; and 5:4.)

STEWARDSHIP AND VARIOUS USES OF POSSESSIONS

The concept of responsible stewardship before God requires that believers use all their property and possessions in ways that are pleasing to God and faithful to his teachings in Scripture.

  1. Some resources should be used to support oneself and one’s family. Paul instructed the Thessalonians “to work with your hands … so that you may walk properly … and be dependent on no one” (1 Thess. 4:11–12), and to tell those “walking in idleness” “to do their work quietly and to earn their own living” (2 Thess. 3:6, 12; cf. 1 Tim. 5:8). The NT does not command Christians to follow rigid asceticism (see 1 Tim. 4:1–5) but encourages believers to enjoy the resources of the earth “with thanksgiving” (1 Tim. 4:4) to God, “who richly provides us with everything to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17; cf.Eccles. 6:1–2). Yet there are also strong warnings against the love of money, the temptations of wealth, and spending that is wasteful, selfish, or self-indulgent: “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have” (Heb. 13:5). “If riches increase, set not your heart on them” (Ps. 62:10; cf.Eccles. 5:10; Matt. 6:19–21; Luke 12:15–21; 15:11–13; James 5:5; 1 John 2:16; 3:17). Jesus gave a number of warnings about wealth: “You cannot serve God and money” (Matt. 6:24). “The deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful” (Mark 4:19). “Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation” (Luke 6:24).
  • Another morally good use of some resources is to save for future needs. Because “you do not know what tomorrow will bring” (James 4:14), it is wise, for those who are able to do so, to save some of what they have for a time when they will not be able to work (due to age, weakness, sickness, or loss of employment). A person who assumes that he will need no savings to depend on in the future is very likely deciding to impose a later financial burden on his children or relatives. However, accumulating savings also provides significant temptations to sin: Jesus says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth … but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. … For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:19–21; cf. Ps. 62:10; Matt. 6:24; Luke 12:15–21; Heb. 13:5). And Christians should continually realize that whatever amount they save, that amount is not being given to the needs of others or to the building up of the church or to the spread of the gospel throughout the world.
  • A third use of resources, one repeatedly emphasized in Scripture, is giving money to those in need, or to the Lord’s work in the church and in missions. In the OT, God required his people to give a “tithe” (that is, 10 percent) of their grain (see Lev. 27:30) and of their “herds and flocks, every tenth animal” (Lev. 27:32; see also Gen. 14:20; 28:22; Num. 18:21, 26; Deut. 12:17; 14:22; 26:12–13). But while Jesus spoke about the tithing of the scribes and Pharisees (Matt. 23:23) during his earthly ministry, after his resurrection and the establishment of the NT church at Pentecost (Acts 2) the requirement to give a “tithe” or a tenth of one’s income is never explicitly imposed on Christians. Rather than stipulating a fixed amount, the NT places emphasis on generous, abundant, cheerful giving: “God loves a cheerful giver” who “sows bountifully” (2 Cor. 9:6–7), and promises that “you will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way” (2 Cor. 9:11). So, while Christians are not obligated to give a fixed amount, it is hard to imagine that God expects people of the new covenant to give any less than the 10-percent tithe in the old covenant.

The NT specifically encourages giving to assist others in need: “If anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” (1 John 3:17; cf. James 2:14–17). Jesus even encourages active imitation of God in doing good for “the ungrateful and the evil” (Luke 6:32–36). Paul devoted a significant portion of his third missionary journey to collecting funds for the needs of poor Christians in Jerusalem (see Acts 21:17; 24:17; Rom. 15:25–28, 31; 1 Cor. 16:1–4; 2 Cor. 8:1–4; 9:1–5; cf. chart). Though it is right to give to the material needs of all people, both believers and unbelievers, the NT prioritizes giving to the needs of Christian brothers and sisters: “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10; cf. “brother” in 1 John 3:17).

The NT also encourages Christians to support the needs of the church and of those who do the work of evangelism. Paul received financial support from the church at Philippi (cf. Phil. 4:15–19), and he told churches to support their elders, “especially those who labor in preaching and teaching,” for “the laborer deserves his wages” (1 Tim. 5:17–18; cf. 1 Cor. 9:6–14; Gal. 6:6). This would require that those who are part of a church should regularly give to support the ministry of the church.

NT GUIDELINES FOR GIVING

Giving Should BeReferences
willing and cheerful“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7; cf. 8:2–3).
a regular pattern of life“On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up” (1 Cor. 16:2).
proportionate to one’s ability“Each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper” (1 Cor. 16:2).
generous“In a severe test of affliction, [the Macedonians’] abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave … beyond their means” (2 Cor. 8:2–3; cf. Prov. 14:21, 31; 19:17; 2 Cor. 9:6; 1 Tim. 6:18).
sacrificialThe poor widow with “two small copper coins” is commended by Jesus for putting into the offering “everything she had, all she had to live on” (Mark 12:42–44; cf. Acts 4:32–33; 2 Cor. 8:3).

STEWARDSHIP AND THE POOR

The Bible clearly and repeatedly emphasizes the need for Christians to care for the poor as one of the fundamental requirements of the gospel message. Jesus himself was born to poor parents (cf. Luke 2:24 and note) and had few possessions during his public ministry (Matt. 8:20). Jesus says that as his followers do, or do not do, to “the least of these” (i.e., those who are hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked), so they either do it, or do not do it, to him (Matt. 25:35–45; cf. the teaching in Proverbs that connects one’s attitude to the poor with his or her relationship to God: Prov. 14:31; 19:17; 21:13). Paul and the early church took Jesus’ teaching seriously and were “eager” “to remember the poor” (Gal. 2:10). In fact, Paul anchored his appeal to care for the poor in Jerusalem in the cross, that is, in Jesus’ own atoning self-sacrifice: “though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor” (2 Cor. 8:9). The generosity of the church both within and outside the family of faith eventually led the anti-Christian Roman emperor, Julian the Apostate (4th century a.d.), to complain, “Nothing has contributed to the progress of the superstition of the Christians as their charity to strangers. … The impious Galileans provide not only for their own poor, but for ours as well” (Julian, Epistles 84). Such care for the poor often takes the form of meeting immediate needs for food, clothing, and other essentials (cf. Luke 10:25–36; James 2:15–17; 1 John 3:17–18).

Meeting the needs of the poor will also mean seeking to bring about long-term solutions. These solutions, which can often require greater time and energy to implement, enable those who are poor to obtain jobs by which they can support themselves and be able to “earn their own living” (2 Thess. 3:12), as Paul commands. Useful in this regard are programs that provide job training, related educational programs, microloans to begin small businesses, and changes in any governmental policies or cultural traditions that hinder long-term economic growth.

While nearly all Christian ethicists believe that civil government should take some role in assuring that everyone has access to the most basic human needs, they differ over the degree to which civil government (as distinguished from nongovernment entities such as relatives, neighbors, churches, and charitable organizations) should assume responsibility or authority for meeting those needs. Points of difference often arise with regard to government programs to rehabilitate and train individuals, create new jobs, change social and economic structures, and/or redistribute wealth. Questions raised by these differences do not fall into categories of clearly defined biblical right or wrong, but tend rather to entail philosophical differences in economic or social theory.

TITLE

Exodus is the second of the first five books of the OT, which are referred to collectively as either “Torah” (“law,” “instruction” in Hb.) or “Pentateuch” (“five-volumed” in Gk.). The English title “Exodus” is taken from the Septuagint and the Greek noun exodos, “a going out” or “departure,” the major event of the first half of the book, in which the Lord brings Israel out of Egypt. The Hebrew title, “Names,” is taken from the first line of the text, “These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob” (1:1).

THE DATE OF THE EXODUS

The following material summarizes some of the arguments for an early date (1446 b.c.) and a later date (c. 1260) of the exodus. The archaeological claims of each side have all been challenged by the other side, but the details of such responses are not included here.

ARGUMENTS FOR AN EARLY DATE OF THE EXODUS

These arguments are used to support an “early date” (about 1446 b.c.) for the exodus:

1. First Kings 6:1 says, “In the four hundred and eightieth year after the people of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel … he began to build the house of theLord.” The currently accepted date for the fourth year of Solomon’s reign is 967/966 b.c., and 480 years before that would be 1446. This is supported by 1 Chronicles 6:33–37, which names 18 generations from Korah (in the time of Moses) to Heman (in the time of David), which then requires 19 generations from Moses to Solomon. Nineteen generations in 480 years works out to an average of 25.3 years per generation, a reasonable number that gives confirmation to an actual 480 years in 1 Kings 6:1.

  1. In Judges 11:26, Jephthah’s message to the king of the Ammonites says that Israel had already lived in Canaan for “300 years.” This message is dated to around 1100 b.c., which would yield a date of around 1400 for entrance into the land of Canaan, which is consistent with a 1446 exodus.
  2. Archaeological data from Jericho, Ai, and Hazor have been claimed to show evidence of destruction in the late fifteenth century b.c., which is consistent with a 1446 exodus and 1406 conquest of Canaan. But there is no evidence of occupation of Jericho in the thirteenth century (as would be required by a later date for the exodus).
  3. The Amarna Letters show that Canaanite kings in the late fifteenth century b.c. wrote letters to Pharaoh pleading for help against the ‘apiru who were “taking over” the lands of Canaan. This is consistent with dating the beginning of the conquest by Israel at 1406.

5. Exodus 1:11, which mentions the building of “Raamses,” should not be dated to c. 1270 b.c. (as a “late date” view would hold), because the remarkable multiplication of Israel (Ex. 1:12–22) and the birth of Moses (Ex. 2:2) both occur after Exodus 1:11. But if Moses was “eighty years old” (Ex. 7:7) when he led the people out of Egypt, this would put the exodus at least 80 years after the building of Raamses, or 1190 b.c., which is far too late on either scheme. In fact, the Merneptah Stele (an inscribed tombstone-like stone slab) describes a military triumph over Israel in Canaan in 1211–1209 b.c.

  1. With an early date for the exodus, the time of the Judges takes about 350 years. This is generally consistent with the book of Judges itself, where a simple addition of the length of the reigns of the individual judges gives just over 400 years, and this can be reduced to 350 if there was overlapping of some reigns, but it cannot reasonably be reduced to as little as 170 years, as would be required by the proposed later date for the exodus.

ARGUMENTS FOR A LATER DATE OF THE EXODUS

In favor of a “later date” (c. 1260 b.c.) are the following arguments:

1. Exodus 1:11 says the Israelites “built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses.” But the city of Raamses (also spelled Rameses; the Egyptian Pi-Rameses) was built by Raamses II, who reigned 1279–1213 b.c. This city is not mentioned in any earlier archaeological records from Egypt. Therefore the Israelites were still in Egypt around 1270 b.c. when Raamses was built. In addition, the other geographical terms in Exodus—e.g., Pithom, Migdol, Yam Sup (the “Red Sea”), etc.—are all attested in thirteenth-century Egyptian texts, whereas they are not attested in the period of the early date.

2. First Kings 6:1 probably uses the expression “480 years” as a representative number to stand for 12 idealized generations of 40 years each. But in reality the period covered 12 generations of only 25 years each, or 300 years. Subtracting 300 years from 966 b.c. gives an exodus about 1266.

  1. Egypt had imperial control over Canaan from about 1400–1250 b.c. But there is no Egyptian record of any military conflicts with Israel over that land until the Merneptah Stele, which refers to a victory over Israel around 1211–1209 b.c.
  • The Bible contains almost no mention of conflict with Egypt in Joshua or Judges, which would be strange if the Israelites entered Canaan in 1406 b.c., when the Egyptian Empire had control over Canaan. This makes a late date for the exodus more likely, since Egyptian influence over Canaan was minimal after about 1200 b.c.
  • The covenant forms used at the time of Moses in the biblical narratives show significant parallels to ancient Near Eastern covenants in the thirteenth century but not in the fifteenth century b.c.
  • Archaeological discoveries in Canaan show the complete destruction of some cities (such as Hazor) in the later thirteenth century b.c., which would fit with a date of c. 1260 for the exodus. Further, site surveys seem to show that there was a huge migration into the hill country areas of Canaan in the thirteenth century b.c. There also appear to have been technological innovations in this later period, such as terracing of the land, newer pottery styles, and plaster-lined silos, that favor the later date for Israel’s occupation.

CONCLUSION

Both the early date and the late date are supported by established evangelical scholars today. In this Study Bible, both the early date (1446 b.c.) and the later date (c. 1260) are included.

AUTHOR

The authorship and composition of the book of Exodus cannot be taken in isolation from the rest of the Torah/Pentateuch. The shape of the book of Exodus bears this out as it opens with a list of names referring to characters and events narrated in the book of Genesis (Ex. 1:1–6) and closes with an assembled tabernacle that is filled with the glory of the Lord (40:34–38) without Israel having received full instructions for how they are to serve the Lord in it (see Lev. 1:1ff.). For further discussion of these matters in relation to what have traditionally been referred to as “the five books of Moses,” seeIntroduction to the Pentateuch.

Like most books of the OT, Exodus does not explicitly refer to its authorship or composition as a book. However, its genre and content have traditionally led to the conclusion that it was written by Moses as an authoritative record both of its events and of the covenant instruction that the Lord revealed through him. While the reasons for this assessment of Exodus include the explicit references to Moses either writing (see 24:4; 34:28) or being commanded to write (see 17:14), they are not exhausted by it. The genre of Exodus is typically understood to be “historical narrative” since it presents the material as events, speeches, and covenant instructions that took place in Israel’s history. As a narrative, the book of Exodus focuses on specific aspects of the history in order to emphasize certain points for its intended audience (something that all narrative about historical events necessarily does, even if merely through what it selects as important). Exodus emphasizes throughout the book that Yahweh (the Lord; see notes on 3:14; 3:15) has remembered his covenant with Israel, will bring them out of Egypt, and will instruct them on how to live as his people as he dwells in their midst. Integral to this emphasis is the way Exodus also shows that Yahweh has chosen to reveal his purposes, lead his people out of Egypt, and instruct them on how they are to live, through Moses. Thus, while Moses probably did not write everything in the Pentateuch (e.g., the narrative of his death in Deuteronomy 34), and while there also appears to be language and references that have been updated for later readers, the book of Exodus is best read as recorded and composed primarily by Moses.

DATE AND HISTORICAL CONTEXT

The date of Israel’s exodus from Egypt is the primary chronological problem for Exodus; the book contains few clues to solve it. While the narrative refers to the cities that the people of Israel were building in Egypt (Pithom and Raamses, 1:11) and the length of their time in Egypt (430 years, 12:40), it does not include the names of any of the kings of Egypt to which it refers (nor does the book of Genesis record the name of the pharaoh “who knew Joseph”; cf. Ex. 1:8). The content of the book clearly indicates that the exodus and its time of year are important for Israel’s identity since Israel’s calendar was reoriented around the month in which they came out of Egypt (12:2), but Exodus refers to these events as if its hearers/readers were familiar with them and thus selects and shapes the details of the account in accord with its communicative purpose.

