Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20

Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20
Proper 22A


Then GodA spokeB allC these words,D

Notes on verse 1

A “God” = Elohim.
B “spoke” = dabar. This is generally to speak, answer, declare, or command. It might mean to arrange and so to speak in a figurative sense as arranging words.
C “all” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
D “words” = dabar. Related to “spoke” in v1. From dabar (see note B above). This is speech, a word, a matter, an affair, charge, command, message, promise, purpose, report, request. It is a word, which implies things that are spoken of in a wide sense.

“I am the LordE your God, who broughtF you out of the landG

Notes on verse 2a

E “Lord” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
F “brought” = yatsa. This is to go or come out, bring forth, appear. It is to go out in a literal or figurative sense.
G “land” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.

of Egypt,H out of the houseI of slavery;J 

Notes on verse 2b

H “Egypt” = Mitsrayim. Perhaps from matsor (besieged or fortified place, bulwark, entrenchment; something hemmed in; a siege or distress or fastness); from tsur (to confine, besiege, to cramp). This is Egypt.
I “house” = bayit. Probably from banah (to build, make, set up, obtain children; to build literally or figuratively). This is house, court, family, palace, temple.
J “slavery” = ebed. From abad (to work, serve, compel; any kind of work; used causatively, can mean to enslave or keep in bondage). This is a servant, slave, or bondservant.

you shall haveK no otherL godsM beforeN me.

Notes on verse 3

K “have” = hayah. Related to “Lord” in v2. See note E above.
L “other” = acher. From achar (to be behind, delay, be late, procrastinate, continue). This is following, next, strange, other.
M “gods” = elohim. Same as “God” in v1. See note A above.
N “before” = paneh. From panah (to turn, face, appear). This is face in a literal or figurative sense. It could be face, presence, anger, respect. It can also be used of God to indicate divine favor or presence.

“You shall not makeO for yourself an idol,P whether in the formQ of anythingR that is in heavenS

Notes on verse 4a

O “make” = asah. This is to make, do, act, appoint, become in many senses.
P “idol” = pesel. From pasal (to hew, carve; used for wood or stone). This is an idol or image.
Q “form” = temunah. 10x in OT. From the same as min (kind, sort, species). This is something that has been apportioned or fashioned. It can be an embodiment or shape. It can also figuratively be a favor that manifests.
R “anything” = kol. Same as “all” in v1. See note C above.
S “heaven” = shamayim. Root may mean being lofty. This is sky, the air, or heaven. It is in a dual noun form so this might refer to the part of the sky where the clouds move on the one hand and the part beyond that where the sun, moon, and stars are on the other hand.

aboveT or that is on the earthU beneathV or that is in the waterW underX the earth. 

Notes on verse 4b

T “above” = maal. From alah (to go up, ascend, be high, be a priority; to arise in a literal or figurative sense). This is the upper part, forward, high above, upwards, greater, heaven, or exceedingly.
U “earth” = erets. Same as “land” in v2. See note G above.
V “beneath” = tachat. This is underneath, below, the bottom, instead of.
W “water” = mayim. This is water, waters, or waterway in a general sense. Figuratively, it can also mean juice, urine, or semen.
X “under” = tachat. Same as “beneath” in v4. See note V above.

“You shall not makeY wrongfulZ use of the nameAA of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquitBB anyone who misusesCC his name.

Notes on verse 7

Y “make” = nasa. This is to lift in a broad sense, literally and figuratively. So it could be to carry, take, or arise. It could also be bring forth, advance, accept.
Z “wrongful” = shav. Perhaps from the same as sho (ruin, desolation, storm; from a root that means rushing over – hence a storm and hence devastation). This is emptiness, false, worthless, deceit. It can also refer to evil, guile, idolatry, or something being in vain.
AA “name” = shem. May be from sum (to put, place, set). This is name, fame, renown. A name was thought to indicate something essential about a person – something about their individuality. So, this word can also mean honor, authority, or character.
BB “acquit” = naqah. This is to be empty, cleanse, acquit, blameless, immune, innocent. It is to be clean or to make clean in a literal or figurative sense. It can also be bare in a negative sense, destroyed.
CC “misuses” = nasashav. Nasa is the same as “make” in v7. See note Y above. Shav is the same as “wrongful” in v7. See note Z above.

