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"Foundations of the Faith" Series

The Ten Commandments

On the Meaning of the Ten Matters of the Covenant Between God and Man

By David M Rogers

www.BibleTruth.cc

Published: November 2010

Table of Contents

The Hierarchy of Commandments of the Torah

The Ten Matters - The Covenant of Yahuwah the Elohim of Yisrael

Are the Ten Matters Part of the New Covenant?

The Two Accounts of the Ten Matters - Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5

One - You Shall Have No Other Elohim

Two - You Shall Not Lift Up the Name Yahuwah Unto Emptiness

Three - Guard the Sabbath to Keep it Holy

Four - Honor Your Father and Your Mother

Five - You Shall Not Murder

Six - You Shall Not Commit Adultery

Seven - You Shall Not Steal

Eight - You Shall Not Bring Against Your Neighbor a False Witness

Nine - You Shall Not Desire Your Neighbor's Wife

Ten - You Shall Not Desire Your Neighbor's Things

The Gravity of the Covenant Commandments

Final Thoughts


The Ten Commandments are universally know and accepted as the single greatest summary of moral law ever penned.  You don't have to be Jewish or Christian to be familiar with the values expressed in the Ten Commandments.  Many creeds, codes and constitutions are based on the wisdom contained on those two tablets of stone.  The Ten Commandments have been recited and revered by many nations across many centuries of time and have provided sound guidance and instruction for many peoples.

Yet the Ten Commandments are a very specific Covenant made between God and man.  Yahuwah, the Elohim (God) and Creator of heaven and earth has extended this Agreement to his people, the nation of Yisrael.  An apt description of the relationship between the Almighty and mankind is encapsulated by this agreement between these two parties regarding their respective roles and responsibilities.  The "Ten Commandments" summarizes the stipulations of their relationship.  As such, it deserves a serious and thorough examination.

In the following article, we endeavor to explore the meaning and scope of this relationship between the Creator and man.  And in doing so, we will take a deep look into each of the instructions of this Covenant to ascertain the exact intended meaning and fulfillment of these stipulations.  If our very relationship with the Creator is subject to the legal requirements of this document which outlines that relationship, we ought to be quite anxious to know and understand the terms and expectations of the one to whom we will some day give an account.

The Hierarchy of Commandments of the Torah

When asked by the Pharisees what is the greatest of all the commandments, Messiah Yahusha (a.k.a. "Jesus") responded,

'Love Yahuwah your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:37-40)

The Pharisees recognized that Yahusha's answer was accurate.  The Rabbis have always asserted that to love Elohim is the greatest commandment.  And to love your neighbor is next in importance to the greatest commandment.

However, what is equally insightful for us is Yahusha's next statement: "All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."  What this means is that all the other commandments of the Torah are elaborations and detailed explanation of the two commandments to love.  You might think of the commandments to love Yahuwah and your neighbor as headings of a two column page.  The rest of the commands could be listed under these two headings.

Along this same line of thinking, the Ten Commandments would fall under the same two headings.  The first several of the Ten Commandments describe some aspect of what it means to love Yahuwah your Elohim.  The remainder of the Ten Commandments details the primary areas of behavior which illustrate what it means to love your neighbor as yourself.

In this way, the whole litany of commandments of the Torah can be summarized in the Ten Commandments and the Ten Commandments can be summarized by the Great Two.  So then, we're left with a hierarchical chart, as it were, of the Torah.  The commands to love sit at the top.  Next below those two are the Ten Commandments.  And under each of those ten are situated all the other commands of the Torah.

The Ten Matters - The Covenant of Yahuwah the Elohim of Yisrael

The term "Ten Commandments" is actually a misnomer.  The Bible nowhere calls these instructions the "Ten Commandments."  The Hebrew text actually calls them the Ten Matters.

Mosheh was there with Yahuwah forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant-- the Ten Matters (Hebrew, ~yrI)b'D>h; tr<f,[] ). (Shemot [Exodus] 34:28)

The Hebrew ~yrI)b'D>h; tr<f,[] means literally, the ten words, or the ten things, or the ten matters.