As indicated in the article on the date of the exodus, some scholars, working from the figure of 480 years (1 Kings 6:1) for the time since the exodus to Solomon’s fourth year (c. 966 b.c.), calculate a date of c. 1446 b.c. for Israel’s departure from Egypt. Others, because Exodus 1:11 depicts Israel working on a city called Raamses, argue that this points to the exodus occurring during the reign of Raamses II in Egypt (c. 1279–1213 b.c.), possibly around the year 1260 b.c.

Whatever the date of the exodus, the question is not necessarily about whether the numbers given in the OT are reliable but rather about trying to understand their function according to the conventions by which an author in the ancient Near Eastern context would have used them. Any attempt to determine the date of the exodus necessarily includes the interpretation of both the references in the OT and the relevant records and artifacts from surrounding nations in the ancient Near East. That is, because the OT was first given in an ancient Near Eastern setting, the interpreter’s first task is to understand, as much as possible, what an ancient Israelite would have thought the text meant. Scholars are not always sure that they can answer this question when it comes to details about dates and numbers; fortunately, the message of Exodus is plain nevertheless.

The geography of Egypt, Sinai, and the route of the exodus is another important matter for the book of Exodus that involves a similar process of trying to identify the references in the narrative to the landscape and cities with what is known or has been discovered about their location in relation to the current landscape. For a possible route of the exodus, see map.

THEME

The overarching theme of Exodus is the fulfillment of God’s promises to the patriarchs that he would make their descendants a great nation. This is carried out despite the opposition of the greatest superpower in the ancient world of the time, Egypt, and despite the unbelief and disobedience of the people themselves. Exodus shows that the success of the exodus must be ascribed first to the power and character of God, who remembers his promises, punishes sin, and forgives the penitent. Second, it highlights both the faithfulness of Moses, who follows divine instructions exactly, and his prayerfulness. It is his prayer, e.g., that leads to victory over Amalek (17:8–16) and his intercession that persuades God to pardon the people after they had begun worshiping the golden calf (chs. 32–34).

PURPOSE, OCCASION, AND BACKGROUND

Exodus is the second book in the Pentateuch and picks up the narrative of Genesis by focusing on the time when the sons of Jacob (1:1–6) have grown into the people of Israel (1:8). The first half of the book records events that fulfill the promise to Abraham that his descendants would sojourn in a land that was not their own, be afflicted for 400 years, and then come out by the Lord’s hand with numerous possessions (Gen. 15:13–14). The narrative of Israel’s preservation in and exodus out of Egypt is sometimes referred to as being like a second creation account both because the vocabulary seems to evoke the first chapters of Genesis (see Ex. 1:7) and because it is through Abraham’s descendants that the Lord has promised to bless all nations and thus to restore his presence and purposes in the world (Gen. 12:1–3).

The second half of the book narrates the events surrounding the covenant being revealed, confirmed, broken, and renewed (Exodus 19; 24; 32–34; 35–40) and records the covenant instructions that the Lord revealed to Israel through Moses at Mount Sinai (chs. 20–23; 25–31). The instructions begin with the Ten Commandments (20:1–21) and include a lengthy section detailing the specifics for the construction of the tabernacle and its service (25:1–31:18). But this is not the totality of the Lord’s covenant instructions, which are recorded further in both Leviticus and Numbers before Israel finally leaves the region of Mount Sinai for the land of Canaan (Num. 10:11ff.).

Numbers describes how the generation who came out of Egypt ended up wandering in the wilderness instead of entering Canaan. Then the book of Deuteronomy records Moses’ reaffirmation of the covenant instructions recorded in Exodus through Numbers and appeals to the next generation who will enter the land to keep the commandments by fearing the Lord and walking in his ways (Deut. 8:6).

HISTORICAL RELIABILITY OF THE EXODUS

Doubts have often been cast on the historical reliability of the exodus account. It is true that no remains of the Israelites have been found in the area of Goshen in the eastern Nile delta or in the wilderness of Sinai. But in neither area would such remains be expected to survive. The mud-built huts of the Israelites have long been destroyed by repeated flooding, and, wandering through the wilderness, the people would not have left buildings or other permanent traces. It thus is unreasonable to expect such archaeological evidence. Furthermore, one should not expect to find extrabiblical texts regarding Israel’s stay and departure from Egypt, because the story is negative about Egypt. Egyptian texts are quite propagandistic and would not mention such a defeat.

Nevertheless there is plenty of data that seems to corroborate the biblical account: (1) It is most unlikely that a nation should invent a story of its origins as slaves in a neighboring country. (2) The second millennium b.c. was an era when there were many foreigners in Egypt, some of whom were employed making bricks for building projects. (3) The name of the city Raamses is unlikely to have originated or have been remembered later. (4) Some have argued that the sequence of plagues related in Exodus fits with the (ecological) situation that accompanies and follows the annual flooding of the Nile. (This need not imply that the plagues were purely “natural.”) (5) The organization of the covenant texts in the Pentateuch (e.g., Exodus 20) fits the pattern of second-millennium-b.c. treaties, not later ones. (6) The tent-tabernacle has many parallels in Egypt and Canaan from the second millennium. Indeed traces of a tent shrine dating from about 1150 b.c. have been found in the wilderness at Timna, not far from the route of the Israelite wanderings. (7) A stele (an inscribed tombstone-like stone slab) from the Egyptian pharaoh Merenptah, c. 1209 b.c., mentions that he had conquered the people of Israel in an invasion of Canaan. This would fit with an exodus from Egypt some time before this and demonstrates that Israel was already settled as a people in Canaan.

This archaeological evidence makes skepticism about the historicity of the biblical account of the exodus unwarranted. This is not to deny that the story is told to make theological points: much historical writing is motivated by the desire to teach lessons from the past. Nor does the archaeological evidence require one to believe that the book of Exodus gives a complete and full account of what happened: there are obviously many gaps and events that are passed over. But the evidence does make it unreasonable to challenge the central affirmation of OT faith: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (20:2).

KEY THEMES

The events and instructions narrated in the book of Exodus are explicitly framed as the Lord remembering his covenant promises to Abraham (2:24; 3:6, 14–17; 6:2–8). The promises include land, numerous offspring, and blessing for both Abraham’s descendants and the nations (Gen. 12:1–3), which are rooted in the covenant relationship with the Lord: “I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you … and I will be their God” (Gen. 17:7–8). The covenant promises in Genesis were made with Abraham and reaffirmed with Isaac and Jacob. Exodus highlights the role that Moses fills as the covenant mediator through whom the Lord reveals his purposes to his people and sustains the covenant relationship. Each of these aspects will be described briefly in relation to key themes in Exodus.

1. Offspring. As was noted above, the Lord promised Abraham that he would have innumerable offspring (Gen. 15:5) who would also be afflicted for 400 years in a foreign land and come out with great possessions (Gen. 15:13). Through Joseph, the Lord brings 70 individuals into the land of Egypt (Ex. 1:1–6) who became numerous (1:7) even amid affliction (1:8–12) and were brought out of Egypt as a large multitude (12:37–38). Exodus also focuses on how the people of Israel are shown to be Abraham’s offspring, both in the faithful actions of some of its members (the midwives fear God not Pharaoh, 1:15–22) and particularly by the fact that the Lord repeatedly refers to them as “my people” in his words to Israel (3:7) and before Pharaoh (5:1). The Lord is indicating both to Pharaoh and to the people that, although they have been enslaved in Egypt for a long time, it is his covenant promise to them as Abraham’s offspring that truly governs their identity.

2. Land. The entrance into the land of Canaan is not realized within the events narrated in Exodus, but the promise of the land is held before Israel as a place of provision that is “flowing with milk and honey” (3:17) and also as a place they will inherit and where they will live as the Lord’s people (6:7–8). The promise of the land is significant for what Israel’s response in certain situations reveals about their understanding of both the Lord’s presence and his promise to bring them to Canaan. When the people are hungry after coming out of Egypt and wish they were back in slavery by the “meat pots” (16:3), the contrast between where they are headed and what they long for in Egypt shows that they have not yet taken to heart what the Lord’s deliverance is to signify for them. Their prospects in Canaan are declared to depend on their fidelity in serving the Lord alone (23:23–32), which the Israelites also have not taken fully to heart, as demonstrated by the incident of the golden calf before they ever set foot in Canaan (32:1–6).

3. Blessing. The Lord’s promise to bless all nations through Abraham looks forward to how Israel’s life is to mediate the presence of the Lord to the nations around them (they are to be “a kingdom of priests,” “a holy nation,” 19:6). Israel is to live before God in the world, obeying the covenant instructions that he will reveal to them (see Deut. 4:6–8). The events of the plagues and exodus present the opportunity for people back in Egypt and the surrounding nations to join the Lord’s people in response to what they have either experienced (thus Israel goes out a “mixed multitude,” Ex. 12:38) or what they have heard (e.g., Josh. 2:10). The “recognition formula” (see note on Ex. 7:5) includes the expectation that the Egyptians will know that Israel’s God is the true God (7:5; 14:4, 18).

4. Covenant mediator. A key theme of Exodus is that Moses is the one who is called by God to mediate between the Lord and his people. A key indicator of whether Israel will desire to live as the Lord’s people is seen in how they respond to Moses as the one who speaks on the Lord’s behalf. The story of Moses begins with his preservation at birth (2:1–10) and in Midian (2:11–22) but is highlighted through the Lord’s presence and speech in his call at the burning bush (3:1–4:17) and then in the fact that the Lord speaks to Moses alone in Egypt (e.g., 7:1), calls Moses alone up to Mount Sinai (19:20; 24:2), listens to Moses’ intercession on behalf of the people (32:11–14), speaks with Moses “face to face” (34:29–35), and has Moses oversee the assembling of the tabernacle (40:16–33) and the consecration of both it and the priests who will serve in it (40:9–15).

5. Covenant presence. The presence of the Lord is highlighted throughout the book of Exodus: he appears to Moses in the burning bush (3:1–4:17); he comes down on Mount Sinai in the sight of the people (19:16–20); he reveals himself to the leaders of Israel (24:9–11); he shows Moses his glory and declares his covenant character (34:1–10). Furthermore, a large part of the second half of the book focuses on the instructions for (25:1–31:17) and assembling of the tabernacle (35:1–40:33), in which the Lord promises to dwell among his people (29:43–46; 40:34–38). Just as the ground on which Moses stood at the burning bush was holy because of the Lord’s presence, so it is also his presence among his people that will make them holy. And in light of the covenant breach with the golden calf (32:1–6), Exodus ends with the lingering question of just how a sinful people will live with a holy God in her midst, which is a question that the instruction recorded in Leviticus will begin to address.

HISTORY OF SALVATION SUMMARY

Within the story of man’s salvation, the book of Exodus describes a great forward step. The book of Genesis showed the plight of the human race and its need for salvation. The call of Abraham began the process of divine rescue. Then Jacob’s migration to Egypt seemed to put the plan aside. But in a most dramatic fashion Exodus shows the divine plan reactivated. Heaven-sent plagues force the Egyptians to let Israel go. Then, accompanied by the cloud of God’s presence, they travel toward the promised land of Canaan. Pausing en route at Mount Sinai, they hear God declare to them his laws and seal his covenant with them. Israel is already God’s people by virtue of the promises to Abraham; this covenant establishes the people as a theocracy, in which the covenant specifies the operations of the civil and social, as well as religious, aspects of Israel’s life. Despite their prompt disregard of their covenantal relationship in the worship of the golden calf, the covenant is renewed and the tabernacle is built, a pledge of God’s continuing presence with them. The book ends with the glory of God filling the tabernacle, ready to lead the people to the Promised Land.

The NT sees the OT exodus story as the pattern for the ministry and death of Christ. In him God “dwelt [lit., “tabernacled”] among us, and we have seen his glory” (John 1:14). Jesus sojourned in Egypt, and then came out, fulfilling the pattern of Israel (Matt. 2:15, using Hos. 11:1). At the Last Supper, a Passover meal (cf. Exodus 12–13), Jesus referred to “the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20), echoing Moses’ words in Exodus 24:8. He also described his death as the exodus (esv, “departure”; Gk.exodos) that he would accomplish at Jerusalem (Luke 9:31). As Jesus reenacted the exodus in his own life and death, so must his followers. Baptism into his death identifies the believer with the Israelites’ passage through the Red Sea, and partaking of his spiritual food and drink identifies the believer with their experiences in the wilderness (1 Cor. 10:1–3). Finally, in heaven, believers shall sing the Song of Moses and the Lamb (Rev. 15:3; cf. Exodus 15). (For an explanation of the “History of Salvation,” see the Overview of the Bible. See also History of Salvation in the Old Testament: Preparing the Way for Christ.)

LITERARY FEATURES

Exodus is an adventure story par excellence. It features a cruel villain (Pharaoh), an unlikely hero (Moses), overwhelming disasters (the plagues), a spectacular deliverance (crossing the Red Sea), a long journey (through the wilderness), a mountaintop experience (where Moses received the Ten Commandments), and a grand finale (the presence of God coming down to the ark of the covenant, filling the tabernacle with glory). The story features unexpected setbacks and unpredictable delays, magic tricks (from Pharaoh’s sorcerers) and miracles, feasts and festivals, music and dancing, and many close encounters with the living God. God’s purpose in all of this was to show his glory by fulfilling the promises he made to his people in the covenant. The exodus is the archetypal deliverance of the OT—the definitive salvation event that established the identity of Israel as the people of God and demonstrated the character of their Deliverer as the God who saves.

The basic framework of the book is epic. Epics begin with a nation in crisis, and this epic opens with the Israelites languishing in slavery and their would-be deliverer born under the threat of death by drowning. The story proceeds along epic lines, with a cosmic confrontation between good and evil that is happily resolved through a mighty act of rescue and a long journey to freedom. Moses is the heroic (albeit imperfect) national leader who serves as the human instrument of a divine deliverance. Like many epics, Exodus is also the story of the founding of a nation. This helps to explain how the second half of the book connects to the first: once the people of God are delivered from bondage, they meet to receive a national constitution (the Ten Commandments) and to establish a place for their national assembly (the tabernacle). Within its epic framework, Exodus also contains a wealth of subgenres: rescue story, calling story, human-divine encounter, diplomatic negotiation, plague story, genealogy, institution of a festival, song of victory, travelogue, miracle story, legal code, case law, covenant renewal ceremony, architectural blueprint, garment design, building narrative.

THE JOURNEY TO MOUNT SINAI

1446/1260 b.c.

Among the many theories regarding the route of the exodus, the traditional route to Jebel Musa is considered by many scholars to be the most plausible. Beginning at Rameses, the Israelites journeyed to Succoth, but these two sites are the only ones on the route identified with certainty. From there they traveled to Etham and Pi-hahiroth, where they crossed the Red Sea. From there they traveled to Marah, Elim, Rephidim, and finally Mount Sinai.

