THE PENTATEUCH PART II: EXODUS
Exodus chapters 19:1-20:21
A Great and Terrible Love: Israel's Rendezvous with God at Sinai
and the Formation of the Old Covenant Church
Father of our journey to salvation,
At Mt. Sinai You called Israel to be Your Bride, Your cherished possession, and Your holy people. Offering Israel Your bridal gift of Your holy Law, a Law conceived in love in which You bound Israel to her Divine Lord. The Law would serve as a tutor and a guide for the Old Covenant people, training them to recognize and denounce sin, guiding them to live in holiness, and preparing them to welcome the promised Messiah-Redeemer when the time for His coming was fulfilled. The old Law was the first stage for the people of God on the way to the eternal kingdom, and yet, because the old Law could not offer the gift of eternal salvation it was incomplete. It was in Your Son Jesus the Messiah that the Old Law reached its completion in the New Law of the Gospel, which became the perfection here on earth of Divine Law, natural and revealed. We thank You, Lord, for the revelation of Your Son and our Savior and we ask You to send Your Holy Spirit to guide us in our study of the formation of the Old Covenant Church at Mt. Sinai. We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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Yahweh your God is the one whom you must fear and serve; to him you must hold firm; in his name take your oaths. Him you must praise, he is your God: for you he has done these great and terrible things which you have seen for yourselves; and although your ancestors numbered only seventy persons when they went down to Egypt, Yahweh your God has now made you as many as the stars of heaven. Deuteronomy 10:20-22
By the word of
Moses, he made prodigies cease and raised him high in the respect of kings; he
gave him commandments for his people, and showed him something of his glory.
For his loyalty and gentleness he sanctified him, choosing him alone out of all
human beings; he allowed him to hear his voice, and led him into the darkness;
he gave him the commandments face to face, and the law of life and knowledge,
to teach Jacob his ordinances and Israel his decrees.
The Israelites left Rameses in Egypt on the fifteenth day of the first month of Abib (Ex 13:4; Num 33:3). Exactly one month after leaving Egypt the Israelites entered the desert of Sin (Ex 16:1) and made their next encampment at Dophkah where they experienced the miracles of the quail and the manna (Num 33:12). After leaving Dophkah they encamped at Alush and after leaving Alush they set up camp at Rephidim in the desert of Sinai where the people threatened to kill Moses and challenged God because they were tormented by thirst (Ex 17:1-5; Num 33:13-14). Rephidim was the last encampment before Mt. Sinai. At was at Rephidim that God instructed Moses and some of the elders to go on ahead to Horeb where Moses was told to strike God "on the rock" to produce life-giving water from the rock (Ex 17:6).
The location of "the mountain of God" is referred to as Horeb in Exodus 3:1 and 17:6. The noun horeb appears to mean "waste." Horeb is mentioned in Scripture seventeen times (Ex 3:1; 17:6; 33:6; Dt 1:2, 6, 19; 4:10, 15; 5:2; 9:8; 18:16; 29:1; 1 Kng 8:9; 19:8; 2 Chr 5:10; Ps 106:19; Mal 3:22 /4:4); it is only called Mt. Horeb once (Ex 33:6) although Scripture refers to "Horeb the mountain of God" twice (Ex 3:1 and 1 Kng 19:8). It isn't until Exodus 19 that Scripture begins to refer to the mountain of God as Mt. Sinai (19:11, 18, 20, 23) and from that point on the most frequent reference to the "mountain of God" is Mt. Sinai. According to Scripture it was an eleven day journey from Mt. Sinai/Horeb via Mt. Seir to Kadesh-Barnea (Dt 1:2) and a forty days' walk from Beersheba in southern Canaan to Mt. Sinai (1 Kng 19:3-8). When the people arrived at Mt. Sinai they must have been relieved to discover an abundance of water flowing from the rock to quench their thirst and the thirst of their animals (Ex 17:6).
It will be at the momentous rendezvous at Sinai that God will depart from His previous plan of covenant formation with individuals and their descendants. Yahweh's first covenant was on the seventh day of the Creation event with humanity's first-born son, Adam, who God established as His priestly representative in His earthly garden Sanctuary in Eden. It was Adam's covenant obligation to serve and guard the Edenic Sanctuary, offering worship to Yahweh as God's priestly representative to all the living creatures of the earth. The next covenant formation was with righteous Noah, the first-born son of Lamech (Gen 5:28-31; 6:18; 9:8-17). It was a covenant based on God's promise of faithfulness and basic laws of religious and civil justice which continued through Noah's righteous first-born son, Shem, the first man in salvation history to be identified as God's man (Gen 9:9, 26) and the man who was responsible for bringing his brothers into God's blessings and judgments (Gen 9:27). It is Shem who is identified in the oral tradition of the Israelites and by the Church Fathers by his throne name Melchizedek (Gen 14:17-20).
God's covenant continued through Shem's righteous descendant Abram, the first-born son of Terah (Gen 11:10-26; 12:1-3; 17:4-14). Yahweh formed a three-fold covenant with Abram, changing his name to Abraham. It was a covenant that was to continue through Abraham's son Isaac, not the "first-born son" but the "son of promise" (Gen 17:19; 21:1-2) and through another "son of promise", Isaac's son Jacob (Gen 25:23), who God renamed "Israel." It was with the descendants of Israel that God formed the first corporate covenant in salvation history, not a covenant with a righteous "first-born" son or with a "son of promise," but with a people who are declared to be God's first-born sons and priestly representatives to all the nations of the earth (Ex 4:23).
Up to this point in salvation history there was no defined liturgy of worship other than the offering of the sacrifice of certain animals defined as "clean" and suitable for sacrifice (Gen 7:2; 8:20-21). Sacrifice defined worship. Every first-born son who was a father assumed the priestly duties of sacrifice and worship of Yahweh for his extended family. It was these priestly men of the descendants of Israel and their first-born that sons God redeemed on the night of the first Passover. But at Sinai, for the first time in salvation history, God offered a covenant treaty that established an ordained ministerial priesthood led by Aaron and his sons, whom the priesthood of the first-borns was to serve as lesser ministers. God also expanded the Laws of the Noahide Covenant, establishing laws which defined the civil, social, and religious life of the people.
