Exodus 20: 1-2 states the all-important preamble for the covenant.God asserts and claims the position of the one who has already redeemed Israel, and states what he has already done.Chapter 19 reports them entering into the wilderness of Sinai.Having brought them to freedom God sets the foundation for receiving his revelation through covenant in verse 15 “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. The rest of chapter 19 details the preparation for receiving the covenant.While they were individual imperatives it was considered one law.“It is all or nothing – the whole law or a broken thing.Historical Background The good of communities requires that rules and promises be made and enforced or that ethical and moral behavior are specified and adhered to.Over history different cultures undertook this endeavor using different modes.
While this dichotomous classification is helpful in that it follows the essence of a faith relationship according to Jesus as stated in Matthew -40 there is a further three fold classification of these ten laws which are very helpful as well. As such the first of commandment works on getting the foundation right. Advocating monotheism the command declares emphatically that the Lord who redeemed the people from slavery will not tolerate competition.The commandments were an expression of God's concern for Israel; God's grace was manifest in the demands of the law.” (Worley, 1971, p 195) Structure of the Passage Through out this passage the second person singular pronoun “you” is used in specifying the commands.It could have been concluded that it was intended for Moses if we had not the benefit of chapter 19:9 where it is mentioned that the people would hear God speak.“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.” In a culture where images of Gods are rampant and considered as the residing places of these false Gods, out of concern for the people he delivered (Jealous) Yahweh commands them that no image in stone, wood or metal is really god and therefore should not be made or worshipped.This would also cover making an image or idol of Yahweh as well, and as such should be considered as a total prohibition.On the basis of who he is, and what he has already done, God proceeds to give his revelation of the commandments to be followed through Moses to his people.These two verses are vital to understanding God’s intention and heart.The latter is not because Yahweh is a false god, but the only majestic God of whom any man made image would be an insult.The first commandment deals with the object of worship and the second the mode.A list of witnesses ensued next and was generally the gods they believed in, with the conclusion being and equation of blessings and curses for the adherence and the severance of the covenant.While covenants changed from community to community and the there are differences even amongst the covenants of the Old Testament, it is sufficient to know that this was Gods commands for his community constituting his law.