i was reading a commentary on the ten commandments and there was some comment as to how monuments and symbols of the ten commandments are devoid of meaning. it noted that many of them do not even have the ten commandments listed upon them.
are the two tablets in and of themselves meaningful? i say yes. think of a double rainbow.
one of the most epic symbols with the bible is that of the rainbow. in genesis 6:12, “Now the earth was corrupt before God, and the earth became full of robbery. And God saw the earth, and behold it had become corrupted, for all flesh had corrupted its way on the earth. And God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth has become full of robbery because of them, and behold I am destroying them from the earth. Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with compartments, and you shall caulk it both inside and outside with pitch.”
after destroying the world and preserving noah and his family, the following transpired.
“And I will establish My covenant with you, and never again will all flesh be cut off by the flood waters, and there will never again be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant, which I am placing between Me and between you, and between every living soul that is with you, for everlasting generations. And it shall come to pass, when I cause clouds to come upon the earth, that the rainbow will appear in the cloud. And I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and between you and between every living creature among all flesh, and the water will no longer become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will see it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and between every living creature among all flesh, which is on the earth.” And God said to Noah: “This is the sign of the covenant that I have set up, between Myself and between all flesh that is on the earth.”
after the children of israel, after being freed from egypt turned to praying to the god’s of egypt by making a golden calf, the following interaction took place. exodus 32:7
“And the Lord said to Moses: “Go, descend, for your people that you have brought up from the land of Egypt have acted corruptly. They have quickly turned away from the path that I have commanded them; they have made themselves a molten calf! And they have prostrated themselves before it, slaughtered sacrifices to it, and said: ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who have brought you up from the land of Egypt.’ ” And the Lord said to Moses: “I have seen this people and behold! they are a stiff necked people. Now leave Me alone, and My anger will be kindled against them so that I will annihilate them, and I will make you into a great nation.” Moses pleaded before the Lord, his God, and said: “Why, O Lord, should Your anger be kindled against Your people whom You have brought up from the land of Egypt with great power and with a strong hand? Why should the Egyptians say: ‘He brought them out with evil [intent] to kill them in the mountains and to annihilate them from upon the face of the earth’? Retreat from the heat of Your anger and reconsider the evil [intended] for Your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your very Self, and to whom You said: ‘I will multiply your seed like the stars of the heavens, and all this land which I said that I would give to your seed, they shall keep it as their possession forever.’ ” The Lord [then] reconsidered the evil He had said He would do to His people. Now Moses turned and went down from the mountain [bearing] the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets inscribed from both their sides; on one side and on the other side they were inscribed. Now the tablets were God’s work, and the inscription was God’s inscription, engraved on the tablets.”
two tablets….double rainbow!
thus, the mere sight of the ten commandments, without verbiage, is an important symbol. the shape of the object, upon which the ten commandments were inscribed upon, are a reminder to the world as to what was necessary for the jewish society to survive.
the adherence to the ten commandments and the torah, along with having a powerful teacher, moses, was the formula for the jewish people’s survival.
to moses’ credit, the fact that we still know of the ten commandments and that they play a role in our society are a tribute to god’s brilliance in drafting the ten commandments and moses’ commitment to take on the challenge for educating a people that were perceived by god as failures and disposable.
so, the next time you see even the mere outline of the ten commandments, please take the moment to understand that this is symbol of a commitment to a moral foundation that can save even the worst of our society.