The Journey to Mount Sinai

OUTLINE

  1. Exodus of Israel from Egypt (1:1–18:27)
  2. Setting: Israel in Egypt (1:1–2:25)
  3. The sons of Jacob become the people of Israel (1:1–7)
  4. New pharaoh, new situation (1:8–2:25)
  5. Call of Moses (3:1–4:31)
  6. Burning bush: call of Moses (3:1–4:17)
  7. Moses returns from Midian to Egypt (4:18–31)
  8. Moses and Aaron: initial request (5:1–7:7)
  9. Initial request (5:1–21)
  10. God promises to deliver Israel from Egypt (5:22–6:9)
  11. Moses and Aaron: narrative synopses and genealogy (6:10–30)
  12. Moses encouraged (7:1–7)
  13. Plagues and exodus (7:8–15:21)
  14. Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh: initial sign (7:8–13)
  15. First plague: water to blood (7:14–25)
  16. Second plague: frogs (8:1–15)
  17. Third plague: gnats (8:16–19)
  18. Fourth plague: flies (8:20–32)
  19. Fifth plague: Egyptian livestock are killed (9:1–7)
  20. Sixth plague: boils (9:8–12)
  21. Seventh plague: hail (9:13–35)
  22. Eighth plague: locusts (10:1–20)
  23. Ninth plague: darkness (10:21–29)
  24. Tenth plague: final sign (11:1–15:21)
  25. Journey (15:22–18:27)
  26. Water problem: Marah (15:22–27)
  27. Food problem: manna (16:1–36)
  28. Water problem: Massah and Meribah (17:1–7)
  29. Passage problem: Israel defeats Amalek (17:8–16)
  30. Judgment problem: Jethro advises Moses (18:1–27)
  31. Covenant at Sinai (19:1–40:38)
  32. Setting: Sinai (19:1–25)
  33. Covenant words and rules (20:1–23:33)
  34. The Ten Commandments (20:1–21)
  35. Worship instructions: against idols and for an altar (20:22–26)
  36. Detailed legislation (21:1–23:19)
  37. Commands for the conquest (23:20–33)
  38. Covenant confirmed (24:1–18)
  39. Instructions for the tabernacle (25:1–31:17)
  40. Request for contributions (25:1–9)
  41. Ark of the covenant (25:10–22)
  42. Table for the bread of the Presence (25:23–30)
  43. Golden lampstand (25:31–40)
  44. Tent of the tabernacle (26:1–37)
  45. Bronze altar (27:1–8)
  46. Court of the tabernacle (27:9–19)
  47. Oil for the lamp (27:20–21)
  48. Garments for the priests (28:1–43)
  49. Consecration of the priests (29:1–37)
  50. Offering and promises of the tabernacle (29:38–46)
  51. Altar of incense (30:1–10)
  52. Census offering (30:11–16)
  53. Bronze basin (30:17–21)
  54. Anointing oil and incense (30:22–38)
  55. Craftsmen (31:1–11)
  56. Sabbath (31:12–17)
  57. Moses receives the tablets (31:18)
  58. Covenant breach, intercession, and renewal (32:1–34:35)
  59. Covenant breach: the golden calf (32:1–35)
  60. Moses intercedes for the people (33:1–23)
  61. Covenant renewal: new tablets (34:1–35)
  62. Tabernacle: preparation for the presence (35:1–40:38)
  63. Moses prepares the people (35:1–36:7)
  64. Tabernacle construction (36:8–39:43)
  65. Tabernacle assembled (40:1–33)
  66. The glory of the Lord (40:34–38)

FACTS

As numerous as the stars. As the book of Exodus begins, some 350 years have passed since the end of Genesis. The 70 Israelites who went to Egypt have grown into a great multitude. This fulfills God’s promise to multiply Abraham’s descendants and to make them a blessing to all the nations of the world (Gen. 12:1–3; 15:5).
Bitumen is a mineral found in Mesopotamia and Palestine. It was used as a mortar for setting bricks and for waterproofing rafts and boats (2:3).
Holy means “set apart for God’s special purpose.” It is a condition of purity and freedom from sin. When the Bible speaks of God’s holiness it means his utter separateness from everything else that exists, especially from all forms of evil.
Putting words in his mouth? When God appointed Aaron as Moses’ spokesperson (4:16), Moses was probably already familiar with the idea of someone being the “mouth” of another person. In ancient Egypt, there was a high official known as “the mouth of the king” whose job was to speak to the people of Egypt on behalf of Pharaoh.
Pharaoh. Egypt’s kings, called pharaohs, had absolute power over everything in Egypt. The OT mentions at least 10 different pharaohs.
Why was straw needed for making bricks? To withstand the harsh weather in Egypt, buildings needed especially strong bricks. Mixing straw with the clay allowed the clay to bind together and helped the bricks to dry evenly (5:10).
Lord of all creation. Each of the 10 plagues showed clearly that the God of Israel was infinitely more powerful than the false gods of the Egyptians.
River turned to blood. Egypt’s most important gods were associated with the Nile River. Turning the Nile to blood proved that the God of Israel had supreme control of the rivers.
Frogs. The Egyptians worshiped the god Hekt, who was portrayed as having the head of a frog.
Death of livestock. A number of the Egyptian gods were portrayed as having the head of an animal: Apis and Mnevis (bulls) and Khnum (a ram). Isis was depicted with cow horns on her head.
Was Pharaoh considered a god? According to some ancient Egyptian sources, each morning the pharaoh would conduct “the Rite of the House of the Morning,” a ritual believed to awaken the sun god, causing the sun to rise.
What is the purpose of a “sign”? A “sign” is a visible symbol of God’s work on his people’s behalf. Throughout Scripture, God gives signs to his people as reminders of his presence, power, and promises. The blood placed on the doorway of the Israelites’ houses was a sign (12:13) that the Israelites were the Lord’s people and that he would protect them from death.
The word redeem (13:13) means to free someone or something from harm by paying a price. Jesus is the supreme example of redemption in the Bible. He paid the ultimate price—his very life—to bring freedom from sin and eternal life to all who would put their trust in him, irrespective of background.
Chariots (14:23) were two-wheeled vehicles pulled by horses. They were made of wood and leather. Mainly intended for battle, chariots often had two riders: a driver and a warrior. Chariots were also used for hunting and for transportation. They were symbols of wealth and power. Egyptian pharaohs were sometimes buried with a chariot.
Manna for Christians today? The manna that appeared each morning with the dew foreshadowed Jesus Christ, who is the true Bread from heaven (John 6:30–58).
Who were the Amalekites? The Amalekites were nomads living in the northern Sinai peninsula. They were the first to attack the Israelites after the exodus. They remained a threat to Israel for hundreds of years.
On eagles’ wings. The kind of eagle that the author of Exodus probably had in mind had a wingspan of 8 to 10 feet (2–3 m), making it a fitting symbol of the Lord’s ability to rescue his people from their life of slavery in Egypt.
How did people end up as slaves? The word translated “slave” can refer to several types of persons. Debt was the most common reason that people became slaves. The security provided by a good employer led some slaves to choose to remain in that status permanently. In ancient times, people could generally not be bought and sold at will, unlike much of the more horrific slavery in recent centuries around the world. Slavery has continued even to the present day, as vulnerable men, women, and even children are often forced into various kinds of unjust slavery.
Restitution. The Mosaic law decreed that those who caused others to lose property, through either theft or carelessness, had to make full restitution for the loss. By contrast, many other societies in both ancient and modern times have decreed prison time and even death for crimes against property.
What was the purpose of the Mosaic covenant? Israel was already God’s chosen people because of the promises God made to Abraham. The covenant with Moses established the nation as a holy kingdom of priests, dedicated to serving God and teaching the other nations of the world about him (19:5–6). Israel was a theocracy, a nation ruled directly by God. The Mosaic covenant established the political, social, and religious aspects of Israel’s life.
The table for the bread of the Presence held the 12 loaves of sacred bread which were baked the day before the Sabbath. On the Sabbath, the priests would eat the bread from the week before and replace it with the newly baked bread. This bread symbolized Israel’s dependence on God.
The bronze altar was the largest item in the tabernacle courtyard, measuring more than seven feet square. Bronze was more resistant than other metals to the heat required for burnt offerings. The altar provided a contrast to the items inside the tabernacle tent, which were overlaid with gold.
The gold bells along the hems of the high priest’s garment (28:33) served two purposes. They alerted people that the high priest was present, and they reminded the priest himself to be reverent and careful in carrying out his sacred duties.
A veil separated the altar from the Most Holy Place of God’s presence in the tabernacle and later in the temple. Aaron the priest was to make atonement there once a year on behalf of the people and their sin (ch. 29). The tearing of the veil at Christ’s death indicated that the Mosaic institution of sacrifices and rituals had now been replaced by the final sacrifice of Christ. Jesus Christ’s sacrifice was enough “once for all” to sanctify eternally all who trusted in him (see Heb. 9:11–12; 10:1–18).
Altar of incense. Incense was burned to purify the altars after animals had been slaughtered there. Incense also symbolized Israel’s constant prayer to God.
The level of detail given in God’s instructions for the tabernacle in ch. 30 emphasizes that Israel is to worship the Lord in their midst according to his word and plan.
The Jewish year was based on the annual rotation of the sun, moon, and stars, and on the cycle for planting and harvesting crops. The OT refers to days, months, years, and seasons, but no passages specify a complete calendar.
Acacia wood was highly valued for its beauty and durability. Around the Mediterranean, some acacias are like shrubs, while others grow up to 50 feet (15 m) tall. They are one of the few large trees hardy enough to withstand the harsh desert climate. They are also resistant to insects, which find the taste of the wood unpleasant.
Cubits were a basic unit of measurement in Israel. One cubit equaled the distance from the elbow to the fingertips—about 18 inches (46 cm).
Every piece of furniture in the tabernacle was crafted according to God’s plan. Each item represented something about God’s character: his sovereignty, his generosity, his presence with his people. They were reminders of how God met their needs and forgave their sins.
Linen was made from the flax plant. The plants were pulled up by their roots and dried before undergoing a process known as “retting,” which loosened the fibers. The fibers were then beaten and combed so that they could be spun into thread. The result was a fabric that was light, durable, and easy to bleach. It was ideal for the hot, dry climate of ancient Israel.
Israel has witnessed some incredible events, such as the 10 plagues and the parting of the Sea. Now, at the end of Exodus, God’s glory fills the tabernacle and he will lead them to the Promised Land.

THE SECOND BOOK OF MOSES, CALLED EXODUS

CHAPTER 1

1 Now these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt; every man and his household came with Jacob.

2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah,

3 Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin,

4 Dan, and Naphtali, Gad, and Asher.

5 And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already.

6 And Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation.

7 ¶ And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.

8 Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.

9 And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we:

10 Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land.

11 Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses.

12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.

13 And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour:

14 And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in morter, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour.

15 ¶ And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah:

16 And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live.

17 But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive.

18 And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive?

19 And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them.

20 Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty.

21 And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses.

22 And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.

CHAPTER 2

1 And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi.

2 And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months.

3 And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river’s brink.

4 And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him.

5 ¶ And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river’s side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it.

6 And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews’ children.

7 Then said his sister to Pharaoh’s daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee?

8 And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child’s mother.

9 And Pharaoh’s daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages. And the woman took the child, and nursed it.

10 And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.

11 ¶ And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren.

12 And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand.

13 And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow?

14 And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known.

15 Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well.

16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock.

17 And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock.

18 And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that ye are come so soon to day?

19 And they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and also drew water enough for us, and watered the flock.

20 And he said unto his daughters, And where is he? why is it that ye have left the man? call him, that he may eat bread.

21 And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter.

22 And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.

23 ¶ And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage.

24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.

25 And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.

CHAPTER 3

1 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.

2 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.

3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.

4 And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.

5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.

6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.

7 ¶ And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;

8 And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

9 Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.

10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.

11 ¶ And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?

12 And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.

13 And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?

14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.

16 Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt:

17 And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey.

18 And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.

19 ¶ And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand.

20 And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go.

21 And I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty:

22 But every woman shall borrow of her neighbour, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians.

CHAPTER 4

1 And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee.

2 And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod.

3 And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it.

4 And the LORD said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand:

5 That they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee.

6 ¶ And the LORD said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow.

7 And he said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his other flesh.

8 And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign.

9 And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe also these two signs, neither hearken unto thy voice, that thou shalt take of the water of the river, and pour it upon the dry land: and the water which thou takest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land.

10 ¶ And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.

11 And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?

12 Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.

13 And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send.

14 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart.

15 And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do.

16 And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God.

17 And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs.

18 ¶ And Moses went and returned to Jethro his father in law, and said unto him, Let me go, I pray thee, and return unto my brethren which are in Egypt, and see whether they be yet alive. And Jethro said to Moses, Go in peace.

19 And the LORD said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought thy life.

20 And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt: and Moses took the rod of God in his hand.

21 And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.

22 And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn:

23 And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.

24 ¶ And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him.

25 Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me.

26 So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.

27 ¶ And the LORD said to Aaron, Go into the wilderness to meet Moses. And he went, and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him.

28 And Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD who had sent him, and all the signs which he had commanded him.

29 ¶ And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel:

30 And Aaron spake all the words which the LORD had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people.

31 And the people believed: and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.

CHAPTER 5

1 And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness.

2 And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.

3 And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days’ journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the LORD our God; lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword.

4 And the king of Egypt said unto them, Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their works? get you unto your burdens.

5 And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens.

6 And Pharaoh commanded the same day the taskmasters of the people, and their officers, saying,

7 Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves.

8 And the tale of the bricks, which they did make heretofore, ye shall lay upon them; ye shall not diminish ought thereof: for they be idle; therefore they cry, saying, Let us go and sacrifice to our God.

9 Let there more work be laid upon the men, that they may labour therein; and let them not regard vain words.

10 ¶ And the taskmasters of the people went out, and their officers, and they spake to the people, saying, Thus saith Pharaoh, I will not give you straw.

11 Go ye, get you straw where ye can find it: yet not ought of your work shall be diminished.

12 So the people were scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble instead of straw.

13 And the taskmasters hasted them, saying, Fulfil your works, your daily tasks, as when there was straw.

14 And the officers of the children of Israel, which Pharaoh’s taskmasters had set over them, were beaten, and demanded, Wherefore have ye not fulfilled your task in making brick both yesterday and to day, as heretofore?

15 ¶ Then the officers of the children of Israel came and cried unto Pharaoh, saying, Wherefore dealest thou thus with thy servants?

16 There is no straw given unto thy servants, and they say to us, Make brick: and, behold, thy servants are beaten; but the fault is in thine own people.

17 But he said, Ye are idle, ye are idle: therefore ye say, Let us go and do sacrifice to the LORD.

18 Go therefore now, and work; for there shall no straw be given you, yet shall ye deliver the tale of bricks.

19 And the officers of the children of Israel did see that they were in evil case, after it was said, Ye shall not minish ought from your bricks of your daily task.

