The Image vs. The Word, The Parsha Yitro: A Ten Commandments’ Tale

this blog’s torah analysis examines texts through a ten commandments’ lens. thus, an ultimate challege occurs with the parsha yitro. how can the deliverance of the ten commandments be viewed with a ten commandments’ lens?

the previous week’s haftarah reading from judges offers insight mt. sinai’s events being greater that the deliverance of the ten commandments. the song of deborah, which is considered by scholars to be one of the oldest parts of the bible in terms of composition, describes an important military conflict in the levant. mt. sinai is evoked as the lord’s power to melt a moutain. the poem, however, omits reference to the ten commandments.

with yitro, we encounter the children of israel being delivered the ten commandments in hollywood-like fashion. pyrotechnics are abound as the mountain is smoking and the shofar is blowing. exodus 20:15. the fearful moment caused the children of israel to back off.

the ancient memory and import of the mt. sinai experience was of fear evoking power. up to deborah’s time, the lord’s display of power and the ability to evoke fear was apparently well known and passed on to further generations. the ten commandments served as an instrument in battle. the covenant, containing the commandments, would be brought into battle.

in present times, yitro’s importance are now the words. with time, the words of the ten commandments have shaped civilization. countries have thrived with prosperity by embracing ten commandments’ morals and values. the power in the word brings meaning verses the display of awesomeness.

history has supplanted the ten commandments as a symbol of pure power. with the establishment of the israelite nation, military leaders, such as david and the hasmoneans, produced sources of inspiration in times of conflict. the story of david vs. goliath has been evoked countless times by underdogs. an israeli airforce squadron evokes fear with reference to the macabees with their name “69 hammers.”

there was a time when the ten commandments’ experience was about life and death. it was about their king, the master of the universe, who would be their guiding force to a new nation that was to be established. over time, upon the establishment of peace and prosperity, the ten commandments’ experience would take on a difference meaning. the commandments would be employed to establish a well ordered society.

in sum, analyzing the deliverance of the ten commandments though the lens of the ten commandments reveals that history has the power to change both meaning and import. the attempt to find exuberance over the ten commandments in ancient times was an exercise of futility. with early conflict with neighboring countries, the commandments, at the time, presented a symbol to other nations as to the fact that the children of israel were the subjects to the almighty who would find them victorious.

be well!!

Published by biblelifestudies

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

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