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The Book of Exodus for Beginners: Chapters 18-21

Updated on November 4, 2019
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Jethro Gives Advice


Exodus Chapter 18

Jethro Gives Advice

Exo 18:1-27

Jethro, the priest of Midian and Moses’ father-in-law, gave shelter to Moses’ wife, Zipporah, and his two sons, Gershom and Eliezer, while Moses was out leading the people of Israel out of Egypt and into the wilderness. Now that Moses was able to accomplish his mission from God, Jethro and Moses’ family joined Moses and encamped with him. Jethro brought a burnt offering to God after hearing that entire story of what God had done in leading the Israelites out of Egypt. Aaron and the elders ate bread with Jethro before God.

The next day Jethro saw what Moses had to deal with concerning judging over the Israelites and did not like what he saw. Jethro told Moses that he would end up wearing his self out trying to handle all the disputed between the Israelites. Jethro told Moses that there needs to be chiefs to rule over thousand to help with the responsibilities that he currently holds. Moses did as Jethro advised for him to do. Moses handled the hard cases and the chiefs handled the small matters.

Israel Goes to Mount Sinai


Exodus Chapter 19

Israel Goes to Mount Sinai

Exo 19:1-25

The people of Israel journeyed to the wilderness of Sinai and encamped before the mountain there. Moses went up the mountain to talk to God. God told Moses to let the Israelites know that if they obey God and keep His covenant, they will be God’s prize possession of all the land and will be a kingdom of priests and a Holy nation. Moses went down from the mountain and spoke the words God told him to speak to God’s people; the Israelites agreed to God’s terms.

Moses went back up the mountain and told God what the Israelites said. God told Moses to tell His people to consecrate themselves for three days and on the third day God will come down in the form of a cloud. The people of Israel were not to come to the edge of the mountain or go up it or they would die. Moses went down the mountain and conveyed God’s message to the Israelites.

The Israelites washed themselves, their clothes, and did not have any relations with each other for the three days. On the third day, God came down as a thick cloud with thunder and lightning along with a trumpet blast. Moses went up the mountain to speak with God. God told Moses to go down the mountain and bring Aaron back with him; Moses did as God commanded.

The Ten Commandments


Exodus Chapter 20

The Ten Commandments

Exo 20:1-21

God came down the mountain along with thunder, lightning, a loud trumpet sounding, and smoke all around him. God spoke to the people of Israel telling them to obey the Ten Commandments that He was giving them:

1. You will have no other gods before me.

2. You will not make for yourself a carved image

3. You will not take the Lord’s name in vein.

4. You will keep the Sabbath day holy.

5. You will honor your father and your mother.

6. You will not murder.

7. You will not commit adultery.

8. You will not steal.

9. You will not bear false witness against your neighbor.

10. You will not covet your neighbor's house (belongings)

The people of Israel were afraid for their lives and told Moses that they did not want to meet with again for fear of death. The Israelites wanted just Moses to speak with God for now on. Moses went close to the cloudy smoke and talked with God.

Laws about Altars

Exo 20:22-26

God told Moses to tell the people of Israel that they could not make an image of God out of silver or gold. Instead, they were to build an altar for burnt offerings and peace offerings. The stones for the altar could not be hewn stones and the sacrifices were to be of sheep and oxen. There could be no steps that led up to the altar either.

Laws for Slaves


Exodus Chapter 21

Laws for Slaves

Exo 21:1-32

God told Moses that there were to be laws for Hebrew slaves:

Male Slaves

1. The slave will serve for six years, but on the seventh year the slave will be set free.

2. If the slave comes in single, he will be set free single

3. If the slave comes in married, he will leave married; his wife will be set free with him.

4. If the slave’s master gives him a wife and they bear children, the slave is set free, but the wife and children are the master’s.

5. If the slave decides to stay with his master on the seventh year, the master will bring the slave before God and then will take the slave at the doorpost of the master’s home and will brand him in the ear with an awl; the slave will be owned by the master until death.

Female Slaves

1. Female slaves can’t go out like male slaves do.

2. If a master takes a female slave as a mistress but she does nothing for him, she can find a male to marry.

3. If the master gives the female slave to his son, he has to treat her as his daughter.

4. If the master marries another woman, he shall not treat the female slave poorly.

5. If the master treats the female slave poorly, she can be set free.

Punishing Slaves

1. If the master strikes a slave and the slave dies right after, the master will be avenged.

2. If the slave dies a couple days later after the master strikes him or her, no punishment will be given to the master.

3. If the master strikes and blinds the eye of a slave, the slave will be set free.

4. If the master knocks a tooth out from a slave, the slave will be set free.

5. If an Ox mangles a slave, the owner must give the master 30 shekels of silver and the Ox must be put to death.

The Ten Commandments

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