THE PENTATEUCH PART V: DEUTERONOMY
Lesson 4: Chapters 4:45-5:33
Moses' Second Homily: The Ethical Stipulations of the Covenant Treaty

Beloved Heavenly Father,
The Law of Decalogue commanded Your people not to make or worship images of what is created or is unreal. Your people are to worship the Creator and not His creation. It is a command that continues with Your New Covenant children-we are not to make, even within ourselves, images of whatever we choose-we are only to reflect the Savior's image. Only You, Lord, are worthy of worship. Instill in us, beloved Holy Spirit, the desire to live daily in the image of the only begotten Son of God. Let His righteousness shine in our lives so that through Him we can help to drive the darkness out of the world. Amen.

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The Old Law is a preparation for the Gospel. "The Law is a pedagogy and a prophecy of things to come." It prophesies and presages the work of liberation

from sin which will be fulfilled in Christ: it provides the New Testament with images, "types," and symbols for expressing the life according to the Spirit. Finally, the Law is completed by the teaching of the sapiential books and the prophets which set its course toward the New Covenant and the Kingdom of heaven.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, CCC 1964
(quoting St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4.15)

The Lord [Jesus] prescribed love towards God and taught justice towards neighbor, so that man would be neither unjust, nor unworthy of God. Thus, through the Decalogue, God prepared man to become his friend and to live in harmony with his neighbor ... The words of the Decalogue remain likewise for us Christians. Far from being abolished, they have received amplification and development from the fact of the coming of the Lord in the flesh.
St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4. 15

The book of Deuteronomy contains Moses' three final homilies to the new generation of Israel at their camp on the east side of the Jordan River across from Jericho. His homilies were presented in the format of ancient Near Eastern covenant treaties as he renewed with the new generation the covenant Yahweh made with their fathers at Mt. Sinai. In his first homily, he began with a preamble identifying Yahweh the great King who brought His vassal people, the Israelites on a forty year journey from Egypt to Mt. Sinai and to their last encampment across the Jordan River from Canaan. Moses continued the covenant treaty format by presenting a historical prologue of the events of the last thirty-eight years, from the departure from Horeb/Sinai to their final encampment in the Transjordan in God's plan to fulfill the promise He made to the Patriarchs to give their descendants the land of Canaan. Then, in the conclusion of Moses' first homily, he told the children of Israel's Exodus generation that God's choice of Israel was based on love (Dt 4:37).

Like a marriage covenant between a man and a woman, Yahweh's covenant with Israel was based on a relationship of reciprocity (Levenson, Sinai & Zion, page 77). At the core of the covenant treaty between God and Israel was the expression of a two-fold love: on God's side was the love obligation to fulfill the covenant oath he swore to the Patriarchs, and on Israel's side was her obligation to "hear," "see," and "do/live" God's laws as the expression of her love for Yahweh, her sovereign Lord (also see Dt 10:12-15).

Moses' second and longest homily extends from Deuteronomy 5:1 to 28:68. It can be divided into four parts that address the Ethical Stipulations and the Sanctions of the renewed covenant treaty of Mt. Sinai. The second homily begins with an introduction that sets the time and place of the teaching (4:44-49), and ends in a short conclusion (28:69/29:1). The main topic of this discourse is the Law God commanded Moses to teach the people for the renewal of the covenant treaty in preparation for Israel's conquest of the Promised Land. The second homily is presented in this format:

  1. Introduction of the Ethical Stipulations of the Covenant with a description of the historical circumstances under which God gave Moses the law and commanded him to teach the people (5:1-11:30).
    1. Teaching the covenant document of the Decalogue (5:1-22/19).
    2. Review of the aftermath of the Theophany at Sinai and Israel's request that Moses serve as covenant mediator (5:23/20-31/28).
  2. The ideological basis for the Law and exhortation to live in obedience to the Law (5:32/29-11:30).
    1. Yahweh's command to put the Law into practice (5:22/29-33).
    2. Catechetic summary of the covenant-its history and Israel's obligation to live in the spirit of the Law (6:1-11:30).
  3. The Deuteronomic Code (12:1-26:19).
  4. Covenant Sanctions (27:1-28:68).
    1. Covenant blessings for obedience (28:1-14).
    2. Covenant judgments for disobedience and their historical consequences (28:15-68/29:1).

Moses' Second Homily Part I:
Moses' Teaching on the Decalogue

And Now, Israel, what does Yahweh your God ask of you? Only this: to fear Yahweh your God, to follow all his ways, to love him, to serve Yahweh your God with all your heart and all your soul, to keep the commandments and laws of Yahweh, which I am laying down for your today for your own good.
Deuteronomy 10:12-13

Deuteronomy 4:44-49
Introduction to the Second Homily: A Review of the Time and Place
44 This is the Law [torah =teaching] which Moses presented to the Israelites. 45 These are the stipulations ['edot], the laws [mishpatim] and the customs [statutes = hukkim] which Moses gave the Israelites after they had left Egypt, 46 beyond the Jordan in the valley near Beth-Peor, in the country [land] of Sihon the Amorite king who had lived at Heshbon. Moses and the Israelites had defeated him when they left Egypt, 47 and had taken possession of his country [land], as well as that of Og king of Bashan-two Amorite kings to the east beyond the Jordan, 48 from Aroer on the edge of the Arnon Valley, all the way to Mount Sion (that is, Hermon)-49 and of the whole Arabah east of the Jordan as far as the Sea of the Arabah, at the foot of the slopes of Pisgah. [..] = the literal translation (The Interlinear Bible: Hebrew-English, vol. I, page 472).

Deuteronomy 4:44-45 This is the Law [torah =teaching] which Moses presented to the Israelites. 45 These are the stipulations ['edot], the laws [mishpatim] and the customs [statutes = hukkim] which Moses gave the Israelites after they had left Egypt ...

This is the introduction to the Stipulations section of the Covenant Treaty renewal between Yahweh the new generation of Israelites. The summation of the teaching [torah, verse 44] Moses presented to the Israelites included:

Question: What is the significance of Moses "teaching" the law (verse 44) and not just reading the commands and prohibitions that were previously written down? Where did he get the knowledge to understand and teach God's law?
Answer: God not only gave Moses the Decalogue, the laws he recorded in the Book of the Covenant (Ex 20:22-23:33) and the other civil, social and religious laws in Leviticus and Numbers, but he also received knowledge and understanding from the sacred Oral teaching (Tradition) God gave him as well as the authority to teach. It was an authority that was passed on his successors in the hierarchy of the Old Covenant Church who, as Jesus referred to in Matthew 23:1, sat on the authoritative "chair of Moses." There was no private interpretation of the Law within the community apart from the authoritative teaching of the Old Covenant Church.

