How Long Was Moses on Mount Sinai?


The story of Moses ascending Mount Sinai is one of the most significant and well-known events in the Bible. It is during this time that God revealed Himself to Moses and gave him the Ten Commandments, which would serve as the foundation for the moral and legal structure of the Israelite nation. As we delve into this fascinating story, we will explore the length of time Moses spent on the mountain and examine the relevant biblical passages in the New King James Version (NKJV) to better understand the significance of this event.

In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the time Moses spent on Mount Sinai, the various stages of his journey, and the importance of this event in the broader context of the biblical narrative. By examining these elements, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the role of Moses in the development of the Israelite nation and the impact of his time on Mount Sinai on the faith of generations to come.

How Long Was Moses on Mount Sinai?

The Journey to Mount Sinai

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After the Israelites were miraculously delivered from slavery in Egypt, they embarked on a journey through the wilderness, which would eventually lead them to the Promised Land. Along the way, they encountered numerous challenges and hardships, testing their faith in God. It was at Mount Sinai, also known as Mount Horeb, where God would establish His covenant with the Israelites and set forth the laws that would guide them in their new life as a nation.

As they approached Mount Sinai, God instructed Moses to prepare the people for His coming. In Exodus 19:10-11 (NKJV), we read:

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes. And let them be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.'”

Moses followed God’s instructions and prepared the people, who then witnessed the awesome power and presence of God as He descended upon the mountain.

The First Ascent: Forty Days and Forty Nights

Moses first ascended Mount Sinai in response to God’s call, as recorded in Exodus 24:12-18 (NKJV):

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Come up to Me on the mountain and be there; and I will give you tablets of stone, and the law and commandments which I have written, that you may teach them.’ So Moses arose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up to the mountain of God… Now the glory of the Lord rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day He called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud… So Moses went into the midst of the cloud and went up into the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.”

During this first ascent, Moses received the Ten Commandments, written by the finger of God on two tablets of stone. The number forty is often associated with periods of testing, trial, or judgment in the Bible, and this is no exception. Moses’ time on the mountain signifies a time of close communion with God, receiving not only the commandments but also detailed instructions for the construction of the Tabernacle, the worship center for the Israelite community.

The Golden Calf Incident and the Second Ascent

While Moses was on Mount Sinai, the Israelites grew restless and fearful, assuming that Moses had abandoned them or perished. They turned to Aaron, who built a golden calf for them to worship as their new god. When Moses descended the mountain and saw what had transpired, he was furious and shattered the tablets containing the Ten Commandments.

In response to the Israelites’ disobedience, God threatened to destroy them, but Moses interceded on their behalf, pleading with God to show mercy. Moved by Moses’ plea, God relented, and Moses prepared to ascend the mountain once again to receive a new set of tablets with the commandments.

The Second Ascent: Another Forty Days and Forty Nights

Moses’ second ascent of Mount Sinai is detailed in Exodus 34:1-4, 28 (NKJV):

“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Cut two tablets of stone like the first ones, and I will write on these tablets the words that were on the first tablets which you broke… So he [Moses] cut two tablets of stone like the first ones. Then Moses rose early in the morning and went up Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him; and he took in his hand the two tablets of stone… So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.”

During this second ascent, Moses spent another forty days and forty nights on the mountain, fasting and communing with God. Once again, the number forty signifies a period of testing and trial, and this time, it also represents a period of repentance and renewal for the Israelites. God rewrote the Ten Commandments on the new set of tablets, reaffirming His covenant with the people.

The Lasting Impact of Moses’ Time on Mount Sinai

As we reflect on the time Moses spent on Mount Sinai, we see the importance of his role as a mediator between God and the Israelites. Through his intercession, he secured God’s mercy and forgiveness for the people, even in the face of their faithlessness and disobedience. His time on the mountain also reinforced the importance of the Ten Commandments as the cornerstone of the Israelite nation’s moral and legal framework.

Furthermore, the experience of receiving the law directly from God solidified Moses’ leadership and his unique relationship with God. The Israelites recognized the divine authority that Moses possessed, and this strengthened their faith and trust in his guidance.


In conclusion, Moses’ time on Mount Sinai, totaling eighty days and eighty nights, was a pivotal event in the development of the Israelite nation. Through his encounters with God, Moses received the Ten Commandments and other vital instructions that would shape the religious and social landscape of the Israelites for generations to come. His intercession on behalf of the people demonstrated the depth of his love for them and his commitment to their well-being, which serves as a powerful example of faithfulness and devotion.

As we study the story of Moses and his time on Mount Sinai, let us be inspired by his unwavering faith and dedication to the will of God. May we, too, seek to deepen our relationship with God and remain steadfast in our commitment to His commandments and teachings, so that we may experience the fullness of His grace and mercy in our lives.

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