Internet Verse Search Commentaries Word Analysis ITL - draft

Exodus 20:3


“You shall have no 1  other gods before me. 2 


Ex 15:11; De 5:7; De 6:5,14; Jos 24:18-24; 2Ki 17:29-35; Ps 29:2; Ps 73:25; Ps 81:9; Isa 26:4; Isa 43:10; Isa 44:8; Isa 45:21,22; Isa 46:9; Jer 25:6; Jer 35:15; Mt 4:10; 1Co 8:4,6; Eph 5:5; Php 3:19; Col 2:18; 1Jo 5:20,21; Re 19:10; Re 22:9

NET © Notes

tn The possession is expressed here by the use of the lamed (ל) preposition and the verb “to be”: לֹא־יִהְיֶה לְךָ (loyihyeh lÿkha, “there will not be to you”). The negative with the imperfect expresses the emphatic prohibition; it is best reflected with “you will not” and has the strongest expectation of obedience (see GKC 317 §107.o). As an additional way of looking at this line, U. Cassuto suggests that the verb is in the singular in order to say that they could not have even one other god, and the word “gods” is plural to include any gods (Exodus, 241).

tn The expression עַל־פָּנָי (’al-panay) has several possible interpretations. S. R. Driver suggests “in front of me,” meaning obliging me to behold them, and also giving a prominence above me (Exodus, 193-94). W. F. Albright rendered it “You shall not prefer other gods to me” (From the Stone Age to Christianity, 297, n. 29). B. Jacob (Exodus, 546) illustrates it with marriage: the wife could belong to only one man while every other man was “another man.” They continued to exist but were not available to her. The point is clear from the Law, regardless of the specific way the prepositional phrase is rendered. God demands absolute allegiance, to the exclusion of all other deities. The preposition may imply some antagonism, for false gods would be opposed to Yahweh. U. Cassuto adds that God was in effect saying that anytime Israel turned to a false god they had to know that the Lord was there – it is always in his presence, or before him (Exodus, 241).

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