Scripture: Lectionary 399. Exodus 20:1-19. Psalm 19:184.108.40.206. Matthew
Christians name the tablets given to Moses on Mount Sinai as the “Ten
Commandments.” The words in the Hebrew inspired texts are not the same as
Ten Commandments but rather the Ten Words/ Statements/Pronouncements.” The
first translation of the Hebrew text into Greek had the right way of
speaking of the gift Moses received from God as the deka logoi or the Ten
Words, hence, “Decalogue” is the best way of describing what the text is
The Hebrew Bible is called the Tanach and this was first translated into
Septuagintal Greek in Alexandria around the years 200-150 B.C. The symbol
used for the legend of the seventy translators is LXX (the Septuagint).
God is not speaking conditionally in what is entrusted to Moses. The words
are absolute: “Thou shall not…” What is “commanded” is not only illegal,
it is downright wrong. We learn that: “A fundamental principle in Judaism
is: How we treat one another is of concern to God.” (Etz Hayim, p. 441).
Jewish friends say that one should not speak about a person who is not
present. That would prevent a lot of our uncharitable remarks and speech!
That would be what Jesus expects of us in his commandment of agape
(unselfish love). Jesus learned this from his own religion and certainly
from what is the focus of today’s reading in the Book of Exodus.
The Sh’ma is a confirmation of God being present to his people as I AM; the
rest is all commentary once we all realize who God is in the theophany that
happens on Sinai. May we be aware of that presence as God’s friend Moses