You may be thinking there are only the 10 Commandments- the ones God gave Moses on the mountain. So, how can there be any other “10 Commandments”?
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In Deuteronomy 5 (I am quoting from the CJB), Moses recites the 10 Commandments, but his version is significantly different than the one God gave him on Mount Sinai!
Here’s what I am talking about:
God said: “I am Adonai your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the abode of slavery.” (Ex. 20: 2)
Moses said: “I am Adonai your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, where you lived as slaves.” (Deut. 5:6)
God said: “You are not to use lightly the name of Adonai your God, because Adonai will not leave unpunished someone who uses his name lightly.” (Ex. 20:7)
Moses said: “You are not to misuse the name of Adonai your God, because Adonai will not leave unpunished someone who misuses his name.” (Deut. 5:11)
God said: “For in six days, Adonai made heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. This is why Adonai blessed the day, Shabbat, and separated it for himself.” (Ex. 20:11)
Moses said: “You are to remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and Adonai your God brought you out from there with a strong hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore Adonai your God has ordered you to keep the day of Shabbat.” (Deut. 5:15)
God said: “Honor your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land which Adonai your God is giving you.” (Ex. 20:12)
Moses said: “Honor your father and mother, as Adonai your God ordered you to do, so that you will live long and have things go well with you in the land Adonai your God is giving you.“ (Deut. 5:16)
God said: “Do not covet your neighbor’s house; do not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female slave, his ox, his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Ex. 20:17)
Moses said: “Do not covet your neighbor’s wife; do not covet your neighbor’s house, his field, his male or female slave, his ox, his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.’” (Deut. 5:18)
So, nu? So many differences between what God said, and what Moses repeated many years later. If Moses had truly written down all that God said, as we are told he did, then why such significant differences?
Does this mean we can’t really trust what the Bible says?
No, a Bible is trustworthy: it’s the people writing them who aren’t.
C’mon, Steve… how that can be? Either the Bible is true and accurate, or it isn’t. The hard to accept truth is that both are true- the Bible is an accurate narrative of the relationship between God and his chosen people and the history that occurred during the times we read about. But these events are recorded in different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) and the interpreters cannot avoid their own bias as to what the words mean, in the context they are found. Also, there is the unavoidable “lost in translation” issue: for example, when a Hebrew text is translated into English, there will be some loss of meaning simply due to the fact that there were cultural and linguistic differences between what those words meant then, and what the current words they translate into mean now.
Later, when the Hebrew to English version is translated into Chinese, or Dutch, or whatever other language, after which that version is then translated into another language, and so on, these differences will be multiplied.
And then there is the copywrite law, which says no one can exactly duplicate a copywrite version, so there must be (literally) hundreds of words different in order to be a legal version.
So, the truth is that no two Bibles can be the same, and the differences may be significant.
As for Moses, we are told at the very beginning of this book (D’varim 1:5) that “Moses took it upon himself to expound this Torah.” In other words, Moses repeated what God said, but apparently, he felt that in some places he needed to emphasis the point in his own words.
God said he brought them out of Egypt, out of the abode of slavery, but Moses said out of Egypt, where they had lived as slaves. This isn’t so great a change, but when we look later at the 4th Commandment, God said he created the Shabbat as a day to rest, as he did, but Moses completely changed that to say God ordered them to rest on the Shabbat because they had been slaves. Perhaps Moses wanted them to know the Shabbat not as something God created as a result of his resting, but in order to be a blessing to the people? That could be why there is a relationship between the 1st and 4th commandments, as Moses gave them, that wasn’t there in God’s original version.
Moses also added to the 5th commandment that not only will they live long in the land (if they obey), but that things will go well with them. Maybe this was more prophetic than we realize? After all, we see that when the people disobeyed God, they still lived in the land but under the yoke of oppressors; however, when they obeyed God, they lived in the land peacefully.
Finally, in the 10th commandment, when God said not to covet, he placed the person’s house first, then his wife and property, but Moses said the first thing not to covet was the wife, then his house and field, then the property (remember slaves were considered property then).
Moses did this reversing of priorities earlier, when the tribes of Reuben and Gad asked for the land won from kings Sichon and Og (Numbers 32); they said they would first build enclosures for their animals and towns for their wives and children, then go ahead of the other tribes into the Land and not return to their portion until everyone else had conquered the people living there. When Moses approved this, he said they would first build towns for their wives, then enclosures for their animals. Moses placed the value of humans before that of property, and we see here, repeating the 10th commandment before entering the Land, that he did so, again.
You may be thinking this is all interesting, but what is my point? I’m glad you asked that.
The point is that if Moses, one of the greatest prophets ever and unquestionably as faithful and respectful of God as any human could ever be, could repeat something as important as God’s commandments with his own “spin” to it, then clearly any teaching or Oral Law (that includes the Talmud) passed down orally through the centuries, must be questioned and verified to what is quoted directly from God, in the Bible.
That means what is taught in seminaries, in Yeshivahs, in churches and synagogues, or anywhere else people teach about the Bible and God (which includes this ministry), you must verify it for yourself from what God says. The only time we can be sure- at least, as sure as possible- what we are reading is really accurate, is in the Hebrew Torah, where we are told “And God said to Moses, tell the children of Israel… (whatever)”. Because of the strenuous and detailed actions taken by the Sopherim (those trained to write the Torah), we can be certain that any Hebrew Torah is exactly the same, letter for letter, as the prior Torah, all the way back to Moses!
The Hebrew Torah is accurate, and any translation from the Hebrew will be as accurate as the skills and unbiased attitude of the translator. So, when you read whichever version of the Bible you prefer, please make sure that you have an open mind, and relate what you read in any one part of that Bible to what is written in other parts, and use multiple biblical sources, as well, to get the biggest picture of what is being said that you can.
Using just one Bible, listening to just one teacher, and accepting whatever you are told is like trying to see the entire house when looking through the mail slot in the front door.
Thank you for being here and please share these messages with everyone you know, subscribe to my website and YouTube channel, and join my Facebook group called “Just God’s Word” (but make sure you agree to the rules, or I can’t let you in).
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And remember that I always welcome your comments.
That’s it for today, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!