The Ten Commandments
A book by Joseph Lewis
... chapter continued from previous file ...
The First Tables of Stone
Any study of the Decalogue without some reference to the Tables of Stone would be incomplete, though we have already listed the Commandments as recorded in Exodus and Deuteronomy. We therefore proceed to examine the Biblical narrative concerning them.
The fact that the narratives describing the deliverance of the Ten Commandments do not appear consecutively in the Bible has caused much confusion. The chapters must be painstakingly combed in order to connect the many references to the Commandments and the Tables of Stone and make the story comprehensible. This requires the elimination of many misplaced and interpolated passages that have no bearing on, or relationship to, the events described. To separate one from the other is a difficult and arduous task.
As there is confusion and contradiction about the Commandments themselves, so there is confusion and contradiction about their method of deliverance. Just as we have found -- so far -- that there are two sets of Commandments, [**30] so we find that there are two sets of Tables of Stone, and the narratives concerning them are equally conflicting.
I quote the Book of Exodus, Chapter 24, verses 1 to 9:
1. And he said unto Moses, Come up unto the Lord, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off.
2. And Moses alone shall come near the Lord: but they shall not come nigh; neither shall the people go up with him.
3. And Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the Lord hath said will we do.
4. And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars according to the twelve tribes of Israel.
5. And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the Lord.
6. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basins; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar.
7. And he took the book of the covenant and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.
9. Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abibu, and seventy of the elders of Israel.
Among peoples of primitive culture, the binding of any "covenant" was consecrated by the use of blood, and this custom prevailed also among the Biblical Hebrews. Let me repeat the words: "All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient." In response, "Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words." This, then, was the binding agreement between the Children of Israel and the Bible God. There has been a "meeting of the minds," and for the terms of the "contract," I quote Chapter 24, verses 10 and 11:
10. And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.
11. And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.
It is not an uncommon experience among primitive and superstitious people to have visions of their god. It was not a difficult thing for the priest-magician of primitive tribes to provide such visions to specially favored members of the clan. Neither was it a difficult mental task to "see" the settings of the surroundings. This accounts for the "paved work of a sapphire stone" under God's feet. What they saw was a vision of the mind and not an image of the senses. [**31]
To continue, I quote Chapter 24, verse 12:
12. And the Lord said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them.
Here is a promise that must be repeated for emphasis because of its important bearing upon subsequent events. The Lord tells Moses to "come up to me into the mount" and "I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them." This is a definite and unequivocal statement that the Commandments have already been written by the Bible Deity.
I quote Chapter 24, verses 13 to 16:
13. And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua; and Moses went up into the mount of God.
14. And he said unto the elders, Tarry ye here for us, until we come again unto you: and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you: if any man have any matters to do, let him come unto them.
15. And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount.
16. And the glory of the Lord abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud.
Magic is an essential part of all primitive religions, and the religion of the early Hebrews was no exception. The mystery of cloud formations has always awed primitive man. He saw both good and evil omens in them.
I quote Chapter 24, verses 17 to 18:
17. And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.
It is generally the experience of those who have "seen" God that "the sight of the Lord was like devouring fire." Fire holds a fascination even over the mind of modern man; in primitive society "consuming fire" and "the blazing sun" stimulated the awe-struck mentality of primitive man to "see" all kinds of majestic beings.
I now quote Chapter 25, verses 1 to 3:
1. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2. Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering.
3. And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass.
"Sacrificing unto the Lord" is not without ritualistic significance. Equally essential is the value of the sacrifice. The more valuable the "offering," the more it is supposed to be likely to receive favorable approval. Precious metals were considered too good for the use of man, so they were invariably "dedicated" to the Lord.
The following verses from Exodus, Chapter 25, verses 21 to 29, are quoted as an example of primitive ritual:
21. And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee.
22. And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.
23. Thou shalt also make a table of shittim wood: two cubits shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof.
24. And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, and make thereto a crown of gold round about.
25. And thou shalt make unto it a border of a handbreadth round about, and thou shalt make a golden crown to the border thereof round about.
