Moses: a Tale of Two Ascents

I read Exodus 19 the other night, and found something curious.

Just before God gave Moses the 10 Commandments on Mount Sinai, he told Moses to make sure the people stayed back from the mountain. God didn’t want them even touching the foot of the mountain.

Then God told Moses to come to the top of Mount Sinai. We’re talking 7500 feet, a mile-and-a-half straight up, but many many miles of hard walking to get to the top. Moses went.

When Moses gets there, still huffing and puffing from the climb, God says, “Go back down and tell the people to keep their distance from the mountain.”


“I already did that,” Moses said. “We put limits on how close they could come.”

But God said, basically, “Go down and tell them again.”

You can imagine Moses being exasperated. “But I’m an old man. Do you realize how hard it was for me to get to the top of this doggone mountain? It took me days to get here.”

“I know,” says God. “But that’s what I’m telling you to do.”

“Can’t you tell them yourself? Aaron’s down there. Tell him to pass along the message.”

“No, Moses, I want you to go tell them personally. Tell the people to stay back, and then right away come back to the top of the mountain. I’ll be here waiting. And this time, why don’t you bring Aaron with you.”

The chapter concludes, “So Moses went down to the people and told them.” And chapter 20 says that while Moses was receiving the tablets, “The people remained at a distance.”

Of course, they were also making a Golden Calf. Maybe Moses should have added, “And while I’m gone, don’t go making no idols. I’m just sayin’.”

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1 Comment to "Moses: a Tale of Two Ascents"

  1. Makes me tired just imagining it. Good old Moses. But remember the Bible says that he died at 120, with still all his vigor. So… I guess mountain climbing and walking in sand for 40 years (80 years??) really toughens you up.

    Did you happen to catch the recent Hawaii Five-O on TV? They show two of the characters running up a mountain of steps, the last third at a very steep angle. I could have many WALKED up the first third.

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