Question: In every case, who is the authoritative interpreter of Sacred Scripture and what is His vehicle for guarding the right interpretation of the message today in the Final Age of man? See Lk 10:16; Eph 4:4-6; 1 Pt 1:20-21 and CCC 85-86, 96-100, 111, 171, 174-75.
Answer: The Holy Spirit is the authoritative interpreter of Sacred Scripture, since the human writers wrote only by His inspiration. Interpretation, therefore, must be based on the whole body of the holy text, and if interpretation causes conflict with other passages, the interpretation is in error. The hierarchy of the Catholic Church (the Pope and the Magisterium of bishops) is the divinely authorized vehicle for safeguarding the right interpretation of the Scriptures, as Jesus told His divinely appointed ministers, the Apostles, "who ever hears you hears me" (Lk 10:16).

That the historical events in Deuteronomy took place on the east side of the Jordan River (see verses 46 and 47) is repeated ten times in Deuteronomy (Dt 1:1, 5; 3:8, 20, 25; 4:41, 46, 47, 49 and 11:30).

Chapter 5: Ethical Stipulations of the Covenant Treaty

The contrast between the old and new Law: There the finger of God worked upon tables of stone; here upon the hearts of men. So there the law was set outside men to be a terror to the unjust: here it was given within them to be their justification. [..]. When charity itself is shed abroad in the hearts of believers, we have the law of faith, the Spirit giving life to the lover.
St. Augustine, On the Spirit and the Letter 17.29

In teaching the heart of the Law, given directly to the people by God speaking from Mt. Sinai in the first person ("I am Yahweh") and addressed to the people in the personal subject ("you"), Moses' message is that the covenant document of the Decalogue/Ten Commandments (also called the 'edut, "Testimony") is the bond between Israel's past with Yahweh and His relationship with present generation and future generations.(1) The commandments take on their full meaning within the covenant between God and Israel by defining what is required in the love of God and the love of neighbor and establishing the pathway in moral behavior that leads to life. However, the Decalogue is unique in that it is not merely a link to the past. The Law of the covenant found in the Decalogue is contemporary to every generation of Yahweh's covenant people, past, present, and future (Dt 5:2-3; CCC 2064).

Deuteronomy 5:1-22/19
Moses' Teaching on the Ten Commandments
1 Moses called all Israel together and said to them, 'Listen [hear], Israel [Shema Israel], to the laws [mishpatim] and customs [hukkim] that I proclaim to you today. Learn them and take care to observe [do] them. 2 Yahweh our God made [cut] a covenant with us at Horeb. 3 Yahweh made [cut] this covenant not with our ancestors, but with us, with all of us alive here today. 4 On the mountain, from the heart of the fire, Yahweh spoke to you face to face, 5 while I stood between you and Yahweh to let you know what Yahweh was saying, since you were afraid of the fire and had not gone up the mountain. He said: 6 "I am Yahweh your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the place of slave-labor. 7 '"You will have no gods other than me. 8 '"You must not make yourselves any image or any likeness of anything in heaven above or on earth beneath or in the waters under the earth; 9 you must not bow down to these gods or serve them. For I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous [kanna'] God and I punish the parents' fault in the children, the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren, among those who hate me; 10 but I show faithful love [hesed] to thousands, to those who love me and keep [samar] my commandments [mitsvot].

11 '"You must not misuse the name of Yahweh your God, for Yahweh will not leave unpunished anyone who uses his name for what is false.
12 '"Observe [guard/keep = shamar/samar] the Sabbath day and keep it holy, as Yahweh your God has commanded you.
13 Labor for six days, doing all your work,
14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath for Yahweh your God. You must not do any work that day, neither you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servants-male or female-nor your ox nor your donkey, nor any of your animals, nor the foreigner who has made his home with you;
15 so that your servants, male and female, may rest, as you do. Remember that you were once a slave in Egypt, and that Yahweh your God brought you out of there with mighty hand and outstretched arm; this is why Yahweh your God has commanded you to keep [samar] the Sabbath day.
16 '"Honor your father and your mother, as Yahweh your God has commanded you, so that you may have long life and may prosper in the country which Yahweh your God is giving you.
17 '"You must not kill [commit homicide = ratsach/rasah]. (2)
18 '"You must not commit adultery.
19 '"You must not steal.
20 '"You must not give false evidence against your fellow.
21 '"You must not set your heart on your neighbor's spouse, you must not set your heart on your neighbor's house, or field, or servant-man or woman-or ox, or donkey or any of your neighbor's possessions."
22/19 'These were the words Yahweh spoke to you when you were all assembled on the mountain. Thunderously, he spoke to you from the heart of the fire, in cloud and thick darkness. He added nothing, but wrote them on two tablets of stone which he gave to me.

[..] = the literal translation (The Interlinear Bible: Hebrew-English, vol. I, pages 473-75).

Deuteronomy 5:1 Moses called all Israel together and said to them, 'Listen, Israel [Shema Israel], to the laws [mishpatim] and customs [hukkim] that I proclaim to you today. Learn them and take care to observe [do] them. In this general introduction to his homily, Moses announces that his teaching will not be limited to the Decalogue but will include the body of the Deuteronomic Law. It is important to note that this is Moses' teaching of the Decalogue and not merely a verbatim reading of the Decalogue from the stone tablets (see Dt 6:1). Compare God speaking the Decalogue in Exodus chapter 20 to Moses' teach in Deuteronomy chapter 5 in Appendix I to this lesson or in handout 2 for this lesson.

Question: How are the Israelites to receive Moses' teaching on the Law?
Answer: They must learn the Law, but leaning is not enough; they must do/live the Law.

Deuteronomy 5:2-3 Yahweh our God made [cut] a covenant with us at Horeb. 3 Yahweh made [cut] this covenant not with our ancestors, but with us, with all of us alive here today. 4 On the mountain, from the heart of the fire, Yahweh spoke to you face to face, 5 while I stood between you and Yahweh to let you know what Yahweh was saying, since you were afraid of the fire and had not gone up the mountain. Moses began his teaching on the Decalogue with a historical review of the events the day God spoke the Law directly to the people from Mt. Sinai.

... Yahweh made [cut] this covenant not with our ancestors ... Covenant formation required a sacrifice, oath swearing and usually a sacred meal; see Genesis chapter 15 where the literal cutting of the sacrificed animals in half was part of the ritual of covenant formation and Exodus 24 where the ritual of covenant formation required altar sacrifice, oath swearing and a sacred meal. Moses also reminded the people that the Sinai Covenant is a continuation of the covenant relationship Yahweh had with their forefathers, but it is not the same covenant.

Question: Were the covenant promises of land/a nation, multiple descendants, and a world-wide blessing made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob fulfilled in their lifetimes? See Gen 12:1-3; 26:4; 28:14. When were those promises fulfilled?
Answer: No, those promises were not fulfilled in the era of the Patriarchs. The promises were partially fulfilled in the nation of Israel and the conquest of the Promised Land, but all three covenant promises would not be perfectly fulfilled until the coming of the Jesus Christ, the eternal King in whom all the children of the nations of the earth received the promise of salvation.

