3

Based upon Exodus 20, God spoke directly to the children of Israel. He provided ten commandments. Being frightened of the theatrics of God, Israel removed themselves and told Moses to speak to God instead of them doing so directly. So they nominated Moses as their representative. God proceeds to speak to Moses to relay the commandments to the children of Israel. Is there any thing in the text of Exodus which suggests that God would possibly have continued writing the rest of the commandments on stone himself, if they hadn't been so afraid?

It seems like the ten commandments are special because they are the only commandments that God directly spoke to Israel in a formal matter.

10
  • Welcome to Christianity SE and thank you for your contribution. When you get a chance, please take the tour to understand how the site works and how it is different than others.
    – agarza
    Jan 5, 2022 at 22:14
  • 1
    FYI, in Judaism, they say that the Torah contains 613 commandments and they regard the 603 as fence (outer laws) to make them less likely to break the more important 10 commandments because they would have to break the outer ones first. Jan 5, 2022 at 23:39
  • I am struggling to understand precisely what question you are asking here. What passage of Scripture are we analyzing?
    – Dottard
    Jan 6, 2022 at 9:34
  • "Is there any implications that would suggest that God would've possibly written all the commandments on stone for Israel?" - Would you please rephrase this to be clear and concise. "...implications to suggest possibly"... Do you mean to ask whether the text says God wrote them on stone?
    – Jesse
    Jan 6, 2022 at 11:13
  • 1
    I think you are asking whether God would have given Israel more than 10 commandments if they had remained speaking with him without a mediator (Moses). Is this correct? Jan 6, 2022 at 13:56

1 Answer 1

3

Note on Hermeneutics: Since this was migrated from Christianity.SE, it has been reviewed and deemed worthy as a Hermeneutics Question. So, we must work diligently to remain inside that scope. This is not a Question about what we suppose would have happened if... This is a Question about what the text tells us about what happened and how to understand whatever we can, based on that text.

Does the Bible address whether the Ten Commands were conditional?

No. The Bible is silent on whether the Ten Commandments were an optional-conditional consequence. To arrive at the conclusion they were conditional, there would need to be some passage that says something like, "Because they have forsaken Me, I gave these statutes..." But, there isn't anything like that.

Circumstances of Moses on the mountain

Israel was specifically told not to go up on the mountain. If they had, they wouldn't have received an "Eleventh Commandment"; they would have died!

Ex 19:12 (NASB, emphasis added)

You shall set bounds for the people all around, saying, ‘Beware that you do not go up on the mountain or touch the border of it; whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death.

Then, Moses recalls this...

Ex 19:23 (NASB)

Moses said to the Lord, “The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, for You warned us, saying, ‘Set bounds about the mountain and consecrate it.’”

Even before that, God gave a mission to Moses while he was up on the mountain. So, there was a clear purposes that all of this was already a part of; and that purpose is benevolent!

Ex 19:2-3 (NASB, emphasis added)

2 When they set out from Rephidim, they came to the wilderness of Sinai and camped in the wilderness; and there Israel camped in front of the mountain. 3 Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel:

What purpose is given?

...as the text continues, we see a purpose...

Ex 19:4-6 (NASB, emphasis added)

4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. 5 Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; 6 and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.”

We also see reasoning and promises within the Commands themselves.

Ex 20:5-6 (NASB, emphasis added)

5You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

Ex 20:12 (NASB, emphasis added)

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.

It looks like these are beneficial, benevolent, unconditional motives and purposes. These are not the kind of reasons that would come from something that God didn't already want to do.

The Hermeneutic of cross-reference

If there were a condition for the Ten Commandments, we would probably need to look back to Genesis 3, The Fall. That would be a worthy consideration since Moses is regarded in the New Testament as the same writing author for both Genesis and Exodus.

Interpreting Scripture with Scripture is another hermeneutic that can provide insight. The reasons given in Exodus 19-20 (above) are strikingly similar to the benevolent, forgiving God who speaks along the same lines of motive through Jeremiah.

Jer 29:11-13 (NASB)

11 For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

Conclusion

Given this, God's motive and purpose behind the Ten Commandments seem to stand independent of any other condition.

As for the Ten Commandmnents being highly regarded, the Bible doesn't especially esteem them, but refers to them just as it refers to other parts of the Bible. They may get special attention both inside the Bible and outside merely because they are a concise list of ten, just as Jesus's Two Great Commands are also simple.

Mt 22:37-40 (NASB)

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

So, in Jesus's view, only two commands get the "royal" treatment.

Reconsider the presumption that the Ten Commandments get royal treatment within the Bible. Other than that, both the Ten and the Two seem to stand independently of any condition on human choice.

1
  • "The Two" are summaries of the Four and Six of "The Ten", which in turn is a summary of all God's laws for mankind (excluding the Levitical Laws for the priesthood, and the Civil Laws for the nation). Jan 6, 2022 at 17:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.