A Matter of Interpretation: A Ten Commandments’ Tale

while we all cannot devote ourselves to scholars, we need to sharpen our skills as to the means and tactics used by those offering expert opinion. after three decades of interrogating experts, i have observed many times when experts go astray. recently, i witnessed an interview of a scientist who became angry and emotional at the beginning of the answer to a rather simple question. this is a tell that they are hiding from or avoiding the truth.

in last week’s torah portion, a critical event occurs. moses’ encounter with the almighty at the burning bush. rashi, the most well recognized torah commentator, makes unusual comments with respect to what transpired prior to this encounter. while the text notes “he [moses] led the flocks after the free pastureland, and he came to the mountain of God, to Horeb,” rashi comments that intention of moving the flock was to “to distance himself from [the possibility of] theft, so that they [the flocks] would not pasture in others’ fields.” further, he is dismissive of the fact that the mountain, at the time may have been named the “mountain of god.” he notes “[mount horeb is called “the mountain of god”] in view of the [events of the] future.”

rashi’s comments appear to be dismissive of the possibility that moses intentionally went to the god’s mountain on his own. rather, the meeting between moses and the master of the universe was in fact random.

are there reasons for concern? was there a concern of midianite religious influence? had they previously identified the mountain as god’s mountain? these questions are important as, at the burning bush, the master of the universe reveals his name to moses.

thus, the theme of moses of seeking connect with the master of the universe at the same time that the master of the universe was in need of him to be the spokesperson was lost by the commentary’s misdirection. when the commentator employs the tactic of dismissing what appears to be plain wording, it is something that should raise eyebrows. is there something else going on? it is certainly worthy of exploration.

in sum, this post is not intended to provide an interpretation. rather, it is an attempt to understand an interpreter’s motive.

be well!!

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Published by biblelifestudies

I am a practicing lawyer and long term admirer of the bible

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