Formal relationships between individuals and peoples/nations in ancient times were framed within the context of covenants or treaties. Many examples of such documents have been discovered among the archives of ancient Near Eastern powers. In the 1950's biblical scholars in the United States and Germany began to compare biblical literature with certain treaties of the ancient Hittite Empire.(1) The Hittites occupied what is today the eastern part of Turkey. In the Later Bronze Age, at the time most scholars place the Exodus (ca. 1500 - 1200 BC), the Hittite rulers were attempting to expand their empire to the south and east into Syria, Mesopotamia the Levant. During this time the Hittites entered into various treaties with the rulers of these regions.
Treaties in the ancient world were of two principal types: Parity treaties and Suzerainty/vassal treaties:
A Suzerainty/vassal treaty could also be of two types:
The Sinai Covenant has aspects of both a Royal Grant and a Covenant Treaty.
The Suzerainty/vassal covenant treaties of the ancient Near East were usually expressed in a six-part formulary which bound the vassal by sworn oath to fulfill his obligations to the great king. Different ancient treaties outline the six-part formulary with variation but basically the six parts include:
Part I: The Preamble (identification of the great king).
Part II: The Historical Prologue (antecedent history of the two parties).
Part III: The Ethical Stipulations (terms of the treaty the vassal must swear to uphold).
Part IV: Sanctions (blessings for loyal obedience and curses for violations of disobedience).
Part V: The List of Witnesses (pagan gods who would imposed judgment on the party that broke the oath to uphold the covenant treaty)
Part VI: Succession Arrangements and Disposition of the Covenant Document
In biblical covenant treaties, since there is no god greater than Yahweh, the fifth part of the treaty formulary is absent and only five parts are expressed in the biblical formulary. In the formation of a biblical covenant, as in the civil covenants, both the dominant king (Yahweh) and his vassal (Israel) swear an oath in treaty form, thereby creating a covenant binding the two parties.
The standard biblical covenant has five parts:
|1. Preamble:||Identifying the Lordship of the Great King & stressing his greatness, dominance & eminence|
|2. Historical Prologue:||Recounting the Great King's previous relationship to his vassal (with special emphasis on the benefits or blessing of that relationship).|
|3. Ethical Stipulations:||Enumerating the vassal's obligations to the Great King (the guide to maintaining the relationship)|
|4. Sanctions:||A list of the blessings for obedience and the curses/judgments that will fall on the vassal if he breaks the covenant.|
|5. Succession Arrangements and Disposition of the Treaty Document:||Arrangements and provisions for the continuity of the covenant relationship over future generations and the designation of which shrines or temples the copies of the covenant document were to be placed.|
A marriage Covenant followed a similar format with covenant duties and obligations contained within the marriage document. Covenants form marriages/ unions from which come families. A parity covenant between equals created the family bond of "brothers" while covenants with non-equals, like a great king and his vassal, created the family bond of a father/ son relationship. The vassal, under covenant oath, owed the king the loyalty and obedience a loving son owed a father. Yahweh expressed His covenant with Israel as both a great king to a vassal but also symbolically as a father to his son and as a husband to his wife. In Exodus 4:23 Yahweh called Israel His "firstborn" son, but when Israel strayed from Yahweh to embrace other gods she became the image of an unfaithful wife, a harlot breaking the marriage covenant (Ez 16:8-38).
Covenant Treaties of Old Testament:
One of the best examples of a covenant treaty formulary found in the Old Testament is the covenant renewal treaty found in the Book of Deuteronomy that Moses presented to the new generation of the Sinai Covenant who were preparing to take possession of the Promised Land (the original Exodus generation had died during the 40 years between the giving of the Law at Sinai and arriving at the plains of Moab and the entrance into the Promised Land). The book naturally divides into 5 sections that correspond to the 5 parts of the biblical covenant treaty structure. (Kline: Treaty of the Great King; Sutton That you may Prosper: Dominion by Covenant: Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1987).
|1. Preamble||Deuteronomy 1:1-5|
|2. Historical Prologue||Deuteronomy 1:6 "4:49|
|3. Ethical Stipulations||Deuteronomy 5:1 " 26:19|
|4. Sanctions||Deuteronomy 27:1 " 30:20|
|5. Succession Arrangements and Disposition of the Covenant Document||Deuteronomy 31:1 " 34:12|
Question: What was the covenant document of the Sinai Covenant and what was the disposition of the document be kept (where was it to be kept)?
Answer: The two tablets of the Ten Commandments will be kept in the Ark of the Covenant (also called the Ark of the Testimony).
The covenant treaty Yahweh formed with Israel was not the oldest documents law for a unified people in the ancient Near East (see the appendix to this lesson), but it was unique in that the concept of a covenant relationship between a god and his people (Yahweh and Israel) was unparalleled and documents supporting no other such relationship between a pagan god and a people have ever been discovered. Like the covenant with Abraham, the Covenant Treaty of Sinai was a 3-fold covenant, which can be expressed in its simplest terms as a covenant of creed, code, and cult:
Look for the 3-part focus of creed, code and cult and the five-parts of the covenant treaty formula as you study Exodus chapters 19-24.
Please read Exodus 19:1-8: The Invitation to Enter into
Covenant with Yahweh
19:1Three months to the day [in the third month/moon] after leaving Egypt [on this day], the Israelites reached the desert of Sinai. 2Setting out from Rephidim, they reached the desert of Sinai and pitched camp in the desert; there, facing the mountain, Israel pitched camp. 3Moses then went up to God, and Yahweh called to him from the mountain, saying, Say this to the House of Jacob! Tell the Israelites, 4"You have seen for yourselves what I did to the Egyptians and how I carried you away on eagle's wings and brought you to me. 5So now, if you are really prepared to obey me and keep my covenant, you, out of all peoples, shall be my personal possession, for the whole world is mine. 6For me you shall be a kingdom of priests, a holy nation." Those are the words you are to say to the Israelites.' 7So Moses went and summoned the people's elders and acquainted them with everything that Yahweh had bidden him, 8and the people all replied with one accord, Whatever Yahweh has said, we will do.' Moses then reported to Yahweh what the people had said.
