Hebrews 2:1-4 (KJV)
" Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?"
EXODUS 20 Words WE ALL MUST FOLLOW or else HOW CAN any of us call ourselves TRUE CHRISTIAN (Christ-Like) BELIVERS IN G*D?
1. Then Elohim spoke all these words:
2. "I am YHWH your Elohim, who has brought you out of the land of Egypt--out from the house of subjugation."
In Hebrew tradition, THIS is the first "commandment" (the second, then, is everything from verses 3-6), because these ten are not called "commandments" in Scripture, but "words" or "statements". The inherent "command" is to simply recognize this fact.
The word here for "I" is a specialized one that indicates an intimacy between the speaker and the one spoken to. But recognizing that His name is YHWH and that we are to have a relationship to Him as on those terms is the foundational principle He lays down. He often places this phrase ?
I am YHWH your Elohim? next to a command, partly to say, ?You must do it because of who I am, and I said so?, but also because it is only through obeying these commands that we can truly know what He is like.
3. "For you there will not be any other elohim in My presence.
Other elohim: There are in one sense "gods" in the world--powerful spiritual rulers placed over certain regions (1 Cor. 8:5), which, as long as they do not interfere with His purposes for Israel, have a rightful place in keeping order among men.
(See Daniel 10:13ff). But for Israel there is a direct relationship. In My presence: literally, above My face. Nothing is to be between us and His face, blocking it. There are to be no intermediaries between ourselves and the highest of the "mighty ones", except Y'shua, who, in accordance with Torah, acts as "kinsman redeemer" to bring those who left the covenant back into relationship with YHWH, but does not take His place. In a special sense, YHWH is called Yaaqov's share.
(Yirmeyahu 51:19, etc.) Recall that this is a betrothal contract, of which human vows to forsake all others? are a picture.
This is the preamble to the covenant, in which the generalities are presented first, then the specifics.
He had to be so possessive because He knew Israel's tendencies to stray after other elohim.
He had to get the upper hand? so that He would be free to do what was best for us.
Israel is His property, for He redeemed her from Pharaoh. (v. 2) Through Y?shua, He has paid for us again, so how much more are we His property to command as He wishe's The term elohim really means mighty one's; we are not to consider anything mighty to exist in relation to ourselves, except Him.
What is a major threat to others (such as the Reed Sea) is not aproblem for Him, and is not to be feared.
4. "You will not make for yourself a carved image or any resemblance of what is in the skies from above, or what is on the earth from beneath, or what is in the waters [that are] lower than the earth;
Carved: or "engraved".
Resemblance: or "representation".
This is the next logical step in idolatry, followed by the third in v.
5. (Hirsch) This connotes a three-dimensional image formed out of something else.
5. "You will not bow down to them, nor will you serve them, because I Myself am YHWH your Elohim--a jealous Elohim, laying the punishment of fathers on [their] children, even the third and fourth [generation] for those who hate Me,
Serve: or minister to, a work done on another?s behalf that one is not paid to perform. I.e., YHWH's bride is not to go clean her old boyfriend?s house for free!
This term for "jealous" is never used of men in Scripture; we can never attain to this type of jealousy, because it implies a deserving more pure than anything we can ever achieve.
It means He wants to be our desired. Hirsch: "Demanding His exclusive rights". On their children:
the Aramaic renders it "rebellious children", and adds "when the children follow their fathers in sinning", to avoid the idea that a son or daughter who repented of his parents' ways would still be punished.
This agrees with Yirmeyahu 31:29ff. Holding us guilty until something is done to rectify it is a blessing since He does not let anyone go on thinking they got away with doing wrong without consequences.
6. "but doing [deeds of] lovingkindness to thousands [of generations] for those who love Me and who observe My commandments.
Lovingkindness: or "mercy". Note how "mercy triumphs over judgment."
Observing (keeping or guarding) His commandments is the sign Y?shua gave that we actually do love Him. (Yochanan 14:15; 15:7-10)
7. "You will not carry the Name of YHWH your Elohim in a wasteful manner, because YHWH will not hold the one who carries his Name wastefully [as] guiltless.
Carry the Name: or "take the Name upon yourself"; Aramaic, "swear falsely with his name". Swearing calls down on oneself all that YHWH is, in the event that what one says is not true.
