Exodus Chapter 18 to 34 (Ten Commandments)

This part of Exodus is largely based around God’s Ten Commandments, and has some really good life advice in general.

In chapter 18, Jethro, Moses’ father in law and the priest of Midian comes to visit after hearing everything that God is doing with the Israelites. In verses 13 to 26, after seeing how Moses is handling the peoples disputes between each other, he has some advice which is valid for pretty much every walk of life, especially those running a business or managing people.

13 The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. 14 When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?”

15 Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. 16 Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and laws.”

17 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 19 Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. 20 Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform. 21 But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. 23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.” Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you.

24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. 25 He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 26 They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.

Delegation! Or from my business perspective, outsourcing. I don’t have any real insight to share about this section, it’s just something that really stood out to me at the moment as my business is growing and is keeping me extremely busy. I’ve recently started working with a graphic designer on most of the new graphics work that comes in to reduce my load so I have more time to spend on every other area, including business development which is something I haven’t been able to work on in a while, though I have been wanting to quite a lot.

In chapter 19, the Israelites have reached Sinai, then chapters 20 goes through the Ten Commandments. The end of chapter 20 through chapters 21, 22 and 23 elaborate on what each of the commandments means. After the casting of the golden calf in chapter 32, when Moses throws down the stones the commandments are written on and breaks them, we then get another look at the commandments in chapter 34. Considering the vast majority of Christian denominations now worship on the first day rather than the seventh, these chapters are of particular interest to me. Lets go through and look at each commandment briefly.

Commandment 1

2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

This commandment is first mentioned in Exodus 20:2-3 as above. It is then elaborated on in Exodus 20:22-23 and referred to briefly in chapter 23:32-33 when referring to the gods of other lands.

22 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites this: ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from heaven: 23 Do not make any gods to be alongside me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold.

Exodus 23:13

13 “Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips.

Exodus 23:32-33

32Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods. 33 Do not let them live in your land, or they will cause you to sin against me, because the worship of their gods will certainly be a snare to you.”

Jump across to chapter 34:14-16

14 Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

15 “Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. 16 And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same.

Commandment 2

4 “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. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments.

The first mention of this one is in Exodus 20:4-6, followed by Exodus 20:22-23

22 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites this: ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from heaven: 23 Do not make any gods to be alongside me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold.

And in Exodus 34:17

17 “Do not make cast idols.

Commandment 3

7 “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

The only mention I found in this section is in Exodus 20:7.

Commandment 4

8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

The first mention within the commandments about keeping the Sabbath day is here in Exodus 20:8-11. Following this, it is then elaborated on multiple times. First in Exodus 23:10-12.

10 “For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops, 11 but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what they leave. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.

12 “Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest and the slave born in your household, and the alien as well, may be refreshed.

Then in Exodus 31:12-17

12 Then the LORD said to Moses, 13 “Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the LORD, who makes you holy.

14 ” ‘Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people. 15 For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death. 16 The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. 17 It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested.’ ”

Again in Exodus 34:21

21 “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.

And in Exodus 35:1-2

1 Moses assembled the whole Israelite community and said to them, “These are the things the LORD has commanded you to do: 2 For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it must be put to death.

In Exodus 25 when Moses tells the Israelites what the Lord has commanded, keeping the Sabbath day is the only commandment recorded here as being mentioned.

The Sabbath day commandment is also an elaboration on Genesis 2:2-3

2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

Commandment 5

12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

The only recorded mention of this one in this section is in Exodus 20:12

Commandment 6

13 “You shall not murder.

The first mention of this one is in Exodus 20:13 and the next mention is an elaboration in Exodus 21:12-27

12 “Anyone who strikes a man and kills him shall surely be put to death. 13 However, if he does not do it intentionally, but God lets it happen, he is to flee to a place I will designate. 14 But if a man schemes and kills another man deliberately, take him away from my altar and put him to death.

15 “Anyone who attacks his father or his mother must be put to death.

16 “Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death.

17 “Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.

18 “If men quarrel and one hits the other with a stone or with his fist and he does not die but is confined to bed, 19 the one who struck the blow will not be held responsible if the other gets up and walks around outside with his staff; however, he must pay the injured man for the loss of his time and see that he is completely healed.

20 “If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, 21 but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.

22 “If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

26 “If a man hits a manservant or maidservant in the eye and destroys it, he must let the servant go free to compensate for the eye. 27 And if he knocks out the tooth of a manservant or maidservant, he must let the servant go free to compensate for the tooth.

Commandment 7

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

The first mention is in Exodus 20:14 and does not get mentioned again in this section that I found except for related verses on social responsibility in Exodus 22:16-22

16 “If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife. 17 If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he must still pay the bride-price for virgins.

18 “Do not allow a sorceress to live.

19 “Anyone who has sexual relations with an animal must be put to death.

20 “Whoever sacrifices to any god other than the LORD must be destroyed. [l]

21 “Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt.

22 “Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. 23 If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. 24 My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.

Commandment 8

15 “You shall not steal.

The first mention is here in Exodus 20:15 and it is elaborated on in Exodus 22:1-12

1 “If a man steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it, he must pay back five head of cattle for the ox and four sheep for the sheep.

2 “If a thief is caught breaking in and is struck so that he dies, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed; 3 but if it happens after sunrise, he is guilty of bloodshed.
“A thief must certainly make restitution, but if he has nothing, he must be sold to pay for his theft.

4 “If the stolen animal is found alive in his possession—whether ox or donkey or sheep—he must pay back double.

5 “If a man grazes his livestock in a field or vineyard and lets them stray and they graze in another man’s field, he must make restitution from the best of his own field or vineyard.

