After Moses and his followers crossed the Red Sea and arrived in the Desert of Sinai, he was summoned by God to the top of Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:20).
Moses was instructed by God to return to the bottom of the mountain and warn the Israelites not to force their way to see the Lord, and to bring back with him his brother Aaron (Exodus 19:21-24). Moses did so, and then God spoke the ten commandments (Exodus 20:1-17):
- You shall have no other gods before me.
- You shall not make for yourself an idol.
- Do not take the name of the Lord in vain.
- Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.
- Honor your father and mother.
- You shall not murder.
- You shall not commit adultery.
- You shall not steal.
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
- You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.
- You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor.
Moses, Joshua (Moses' apprentice), Aaron and the seventy elders went up, but only Moses and Joshua went to the Lord. They received two stone tablets, upon which were inscribed the Ten Commandments by the finger of God.
The tablets were put into an ark--the Ark of the Covenant--which God instructed the Israelites to construct of very specific conditions (Exodus 25:10-22).