It combines the belief that He is always watching over us with the idea that He holds the power over all that will happen to us; to swear falsely in His Name is to ignore both of these.
In a wasteful manner: in an empty way, in vain, in a way that indicates devastating or ruining it, treating it as useless.
This means so much more than just using it as a profane epithet. It makes Him out to be just like all the gods, which in popular belief acted little differently than men; i.e., His existence makes no difference in our plans, decisions, or expectations.
When we worry, we are doing this as well.
In Hebrew something that is not unique, but is just like everything else, is conceptually nonexistent, having nothing of its own to show for its having lived (both ideas being expressed by the same word).
Thus it is purposeless. Making a superfluous oath is thus "playing with the most solemn of all solemn acts of men". (Hirsch) Lifting up His Name to devastation also includes diminishing His true Name (YHWH) by replacing it with other, lesser names, especially those with pagan background usages.
So in endeavoring to hold His Name as sacred, He does not, on the other hand, want us to stop using it, but only to not use it lightly, being responsible in our usage of it, and not apply it to things that are worthless or that He does not approve of (as outlined by the Torah).
And it means to live in a way worthy of those who have His name upon us, doing nothing that is not commensurate with that awesome privilege.
If we are going to say we are YHWH?s wife, we must act like it. Guiltless: or exempt from punishment.
8. "Remember the Sabbath day in order to preserve its set-apart [status].
Remember: recall, recognize, or make mention of it--because it is nothing new at this point; it has been around since creation (and verse 11 makes this connection overtly).
This assumes we keep track of which day it is. But to look around today is to see how easy it is for even very religious people to forget.
This is the one commandment YHWH repeated after all the words Moshe brought down from the mountain (31:13-17), perhaps because He knew it would be the one most frequently susceptible to mis-obedience by otherwise-righteous people.
(It does not just say "one day in seven", but specifically the seventh day of the week ) But keeping it in mind also requires a concrete participation as acknowledgment of its spiritual reality. The tense of "remember" here extends indefinitely beyond merely the day itself (S.R. Hirsch), since in a sense all days were created for the purpose of having a Sabbath rest.
The liturgy for the end of the Sabbath blesses YHWH who, as He created a distinction between the Sabbath and the ordinary days, has also distinguished between light and darkness, and between Israel and the rest of the nations, since it is not to be a nation just like all the others.
9. "Six days you will labor in service and do all your work,
here, occupation for the sake of gain or the continuation of creation by altering the nature or form of anything.
Herein again is the importance of finishing the work YHWH gives us to do in this age, and not waiting until it is convenient to obey (as it will be in the Kingdom) to show with Whom we stand. Notice that even on the six ordinary days, service takes priority over employment.
10. "but the seventh day is a sabbath devoted to YHWH your Elohim; you shall not carry out any employment--neither you nor your son, your daughter, your male or female servant, your livestock, or the foreign guest who is within your gates,
Sabbath: time of ceasing and desisting. Employment: or "constructive work", or "using the material of the world for our own purposes" (Hirsch).
We do this for six days, but only this is excluded on the Sabbath; the "labor [for service]" in verse 9 (for which we expect no reward in return and through which others benefit and are moved to bless YHWH) is not prohibited, so we do that type of work seven days a week, not just on the Sabbath when we desist from the work for our own gain.
The first three commands pertain specifically to our relationship with YHWH, and twice as many--six--that pertain to our relationship with our fellow men.
Yochanan the Envoy emphasized this, asking how we could love YHWH, whom we cannot see, if we cannot even love our neighbors, whom we can see, as ourselves.
But the hinge on which the gateway between them swings is this fourth command.
Service to one another [the first type of work (labor) listed above] is not forbidden on the Sabbath; indeed, on the Sabbath the priests in the Temple doubled their work of sacrifices.
What is forbidden is doing things for our own pleasure (Isaiah 58:13)--the opposite of serving one another and focusing on YHWH--and anything by which we participate in an act of creating or gainful activity, since it is a reminder that YHWH, not Mammon, has the final word and ultimate ownership of our lives.
Everything else takes a back seat to this and does not matter. (As demonstrated by the Maccabees and in the Six-Day War, or more commonly by continuing to run hospitals, deeds necessary to preserve life are exempted from this prohibition, though those who do so should not earn anything by doing so, or if they must, then give it away.)