“RememberDD the SabbathEE dayFF and keep it holy.GG 

Notes on verse 8

DD “remember” = zakar. This is to remember, to mark something so that it can be recalled, to be mindful of, to mention.
EE “Sabbath” = shabbat. From shabath (to rest, stop, repose, cease working; by implication, to celebrate). This is sabbath, literally meaning rest or intermission.
FF “day” = yom. Root may mean being hot. This is the day in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean birth, age, daylight, continually or other references to time.
GG “keep…holy” = qadash. From qodesh (set apart and so sacred; God is different from us and so God is holy/set apart; things we dedicate to God’s service are set apart for God and so they, too, are holy). This is set apart, consecrated, hallowed, sanctified. This is something or someone that is set apart for a holy purpose or use – ceremonially or morally clean.

SixHH days you shall laborII and doJJ all your work.KK 

Notes on verse 9

HH “six” = shesh. This is six. Figuratively, it can be a surplus since it is one more than the number of fingers on the hand.
II “labor” = abad. Related to “slavery” in v2. See note J above.
JJ “do” = asah. Same as “make” in v4. See note O above.
KK “work” = melakah. From the same as malak (messenger, an angel, or a deputy; human messengers literally or for prophets, priests, or teachers as messengers of God; also supernatural messengers i.e. angels). Properly, this is a deputyship or some kind of work. It can also be the product that comes from labor.

12 “HonorLL your fatherMM and your mother,NN so that your days may be longOO in the landPP that the Lord your God is givingQQ you.

Notes on verse 12

LL “honor” = kabad. To be heavy, weighty, or severe. It can also be positive abounding in, rich, or honorable. The Hebrew word for “glory,” kabod, is taken from this root.
MM “father” = ab. This is father, chief, or ancestor. It is father in a literal or figurative sense.
NN “mother” = em. This is a mother as binding a family together or a breeding female animal. It could be mother in a literal or figurative sense.
OO “be long” = arak. This is to continue, lengthen prolong, delay, or endure. It is being long or causing something to be long in a literal or figurative sense.
PP “land” = adamah. From the same as adam (man, humankind); perhaps from ‘adom (to be red). This is ground, earth, soil as red, or land.
QQ “giving” = natan. This is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively.

13 “You shall not murder.RR

14 “You shall not commit adultery.SS

15 “You shall not steal.TT

Notes on verses 13-15

RR “murder” = ratsach. Properly, this is to dash something to pieces. It is to kill a person, but it is used particularly (though not exclusively) for murder.
SS “commit adultery” = naaph. This is to commit adultery or, figuratively, to be an apostate.
TT “steal” = ganab. This is to steal in a stealthy way rather than through violence. It can also mean to deceive. There is a Yiddish word ganef that derives from this root. It means thief or scoundrel.

16 “You shall not bearUU falseVV witnessWW against your neighbor.XX

Notes on verse 16

UU “bear” = anah. This is answer, respond, announce, sing, shout, or testify. It means to pay attention, which implies responding and, by extension, starting to talk. Used in a specific sense for singing, shouting, testifying, etc.
VV “false” = sheqer. This is deception, lie, or disappointment. It can also be something that is vain or wrongfully.
WW “witness” = ed. From ud (to admonish, repeat, duplicate, testify, restore, record, relieve). This is a witness, testimony, or one who records testimony. It can also refer to a prince.
XX “neighbor” = rea. From raah (to associate with). This is the same as neighbor in Leviticus 19:18 “love your neighbor as yourself.” This is friend, companion, fellow, neighbor. It is someone with whom you associate, whether more or less close.

17 “You shall not covetYY your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife,ZZ maleAAA or female slave,BBB ox,CCC donkey,DDD or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

Notes on verse 17

YY “covet” = chamad. This is to desire or delight in someone or something. It can also mean something that is precious or coveted. So, it can also refer to lust.
ZZ “wife” = ishshah. From ish (man); perhaps from enosh (human, humankind, mortal); from anash (to be weak, sick, or frail). This is woman, wife, or female.
AAA “male” = ebed. Same as “slavery” in v2. See note J above.
BBB “female slave” = amah. This is female servant or slave, handmaid.
CCC “ox” = shor. Perhaps from shur (to travel, turn, journey; travelling like a prostitute or a merchant). This is bull, ox, head of cattle, cow.
DDD “donkey” = chamor. From chamar (to be red, blush). This is a male donkey.