6 “If a fire breaks out and spreads into thornbushes so that it burns shocks of grain or standing grain or the whole field, the one who started the fire must make restitution.

7 “If a man gives his neighbor silver or goods for safekeeping and they are stolen from the neighbor’s house, the thief, if he is caught, must pay back double. 8 But if the thief is not found, the owner of the house must appear before the judges to determine whether he has laid his hands on the other man’s property. 9guilty must pay back double to his neighbor. In all cases of illegal possession of an ox, a donkey, a sheep, a garment, or any other lost property about which somebody says, ‘This is mine,’ both parties are to bring their cases before the judges. The one whom the judges declare

10 “If a man gives a donkey, an ox, a sheep or any other animal to his neighbor for safekeeping and it dies or is injured or is taken away while no one is looking, 11 the issue between them will be settled by the taking of an oath before the LORD that the neighbor did not lay hands on the other person’s property. The owner is to accept this, and no restitution is required. 12 But if the animal was stolen from the neighbor, he must make restitution to the owner.

Commandment 9

16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

First mentioned in Exodus 20:16 and then elaborated on in Exodus 23:1-8

1 “Do not spread false reports. Do not help a wicked man by being a malicious witness.

2 “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd, 3 and do not show favoritism to a poor man in his lawsuit.

4 “If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to take it back to him. 5 If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help him with it.

6 “Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits. 7 Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty.

8 “Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the righteous.

Commandment 10

17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

The only mention I found in this section is in Exodus 20:17 as above.

What’s my point?

What I’m trying to point out here is that the 4th commandment, keeping the Sabbath day is mentioned equally as many times as the 1st commandment, to have no other gods.

It was also mentioned first in the Bible in Genesis 2:2-3. It is also mentioned later in the Bible, but that is for another time. For now though, my question becomes, if keeping the Sabbath day is emphasised as much as having no other gods, then why isn’t it kept by so many people? It was changed to Sunday when Rome adopted Christianity as the state religion. It was changed to Sunday to keep all of the sun worshippers happy who worshipped on, thats right, Sunday. It was an attempt at merging them together so that there would not be religious divisions in the state. It was also the birth of Roman Catholicism.

If God set a day aside to worship, then what right does man have to change the day? It’s like organising a date to go do something with a friend, girlfriend, a work meeting etc, and then turning up a day late. Chances are, the person or people you were meeting won’t still be waiting and they won’t be too happy about it.

Now God is a little different, and there is no reason that we can’t worship Him whenever we want or feel the need to. I see nothing inherently wrong with worshipping Him on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. However, Saturday is the day that God made holy, that he set aside as a day of rest and to worship Him. He emphasised it very clearly in His commandments and elaborated on it considerably. So who are we to say that Sunday is better for us?

5 thoughts on “Exodus Chapter 18 to 34 (Ten Commandments)”

  1. that passage is where my business name and raison d’etre came from
    the use and keeping of the sabbath was explicitly challenged by christ numerous times in the new testament as were many of the ten commandments. the new testament christians were the first to use sunday as a day of worship as a recognition of the day that christ was raised from the dead. while the roman catholic church institutionalised sunday that was not the original reason for the change in the day.

  2. Hey Tim, had a feeling that might be where it was from!

    I don’t recall Christ challenging the Sabbath day, or for that matter the commandments in general at all. I just had a quick look through Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and I don’t see any challenge to keeping the Sabbath day, I would say the opposite actually, I would say Christ affirmed keeping the Sabbath day. He did however definitely challenge the behaviour of the Pharisees etc on the Sabbath day and the extensions that they added to God’s commandments. I see Christ regularly challenging the additions that man made. Reading through Exodus, reading the original commandments, reading the elaborations on them, and this morning I finished Leviticus, so in there, reading God’s law book, man had made the laws much stricter than God had, including silly things like healing on the Sabbath being work. Nowhere in Exodus or Leviticus when referring to the job of the priests and one of their priestly duties of tending to the sick does it say they can’t do that on the Sabbath.

    As I said in my blog post, I see no problem with worshipping on Sunday or any other day, God is always worthy of more praise than we can even begin to comprehend. However, nowhere that I can see does Christ suggest that people should start worshipping explicitly on Sunday instead of the Sabbath. There is nothing wrong with the recognition of Sunday being the day Christ was raised from the dead, but I see it as a big problem when it replaces the day that God made Holy for the sole purpose of resting from our regular activities and worshipping Him, the Sabbath day.

    It’s like using God’s sacrifice for us as an excuse to disobey Him.

    If you can give me some verses that explicitly support Sunday worship in place of the Sabbath, Saturday, that would be great.

    The Bible is not contradictory to itself, it is God’s word and God is not contradictory to Himself.

    God set his people apart, in all of the commandments and all of the laws laid out through Exodus and Leviticus, everything set God’s people apart from the other nations, including Saturday Worship when the other nations by and large worshipped on other days, especially Sunday. Why would God change that? He explicitly says in many places not to get caught up in the things that other nations are doing and in their religious practices because it would distract them from their worship of Him and bring in practices that were not approved or sanctified by Him, so why would He change that? Back peddling like that suggests that He was wrong in the first place, I don’t believe God has ever been wrong about anything.

    For the sake of logic, if the Sabbath day commandment doesn’t need to be kept, why should the others, they were all given with equal importance. Why should we refrain from murder, from adultery, from having numerous gods, stealing, lying, dishonouring our parents or worshipping idols? If they are all equal, then if one does not need to be kept, why do any of the others?

    I note Paul keeps the Sabbath and is often telling others they should be keeping it as well.

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