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Grammatical Question for Decalogue interpretation...

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#1 dgzylstra



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Posted 20 June 2008 - 10:35 AM

Hello everyone!

Question for you that's fairly time-sensitive. I'm trying to preach a sermon this Sunday (June 22, 2008) on the Second Commandment as listed in Ex. 20:4-6. My question for you is this: are the lines following the command to not make images tied directly to that command, or are they tied to both the first and second command?

Let me explain. First, my Hebrew skills are not really strong enough for me to figure this out on my own. Second, it seems, from the studying that I've done so far that the real difference between the first and second command lies in the nature of worshipping YHWH. The NET Bible notes, for example, point out that "no other gods before me" could be translated to mean that the Israelites were to not only have no other gods that were "more important" than YHWH, but that they were to have no other gods even in YHWH's presence (you could see "before me" making sense in both cases, yes?).

The second commandment seems to deal more with creating images (either carvings or conceptions) that are not to be worshipped. On the one hand those could be incorrect images of the one true God, YHWH (all images being inadequate to describe the truth of who He is) which are subsequently bowed down to or worshipped. On the other hand they could be images of other gods (which would tie pretty directly to the first commandment).

So, in light of this my question then becomes: If God (through Moses) writes that He is a zealous God, etc., in direct relation to both commandment 1 and 2, then we're all good -- I think I understand these two commands well enough to proceed. But, if the zealous comments are only related to commandment 2 then I'm confused a bit and I feel like I'm missing something in terms of the differences between commandment 1 and 2. I start asking myself all kinds of questions. Questions like: "Are there really only 9 commands and 2 is just a further explanation of 1?"

Anyway, maybe this all sounds bizarre to you and you've never had any problem trying to figure this out. If so, or if you have wrestled with this, please feel free to help me out! I'd really like to know if the injunctions found in commandment 1 and 2 are grammatically tied to the "zealous God" comments or if the "zealous God" comments are only related to commandment 2. Either way, I'd love to know how you figured out your answer to my question and I'd love to hear what you think about the essential difference between the command to "have no other gods" and to not make idols.

Thanks for your time! Sorry I'm so long winded! Even with all of that I don't think I've expressed myself very well!

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