[..] = literal translation (Interlinear Bible: Hebrew-English, vol. I, page 191).
Exodus 19:1-2: 19:1Three months to the day [in the third month/moon] after leaving Egypt [on this day], the Israelites reached the desert of Sinai. 2Setting out from Rephidim, they reached the desert of Sinai and pitched camp in the desert; there, facing the mountain, Israel pitched camp. The Hebrew word hosesh, the usual word for "month," is used in this passage in its original sense of "new moon." The Israelites left Egypt in the middle of the first month (Abib) and arrived at Sinai in the third new moon in the month of Sivan; it was the 48th day after the Exodus out of Egypt (JPS Commentary: Exodus, page 103; also see Num 29:6; 1 Sam 20:18; 2 Kng 4:23; Is 1:13).
Verses 3-6 express the essence of the covenant relationship between Yahweh and Israel. In the Bible covenants create family bonds, and in the case of the Sinai Covenant Yahweh is not only the great King to Israel's vassal/servant state but He is the great "Father" who loves and protects His "first-born" son, gently bearing Israel to freedom and holy nationhood.
Exodus 19:3-4: Moses then went up to God, and Yahweh called to him from the mountain, saying, Say this to the House of Jacob! Tell the Israelites, 4 "You have seen for yourselves what I did to the Egyptians and how I carried you away on eagle's wings and brought you to me. In the eagle imagery Yahweh is comparing Himself to the mother eagle caring for her young and Israel is the young eaglet who is learning to "fly." A mother eagle will throw her young out of the nest to teach them to fly, but she catches them on her back between her wings until they are able to fly on their own. In the same way Yahweh has thrown Israel out of her "nest" in Egypt but He has carefully carried her on His wings, guiding her in the Glory Cloud, to bring the Israelites to His holy mountain. This same imagery will be repeated in Deuteronomy 32:10-11 and Psalm 17:8.
Exodus 19:5-6: 5So now, if you are really prepared to obey me and keep my covenant, you, out of all peoples, shall be my personal possession, for the whole world is mine. 6For me you shall be a kingdom of priests, a holy nation." Those are the words you are to say to the Israelites.'
This is the first time the word "covenant"/ berit has been used in the Book of Exodus. The use of this word signals a turning point in God's relationship with the children of Israel. Our English word is from the Latin convenire, meaning "to agree, to come together" (Hardon, Catholic Dictionary, page 96). Covenants are not concerned with property rights like contracts, but covenants bind relationships and are concerned with intangibles like honor, loyalty, and truth. Biblical covenants create special "family" bonds of loyalty and fidelity between Yahweh and individuals or peoples similar to a marriage covenant.
you, out of all peoples, shall be my personal possession, for the whole world is mine: The Hebrew word for "treasured possession" is segullah, a word which literally means "valued property to which one has an exclusive right of possession" as in a slave or servant; the word has this same meaning in other Old Testament texts (i.e., Ecc 2:8 and 1 Chr 29:3; JPS Commentary: Exodus, page 104). The description of Israel as Yahweh's am segullah, "treasured people," expresses God's special covenantal relationship with the children of Israel and His love for those who belong to Him in the covenant family bond (also see Dt 7:6; 14:2; 26:18-19).
Question: In addition to being defined as God's "treasured people," what are the implications for Israel in this unique relationship with Yahweh as the great King and Israel as "first-born son"?
Answer: Belonging to God in this way implies a national sovereignty and a call to holiness as God's kingdom. Israel's service to God as a holy people helps to define her mission "both as being set apart from the other nations of the earth in holiness and at the same time being called to witness to the "younger brother" nations of the One True God.
Adam, God's first-born human "son" and the first priest of God's earthly Sanctuary, was God's representative to the other living creatures of creation and later, after the Fall and the expulsion from Eden, continued to be God's priestly representative to his human family.
Question: How was Israel, in Yahweh's invitation to covenant formation, going to be called to carry on Adam's priestly role but in much broader terms? How does the role of "first-born sonship" figure in God's plan? See Gen 2:15; Ex 3:7, 10, 12; 4:22-23; 5:1; 6:5, 7.
Answer: Just as Adam was created as God's human "first-born" son to be a liturgical being who fellowshipped with God in worship, so too has Israel been re-created through the Exodus experience to be God's people, His firstborn son chosen from among the nations of the earth to worship Yahweh. And as God's "first-born son" Israel's destiny is to become a priestly nation, serving as God's priestly representative to the other nations of the human family.
Answer: She must imitate God in her holiness to fulfill her destiny as keeper of God's Sanctuary on earth and to be His holy domain. Striving for holiness in every aspect of the lives of the covenant people is to be the hallmark of Israel's existence.
7So Moses went and summoned the people's elders and acquainted them with everything that Yahweh had bidden him,
8and the people all replied with one accord, Whatever Yahweh has said, we will do.' Moses then reported to Yahweh what the people had said.
Moses conveys the divine message not through the agency of Aaron but through the elders/judges of Israel.
Question: What was Israel's response to Yahweh's invitation to covenant formation and why was it a very brave response?
Answer: They swore to serve God in whatever God asked without knowing the conditions and obligations of the covenant. Israel's response was one of faith and trust, two of the three lessons God sought to teach His people on the courtship journey to Sinai. The third was "obedience" which will continue to be a problem.
