Again there were thunders and lightnings in the mountain, and trumpets, and smoke there, and fire. Again Moses came down from the mountain carrying the tables of the Law, came a second time to Aaron and the people. They swore, the people, this time, to take the Law into their selves, their bodies, and live in the grasp and clutch of the god, forever.
Moses set up the tables of the Law in the midst of his people, so they might read what the god had commanded. Each one read with eyes and fingers probing the still-hot grooves where the god had burned his Law into stone.
They pondered and studied, discussed and argued, interpreted, wrought commentaries, and commentaries on the commentaries, and after a time they forgot that there had been anything but commentary, while the grooves in the stones of the Law slowly filled with desert sand.
or — They read a different thing, each as he wished or dreaded to see, and together they sought a reading from Moses, to settle the Law forever. And then Moses himself read the tables, probed the cold grooves with his fingers where the fire of the Lord had once burned hot, and stopped. He said something very quietly, something they couldn’t quite hear.
or — They read, tried to read, but the letters merged into each other, the words turned soft to their sight and blended into other words; hot grooves of the Law burned together: and the tablets crumbled into sand. Each one groped in the dust to carry off a commandment, a word, a letter.
or — They read the words of the Law together, aloud: I will rule you with a rod of iron. I will crush you where you stand, if you do any of the nine million things that displease me. I will make every other nation despise you.
And then they turned over the final table and read the final curse: I will preserve you as my holy nation, your children and your children’s children, forever.
Aaron and Moses observed all this and more. Finally, Aaron turned to Moses and said, Well, what did you expect when you went to the mountain? And Moses was silent.