Deuteronomy 5:4 On the mountain, from the heart of the fire, Yahweh spoke to you face to face, 5 while I stood between you and Yahweh to let you know what Yahweh was saying, since you were afraid of the fire and had not gone up the mountain. That God spoke to the present generation, even though their fathers and mothers were present at Mt. Sinai, identifies the reality of the event that must continue with present and future generations.

Yahweh spoke to you face to face... The Hebrew idiom "face to face" means "person to person" and should not be taken literally. Scripture clearly relates that the Israelites only heard God's voice when He spoke to them directly-the "person" of God to the Israelite people as though they were one person; hence the "corporate" nature of the Sinai Covenant.

... while I stood between you and Yahweh to let you know what Yahweh was saying ...

Moses reminds the new generation of his role as mediator-standing between Yahweh and "you" at Sinai. As covenant mediator, at the people's request, Moses applies his role to mediating the Law to the present generation, but he stresses that the creator of the "word" (commandment) is God and that he is only its mediator.

Deuteronomy 5:6 "I am Yahweh your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the place of slave-labor.

Like the Decalogue in Exodus chapter 20, Moses' teaching on the Ten Commandments begins with a historical prologue stating the origin of the relationship between Yahweh and Israel. The covenant document of the "Ten Words" written on the stone tablets are the divinely authored foundation of God's covenant with Israel and the basis upon which Yahweh will continue His relationship with succeeding generations of His vassal people. The Law was legally binding, but like a marriage covenant (to which Yahweh's relationship with Israel will often be compared), it is more than a legal document. A marriage in the ancient world as well as the modern world is legalized by a document but does not become enacted until the marital relationship is fulfilled. Love fulfills and maintains what was originally a covenant agreement between a man and a woman, just as the obligations of the Sinai Covenant are meant to be expressed in the love between God and Israel.

Question: Into what two broad categories are the Ten Commandments grouped?
Answer: Those commandments that concern man's relationship with God and those commandments concerning man's relationship with his fellow man.

Deuteronomy 5:7 "You will have no gods other than me." Monotheism is the hallmark of the Sinai Covenant. That the Israelites worshiped and were faithful to only one God made them unique in the ancient world. No other ancient religion worshiped only one God. This covenant prohibition is similar to the marriage covenant in which the woman swears to be faithful only to her husband.

Question: In the modern age what world religions worship only one God and when were these religions established?
Answer: In the modern age the only monotheistic religions are Judaism (an attempt to continue the Sinai Covenant without a central Sanctuary, or altar of sacrifice, or sacred liturgy after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 AD), Christianity (the fulfillment of the Old Covenant faith of the Sinai Covenant dating from Jesus' Resurrection in 30 AD) and Islam, which dates to the 7th century AD, more than 600 years after Jesus' Resurrection and Ascension.

Deuteronomy 5:8-10 '"You must not make yourselves any image or any likeness of anything in heaven above or on earth beneath or in the waters under the earth; 9 you must not bow down to these gods or serve them. For I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God and I punish the parents' fault in the children, the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren, among those who hate me; 10 but I show faithful love [hesed] to thousands, to those who love me and keep my commandments [mitsvot].

The Hebrew verbs in the phrase: you must not bow down to these gods or serve them, have a technical meaning. "To bow down" means "to prostrate oneself" and "to serve" refers to making religious offerings. When used together these words refer to any form of worship and/or submission whether to a deity or to a king/ruler (The JPS Torah Commentary: Deuteronomy, page 65). The Hebrew word hesed means faithful love in the context of covenant and if first used in Scripture to express Isaac's marital love for his bride Rebekah (Gen 24:67).

However, to simply "bow down" was also an act of respect in the Bible, as when Abraham bowed down to the local people of Kiriath-Abra (Hebron) when he wanted to negotiate with them for the purchase of some land (Gen 23:7, 12), or when Jacob's family bowed low before Esau (Gen 33:6-7), or when Bathsheba bowed with her face on the ground before her husband, King David (1 Kng 1:16) or when her son, King Solomon bowed before his mother (1 Kng 2:19).

Question: What is the warning to parents in this command?
Answer: The warning is to teach your children to know and serve God because a failure to do so can affect generations.

The prohibition against idols in this command is not because they were statues but because they were images of false gods who did not exist and who must not be offered worship. Moses taught extensively on what constituted idol worship in the second half of his first homily when he reminded the people that they had never seen Yahweh's form, therefore any image they made to represent Yahweh was a false image like the Golden Calf (Ex 32:4-6). Moses told the people: ... see that you do not corrupt yourselves by making an image in the shape of anything whatever: be it statue of man or of woman, or of any animal on the earth, or of any bird that files in the heavens, or of any reptile that crawls on the ground, or of any fish in the waters under the earth. When you raise your eyes to heaven, when you see the sun, the moon, the stars-the entire array of heaven-do not be tempted to worship them and serve them (Dt 4:16-19; emphasis added). As the first commandment states, we offer worship only to God.

The Catholic Church has been accused of worshiping idols by hostile and misinformed people who profess to be Christians. Catholics are not in violation of this command when they have statues of Jesus, the Holy Family, or the saints in their churches since these images are not offered worship, and these images are not false. They are images of people who lived and were part of God's plan for man's salvation. After a controversy arose in Constantinople over the veneration of images of Christ and the saints, the Second Council of Nicea in 787 AD approved the use of images in catechesis, stating "The Honor of the image passes to the original, and he who shows reverence to the image, shows reverence to the substance of Him depicted in it" (see CCC 2129-32).

Question: Why, according to Scripture, can't the interpretation of this commandment mean that all images of people or angels, or animals in nativity scenes are forbidden? See Ex 25:17-22; 26:31; Num 21:6-9 (Jn 3:14-15) and 1 Kng 6:23-30; CCC 2130.
Answer: God Himself commanded Moses to make images of two golden cherubim to be placed atop the Mercy-seat of the Ark of the Covenant and to embroider the same images on the curtain that covered the entrance to the Holy of Holies. God also commanded Moses to make an image of a bronze serpent to cure the people of their snake bites if they looked up at the image and believed in God's promise to heal them (an image that Jesus said was symbolic of Himself), and King Solomon had two huge statues of cherubim standing over the Ark of the Covenant in the Jerusalem Temple's Holy of Holies.