In the introduction to this study it was mentioned that the Hebrew words abad and samar "to serve/ worship" and "to keep/guard" found in Genesis 2:15 to describe Adam's covenant obligations to God as priest of the garden Sanctuary in Eden are words that are repeated in the Exodus narrative and in the commands of the Sinai Covenant. After the Fall, however, Adam was exiled from Eden and, as a slave to sin living outside the Edenic Sanctuary, he was condemned to "serve" (abad) in hard labor (Gen 3:17-19, 23). In the first chapter of Exodus we discover that living outside the Promised Land the children of Israel are forced to serve the Pharaoh in hard labor as his slaves (Ex 1:13, 14; 2:23; 5:9, 11; 6:5, 6, 9; 14:5, 12) where the word abad is used four times (Ex 1:13-14; 5:18; 14:5, 12). The children of Israel continually petitioned the Pharaoh to allow them to leave to "worship" (abad) their God and God's desire for Israel to serve/worship Him (3:12; 4:23; 7:16, 26; 9:1, 13; 10:3, 7, 8, 11, 24, 26; 12:31; 13:5). Now, after their redemption from Egypt, at God's command the children of Israel will, like Adam, serve/ worship God in an earthly Sanctuary when they build the Tabernacle which becomes, for the first time since the Edenic Sanctuary, the one place on earth where God will commune with His people who will serve/worship (abad) Him (Ex 27:19; 30:16; 35:21, 24; 36:1, 3, 5; 38:21; 39:32, 40, 42).
Please read Exodus 19:9-15: The Preparation for the
19:9Yahweh then said to Moses, Look, I shall come to you in a dense cloud [clouds of darkness] so that the people will hear when I speak to you and believe you ever after.' Moses then told Yahweh what the people had said. 10Yahweh then said to Moses, Go to the people and tell them to sanctify themselves today and tomorrow. They must wash their clothes 11and be ready for the day after tomorrow [third day]; for the day after tomorrow [third day], in the sight of all the people, Yahweh will descend on Mount Sinai. 12You will mark out the limits of the mountain and say, "Take care not to go up the mountain or to touch the edge of it. Anyone who touches the mountain will be put to death. 13No one may lay a hand on him: he must be stoned or shot by arrow; whether man or beast, he shall not live. "When the ram's horn [yovel] sounds a long blast, they must go up the mountain.' 14So Moses came down from the mountain to the people; he made the people sanctify themselves and they washed their clothes. 15He then said to the people, Be ready for the day after tomorrow [for the third day]; do not touch a woman.
(Interlinear Bible: Hebrew-English, vol. I, page 192-93).
The Israelites arrived at the holy mountain on the third day of the third month of Sivan (May/June). The day they arrived would have been the 48th day after Israel left Egypt. Please note that in the literal Hebrew text the word "third" sheliyshiy or "three," sheloshah in verse 15 is repeated 5 times from Exodus 19:1-16 in verses 1, 10, 11, 15, and 16.
Question: What instructions were the Israelites given to prepare for their meeting with Yahweh?
Answer: They were told to "sanctify" themselves, which meant to ritually bathe to purify their bodies. They were also told to wash their clothes.
The people are to purify themselves body and soul. The ritual purification can be compared to the purification rites that will be defined for the priesthood in which Aaron and his sons are to wash their feet and hands, for the priests of the Temple who must bathe each morning before putting on their liturgical garment, and also to the bridal bath of the bride who ritually prepares herself to be intimately joined to her husband. Such ritual baths will later take place in a ritual pool known as a mikvah. This was the beginning of what will become the ritual purity laws (Num 19:1-22).
The Israelites were told that they were to preset themselves to God on the "third day" after they arrived at Mt. Sinai. The third day from the day they arrived would have been the 50th day after leaving Egypt. To count three days as the ancients counted, the count began with the first day as day #1 since there was no concept at that time of a 0-place value. The lunar months of the Israelite calendar numbered 29 or 30 day to each month.
Question: What is the significance of the "third day" in Scripture?
Answer: In the symbolic language of the Bible, a three day period points to an act of divine intervention which impacts Salvation History.
For more information see the document "The Symbolic Significance of the Third Day in Scripture" in the Documents section of the website.
Question: What instructions for their protection did God give the Israelites concerning His visitation on the mountain?
Question: Why would anyone touching the mountain have to die and why would anyone who touches him suffer the same fate? What did God's presence do to the mountain? See Gen 28:16-17; Ex 3:5; 40:35; Lev 16:2; Num 1:51; 18:22.
Answer: God's presence on the mountain made the mountain a sacred place and the sacred cannot be defiled by the profane, therefore the mountain where God manifested His presence became forbidden ground. Anyone who disobeyed God's command was committing a sacrilege and anyone who touched that person became ritually defiled.
In the Theophany at Sinai the mountain assumes the character of a holy Sanctuary of Yahweh. The rules the people must observe are similar to the regulations that will later be in forced for the desert Sanctuary.
Exodus 19:13: When the ram's horn [yovel] sounds a long blast, they must go up the mountain.' The word yovel is only used only in this passage and refers to the "ram's horn" but the meaning of the word is obscure. In Exodus 19:16 and 19 the word is sofar. Yovel is also used found in Joshua 6:4-5 where the ram's horn is blown to bring down the walls of Jericho. Yovel is the Hebrew word that lies behind the word "Jubilee," the 50 year celebration that was inaugurated by the blowing of the ram's horn (Lev 25:9).
Exodus 19:15: So Moses came down from the mountain to the people; he made the people sanctify themselves and they washed their clothes. He then said to the people, Be ready for the day after tomorrow [for the third day]; do not touch a woman.
Virginity is holy. Both Jesus and His mother Mary were consecrated in their virginity. The human vessel that will bear the next generation is veiled and consecrated in holiness. For a girl of the covenant to give up her virginity in the marriage covenant is a blood sacrifice in the same way a boy baby offers the sacrifice of his foreskin in circumcision. Israel, as the Bride of Yahweh, is to present herself to her Bridegroom in her virginal purity. It is for this reason that Israel's covenant bond with Yahweh is often expressed as a covenant marriage union. In her virginal purity Israel is the ideal Bride (Ez 16:8-14), but when but when she seeks out other gods she becomes an unfaithful harlot (Ez 16:15-43).
Before her presentation to her bridegroom a Jewish bride baths in a ritual bath called a mikveh. The Jewish rabbis considered this preparation before the Theophany at Sinai Israel's bridal bath and in commemoration of this event all converts to Judaism are required to be immersed in a ritual baptism upon conversion to the Jewish faith.
The concept of a ritual virginity also brings to mind the 144,000 consecrated men of Revelation 14:1-5 who were undefiled in their sexual purity. While their "virginity" may refer to fidelity to Yahweh (idolatry was equated with marital infidelity as we have already noted), when the priesthood was established the priests who served in the Tabernacle and later the Temple in Jerusalem will also have to maintain sexual purity for the week when they are serving in God's Sanctuary.