27. Over against the border shall the rings be for places of the staves to bear the table.
28. And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold, that the table may be borne with them.
29. And thou shalt make the dishes thereof, and spoons thereof, and covers thereof, and bowls thereof, to cover withal: of pure gold shalt thou make them.
To continue the narrative directly concerning the Tables of Stone, we must skip to Exodus, Chapter 32, verses 1 to 3:
1. And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
2. And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me.
3. And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron.
In order to explain the events that follow, the anxiety concerning the delay of Moses "to come down out of the mount" must have been more important than is implied. Verses 2 and 3 present a serious matter. What did Aaron want with the "golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters"?
I quote Chapter 32, verses 4 to 6:
4. And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
5. And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.
Aaron wanted this gold to fashion it "with a graving tool" to make into a "molten calf." Equally important are the words, "when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it." Then he made a proclamation and said: "Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord."
The relationship of these events to the Tables of Stone and the delivering of the Ten Commandments to the Children of Israel is extremely important. They had to decide whether they were going to accept this new god who, Moses explained, had brought them out of the land of bondage, or to continue to worship the golden calf. There seems to have been some doubt as to who was responsible for their deliverance. This is evident from the words mentioned in Verse 4 after the golden calf had been fashioned by Aaron: "These be thy gods which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt."
It is indisputable that the early Hebrews worshiped a golden calf as their deity. The bull was to them the symbol not only of strength but of fertility. [*32] One authority states: "Portable images of a bull overlaid with gold occupied, down to the time of the prophets, a prominent place in the equipment of the Israelitish sanctuaries." [*33]
There are innumerable hidden references in the Bible in which the Hebrew deity was compared to a wild bull, [*34] and it is also the opinion of authorities that the abbir of the Old Testament should be rendered "bull" rather than "mighty one." [*35] This view is also supported by those anthropologists who contend that the original home of the Semitic peoples was in Arabia, where the wild bull was a sacred animal and adorned the temples as guardian and protector. [*36]
In order to impress upon the Children of Israel the importance of discontinuing this form of worship, some act of extreme displeasure had to be committed to bring them to a realization of their new god's disapproval of their conduct.
I quote Chapter 32, verses 7 to 9:
7. And the Lord said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves:
8. They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
9. And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people.
If the Hebrew deity had brought the Children of Israel out of the land of Egypt in the miraculous way described in the Bible, then indeed there was justification for his anger and his uncomplimentary remark about them. If they could attribute their deliverance to the molten god (the golden calf) and not to their new god, then indeed suspicion is cast upon the whole episode.
I quote Chapter 32, verses 10 to 12:
10. Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.
11. And Moses besought the Lord his God, and said, Lord, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand?
12. Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.
In primitive societies, the gods possessed the qualities of both compassion and vindictiveness. Were they not impatient with displeasing conduct, they could not be indulgent with weakness and forgive sins. [*37] The Bible God also gives vent to his "fierce wrath." Moses, however, pleads with him to "repent of this evil against thy people."
I quote Chapter 32, verses 13 and 14:
13. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.
14. And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.
We now anxiously await the deliverance of the precious Tables of Stone with the infallible commandments of conduct which was so ceremoniously agreed upon in the first eight verses of Chapter 24.
I quote Chapter 32, verse 15:
15. And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written.
The above verse is worth a careful rereading. Moses has the two Tables of Stone, and we are now informed that "the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written." This is the first intimation that the tables of stone were written on both sides.