20 ¶ And they met Moses and Aaron, who stood in the way, as they came forth from Pharaoh:

21 And they said unto them, The LORD look upon you, and judge; because ye have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us.

22 And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Lord, wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? why is it that thou hast sent me?

23 For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all.

CHAPTER 6

1 Then the LORD said unto Moses, Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land.

2 And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD:

3 And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.

4 And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers.

5 And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant.

6 Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments:

7 And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

8 And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the LORD.

9 ¶ And Moses spake so unto the children of Israel: but they hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage.

10 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

11 Go in, speak unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, that he let the children of Israel go out of his land.

12 And Moses spake before the LORD, saying, Behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me; how then shall Pharaoh hear me, who am of uncircumcised lips?

13 And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, and gave them a charge unto the children of Israel, and unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt.

14 ¶ These be the heads of their fathers’ houses: The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel; Hanoch, and Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi: these be the families of Reuben.

15 And the sons of Simeon; Jemuel, and Jamin, and Ohad, and Jachin, and Zohar, and Shaul the son of a Canaanitish woman: these are the families of Simeon.

16 ¶ And these are the names of the sons of Levi according to their generations; Gershon, and Kohath, and Merari: and the years of the life of Levi were an hundred thirty and seven years.

17 The sons of Gershon; Libni, and Shimi, according to their families.

18 And the sons of Kohath; Amram, and Izhar, and Hebron, and Uzziel: and the years of the life of Kohath were an hundred thirty and three years.

19 And the sons of Merari; Mahali and Mushi: these are the families of Levi according to their generations.

20 And Amram took him Jochebed his father’s sister to wife; and she bare him Aaron and Moses: and the years of the life of Amram were an hundred and thirty and seven years.

21 ¶ And the sons of Izhar; Korah, and Nepheg, and Zichri.

22 And the sons of Uzziel; Mishael, and Elzaphan, and Zithri.

23 And Aaron took him Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab, sister of Naashon, to wife; and she bare him Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.

24 And the sons of Korah; Assir, and Elkanah, and Abiasaph: these are the families of the Korhites.

25 And Eleazar Aaron’s son took him one of the daughters of Putiel to wife; and she bare him Phinehas: these are the heads of the fathers of the Levites according to their families.

26 These are that Aaron and Moses, to whom the LORD said, Bring out the children of Israel from the land of Egypt according to their armies.

27 These are they which spake to Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring out the children of Israel from Egypt: these are that Moses and Aaron.

28 ¶ And it came to pass on the day when the LORD spake unto Moses in the land of Egypt,

29 That the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, I am the LORD: speak thou unto Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I say unto thee.

30 And Moses said before the LORD, Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips, and how shall Pharaoh hearken unto me?

CHAPTER 7

1 And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.

2 Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land.

3 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.

4 But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments.

5 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.

6 And Moses and Aaron did as the LORD commanded them, so did they.

7 And Moses was fourscore years old, and Aaron fourscore and three years old, when they spake unto Pharaoh.

8 ¶ And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,

9 When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Shew a miracle for you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent.

10 ¶ And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the LORD had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent.

11 Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments.

12 For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods.

13 And he hardened Pharaoh’s heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.

14 ¶ And the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh’s heart is hardened, he refuseth to let the people go.

15 Get thee unto Pharaoh in the morning; lo, he goeth out unto the water; and thou shalt stand by the river’s brink against he come; and the rod which was turned to a serpent shalt thou take in thine hand.

16 And thou shalt say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath sent me unto thee, saying, Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness: and, behold, hitherto thou wouldest not hear.

17 Thus saith the LORD, In this thou shalt know that I am the LORD: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood.

18 And the fish that is in the river shall die, and the river shall stink; and the Egyptians shall lothe to drink of the water of the river.

19 ¶ And the LORD spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and stretch out thine hand upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams, upon their rivers, and upon their ponds, and upon all their pools of water, that they may become blood; and that there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood, and in vessels of stone.

20 And Moses and Aaron did so, as the LORD commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood.

21 And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.

22 And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the LORD had said.

23 And Pharaoh turned and went into his house, neither did he set his heart to this also.

24 And all the Egyptians digged round about the river for water to drink; for they could not drink of the water of the river.

25 And seven days were fulfilled, after that the LORD had smitten the river.

CHAPTER 8

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me.

2 And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs:

3 And the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into thine house, and into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thine ovens, and into thy kneadingtroughs:

4 And the frogs shall come up both on thee, and upon thy people, and upon all thy servants.

5 ¶ And the LORD spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch forth thine hand with thy rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up upon the land of Egypt.

6 And Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt.

7 And the magicians did so with their enchantments, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt.

8 ¶ Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, Intreat the LORD, that he may take away the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may do sacrifice unto the LORD.

9 And Moses said unto Pharaoh, Glory over me: when shall I intreat for thee, and for thy servants, and for thy people, to destroy the frogs from thee and thy houses, that they may remain in the river only?

10 And he said, To morrow. And he said, Be it according to thy word: that thou mayest know that there is none like unto the LORD our God.

11 And the frogs shall depart from thee, and from thy houses, and from thy servants, and from thy people; they shall remain in the river only.

12 And Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh: and Moses cried unto the LORD because of the frogs which he had brought against Pharaoh.

13 And the LORD did according to the word of Moses; and the frogs died out of the houses, out of the villages, and out of the fields.

14 And they gathered them together upon heaps: and the land stank.

15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.

16 ¶ And the LORD said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch out thy rod, and smite the dust of the land, that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt.

17 And they did so; for Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and smote the dust of the earth, and it became lice in man, and in beast; all the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt.

18 And the magicians did so with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not: so there were lice upon man, and upon beast.

19 Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God: and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.

20 ¶ And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; lo, he cometh forth to the water; and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me.

21 Else, if thou wilt not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies upon thee, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thy houses: and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground whereon they are.

22 And I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth.

23 And I will put a division between my people and thy people: to morrow shall this sign be.

24 And the LORD did so; and there came a grievous swarm of flies into the house of Pharaoh, and into his servants’ houses, and into all the land of Egypt: the land was corrupted by reason of the swarm of flies.

25 And Pharaoh called for Moses and for Aaron, and said, Go ye, sacrifice to your God in the land.

26 And Moses said, It is not meet so to do; for we shall sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to the LORD our God: lo, shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and will they not stone us?

27 We will go three days’ journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice to the LORD our God, as he shall command us.

28 And Pharaoh said, I will let you go, that ye may sacrifice to the LORD your God in the wilderness; only ye shall not go very far away: intreat for me.

29 And Moses said, Behold, I go out from thee, and I will intreat the LORD that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people, to morrow: but let not Pharaoh deal deceitfully any more in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the LORD.

30 And Moses went out from Pharaoh, and intreated the LORD.

31 And the LORD did according to the word of Moses; and he removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people; there remained not one.

32 And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go.

CHAPTER 9

1 Then the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh, and tell him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me.

2 For if thou refuse to let them go, and wilt hold them still,

3 Behold, the hand of the LORD is upon thy cattle which is in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the oxen, and upon the sheep: there shall be a very grievous murrain.

4 And the LORD shall sever between the cattle of Israel and the cattle of Egypt: and there shall nothing die of all that is the children’s of Israel.

5 And the LORD appointed a set time, saying, To morrow the LORD shall do this thing in the land.

6 And the LORD did that thing on the morrow, and all the cattle of Egypt died: but of the cattle of the children of Israel died not one.

7 And Pharaoh sent, and, behold, there was not one of the cattle of the Israelites dead. And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go.

8 ¶ And the LORD said unto Moses and unto Aaron, Take to you handfuls of ashes of the furnace, and let Moses sprinkle it toward the heaven in the sight of Pharaoh.

9 And it shall become small dust in all the land of Egypt, and shall be a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast, throughout all the land of Egypt.

10 And they took ashes of the furnace, and stood before Pharaoh; and Moses sprinkled it up toward heaven; and it became a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast.

11 And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils; for the boil was upon the magicians, and upon all the Egyptians.

12 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had spoken unto Moses.

13 ¶ And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me.

14 For I will at this time send all my plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth.

15 For now I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth.

16 And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.

17 As yet exaltest thou thyself against my people, that thou wilt not let them go?

18 Behold, to morrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as hath not been in Egypt since the foundation thereof even until now.

19 Send therefore now, and gather thy cattle, and all that thou hast in the field; for upon every man and beast which shall be found in the field, and shall not be brought home, the hail shall come down upon them, and they shall die.

20 He that feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses:

21 And he that regarded not the word of the LORD left his servants and his cattle in the field.

22 ¶ And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch forth thine hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, upon man, and upon beast, and upon every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt.

23 And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and the LORD rained hail upon the land of Egypt.

24 So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation.

25 And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field.

26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no hail.

27 ¶ And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned this time: the LORD is righteous, and I and my people are wicked.

28 Intreat the LORD (for it is enough) that there be no more mighty thunderings and hail; and I will let you go, and ye shall stay no longer.

29 And Moses said unto him, As soon as I am gone out of the city, I will spread abroad my hands unto the LORD; and the thunder shall cease, neither shall there be any more hail; that thou mayest know how that the earth is the LORD’S.

30 But as for thee and thy servants, I know that ye will not yet fear the LORD God.

31 And the flax and the barley was smitten: for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was bolled.

32 But the wheat and the rie were not smitten: for they were not grown up.

33 And Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh, and spread abroad his hands unto the LORD: and the thunders and hail ceased, and the rain was not poured upon the earth.

34 And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants.

35 And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, neither would he let the children of Israel go; as the LORD had spoken by Moses.

CHAPTER 10

1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might shew these my signs before him:

2 And that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son’s son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that ye may know how that I am the LORD.

3 And Moses and Aaron came in unto Pharaoh, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? let my people go, that they may serve me.

4 Else, if thou refuse to let my people go, behold, to morrow will I bring the locusts into thy coast:

5 And they shall cover the face of the earth, that one cannot be able to see the earth: and they shall eat the residue of that which is escaped, which remaineth unto you from the hail, and shall eat every tree which groweth for you out of the field:

6 And they shall fill thy houses, and the houses of all thy servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians; which neither thy fathers, nor thy fathers’ fathers have seen, since the day that they were upon the earth unto this day. And he turned himself, and went out from Pharaoh.

7 And Pharaoh’s servants said unto him, How long shall this man be a snare unto us? let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God: knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?

8 And Moses and Aaron were brought again unto Pharaoh: and he said unto them, Go, serve the LORD your God: but who are they that shall go?

9 And Moses said, We will go with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters, with our flocks and with our herds will we go; for we must hold a feast unto the LORD.

10 And he said unto them, Let the LORD be so with you, as I will let you go, and your little ones: look to it; for evil is before you.

11 Not so: go now ye that are men, and serve the LORD; for that ye did desire. And they were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence.

12 ¶ And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come up upon the land of Egypt, and eat every herb of the land, even all that the hail hath left.

13 And Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and the LORD brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts.

14 And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt, and rested in all the coasts of Egypt: very grievous were they; before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such.

15 For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left: and there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field, through all the land of Egypt.

16 ¶ Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste; and he said, I have sinned against the LORD your God, and against you.

17 Now therefore forgive, I pray thee, my sin only this once, and intreat the LORD your God, that he may take away from me this death only.

18 And he went out from Pharaoh, and intreated the LORD.

19 And the LORD turned a mighty strong west wind, which took away the locusts, and cast them into the Red sea; there remained not one locust in all the coasts of Egypt.

20 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go.

21 ¶ And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt.

22 And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days:

23 They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.

24 ¶ And Pharaoh called unto Moses, and said, Go ye, serve the LORD; only let your flocks and your herds be stayed: let your little ones also go with you.

25 And Moses said, Thou must give us also sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice unto the LORD our God.

26 Our cattle also shall go with us; there shall not an hoof be left behind; for thereof must we take to serve the LORD our God; and we know not with what we must serve the LORD, until we come thither.

27 ¶ But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let them go.

28 And Pharaoh said unto him, Get thee from me, take heed to thyself, see my face no more; for in that day thou seest my face thou shalt die.

29 And Moses said, Thou hast spoken well, I will see thy face again no more.

CHAPTER 11

1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Yet will I bring one plague more upon Pharaoh, and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go hence: when he shall let you go, he shall surely thrust you out hence altogether.

2 Speak now in the ears of the people, and let every man borrow of his neighbour, and every woman of her neighbour, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold.

3 And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants, and in the sight of the people.

4 And Moses said, Thus saith the LORD, About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt:

5 And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts.

6 And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more.

7 But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that the LORD doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.

8 And all these thy servants shall come down unto me, and bow down themselves unto me, saying, Get thee out, and all the people that follow thee: and after that I will go out. And he went out from Pharaoh in a great anger.

9 And the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you; that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.

10 And Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh: and the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go out of his land.

CHAPTER 12

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying,

2 This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.

3 ¶ Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:

4 And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.

5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:

6 And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.

7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.

8 And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.

9 Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof.

10 And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire.

11 ¶ And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD’S passover.

12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.

13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.

14 And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.

15 Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.

16 And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you.

17 And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever.

18 ¶ In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even.

19 Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land.

20 Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread.

21 ¶ Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover.

22 And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning.

23 For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.

24 And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever.

25 And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the LORD will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service.

26 And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service?

27 That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the LORD’S passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped.

28 And the children of Israel went away, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.

29 ¶ And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle.

30 And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.

31 ¶ And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as ye have said.

32 Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also.

33 And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men.

34 And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneadingtroughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders.

35 And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment:

36 And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians.

37 ¶ And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children.

38 And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle.

39 And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual.

40 ¶ Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.

41 And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt.

42 It is a night to be much observed unto the LORD for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the LORD to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations.

43 ¶ And the LORD said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof:

44 But every man’s servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof.

45 A foreigner and an hired servant shall not eat thereof.

46 In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof.

47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it.

48 And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.

49 One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.

50 Thus did all the children of Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.

51 And it came to pass the selfsame day, that the LORD did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies.

CHAPTER 13

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

2 Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine.

3 ¶ And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten.

4 This day came ye out in the month Abib.

5 ¶ And it shall be when the LORD shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee, a land flowing with milk and honey, that thou shalt keep this service in this month.

6 Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, and in the seventh day shall be a feast to the LORD.

7 Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days; and there shall no leavened bread be seen with thee, neither shall there be leaven seen with thee in all thy quarters.

8 ¶ And thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which the LORD did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt.

9 And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the LORD’S law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the LORD brought thee out of Egypt.

10 Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in his season from year to year.

11 ¶ And it shall be when the LORD shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, as he sware unto thee and to thy fathers, and shall give it thee,

12 That thou shalt set apart unto the LORD all that openeth the matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast which thou hast; the males shall be the LORD’S.

13 And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck: and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem.

14 ¶ And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What is this? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength of hand the LORD brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage:

15 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the LORD slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast: therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all that openeth the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I redeem.

16 And it shall be for a token upon thine hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes: for by strength of hand the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt.