Catholics have images of Jesus and the saints as a reminder of our love for these people who lived, struggled, and suffered to advance God's plan for man's salvation. The claim by some that Catholic's are idol worshipers because of the images of Christ, the Virgin Mary, Joseph and saints in Catholic Churches is preposterous and hypocritical. Most of the Christian churches that make these accusations have stained glass windows with images of people from the Bible, crosses representing the one true Cross, and nativity scenes with statues representing people and animals, all images which are in violation of their own standards. And do they not have images of loved ones in photographs in their houses, and do they not sometimes kiss the picture of a loved one who has departed this earth, perhaps the picture of a beloved mother? Is this not also a violation by their standards? However, our anti-image Christian brothers should not be concerned. Such acts demonstrate love for the real person depicted in the image, and it is not a violation of God's commandments, just as Catholics do not violate the commandments if we kiss an image of Christ on the crucifix of a rosary or a statue of our Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary. When we kiss an image of Mary, our affection is for the real person who is in heaven with her Son and who continues to love and pray for us, her children (Rev 12:5, 17). In showing our Blessed Mother such veneration we are being obedient to her prophetic statement that all generations will call her blessed (Lk 1:48), and we are imaging in our lives Christ who was and is obedient to the commandment to "honor your mother" and who came to us in the visible image of a man who was fully God and fully man (Ex 20:12; Dt 5:16).(3)

Question: The prohibition against worshiping images of false gods has already been alluded to in the first commandment to worship only Yahweh and therefore no other gods, but this section elaborates on the prohibition by addressing what two possible dangers and defines idol worship in what terms?
Answer:

  1. The danger is in expressing liturgical worship of God by defining Yahweh's existence in some recognizable form/image. In the sin of the Golden Calf, the people declared that the image they were worshiping was Yahweh (Ex 32:4-6).
  2. Creating an image of God limits and confines the essence of Yahweh's transcendence-any image of God from Creation is not only inadequate, because God is greater than anything man could create from the natural world, but any created image is a false representation. Such a false image distorts the love at the center of the relationship between God and His covenant people and amounts to an adulterous relationship with an idol (verse 10).

At this point in salvation history, the only way in which God could be represented was in the language of the Law (Craigie, The Book of Deuteronomy, page 154). That language was written on the two stone tablets of the testimony that were the visual image of the Covenant with Yahweh. In the Advent of the Messiah, the visual image of the New Covenant between God and His people was God's only begotten (not created) Son who was fully man and fully God. His image is acceptable in Churches and everywhere because He is truly God.

For I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous [kanna'] God ... We have already mentioned that Yahweh's jealousy is an expression of His impassioned love and that He will not share His love with pagan gods (see the notes on Dt 4:24). Israel must restrict her love, expressed in sacrifice, worship and obedience to His Law, to Yahweh alone just as a wife restricts her marital affection for her husband. Worship of other gods is as heinous and repugnant a sin as adultery (Ex 34:15-16; Ez chapter 16), and God's response to such a betrayal is like the impassioned jealousy of a husband whose wife has betrayed him by giving her affections to another man.(4)

Deuteronomy 5:11"You must not misuse the name of Yahweh your God, for Yahweh will not leave unpunished anyone who uses his name for what is false."

While the first commandment (in St. Augustine's list, but the second in the Jewish and most Protestant lists) guarded against distorting the relationship between God and His beloved, the next commandment guards against an attempt to manipulate God for personal ends. One aspect of the command concerning the misuse of God's covenant name is oath swearing where one attempts to use God as his witness or his enforcer in cursing another person (i.e., magical/occult arts). This is a misuse of the relationship between God and the person who is in effect placing himself and his needs/concerns above the will of God by attempting to manipulate God and to harness His power for personal ends.

Another form of oath swearing that was acceptable was using God's name in swearing one's innocence or in giving testimony (Num 5:21-31). Such oath-swearing in Yahweh's name ensured divine justice in matters where God was called upon to judge the merits of a dispute, even if the civil authority was unable to determine guilt or innocence. If one swore falsely in God's name, one was guilty of breaking this commandment. It was because of this commandment and the Christian's healthy fear of God that witnesses in the United States court system were told to swear on a Bible to tell the whole truth or God would be their ultimate judge: "I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God." Sadly, it is an act of oath-swearing that most state and federal courts in this country no longer observe. Instead, one swears to nothing and to no one to tell the truth except to themselves; hardly a deterrent to lying since one is accountable to no higher power.

To the ancients, one's name reflected the true essence of the person and the power of that person-everything the person believed and stood for; hence St. Peter's statements concerning salvation in "the name of Jesus" in Christian baptism (see Acts 2:38; 4:10; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5; 22:16) and St. Paul's similar statements (Rom 6:3; 1 Co 1:13, 15; 6:11; 10:2; Gal 3:37). Sts. Peter and Paul were not suggesting that Jesus' name alone had some mystical power, but invoking the "name" in the liturgical formula Jesus gave us (Mt 28:19) is the way the baptized professed their belief in everything Christ taught about Himself and in this profession, through the Sacrament of baptism and by the power of the Holy Spirit, the believer died to sin, was raised to new life, and was adopted by Christ as one whose life was then dedicated to Him.

This commandment can also be interpreted as a prohibition against blasphemy (see Ex 22:27). In Leviticus 24:10-12, 23 there was the case of a man who blasphemed by cursing the "Name." The man was condemned to death. The commandment concerns "the Name", God's personal covenant name, YHWH, believed to have been pronounced "Yahweh," and therefore to curse God's "Name" is to curse the divine Person of God. The curse extends to everything associated with His relationship with that person and far beyond the simple misuse of God's name.

Deuteronomy 5:12-15 '"Observe [guard/keep = samar] the Sabbath day and keep it holy, as Yahweh your God has commanded you. 13 Labor for six days, doing all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath for Yahweh your God. You must not do any work that day, neither you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servants-male or female-nor your ox nor your donkey, nor any of your animals, nor the foreigner who has made his home with you; 15 so that your servants, male and female, may rest, as you do. Remember that you were once a slave in Egypt, and that Yahweh your God brought you out of there with mighty hand and outstretched arm; this is why Yahweh your God has commanded you to keep [samar] the Sabbath day.

In Exodus 20:8 the commandment concerning the Sabbath obligation begins with the verb zakar/zakor, "remember"; however, in this passage the commandment begins with the Hebrew verb samar/shamar, followed by a reminder of the Sabbath obligation given in the Decalogue at Mt. Sinai after the Exodus liberation: ... as Yahweh your God has commanded you. Later, in verse 15 Moses tells the people to "remember" their slavery in Egypt. Samar is the same word God used in His command to Adam to guard/keep the garden Sanctuary in Genesis 2:15; it is the same word used for the cherubim to guard the entrance to Eden and the Tree of Life with their flashing swords in Genesis 4:24; and it is the same word used in Leviticus and Numbers in the instructions to the Levites to guard the Sanctuary (i.e., Lev 8:35; Num 1:53; 3:32; etc.). The Sabbath command in this passage is to fulfill the obligation of guarding the sanctity of the seventy day.(5)

The Hebrew noun Sabbath is related to the verb shabat, meaning "cease/rest" and recalls the event when God blessed and sanctified the seventh day of Creation as His day of "rest" (Gen 2:1-3). There are forms of the verb shabat found on other Semitic languages, but there is no evidence of a standard division in the reckoning of time in the ancient Near East based on the seventh day apart from the Israelite tradition. Therefore, the seventh day Sabbath was also a unique point of distinction between the worship Israel offered Yahweh and the religion of Israel's neighboring states (Craigie, The Book of Deuteronomy, page 157).