A second time this phrase occurs:

He declared to you his covenant, the Ten Matters (Hebrew ~yrI+b'D>h; tr<f,[] ), which he commanded you to follow and then wrote them on two stone tablets. (Devarim [Deuteronomy] 4:13)

And a third time:

Yahuwah wrote on these tablets what he had written before, the Ten Matters (Hebrew ~yrIb'D>h; tr<f,[] ) he had proclaimed to you on the mountain, out of the fire, on the day of the assembly. And Yahuwah gave them to me. (Devarim 10:4)

So I prefer not to call them the Ten Commandments, even though that is what they are commonly called, because that would be incorrect.  Why is it incorrect to call them "the Ten Commandments"?  Well, simply because there are not ten commandments written on the tablets of stone.  There are 16 (sixteen) commandments in the Decalogue as recorded in Devarim 5!  I list the sixteen commandments which comprise the Ten Matters in this chart.

vs.

The 16 Commands in Devarim 5:5-22

vs.

The 15 Commands in Shemot 20:1-18

7 You shall have no other elohim before me. 3 You shall have no other elohim before me
8 You shall not make for yourself an idol... 4 You shall not make for yourself an idol
9 You shall not bow down to them... 5 You shall not bow down to them
9 You shall not serve them... 5 You shall not serve them
11 You shall not lift up the name Yahuwah your Elohim unto emptiness. 7 You shall not lift up the name Yahuwah your Elohim unto emptiness.
12 Guard the Sabbath day to keep it holy... 8 Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy
13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work
14 You shall not do any work (on the seventh) 10 On it (the 7th day) you shall not do any work
15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt    
16 Honor your father and your mother 12 Honor your father and your mother
17 You shall not murder 13 You shall not murder
18 You shall not commit adultery 14 You shall not commit adultery
19 You shall not steal 15 You shall not steal
20 You shall not bring against your neighbor a false witness. 16 You shall not bring against your neighbor a false witness.
21 You shall not lust after your neighbor's wife 17 You shall not covet your neighbor's house
21 You shall not set your desire on your neighbor's house or land, his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor 17 You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor

So you can see from the list of 16 (or 15 in Shemot 20) commandments why it is inaccurate to refer to them as the "Ten Commandments."

However, when you break down their content, there are, indeed, ten things that these sixteen commands address.  The first matter, consisting of four commandments, deals with the matter of worshipping Yahuwah the only Elohim.  Thus, we are commanded not to have any other elohim, not to make an idol, not to bow down to idols and not to worship other elohim.  All of these have to do with the matter of worshipping Yahuwah only.

And concerning the Sabbath day, four commandments are given.  We are to guard the seventh day, we are to work the other six days, we are to cease from work on the seventh day, and we are to remember the reason why we rest on the seventh day - that is, we remember that we were slaves in Egypt.

The rest of the matters use only one commandment each to express them.  Thus, altogether, the ten matters take sixteen commandments to convey them.

More importantly than the number of commandments in the Ten Matters is the fact that these instructions constitute the Covenant between Elohim and his people.

And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant-- the Ten Matters. (Shemot [Exodus] 34:28)

He declared to you his covenant, the Ten Matters. (Devarim [Deuteronomy] 4:13)

The word covenant comes from the Hebrew, tyrIB. (pronounced brēt).  The Theological  Wordbook of the Old Testament describes our word this way:

covenant (ASV and RSV); between nations: a treaty, alliance of friendship; between individuals: a pledge or agreement; with obligation between monarch and subjects: a constitution; between God and man: a covenant accompanied by signs, sacrifices, and a solemn oath that sealed the relationship with promises of blessing for keeping the covenant and curses for breaking it.

These Ten Matters are actually the agreement, covenant, oath or treaty made between Elohim and men.  The words or stipulations of this statement are the terms of the relationship.  They describe the obligations and expectations of each of the parties.

For Elohim's part, he obligates himself to be the following: He is to be our Elohim (Devarim 5:6), which is to say, he is to provide for and protect his people.  He must show love to those who love him and obey him (Devarim 5:10).  And he must give you long life and cause it to go well with you (Devarim 5:16) when you do these things. 