17 ¶ And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt:

18 But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt.

19 And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you.

20 ¶ And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness.

21 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:

22 He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.

CHAPTER 14

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

2 Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baal-zephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea.

3 For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in.

4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD. And they did so.

5 ¶ And it was told the king of Egypt that the people fled: and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned against the people, and they said, Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?

6 And he made ready his chariot, and took his people with him:

7 And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them.

8 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand.

9 But the Egyptians pursued after them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army, and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth, before Baal-zephon.

10 ¶ And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the LORD.

11 And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt?

12 Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.

13 ¶ And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.

14 The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

15 ¶ And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:

16 But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.

17 And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.

18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.

19 ¶ And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them:

20 And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night.

21 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.

22 And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

23 ¶ And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.

24 And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians,

25 And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the LORD fighteth for them against the Egyptians.

26 ¶ And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.

27 And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.

28 And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them.

29 But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

30 Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore.

31 And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses.

CHAPTER 15

1 Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.

2 The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

3 The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name.

4 Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea.

5 The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone.

6 Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.

7 And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble.

8 And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea.

9 The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.

10 Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters.

11 Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?

12 Thou stretchedst out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them.

13 Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation.

14 The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina.

15 Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away.

16 Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O LORD, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased.

17 Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established.

18 The LORD shall reign for ever and ever.

19 For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and the LORD brought again the waters of the sea upon them; but the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea.

20 ¶ And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.

21 And Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.

22 So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water.

23 ¶ And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah.

24 And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?

25 And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,

26 And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.

27 ¶ And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters.

CHAPTER 16

1 And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt.

2 And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness:

3 And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.

4 ¶ Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.

5 And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.

6 And Moses and Aaron said unto all the children of Israel, At even, then ye shall know that the LORD hath brought you out from the land of Egypt:

7 And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the LORD; for that he heareth your murmurings against the LORD: and what are we, that ye murmur against us?

8 And Moses said, This shall be, when the LORD shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the LORD heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD.

9 ¶ And Moses spake unto Aaron, Say unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, Come near before the LORD: for he hath heard your murmurings.

10 And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.

11 ¶ And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

12 I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God.

13 And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host.

14 And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground.

15 And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.

16 ¶ This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents.

17 And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less.

18 And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating.

19 And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning.

20 Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them.

21 And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted.

22 ¶ And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses.

23 And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.

24 And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein.

25 And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the LORD: to day ye shall not find it in the field.

26 Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none.

27 ¶ And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none.

28 And the LORD said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?

29 See, for that the LORD hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.

30 So the people rested on the seventh day.

31 And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.

32 ¶ And Moses said, This is the thing which the LORD commandeth, Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations; that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt.

33 And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before the LORD, to be kept for your generations.

34 As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept.

35 And the children of Israel did eat manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan.

36 Now an omer is the tenth part of an ephah.

CHAPTER 17

1 And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the LORD, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink.

2 Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the LORD?

3 And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?

4 And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me.

5 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go.

6 Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.

7 And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?

8 ¶ Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.

9 And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.

10 So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.

11 And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.

12 But Moses’ hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.

13 And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

14 And the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.

15 And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi:

16 For he said, Because the LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.

CHAPTER 18

1 When Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father in law, heard of all that God had done for Moses, and for Israel his people, and that the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt;

2 Then Jethro, Moses’ father in law, took Zipporah, Moses’ wife, after he had sent her back,

3 And her two sons; of which the name of the one was Gershom; for he said, I have been an alien in a strange land:

4 And the name of the other was Eliezer; for the God of my father, said he, was mine help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh:

5 And Jethro, Moses’ father in law, came with his sons and his wife unto Moses into the wilderness, where he encamped at the mount of God:

6 And he said unto Moses, I thy father in law Jethro am come unto thee, and thy wife, and her two sons with her.

7 ¶ And Moses went out to meet his father in law, and did obeisance, and kissed him; and they asked each other of their welfare; and they came into the tent.

8 And Moses told his father in law all that the LORD had done unto Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, and all the travail that had come upon them by the way, and how the LORD delivered them.

9 And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which the LORD had done to Israel, whom he had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians.

10 And Jethro said, Blessed be the LORD, who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh, who hath delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians.

11 Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them.

12 And Jethro, Moses’ father in law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God: and Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Moses’ father in law before God.

13 ¶ And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening.

14 And when Moses’ father in law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even?

15 And Moses said unto his father in law, Because the people come unto me to enquire of God:

16 When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws.

17 And Moses’ father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good.

18 Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone.

19 Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God:

20 And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do.

21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens:

22 And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee.

23 If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace.

24 So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father in law, and did all that he had said.

25 And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.

26 And they judged the people at all seasons: the hard causes they brought unto Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves.

27 ¶ And Moses let his father in law depart; and he went his way into his own land.

CHAPTER 19

1 In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai.

2 For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount.

3 And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel;

4 Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.

5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:

6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

7 ¶ And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him.

8 And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD.

9 And the LORD said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the LORD.

10 ¶ And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes,

11 And be ready against the third day: for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai.

12 And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death:

13 There shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount.

14 ¶ And Moses went down from the mount unto the people, and sanctified the people; and they washed their clothes.

15 And he said unto the people, Be ready against the third day: come not at your wives.

16 ¶ And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled.

17 And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount.

18 And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.

19 And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice.

20 And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up.

21 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish.

22 And let the priests also, which come near to the LORD, sanctify themselves, lest the LORD break forth upon them.

23 And Moses said unto the LORD, The people cannot come up to mount Sinai: for thou chargedst us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it.

24 And the LORD said unto him, Away, get thee down, and thou shalt come up, thou, and Aaron with thee: but let not the priests and the people break through to come up unto the LORD, lest he break forth upon them.

25 So Moses went down unto the people, and spake unto them.

CHAPTER 20

1 And God spake all these words, saying,

2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

12 ¶ Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

13 Thou shalt not kill.

14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.

15 Thou shalt not steal.

16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

18 ¶ And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.

19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.

20 And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.

21 And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.

22 ¶ And the LORD said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven.

23 Ye shall not make with me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold.

24 ¶ An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.

25 And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.

26 Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.

CHAPTER 21

1 Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them.

2 If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing.

3 If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him.

4 If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself.

5 And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free:

6 Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.

7 ¶ And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do.

8 If she please not her master, who hath betrothed her to himself, then shall he let her be redeemed: to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her.

9 And if he have betrothed her unto his son, he shall deal with her after the manner of daughters.

10 If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.

11 And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.

12 ¶ He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.

13 And if a man lie not in wait, but God deliver him into his hand; then I will appoint thee a place whither he shall flee.

14 But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die.

15 ¶ And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.

16 ¶ And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.

17 ¶ And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.

18 ¶ And if men strive together, and one smite another with a stone, or with his fist, and he die not, but keepeth his bed:

19 If he rise again, and walk abroad upon his staff, then shall he that smote him be quit: only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall cause him to be thoroughly healed.

20 ¶ And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished.

21 Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money.

22 ¶ If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.

23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,

24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,

25 Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

26 ¶ And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish; he shall let him go free for his eye’s sake.

27 And if he smite out his manservant’s tooth, or his maidservant’s tooth; he shall let him go free for his tooth’s sake.

28 ¶ If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die: then the ox shall be surely stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be quit.

29 But if the ox were wont to push with his horn in time past, and it hath been testified to his owner, and he hath not kept him in, but that he hath killed a man or a woman; the ox shall be stoned, and his owner also shall be put to death.

30 If there be laid on him a sum of money, then he shall give for the ransom of his life whatsoever is laid upon him.

31 Whether he have gored a son, or have gored a daughter, according to this judgment shall it be done unto him.

32 If the ox shall push a manservant or a maidservant; he shall give unto their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.

33 ¶ And if a man shall open a pit, or if a man shall dig a pit, and not cover it, and an ox or an ass fall therein;

34 The owner of the pit shall make it good, and give money unto the owner of them; and the dead beast shall be his.

35 ¶ And if one man’s ox hurt another’s, that he die; then they shall sell the live ox, and divide the money of it; and the dead ox also they shall divide.

36 Or if it be known that the ox hath used to push in time past, and his owner hath not kept him in; he shall surely pay ox for ox; and the dead shall be his own.

CHAPTER 22

1 If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.

2 ¶ If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him.

3 If the sun be risen upon him, there shall be blood shed for him; for he should make full restitution; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.

4 If the theft be certainly found in his hand alive, whether it be ox, or ass, or sheep; he shall restore double.

5 ¶ If a man shall cause a field or vineyard to be eaten, and shall put in his beast, and shall feed in another man’s field; of the best of his own field, and of the best of his own vineyard, shall he make restitution.

6 ¶ If fire break out, and catch in thorns, so that the stacks of corn, or the standing corn, or the field, be consumed therewith; he that kindled the fire shall surely make restitution.

7 ¶ If a man shall deliver unto his neighbour money or stuff to keep, and it be stolen out of the man’s house; if the thief be found, let him pay double.

8 If the thief be not found, then the master of the house shall be brought unto the judges, to see whether he have put his hand unto his neighbour’s goods.

9 For all manner of trespass, whether it be for ox, for ass, for sheep, for raiment, or for any manner of lost thing, which another challengeth to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before the judges; and whom the judges shall condemn, he shall pay double unto his neighbour.

10 If a man deliver unto his neighbour an ass, or an ox, or a sheep, or any beast, to keep; and it die, or be hurt, or driven away, no man seeing it:

11 Then shall an oath of the LORD be between them both, that he hath not put his hand unto his neighbour’s goods; and the owner of it shall accept thereof, and he shall not make it good.

12 And if it be stolen from him, he shall make restitution unto the owner thereof.

13 If it be torn in pieces, then let him bring it for witness, and he shall not make good that which was torn.

14 ¶ And if a man borrow ought of his neighbour, and it be hurt, or die, the owner thereof being not with it, he shall surely make it good.

15 But if the owner thereof be with it, he shall not make it good: if it be an hired thing, it came for his hire.

16 ¶ And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife.

17 If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.

18 ¶ Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.

19 ¶ Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death.

20 ¶ He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the LORD only, he shall be utterly destroyed.

21 ¶ Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.

22 ¶ Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child.

23 If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry;

24 And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.

25 ¶ If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury.

26 If thou at all take thy neighbour’s raiment to pledge, thou shalt deliver it unto him by that the sun goeth down:

27 For that is his covering only, it is his raiment for his skin: wherein shall he sleep? and it shall come to pass, when he crieth unto me, that I will hear; for I am gracious.

28 ¶ Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people.

29 ¶ Thou shalt not delay to offer the first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors: the firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto me.

30 Likewise shalt thou do with thine oxen, and with thy sheep: seven days it shall be with his dam; on the eighth day thou shalt give it me.

31 ¶ And ye shall be holy men unto me: neither shall ye eat any flesh that is torn of beasts in the field; ye shall cast it to the dogs.

CHAPTER 23

1 Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.

2 ¶ Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment:

3 ¶ Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause.

4 ¶ If thou meet thine enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again.

5 If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him.

6 Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause.

7 Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked.

8 ¶ And thou shalt take no gift: for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous.

9 ¶ Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.

10 And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof:

11 But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard.

12 Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest: that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed.

13 And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.

14 ¶ Three times thou shalt keep a feast unto me in the year.

15 Thou shalt keep the feast of unleavened bread: (thou shalt eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded thee, in the time appointed of the month Abib; for in it thou camest out from Egypt: and none shall appear before me empty:)

16 And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field.

17 Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord GOD.

18 Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread; neither shall the fat of my sacrifice remain until the morning.

19 The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.

20 ¶ Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.

21 Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him.

22 But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries.

23 For mine Angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off.

24 Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images.

25 And ye shall serve the LORD your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee.

26 ¶ There shall nothing cast their young, nor be barren, in thy land: the number of thy days I will fulfil.

27 I will send my fear before thee, and will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come, and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee.

28 And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee.

29 I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee.

30 By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land.

31 And I will set thy bounds from the Red sea even unto the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert unto the river: for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand; and thou shalt drive them out before thee.

32 Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods.

33 They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me: for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee.

CHAPTER 24

1 And he said unto Moses, Come up unto the LORD, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off.

2 And Moses alone shall come near the LORD: but they shall not come nigh; neither shall the people go up with him.

3 ¶ And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do.

4 And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel.

5 And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the LORD.

6 And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar.

7 And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient.

8 And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words.

9 ¶ Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel:

10 And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.

11 And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.

12 ¶ And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them.

13 And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God.

14 And he said unto the elders, Tarry ye here for us, until we come again unto you: and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you: if any man have any matters to do, let him come unto them.

15 And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount.

16 And the glory of the LORD abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud.

17 And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.

18 And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.

CHAPTER 25

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

2 Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering.

3 And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass,

4 And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair,

5 And rams’ skins dyed red, and badgers’ skins, and shittim wood,

6 Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense,

7 Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate.

8 And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.

9 According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.

10 ¶ And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof.

11 And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about.

12 And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it.

13 And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold.

14 And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them.

15 The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it.

16 And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee.

17 And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof.

18 And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat.

19 And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof.

20 And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be.

21 And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee.

22 And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.

23 ¶ Thou shalt also make a table of shittim wood: two cubits shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof.

24 And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, and make thereto a crown of gold round about.

25 And thou shalt make unto it a border of an hand breadth round about, and thou shalt make a golden crown to the border thereof round about.

26 And thou shalt make for it four rings of gold, and put the rings in the four corners that are on the four feet thereof.

27 Over against the border shall the rings be for places of the staves to bear the table.

28 And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold, that the table may be borne with them.

29 And thou shalt make the dishes thereof, and spoons thereof, and covers thereof, and bowls thereof, to cover withal: of pure gold shalt thou make them.

30 And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread before me alway.

31 ¶ And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same.

32 And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side:

33 Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick.

34 And in the candlestick shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers.

35 And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick.

36 Their knops and their branches shall be of the same: all it shall be one beaten work of pure gold.

37 And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it.

38 And the tongs thereof, and the snuffdishes thereof, shall be of pure gold.

39 Of a talent of pure gold shall he make it, with all these vessels.

40 And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount.

CHAPTER 26

1 Moreover thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubims of cunning work shalt thou make them.

2 The length of one curtain shall be eight and twenty cubits, and the breadth of one curtain four cubits: and every one of the curtains shall have one measure.

3 The five curtains shall be coupled together one to another; and other five curtains shall be coupled one to another.

4 And thou shalt make loops of blue upon the edge of the one curtain from the selvedge in the coupling; and likewise shalt thou make in the uttermost edge of another curtain, in the coupling of the second.

5 Fifty loops shalt thou make in the one curtain, and fifty loops shalt thou make in the edge of the curtain that is in the coupling of the second; that the loops may take hold one of another.

6 And thou shalt make fifty taches of gold, and couple the curtains together with the taches: and it shall be one tabernacle.