We also let others rest, and even our animals have a day to be themselves, and not "ours".
Guest who is within your gates: an idiom for someone who has come under Israel's authority to learn from her about YHWH, with a view to one day becoming part of the community. But even a guest who was passing through was responsible to know the rules of what could or could not be done on the Sabbath. Rashi comments that our ceasing is also to be in attitude, not just deed; we are to enter into the Sabbath with the same ease we would feel if all our other work was actually completed, just as YHWH did after creation.
Though it was not on a Sabbath, Y'shua exemplified this idea just before his death, when he said he had completed all the work YHWH had given him to do.
11. "because in six days YHWH set in order the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but He desisted on the seventh day. On account of this YHWH blessed the seventh day and set it apart [as holy].
12. "Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be prolonged on the land which YHWH your Elohim is giving to you.
This is "the first commandment with a promise", as Paul writes (Ephesians 6:2).
It does not mean to obey them in everything (though in Ephesians 6:1 children are commanded to do so while under their tutelage as long as it agrees with YHWH's other commands, and in the Land no parent should have been teaching his children anything pagan), but rather to literally "treat them as important", "give weight to" their teachings, as Proverbs constantly reminds us.
The greatest honor that we can give them is to insist on YHWH?s standards, even if they do not, for we will have proven that they have raised worthy children insofar as they were able to bring us before we transferred that obedience directly to Him.
Notwithstanding this literal command, on another level (especially being right after His mention of creation) we could read "Consider Adam and Chavvah [our singular father and mother] so that your days may be lengthened on the soil"
(rather than shortened and relegated to tilling the soil in drudgery, as theirs were). Our days can be prolonged into the age to come, even if our physical lives in this age are cut short because faithfulness to YHWH requires us to lay them down for Himself or for our brothers. Also, Y'shua put this command in perspective by saying that if we are not willing to forsake our physically parents for the sake of the Kingdom, we are not worthy of it.
He said his true mother was anyone who did YHWH's will, whether a blood relative or not.
This would have a special reference, then, to those who are inauthority over us within Israel.
13. "You will not commit murder."
Murder: The term means to uselessly kill for no reason?selfishly or outside the proper context; this verb is never used of legal killing. It applies to killing animals for mere sport, and in a wider sense, rabbinically, it means, "Do not destroy anything that is still useful" and do not even shame a man who does not deserve it.
This would apply to killing animals merely for sport. Killing men in war is permitted, yet there is still a tainting of one's life and a dulling of one's spirit in this. The half-sheqel Temple tax was provided to atone for this type of wrongdoing that is sometimes necessary because of others? sin.
The root meaning of the term for murder is "to bore through", i.e., in a broader sense it applies to any willing, purposeful exercise of free will that is unlawful. (Hirsch)
14. "You will not commit adultery."
This term also carries the connotation of idolatry, which is spiritual adultery The two are almost interchangeable in Scripture, partly because pagan worship so often included sexual relations with priests and temple prostitutes. Israel had been "married" to the gods of Egypt; their "husband", Egypt, had to "die" so they would be available to YHWH as His bride.
The Torah allowed for divorce because of the hardness of men's hearts. The letter leaves room for men's weakness; the spirit--the picture it intends to get across--does not.
Y'shua says that if you can stand the full weight of it, by all means opt for that interpretation. Adultery, figuratively, also means to "adulterate" the Word of YHWH, or teach it falsely. Loosening the meaning of His commands (Mat. 5) leads others into idolatry.
15. "You will not steal."
This applies to anything that is not rightfully one's own, but especially carries the connotation of kidnapping fellow human beings.
We can also steal immaterial things like people's reputation or drive.
16. "You will not bear false testimony against your fellow [as an] injurious witness.
Fellow: literally, one from the same flock, with the same shepherd: friend, companion, or "brother". It does not specifically apply to all one's fellow humans, except in a general sense.
The weight of the concept is best expressed by Galatians 6:10:
"As we have opportunity, let us do what is beneficial to everyone, [but] especially those who are of the household of faith" (if there is a conflict between the two).
The command here is not about lying in general, but about saying (or even letting another tell us) something untrue about a comrade--or telling the truth in a way designed to injure his reputation.
