“Unit 10: Day 3, Exodus 17:8–19:25,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Unit 10: Day 3,” Old Testament Study Guide
The Israelites miraculously prevailed in battle against the Amalekites. While camped near Mount Sinai, Jethro (Moses’s father-in-law) counseled Moses to delegate some of his responsibilities to others. The Lord promised to make Israel a holy nation, and Moses prepared the people to make a sacred (or eternal) covenant with God.
While holding a Bible or other heavy book in each of your hands, extend your arms out to the side so that your elbows are locked, the palms of your hands are turned upward, and the books are at eye level. See if you can hold the books in that position for at least one minute.
How do your arms feel?
Imagine trying to hold your arms up all day. Moses faced a situation like this when a man named Amalek brought his people to war against Israel.
Read Exodus 17:8–11, looking for what Moses needed to do to ensure the Israelites would win the battle. You may want to mark what happened when Moses held up his hands and what happened when he let down his hands.
How might this situation have been a challenge to Moses?
Read Exodus 17:12–13, looking for what Aaron and Hur did to make sure Moses’s hands stayed up.
How do you think Moses may have felt toward Aaron and Hur? The actions of Aaron and Hur can represent what we can do to prevail in, or win, our conflict against Satan.
Based on the actions of Aaron and Hur, what must we do to prevail in our conflict against Satan? Answer the question by completing the following principle: As we , we will eventually prevail in our conflict against Satan.
As you read the following statement by President George Albert Smith, look for and underline what he said we can do to support or sustain the prophet: “The obligation that we make when we raise our hands [to sustain the prophet] … is a most sacred one. It does not mean that we will go quietly on our way and be willing that the prophet of the Lord shall direct this work, but it means … that we will stand behind him; we will pray for him; we will defend his good name, and we will strive to carry out his instructions as the Lord shall direct him to offer them to us while he remains in that position” (in Conference Report, June 1919, 40).
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What are some ways you can sustain the prophet?
How has sustaining the prophet helped you prevail in the conflict against Satan?
In Exodus 17:15–16 we learn that Moses built an altar in the place where Israel defeated the Amalekites as a memorial for what God had done for them.
Exodus 18:1–12 explains how after the Israelites established a camp near Mount Sinai, Moses’s father-in-law, Jethro, brought Moses’s wife and two sons to him. Moses had received the Melchizedek Priesthood from Jethro (see D&C 84:6), who was a righteous priesthood leader and a noble prince and high priest of Midian (see Exodus 18:1, footnote b; Bible Dictionary, “Jethro”). Moses told Jethro all that the Lord had done in saving the Israelites from the Egyptians.
Read Exodus 18:13–18, looking for what concerned Jethro after he arrived at the Israelite camp.
Why did Jethro say it wasn’t good for Moses to try to judge every matter the people needed help with?
Read Exodus 18:19–22, looking for Jethro’s solution to Moses’s problem. You may want to highlight the several items of counsel that Jethro gave Moses in these verses.
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
How would Jethro’s solution to delegate some of the responsibilities help ease Moses’s burdens?
How does refusing to delegate responsibilities hurt both the leader and the people he or she is called to lead?
List two ways you can better support your Church leaders and reduce their burdens.
In Exodus 18:23–27 we learn that Moses followed Jethro’s inspired counsel and called able men to help him.
Use the diagram “Moses’s and Israel’s Experiences with Jehovah at Mount Sinai” as you study Exodus 19, and during other lessons, to help you understand Moses’s efforts to bring Israel to the Lord. It may be helpful also to remember that as you study this chapter, much of it can represent our worship in modern temples.
Remember that Moses had previously been on Mount Sinai when the Lord appeared to him at the burning bush and called him to deliver Israel.
Exodus 19:1–2 explains that Moses brought the children of Israel to Mount Sinai, as the Lord had instructed when He first called Moses (see Exodus 3:7–12). For Moses and the children of Israel, Mount Sinai was like a temple. Today we go to temples to make sacred covenants that help us become more like our Heavenly Father and prepare us to return to His presence. The Lord brought the children of Israel to Mount Sinai for this same purpose (see D&C 84:19–26).
To prepare the people to make a covenant with the Lord, Moses journeyed up Mount Sinai multiple times, and the Lord revealed to him the terms of the covenant—including commandments, laws, and ordinances.
After Israel camped near Mount Sinai, Moses journeyed up the mountain and spoke with the Lord. Read Exodus 19:3–6, looking for the covenant that the Lord invited the children of Israel to make. You may want to mark what you find. (Exodus 19:5–6 is a scripture mastery passage. You may want to mark these verses in a distinct way so you can find them easily in the future.)
In the space next to number 2 on the diagram, write: God invites Israel to be His covenant people. The Hebrew word for peculiar in this verse is segullah, which means “special possession or property” (see 1 Peter 2:9, footnote f).
From what you learn in Exodus 19:5–6, summarize the covenant by completing the following principle: If we , then .
Why do you think obeying the Lord’s voice and keeping our covenants with Him make us a treasured possession to the Lord?
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: When have you felt that the Lord treasured you because you obeyed His voice and chose to live according to the covenants you have made with Him?
Ponder how knowing this truth could help you when you feel alone or different from others because of your beliefs.
Read Exodus 19:7–8, looking for how the people responded when Moses told them how they could become the Lord’s peculiar treasure. In the space next to number 3 on the diagram, write: Moses reports Israel’s desire to enter God’s covenant.
Read Exodus 19:9–11, looking for what the Lord said He would do after the people expressed their willingness to enter a covenant with Him.
These verses do not indicate the people would see the Lord on the third day, but they would see a thick cloud symbolizing His presence and would hear His voice speaking from the cloud. Notice in verse 10 that the people were to be sanctified and were to wash their clothes in preparation for the Lord speaking to them. What do you think washing their clothes could symbolize?
In Exodus 19:12–15 we learn that Moses obeyed the Lord’s commands and worked to sanctify the people. According to the Lord’s directions, Moses also set a boundary around the mountain so the people would not go up it. This symbolized that the people were not yet prepared to enter the Lord’s presence.
Read Exodus 19:16–19, looking for what happened on Mount Sinai the third day and how the people reacted.
How do you think you might have felt if you had been at the foot of Mount Sinai when this occurred?
You might want to draw a cloud and lightning bolts at the top of Mount Sinai on the diagram.
Read Exodus 19:20–21, 25, looking for what the Lord commanded Moses to do.
In the space next to number 4 on the diagram, write: God warns that the people are not yet prepared to enter His presence.
The following is one principle we begin to see in Israel’s dealings with God at Mount Sinai: To be prepared to return to God’s presence, we must enter into His covenant and obey His commandments. As you continue to learn about Israel’s experiences at Mount Sinai in coming lessons, watch for how this principle is illustrated.
- Make a copy of Exodus 19:5–6 to carry with you throughout the day. Review it several times, and then make decisions about what you will do to show the Lord that you are His peculiar treasure. Write about your decision in your scripture study journal. You might also want to think of someone you know who is obedient and keeps the Lord’s commandments. Consider finding a time to express your appreciation to that person for being a peculiar treasure to the Lord.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Exodus 17:8–19:25 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: