Exodus 19:12
Parallel Verses
English Standard Version
And you shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death.

King James Bible
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:

American Standard Version
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:

Douay-Rheims Bible
And thou shalt appoint certain limits to the people round about, and thou shalt say to them: Take heed you go not up into the mount, and that ye touch not the borders thereof: every one that toucheth the mount dying he shall die.

English Revised Version
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:

Webster's Bible Translation
And thou shalt set bounds to the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up upon the mount, or touch the border of it: whoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death:

Exodus 19:12 Parallel
Commentary
Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament

This manifestation of the love of God to Israel formed only the prelude, however, to that gracious union which Jehovah was now about to establish between the Israelites and Himself. If they would hear His voice, and keep the covenant which as about to be established with them, they should be a costly possession to Him out of all nations (cf. Deuteronomy 7:6; Deuteronomy 14:2; Deuteronomy 26:18). סגלּה does not signify property in general, but valuable property, that which is laid by, or put aside (סגל), hence a treasure of silver and gold (1 Chronicles 29:3; Ecclesiastes 2:8). In the Sept. the expression is rendered λαὸς περιούσιος, which the Scholiast in Octat. interprets ἐξαίρετος, and in Malachi 3:17 εἰς περιποίησιν: hence the two phrases in the New Testament, λαὸς περιούσιος in Titus 2:14, and λαὸς εἰς περιποίησιν in 1 Peter 2:9. Jehovah had chosen Israel as His costly possession out of all the nations of the earth, because the whole earth was His possession, and all nations belonged to Him as Creator and Preserver. The reason thus assigned for the selection of Israel precludes at the very outset the exclusiveness which would regard Jehovah as merely a national deity. The idea of the segullah is explained in Exodus 19:6 : "Ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests." ממלכה signifies both kingship, as the embodiment of royal supremacy, exaltation, and dignity, and the kingdom, or the union of both king and subjects, i.e., the land and nation, together with its king. In the passage before us, the word has been understood by most of the early commentators, both Jewish and Christian, and also in the ancient versions,

(Note: lxx: βασίλειον ἱεράτευμα, a royal priesthood, i.e., a priestly nation of royal power and glory. כּהנין מלכין: Kings-priests (Onkelos). - "Eritis coram me reges coronati (כלילא קטירי vincti coronis) et sacerdotes ministrantes" (Jonathan). - "Eritis meo nomini reges et sacerdotes" (Jer. Targ.).)

in the first or active sense, so that the expression contains the idea, "Ye shall be all priests and kings" (Luther); praeditos fore tam sacerdotali quam regio honore (Calvin); quod reges et sacerdotes sunt in republica, id vos eritis mihi (Drusius). This explanation is required by both the passage itself and the context. For apart from the fact that kingship is the primary and most general meaning of the word ממלכה (cf. דּוד ממלכת, the kingship, or government of David), the other (passive) meaning would not be at all suitable here; for a kingdom of priests could never denote the fellowship existing in a kingdom between the king and the priests, but only a kingdom or commonwealth consisting of priests, i.e., a kingdom the members and citizens of which were priests, and as priests constituted the ממלכה, in other words, were possessed of royal dignity and power; for ממלכה, βασιλεία, always includes the idea of מלך or ruling (βασιλεύειν). The lxx have quite hit the meaning in their rendering: βασίλειον ἱεράτευμα. Israel was to be a regal body of priests to Jehovah, and not merely a nation of priests governed by Jehovah. The idea of the theocracy, or government of God, as founded by the establishment of the Sinaitic covenant institution in Israel, is not at all involved in the term "kingdom of priests." The theocracy established by the conclusion of the covenant (Exodus 24) was only the means adopted by Jehovah for making His chosen people a royal body of priests; and the maintenance of this covenant was the indispensable subjective condition, upon which their attainment of this divinely appointed destiny and glory depended. This promise of Jehovah expressed the design of the call of Israel, to which it was to be fully conducted by the covenant institution of the theocracy, if it maintained the covenant with Jehovah. The object of Israel's kingship and priesthood was to be found in the nations of the earth, out of which Jehovah had chosen Israel as a costly possession. This great and glorious promise, the fulfilment of which could not be attained till the completion of the kingdom of God, when the Israel of God, the Church of the Lord, which Jesus Christ, the first-begotten from the dead, and prince (ἄρχων, ruler) of the kings of the earth, has made a "kingdom," "priests unto God and His Father" (Revelation 1:6 and Revelation 5:10, where the reading should be βασιλεῖς καὶ ἱερεῖς), is exalted to glory with Christ as the first-born among many brethren, and sits upon His throne and reigns, has not been introduced abruptly here. On the contrary, the way was already prepared by the promises made to the patriarchs, of the blessing which Abraham would become to all the nations of the earth, and of the kings who were to spring from him and come out of the loins of Israel (Genesis 12:3; Genesis 17:6; Genesis 35:11), and still more distinctly by Jacob's prophecy of the sceptre of Judah, to whom, through Shiloh, the willing submission of the nations should be made (Genesis 49:10). But these promises and prophecies are outshone by the clearness, with which kingship and priesthood over and for the nations are foretold of Israel here.