Even in the Renewed Covenant we are only told not to lie to "one another" because we belong to the truth and it is now our nature.
This does not preclude misleading an enemy during his acts of hostility against you, though in a sense this taints us. The verb here technically means a provoked response to an event or a question; the falseness can refer either to the person as a witness (with malicious motive) or to the actual testimony he gives. (Hirsch) Injurious: or false, deceitful.
The word "witness" is related to the word for "continuity", indicating that retaining the matter in our minds endows the witnessed event or outburst with a permanence it might not have otherwise had. (Hirsch) "Bear" actually means to "uphold" gossip by listening to it, heeding it, or allowing it to be spoken to us; a true neighbor will at least give the benefit of the doubt to one who is being accused by an outsider to the community.
17. "You will not [even] desire your fellow's house; you will not desire your neighbor's wife, or his male or female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything which belongs to your fellow."
This is a further refining of?or a fence built around?the command not to steal. It places it one step further from us, not even allowing us to think about stealing!
Coveting also led Izabel (Jezebel) to bear false witness in the process of her stealing.
Desire: or "delight in", but it differs from mere inner longing (a different verb in Hebrew) by indicating a lust which proceeds into opportunistic action. (Hirsch) "House" includes the sense of "household", "inheritance", or "descendants", and would extend to envying another position of authority or those under his authority.
It does not mean one may not desire a similar possession if it is granted to be within his power to obtain, but this emphasizes that we are each given a different calling, and what one needs is not necessarily what another should have.
All are to work together as a body, but with different functions.
This is an issue of faith, to trust YHWH's judgment, that He has indeed distributed each commodity to those who are best suited to handle it for the benefit of the whole community.
Hirsch says this sets on the "Ten Words" the seal of being no mere mortal laws: men can forbid crimes; only YHWH can legislate against the thoughts and intents of the heart. Y'shua only intensified our understanding of the tenth commandment in the "Sermon on the Mount" by pointing out how keeping every external command does not guarantee that our hearts are right. Rabbi Avraham Joshua Heschel says that a sin of the mind is greater than one carried out physically, because at present our mind is the only way of perceiving and communing with YHWH, who is not physical.
18. And all the people observed the sounds and the burning torches and the voice of the shofar and the smoking mountain. When the people looked, they shook [from fear] and stood at a distance.
Observed: or perceived. They finally understood what the shofar-sound had spoken, because Moshe had now interpreted and explained it to them. It literally says they saw the sound (voice). The Midrash says they saw every letter of the Torah coming forth.
Josephus writes of thunderbolts as well as thunder, and a terrifying type of lightning.
This manifestation was merely a prologue to the other commands He would give; these Ten in a sense summarize all of His commands, and they are the only ones written by His own hand, but He did later command Y'hoshua to have the Israelites literally write them all in stone at the border of the Land so that anyone entering knew he was under obligation to follow these regulations while there.
So we may not say that we need only obey these ten but not the fine points elucidated later; on the other hand, the fine points actually given are in a sense only examples of many more righteous acts that a heart knowledge of and a love for the spirit of the Torah will precipitate.
The torches, in conjunction with the smoking mountain, immediately remind us of the covenant YHWH cut with Avraham (Gen. 15:17), where a torch and a smoking oven also figure prominently, along with a reference to the very period of enslavement that had just ended for them and the judgment that had just come on the nation that had enslaved them. Perhaps this is why they shook: they realized they were seeing what they had always heard that Avraham saw, and that right before their eyes the covenant made with him was indeed being renewed with the whole community of his descendents (which itself is the very next theme in Genesis after this event).
YHWH has also, through His commands, recounted the history of the types of sins that have been special problems for Israel.
19. Then they said to Moshe, "You [be the one to] speak to us, and we will listen, but don't let us converse [directly] with Elohim, or we'll die!"
The rules (for "Moshe" is also an idiom for the Torah as a whole) are relatively easy to obey, but we let YHWH tell us what is behind the letter, we know it will kill us--but the part of us it kills deserves to die anyway. Circumcision of the heart is never easy, but always necessary if we are to bear pure fruit. Becoming an unselfish community terrifies us.
20. So Moshe told the people, "Don't be afraid, because it is as a means of proving you that Elohim has come upon [you], and so that awe of Him may be on your faces, so that you will not go wrong.
