Exodus Chapter 20

It’s been a while since I’ve only covered one chapter in a post, but this one is a long one (that’s what she said…sorry).

Now we come to the Ten Commandments. As I read these, God only really explains clearly the commandments about himself. The first commandment verifies what I’ve said all along this project so far: There are other gods, and I am assuming that this is where the monotheistic tradition truly starts.

The second commandment is an odd one, and taken at face value states that there shall be nothing made that represents anything in nature.

4You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, 6but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 168). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Of course, it also says that those things shall not be worshiped, so it could appear to be a warning not to put earthly possessions above God. Or something.

Third, the commandment about taking the name of the Lord in vain, or as worded in the NRSV…

7You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (pp. 168-169). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

From what I could gather, this seems to mean that you shouldn’t make oaths on the Lord’s name that you do not intend to keep. The sixth commandment is about not working at all on Sunday…or Saturday…or sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. This prohibition includes children, slaves, livestock, and alien residents living in you town. All of this is because God made everything in six days and rested on the seventh.

That does it for the God-related commandments, but the next one deserves some attention for wording.

12Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 169). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

In other words, be nice to your parents because they brought you into this world, and by God, they can take you out of it.

Then we get the rest, don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t bear false witness against your neighbor, don’t covet your neighbor’s house, wife, slaves, ox, donkey, or anything that your neighbor owns.

According to the Torah and Talmud, the sixth commandment refers to murder specifically. This comes from real Rabbis on Twitter.

Whenever people try to say that the Constitution or other modern laws are based on the Ten Commandments, they usually refer to the sixth, eighth, and ninth. The first commandment violates the first amendment. The tenth commandment is actually the whole basis of capitalism.

The people witnessed the smoke and the thunder and the trumpet and they were afraid and wanted only Moses to talk to them because they feared that if God spoke they would die. Moses tells the people that God is only testing them and putting the fear of him in them so that they will not sin.

So, that’s it. That’s the ten commandme–oh, there’s more. Apparently, there is a commandment about how to build an altar to God. Of course, you shall not make gods of silver or gold. Also, altars should be made of earth. However, if you make an altar of stone, it shouldn’t be from chiseled stone because that would profane it.

OK, so that’s it, right? Well, for this chapter, yes. However, the next chapter contains more laws about slaves, violence, and property. Join me won’t you?

One thought on “Exodus Chapter 20

  1. The second commandment is all about the worship of something other than God. It says idol in your translation, carved image in mine. It’s like if I had the AlienCG Bobblehead and it just sat on my desk. God says that’s cool. If I decided that Bobblehead was my god and I worshipped/prayed to it, God says no way. Not cool.

    Liked by 1 person

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