7 ¶ And thou shalt make curtains of goats’ hair to be a covering upon the tabernacle: eleven curtains shalt thou make.

8 The length of one curtain shall be thirty cubits, and the breadth of one curtain four cubits: and the eleven curtains shall be all of one measure.

9 And thou shalt couple five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselves, and shalt double the sixth curtain in the forefront of the tabernacle.

10 And thou shalt make fifty loops on the edge of the one curtain that is outmost in the coupling, and fifty loops in the edge of the curtain which coupleth the second.

11 And thou shalt make fifty taches of brass, and put the taches into the loops, and couple the tent together, that it may be one.

12 And the remnant that remaineth of the curtains of the tent, the half curtain that remaineth, shall hang over the backside of the tabernacle.

13 And a cubit on the one side, and a cubit on the other side of that which remaineth in the length of the curtains of the tent, it shall hang over the sides of the tabernacle on this side and on that side, to cover it.

14 And thou shalt make a covering for the tent of rams’ skins dyed red, and a covering above of badgers’ skins.

15 ¶ And thou shalt make boards for the tabernacle of shittim wood standing up.

16 Ten cubits shall be the length of a board, and a cubit and a half shall be the breadth of one board.

17 Two tenons shall there be in one board, set in order one against another: thus shalt thou make for all the boards of the tabernacle.

18 And thou shalt make the boards for the tabernacle, twenty boards on the south side southward.

19 And thou shalt make forty sockets of silver under the twenty boards; two sockets under one board for his two tenons, and two sockets under another board for his two tenons.

20 And for the second side of the tabernacle on the north side there shall be twenty boards:

21 And their forty sockets of silver; two sockets under one board, and two sockets under another board.

22 And for the sides of the tabernacle westward thou shalt make six boards.

23 And two boards shalt thou make for the corners of the tabernacle in the two sides.

24 And they shall be coupled together beneath, and they shall be coupled together above the head of it unto one ring: thus shall it be for them both; they shall be for the two corners.

25 And they shall be eight boards, and their sockets of silver, sixteen sockets; two sockets under one board, and two sockets under another board.

26 ¶ And thou shalt make bars of shittim wood; five for the boards of the one side of the tabernacle,

27 And five bars for the boards of the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the side of the tabernacle, for the two sides westward.

28 And the middle bar in the midst of the boards shall reach from end to end.

29 And thou shalt overlay the boards with gold, and make their rings of gold for places for the bars: and thou shalt overlay the bars with gold.

30 And thou shalt rear up the tabernacle according to the fashion thereof which was shewed thee in the mount.

31 ¶ And thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made:

32 And thou shalt hang it upon four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold, upon the four sockets of silver.

33 ¶ And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy.

34 And thou shalt put the mercy seat upon the ark of the testimony in the most holy place.

35 And thou shalt set the table without the vail, and the candlestick over against the table on the side of the tabernacle toward the south: and thou shalt put the table on the north side.

36 And thou shalt make an hanging for the door of the tent, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework.

37 And thou shalt make for the hanging five pillars of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold, and their hooks shall be of gold: and thou shalt cast five sockets of brass for them.

CHAPTER 27

1 And thou shalt make an altar of shittim wood, five cubits long, and five cubits broad; the altar shall be foursquare: and the height thereof shall be three cubits.

2 And thou shalt make the horns of it upon the four corners thereof: his horns shall be of the same: and thou shalt overlay it with brass.

3 And thou shalt make his pans to receive his ashes, and his shovels, and his basons, and his fleshhooks, and his firepans: all the vessels thereof thou shalt make of brass.

4 And thou shalt make for it a grate of network of brass; and upon the net shalt thou make four brasen rings in the four corners thereof.

5 And thou shalt put it under the compass of the altar beneath, that the net may be even to the midst of the altar.

6 And thou shalt make staves for the altar, staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with brass.

7 And the staves shall be put into the rings, and the staves shall be upon the two sides of the altar, to bear it.

8 Hollow with boards shalt thou make it: as it was shewed thee in the mount, so shall they make it.

9 ¶ And thou shalt make the court of the tabernacle: for the south side southward there shall be hangings for the court of fine twined linen of an hundred cubits long for one side:

10 And the twenty pillars thereof and their twenty sockets shall be of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets shall be of silver.

11 And likewise for the north side in length there shall be hangings of an hundred cubits long, and his twenty pillars and their twenty sockets of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets of silver.

12 ¶ And for the breadth of the court on the west side shall be hangings of fifty cubits: their pillars ten, and their sockets ten.

13 And the breadth of the court on the east side eastward shall be fifty cubits.

14 The hangings of one side of the gate shall be fifteen cubits: their pillars three, and their sockets three.

15 And on the other side shall be hangings fifteen cubits: their pillars three, and their sockets three.

16 ¶ And for the gate of the court shall be an hanging of twenty cubits, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework: and their pillars shall be four, and their sockets four.

17 All the pillars round about the court shall be filleted with silver; their hooks shall be of silver, and their sockets of brass.

18 ¶ The length of the court shall be an hundred cubits, and the breadth fifty every where, and the height five cubits of fine twined linen, and their sockets of brass.

19 All the vessels of the tabernacle in all the service thereof, and all the pins thereof, and all the pins of the court, shall be of brass.

20 ¶ And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always.

21 In the tabernacle of the congregation without the vail, which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall order it from evening to morning before the LORD: it shall be a statute for ever unto their generations on the behalf of the children of Israel.

CHAPTER 28

1 And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons.

2 And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty.

3 And thou shalt speak unto all that are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.

4 And these are the garments which they shall make; a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a broidered coat, a mitre, and a girdle: and they shall make holy garments for Aaron thy brother, and his sons, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.

5 And they shall take gold, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen.

6 ¶ And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue, and of purple, of scarlet, and fine twined linen, with cunning work.

7 It shall have the two shoulderpieces thereof joined at the two edges thereof; and so it shall be joined together.

8 And the curious girdle of the ephod, which is upon it, shall be of the same, according to the work thereof; even of gold, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen.

9 And thou shalt take two onyx stones, and grave on them the names of the children of Israel:

10 Six of their names on one stone, and the other six names of the rest on the other stone, according to their birth.

11 With the work of an engraver in stone, like the engravings of a signet, shalt thou engrave the two stones with the names of the children of Israel: thou shalt make them to be set in ouches of gold.

12 And thou shalt put the two stones upon the shoulders of the ephod for stones of memorial unto the children of Israel: and Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD upon his two shoulders for a memorial.

13 ¶ And thou shalt make ouches of gold;

14 And two chains of pure gold at the ends; of wreathen work shalt thou make them, and fasten the wreathen chains to the ouches.

15 ¶ And thou shalt make the breastplate of judgment with cunning work; after the work of the ephod thou shalt make it; of gold, of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine twined linen, shalt thou make it.

16 Foursquare it shall be being doubled; a span shall be the length thereof, and a span shall be the breadth thereof.

17 And thou shalt set in it settings of stones, even four rows of stones: the first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle: this shall be the first row.

18 And the second row shall be an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond.

19 And the third row a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst.

20 And the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper: they shall be set in gold in their inclosings.

21 And the stones shall be with the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names, like the engravings of a signet; every one with his name shall they be according to the twelve tribes.

22 ¶ And thou shalt make upon the breastplate chains at the ends of wreathen work of pure gold.

23 And thou shalt make upon the breastplate two rings of gold, and shalt put the two rings on the two ends of the breastplate.

24 And thou shalt put the two wreathen chains of gold in the two rings which are on the ends of the breastplate.

25 And the other two ends of the two wreathen chains thou shalt fasten in the two ouches, and put them on the shoulderpieces of the ephod before it.

26 ¶ And thou shalt make two rings of gold, and thou shalt put them upon the two ends of the breastplate in the border thereof, which is in the side of the ephod inward.

27 And two other rings of gold thou shalt make, and shalt put them on the two sides of the ephod underneath, toward the forepart thereof, over against the other coupling thereof, above the curious girdle of the ephod.

28 And they shall bind the breastplate by the rings thereof unto the rings of the ephod with a lace of blue, that it may be above the curious girdle of the ephod, and that the breastplate be not loosed from the ephod.

29 And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the LORD continually.

30 ¶ And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be upon Aaron’s heart, when he goeth in before the LORD: and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the LORD continually.

31 ¶ And thou shalt make the robe of the ephod all of blue.

32 And there shall be an hole in the top of it, in the midst thereof: it shall have a binding of woven work round about the hole of it, as it were the hole of an habergeon, that it be not rent.

33 ¶ And beneath upon the hem of it thou shalt make pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, round about the hem thereof; and bells of gold between them round about:

34 A golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe round about.

35 And it shall be upon Aaron to minister: and his sound shall be heard when he goeth in unto the holy place before the LORD, and when he cometh out, that he die not.

36 ¶ And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD.

37 And thou shalt put it on a blue lace, that it may be upon the mitre; upon the forefront of the mitre it shall be.

38 And it shall be upon Aaron’s forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts; and it shall be always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD.

39 ¶ And thou shalt embroider the coat of fine linen, and thou shalt make the mitre of fine linen, and thou shalt make the girdle of needlework.

40 ¶ And for Aaron’s sons thou shalt make coats, and thou shalt make for them girdles, and bonnets shalt thou make for them, for glory and for beauty.

41 And thou shalt put them upon Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him; and shalt anoint them, and consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office.

42 And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach:

43 And they shall be upon Aaron, and upon his sons, when they come in unto the tabernacle of the congregation, or when they come near unto the altar to minister in the holy place; that they bear not iniquity, and die: it shall be a statute for ever unto him and his seed after him.

CHAPTER 29

1 And this is the thing that thou shalt do unto them to hallow them, to minister unto me in the priest’s office: Take one young bullock, and two rams without blemish,

2 And unleavened bread, and cakes unleavened tempered with oil, and wafers unleavened anointed with oil: of wheaten flour shalt thou make them.

3 And thou shalt put them into one basket, and bring them in the basket, with the bullock and the two rams.

4 And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash them with water.

5 And thou shalt take the garments, and put upon Aaron the coat, and the robe of the ephod, and the ephod, and the breastplate, and gird him with the curious girdle of the ephod:

6 And thou shalt put the mitre upon his head, and put the holy crown upon the mitre.

7 Then shalt thou take the anointing oil, and pour it upon his head, and anoint him.

8 And thou shalt bring his sons, and put coats upon them.

9 And thou shalt gird them with girdles, Aaron and his sons, and put the bonnets on them: and the priest’s office shall be their’s for a perpetual statute: and thou shalt consecrate Aaron and his sons.

10 And thou shalt cause a bullock to be brought before the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the bullock.

11 And thou shalt kill the bullock before the LORD, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

12 And thou shalt take of the blood of the bullock, and put it upon the horns of the altar with thy finger, and pour all the blood beside the bottom of the altar.

13 And thou shalt take all the fat that covereth the inwards, and the caul that is above the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and burn them upon the altar.

14 But the flesh of the bullock, and his skin, and his dung, shalt thou burn with fire without the camp: it is a sin offering.

15 ¶ Thou shalt also take one ram; and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the ram.

16 And thou shalt slay the ram, and thou shalt take his blood, and sprinkle it round about upon the altar.

17 And thou shalt cut the ram in pieces, and wash the inwards of him, and his legs, and put them unto his pieces, and unto his head.

18 And thou shalt burn the whole ram upon the altar: it is a burnt offering unto the LORD: it is a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

19 ¶ And thou shalt take the other ram; and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the ram.

20 Then shalt thou kill the ram, and take of his blood, and put it upon the tip of the right ear of Aaron, and upon the tip of the right ear of his sons, and upon the thumb of their right hand, and upon the great toe of their right foot, and sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about.

21 And thou shalt take of the blood that is upon the altar, and of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it upon Aaron, and upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon the garments of his sons with him: and he shall be hallowed, and his garments, and his sons, and his sons’ garments with him.

22 Also thou shalt take of the ram the fat and the rump, and the fat that covereth the inwards, and the caul above the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and the right shoulder; for it is a ram of consecration:

23 And one loaf of bread, and one cake of oiled bread, and one wafer out of the basket of the unleavened bread that is before the LORD:

24 And thou shalt put all in the hands of Aaron, and in the hands of his sons; and shalt wave them for a wave offering before the LORD.

25 And thou shalt receive them of their hands, and burn them upon the altar for a burnt offering, for a sweet savour before the LORD: it is an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

26 And thou shalt take the breast of the ram of Aaron’s consecration, and wave it for a wave offering before the LORD: and it shall be thy part.

27 And thou shalt sanctify the breast of the wave offering, and the shoulder of the heave offering, which is waved, and which is heaved up, of the ram of the consecration, even of that which is for Aaron, and of that which is for his sons:

28 And it shall be Aaron’s and his sons’ by a statute for ever from the children of Israel: for it is an heave offering: and it shall be an heave offering from the children of Israel of the sacrifice of their peace offerings, even their heave offering unto the LORD.

29 ¶ And the holy garments of Aaron shall be his sons’ after him, to be anointed therein, and to be consecrated in them.

30 And that son that is priest in his stead shall put them on seven days, when he cometh into the tabernacle of the congregation to minister in the holy place.

31 ¶ And thou shalt take the ram of the consecration, and seethe his flesh in the holy place.

32 And Aaron and his sons shall eat the flesh of the ram, and the bread that is in the basket, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

33 And they shall eat those things wherewith the atonement was made, to consecrate and to sanctify them: but a stranger shall not eat thereof, because they are holy.

34 And if ought of the flesh of the consecrations, or of the bread, remain unto the morning, then thou shalt burn the remainder with fire: it shall not be eaten, because it is holy.

35 And thus shalt thou do unto Aaron, and to his sons, according to all things which I have commanded thee: seven days shalt thou consecrate them.

36 And thou shalt offer every day a bullock for a sin offering for atonement: and thou shalt cleanse the altar, when thou hast made an atonement for it, and thou shalt anoint it, to sanctify it.

37 Seven days thou shalt make an atonement for the altar, and sanctify it; and it shall be an altar most holy: whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy.

38 ¶ Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year day by day continually.

39 The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning; and the other lamb thou shalt offer at even:

40 And with the one lamb a tenth deal of flour mingled with the fourth part of an hin of beaten oil; and the fourth part of an hin of wine for a drink offering.

41 And the other lamb thou shalt offer at even, and shalt do thereto according to the meat offering of the morning, and according to the drink offering thereof, for a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

42 This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD: where I will meet you, to speak there unto thee.

43 And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory.

44 And I will sanctify the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar: I will sanctify also both Aaron and his sons, to minister to me in the priest’s office.

45 ¶ And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God.

46 And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the LORD their God.

CHAPTER 30

1 And thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon: of shittim wood shalt thou make it.

2 A cubit shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof; foursquare shall it be: and two cubits shall be the height thereof: the horns thereof shall be of the same.

3 And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, the top thereof, and the sides thereof round about, and the horns thereof; and thou shalt make unto it a crown of gold round about.