"Proving": from a word meaning "to elevate", but related to the tempering of a precious metal that comes only through heat and pressure.
Y'shua quoted Psalm 82: "You [judges of the earth] are gods, yet you will die like men" because you do not do justice.
(Yaaqov/James reiterated that pure, undefiled religion is caring for widows and orphans in their need.) There is a "spark" of divinity in each of those who is made in Elohim's image, yet it requires the smelting-furnace of the Torah (including Y'shua, the Word made flesh) to purge it of what will condemn us to perish like animals if we do not allow it to do its work.
Go wrong: incur guilt by missing the right way.
21. So the people stood at a distance, but Moshe approached close to the thick, dripping cloudiness where Elohim was [there].
Close to: Aramaic, "the side of".
22. Then YHWH told Moshe, "You shall say this to the descendants of Israel: ?You have observed that I have spoken with you from the heavens.
23. "?You shall not fashion deities made out of silver alongside Me, or gods of gold for yourselves.
The golden images of cheruvim that He expressly commanded were meant to engender human traits, not depict divine ones (Hirsch); the bronze serpent that He commissioned was a picture of Messiah, not of his Father YHWH.
Messiah Himself is the only "image" of YHWH allowed to be seen by men, although we will one day become part of that image if we continue to follow Him--the door and the way back to YHWH. Alongside Me: close to Me, i.e., competing with Me in your minds and hearts. Silver and gold are not to be considered mighty, because that raises them to His level. He did not allow silver or gold (as money) to be brought into His Temple itself; it had to be exchanged outside for sacrificial offerings if necessary.
He does not want us to ?marry Him for His money; He would rather we keep the place of ascension to Him simple:
24. "?[Instead, what] you shall [do is] make a slaughter-altar for Me out of earth, and you shall sacrifice your ascending offerings and your peace offerings on it--your flocks and your herds.
In every place in which I cause My name to be remembered, I will come to you and bless you.
He does not want us to bring heavenly things down to earth, but rather, elevate earthly things to Him. (Hirsch) On it:
actually, the slaughtering itself was not done on it, but nearby; only the burning of the animal was carried out atop the altar.
25. "?And if you fashion an altar made of stone for Me, you shall not build them of cut stones, because if you wield your cutting-tool on it, you profane it.
"Build them": the plural is in the original. "Build" can connote "have or obtain children". This gives us a clue as to what the altar stones are really a picture of. Profane: to pollute, violate, defile, desecrate, prostitute, or treat as common (and thus no longer useful to YHWH).
Each "living stone" is shaped to fill a particular place in the living Temple, the body of the Second Adam. The judge is not meant to be chipped into a man of mercy; they will all balance each other out, but each has an intense message to emphasize and this will be lost if we are homogenized.
We are not to shape these stones according to our desire, but to hold them together by the "joints and ligaments" of the sharing of our strengths and gifts among the whole community.
The water of the Torah makes the sand of the descendants of Avraham (spiritual and phytsical) into the mortar of a love that will firmly establish us as one building, though without it we would roll off each other. The theme of uncut stones also links us to the stone cut out without hands (Daniel 2:34)--the new Kingdom of Y'shua, a man who never allowed his flesh to be defiled, which pulverizes the counterfeit image of man's glorious kingdoms.
The Temple is made of cut stones, but not cut on-site (because the living stones are chosen on earth and finally fit together in the heavenlies), but the altar, in every instance, is built prior to the Temple (because we cannot build it without the righteousness of Messiah shed abroad by his sacrifice).
It is built not of all the common people, but leaders with vision, who have not been chopped by society to fits its categories. Or, if they have, they have had to be taken out of that "building" and placed back in the rushing river-water of the Word to be reshaped.
26. "?And you shall not ascend to my altar by way of steps, since your nakedness may not be uncovered on it.'"
The altar had a ramp built up to it instead. There is a proper time for honesty about who we are and what we lack, but it is not before the whole congregation when it is focused on something that applies to the whole community and not the individual as such.
But "nakedness" in Scripture also points to the lack of white raiment, a picture of righteousness, with which we now have to be covered (atoned for) because we are already defiled.
Our flesh may not be exposed directly to His holiness. But YHWH's business is salvaging and repairing the ruined things of the world and making them holy again, and that is what the priesthood was about.