In the previous episode of the podcast we looked at the issues raised by close examination of the placement and nature of the Decalogue, the Ten Commandments. In this episode of the podcast, we take a look at the first four commands: having no gods before Yahweh, not making idols, not making the name of God inconsequential (“bearing the name in vain”), and remembering the Sabbath.
Hallo, William W. “New Moons and Sabbaths: A Case-study in the Contrastive Approach.” Hebrew Union College Annual 48 (1977): 1-18
Exodus 20 is familiar to Bible readers for the Ten Commandments. Actually, only Exod 20:1-17 delineates those commands. The rest of the chapter resumes the Sinai theophany whose description began in Exodus 19. The “interruption” of that episode with the Decalogue is actually one of six issues discussed in this episode of the podcast—all preparatory to getting into the listed commands in future episodes. This episode deals with the unusual position of the Decalogue, the legal nature of the commandments, Jewish and Christian disagreement as to their number, the relationship of the Decalogue to ancient Near Eastern treaties, and the question as to why they were written on two tablets of stone.
Exodus 19 begins with the short move of the Israelite community from Rephidim to Sinai. The chapter not only sets the stage for the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20, but the covenant ceremony of Exodus 24. This episode focuses on the preparations for receiving the law and entering into the covenant. Toward that end, we focus on the nature of the Sinai covenant, its relation to the earlier Abrahamic covenant, and the ultimate goal of the covenant, expressed in Exod 19:5-6.