Deuteronomy 5

Deuteronomy 5

Deuteronomy 5:1-3 Devarim (words) or Deuteronomy as it is called in English, is written in the form of a covenant or suzerainty. Wikipedia defines suzerainty as “any relationship in which one region or polity controls the foreign policy and relations of a tributary state … and differs from true sovereignty.” God is the sovereign ruler and Israel is His tributary state. God’s primary desire in establishing his covenant with Israel was to have them delight in him and follow his commandments with a joyful heart. “Hear” or Shema in Hebrew, means “take to heart, and obey.” Israel needed more than just hear what Moses was saying but also learn and follow these words that they might have life and blessing.  Moses here is not calling Israel to a new covenant but the one that was established at Horeb (Sinai). The Sinai covenant differed from the Abrahamic covenant in that the Abrahamic Covenant contained an unconditional promise that God would give the land to their descendants. The Sinai covenant on the other hand was conditional and laid out stipulations for Israel to remain in His holy land. The Sinai Covenant did not abrogate the Abrahamic Covenant (Gal. 3:17-18). Israel is now about to experience the fulfillment of the promise to their fathers and Moses is reminding them here of the conditions to remain in the land. God’s covenant at Sinai, also known as the Mosaic covenant, was given in perpetuity with Israel and applied to succeeding generations, just as it had applied to the previous generation. All of Israel was bound by its terms. I might add that since we are partakers with Israel this covenant relates to our relationship as defined and clarified in the New Covenant or Testament.

Deuteronomy 5:4-5 Moses reminds them of the setting when they received the Mosaic Covenant on Mt. Sinai.  That scene was accompanied by fire, thunder, and the shaking of earth letting them know how serious that moment was. They were terrified and plead with Moses to serve as their mediator and received the Commands on their behalf.

Deuteronomy 5:6-7 In Deuteronomy 5:6-21 The covenant is summed up in the 10 commandments which echoes Exodus 20 and the reason for the name Deuteronomy (derived from the Greek meaning “copy or repetition”). The first commandment called Israel to have no other gods before him. It was foremost that the worship of YHVH should be exclusive. The God of heaven and creation would tolerate no rivals anything less would compromise Israel’s holiness and calling. Their dedication to God was to be a response to the One who loved them and delivered them from slavery and their enemies. He is worthy of their exclusive love. We love God because He first loved us and continues to love us.

Deuteronomy 5:8-10 God’s second commandment prohibited making any idol. God did not specify that only idols representing other gods were prohibited, but all idols, even those that represented the true God was forbidden. That was what was done in the golden calf incident in Exod. 32:4-5. God expressed his contempt for such actions that those involved would suffer the consequences (Exod. 32:7-10,27). God warned in advance that idolatry would provoke him to anger, because he was a jealous God who demanded loyalty. God’s will, which is His best for His people is only found in submission to His will revealed in His commands. Israel is described as God’s Vineyard and the fruit God is looking for is found by abiding in Him and His Word (John 15:4-5; Isa. 5:1-2, 7).  Moses made it clear that children were not punished for the sins of their parents (Deut. 24:16; Ezek. 18:19–32), but children are impacted when parents break God’s laws. Children raised in an environment of disobedience and rebellion to God and His Word will generally follow their parents’ example.

Deuteronomy 5:11 The third commandment is the misuse of God’s name. Israel was granted the knowledge of his covenant name YHVH. Sadly, Jewish tradition in obedience to this command, caused His name to be known as Adonai (master) or HaShem (The Name). YHVH has become “the Lord” which is a title; while YHVH is a name. The commandment does not forbid its use but its abuse. Later God said that oaths be affirmed by using His name (Deut. 10:20). The command was not just to prohibit blasphemy or profanity, but its misuse. The names of deities were often used in incantations in attempts to manipulate the gods and to use their power for their own ends (Acts 19:13). YHVH will not be manipulated by those who profess allegiance to him or by outsiders. His name is to be honored and held to be sacred. YHVH will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

