This is the first entry in a series looking at the 10 “commandments”. I’ll go through all the “commandments” and discuss their meaning and their application to us today, and look at their context in the Bible. I’ll try to keep each posting short, so there may be more then one posting for each “commandment.”
The 10 “commandments” are perhaps the greatest things ever written. They are the only words directly written by God Himself, and that in stone. This alone makes them special and unique and worth looking closely at.
The phrase “the 10 commandments” does not actually appear anywhere in the Tanakh (“Old” Testament).
Rather, they are called the 10 statements. The Hebrew word used for “statements” means words or things. (The fact that in Hebrew, the word for “words” and “things” is the same word is a hint at how the Hebrews looked at life – but that isn’t for now).
The 10 statements appear in two places in the Bible. In Exodus 20:1-17 and in Deuteronomy 5:6-21. Both lists are nearly the same, but the differences that do exist are quite interesting to look at. For example, in the Exodus version, we are told to “remember” and in Deuteronomy we are told to “observe” the Sabbath. The two different words imply different action and give rise to some fun understandings and traditions. (More when we get to that commandment.)
Interestingly, Christianity lists as the first commandment something different then Judaism. I’ll go with Judaism’s numbering as it frames all 10.
The first statement starts with “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”
Without this statement being first, there is no foundation for the following statements (commandments). Leaving this statement out allows the idea that that there are no absolutes, as, without a foundation, things can change. One must start with God stating who He is and what He has done, otherwise its just a list of rules that anyone can (and has) change.
In the next posting, we’ll start looking at the text closer and see what gems we can get out of it. And we’ll start with “I am the LORD.”
I’ll close with this question for each of you reading this. Do you have the 10 statements (commandments) posted somewhere in your house or memorized? If not, I’d encourage you to do so. Remember, these are the only words God ever wrote, and He wrote them in stone, implying permanence.
- Shalom from Yosef
P.S.: I know that many people believe that the 10 commandments, or some subset thereof, have been ‘fulfilled’ and no longer need to be followed (the Sabbath command is typical of those called ‘fulfilled’). If anyone wants to discuss that, leave a comment and I’ll start a new blog thread.