The obligation of Elohim in this covenant relationship was described even before Yisrael agreed to the covenant:

Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' (Shemot [Exodus] 19:5-6)

And later, Scripture details what Elohim must bring into this relationship:

If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then Yahuwah your Elohim will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your forefathers.  He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops of your land-- your grain, new wine and oil-- the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks in the land that he swore to your forefathers to give you.  You will be blessed more than any other people; none of your men or women will be childless, nor any of your livestock without young.  Yahuwah will keep you free from every disease. He will not inflict on you the horrible diseases you knew in Mitzrayim, but he will inflict them on all who hate you. (Devarim 7:12-15)

Elohim promises to love his people, to bless them, increase them, bless their children, bless their increase of crops and herds, and keep his people from all disease.  This is actually only the short list of the benefits Elohim brings into the agreement.  A more extensive list of benefits is given in Devarim 28:1-14.

But if you agree to the Covenant and then refuse to perform the commandments as given in this Covenant, Elohim promises to do the following: he will punish you and your children to the fourth generation (Devarim 5:9), and he will not hold guiltless those who abuse his name (Devarim 5:11).  A very long list of curses is pronounced upon his people should they fall away and break Covenant with Yahuwah and go to serve other gods.  This list can be found in Devarim 28:15-68.

For man's part, by agreeing to the Covenant, he is obligating himself to "have no other elohim," and he is to "not take the name of Yahuwah in vain," etc.  Man is to faithfully perform the ten matters discussed in the Covenant to remain in this Alliance with Yahuwah.  Should he transgress any of the stipulations, he has violated the contract and has forfeited his right to demand Elohim to keep his part of the Agreement.  Thus, Elohim no longer is obligated to provide for and protect the violator of this Agreement.

Are the Ten Matters Part of the New Covenant?

Now we are all aware that many New Testament Christian teachers and preachers have been teaching for many centuries that the "Old Covenant" has been replaced by the "New Covenant" by the blood of Messiah.  Thus, in their view, the laws and stipulations and commandments of the Torah are no longer binding on those who belong to Messiah.

It is unfortunate that so many Christians are deceived and led astray by this faulty analysis of Scripture.  One needs only to take a gander at the prophecy of the New Covenant as it is found in Jeremiah to realize the error of the Christian theology:

"The time is coming," declares Yahuwah, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Yisrael and with the house of Yehudah.  It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Mitzrayim, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them," declares Yahuwah.  "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Yisrael after that time," declares Yahuwah. "I will put my Torah in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their Elohim, and they will be my people.  No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know Yahuwah,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares Yahuwah. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." (Yirmeyahu 31:31-34)

It is precisely because Israel broke the covenant that Yahuwah is offering a new (or "renewed") covenant.  And Messiah Yahusha established this "New Covenant" by his death on the tree.

But take a close look at what the prophet Jeremiah actually said about this new covenant.  First, it was to be made with the house of Yisrael: "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Yisrael after that time."  This covenant which Messiah inaugurated is with Israel, not with a group called "the Church."  All of the promises and covenants which Yahuwah made were with his people Yisrael.  The Bible does not teach that there are two bodies of believers: Israel and the Church.  On the contrary, the New Testament very clearly and plainly teaches that there is only one Elohim and one body.  Paul makes this explicit declaration:

There is one body and one Spirit-- just as you were called to one hope when you were called. (Ephesians 4:1)

and also

This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Yisrael, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Messiah Yahusha. (Ephesians 3:6)

Thus, we conclude, these promises from Jeremiah are fulfilled for Israel and all the Gentile believers in Messiah who are grafted into the single body of Israel.

But even more importantly, the content of that New Covenant is explicitly described as Torah!  Writes the prophet:

"I will put my Torah in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their Elohim, and they will be my people." 

The content of the New Covenant is the Torah as given through Mosheh!  Both the Covenant at Sinai (the giving of the Ten Matters) and the New Covenant have as their content the laws and judgments of the Torah as summarized in the Ten Matters.  Jeremiah said so.  He says "my Torah."  Is there any other Torah from Elohim than the one recorded in Scripture?  The Torah is the Torah.  It is the one that was revealed and written down by Mosheh.  Righteousness in Old Testament times is still righteousness in New Testament times.  Sin back then is still sin today.  Elohim doesn't change and neither does his opinion about right and wrong.

