the ten commandments’ main message is a matter of context. “who” and “when” matters. “who were the people who received the ten commandments?” and “when were the ten commandments received?”
the ten commandments were provided to a diverse group of people. three types of people were arguably present. the descendants of jacob consisted of two groups.
one group continued practicing the morals and values that developed in their homeland. for example, joseph, the first of these descendants to reside in egypt displayed these values when he was potiphar’s servant.
the other likely group of descendants were those who, perhaps over the period of slavery, lacked either moral knowledge or failed to practice it. moses’ observation of the hebrews fighting suggests that this group was present. exodus 2:13.
the third group was others. beyond the descendants of jacob, some strangers became part of the group that left egypt. exodus 12:48. likewise, moses’ wife and others who came with him to egypt would be considered part of this group.
in sum, the “who, ” as described, was a varied group of individuals with respect to knowledge, practice, and belief. thus, scholars have opined that the ten commandments served as a short list of rules that all could take in and practice. this in contrast to the 613 commandments within the torah.
what was the context that the ten commandments were received?
the context of the commandments was during a period a transformation. a people, who were governed by the laws of a foreign country and lived as slaves, were now to have their own society in their own land. these were laws which were meant to apply to all who would come to occupy the promised land.
thus, with both “who” and “context,” there is one thing in common. the ten commandments were meant to reach and apply to all in society. thus, it was meant as a inclusive moral code.
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