Deuteronomy 5:12-15. The fourth commandment is to Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Which means that Saturday was to be set apart as different than the other six days.  In Ex. 20:8 a different verb is used, זָכַר zakar, “remember” and here the word is שָׁמַר shamar, “keep, observe.” This is the first commandment stated positively instead of as a prohibition. There are actually two commands here: (1) observe the Sabbath and (2) work the other six days. The Sabbath was a reminder of creation that God rested on the seventh day (Gen. 2:2-3). Secondly, it provided God’s people a weekly day of rest. And finally, it set Israel apart from all the other nations (Exod. 31:13). Sabbath observance was unique to Israel. Every Sabbath they were to remember that they were slaves in Egypt and were required to work seven days until God redeemed and made them his own people. It was also to be observed by all households and later the nation including servants and aliens. In the future we will learn that the punishment for failing to observe the sabbath was death. The Sabbath was to be kept from Sundown Friday night to Sunset Saturday evening which comes from the creation account “It was evening and morning the first day”. So, the day began at evening or sundown the night before, going from darkness to light.

Deuteronomy 5:16 The first four commandments deal with our relationship to God. The last six speak to our relationship with our neighbor. This is how Jesus responded when asked what the great or most important commandment was: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matt. 22:37-39). The fifth commandment is to honor your father and your mother. Parents serve the Lord as life-givers to their children and it is through them that the covenant is passed on. This is the foundation of a godly society to honor and respect their parents. The word honor is כָּבֵד meaning heavy or weighty from which is root of the word “glorify” which is word used in our call to honor God as our Heavenly Father. Those who obey are told that two blessings will be bestowed upon them; a long life and a life that will go well for them. This is the only one of the ten that promises such blessings indicating its significance.

Deuteronomy 5:17 The sixth commandment is another prohibition, you shall not murder. The Hebrew is not “kill,” used in older translations. There is a time to kill as scripture tells us in Ecc. 3:3. There are certain conditions “under heaven” that killing is appropriate, such as in the case of saving the innocent, and times of war or in the case of capital punishment which is authorized in God’s Law. But there are warnings about the sanctity of life as well (Gen. 9:6). Murder does not include accidental death, or non-premeditated manslaughter (Deut. 19:11-13). Murder is reserved for God alone. He gives life and takes it and usurping that is insubordination to God.

Deuteronomy 5:18 The seventh commandment prohibits adultery, the violation of the marriage covenant (Mal. 2:14). Adultery involves a sexual relationship between people when one or both of them are married to another person. Such behavior breaks the covenant vow that was made in the presence of God.  God takes marriage so seriously because it is similar to honoring our parents in that it reflects our relationship to Him. When Israel stood at Mt. Sinai to receive the covenant, they entered into a marriage relationship with the Lord.  Their unfaithfulness to the Lord, who is their husband was the reason why God divorced Israel (Jer. 31:32; Jer. 3:6-8). God holds the marriage vow as a holy reflection of His marriage to Israel. Adultery differs from fornication which includes adultery as well as sex outside marriage in which neither party is married (Lev 21:9 19:29; Deut 22:20, 21, 23-29; Deut 22:20; Ex 22:16; 1 Cor 6:18-20).

Deuteronomy 5:19 The eighth commandment, you shall not steal, prohibits taking any property of others by force or stealth. Murder is the taking of a life, adultery taking away the sanctity of the marriage covenant and the eighth command prohibits violations to personal property. Theft reveals an attitude contrary to the Lord and His Kingdom.  God promised to bless and sustain Israel if they remained faithful to him. Stealing demonstrates disbelief in God’s ability to provide all we need and that we don’t believe His commands are best for ourselves and others.

Deuteronomy 5:20 The ninth commandment prohibits perjury, making false statements against our neighbor. The Lord clarified who our neighbor is in the parable of the Good Samaritan in (Luke 10:25-39). The context of Yeshua’s teaching is clarifying who is a neighbor and how we are to treat them. Torah clarifies that this command applies not just to Israel but also to (Lev. 19:18) a resident alien (Lev. 19:34) or even a pagan (Num. 15:15). Character assassination and false accusations are totally out of bounds for the people of God.