But the difference between the Covenant at Sinai and the New Covenant is not in its content.  The difference is where that Torah is written and the blood that puts the Covenant into effect.  The Sinai covenant was written on stone and ratified by the blood (death) of animals.  But the New Covenant is written on the heart of men and is ratified by the blood (death) of Messiah.  The Holy Spirit was given to imprint the Torah on our hearts.  He was to "dwell in our hearts by faith."  He reminds us of the teachings of Messiah.  The Spirit of Elohim reminds our hearts and consciences about the stipulations of his covenant with us.  He teaches us of his laws and his expectations of us.

Because the New Covenant consists of his Torah written on our hearts, we conclude that the Ten Matters have not changed and are still the stipulations of the Covenant between Elohim and man.  This is why the Ten Matters should be at the forefront of the teaching at places where Yahusha is recognized as Messiah and Elohim is worshipped.  The Ten Matters are still the terms and obligations of the relationship between Elohim and his people.  As such, those who claim to love Messiah should be zealously working to keep all of the Ten Matters which outline our relationship to our Creator.

The Two Accounts of the Ten Matters - Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5

The two accounts of the giving of the Ten Matters have slight differences.  These differences, which we are going to discuss in some detail, are a source of a little difficulty.  The disparity between the texts of Devarim 5 and Shemot 20 have resulted in a little uncertainty about the numbering of the Ten Matters.  Not everyone agrees with the numbering of the Ten Commandments.  The Catholic Church has one numbering and the Protestants have another.  The Jewish rendering of Devarim [Deuteronomy] 5 is yet a third way of numbering the Ten Matters.

To unravel this problem, let's first take a look at the Hebrew Masoretic text of Devarim 5.  The Masoretic text is the Hebrew Scriptures passed down through the centuries by the Rabbis.  We want to look at this text because the Old Testament was written originally by its authors in the Hebrew language.  Thus, the Hebrew reading of the Masoretic text is the most accurate testimony of what the original writings were.

In this text, we see some important punctuation marks inserted by the Rabbis at least a thousand years ago which indicate the true numbering (divisions) of the Ten Matters.  For those not familiar with the Hebrew language, it reads from right to left.  In the following display of the Hebrew text, look for the verse markers on the right side of the text.  Keep an eye on the "s "s at the end of verses 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 and in the middle of 21.  These "s"s indicate the end of each one of the Ten Matters.  From these punctuation marks, we can ascertain the correct numbering of the Ten Matters.

Deuteronomy 5:5-22

`~ydI+(b'[] tyBemi ~yIr:c.mi #r<a,me ^ytiaceAh rv<a] ^yh,l{a/ hw"hy> ykinOa'( 6 (One)

`y;n")P'-l[; ~yrIxea] ~yhil{a/ ^l.-hy<h.yI al{ 7

 rv<a]w: l[;M;mi ~yIm:V'B; rv<a] hn"WmT.-lK' ls,p, ^l.-hf,[]t;-al{ 8

`#r<a'(l' tx;T:mi ~yIM:B; rv<a]w: tx;T'_mi #r<a'B'

 lae ^yh,l{a/ hw"hy> ykinOa' yKi ~dE_b.['t' al{w> ~h,l' hw<x]T;v.ti-al{ 9

`ya")_n>fol. ~y[iBerI-l[;w> ~yviLevi-l[;w> ~ynIB'-l[; tAba' !wO[] dqePo aN"q;

s `yt'(wOc.mi AtwOc.mi yrEm.vol.W yb;h]aol. ~ypi_l'a]l; ds,x, hf,[ow> 10

 hw"hy> hQ,n:y> al{ yKi aw>V"+l; ^yh,l{a/ hw"hy>-~ve(-ta, aF'ti al{ 11 (Two)

s `aw>V")l; Amv.-ta, aF'yI-rv,a] tae

`^yh,(l{a/ hw"hy> ^W>ci rv<a]K; Av+D>q;l. tB'V;h; ~Ay-ta, rAmv' 12 (Three)

`^T<)k.al;m.-lK' t'yfI['w> dbo[]T; ~ymiy" tv,vE 13

 hk'al'm.-lk' hf,[]t; al{ ^yh,_l{a/ hw"hyl; tB"v; y[iybiV.h; ~Ayw> 14

 ^T,m.h,B.-lk'w> ^r>mo*x]w: ^r>Avw> ^t,m'a]w:-^)D>b.[;w> ^T<biW-^)n>biW hT'a;

