This is the week G‑d gives the Torah to the Jewish people. The great revelation on Mt. Sinai when Moses receives the “Ten Commandments” – The Decalogue.
It is a story very familiar to us, in detail. An important event date in a belief system, and biblical history. Correlating such events to real time in context deepens my connections to history and understanding of cultures – people.
G-d revealed himself to Moses. The ground became holy, so Moses removed his shoes. Moses was then called by G-d to go to pharaoh and bring the Children of Israel from Egypt.
Moses returns to Mt. Sinai with the freed Children of Israel and receives The Decalogue, written by G-d in his presence.
The “Ten Commandments” refers to the words (Exodus 20) that God wrote on the two stone tablets that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai (Exodus 31:18) and then smashed upon seeing the idolatry of the golden calf (Exodus 32:19). The phrase is accurately translated as the Ten Sayings, the Ten Statements, the Ten Declarations, the Ten Words or even the Ten Things, but not as the Ten Commandments.
Moses receiving The Decalogue written “by the finger of G-d”. From Cecil B. DeMille’s spectacular 1956 epic – poor quality video. The writing on the tablets is an accurate representation of paleo-Hebrew.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoFSpoAbXLc&w=560&h=315]
(Film note: “Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother” belongs on the first tablet, not the second as depicted.)
Judaism teaches that the first tablet, containing the first five declarations, identifies duties regarding our relationship with G-d, while the second tablet, containing the last five declarations, identifies duties regarding our relationship with other people.
According to Jewish tradition:
• There are 613 commandments (mitzvot), not 10.
• The “Ten Commandments” are categories, not commandments.
The 10 are in no order of hierarchy. One is no more important than another – according to Jewish tradition G-d’s knowledge on that is unknown to us. We shall not presume.
Personal irreverent note, I apologize for placing this here…DeMille’s epic, The Ten Commandments is my first memory of the favorite film. That has never changed. If you are my age, you remember waiting to see The Wizard of Oz one time a year on TV. An event. It was okay, but did not compare to The Ten Commandments ever in my mind. I watched all four hours every Easter. Jewish/biblical traditions with an epic story, epic special effects and epic over-acting in a priceless blend of cinema treasure. Added appeal – many shots are composed and colored like Renaissance paintings, Heston looks exactly like G-d giving life to Adam on the Sistine Chapel.
Final note. I am not a scholar nor Jewish. If I have offended or misreprentated anything please contact me. Comment below, or privately through my page Enlighten Me. I am always eager to be schooled.