This kingship, however, is not merely of a spiritual kind, consisting, as Luther supposes, in the fact, that believers "are lords over death, the devil, hell, and all evil," but culminates in the universal sway foretold by Balaam in Numbers 24:8 and Numbers 24:17., by Moses in his last words (Deuteronomy 33:29), and still more distinctly in Daniel 7:27, to the people of the saints of the Most High, as the ultimate end of their calling from God. The spiritual attitude of Israel towards the nations was the result of its priestly character. As the priest is a mediator between God and man, so Israel was called to be the vehicle of the knowledge and salvation of God to the nations of the earth. By this it unquestionably acquired an intellectual and spiritual character; but this includes, rather than excludes, the government of the world. For spiritual and intellectual supremacy and rule must eventually ensure the government of the world, as certainly as spirit is the power that overcomes the world. And if the priesthood of Israel was the power which laid the foundation for its kingship, - in other words, if Israel obtained the ממלכה or government over the nations solely as a priestly nation, - the Apostle Peter, when taking up this promise (1 Peter 2:9), might without hesitation follow the Septuagint rendering (βασίλειον ἱεράτευμα), and substitute in the place of the "priestly kingdom," a "royal priesthood;" for there is no essential difference between the two, the kingship being founded upon the priesthood, and the priesthood completed by the kingship.