Before passing to the next verse, I should like to mention here that the Tables of Stone, even though written on both sides, had to be of considerable size. The question therefore arises as to whether a person, even though he possessed unusual strength, could have carried them from so great a height to the people below. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, "The weight of the Stones was too heavy for one man to carry, so the letters are ascribed to miraculous power: The letters virtually carried the stones and only when they began to fly away did Moses feel the weight of the stones"! [*38]
I quote Chapter 32, verse 16:
16. And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.
The significance of this verse cannot be too strongly emphasized, and it deserves repeating. It states that "the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables." This is verified by Biblical testimony as revealed in verse 18 of Chapter 31 of Exodus:
18. And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.
If this were true that Moses received "two tables of stone, written with the finger of God" -- he had in his hands the most valuable thing ever possessed by man -- the handiwork of God and words of his own writing. Reflect for a moment on their inestimable value! Moses should have guarded this priceless possession with his life, if need be.
For the action which follows, I quote Exodus, Chapter 32, verse 19:
19. And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses' anger waxed axed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.
If this narrative is true, then Moses committed the most tragic act in all the history of mankind -- and without the slightest justification. If we refer to verses 7 and 8 of this chapter, previously quoted, we shall find that the Bible God was fully acquainted with the acts of the Children of Israel in making a molten calf. Moses also had knowledge of what they had done, and in the verses that follow, particularly 10, 11 and 12, the Bible God repented of this evil against his people and all was well again. In the face of these facts, Moses' act is not only unpardonable and incomprehensible, but criminal. "He cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount."
For what follows the destruction of the two precious Tables of Stone containing the Ten Commandments, I quote Chapter 32, verses 20 to 24:
20. And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strewed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.
21. And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them?
22. And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief.
23. For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us: for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
24. And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.
Now that the golden calf has been destroyed, what are the Children of Israel to do, and what about the Ten Commandments? [**39]
To follow the continuity, I skip to Chapter 32, verses 30 and 31:
30. And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the Lord; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin.
31 And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold.
The ability to forgive sins endears any god to his people, hence Moses intervenes on behalf of the Israelites and prepares to atone for their sins. He "returned unto the Lord," and this brings us to the narrative concerning the second Table of Stone on which Moses induces the Bible God to write again the Ten Commandments for the Children of Israel.
The Second Tables of Stone and a Forgotten Set of Commandments
Were it not for the fact that Moses destroyed the Tables of Stone that God is supposed to have given him containing the Ten Commandments, this phase of our study would have been completed. But in verse 17 of Chapter 33 of the Book of Exodus, just quoted, there is a promise that God will rewrite these Commandments at the request of Moses, "for thou hast found grace in my sight...."
It is because the Biblical narratives are not an orderly array of events that it is such a difficult task to follow the continuity of the story. It is obvious to any student of the Bible that "God's Word" has no proper sequence as to time and events. The contradictions and interpolations in the Bible are proof of this. It is only by the most painstaking efforts that the meaning of the events behind the confused text is made clear and understandable. This situation is plainly evident in this chapter as we proceed to the narrative concerning the second set of the Tables of Stone.
I quote the Book of Exodus, Chapter 34, verse 1:
1. And the Lord said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.
Here is a promise that we hope will be fulfilled. We have every assurance that it will be done, for God tells Moses to "hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest."
I quote Chapter 34, verses 2 and 3:
3. And no man shall come up with thee, neither let any man he seen throughout all the mount; neither let the flocks nor herds feed before that mount.
The above verses repeat in effect the details that we noted in the previous ceremony concerning the preparation for this event. No one must go near the mount and "no man shall come up with thee."
I quote Chapter 34, verse 4:
4. And he hewed two tables of stone like unto the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone.
Here is a most direct and unequivocal statement. Moses "hewed two tables of stone like unto the first ... as the Lord had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone." There can be no mistaking the event narrated here. The Lord had the Tables of Stone and he was to write upon them the same Commandments that appeared in the first tables which Moses in anger had smashed to pieces.
I quote Chapter 34, verses 5, 6 and 7:
5. And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord.
6. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,
7. Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.
