Exodus 20: 1-17 The 10 “Words” Part 2

1 And God spake all these words, saying,
2  am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
7 Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
13 Thou shalt not kill.
14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
15 Thou shalt not steal.
16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

In the Jewish Bible, as well as the Torah, the left hand margin contains a single Hebrew letter next to each of the 10 Words. These letters can also represent numbers as they do here. 

The first is “Aleph” and the list goes on all the way to “Yud” or 10 and does not appear in our modern versions and many different versions have them listed differently.  Whether they are numbered is not so much the problem but what is is where the numbers are placed. 

We have all learned that the first commandment is “I am the Lord, thy God…you shall have no other gods before Me.” Now that is how we were taught, not how our Bibles have recorded it and if you read it you will notice that a very important part is missing. 

2 am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

This is the first word in the Torah as a whole and the second is “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.”

This can tell us two things:

1) These Words were never meant to be commands but were meant more as principles, or declarations. 

2) These Words were initially for only the Jewish people at first then for those who were to become spiritual Jews later. 

There was a time after the exile in Babylon that the Jews dropped the first word when they had allowed pagan practices to influence their lives and had forsaken many of the appointed feasts as well, but they eventually revised the words sometime before Jesus was born. 

Christians though kept the list without most of the first and brought number one together with number two. 


The Jesus movement started out as  a strictly Jewish thing of course. Yet at some point somewhere around 100AD, Gentiles either equaled or outnumbered the Jewish followers. As many Gentiles found themselves in powerful positions as leaders over the church, an anti-Semitic mindset crept into the organization. 

This made way for an attempt to minimize the influence that the Jews had in Christianity. 

This was not new and literally goes all the way back to the time of the book of Ester but the main reason for the hatred during the church’s rise through Gentiles had mainly to do with the fact that to these leaders the Jews killed Jesus.  Over time the center of worship is moved from Jerusalem to Rome and Judaism is outlawed and called illegal. Christianity is then marked as the state religion only for Gentiles and if Jews wanted to join they had to give up their heritage. 

This anti-Semitic idea is still going strong today. 

So now what was set out audibly by God for the very people who are outlawed is changed to a strictly Gentile set of rules and regulations as a way to control people when that was the exact opposite of their true meaning. 
We see this especially as we move into Chapter 21. These 10 words were declarations or preambles for the 603 laws that are extensions of the 10. These were the ethical and daily practices of justice that Israel was to live out daily if they chose to love God and their neighbors. 

Matthew 22:34-40

34 But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”
37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’[d] 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[e] 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”


About Clint Rodgers

I am a father of 2 wonderful children and the husband of a beautiful woman who has taught me more about compassion for goofballs than I could have ever learned. I have know Jesus for many years but about 5 years ago I truly met Him and now I do my best to follow Him as I walk in this world
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