The Ten Commandments
1 Moses summoned all Israel and said:
Hear, Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn them and be sure to follow them. 2 The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. 3 It was not with our ancestors that the Lord made this covenant, but with us, with all of us who are alive here today. 4 The Lord spoke to you face to face out of the fire on the mountain. 5 (At that time I stood between the Lord and you to declare to you the word of the Lord, because you were afraid of the fire and did not go up the mountain.) And he said:
6 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
Moses summons all of Israel (the elders and likely, as many of the peoples that could come within hearing) and demands attention by saying… Hear Israel, or Hear O’ Israel! Moses is basically saying to the Israelites… hear and heed, hear and remember, hear that you may learn to keep and do what I’m about to tell you! Moses then tells them- once again, how the covenant came about between Israel and God with the Ten Commandments from God Himself.
The Ten Commandments was the covenant given to the Israelites at Horeb (Mount Sinai), whereas Moses was the mediator of the covenant: Moses stood between God and them, and carried the commandments to the peoples. Moses was a type of Christ, who stands between God and man.
Moses then retells the Israelites the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:1-26). The law given to Moses provided the foundation for a new Israelite society, they provided the foundation of personal and property rights which is also found in our modern legal system today.
7 “You shall have no other gods before me.
This is the 1st commandment: It starts with relationship with God. God tells His people that He is their Lord, Master, Savior and Creator, and that they should not have any other gods, nor put any other gods before Him.
All of these commands are a drastic change from the Egyptian views of deity. Remember that during their captivity in Egypt, they worshipped Pharaoh and other Egyptian deities like Ra, Anubis and Osiris and many more.
8 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 9 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 10 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
This is the 2nd commandment: This commandment goes hand in hand with the 1st commandment, God is a loving yet jealous God, He wants His people for Himself. This commandment comes with a warning regarding the importance of obeying the commandments; disobedience would result in “punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
God wanted His people to know that their “choice” either to obey or disobey His commands would influence their lives and even the lives of their grandkids. This warning wasn’t meant to be harsh, it’s realistic, rejecting God’s commands would and could have serious consequences.
11 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
This is the 3rd commandment: This command forbids the misuse or taking of the Lord’s name in vain. Simply put, using God’s name in such a way that shows disrespect, blasphemous or false swearing by the name of God. ie cursing.
12 “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do. 15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.
This is the 4th commandment: Observe the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy (set apart for God). The Sabbath provides a bridge between our relationship with God and the following commandments, which address our relationship with other people. Remember God blessed the Sabbath Day and made it holy. (Gen 2:3)
The Sabbath was created for our benefit. God wants us to delight in His Word, enjoy His creation and rest on the Sabbath. We all should value the Sabbath Day. This Day was to be a blessing for all of creation even the animals.
16 “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
This is the 5th commandment: Leaving captivity in Egypt meant establishing a new society. The law established healthy boundaries based on respect for God and other people, rather than on brute strength.
The seed of a good society is the family, and the family is sustained only as the authority and rule of the heads of the house are upheld and respected. The command is to honor your parents. Where parents are not honored, a flaw lies at the foundation, and the stability of the society will be endangered. God has designed the family unit in His Image, the parents were to train and teach the children how to be like God and follow in His ways. Parents are their children’s first teachers. Our children learn to honor their parents by seeing their parents honor God and His commandments. This commandment also comes with a promise for your obedience… for a long life and that it may go well with you in the land your God is placing you in.(see Eph. 6:1-3)
17 “You shall not murder.
18 “You shall not commit adultery.
19 “You shall not steal.
These are the 6th, 7th and 8th commandments: These commandments are designed to establish and develop a healthy community. Living in a healthy community meant respecting others and their boundaries.
God’s people were commanded not to murder, not to steal and not to commit adultery!
Since people are made in God’s image, it was important not to murder or steal from them, let alone commit adultery with them because you would actually be doing this to God Himself!
God commanded His people to be faithful in marriage and to respect other people’s vows as well. Adultry devalues the commitment made between a husband and wife and to God, and this command was for both the man and the woman.
20 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
This is the 9th commandment: Basically commands us not to lie. After establishing healthy relationships with God and family, this commandment deals with relationships with other people. It’s not just referring to the people living next door, it’s everyone else.
21 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house or land, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
This is the 10th commandment: You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, your neighbor’s house or land, nor their servants whether male or female, nor their ox or donkey or anything that belongs to someone else. Why? God knew that coveting leads to ungratefulness and discontentment, even murder, adultery, stealing and lying. Focusing on what others have diminishes our ability to appreciate the good things in our own lives. Basically saying that God hasn’t been good enough for and to us.
22 These are the commandments the Lord proclaimed in a loud voice to your whole assembly there on the mountain from out of the fire, the cloud and the deep darkness; and he added nothing more. Then he wrote them on two stone tablets and gave them to me.
23 When you heard the voice out of the darkness, while the mountain was ablaze with fire, all the leaders of your tribes and your elders came to me. 24 And you said, “The Lord our God has shown us his glory and his majesty, and we have heard his voice from the fire. Today we have seen that a person can live even if God speaks with them. 25 But now, why should we die? This great fire will consume us, and we will die if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any longer. 26 For what mortal has ever heard the voice of the living God speaking out of fire, as we have, and survived? 27 Go near and listen to all that the Lord our God says. Then tell us whatever the Lord our God tells you. We will listen and obey.”
28 The Lord heard you when you spoke to me, and the Lord said to me, “I have heard what this people said to you. Everything they said was good. 29 Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!
30 “Go, tell them to return to their tents. 31 But you stay here with me so that I may give you all the commands, decrees and laws you are to teach them to follow in the land I am giving them to possess.”
32 So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. 33 Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.
Again Moses recaps the giving of the Ten Commandments