Today’s Torah Commentary from Exodus 19:7 – 19
The Second Book of the Torah, “Shemot,” “Names.”
This weeks reading is “Yitro,” “Jethro.”
Today’s reading comes from some of the most popular scriptures of all the Torah, the first ten utterances of GOD.
GOD has come to the peak of Mount Sinai.
HE has summoned Moses/Moshe, sending him back down the mountain to insure the people do not come near the mountain, also telling him to return with Aaron.
GOD then speaks HIS first words to all the people.
HE begins by introducing HIMSELF, “I am GOD your Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, from the place of slavery. Do not have any other gods before ME.”
“Do not represent such gods by any carved statue or picture of anything in the heaven above, on the earth below, or in the water below the land.”
“Do not bow down to such gods or worship them. I am GOD your Lord, a GOD who demands exclusive worship. Where MY enemies are concerned, I keep in mind the sin of the fathers for their descendants, to the third and fourth generation, but for those who love ME and keep MY Commandments, I show love for thousands of generations.”
“Do not take the name of GOD your Lord in vain. GOD will not allow the one who takes HIS Name in vain to go unpunished.”
“Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy. You can work during the six weekdays and do all your tasks But Saturday is the Sabbath to GOD your Lord. Do not do anything that constitutes work. This includes you, your son, your daughter, your slave, your maid, your animal, and the foreigner in your gates.’
‘It was during the six weekdays that GOD made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on Saturday. GOD therefore blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
“Honor your father and mother. You will then live long on the land that God your Lord is giving you.”
“Do not commit murder.”
“Do not commit adultery.”
“Do not steal.”
“Do not testify as a false witness against your neighbor.”
“Do not be envious of your neighbor’s house. Do not be envious of your neighbor's wife, his slave, his maid, his ox, his donkey, or anything else that is your neighbor’s.”
All the people saw the sounds, the flames, the blast of the rams horn, the smoking mountain and they trembled, keeping their distance.
The people cried out to Moshe, “You speak to us, and we will listen, but let GOD not speak with us any more, for we will die if HE does.”
Moshe replies to the people to, “not be afraid for GOD has come to raise you up. HIS fear will be on your faces and you will not sin.”
Moshe returned into the Divine and GOD spoke to him telling him to instruct the people to “not make any representation of anything that is with ME. Do not make silver or gold gods for yourselves.”
GOD continues to instruct Moshe in the building of an altar that the people may sacrifice to HIM. “Wherever I allow MY Name to be mentioned, I will come to you and bless you.”
We find here these first words GOD ever spoke to an entire nation. HE has presented before them HIS Will through HIS own voice, to the entirety of the people all at once.
It’s most interesting here that the people heard directly from the same GOD all at the same time. There was no prophet, preacher, teacher, etc., bringing the words of GOD to them, they actually witnessed GOD for themselves.
HE literally introduced HIMSELF to them personally, “face to face,” so to speak, for HE did not reveal HIS likeness to them so they could not create models, images of HIM to worship.
GOD knew the people had come out of 430 years in Egypt where idolatry was the norm. HE specifically instructs them to come out of this pattern of behavior, this worship of false, dead gods and idols.
You would think this would have been an easy transition for them having actually “met” GOD personally.
GOD actually makes idolatry HIS number one point of contention, HIS first “Do Not,” instruction to the people.
In reading these “first words” of GOD to the people, we see they are somewhat different than the common, “ten commandments” we find in the public spotlight. These words have some very specific meanings and even explanations contained within them.
We also read the voice of GOD is more than the people can bear. They are terrified of HIM, the smoke, fire, trembling of the mountain, the very sound of HIS voice they believe will kill them.
When Moshe speaks to calm them, he says the “fear of GOD will remain on their faces, so they will not sin.”
Do we have the fear of GOD on our face?
Do we tremble at the voice of GOD?
Have we become a people too familiar with GOD, so much so, we no longer hold HIM in the fear, reverence, awe and respect HE and HIS Name are Worthy?
How far have we come from these “first words” of GOD?
Do we still today follow them as the only voice ever heard of GOD to an entire nation?
When we think of these “first words,” do we feel the conviction of them or do we see them as suggestions, guidelines, precepts to live by, if we can?
Are these “first words” of GOD susceptible to our interpretation?
Has GOD given us HIS word for us to interpret or for us to follow?
What are your thoughts on these scriptures?
Leave your comments below, OR, if you have questions, click HERE.