As a kingdom of priests, it was also necessary that Israel should be a "holy nation." Gens sancta hic dicitur non respectu pietatis vel sanctimoniae, sed quam Deus singulari privilegio ab aliis separavit. Verum ab hac sanctificatione pendet altera, nempe ut sanctitatem colant, qui Dei gratia eximii sunt, atque ita vicissim Deum sanctificent (Calvin). This explanation is in general a correct one; for these words indicate the dignity to which Israel was to be elevated by Jehovah, the Holy One, through its separation from the nations of the earth. But it cannot be shown that קדושׁ ever means "separated." Whether we suppose it to be related to חדשׁ, and חדשׁ the newly shining moonlight, or compare it with the Sanskrit dhûsch, to be splendid, or beautiful, in either case the primary meaning of the word is, "to be splendid, pure, untarnished." Diestel has correctly observed, that the holiness of God and Israel is most closely connected with the covenant relationship; but he is wrong in the conclusion which lie draws from this, namely, that "holy" was originally only a "relative term," and that a thing was holy "so far as it was the property of God." For the whole earth is Jehovah's property (Exodus 19:5), but it is not holy on that account. Jehovah is not holy only "so far as within the covenant He is both possession and possessor, absolute life and the source of life, and above all, both the chief good and the chief model for His people" (Diestel), or "as the truly separate One, enclosed within Himself, who is self-existent, in contrast with the world to which He does not belong" (Hoffmann); but holiness pertains to God alone, and to those who participate in the divine holiness-not, however, to God as the Creator and Preserver of the world, but to God as the Redeemer of man. Light is the earthly reflection of His holy nature: the Holy One of Israel is the light of Israel (Isaiah 10:17, cf. 1 Timothy 6:16). The light, with its purity and splendour, is the most suitable earthly element to represent the brilliant and spotless purity of the Holy One, in whom there is no interchange of light and darkness (James 1:17). God is called the Holy One, because He is altogether pure, the clear and spotless light; so that in the idea of the holiness of God there are embodied the absolute moral purity and perfection of the divine nature, and His unclouded glory. Holiness and glory are inseparable attributes in God; but in His relation to the world they are so far distinguished, that the whole earth is full of His glory, whilst it is to and in Israel that His holiness is displayed (Isaiah 6:3); in other words, the glory of God is manifested in the creation and preservation of the world, and His holy name in the election and guidance of Israel (compare Psalm 104 with Psalm 103). God has displayed the glory of His name in the creation of the heavens and the earth (Psalm 8:1-9); but His way in Israel (Psalm 77:14), i.e., the work of God in His kingdom of grace, is holy; so that it might be said, that the glory of God which streams forth in the material creation is manifested as holiness in His saving work for a sinful world, to rescue it from the φθορά of sin and death and restore it to the glory of eternal life, and that it was manifested here in the fact, that by the counsels of His own spontaneous love (Deuteronomy 4:37) He chose Israel as His possession, to make of it a holy nation, if it hearkened to His voice and kept His covenant. It was not made this, however, by being separated from the other nations, for that was merely the means of attaining the divine end, but by the fact, that God placed the chosen people in the relation of covenant fellowship with Himself, founded His kingdom in Israel, established in the covenant relationship an institution of salvation, which furnished the covenant people with the means of obtaining the expiation of their sins, and securing righteousness before God and holiness of life with God, in order that by the discipline of His holy commandments, under the guidance of His holy arm, He might train and guide them to the holiness and glory of the divine life. But as sin opposes holiness, and the sinner resists sanctification, the work of the holiness of God reveals itself in His kingdom of grace, not only positively in the sanctification of those who suffer themselves to be sanctified and raised to newness of life, but negatively also, in the destruction of all those who obstinately refuse the guidance of His grace; so that the glory of the thrice Holy One (Isaiah 6:3) will be fully manifested both in the glorification of His chosen people and the deliverance of the whole creation from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Romans 8:21), and also in the destruction of hardened sinners, the annihilation of everything that is ungodly in this world, the final overthrow of Satan and his kingdom, and the founding of the new heaven and new earth. Hence not only is every person, whom God receives into the sphere of His sin-destroying grace, קדושׁ, or holy; but everything which is applied to the realization of the divine work of salvation, or consecrated by God to this object. The opposite of קדושׁ, holy, is הל, κοινός, profanus (from חלל, to be loose, lit., the unbound), not devoted to holy purposes and uses (cf. Leviticus 10:10); and this term was applied, not only to what was sinful and unclean (טמא), but to everything earthly in its natural condition, because the whole earth, with all that is upon it, has been involved in the consequences of sin.

Exodus 19:12 Parallel Commentaries

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

set bounds

Exodus 19:21,23 And the LORD said to Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through to the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish...

Joshua 3:4 Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near to it...

take

Exodus 10:28 And Pharaoh said to him, Get you from me, take heed to yourself, see my face no more; for in that day you see my face you shall die.

Exodus 34:12 Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you go...

Deuteronomy 2:4 And command you the people, saying, You are to pass through the coast of your brothers the children of Esau, which dwell in Seir...

Deuteronomy 4:9 Only take heed to yourself, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen...

or touch

Hebrews 12:20,21 (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned...

Cross References
Hebrews 12:18
For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest

Hebrews 12:20
For they could not endure the order that was given, "If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned."

Exodus 19:23
And Moses said to the LORD, "The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, for you yourself warned us, saying, 'Set limits around the mountain and consecrate it.'"

Exodus 34:3
No one shall come up with you, and let no one be seen throughout all the mountain. Let no flocks or herds graze opposite that mountain."

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