Notice that the commandment demanding observance of the Sabbath differs from the previous commandments. It does not being as a negative prohibition; the command begins as a positive (verses 12-13) and then includes in negative implications (verse 14).

Question: What is the double obligation of this commandment?
Answer:

  1. Making the Sabbath day holy (verse 12).
  2. To work six days and cease from all labor on the seventh day (verses 13-14).

The seventh day was sanctified in Genesis 2:3, but it did not become an obligation until the Sinai Covenant?

Question: How did God define the importance of the Sabbath rest in His covenant with Israel in Exodus 31:12-17?
Answer: God defined the Sabbath as a "sign" of His covenant with Israel.

Question: What was the penalty for profaning the Sabbath? See Ex 31:14; 34:2; Num 15:32-36.
Answer: The penalty for profaning the Sabbath was death.

For additional commands to keep the Sabbath see Ex 20:8-11; 23:12; 31:12-17; 35:1-3; Lev 19:3; 23:3-4; and Num 28:9-10.

Deuteronomy 5:16 '"Honor your father and your mother, as Yahweh your God has commanded you, so that you may have long life and may prosper in the country which Yahweh your God is giving you.

The first commandment mentioned the responsibility parents bear in teaching their children to love God (verses 9-10). This commandment addresses the children's responsibility to the parents to give them respect and gratitude. Within the verses of the first commandment and in this commandment, God affirms the importance of the family as the central unit of society (also see Sir 3:1-16).

Question: What will happen to the family and the nation if children dishonor their parents and are not obedient?
Answer: If children dishonor their parents and refuse to learn about God and their covenant obligations and duties, the family and the nation cannot prosper and will grow distant from God.

Deuteronomy 5:17-21

17 '"You must not kill [murder a human being =ratsach/rasah].
18 '"You must not commit adultery.
19 '"You must not steal.
20 '"You must not give false evidence against your fellow.

The series of commandments in verses 17-20 address standards of conduct and justice that are necessary for men and women to live together in peace. The prohibition against murder deals specifically with homicide, the intentional act of taking innocent life. The act of intentionally taking another's life is an affront to God's sovereignty by taking away what God alone has the power to give and which God alone has the preoperative to take away. The command does not address all forms of taking life and thus does not eliminate the possibility of capital punishment. The specific Hebrew word refers to homicide (see footnote 2). Manslaughter requires different legislation and is addressed in Deuteronomy 19:1-13.

Question: When was the penalty for homicide first introduced and what was the penalty? See Gen 9:5-7.
Answer: After the Great Flood; the penalty was death.

Question: How did Jesus raise the bar on judging this sin? See Mt 5:21-26 and 43-48; what law court does Jesus refer to in this passage?
Answer: Jesus is referring to the judgment throne of God. Anger against one's fellow man kills love in the heart of the person bearing the anger and leads to other deadly sins. An offense against charity (love in action) is an offense against God.

Deuteronomy 5:18 '"You must not commit adultery."'
The prohibition against adultery probably includes betrothed women (Dt 22:23-24) and explains Joseph concern for putting Mary aside quietly when he discovered she was with child (Mt 1:18-19). As in the case of murder, adultery is regarded as an offense against both God and man (Gen 39:9; Ps 51:6; Prov 2:17). Adultery threatened the well-being of families and the entire nation, and it was therefore a death penalty offense (Lev 18:20; Num 5:11-31; Dt 22:22-27). The demand for sexual purity was unique to the Sinai Covenant (see Lev 15:1-33; 20:10-21).(6) Safeguarding the sanctity of the marital union, safeguarded the family, the basic unit of communal life of the Old Covenant Church.

The commandment prohibiting adultery also included the worship of false gods, which amounted in principal to an adulterous act by violating one's obligation to be faithful to Israel's spouse, Yahweh (Dt 5:5). Both offenses involved an act of unfaithfulness and were therefore reprehensible to Yahweh, who was totally faithful to His people and His covenant with them. Pagan communities also recognized the destructive effects of adultery in marriage and the society as a whole. Pagan King Abimelech chastised Abraham for not stopping his officials from bringing Sarah into his harem by telling them she was his wife when he said to Abraham: What have you done to us? And in what have I offended you that you have brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin (Gen 20:9; The Interlinear Bible: Hebrew-English, vol. I, page 46).

Question: How did Jesus raise the bar on the prohibition against adultery? See Mt 5:27-32.
Answer: Jesus said this sin should not only be judged on action but also on the desire to commit the sin before any action has taken place.

Deuteronomy 5:19 '"You must not steal.'"
The prohibition against theft goes beyond simple misappropriation of another's goods or property. This commandment is more concerned with relationships between covenant members of the community which must be based on mutual trust and justice (see Dt 24:7). Legislation on theft is covered in detail the Covenant Code in Exodus 22:1-13.

Deuteronomy 5:20 '"You must not give false evidence against your fellow.
The prohibition against giving false statements against a fellow member of the covenant community concerns the miscarriage of justice within the community and includes lying in all forms. The command emphasizes the necessity for integrity and honesty within the covenant family. This command harkens back to God's command that His people must reflect His holiness (see Lev 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7; Num 15:40; Dt 7:6; 14:2, 21; 26:19; 28:9). Yahweh, the God of holiness, justice and faithfulness required His people to exercise the same qualities of holiness, faithfulness and justice in their personal relationships. Lying in a legal case against another member of the community could determine the future, or lack of a future, of that person. The penalty for lying in such cases was banishment or possibly death (Dt 19:15-21). For other some other Scripture passages addressing the sin of lying see: Ex 23:1, 7; Dt 19:16-18; Prov 6:19; 12:17; 14:5, 25; 17:4; 19:5, 9; 21:28; 25:18; 30:8; Mt 19:18; Mk 10:19; and Rom 13:9.

Deuteronomy 5:21 '"You must not set your heart on [covet = hamad] your neighbor's spouse, you must not set your heart on [constantly crave = hit'avveh] your neighbor's house, for field, or servant-man or woman-or ox, or donkey or any of your neighbor's possessions."

The final two clauses of the commandments concern the coveting of a neighbor's wife or his property/household. St. Augustine separated these two clauses into the ninth and tenth commandments so as to not equate a wife with property.

Question: How are the negative commands in the last two clauses of the Ten Commandments unlike all the other negative commands and the one positive command to honor one's parents? What are the implications of coveting?
Answer: Unlike the commandment against theft and the other commandments, these negative commands are concerned with a person's motivation. Theft can take place as a purely selfish act absent of any real emotion toward the victim, but coveting what belongs to someone else involves the dark emotions of malice and envy. The act of coveting can also lead to the violation of other prohibitions like violence against members of the community and acts of evil that reverberate beyond the individuals involved to threaten the family and the community like adultery or even murder.

Both Exodus and Deuteronomy divide this passage into two clauses. Exodus uses the Hebrew verb hamad in both clauses, while in Deuteronomy uses hamad in the first clause and replaces it with hit'avveh, which implied continuous or constant craving, in the second.