`^Am*+K' ^t.m'a]w: ^D>b.[; x:Wny" ![;m;l. ^yr<['v.Bi rv<a] ^r.gE)w>

 ^yh,l{a/ hw"hy> ^a]ciYOw: ~yIr:c.mi #r<a,B. t'yyIh' db,[<-yKi T'r>k;z"w> 15

 ^yh,l{a/ hw"hy> ^W>ci !Ke-l[; hy"+Wjn> [:roz>biW hq"z"x] dy"B. ~V'mi

s `tB'(V;h; ~Ay-ta, tAf[]l;

 ![;m;l. ^yh,_l{a/ hw"hy> ^W>ci rv<a]K; ^M,ai-ta,w> ^ybia'-ta, dBeK; 16 (Four)

s `%l") !tEnO ^yh,l{a/ hw"hy>-rv,a] hm'd"a]h'( l[; %l' bj;yyI ![;m;l.W ^ym,y" !kUyrIa]y:

s `xc'(r>Ti al{ 17 (Five)

s `@a")_n>Ti al{w> 18 (Six)

s `bnO*g>Ti al{w> 19 (Seven)

s `aw>v") d[e ^[]rE(b. hn<[]t;-al{)w> 20 (Eight)

 s ^[<+rE tv,ae dmox.t; al{w> 21 (Nine)

s `^[<)rEl. rv<a] lkow> Armox]w: ArAv Atm'a]w: ADb.[;w> WhdEf' ^[,rE tyBe hW<a;t.ti al{w> (Ten)

!n"['h,( vaeh' %ATmi rh'B' ~k,l.h;q.-lK'-la, hw"hy> rB,DI hL,aeh' ~yrIb'D>h;-ta,( 22

`yl'(ae ~nET.YIw:) ~ynIb'a] txolu ynEv.-l[; ~beT.k.YIw:) @s"+y" al{w> lAdG" lAq lp,r"[]h'(w>

Here is a faithful translation of these verses.  The numbering of the ten is based on the Hebrew Masoretic text punctuation marks.

(One)  6 I am Yahuwah your Elohim, who brought you out of the land of Mitzrayim, from the house of slaves.

7 "You shall have no other gods before me.

8 "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.

9 You shall not bow down to them. You shall not serve them. For I, Yahuwah your Elohim, am a jealous Elohim, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,

10 but showing love to a thousand [generations] of those who love me and keep my commandments.

(Two) 11 "You shall not lift up the name of Yahuwah your Elohim unto emptiness, for Yahuwah will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

(Three) 12 "Guard the Sabbath day to keep it holy, as Yahuwah your Elohim has commanded you.

13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,

14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahuwah your Elohim. You shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien within your gates, so that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as you do.

15 Remember that you were slaves in Mitzrayim and that Yahuwah your Elohim brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore Yahuwah your Elohim has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.

(Four) 16 "Honor your father and your mother, as Yahuwah your Elohim has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land Yahuwah your Elohim is giving you.

(Five) 17 "You shall not murder.

(Six) 18 "You shall not commit adultery.

(Seven) 19 "You shall not steal.

(Eight) 20 "You shall not bring against your neighbor a false witness.

(Nine) 21 "You shall not lust after your neighbor's wife.

(Ten) You shall not set your desire on your neighbor's house or land, his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."

22 These are the matters Yahuwah proclaimed in a loud voice to your whole assembly there on the mountain from out of the fire, the cloud and the deep darkness; and he added nothing more. Then he wrote them on two stone tablets and gave them to me.

Next, let's take a peek at the Ten Matters as given in Shemot 20.  Note again the punctuation marks in the Masoretic text.

Exodus 20:1-18

 s `rmo*ale hL,aeh' ~yrIb'D>h;-lK' tae ~yhil{a/ rBEd:y>w:  1

`~ydI+(b'[] tyBEmi ~yIr:c.mi #r<a,me ^ytiaceAh rv<a] ^yh,_l{a/ hw"hy> ykinOa'( 2 (One)

`y;n")P'-l[; ~yrIxea] ~yhil{a/ ^l.-hy<)h.yI al{* 3

rv<a]w: tx;T';_mi #r<a'B' rv<a]w: l[;M;mi ~yIm:V'B; rv<a] hn"WmT.-lk'w> ls,p, ^l.-hf,[]t; al{* 4

