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Deuteronomy 5:4-22

Context
5:4 The Lord spoke face to face with you at the mountain, from the middle of the fire. 5:5 (I was standing between the Lord and you at that time to reveal to you the message 1  of the Lord, because you were afraid of the fire and would not go up the mountain.) He said:

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 2  besides me. 3  5:8 You must not make for yourself an image 4  of anything in heaven above, on earth below, or in the waters beneath. 5  5:9 You must not worship or serve them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God. I punish 6  the sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons for the sin of the fathers who reject 7  me, 8  5:10 but I show covenant faithfulness 9  to the thousands 10  who choose 11  me and keep my commandments. 5:11 You must not make use of the name of the Lord your God for worthless purposes, 12  for the Lord will not exonerate anyone who abuses his name that way. 13  5:12 Be careful to observe 14  the Sabbath day just as the Lord your God has commanded you. 5:13 You are to work and do all your tasks in six days, 5:14 but the seventh day is the Sabbath 15  of the Lord your God. On that day you must not do any work, you, your son, your daughter, your male slave, your female slave, your ox, your donkey, any other animal, or the foreigner who lives with you, 16  so that your male and female slaves, like yourself, may have rest. 5:15 Recall that you were slaves in the land of Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there by strength and power. 17  That is why the Lord your God has commanded you to observe 18  the Sabbath day. 5:16 Honor 19  your father and your mother just as the Lord your God has commanded you to do, so that your days may be extended and that it may go well with you in the land that he 20  is about to give you. 5:17 You must not murder. 21  5:18 You must not commit adultery. 5:19 You must not steal. 5:20 You must not offer false testimony against another. 22  5:21 You must not desire 23  another man’s 24  wife, nor should you crave his 25  house, his field, his male and female servants, his ox, his donkey, or anything else he owns.” 26 

The Narrative of the Sinai Revelation and Israel’s Response

5:22 The Lord said these things to your entire assembly at the mountain from the middle of the fire, the cloud, and the darkness with a loud voice, and that was all he said. 27  Then he inscribed the words 28  on two stone tablets and gave them to me.

1 tn Or “word” (so KJV, NASB, NIV); NRSV “words.”

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

3 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.

4 tn Heb “an image, any likeness.”

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

6 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.

7 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).

8 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).

9 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.

10 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.

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

12 tn Heb “take up the name of the Lord your God to emptiness”; KJV “take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” The idea here is not cursing or profanity in the modern sense of these terms but rather the use of the divine Name for unholy, mundane purposes, that is, for meaningless (the Hebrew term is שָׁוְא) and empty ends. In ancient Israel this would include using the Lord’s name as a witness in vows one did not intend to keep.

13 tn Heb “who takes up his name to emptiness.”

14 tn Heb “to make holy,” that is, to put to special use, in this case, to sacred purposes (cf. vv. 13-15).

15 tn There is some degree of paronomasia (wordplay) here: “the seventh (הַשְּׁבִיעִי, hashÿvii) day is the Sabbath (שַׁבָּת, shabbat).” Otherwise, the words have nothing in common, since “Sabbath” is derived from the verb שָׁבַת (shavat, “to cease”).

16 tn Heb “in your gates”; NRSV, CEV “in your towns”; TEV “in your country.”

17 tn Heb “by a strong hand and an outstretched arm,” the hand and arm symbolizing divine activity and strength. Cf. NLT “with amazing power and mighty deeds.”

18 tn Or “keep” (so KJV, NRSV).

19 tn The imperative here means, literally, “regard as heavy” (כַּבֵּד, kabbed). The meaning is that great importance must be ascribed to parents by their children.

20 tn Heb “the Lord your God.” See note on “He” in 5:3.

21 tn Traditionally “kill” (so KJV, ASV, RSV, NAB). The verb here (רָצַח, ratsakh) is generic for homicide but in the OT both killing in war and capital punishment were permitted and even commanded (Deut 13:5, 9; 20:13, 16-17), so the technical meaning here is “murder.”

22 tn Heb “your neighbor.” Clearly this is intended generically, however, and not to be limited only to those persons who live nearby (frequently the way “neighbor” is understood in contemporary contexts). So also in v. 20.

23 tn The Hebrew verb used here (חָמַד, khamad) is different from the one translated “crave” (אָוַה, ’avah) in the next line. The former has sexual overtones (“lust” or the like; cf. Song of Sol 2:3) whereas the latter has more the idea of a desire or craving for material things.

24 tn Heb “your neighbor’s.” See note on the term “fellow man” in v. 19.

25 tn Heb “your neighbor’s.” The pronoun is used in the translation for stylistic reasons.

26 tn Heb “or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

27 tn Heb “and he added no more” (so KJV, NASB, NRSV); NLT “This was all he said at that time.”

28 tn Heb “them”; the referent (the words spoken by the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity.



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