This episode follows Part 1 of our brief exploration of the “Book of the Covenant”—the laws in Exodus 21-23 that follow the Ten Commandments. These laws are applications within ancient Israelite culture of the absolute, enduring principles expressed by the Ten Commandments. Part 1 dealt with why that is indeed the case. In this episode we offer commentary on select laws within the Book of the Covenant to show how they link back to the Ten Commandments.
Most listeners will know the Ten Commandments. They might even know that those commandments are in Exodus 20. But few will know that those famous commandments are followed in Exodus 21-23 by a litany of odd, ancient, at times conflicting, “case laws” that apply the Ten Commandments to Israelite life. Scholars have found these case laws difficult to understand. A number of them don’t reflect the Mosaic time period. They don’t seem to have any comprehensible relationship to each other. Nevertheless, they get a lot of attention because they form what scholars call “the Book of the Covenant” – the body of laws and case laws that are the basis for Israel’s covenant relationship with Yahweh. In this episode we explore the problems with Exodus 21-23 and get a foothold on where to start in understanding this portion of Exodus.
In the previous two parts of our discussion of Exodus 20, we talked about issues related to Decalogue and the first four of the Ten Commandments. In this episode we cover the remaining six commandments (honor your father and mother, do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, and do not covet). It may come as a surprise, but some of these are hard to define and have biblical exceptions.