Over the last couple of days, I think I’ve amply demonstrated that the term “commandment” from the Hebrew DABAR really means “word”.
If this is the case, how then should we re-think this notion drilled into us that these 10 Words are 10 “commandments”?
Well, speaking as an American, I’d like to suggest that the Declaration of Independence from our Constitution gives us the key to the proper way to view these first “10 Words” of God.
What exactly is our “Declaration of Independence”?
It is the document that asserts the fundamental and inviolable principles that form the bedrock upon which our nation rests.
It also sets up the framework for our system of government and the myriad of laws to follow.
I’d like to propose that the 10 Words of God serve a similar purpose.
They are the founding principles that set the stage for the rest of the Torah laws to follow.
In other words, these 10 Words are really 10 foundational principles.
And the 603 laws that follow instruct us on how to live out these 10 foundational principles.
The 603 Laws are a natural extension of and operate within the boundaries of the 10 Words of God.
Think about if we called the “Declaration of Independence” the “Commandment of Independence”.
Sounds weird, doesn’t it?
That’s because knowing what we know about the Declaration of Independence, we well understand that to use the term “commandment” in place of “declaration” would impart a totally false impression of what this revolutionary document is really all about.
If you say “Commandment of Independence” it conveys the impression that this is a stand-alone, solitary ruling, which as we know is not the case.
I’d like to propose that we should apply this same line of thinking to this part of Exodus traditionally called the “10 Commandments”.
They are really “10 Declarations”!
Hmmm, I like the ring of that.
And the word “declaration” captures pretty accurately the true nature, nuance and essence of these 10 Words God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai.
What’s interesting to know is everything I just explained, the notion that all of the Torah operated within the governing principles of the 10 Words, was a common understanding in Yeshua’s day.
In fact, it was also commonly understood the all of the 10 Words of God were subject to an even higher, more fundamental principle.
And Yeshua expressed that basic principle Himself when He uttered the following:
“‘You are to love Adonai your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.’ This is the greatest and most important mitzvah. And a second is similar to it, ‘You are to love your neighbor as yourself.’ All of the Torah and the Prophets are dependent on these two mitzvoth.”-Matthew 22:35-40
However, when He said that, He certainly wasn’t implying that we could throw the rest of the Mosaic Covenant in the trash as many gentile churches might lead you to believe.
Okay, now that we have a strong grounding on what the 10 Words of God are all about, starting from tomorrow, we’re actually going to take a good at these revolutionary 10 Declarations of God starting with the 1st Word.