18 When all the peopleEEE witnessedFFF the thunderGGG and lightning,HHH

Notes on verse 18a

EEE “people” = am. From amam (to darken, hide, associate; creating shadows by huddling together). This is people or nation. It can be used specifically for a tribe, collectively of troops or armies, or figuratively to refer to a flock of animals.
FFF “witnessed” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
GGG “thunder” = qol. This is a sound, used often for human voices. Also used when God speaks or angels, animals or instruments. It can be a cry or a noise, thunder or earthquakes and so on.
HHH “lightning” = lappid. 14x in OT. Root may mean to shine. This is torch, lamp, or flash of lightning.

the soundIII of the trumpet,JJJ and the mountainKKK smoking,LLL

Notes on verse 18b

III “sound” = qol. Same as “thunder” in v18. See note GGG above.
JJJ “trumpet” = shophar. From shaphar (being beautiful or lovely). This is a ram’s horn, trumpet, or cornet. A shofar is still blown at Jewish festivals such as Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish new year celebration).
KKK “mountain” = har. From harar (hill or mountain). This is mountain, hill, hilly region.
LLL “smoking” = ashen. 2x in OT. From the same as ashan (smoke, vapor, dust, or anger); perhaps from ashan (to smoke or burn in a literal or figurative sense; to be angry). This is smoldering or smoky.

theyMMM were afraidNNN and trembledOOO and stoodPPP at a distanceQQQ 

Notes on verse 18c

MMM “they” = am. Same as “people” in v18. See note EEE above.
NNN “were afraid” = raah. Same as “witnessed” in v18. See note FFF above.
OOO “trembled” = nua. This is to waver in a literal or figurative sense. So, it could be to tremble, quiver, totter. It could also refer to a fugitive.
PPP “stood” = amad. This is to stand up in a literal or figurative sense. So it can be establish, continue, endure, take a stand, act, be a servant, stand still, remain, stand against an enemy.
QQQ “at a distance” = rachoq. From rachaq (to widen, become distant, cast, or remove in a literal or figurative sense). This is distant or far, whether of space or of time.

19 and said to Moses,RRR “You speak to us, and we will listen,SSS but do not let God speak to us, lestTTT we die.”UUU 

Notes on verse 19

RRR “Moses” = Mosheh. From mashah (to pull out in a literal or figurative sense, to draw out) OR from Egyptian mes or mesu (child, son i.e. child of…). This is Moses – the one drawn out from the water, which is to say, rescued. If derived from the Egyptian, his name would share a root with Rameses and Thutmose.
SSS “listen” = shama. This is to hear, call, consent, or consider. It implies listening intelligently, giving attention, and, because of these two factors, obedience and action are often implied.
TTT “lest” = pen. Related to “before” in v3. Perhaps from panah (see note N above). This is lest, if, or.
UUU “die” = mut. This is to die in a literal or figurative sense. It can also refer to being a dead body.

20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid,VVV for God has comeWWW only toXXX testYYY you

Notes on verse 20a

VVV “be afraid” = yare. This is to fear, be afraid, dreadful. It can also refer to fearful reverence – to fear in a moral sense is to say to revere, respect.
WWW “come” = bo. This is to enter, come in, advance, fulfill, bring offerings, enter to worship, attack. It can also have a sexual connotation.
XXX “to” = abur. From abar (to pass over, pass through, or pass by; cross over or to alienate; used for transitions). This is for, so that, on account of. Properly, it means crossed.
YYY “test” = nasah. This is to test, prove, try, tempt, or attempt.

and toZZZ putAAAA the fearBBBB of him uponCCCC you so that you do notDDDD sin.”EEEE 

Notes on verse 20b

ZZZ “to” = abur. Same as “to” in v20. See note XXX above.
AAAA “put” = hayah. Same as “have” in v3. See note K above.
BBBB “fear” = yirah. Related to “be afraid” in v20. From yare (see note VVV above). This is fear or reverence.
CCCC “upon” = paneh. Same as “before” in v3. See note N above.
DDDD “so that…not” = bilti. From balah (to grow old, wear out, consume, waste, enjoy, fail, decay). This is nothing, not, lest, or except. From its root, it means “a failure of” – used for negative particles.
EEEE “sin” = chata. This is properly to miss, and so figuratively it is used for sinning, bearing the blame. It implies a forfeiture or loss of something.

Image credit: “Ten Commandments” by Segar. Photo by Rajasegar, 2020.

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