Yitro / Jethro
The Ten Words…
Chapter 19 of this Torah portion begins to pave the way for the giving of what our society calls the Ten Commandments. This is really a misnomer. The Ten Commandments are the most famous religious-and-moral code in history. Until recently they were displayed in most American courtrooms. They still adorn most synagogue arks. However, the “ten commandments” are not Ten Commandments. The Torah calls them aseret hadevarim in Exodus 34:28. Tradition calls them aseret hadibrot, meaning the “ten words” or “ten utterances”.
Exodus 19:3-6 is so profound as Elohim clarifies His intent and His people: ‘And 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 children of Israel: 4 ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; 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 which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”
Adonai continues with a remarkable correlation to 1 Corinthians 15:4 and Yeshua’s statement in John 2:19. : ‘Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes. 11 And let them be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.’ Exodus 10:11. The ‘third day’ is an important reference to note that Adonai chose.
Exodus chapter twenty begins the giving of the ‘Ten Words’. Unfortunately, they have been altered by the Catholic system of religion one way and the Protestant system of religion another way. Last year, my commentary on Yitro expounded on this deviation.
The ‘10 Words’ begin with a foundation, continue with substance and end with another foundation.
God begins His Covenant with: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” This is a premise, a beginning, a territorial statement of the God we serve and what He did, a God who did something. Remember in the last two Torah portions He brought us out of bondage/Egypt to worship Him -His way. This is an important facet to remember – that it was He who released us from bondage.
The Ten Words end with the commandment: ‘“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” Why not end with the obvious most hateful as in ‘You shall not murder?’
Because ‘envy’ births the negative actions. Envy is one of the prime drivers of violence in society. Envy/covet led Cain to murder Abel. Envy lay at the heart of the hatred of the brothers for Joseph. They resented his special treatment by Jacob, the coat of many colors and the dreams that exalted him above the brothers. Esau was jealous and plotted to kill Jacob. Korach was jealous of Moshe. Envy drove Jezebel eventually to her own demise. Rachel and Leah were jealous of each other’s love from Jacob. Hamman was jealous and hated Mordechi. The governors were jealous and hated Daniel. King Saul envied David, and the Pharisees were envious of Yeshua. Yeshua gives an example of envy in the story of the prodigal son and Rabbi Shaul rebukes the Corinthians for jealousy. And of course the beginning of the emotions envy/jealousy and coveting was/is the great liar – Lucifer.
What can we learn from this? That coveting is the beginning of the downfall of man and we fall into the snare of the enemy.
This parsha ends with an instruction regarding idols in our lives and idols of the heart: ‘Then the Lord said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘You have seen that I have talked with you from heaven. 23 You shall not make anything to be with Me—gods of silver or gods of gold you shall not make for yourselves.”
Interesting that God tells Moshe to remind the people that He has talked to them from heaven, thus reiterating His authority in all and above the earth. He clarifies this with the commandment to not make an idol that would be linked to Him. What exactly is that? In the Hebrew the sentence is: “You shall not make images of what is with Me.”
Rashi teaches that God is referring to the cherubs, the golden statues that would be atop the Ark in the Tabernacle. These figures were to be placed in the holiest of holies, however, that did not entitle the people to be free to make them at their want and will, whenever they thought it would help them rise to the level of piousness. It was and is forbidden to duplicate what is to be only over the Ark.
Many today equate the cherubs to ‘angels’. And many today worship angels, collect angels and even pray to angelic beings. This would be in direct conflict with Exodus 20:23.
May we learn to listen, hear and be doers of The Word.