23 Mar. Exodus 20:1-20

23 Mar. God delivers the Ten Commandments to Moses

“Then God spoke all these words: ‘I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt where you were slaves.’”

“’You must not have any other gods except me.’”

“’You must not make for yourselves an idol that looks like anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the water below the land. You must not worship or serve any idol, because I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God. If you hate me, I will punish your children, and even your grandchildren and great-grandchildren. But I show kindness to thousands who love me and obey my commands.’”

“’You must not use the name of the LORD your God thoughtlessly; the LORD will punish anyone who misuses his name.’”

“’Remember to keep the Sabbath holy. Work and get everything done during six days each week, but the seventh day is a day of rest to honour the LORD your God. On that day no one may do any work: not you, your son or daughter, your male or female slaves, your animals, or the foreigners living in your cities.’”

“’The reason is that in six days the LORD made everything – the sky, the earth, the sea and everything in them. On the seventh day he rested. So the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.’”

“’Honour your father and your mother so that you will live a long time in the land that the LORD your God is going to give you.’”

“’You must not murder anyone.’”

“’You must not be guilty of adultery.’”

“’You must not steal.’”

“You must not tell lies about your neighbour.’”

“’You must not want to take your neighbour’s house. You must not want his wife or his male or female slaves, or his ox or his donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.’”

“When the people heard the thunder and the trumpet, and when they saw the lightning and the smoke rising from the mountain, they shook with fear and stood far away from the mountain. Then they said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak to us, or we will die.’”

“Then Moses said to the people, ‘Don’t be afraid, because God has come to test you. He wants you to respect him so you will not sin.’”

          (Exodus 20:1-20)



When God spoke to Moses on Mt Sinai in c1446BC, he gave Moses a set of ten guidelines by which the Israelites could live their lives in a way pleasing to God. These guidelines formed part of the solemn covenant agreement (or ‘testament’) between the Israelites and God (also known as ‘The Law’ or ‘The Law of Moses’). In this agreement or ‘covenant’, God promised to bless the Israelites. They, for their part, agreed to follow in God’s ways.

God’s guidelines for righteous living are known as the ‘Ten Commandments’. Scholars refer to them as the 'Decalogue'. These instructions cover both the religious and the secular aspects of life – how to worship God and how to live in harmony with family, friends and the rest of society. They have formed an effective guide to godly living for over three thousand years:

1. Don’t worship any other god - just me.

2. Don’t make anything or anyone into an idol - and don’t worship them.

3. Don’t misuse God’s name or do evil in God’s name.

4. Don’t do your usual work on the seventh day of each week - treat it as a special holy day (a ‘holiday’).

5. Always show respect to your parents.

6. Don’t murder anyone.

7. Don’t commit adultery by having sex with anyone other than the person you’re married to.

8. Don’t steal from anyone.

9. Don’t tell lies about someone else.

10. Don’t be envious of anyone’s house, their partner, or anything they own.

Comparisons have been made between the Law of Moses and earlier law codes such as that of the Babylonian King Hammurabi (dating from c.1600BC), which was probably well-known by Moses as a young prince in Egypt.

The ‘eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ principle of the Mosaic Law (Exodus 21:24), for instance, has an earlier parallel in the Hammurabi law code. This stated, ‘If a man has destroyed the eye of a man of equal status, they shall destroy his eye… If he has knocked out the tooth of a man of equal status, they shall knock out his tooth’.

The photo shows a decalogue parchment by Jekuthiel Sofer (1768) with the Ten Commandments in Hebrew, displayed at the Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana in Amsterdam.

You can read more about the laws that God gave to Moses @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/25-the-israelites-journey-from-egypt-to-mt-sinai/moses-receives-the-ten-commandments

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