See the comparison between the Decalogue in Exodus chapter 20 and Moses' teaching in Deuteronomy chapter 5 in the appendix to this lesson or handout #2 to answer the following questions.

Question: What is the other difference between what is recorded in Exodus 20:17 and Deuteronomy 5:21 besides the change in the verb in the second clause in Deuteronomy 5:21?
Answer: Deuteronomy 5:21 separates the family from the property by placing the wife in the first clause and the house, servants and livestock in the second clause, unlike Exodus 20:17 which mentions the household, then the wife, and possessions last.

Question: Compare Exodus 20:8-11 and Moses' teaching in Deuteronomy 5:12-15. Other than slight differences in wording, are there any significant differences other than "remember"/zakar in the beginning of the Sabbath command in Exodus and "guard/keep"/samar in the beginning of the Sabbath obligation in Deuteronomy? What significant theological teaching specifically for the new generation does Moses link to the observance of the seventh day in his teaching?
Answer: There is only one important difference. In Exodus 20:11, God links the reason for man's Sabbath rest after six days of labor to His rest after the work of Creation. However, in Deuteronomy Moses alludes to God's command to keep the Sabbath in the giving of the Decalogue and man's six days of labor before the Sabbath rest, but he does not specifically mention God's day of rest after the work or Creation. Instead, he reminds the Israelites that it is their obligation to worship Yahweh on the seventh day in thankfulness for the Exodus liberation, thereby linking the imitation of God's rest and Adam and Eve's entrance into God's rest as their sovereign Lord on the seventh day of Creation to Israel's acknowledgement of God as their sovereign Lord through the Exodus liberation.

Question: Which of the commandments here and in the Decalogue in Exodus 20 are the only commandments that promise a blessing for obedience? Are there any differences in the blessings in Deuteronomy?
Answer:

  1. In Exodus 20:6 and Deuteronomy 5:10, God promises "faithful love" to those who love God and keep His commandments-a promise of covenant love that can extend to future generations.
  2. One who shows honor to his/her father and mother is promised the blessing of a long life in the Promised Land in Exodus 20:12 but is promised the blessing of a long and prosperous life in the Promised Land in Deuteronomy 5:16. This is probably because the Israelites were about to take possession of the land of Canaan.

Question: How can the Christian interpret the additional blessing of "long life in the land Yahweh your God is giving you" for honoring parents?
Answer: For Christians, this blessing can be a reference not to our temporal life but as a blessing that is part of our eternal inheritance in the Promised Land of heaven.

The Ten Commandments are God's blueprint for Israel's holiness as a covenant people and as individuals. It was not presented in the formal and impersonal style of other Law Codes of the ancient Near East, but was addressed by Yahweh directly to His people. The personal address of the Law by God to His people was unique. No other ancient law code makes this claim; instead the king was said to have been commanded by the gods to formulating his people's laws.(7) The other unique aspect of the Sinai Covenant, compared to other ancient law codes, is that there is no distinction between classes (Ex 22:21-26/27), and foreigners living within the community were subject to the same penalties and protections of the Law of the covenant (Lev 19:33-34). For additional teaching on the Ten Commandments, see the Catechism references at the end of this lesson, the Exodus study on the Ten Commandments in Exodus Lesson 10, and the Catholic Church's list of the Ten Commandments as opposed to the Jewish and Protestant lists in the appendix to this lesson.

Deuteronomy 5:21/20-33/29
Reminding Israel of their Desire that Moses Serve as the Covenant Mediator
23/20 'Now, having heard this voice coming out of the darkness, while the mountain was all on fire, you came to me, all of you, heads of tribes and elders, 24/21 and said, "Yahweh our God has shown us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice from the heart of the fire. Today we have seen that God can speak with a human being and that person still live. 25/22 So why should we expose ourselves to death again? For this great fire might devour us if we go on listening to the voice of Yahweh our God, and then we should die. 26/23 For what creature of flesh could possibly live after hearing, as we have heard, the voice of the living God speaking from the heart of the fire? 27/24 Go nearer [You go nearer] yourself and listen to everything that Yahweh our God may say, and then tell us everything that Yahweh our God has told you; we shall listen and put it into practice!" 28/25 'Yahweh heard what you were saying to me, and he then said to me, "I have heard what these people are saying. Everything that they said is well said. 29/26 If only their heart were always so, set on fearing me and on keeping my commandments [mitsvot], so that they and their children might prosper for ever! 30/27 Go and tell them to go back to their tents. 31/28 But you yourself stay here with me, and I shall tell you all the commandments [mitsvot], the laws [mishpatim] and the customs [hukkim] which you are to teach them and what they are to observe [to do] in the country [land] which I am giving them as their possession." 32/29 Keep [samar] them and put them into practice: such is Yahweh's command to you. Stray neither to right nor to left. 33 Follow the whole way [the path] that Yahweh has marked for you, and you will survive [live] to prosper and live long in the country which you are going to possess.' [..] = the literal translation (The Interlinear Bible: Hebrew-English, vol. I, pages 475-76).

Deuteronomy 5:27/24-28/25 Go nearer [You go nearer] yourself and listen to everything that Yahweh our God may say, and then tell us everything that Yahweh our God has told you; we shall listen and put it into practice!" 28/25 'Yahweh heard what you were saying to me, and he then said to me, "I have heard what these people are saying. Everything that they said is well said.

Moses reminded the new generation of their parents' great fear of God after the Theophany at Mt. Sinai and how they requested the he serve as their covenant mediator, a petition that God accepted. God wanted "nearness" to His people, but He respected their fear and reverence for His divinity. Granting their petition reflects God's respect for man's free will: The Lord hates all that is foul, and no one who fears him will love it either. He himself made human beings in the beginning, and then left them free to make their own decisions. If you choose, you will keep the commandments and so be faithful to his will (Sir 15:13-15/16).

God wants the love and nearness of His people as well as their reverence, but He will not force them to be near nor does He force them to be obedient. When God came to man as God the Son, He came in a form that was gentle and mild to encourage His people's nearness and to encourage the desire, of their own free will, to love Him and to express their love in obedience, reverence, and self-sacrifice (Mt 11:29; 21:5).

Question: Did God consider it bad that the people feared Him? Why? See Ex 19:16-20; Dt 4:10; Prov 1:7.
Answer: No, He saw it as a spiritually healthy sign because the people would be motivated to keep His commandments and to teach their children.

Deuteronomy 5:30/27-33/29 Go and tell them to go back to their tents. 31/28 But you yourself stay here with me, and I shall tell you all the commandments [mitsvot], the laws [mishpatim] and the customs [hukkim] which you are to teach them and what they are to observe [to do] in the country [land] which I am giving them as their possession."

This passage identifies the difference between the Decalogue and the other commands and prohibitions of the Law by recalling the giving of the Book of the Covenant to Moses after God spoke the words of the Decalogue from the mountain (Ex 20:22-23:33). It was the first of the expanded Law, which Yahweh commanded Moses to put into writing (Ex 24:3-4). From that time, Moses continued to write down the additional commands and prohibitions of the expanded Law (Ex 34:27-28).

