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Deuteronomy 5:6-10

Context
The Ten Commandments

5:6 “I am the Lord your God, he who brought you from the land of Egypt, from the place of slavery. 5:7 You must not have any other gods 1  besides me. 2  5:8 You must not make for yourself an image 3  of anything in heaven above, on earth below, or in the waters beneath. 4  5:9 You must not worship or serve them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God. I punish 5  the sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons for the sin of the fathers who reject 6  me, 7  5:10 but I show covenant faithfulness 8  to the thousands 9  who choose 10  me and keep my commandments.

1 tn Heb “there must not be for you other gods.” The expression “for you” indicates possession.

2 tn Heb “upon my face,” or “before me” (עַל־פָּנָיַ, ’al-panaya). Some understand this in a locative sense: “in my sight.” The translation assumes that the phrase indicates exclusion. The idea is that of placing any other god before the Lord in the sense of taking his place. Contrary to the view of some, this does not leave the door open for a henotheistic system where the Lord is the primary god among others. In its literary context the statement must be taken in a monotheistic sense. See, e.g., 4:39; 6:13-15.

3 tn Heb “an image, any likeness.”

4 tn Heb “under the earth” (so ASV, NASB, NRSV); NCV “below the land.”

5 tn In the Hebrew text the form is a participle, which is subordinated to what precedes. For the sake of English style, the translation divides this lengthy verse into two sentences.

6 tn Heb “who hate” (so NAB, NIV, NLT). Just as “to love” (אָהַב, ’ahav) means in a covenant context “to choose, obey,” so “to hate” (שָׂנֵא, sane’) means “to reject, disobey” (cf. the note on the word “loved” in Deut 4:37; see also 5:10).

7 tn Heb “visiting the sin of fathers upon sons and upon a third (generation) and upon a fourth (generation) of those who hate me.” God sometimes punishes children for the sins of a father (cf. Num 16:27, 32; Josh 7:24-25; 2 Sam 21:1-9). On the principle of corporate solidarity and responsibility in OT thought see J. Kaminsky, Corporate Responsibility in the Hebrew Bible (JSOTSup). In the idiom of the text, the father is the first generation and the “sons” the second generation, making grandsons the third and great-grandsons the fourth. The reference to a third and fourth generation is a way of emphasizing that the sinner’s punishment would last throughout his lifetime. In this culture, where men married and fathered children at a relatively young age, it would not be unusual for one to see his great-grandsons. In an Aramaic tomb inscription from Nerab dating to the seventh century b.c., Agbar observes that he was surrounded by “children of the fourth generation” as he lay on his death bed (see ANET 661). The language of the text differs from Exod 34:7, the sons are the first generation, the grandsons (literally, “sons of the sons”) the second, great-grandsons the third, and great-great-grandsons the fourth. One could argue that formulation in Deut 5:9 (see also Exod 20:50) is elliptical/abbreviated or that it suffers from textual corruption (the repetition of the words “sons” would invite accidental omission).

8 tn This theologically rich term (חֶסֶד, khesed) describes God’s loyalty to those who keep covenant with him. Sometimes it is used synonymously with בְּרִית (bÿrit, “covenant”; Deut 7:9), and sometimes interchangeably with it (Deut 7:12). See H.-J. Zobel, TDOT 5:44-64.

9 tc By a slight emendation (לַאֲלּוּפִים [laallufim] for לַאֲלָפִים [laalafim]) “clans” could be read in place of the MT reading “thousands.” However, no ms or versional evidence exists to support this emendation.

tn Another option is to understand this as referring to “thousands (of generations) of those who love me” (cf. NAB, NIV, NRSV, NLT). See Deut 7:9.

10 tn Heb “love.” See note on the word “reject” in v. 9.



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