In the above verses we find the substance of part of the Second Commandment as recorded previously, which we take as an indication that the new code will resemble the previous one. However, in verse 6, quoted above, the Lord refers to himself as "merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth," in contradiction to being a jealous and vindictive god.
I quote Chapter 34, verses 8 and 9:
8. And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped.
9. And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance.
Here again is the sense of "guilt" that is essential to secure the help of a god. For if the Children of Israel were not a "stiffnecked people," there would be no necessity to "pardon our iniquity and our sin," and for the Bible God to "take us for thine inheritance."
I quote Chapter 34, verse 10:
10. And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the Lord: for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee.
What follows is a set of Commandments used by the early Hebrew tribe and antedating the present Decalogue by many centuries! This set of Commandments not only proves the antiquity of the Biblical narrative, but is indisputable evidence of the evolutionary process of ethical and moral concepts. It is contended that these "covenants" deal only with the most primitive form of ritual duties and have no "moral" implication whatsoever, [*40] such as might be attributed to the later Decalogue.
It is the opinion of the best Biblical scholars that "God's covenant with the Israelites," [**41] which will be quoted below, is a set of "commandments" that were considered a revelation from God in the earliest days of their tribal existence, and are not in any sense a duplicate of the "words that were written in the first tables."
The strange thing about the rest of the verses of this chapter is that they record an entirely different set of commandments that only in part bear any resemblance to the previous ones. Some are similar in meaning and intent, and some are entirely different. It becomes a matter of vital interest as to what this code of "God's covenant with the Israelites" is composed of.
I quote Chapter 34, verses 11 to 14:
11. Observe thou that which I command thee this day: behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite.
12. Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee:
13. But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves:
14. For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
The above verses might be considered the substance of the first two Commandments as previously recorded, in which we are not interested at the moment. We are concerned with the Biblical assurance that God was to write upon this second table of stone "the words that were in the first tables."
To that end we continue the narrative, and I quote Chapter 34, verses 15, 16 and 17:
15. Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice;
16. And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.
The purpose of this "covenant" was to keep the seed of the tribe of Israel from pollution by other tribes as a means of perpetuating the solidarity of the clan.
It is not my intention here to analyze this set of Commandments for its ethical or moral value. I record it simply because of its relationship to the narrative concerning the Tables of Stone. I think, however, that a comment on the language is pertinent, especially the use of the word "whoring." In primitive societies the crudity of language reflected the crudity of thought, and those who married outside the tribe were considered guilty of a heinous offense. Such an act was condemned as the lowest in human conduct, and therefore characterized as "whoring." "To go whoring" is a typical Biblical expression and reflects the low mental level of the Biblical authors. The prohibition against images is also stated.
I now quote Chapter 34, verses 18 to 26:
18. The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee, in the time of the month Abib: for in the month Abib thou camest out from Egypt.
19. All that openeth the matrix is mine; and every firstling among thy cattle, whether ox or sheep, that is male.
20. But the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb: and if thou redeem him not, then shalt thou break his neck. All the firstborn of thy sons thou shalt redeem. And none shall appear before me empty. [**42]
21. Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest.
22. And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year's end.
23. Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord God, the God of Israel.
25. Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven; neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the Passover be left unto the morning.
26. The first of the firstiruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk. [*43]
A condensation of these "covenants" into Ten Commandments gives one a better understanding of what was known as the earlier Decalogue of the Hebrew tribes.
Professor K. Budde, in his History of Ancient Hebrew Literature, has done this, and lists the Commandments as follows:
Thou shalt worship no other god (For the Lord is a jealous god).
Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.
All the first-born are mine.
Six days shalt thou work, but on the seventh thou shalt rest.
The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep in the month when the ear is on the corn.
Thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, even of the first fruits of the wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year's end.
Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread.
The fat of my feast shall not remain all night until the morning.
The first of the first fruits of thy ground thou shalt bring unto the house of the Lord thy God.