Deuteronomy 5:32/29-33/29 Keep them and put them into practice: such is Yahweh's command to you. Stray neither to right nor to left. 33 Follow the whole way [the path/way] that Yahweh has marked for you, and you will survive [live] to prosper and live long in the country [land] which you are going to possess.'

Moses concludes his teaching on the Decalogue with a summary statement concerning obedience. The command not to stray from the Law by even one step ("neither to right nor left") will be repeated in Moses' instruction to the nation concerning their obedience to the decisions of their Levitical judges (Dt 17:11, 20) and in Yahweh's instructions to Joshua in which He promises to guide Joshua and give him success so long as he is faithful to "keep the whole Law" that Moses laid down, swerving neither "to right or to left" (Josh 1:7). Yahweh chose to love Israel out of all the nations of the earth (4:37), and Israel's demonstration of her love for Yahweh is the essence of Israel's total obedience to the Law.

Question: What does it mean to follow "the whole way" (verse 33) or in God's instructions to Joshua to "keep the whole Law" (Josh 1:7)? Does this command also apply to New Covenant Christians? What is the condition of the "cafeteria" Catholic?
Answer: Yes, it is the same for the New Covenant people of God. To be obedient to the "whole way" or the "whole Law" means one cannot pick and choose which commands one intends to follow and which commands one intends to ignore, or which dogmas (truths of the faith) one intends to believe or which dogmas one intends to reject. Obedience means "all or nothing." A "cafeteria" Catholic picks and choose from the doctrine of the Church what covenant obligations he will agree to follow or believe and cannot be identified as faithful or perhaps, even as "Catholic." The belief in such dogmas as the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the virgin birth, and rebirth and sanctification in the sacrament of Baptism identify one as a Christian Catholic.

Question: In verse 33 Moses admonishes the people to "follow the whole way" ... "and you will live ..." For the New Covenant people of God, how did Jesus define "the way" or "the path" to life and what was that "life"? What other metaphors did Jesus use to express this same teaching? See Jn 10:7-9; 14:6-7. Is there any other path to heaven or any other form of eternal salvation? Quote a significant verse from New Testament Scripture.
Answer: Jesus referred to Himself as the "gate" and the "path" or "way" to eternal life-there is no other: Only in him is there salvation; for of all the names in the world given to men, this is the only one by which we can be saved (Acts 4:12). There is no salvation in Siddhartha Gautama (Supreme Buddha), or Mohammed, or Gene Rodenbury. These men founded religions based on a philosophy for living, but their teachings cannot ensure any redemption and salvation after dying.

Question: Is Yahweh's promise in verse 33/29 the same as Jesus' promises concerning "life" in the Gospels or is there a difference?
Answer: The promise is similar in that obedience to God leads to "life." However, for the Old Covenant people, "life" meant the blessings of temporal life and prosperity, but to the New Covenant people, "life" means the blessing of eternal life.

Questions for group discussion:

Question: How did Jesus summarize the Old Covenant Law into two statements generated by the spirit of love? How is it that these two statements of love manage to complete the spirit of the Decalogue?

Question: The two great statements of love that summarize the Ten Commandments were given to the covenant people prior to the advent of Jesus Christ. What does that link tell us about the moral law found in the Ten Commandments as opposed to the laws that addressed ritual purity? See Mt 22:37-39; Dt 6:5; Lev 19:18; CCC 2196.

Question: What new commandment did Jesus give His disciples in His last discourse during the Last Supper and how are we intended to live out that commandment by the example He gave us? See Jn 13:34-35.

Question: In the command to observe the Sabbath day in Deuteronomy 5:12, Moses reminded the people of the first time the Sabbath command was given at Mt. Sinai, after the Exodus liberation. The relationship expressed between the Old Covenant Sabbath as a sign of the covenant (Ex 31:12-13) and the Exodus liberation is directly analogous to what other "exodus" liberation that was to take place in salvation history and what other covenant sign and holy day of worship? See Ex 31:12-13; Lk 9:27-31 (the literal Greek word in verse 31 is "exodus"); Mt 28:1; Mk 16:1; Lk 24:1; Jn 3:3, 5; 19:33-34; 20:1; Acts 20:7; Rev 1:10; CCC 1166-67, 1343, 2174-78.
Answer: The relationship expressed between the Old Covenant Sabbath and the Exodus in Moses' commentary on the Sabbath obligation in Dt 5:12 is directly analogous to the relationship between Jesus' departure (exodus) from this earthly life to the grave/Sheol and then to His glorious Resurrection on the first day of the week (Sunday), the Lord's Day of the New Covenant faith. Just as the Egyptian Exodus marked the redemption of the Israelites from the old life of slavery in Egypt and the birth of a new people who became linked to the seventh day Sabbath as a sign of their covenant union with Yahweh, so too was Jesus' Resurrection on the first day of the week (the day we call Sunday) a liberation event and a sign to be observed. In His supreme act of love, through His sacrificial death and resurrection, Jesus redeemed mankind from the old life of sin and death. In His gift of the Sacrament of Baptism, promised in John chapter 3 and in the blood and water that flowed from His side on the altar of the Cross, He brought about the birth of a new people, the Universal Church of the New Covenant, and a new day of worship, which St. John called "the Lord's Day" (Rev 1:10). It is the day of worship that is the sign of the covenant community's commitment to the New Covenant in Jesus Christ and therefore, a holy day of obligation like the Old Covenant Sabbath.

Endnotes:

 

1. The Ten Commandments are also called the "Decalogue/Ten Words" and the "Testimony", in Hebrew 'edut (see Exodus 25:16, 21-22). The word 'edut, following the form of other ancient covenant treaty documents, means the stipulations in a formal covenant treaty imposed by a Suzerain on his vassal; in this case Israel is the vassal and Yahweh is the Suzerain. Here the "testimony" is the two stone tablets of the Decalogue, which are also called "the tablets of Testimony (Ex 31:18; 32:15; 34:29).

2. Shachat, prime root, to kill; to slaughter an animal or to kill as in war or herem (curse of destruction); ratsach/rasah = homicide.

3. The problem for Protestants is that they interpret our hymns and prayers to the Blessed Virgin and the saints as worship. They do not understand that for the Old Covenant people and for the New, worship is defined as offering sacrifice. Since they do not have a sacrifice to offer, and prayer and hymns of praise is all they have in their "worship" services, they mistakenly equate prayer and hymns of praise as worship.

4. See Num 5:14 and Prov 6:34 where kanna' refers to a husband's jealousy over a wife's adultery.

5. See the use of samar in this same way, in keeping and fulfilling a religious obligation, in Ex 12:17; 23:15 and Dt 29:8.