O the third day Yahweh came to His people on the mountain. It will be the third day of the third month and the 50th day since leaving Egypt, which will be commemorated as the Feast of Shavuot, or as it was known during Jesus' time as the Feast of Pentecost; the Greek word is he pentekoste, which means the 50th day. The Israelites will leave Mt. Sinai on the 20th day of the second month, Iyar [April/May], in the second year (Num 10:11).
Please Read Exodus 19:16-25: The Theophany on Sinai
19:16Now at daybreak two days later [on the third day, it being morning], there were peals of thunder and flashes of lightning, dense cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast [the sound of the sofar was very powerful]; and, in the camp, all the people trembled. 17Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet God; and they took their stand at the bottom of the mountain. 18Mount Sinai was entirely wrapped in smoke, because Yahweh had descended on it in the form of fire. The smoke rose like smoke from a furnace and the whole mountain shook violently. 19Louder and louder grew the trumpeting [The blare of the shofar grew louder and louder]. Moses spoke, and God answered him in the thunder. 20Yahweh descended on Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain, and Yahweh called Moses to the top of the mountain; and Moses went up. 21Yahweh then said to Moses, Go down and warn the people not to break through to look at Yahweh, or many of them will perish. 22Even the priests, who do have access to Yahweh, must sanctify themselves, or Yahweh may burst out against them.' 23Moses said to Yahweh, The people cannot come up Mount Sinai, since you yourself warned us to mark out the limits of the mountain and declare it sacred.' 24Yahweh said, Away with you! Go down! Then come back bringing Aaron with you. But do not allow the priests and people to break through to come up to Yahweh, or he may burst out against them.' 25So Moses went down to the people and spoke to them...
The Glory Cloud [shekinah = manifestation of the presence of God] that led the people through the wilderness now came to rest on Mt Sinai and on the third day there were peals of thunder and flashes of lightening, dense cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast.. as the gates of heaven open and the heavenly court was revealed. Instead of the word "thunder" the Hebrew translation reads kol = voice. It is the "voice" of God that sounds like thunder. This manifestation of the voice of God helps us to understand why Adam and Eve were afraid when they heard the kol [voice] of God walking in the Garden in Genesis 3:8. This display is also described by St. John in the Book of Revelation when he was called into the court of the heavenly Tabernacle which he describes in the same terms as the visual and acoustic effects of Sinai: Flashes of lightning were coming from the Throne and the sound of peals of thunder... In Revelation 4:4b John was witnessing the heavenly Tabernacle. The earthly Tabernacle that the children of Israel will be told to construct will only be a copy of what Moses is shown of the heavenly Sanctuary (see Ex 25:8-9; Heb 8:5; 9:23).
When Moses heard the sound of the ram's horn he led the people out to the foot of the mountain (Ex 19:17) were it was safe for the people to assemble. Still, the people were terror-struck. Mt Sinai was entirely wrapped in the Cloud because Yahweh had descended on it in the form of fire. The entire mountain shook violently, the trumpeting of the shofar was deafening and the people approach in great fear up to the boundary set for them. This is the first great Pentecost when God came down in fire to His Covenant people.
Question: List the sites and sounds accompany the Theophany on Mt. Sinai.
The visual and acoustical display was meant to convey in human terms something of the great, terrifying, and awe-inspiring impact of the rendezvous that would change the destiny of the descendants of Israel forever. The prophet Ezekiel will have a similar experience on Mt. Sinai: A mighty hurricane split the mountains and shattered the rocks before Yahweh. But Yahweh was not in the hurricane. And after the hurricane, an earthquake. But Yahweh was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake, fire. But Yahweh was not in the fire (1 Kng 19:12).
Exodus 19:19-20: 19Louder and louder grew the trumpeting [The blare of the shofar grew louder and louder]. Moses spoke, and God answered him in the thunder. 20Yahweh descended on Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain, and Yahweh called Moses to the top of the mountain; and Moses went up.
The shofar announced the arrival of Yahweh the great King. In Zechariah 9:14 the prophet predicts in poetic terms that in the time of judgment Yahweh will manifest His arrival with the sound of the ram's horn and advance in a the visual and acoustical display of a thunderstorm, and in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 St. Paul writes that Jesus will return At the signal given by the voice of the Archangel and the trumpet of God, the Lord himself will come down from heaven...
Moses alone has the privilege to ascend to the top of the mountain and to stand in the presence of God.
Exodus 19:21: Yahweh then said to Moses, Go down and warn the people not to break through to look at Yahweh, or many of them will perish. 22 Even the priests, who do have access to Yahweh, must sanctify themselves, or Yahweh may burst out against them.'
Question: Who are the priests who must sanctify themselves?
Answer: Since the priesthood of the Sinai Covenant is not established yet (Ex 28-29), the "priests" are understood as referring to the first-born men who made sacrifices to Yahweh as heads of their extended families.
22Even the priests, who do have access to Yahweh, must sanctify themselves, or Yahweh may burst out against them.' 23Moses said to Yahweh, The people cannot come up Mount Sinai, since you yourself warned us to mark out the limits of the mountain and declare it sacred.' 24Yahweh said, Away with you! Go down! Then come back bringing Aaron with you. But do not allow the priests and people to break through to come up to Yahweh, or he may burst out against them.' 25So Moses went down to the people and spoke to them...
Please Read Exodus 20:1-21: The Giving of the Decalogue
20:1Then God spoke all these words. He said,
2 I am Yahweh your God who brought you out of Egypt, where you lived as slaves.
3 You shall have no other gods to rival [over/before] 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 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 towards thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. 7 You shall not misuse the name of Yahweh your God, for Yahweh will not leave unpunished anyone who misuses his name.
8 Remember 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 Honor your father and your mother so that you may live long in the land that Yahweh your God is giving you.
13 You shall not kill
14 You shall not commit adultery. 15 You shall not steal.
16 You shall not give false evidence against your neighbor.
17 You shall not set your heart on your neighbor's house. You shall not set your heart on your neighbor's spouse, or servant, man or woman, or ox, or donkey, or any of your neighbor's possessions.'
