I am trying to picture in my mind the events here. Reading from Exodus 19-20:

Ex 19:24 Then the LORD said to him, “Go down and come up again, you and Aaron with you; but do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the LORD, or He will break forth upon them.” 25So Moses went down to the people and told them. Ex 20:1Then God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.....

At the conclusion of chapter 19, Moses has been told by God to go back down the mountain, and then come back up again, and hence Moses has gone down and told them. I had always assumed he went back up the mountain again, but here it does not explicitly state this.

The fact that the commandments finish with the people complaining to Moses implies that he has not yet gone back up?

Ex. 20:18All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance. 19Then they said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die.”

So do I understand correctly, the ten commandments are delivered by God on the mountain, while Moses is still at the bottom of the mountain?

CF: Deuteronomy 5:5 places Moses in-between Hashem and the people, but at least in the English language it's not clear exactly where this would have been yes?

Deut 5:5 while I was standing between the LORD and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the LORD; for you were afraid because of the fire and did not go up the mountain.

  • Welcome to Mi Yodeya, Jacob, and thanks for bringing us your questions! I'm not sure whether it was intended that way, but it's very timely to be asking about the Giving of the Torah, as yesterday (today as well in the Diaspora) we celebrated the holiday of Shavuot (Pentecost). That said, you might be interested in our other kabbalat-hatorah questions. Hope to see you around. :)
    – Scimonster
    May 25, 2015 at 7:17
  • @Scimonster Thanks for your kind reply, and your timely answer. The timing of the question is purely accidental, I just happen to be studying Exodus at the moment. :)
    – Jay
    May 25, 2015 at 12:25

1 Answer 1


God specifically wanted Moshe (Moses) off the mountain. After all, He was about to tell the Israelities "I am Hashem your God", and He didn't want them questioning, "Who said that? The invisible God, or Moshe?" Therefore, He sent Moshe down, and gave the Ten Commandments before he went back up. This is the explanation given in Shmot Rabbah 28:3. I couldn't find it in English online, but that's the gist of it.

וישב משה את דברי העם אל ה' - אותה שעה בקש הקב"ה ליתן להם את התורה ולדבר עמהם, והיה משה עומד. אמר הקב"ה: מה אעשה מפני משה? אמר רבי לוי: משל למלך, שבקש לעשות אופימשטאטא חוץ מדעתו של אפרכוס. אמר לו: עשה דבר פלוני! אמר לו: כבר נעשית שוב! א"ל: לך קרא לפלוני סינקליטקוס ויבא עמך! עד שהוא הולך, עשה המלך מה שביקש. כך ביקש הקב"ה ליתן י' דברות, היה משה עומד מצדו. אמר הקב"ה: אני גולה להם את הרקיע, ואומר: אנכי ה' אלהיך. הם אומרים: מי אמר, הקב"ה או משה?! אלא ירד משה ואח"כ אני אומר אנכי ה' אלהיך! כך אמר הקב"ה למשה: לך אל העם וקדשתם היום ומחר וכבסו שמלותם. א"ל: כבר הקדשתים, שנאמר: כי אתה העדותה בנו לאמר וגו'. א"ל: לך רד ועלית אתה ואהרן עמך, עד שמשה יורד נגלה הקב"ה, שנאמר: וירד משה אל העם. מיד, וידבר אלהים:

  • Thanks for your quick answer and usage of references to back up the answer. Thanks for the insight!
    – Jay
    May 25, 2015 at 12:26
  • What about when Moshe was on the mountain and Hashem was speaking the last 8 commandments through him? Did he go back up in the middle?
    – user8832
    Nov 19, 2018 at 23:34

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