I had hoped that this set of Commandments would clear up the reason for the observance of the Sabbath day. The reader will recall that according to the Fourth Commandment in Exodus, Chapter 20, the Sabbath was to be observed, "for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested on the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it"; whereas the Fourth Commandment according to Deuteronomy, Chapter 5, states as follows: "And remember that thou west a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day." Instead, the reason given in this set of Commandments only adds more confusion to the conflicting claims.
The last "covenant" mentioned in verse 26, which reads, "Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk," will be extremely significant in the analysis of the Commandments. It will prove to be the key to the very foundation upon which the religion of the Children of Israel is based. In passing, I might mention that this Commandment is still observed by the orthodox Hebrews with the same fanatical zeal as any of the Commandments of the other Decalogues.
I quote Chapter 34, verses 27 and 28:
27. And the Lord said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.
28. And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And He wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.
The fact that this set of Commandments is not in "the words that were in the first tables" is one of the most damaging contradictions yet found in the Bible. We have had repeated to us again and again that the Bible God was to write upon this second table of stone the words of the first, but now we are told that "the Lord said unto Moses, Write thou these words, for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with Israel." Not only are these covenants not an exact duplication of the Commandments as previously given, but Moses, and not God, performed the work. They are orders for the crudest conduct prevalent in the most primitive of societies.
Even if the second tables of stone were in existence, they would not have the same value as if they were written by God. But even if written by Moses and only dictated by God, they would still be of inestimable value. Since there is no mention of their destruction, we might appropriately ask: Where are these second tables of stone? If they were not destroyed, what happened to them?
There is another important difference between the narratives concerning the Ten Commandments as recorded in Exodus and Deuteronomy. These are just as vital as the "variants" of the texts already observed, and we shall proceed to examine them. In the Exodus version it is stated that "...God spake all these words, saying..." [*44] while the Deuteronomy version states, "And he wrote them in two tables of stone and he delivered them unto me." [*45]
Did the Bible God speak the Commandments and did Moses write them, or did God write them himself upon the two tables and give them to Moses? This is of extreme importance, because there is a vast difference between speaking "these words" and writing them. If Moses wrote them down after hearing God speak them, it is quite likely that an error might have been made in their transcription, especially if he wrote them after having fasted for forty days and forty nights. If an omnipotent God wrote them himself, there could be no possibility of error.
If this was to be a sacred bond between the Children of Israel and their God, the Bible Deity should not have delegated Moses to perform the task. Under these circumstances, the Commandments came to the Children of Israel at second hand, and cannot be considered in the same light as if they had come directly from God.
As for the Ten Commandments being a revelation of God to the children of the earth, I am constrained to quote Thomas Paine. He said:
"It is a contradiction in terms and ideas to call anything a revelation that comes to us at second hand, either verbally or in writing. Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication -- after this, it is only an account of something which that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it cannot be incumbent on me to believe it in the same manner; for it was not a revelation made to me, and I have only his word for it that it was made to him.
"When Moses told the children of Israel that he received the two tablets of the commandments from the hands of God, they were not obliged to believe him, because they had no other authority for it than his telling them so; and I have no other authority for it than some historian telling me so." [*46]
The assurance given in verse 1, Chapter 34, was not fulfilled. The first "tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables." This is in direct contradiction to the statement contained in verse 18, Chapter 31, which specifically states that God wrote them with his finger. I quote:
18. And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.
To conclude the introduction, I quote Exodus, Chapter 34, verses 29 to 35:
29. And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.
30. And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.
32. And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh: and he gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him in mount Sinai.
33. And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face.
34. But when Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he took the vail off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded.
35. And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone: and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with Him.
There is more revealed in this narrative of the Bible concerning the Tables of Stone and the Ten Commandments than merely the fictional basis of the revelation from Sinai. It is also indisputable evidence of a flagrant piece of religious fakery. This is the imposition upon mankind of a corrupting and demoralizing series of superstitious taboos as a divine code of morals. This we shall proceed to prove.
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