18 Seeing the thunder pealing, the lightening flashing, the trumpet blasting and the mountain smoking, the people were all terrified and kept their distance. 19 Speak to us yourself,' they said to Moses, and we will obey; but do not let God speak to us, or we shall die.' Moses said to the people, 20 Do not be afraid; God has come to test you, so that your fear of him, being always in your mind, may keep you from sinning.' 21 So the people kept their distance while Moses approached the dark cloud where God was.
The popular English title for this series of laws is the "ten commandments." In fact, the word "commandment" (mitzvah, plural = mitsvot) is not used in this passage, rather the Hebrew means "The Ten Words," which the Septuagint translated literally into Greek as deka logoi (also see Hos 4:2; Jer 7:9; Ez 18:5-9). The title "ten commandments" is the English translation of the Hebrew phrase aseret ha-devarium that appears in Exodus 34:28, in Deuteronomy 4:13 and 10:4 (JPS Commentary: Exodus, page 107).
The laws of the Decalogue/Ten Commandments sum up and proclaim God's law. They are an amalgamation of religious, civil (secular), and social justice obligations. The division and numbering of the commandments varies according to various traditions but the most obvious division are the laws concern man's relationship with God and man's relationships with his fellow man. Roman Catholics have traditionally followed the division and numbering established by St. Augustine in which the first three laws pertain to man's relationship with God and the last seven with man's relationship with humanity (see St. Augustine's list in the appendix).
Taken as a whole, the entire body of the Ten Commandments illustrates that man's social behavior cannot be separated from his religious conscience and obligations to God but that the one is rooted in the other. Living the whole law of the "ten words" was for the Old Covenant people of God a path to life: Keep them and put them into practice: such is Yahweh's command to you. Stray neither to right nor to left. Follow the whole way that Yahweh has marked for you, and you will survive to prosper and live long in the country which you are going to possess (Dt 5:32-33). It is, however, in the New Covenant in Jesus Christ that the full meaning of the "ten words" will be revealed (CCC 2056). The Council of Trent teaches that the Ten Commandments are obligatory for Christians and the Second Vatican Council confirms this teaching: The bishops, successors of the apostles, receive from the Lord... the mission of teaching all peoples, and of preaching the Gospel in every creature, so that all men may attain salvation through faith, Baptism and the observance of the Commandments (Lumen Gentium 24). Also see the list of the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy 5:1-22.
The opening line: Then God spoke all these words. He said, I am Yahweh your God who brought you out of Egypt, where you lived as slaves, is both the preamble identifying the great King and the historical prologue summarizing the great King's relationship to the people and His deeds on their behalf. This statement of identity and historical summary will be repeated in Deuteronomy 5:6. In this historical review Yahweh bases His claim to the people's allegiance on His role as Israel's liberator from Egyptian slavery. The series of laws are the ethical stipulations (Part III) of the biblical covenant treaty formula. The list of commandments will be according to St. Augustine's division.
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 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 towards thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
Question: What is the focus of the first commandment? See CCC 2084-2141
Answer: God's first ethical stipulation requires that mankind shall worship and serve no other god but Yahweh. God requires unconditional and exclusive loyalty. In obedience to this command, God promises His faithful covenant love and calls for His people's undivided faith, hope, and love. This commandment also recognizes that society is collectively responsible for its actions and that each individual must be aware that his or her conduct can influence for good or for evil the next generation. It also recognizes God's divine judgment but at the same time the limit of His punishments and the generous extent of His beneficence "to the thousands generation."
Question: What is the focus of the second commandment? See CCC 2142-55.
Answer: The second commandment demands respect for God's holy name. Because He has entrusted man with access to Him through His name man must not abuse the privilege. The holiness of God's name demands that it is not spoken frivolously or invoked for trivial matters but that we call out His name only in prayer, petition, and praise. To use God's name in any other way is blasphemy, a grave sin and a violation of the covenant.
Commentators are divided on the specific restriction in the use of God's name. Most scholars regard it as a prohibition against swearing falsely while others include the sin of irreverent or profane swearing an oath using God's name. The covenant people were instructed to swear an oath to keep a vow in God's name as a pledge of their integrity and true intent in keeping the vow. But when an oath was sworn in the name of God arbitrarily, without the force of conviction even though such an oath placed the person under the verdict and judgment of God if the oath was not upheld, that would be a "vain" oath, an oath without meaning. In the New Covenant believers are encouraged not to swear by any oath since the Christian is to be truthful on all occasions and should not need the name of God to verify that they are speaking the truth (see Jesus' teaching on swearing oaths in Mt 5:33-37 and St. James' teaching in Jm 5:12).
The Old Covenant people took this commandment so literally that they never used God's covenant name YHWH nor do they even speak the word "God" but instead refer to G_d as Adonai or HaShem ("the name").
The third commandment (Exodus 20:8-11; Dt 5:12-15): Remember 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.
The holy character of the seventh day was already established in the Creation event (Gen 2:1-3), but the command to rest from one's labors and devote the entire seventh day to fellowship with Yahweh was first given to the Israelites in Exodus 16:23-30 and was associated with the miracle of the manna. The etymology of the Hebrew word shabbat is still debated by scholars. Scholars have not determined if the noun is derived from the verbal stem which means "to rest from labor" or if the verb is derived from the noun. There is also a connection both between the number seven (savah/shabah) and the swearing of an oath, which is literally "to seven oneself." The concept of the Sabbath rest is unique to Israel. There is no other such weekly observance of the relationship with a people god in the entire ancient Near East.
Question: Who is included in the Sabbath rest commands?
Answer: Everyone in one's household, including family members, servants, animals, and visitors/ strangers.
This law shows that the scope of the commandments extend beyond ethnic Israel in promoting social justice and equality among non-Israelites within the household as well as the ethical treatment of animals. Under the interpretation of the Law the observance of holy days were included in this commandment.
Question: Why is it that the New Covenant people of God no longer worship on the Old Covenant Saturday Sabbath? In the Creation event what day was Sunday? See Mt 28:1; Mk 16:2; Lk 24:1; Jn 20:1; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:2; Rev 1:10.