Deuteronomy 5:21 The tenth commandment forbids coveting. This last command differs from the other nine in that it focuses on the heart rather than actions taken to pursue those desires. This is an action that can be taken without anyone else knowing it, while the other nine can be witnessed by others. This is a sin that can be violated without public exposure yet has consequences to our souls. This commandment teaches that genuine righteousness flows not just from outward actions but what flows from our hearts.  This was revealed clearly in the teaching of Yeshua in the Sermon on the Mount, also known as the beatitudes or blessings, which teach us how to rightly understand God’s Torah (Matt. 5:21-22; Mat. 12:34). These 10 and the entire Torah are given to reveal that we fall short of God’s call to be holy as He is holy (Lev. 11:44; 1 Pet. 1:15-16). As Paul would later explain (Rom. 3:19-20), the purpose of God’s law was to show the universality of sin and guilt and God’s provision for the sin that separates us from God and how to be reconciled to Him and His joy.  Here is a website listing the 613 commandments of Scripture:

Deuteronomy 5:22-23. These words refer to the commands just given, and Moses reminds them again that they received them on Mt. Sinai when God entered into His covenant with Israel. To impress on them the gravity of God’s covenant and His commands he reminds them of the evidence that God gave on Mt. Sinai so that they would give them and God their full attention. His voice was accompanied by fire, a cloud, and a deep darkness all evidence of His presence. The token of that holy time were the two stone tablets given to them through Moses. The tablets represent two copies of the Ten which are the highlights of the complete covenant. One copy was the Lord’s and the other for Israel and placed in the Ark of the Covenant, and followed the pattern of suzerainty treaties of that day.

Deuteronomy 5:24-25. Israel recognized the authority of God’s Word, His awesome power and goodness in letting them survive their encounter with God at Sinai. God revealed his glory and majesty as they heard his voice from the midst of the fire. They acknowledged God’s holiness and their sinfulness and while they survived their encounter with Him they did not want to repeat it. The people begged that God would no longer speak to them directly (Ex. 20:19; Heb. 12:18-21).

Deuteronomy 5:26-27 Israel could now choose to avoid from their calling and responsibility to obey God’s word, or they could find a mediator who would listen and report to them what he said. A mediator might enable them to cope with God’s word given to them, so they asked Moses to go near and listen to God and tell them whatever the Lord said. They wanted to hear God’s Word, but in a way that wouldn’t terrify them. They committed themselves to obey whatever God said through His servant Moses.

Deuteronomy 5:28-29 God commended Israel for recognizing their need for an intermediary, probably because it foreshadowed the ministry of Yeshua as Mediator.  The writer of Hebrews describes Yeshua as one greater than Moses in his priestly intercessory role (Heb. 3:1-3).  God saw their request for a mediator as a demonstration of their hearts seeking not only wisdom but humility. God desired that their attitude here would always characterize them and their children after them.

Deuteronomy 5:30-33. God gave instructions to Moses to have the people return to their tents instead of remaining at the foot of the mountain. Moses, however, was to stay with God learning his commands, decrees and laws. Then in his role as mediator he would teach Israel to follow those laws in the land they would possess.  Moses calls them to walk (halak ) in the commands. Judaism defines obedience to these commands as Halakah.  Here is one Jewish understanding of Halakah:

“Judaism is not just a set of beliefs about G-d, man and the universe. Judaism is a comprehensive way of life, filled with rules and practices that affect every aspect of life: what you do when you wake up in the morning, what you can and cannot eat, what you can and cannot wear, how to groom yourself, how to conduct business, who you can marry, how to observe the holidays and Shabbat, and perhaps most important, how to treat G-d, other people, and animals. This set of rules and practices is known as halakhah. The word “halakhah” is usually translated as “Jewish Law,” although a more literal (and more appropriate) translation might be “the path that one walks.” The word is derived from the Hebrew root Hei-Lamed-Kaf, meaning to go, to walk or to travel.[2]

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