4 And two golden rings shalt thou make to it under the crown of it, by the two corners thereof, upon the two sides of it shalt thou make it; and they shall be for places for the staves to bear it withal.

5 And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold.

6 And thou shalt put it before the vail that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee.

7 And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it.

8 And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations.

9 Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor burnt sacrifice, nor meat offering; neither shall ye pour drink offering thereon.

10 And Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of it once in a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonements: once in the year shall he make atonement upon it throughout your generations: it is most holy unto the LORD.

11 ¶ And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

12 When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the LORD, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them.

13 This they shall give, every one that passeth among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary: (a shekel is twenty gerahs:) an half shekel shall be the offering of the LORD.

14 Every one that passeth among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto the LORD.

15 The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls.

16 And thou shalt take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls.

17 ¶ And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

18 Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein.

19 For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat:

20 When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the LORD:

21 So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations.

22 ¶ Moreover the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

23 Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty shekels,

24 And of cassia five hundred shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, and of oil olive an hin:

25 And thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be an holy anointing oil.

26 And thou shalt anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony,

27 And the table and all his vessels, and the candlestick and his vessels, and the altar of incense,

28 And the altar of burnt offering with all his vessels, and the laver and his foot.

29 And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy: whatsoever toucheth them shall be holy.

30 And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office.

31 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, This shall be an holy anointing oil unto me throughout your generations.

32 Upon man’s flesh shall it not be poured, neither shall ye make any other like it, after the composition of it: it is holy, and it shall be holy unto you.

33 Whosoever compoundeth any like it, or whosoever putteth any of it upon a stranger, shall even be cut off from his people.

34 ¶ And the LORD said unto Moses, Take unto thee sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum; these sweet spices with pure frankincense: of each shall there be a like weight:

35 And thou shalt make it a perfume, a confection after the art of the apothecary, tempered together, pure and holy:

36 And thou shalt beat some of it very small, and put of it before the testimony in the tabernacle of the congregation, where I will meet with thee: it shall be unto you most holy.

37 And as for the perfume which thou shalt make, ye shall not make to yourselves according to the composition thereof: it shall be unto thee holy for the LORD.

38 Whosoever shall make like unto that, to smell thereto, shall even be cut off from his people.

CHAPTER 31

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

2 See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah:

3 And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship,

4 To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass,

5 And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship.

6 And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan: and in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee;

7 The tabernacle of the congregation, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is thereupon, and all the furniture of the tabernacle,

8 And the table and his furniture, and the pure candlestick with all his furniture, and the altar of incense,

9 And the altar of burnt offering with all his furniture, and the laver and his foot,

10 And the cloths of service, and the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, to minister in the priest’s office,

11 And the anointing oil, and sweet incense for the holy place: according to all that I have commanded thee shall they do.

12 ¶ And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

13 Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you.

14 Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.

15 Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.

16 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.

17 It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.

18 ¶ And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.

CHAPTER 32

1 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

2 And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me.

3 And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron.

4 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

5 And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD.

6 And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.

7 ¶ And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves:

8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

9 And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:

10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.

11 And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand?

12 Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.

13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.

14 And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.

15 ¶ And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written.

16 And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.

17 And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp.

18 And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear.

19 ¶ And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.

20 And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.

21 And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them?

22 And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief.

23 For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us: for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

24 And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.

25 ¶ And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies:)

26 Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD’S side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.

27 And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.

28 And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.

29 For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves to day to the LORD, even every man upon his son, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day.

30 ¶ And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the LORD; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin.

31 And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold.

32 Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin–; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.

33 And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.

34 Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them.

35 And the LORD plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made.

CHAPTER 33

1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Depart, and go up hence, thou and the people which thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto thy seed will I give it:

2 And I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite:

3 Unto a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way.

4 ¶ And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned: and no man did put on him his ornaments.

5 For the LORD had said unto Moses, Say unto the children of Israel, Ye are a stiffnecked people: I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment, and consume thee: therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee.

6 And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by the mount Horeb.

7 And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the LORD went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp.

8 And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle.

9 And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses.

10 And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent door.

11 And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.

12 ¶ And Moses said unto the LORD, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight.

13 Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people.

14 And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.

15 And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.

16 For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.

17 And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.

18 And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.

19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.

20 And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

21 And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock:

22 And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by:

23 And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.

CHAPTER 34

1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.

2 And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to me in the top of the mount.

3 And no man shall come up with thee, neither let any man be seen throughout all the mount; neither let the flocks nor herds feed before that mount.

4 ¶ And he hewed two tables of stone like unto the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone.

5 And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.

6 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,

7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

8 And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped.

9 And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance.

10 And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the LORD: for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee.

11 Observe thou that which I command thee this day: behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite.

12 Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee:

13 But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves:

14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:

15 Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice;

16 And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.

17 Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.

18 ¶ The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee, in the time of the month Abib: for in the month Abib thou camest out from Egypt.

19 All that openeth the matrix is mine; and every firstling among thy cattle, whether ox or sheep, that is male.

20 But the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb: and if thou redeem him not, then shalt thou break his neck. All the firstborn of thy sons thou shalt redeem. And none shall appear before me empty.

21 ¶ Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest.

22 ¶ And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.

23 ¶ Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord GOD, the God of Israel.

24 For I will cast out the nations before thee, and enlarge thy borders: neither shall any man desire thy land, when thou shalt go up to appear before the LORD thy God thrice in the year.

25 Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven; neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto the morning.

26 The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.

27 And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.

28 And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.

29 ¶ And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.

30 And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.

31 And Moses called unto them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned unto him: and Moses talked with them.

32 And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh: and he gave them in commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him in mount Sinai.

33 And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face.

34 But when Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he took the vail off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded.

35 And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone: and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him.

CHAPTER 35

1 And Moses gathered all the congregation of the children of Israel together, and said unto them, These are the words which the LORD hath commanded, that ye should do them.

2 Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death.

3 Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day.

4 ¶ And Moses spake unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the LORD commanded, saying,

5 Take ye from among you an offering unto the LORD: whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, an offering of the LORD; gold, and silver, and brass,

6 And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair,

7 And rams’ skins dyed red, and badgers’ skins, and shittim wood,

8 And oil for the light, and spices for anointing oil, and for the sweet incense,

9 And onyx stones, and stones to be set for the ephod, and for the breastplate.

10 And every wise hearted among you shall come, and make all that the LORD hath commanded;

11 The tabernacle, his tent, and his covering, his taches, and his boards, his bars, his pillars, and his sockets,

12 The ark, and the staves thereof, with the mercy seat, and the vail of the covering,

13 The table, and his staves, and all his vessels, and the shewbread,

14 The candlestick also for the light, and his furniture, and his lamps, with the oil for the light,

15 And the incense altar, and his staves, and the anointing oil, and the sweet incense, and the hanging for the door at the entering in of the tabernacle,

16 The altar of burnt offering, with his brasen grate, his staves, and all his vessels, the laver and his foot,

17 The hangings of the court, his pillars, and their sockets, and the hanging for the door of the court,

18 The pins of the tabernacle, and the pins of the court, and their cords,

19 The cloths of service, to do service in the holy place, the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, to minister in the priest’s office.

20 ¶ And all the congregation of the children of Israel departed from the presence of Moses.

21 And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the LORD’S offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments.

22 And they came, both men and women, as many as were willing hearted, and brought bracelets, and earrings, and rings, and tablets, all jewels of gold: and every man that offered offered an offering of gold unto the LORD.

23 And every man, with whom was found blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair, and red skins of rams, and badgers’ skins, brought them.

24 Every one that did offer an offering of silver and brass brought the LORD’S offering: and every man, with whom was found shittim wood for any work of the service, brought it.

25 And all the women that were wise hearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had spun, both of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine linen.

26 And all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun goats’ hair.

27 And the rulers brought onyx stones, and stones to be set, for the ephod, and for the breastplate;

28 And spice, and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the sweet incense.

29 The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the LORD, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all manner of work, which the LORD had commanded to be made by the hand of Moses.

30 ¶ And Moses said unto the children of Israel, See, the LORD hath called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah;

31 And he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship;

32 And to devise curious works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass,

33 And in the cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of wood, to make any manner of cunning work.

34 And he hath put in his heart that he may teach, both he, and Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan.

35 Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman, and of the embroiderer, in blue, and in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and of the weaver, even of them that do any work, and of those that devise cunning work.

CHAPTER 36

1 Then wrought Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whom the LORD put wisdom and understanding to know how to work all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, according to all that the LORD had commanded.

2 And Moses called Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whose heart the LORD had put wisdom, even every one whose heart stirred him up to come unto the work to do it:

3 And they received of Moses all the offering, which the children of Israel had brought for the work of the service of the sanctuary, to make it withal. And they brought yet unto him free offerings every morning.

4 And all the wise men, that wrought all the work of the sanctuary, came every man from his work which they made;

5 ¶ And they spake unto Moses, saying, The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the LORD commanded to make.

6 And Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing.

7 For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much.

8 ¶ And every wise hearted man among them that wrought the work of the tabernacle made ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubims of cunning work made he them.

9 The length of one curtain was twenty and eight cubits, and the breadth of one curtain four cubits: the curtains were all of one size.

10 And he coupled the five curtains one unto another: and the other five curtains he coupled one unto another.

11 And he made loops of blue on the edge of one curtain from the selvedge in the coupling: likewise he made in the uttermost side of another curtain, in the coupling of the second.

12 Fifty loops made he in one curtain, and fifty loops made he in the edge of the curtain which was in the coupling of the second: the loops held one curtain to another.

13 And he made fifty taches of gold, and coupled the curtains one unto another with the taches: so it became one tabernacle.

14 ¶ And he made curtains of goats’ hair for the tent over the tabernacle: eleven curtains he made them.

15 The length of one curtain was thirty cubits, and four cubits was the breadth of one curtain: the eleven curtains were of one size.

16 And he coupled five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselves.

17 And he made fifty loops upon the uttermost edge of the curtain in the coupling, and fifty loops made he upon the edge of the curtain which coupleth the second.

18 And he made fifty taches of brass to couple the tent together, that it might be one.

19 And he made a covering for the tent of rams’ skins dyed red, and a covering of badgers’ skins above that.

20 ¶ And he made boards for the tabernacle of shittim wood, standing up.

21 The length of a board was ten cubits, and the breadth of a board one cubit and a half.

22 One board had two tenons, equally distant one from another: thus did he make for all the boards of the tabernacle.

23 And he made boards for the tabernacle; twenty boards for the south side southward:

24 And forty sockets of silver he made under the twenty boards; two sockets under one board for his two tenons, and two sockets under another board for his two tenons.

25 And for the other side of the tabernacle, which is toward the north corner, he made twenty boards,

26 And their forty sockets of silver; two sockets under one board, and two sockets under another board.

27 And for the sides of the tabernacle westward he made six boards.

28 And two boards made he for the corners of the tabernacle in the two sides.

29 And they were coupled beneath, and coupled together at the head thereof, to one ring: thus he did to both of them in both the corners.

30 And there were eight boards; and their sockets were sixteen sockets of silver, under every board two sockets.

31 ¶ And he made bars of shittim wood; five for the boards of the one side of the tabernacle,

32 And five bars for the boards of the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the tabernacle for the sides westward.

33 And he made the middle bar to shoot through the boards from the one end to the other.

34 And he overlaid the boards with gold, and made their rings of gold to be places for the bars, and overlaid the bars with gold.

35 ¶ And he made a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen: with cherubims made he it of cunning work.

36 And he made thereunto four pillars of shittim wood, and overlaid them with gold: their hooks were of gold; and he cast for them four sockets of silver.

37 ¶ And he made an hanging for the tabernacle door of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, of needlework;

38 And the five pillars of it with their hooks: and he overlaid their chapiters and their fillets with gold: but their five sockets were of brass.

CHAPTER 37

1 And Bezaleel made the ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half was the length of it, and a cubit and a half the breadth of it, and a cubit and a half the height of it:

2 And he overlaid it with pure gold within and without, and made a crown of gold to it round about.

3 And he cast for it four rings of gold, to be set by the four corners of it; even two rings upon the one side of it, and two rings upon the other side of it.

4 And he made staves of shittim wood, and overlaid them with gold.

5 And he put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, to bear the ark.

6 ¶ And he made the mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half was the length thereof, and one cubit and a half the breadth thereof.

7 And he made two cherubims of gold, beaten out of one piece made he them, on the two ends of the mercy seat;

8 One cherub on the end on this side, and another cherub on the other end on that side: out of the mercy seat made he the cherubims on the two ends thereof.

9 And the cherubims spread out their wings on high, and covered with their wings over the mercy seat, with their faces one to another; even to the mercy seatward were the faces of the cherubims.

10 ¶ And he made the table of shittim wood: two cubits was the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof:

11 And he overlaid it with pure gold, and made thereunto a crown of gold round about.

12 Also he made thereunto a border of an handbreadth round about; and made a crown of gold for the border thereof round about.

13 And he cast for it four rings of gold, and put the rings upon the four corners that were in the four feet thereof.

14 Over against the border were the rings, the places for the staves to bear the table.

15 And he made the staves of shittim wood, and overlaid them with gold, to bear the table.

16 And he made the vessels which were upon the table, his dishes, and his spoons, and his bowls, and his covers to cover withal, of pure gold.

17 ¶ And he made the candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work made he the candlestick; his shaft, and his branch, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, were of the same:

18 And six branches going out of the sides thereof; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side thereof, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side thereof:

19 Three bowls made after the fashion of almonds in one branch, a knop and a flower; and three bowls made like almonds in another branch, a knop and a flower: so throughout the six branches going out of the candlestick.

20 And in the candlestick were four bowls made like almonds, his knops, and his flowers:

21 And a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches going out of it.

22 Their knops and their branches were of the same: all of it was one beaten work of pure gold.

23 And he made his seven lamps, and his snuffers, and his snuffdishes, of pure gold.

24 Of a talent of pure gold made he it, and all the vessels thereof.

25 ¶ And he made the incense altar of shittim wood: the length of it was a cubit, and the breadth of it a cubit; it was foursquare; and two cubits was the height of it; the horns thereof were of the same.

26 And he overlaid it with pure gold, both the top of it, and the sides thereof round about, and the horns of it: also he made unto it a crown of gold round about.

27 And he made two rings of gold for it under the crown thereof, by the two corners of it, upon the two sides thereof, to be places for the staves to bear it withal.

28 And he made the staves of shittim wood, and overlaid them with gold.

29 ¶ And he made the holy anointing oil, and the pure incense of sweet spices, according to the work of the apothecary.

CHAPTER 38

1 And he made the altar of burnt offering of shittim wood: five cubits was the length thereof, and five cubits the breadth thereof; it was foursquare; and three cubits the height thereof.

2 And he made the horns thereof on the four corners of it; the horns thereof were of the same: and he overlaid it with brass.