Answer: If Saturday was the 7th day of Creation, then Sunday was the first day of Creation. For the New Covenant people of God the holy day of worship ceased to be the Old Covenant Saturday Sabbath. Jesus' Resurrection took place on the first day of the week on the Old Covenant Feast of Firstfruits (Lev 23:11-14) and the birth of the New Covenant Church took place on the first day of the week on the Jewish Feast of Weeks/Pentecost (Lev 23:15-21; Acts 2:1); therefore, Sunday immediately became the day of the New Covenant creation event and the holy day of worship for the New Covenant people of God.
The Catechism addresses this new beginning: Jesus rose from the dead "on the first day of the week." Because it is the "first day," the day of Christ's Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the "eighth day" following the Sabbath, it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ's Resurrection. For Christians it has become the first of all days, the first of all feasts, the Lord's Day (he kuriake hemera, dies domininca) "Sunday. Then quoting from St. Justin Martyr's I Apologia 67: We all gather on the day of the sun, for it is the first day [after the Jewish Sabbath, but also the first day] when God, separating matter from darkness, made the world; and on this same day Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead (CCC 2174).
And St. Ignatius of Antioch (35-107 AD), the bishop of St. Paul's home parish, wrote: Those who lived according to the old order of things have come to a new hope, no longer keeping the Sabbath, but the Lord's Day, in which our life is blessed by him and by his death (Epistla ad Magnesois, 9).
Question: Is the force of the command to keep holy the Lord's Day any less than the Old Covenant command to worship on the Sabbath? See CCC 1382, 2042, 2180-83.
Answer: To celebrate the Eucharist in worship of Jesus Christ on the Lord's Day is the first precept of the Church. To willfully disobey this command, the origin of which is found in the Ten Commandments, is a grave sin.
For Christians the observance of the Lord's Day replaces that of the Old Covenant Sabbath, fulfilling the spiritual truth of the Jewish Sabbath and announcing man's eternal rest on God
This commandment marks the division between commandments regulating man's relationship with God and man's relationship with his brothers and sisters in the human family.
Question: What is unique about this commandment?
Answer: It is the first commandment that has a promise.
To honor one's father and mother carries with it the promises life and prosperity. Jesus set an example by His obedience to His mother the Virgin Mary and His foster father, St. Joseph (Lk 2:51). St. Paul wrote of this commandment and its promise in his letter to the Ephesians: Children, be obedient to your parents in the Lord "that is what uprightness demands. The first commandment that has a promise attached to it is: Honor your father and your mother, and the promise is: so that you may have long life and prosper in the land (Eph 6:1-3). The commandment to honor parents implies that respect for one's parents is important to the social fabric of a healthy society, while to dishonor parents imperils families in particular and society in general. This commandment also emphasizes God's commitment to the human family as the most basic and necessary unit of a healthy society. This commitment to the family is further displayed in the unity and organization of the Church family in which the "children," who are the faithful, are loved and guided by Mother Church and her priests and bishops, who are "fathers" to her children. Her children, in return, owe these "fathers" their love and respect. See CCC 2197-2257.
The fifth commandment (Exodus 20:13; Dt 17): You shall not kill. Human life is sacred because from its origins in the Creation event life involves the creative action of God who is from the beginning of life to its end the "Lord of life." The blood of every living creature belongs to God. Blood is a sacred sign of life (Lev 17:14) and the blood of man is uniquely sacred because man was created in God's image and likeness. No one has the right to usurp God's sovereignty and authority over life (see CCC 2258).
However, as the JPS Commentary notes, the Hebrew stem r-ts-h in this commandment applies only to illegal killing (page 113) and therefore a better translation is "You shall not murder." The penalty for homicide was established in the Noahide Covenant in Genesis 9:5-6 and will be upheld in the expanded law with the warning Do not slay the innocent and the righteous (Ex 23:7; also see Lev 1:5). The right to self-defense is recognized in the Old and New Covenants but with limits (CCC 2263-67). It is God who has the right of avenging the spilling of human blood (Gen 4:10), but He can delegate this office of justice to certain men to be exercised by the state or through individuals (Num 35:19). It is blood which is the sign of life which is why it is the sign which atoned for and covered man's sins in the Old Covenant and forgive sins (in the blood of Jesus Christ) in the New (see CCC 2258-2330).
This command speaks to the fidelity of covenant union, whether in the marriage covenant between a man and a woman or the "marriage" between Yahweh and Israel. To turn away from Yahweh to run after false gods was to commit the sin of adultery against Yahweh, Israel's spouse. The placement of this prohibition between murder and theft speaks to the seriousness of the offense. Adultery was both a public wrong and an offense against God, and in the case of the spousal infidelity of a woman the husband did not have the legal power to pardon his faithless wife. The penalty for adultery was death by stoning (Lev 20:10; Dt 22:22; Jer 29:21-23; Ez 16:38).
Question: How did Jesus interpret this commandment?
Answer: Jesus raised the bar on the observance of this commandment when He said: Everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Mt 5:27-28). He also upheld the sanctity of marriage in His statement: It has been said, anyone who divorces his wife must give her a writ of dismissal. But I say this to you, everyone who divorces his wife, except for the case of an illicit marriage, makes her an adulteress; and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery (Mt 5:31-32; also see Mt 19:7-9).
This is a commandment that requires both spiritual and physically purity (see CCC 2380-2400).
Since categories of theft are not specified it is assumed this commandment refers to personal property rights and to the protection of individuals (kidnapping). In the beginning, God the Creator, blessed man with dominion over the earth (Gen 1:28); however, dominion over the earth's resources was not ownership but stewardship. While the appropriation of property is legitimate for guaranteeing each person and/or family to meet their present needs and future prosperity it should not be subject to the ruthless appropriation by other men nor should ruthless acquisition of property at the expense of the weak become a burden to and a crime against society (CCC 2401-2463).
