God gives many rules to Moses. Examples include:
- Hebrew male slaves can be kept for only six years, and must be freed on the seventh unless he volunteers to stay with his master.
- When a man sells his daughter into slavery, she shall not be freed on the seventh year.
- A murderer must be put to death.
- When an ox gores a person to death accidentally, the ox shall be stoned, but the owner shall not be punished.
- Kidnappers shall be executed.
- Whoever strikes his parents, or even insults his parents, shall be executed.
- Witches and worshipers of other gods shall be executed.
- When a man steals an ox or a sheep, he shall pay five oxen for the ox and four sheep for the sheep.
- When a man gives another his animal to guard, and the animal is stolen, the second man must swear an oath to God that he did not take the animal, and no restitution is needed.
- Do not wrong a stranger, a widow, or an orphan; do not exact interest when lending to the poor.
- Keep the sabbath.
- Do not mention the names of other gods.
- Hold 3 festivals for me every year: the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of the Harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering.
God promises to destroy the Canaanites. God tells Moses, Aaron, and some elders to ascend the mountain. Moses repeats all the commands of God to the people, builds 12 pillars, and sacrifices animals on them; the blood of the sacrifice represents the covenant. Moses, Aaron, and the elders ascend the mountain; they see God standing on a pavement of sapphire, like the sky. They eat and drink. God tells Moses to ascend the mountain to receive stone tablets with commandments inscribed on them. Moses does so, and stays on the mountain 40 days and nights.
- These chapters are a composite of at least 3 different sources. There are so many inconsistencies between them that it is impossible to follow the narrative. For example, God tells Moses to ascend the mountain in 24:1, even though he is already on the mountain (20:18). Moses then ascends the mountain in both 24:9 and 24:15, without coming down in between. 24:3 and 24:7 apparently refer to the laws in 21-23, and seem to have no knowledge of the Ten Commandments. In 24:12, Moses is told to ascend the mountain to receive the commandments, seemingly oblivious to either the Ten Commandments or the second series of laws in 21-23.
- In 24:9-11, Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy elders ascend the mountain. A “pavement of sapphire” forms the floor of God’s celestial palace, explaining why the sky is blue. The humans eat and drink–a well-attested way of celebrating the establishment of a covenant.