3 And he made all the vessels of the altar, the pots, and the shovels, and the basons, and the fleshhooks, and the firepans: all the vessels thereof made he of brass.

4 And he made for the altar a brasen grate of network under the compass thereof beneath unto the midst of it.

5 And he cast four rings for the four ends of the grate of brass, to be places for the staves.

6 And he made the staves of shittim wood, and overlaid them with brass.

7 And he put the staves into the rings on the sides of the altar, to bear it withal; he made the altar hollow with boards.

8 ¶ And he made the laver of brass, and the foot of it of brass, of the lookingglasses of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

9 ¶ And he made the court: on the south side southward the hangings of the court were of fine twined linen, an hundred cubits:

10 Their pillars were twenty, and their brasen sockets twenty; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets were of silver.

11 And for the north side the hangings were an hundred cubits, their pillars were twenty, and their sockets of brass twenty; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets of silver.

12 And for the west side were hangings of fifty cubits, their pillars ten, and their sockets ten; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets of silver.

13 And for the east side eastward fifty cubits.

14 The hangings of the one side of the gate were fifteen cubits; their pillars three, and their sockets three.

15 And for the other side of the court gate, on this hand and that hand, were hangings of fifteen cubits; their pillars three, and their sockets three.

16 All the hangings of the court round about were of fine twined linen.

17 And the sockets for the pillars were of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets of silver; and the overlaying of their chapiters of silver; and all the pillars of the court were filleted with silver.

18 And the hanging for the gate of the court was needlework, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen: and twenty cubits was the length, and the height in the breadth was five cubits, answerable to the hangings of the court.

19 And their pillars were four, and their sockets of brass four; their hooks of silver, and the overlaying of their chapiters and their fillets of silver.

20 And all the pins of the tabernacle, and of the court round about, were of brass.

21 ¶ This is the sum of the tabernacle, even of the tabernacle of testimony, as it was counted, according to the commandment of Moses, for the service of the Levites, by the hand of Ithamar, son to Aaron the priest.

22 And Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that the LORD commanded Moses.

23 And with him was Aholiab, son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, an engraver, and a cunning workman, and an embroiderer in blue, and in purple, and in scarlet, and fine linen.

24 All the gold that was occupied for the work in all the work of the holy place, even the gold of the offering, was twenty and nine talents, and seven hundred and thirty shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary.

25 And the silver of them that were numbered of the congregation was an hundred talents, and a thousand seven hundred and threescore and fifteen shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary:

26 A bekah for every man, that is, half a shekel, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for every one that went to be numbered, from twenty years old and upward, for six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty men.

27 And of the hundred talents of silver were cast the sockets of the sanctuary, and the sockets of the vail; an hundred sockets of the hundred talents, a talent for a socket.

28 And of the thousand seven hundred seventy and five shekels he made hooks for the pillars, and overlaid their chapiters, and filleted them.

29 And the brass of the offering was seventy talents, and two thousand and four hundred shekels.

30 And therewith he made the sockets to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and the brasen altar, and the brasen grate for it, and all the vessels of the altar,

31 And the sockets of the court round about, and the sockets of the court gate, and all the pins of the tabernacle, and all the pins of the court round about.

CHAPTER 39

1 And of the blue, and purple, and scarlet, they made cloths of service, to do service in the holy place, and made the holy garments for Aaron; as the LORD commanded Moses.

2 And he made the ephod of gold, blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen.

3 And they did beat the gold into thin plates, and cut it into wires, to work it in the blue, and in the purple, and in the scarlet, and in the fine linen, with cunning work.

4 They made shoulderpieces for it, to couple it together: by the two edges was it coupled together.

5 And the curious girdle of his ephod, that was upon it, was of the same, according to the work thereof; of gold, blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen; as the LORD commanded Moses.

6 ¶ And they wrought onyx stones inclosed in ouches of gold, graven, as signets are graven, with the names of the children of Israel.

7 And he put them on the shoulders of the ephod, that they should be stones for a memorial to the children of Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses.

8 ¶ And he made the breastplate of cunning work, like the work of the ephod; of gold, blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen.

9 It was foursquare; they made the breastplate double: a span was the length thereof, and a span the breadth thereof, being doubled.

10 And they set in it four rows of stones: the first row was a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle: this was the first row.

11 And the second row, an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond.

12 And the third row, a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst.

13 And the fourth row, a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper: they were inclosed in ouches of gold in their inclosings.

14 And the stones were according to the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names, like the engravings of a signet, every one with his name, according to the twelve tribes.

15 And they made upon the breastplate chains at the ends, of wreathen work of pure gold.

16 And they made two ouches of gold, and two gold rings; and put the two rings in the two ends of the breastplate.

17 And they put the two wreathen chains of gold in the two rings on the ends of the breastplate.

18 And the two ends of the two wreathen chains they fastened in the two ouches, and put them on the shoulderpieces of the ephod, before it.

19 And they made two rings of gold, and put them on the two ends of the breastplate, upon the border of it, which was on the side of the ephod inward.

20 And they made two other golden rings, and put them on the two sides of the ephod underneath, toward the forepart of it, over against the other coupling thereof, above the curious girdle of the ephod.

21 And they did bind the breastplate by his rings unto the rings of the ephod with a lace of blue, that it might be above the curious girdle of the ephod, and that the breastplate might not be loosed from the ephod; as the LORD commanded Moses.

22 ¶ And he made the robe of the ephod of woven work, all of blue.

23 And there was an hole in the midst of the robe, as the hole of an habergeon, with a band round about the hole, that it should not rend.

24 And they made upon the hems of the robe pomegranates of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and twined linen.

25 And they made bells of pure gold, and put the bells between the pomegranates upon the hem of the robe, round about between the pomegranates;

26 A bell and a pomegranate, a bell and a pomegranate, round about the hem of the robe to minister in; as the LORD commanded Moses.

27 ¶ And they made coats of fine linen of woven work for Aaron, and for his sons,

28 And a mitre of fine linen, and goodly bonnets of fine linen, and linen breeches of fine twined linen,

29 And a girdle of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, of needlework; as the LORD commanded Moses.

30 ¶ And they made the plate of the holy crown of pure gold, and wrote upon it a writing, like to the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD.

31 And they tied unto it a lace of blue, to fasten it on high upon the mitre; as the LORD commanded Moses.

32 ¶ Thus was all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation finished: and the children of Israel did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so did they.

33 ¶ And they brought the tabernacle unto Moses, the tent, and all his furniture, his taches, his boards, his bars, and his pillars, and his sockets,

34 And the covering of rams’ skins dyed red, and the covering of badgers’ skins, and the vail of the covering,

35 The ark of the testimony, and the staves thereof, and the mercy seat,

36 The table, and all the vessels thereof, and the shewbread,

37 The pure candlestick, with the lamps thereof, even with the lamps to be set in order, and all the vessels thereof, and the oil for light,

38 And the golden altar, and the anointing oil, and the sweet incense, and the hanging for the tabernacle door,

39 The brasen altar, and his grate of brass, his staves, and all his vessels, the laver and his foot,

40 The hangings of the court, his pillars, and his sockets, and the hanging for the court gate, his cords, and his pins, and all the vessels of the service of the tabernacle, for the tent of the congregation,

41 The cloths of service to do service in the holy place, and the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and his sons’ garments, to minister in the priest’s office.

42 According to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so the children of Israel made all the work.

43 And Moses did look upon all the work, and, behold, they had done it as the LORD had commanded, even so had they done it: and Moses blessed them.

CHAPTER 40

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

2 On the first day of the first month shalt thou set up the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation.

3 And thou shalt put therein the ark of the testimony, and cover the ark with the vail.

4 And thou shalt bring in the table, and set in order the things that are to be set in order upon it; and thou shalt bring in the candlestick, and light the lamps thereof.

5 And thou shalt set the altar of gold for the incense before the ark of the testimony, and put the hanging of the door to the tabernacle.

6 And thou shalt set the altar of the burnt offering before the door of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation.

7 And thou shalt set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and shalt put water therein.

8 And thou shalt set up the court round about, and hang up the hanging at the court gate.

9 And thou shalt take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle, and all that is therein, and shalt hallow it, and all the vessels thereof: and it shall be holy.

10 And thou shalt anoint the altar of the burnt offering, and all his vessels, and sanctify the altar: and it shall be an altar most holy.

11 And thou shalt anoint the laver and his foot, and sanctify it.

12 And thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and wash them with water.

13 And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.

14 And thou shalt bring his sons, and clothe them with coats:

15 And thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office: for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations.

16 Thus did Moses: according to all that the LORD commanded him, so did he.

17 ¶ And it came to pass in the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was reared up.

18 And Moses reared up the tabernacle, and fastened his sockets, and set up the boards thereof, and put in the bars thereof, and reared up his pillars.

19 And he spread abroad the tent over the tabernacle, and put the covering of the tent above upon it; as the LORD commanded Moses.

20 ¶ And he took and put the testimony into the ark, and set the staves on the ark, and put the mercy seat above upon the ark:

21 And he brought the ark into the tabernacle, and set up the vail of the covering, and covered the ark of the testimony; as the LORD commanded Moses.

22 ¶ And he put the table in the tent of the congregation, upon the side of the tabernacle northward, without the vail.

23 And he set the bread in order upon it before the LORD; as the LORD had commanded Moses.

24 ¶ And he put the candlestick in the tent of the congregation, over against the table, on the side of the tabernacle southward.

25 And he lighted the lamps before the LORD; as the LORD commanded Moses.

26 ¶ And he put the golden altar in the tent of the congregation before the vail:

27 And he burnt sweet incense thereon; as the LORD commanded Moses.

28 ¶ And he set up the hanging at the door of the tabernacle.

29 And he put the altar of burnt offering by the door of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation, and offered upon it the burnt offering and the meat offering; as the LORD commanded Moses.

30 ¶ And he set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and put water there, to wash withal.

31 And Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet thereat:

32 When they went into the tent of the congregation, and when they came near unto the altar, they washed; as the LORD commanded Moses.

33 And he reared up the court round about the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the hanging of the court gate. So Moses finished the work.

34 ¶ Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.

35 And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.

36 And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys:

37 But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up.

38 For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.


THE DATE OF THE EXODUS

The following material summarizes some of the arguments for an early date (1446 b.c.) and a later date (c. 1260) of the exodus. The archaeological claims of each side have all been challenged by the other side, but the details of such responses are not included here.

ARGUMENTS FOR AN EARLY DATE OF THE EXODUS

These arguments are used to support an “early date” (about 1446 b.c.) for the exodus:

1. First Kings 6:1 says, “In the four hundred and eightieth year after the people of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel … he began to build the house of theLord.” The currently accepted date for the fourth year of Solomon’s reign is 967/966 b.c., and 480 years before that would be 1446. This is supported by 1 Chronicles 6:33–37, which names 18 generations from Korah (in the time of Moses) to Heman (in the time of David), which then requires 19 generations from Moses to Solomon. Nineteen generations in 480 years works out to an average of 25.3 years per generation, a reasonable number that gives confirmation to an actual 480 years in 1 Kings 6:1.

  1. In Judges 11:26, Jephthah’s message to the king of the Ammonites says that Israel had already lived in Canaan for “300 years.” This message is dated to around 1100 b.c., which would yield a date of around 1400 for entrance into the land of Canaan, which is consistent with a 1446 exodus.
  2. Archaeological data from Jericho, Ai, and Hazor have been claimed to show evidence of destruction in the late fifteenth century b.c., which is consistent with a 1446 exodus and 1406 conquest of Canaan. But there is no evidence of occupation of Jericho in the thirteenth century (as would be required by a later date for the exodus).
  3. The Amarna Letters show that Canaanite kings in the late fifteenth century b.c. wrote letters to Pharaoh pleading for help against the ‘apiru who were “taking over” the lands of Canaan. This is consistent with dating the beginning of the conquest by Israel at 1406.

5. Exodus 1:11, which mentions the building of “Raamses,” should not be dated to c. 1270 b.c. (as a “late date” view would hold), because the remarkable multiplication of Israel (Ex. 1:12–22) and the birth of Moses (Ex. 2:2) both occur after Exodus 1:11. But if Moses was “eighty years old” (Ex. 7:7) when he led the people out of Egypt, this would put the exodus at least 80 years after the building of Raamses, or 1190 b.c., which is far too late on either scheme. In fact, the Merneptah Stele (an inscribed tombstone-like stone slab) describes a military triumph over Israel in Canaan in 1211–1209 b.c.

  1. With an early date for the exodus, the time of the Judges takes about 350 years. This is generally consistent with the book of Judges itself, where a simple addition of the length of the reigns of the individual judges gives just over 400 years, and this can be reduced to 350 if there was overlapping of some reigns, but it cannot reasonably be reduced to as little as 170 years, as would be required by the proposed later date for the exodus.

ARGUMENTS FOR A LATER DATE OF THE EXODUS

In favor of a “later date” (c. 1260 b.c.) are the following arguments:

1. Exodus 1:11 says the Israelites “built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses.” But the city of Raamses (also spelled Rameses; the Egyptian Pi-Rameses) was built by Raamses II, who reigned 1279–1213 b.c. This city is not mentioned in any earlier archaeological records from Egypt. Therefore the Israelites were still in Egypt around 1270 b.c. when Raamses was built. In addition, the other geographical terms in Exodus—e.g., Pithom, Migdol, Yam Sup (the “Red Sea”), etc.—are all attested in thirteenth-century Egyptian texts, whereas they are not attested in the period of the early date.

2. First Kings 6:1 probably uses the expression “480 years” as a representative number to stand for 12 idealized generations of 40 years each. But in reality the period covered 12 generations of only 25 years each, or 300 years. Subtracting 300 years from 966 b.c. gives an exodus about 1266.

  1. Egypt had imperial control over Canaan from about 1400–1250 b.c. But there is no Egyptian record of any military conflicts with Israel over that land until the Merneptah Stele, which refers to a victory over Israel around 1211–1209 b.c.
  • The Bible contains almost no mention of conflict with Egypt in Joshua or Judges, which would be strange if the Israelites entered Canaan in 1406 b.c., when the Egyptian Empire had control over Canaan. This makes a late date for the exodus more likely, since Egyptian influence over Canaan was minimal after about 1200 b.c.
  • The covenant forms used at the time of Moses in the biblical narratives show significant parallels to ancient Near Eastern covenants in the thirteenth century but not in the fifteenth century b.c.
  • Archaeological discoveries in Canaan show the complete destruction of some cities (such as Hazor) in the later thirteenth century b.c., which would fit with a date of c. 1260 for the exodus. Further, site surveys seem to show that there was a huge migration into the hill country areas of Canaan in the thirteenth century b.c. There also appear to have been technological innovations in this later period, such as terracing of the land, newer pottery styles, and plaster-lined silos, that favor the later date for Israel’s occupation.

CONCLUSION

Both the early date and the late date are supported by established evangelical scholars today. In this Study Bible, both the early date (1446 b.c.) and the later date (c. 1260) are included.

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