In the sermon on the Mt. of Beatitudes Jesus taught: Again, you have heard how it was said to our ancestors, You must not break your oath, but must fulfill your oaths to the Lord (Mt 5:33) and Jesus is identified in the Gospel of St. John as "the Truth" and as the One who came into the world to bear witness to the truth (Jn 1:14; 8:12; 14:6; 18:37). In Matthew 5:33 Jesus was speaking of this commandment in which one was commanded by oath to speak the truth with conviction and forbidden to misrepresent the truth in our relations with others. Living as holy people who were called not to only bear the image of God but also the likeness of His holiness, truth and righteousness, to lie was an offense against the God and was fundamentally an infidelity to their sworn commitment to live as a holy people. Such unrighteous behavior risked undermining the very foundations of the holy covenant (CCC 2464-2513).
Covetousness is the inordinate desire to acquire that which belongs to another and suggests possible malice toward the one in possession of what is desired. In his list of commandments St. Augustine separated the commandment against coveting another's possessions from coveting another's wife (a wife is a partner in a covenant relationship and not a possession). Placing the priority on the wife, Augustine flipped the two commandments to list coveting another's wife as the ninth commandment and coveting another's goods as the tenth.
Question: In his letter to the Church what three kinds of covetousness did St. John distinguish as motivators to sin? See 1 Jn 2:16.
It is St. John who defines the sin of concupiscence that is man's inherited tendency to sin acquired in the Fall of man. These three examples of covetousness/concupscience led Eve into sin when she took and ate the forbidden fruit in Genesis 3:1-6. (1) Eve saw "the fruit was good to eat and (2) pleasing to the eye, and (3) it would give wisdom," making them like gods. The ninth commandment concerns concupiscence of the flesh. Etymologically the word "concupiscence" can refer to any intense form of human desire which are "an insubordination of man's desires to the dictates of reason, but Christian theology has given it the theological definition of the propensity of human nature to sin as a result of original sin (Etym. Latin con-, thoroughly + cupere, to desire: concupisentia, desire, greed, cupidity (Harden, Catholic Dictionary, page 86). See CCC 2514-2533.
This final commandment completes the Decalogue. This commandment forbids coveting the possessions of another "concupiscence of the eyes and pride of life can spawn greed, violence and injustice. The commandment is not directed toward one who admires what another has and strived to acquire something similar, but is concerned with the sins of envy and avarice arising from a passion to be better than someone else and for the acquisition of possessions and the power associated with acquiring such objects. Envy is a capital sin and St. Augustine defined envy as "a diabolical sin." The Catechism defines envy as referring to "the sadness at the sight of another's goods and the immoderate desire to acquire them for oneself, even unjustly." When envy wishes grave harm to a neighbor it is a mortal sin (CCC 2539). Also see CCC 2434-2550.
After the giving of the main body of the Law in the "ten words", the people announced their acceptance and also accepted Moses as their covenant mediator. Moses' testimony in Deuteronomy records: 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. 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, 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. 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. 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? God nearer yourself and listen to everything that Yahweh our God may say, and them tell us everything that Yahweh our God has told you, and we shall listen and put it into practice!" (Dt 5:22-27)
After this Moses sent the people away and returned to God to receive the additional detailed articles of the law embodied in the Ten Commandments.
The Sinai Covenant was not the oldest known form of codified law in the region, but it was absolutely unique as the only law code in recorded history that presented itself as being given by a God who, as a great King formed a covenant-treaty with a people as His vassals.
The Children of Israel will be reminded of this great day in Deuteronomy 4:10-14 when Moses in his last great homily reminds the people: The day you stood at Horeb in the presence of Yahweh your God, Yahweh said to me, 'Summon the people to me; I want them to hear me speaking, so that they will learn to fear me all the days they live on earth, and teach this to their children.' So you came and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain flamed to the very sky, a sky darkened by cloud, murky and thunderous. Yahweh then spoke to you from the heart of the fire; you heard the sound of words but saw no shape; there was only a voice. He revealed his covenant to you and commanded you to observe it, the Ten Words which he inscribed on two tablets of stone. Yahweh then ordered me to teach you the laws and customs that you were to observe in the country into which you are about to cross, to take possession of it.
St. Augustine wrote: To fall in love with God is the greatest of all romances; to seek Him, the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement. The Sinai Covenant was a covenant conceived in love and law "God's love for Israel and the faithful love Israel was to return to Yahweh in living in obedience to His law. Ours is also a covenant founded in love, the self-sacrificial love of our Savior for every member of the human family. No matter what our struggles in our journey to that final great rendezvous with Yahweh, when our time on earth is over, the judgment we will face will be determined by how much we have loved God and how much we shared His love with others.
Question for group discussion:
Question: What is the motivation for fulfilling the stipulations of the Ten Commandments? Is the motivation fear of retribution or the desire to conform to the divine will of God reinforced by the spiritual discipline and moral character of the believer?
Question: What was the purpose of the Law of the Sinai Covenant? Was it perfect or was it imperfect and if it was imperfect, what was lacking? See CCC 1961-64.
Older codes and codes contemporary to the Law of the Sinai Covenant:
The Ten Commandments according to St. Augustine (see the Catechism pages 496-97).
1. Biblical scholar George Mendenhall in the United States and Klaus Baltzer in Germany were the first to make these comparisons between Hittite treaties and the covenant treaty at Sinai. Extensive work on the subject was also done by other biblical scholars like American scholar Meredith K. Kline (Sinai and Zion, page 26; Kline, Kingdom Prologue).
3. In a parity treaty the equal parties become "brothers" but in a suzerainty treaty the great king becomes a "father" to his vassals who are commanded to love the great lord as a son loves a father. For example the treaty drawn up by King Esarhaddon (680-669 BC) of Assyria has a stipulation in the Succession Arrangements section that insures his vassals will be loyal to his heir by giving him their filial "love;" a line from the stipulations reads: You will love as yourselves Assurbanipal and in another Assyrian document the vassals must swear by oath the king of Assyria, our Lord, we will love (Sinai and Zion, page 28).
Catechism references for Exodus 19:1-20:21 (* indicates Scripture is either paraphrased or quoted in the citation)
709*, 762*, 2810*
2196, 2200, 2214*
1456*, 2513, 2533
Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2009 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.