6. Some pagan communities had the same abhorrence of adultery, but their objections were based more on inheritance rights than morality. King Abimelech of the Philistines, for example, called it a "great sin" (Gen 20:9) and documents from Egypt and the Canaanite city-state of Ugarit also condemned adultery as a capital offense.

7. According to the testimony of King Hammurabi, the chief god of the Babylonians directed him to give a code of laws to his people: When Marduk commissioned me to guide the people aright, to direct the land, I established law and justice in the language of the land, thereby promoting the welfare of the people. At that time (I decreed) ... Ancient Near Eastern Texts , "The Code of Hammurabi", page 165, Princeton University Press, 1969).

Appendix I

The Decalogue in Exodus and Moses' Teaching on the Decalogue in Deuteronomy

Exodus 20:1-21 Deuteronomy 5:1-22/19
1 Then God spoke all these words. He said, 1 Moses called all Israel together and said to them, 'Listen, Israel [Shema Israel], to the laws [mishpatim] and customs [hukkim] that I proclaim to you today. Learn them and take care to observe them. 2 Yahweh our God made [cut] a covenant with us at Horeb. 3 Yahweh made [cut] this covenant not with our ancestors, but with us, with all of us alive here today. 4 On the mountain, from the heart of the fire, Yahweh spoke to you face to face, 5 while I stood between you and Yahweh to let you know what Yahweh was saying, since you were afraid of the fire and had not gone up the mountain. He said:
2 'I am Yahweh your God who brought you out of Egypt, where you lived as slaves. 6 "I am Yahweh your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the place of slave-labor.
3 'You shall have no other gods to rival [over/before] me. 7 '"You will have no gods other than [before/over] me.
4 'You shall not make yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything in heaven above or on earth beneath or in the waters under the earth.

5 'You shall not bow down to them or serve them. For I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous [kanna'] God and I punish a parent's fault in the children, the grandchildren, and the great-grandchildren among those who hate me; 6 but I act with faithful love [hesed] towards thousands of those who love me and keep [samar] my commandments
8 '"You must not make yourselves any image or any likeness of anything in heaven above or on earth beneath or in the waters under the earth;

9 you must not bow down to these gods or serve them. For I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous [kanna'] God and I punish the parents' fault in the children, the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren, among those who hate me; 10 but I show faithful love [hesed] to thousands, to those who love me and keep [samar] my commandments [mitsvot].
7 'You shall not misuse the name of Yahweh your God, for Yahweh will not leave unpunished anyone who misuses his name. 11 '"You must not misuse the name of Yahweh your God, for Yahweh will not leave unpunished anyone who uses his name for what is false.
8 'Remember [zakar] the Sabbath day and keep it holy. 9 For six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath for Yahweh your God. You shall do not work that day, neither you nor your son nor your daughter nor your servants, men or women, nor your animals nor the alien living with you. 11 For in six days Yahweh made the heavens, earth and sea and all that these contain, but on the seventh day he rested; that is why Yahweh has blessed the Sabbath day and made it sacred. 12 '"Observe [guard/keep = shamar/samar] the Sabbath day and keep it holy, as Yahweh your God has commanded you. 13 Labor for six days, doing all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath for Yahweh your God. You must not do any work that day, neither you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servants-male or female-nor your ox nor your donkey, nor any of your animals, nor the foreigner who has made his home with you; 15 so that your servants, male and female, may rest, as you do. Remember [zakar] that you were once a slave in Egypt, and that Yahweh your God brought you out of there with mighty hand and outstretched arm; this is why Yahweh your God has commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.
12 'Honor your father and your mother so that you may live long in the land that Yahweh your God is giving you. 16 '"Honor your father and your mother, as Yahweh your God has commanded you, so that you may have long life and may prosper in the country [land] which Yahweh your God is giving you.
13 'You shall not kill [murder]. 17 '"You must not kill [murder a human being =ratsach/rasah].
14 'You shall not commit adultery. 18 '"You must not commit adultery.
15 'You shall not steal. 19 '"You must not steal.
16 'You shall not give false evidence against your neighbor 20 '"You must not give false evidence against your fellow.
17 'You shall not set your heart on [hamad = covet] your neighbor's house. You shall not set your heart on [hamad = covet] your neighbor's spouse, or servant, man or woman, or ox, or donkey, or any of your neighbor's possessions.' 21/18 '"You must not set your heart on [hamad = covet] your neighbor's spouse, you must not set your heart on [hit'avveh = constantly crave] your neighbor's house, or field, or servant-man or woman-or ox, or donkey or any of your neighbor's possessions."
  22/19 'These were the words Yahweh spoke to you when you were all assembled on the mountain. Thunderously, he spoke to you from the heart of the fire, in cloud and thick darkness. He added nothing, but wrote them on two tablets of stone which he gave to me.
Michal E. Hunt www.AgapeBibleStudy.com

Appendix II:

The divisions in the numbering of the Ten Commandments have varied in the course of history. The present numbering in the Catholic Church follows the division and summary of the Ten Commandments established by St. Augustine in the 4th century AD and adopted by the Fathers of the Church. The first three commandments concern love of God and the remaining seven love of neighbor (see the Catechism pages 496-97). Martin Luther also used St. Augustine's list. *LORD in all capital letters stands for God's holy covenant name, YHWH. St. Augustine's three and seven part division (three commandments referring to God and seven to one's fellow man) in his summary of the Ten Commandments may reflect his understanding of the symbolic significance of those "perfect" numbers in Scripture (see the document "The Significance of Numbers in Scripture").

  1. I am the LORD your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me.
  2. You shall not take the name of the LORD* your God in vain.
  3. Remember to keep holy the LORD's Day.
  4. Honor your father and your mother.
  5. You shall not kill.
  6. You shall not commit adultery.
  7. You shall not steal.
  8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  9. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor's goods.

Jewish and most Protestant divisions:

  1. Worship of only one God
  2. Prohibition against idols
  3. Prohibitions against false oaths
  4. Observing the Sabbath
  5. Honoring parents
  6. Prohibition of murder
  7. Prohibition of adultery
  8. Prohibition of theft
  9. Prohibition of false testimony
  10. Prohibition of coveting

Appendix III:

Older codes and codes that may be contemporary to the Law of the Sinai Covenant:

Michal Hunt, Copyright 2010 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

Catechism references for this lesson: (*indicates that Scripture is quoted or paraphrased in the citation)

Dt 4:37

CCC 218*

Dt 5:6-21

CCC 2056*-82

Dt 5:2

CCC 2060

Dt 5:4

CCC 2056-61

Dt 5:6-10

CCC 2083*-2141

Dt 5:11

CCC 2142-67

Dt 5:12-15

CCC 2168-95

Dt 5:12

CCC 2167, 1166-67, 1343, 2174-78.

Dt 5:16

CCC 2197-2257

Dt 5:17

CCC 2258-2330

Dt 5:18

CCC 2331-2400

Dt 5:19

CCC 2401-63

Dt 5:20

CCC 2464-2513

Dt 5:21

CCC 2514-57