`#r<a'(l' tx;T:mi ~yIM:B;

!wO[] dqePo aN"q lae ^yh,l{a/ hw"hy> ykinOa' yKi ~dE_b.['t' al{w> ~h,l' hw<x.T;v.ti-al{) 5

`ya")_n>fol. ~y[iBerI-l[;w> ~yviLevi-l[; ~ynIB'-l[; tboa';

s `yt'(wOc.mi yrEm.vol.W yb;h]aol. ~ypi_l'a]l; ds,x,ޒ hf,[ow> 6

 hw"hy> hQ,n:y> al{ yKi aw>V"+l; ^yh,l{a/ hw"hy>-~ve(-ta, aF'ti al{ 7 (Two)

p `aw>V")l; Amv.-ta, aF'yI-rv,a] tae

`Av*D>q;l. tB'V;h; ~Ay-ta, rAkz" 8 (Three)

`^T<)k.al;m.-lK' t'yfI['w> dbo[]T; ~ymiy" tv,vE 9

 ^T,biW-^)n>biW hT'a hk'al'm.-lk' hf,[]t;-al{* ^yh,_l{a/ hw"hyl; tB"v; y[iybiV.h; ~Ayw> 10 `^yr<(['v.Bi rv<a] ^r>gEw> ^T,m.h,b.W ^t.m'(a]w ^ܒD>b.[;

 ~Y"h;-ta, #r<a'h'-ta,w> ~yIm:V'h;-ta, hw"hy> hf'[' ~ymiy"-tv,ve( yKi 11

 hw"hy> %r:Be !Ke-l[; y[i_ybiV.h; ~AYB; xn:Y"w: ~B'-rv,a]-lK'-ta,w>

s `Whve(D>q;y>w:) tB'V;h; ~Ay-ta,

 hm'd"a]h' l[; ^ym,y" !WkrIa]y: ![;m;l. ^M<+ai-ta,w> ^ybia'-ta, dBeK; 12 (Four)

s `%l") !tEnO ^yh,l{a/ hw"hy>- rv,a]

s `xc"߆r>Ti al{ 13 (Five)

s `@a"+(n>Ti al{ 14 (Six)

s `bnO*g>Ti al{ 15 (Seven)

s `rq,v'( d[e ^[]rEb. hn<[]t;-al{) 16 (Eight)

 Atm'a]w: ADb.[;w> ^[,rE tv,ae dmox.t;-al{) ^[<+rE tyBe dmox.t; al{ 17 (Nine)

p `^[<)rEl. rv<a] lkow> Armox]w:  ArAvw>

 rp'Voh; lAq taew> ~dIyPiL;h;-ta,w> tl{AQh;-ta, ~yairo ~['h'-lk'w> 18

`qxo)r"me( Wdm.[;Y:w: W[nUY"w: ~['h' ar.Y:w: !vE+[' rh"h'-ta,w>

Here is a faithful translation of these verses from Shemot 20.  The numbering of the ten is based on the Hebrew Masoretic text punctuation marks.

1 And Elohim spoke all these words:

(One) 2 "I am Yahuwah your Elohim, who brought you out of Mitzrayim, out of the land of slavery.

3 "You shall have no other elohim before me.

4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.

5 You shall not bow down to them and you shall not serve them; for I, Yahuwah your Elohim, am a jealous Elohim, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,

6 but showing love to a thousand [generations] of those who love me and keep my commandments.

(Two) 7 "You shall not misuse the name of Yahuwah your Elohim, for Yahuwah will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

(Three) 8 "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,

10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahuwah your Elohim. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.

11 For in six days Yahuwah made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore Yahuwah blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

(Four) 12 "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land Yahuwah your Elohim is giving you.

(Five) 13 "You shall not murder.

(Six) 14 "You shall not commit adultery.

(Seven) 15 "You shall not steal.

(Eight) 16 "You shall not bring against your neighbor a false witness.

(Nine) 17 "You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."

18 When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear and they stood at a distance...

The Hebrew punctuation of Shemot 20 does not complete the marking out of the Ten Matters.  One of them is missing.

The Rabbis consider verse 2 of Shemot 20 to be a separate matter - the first of the Ten:  "I am Yahuwah your Elohim."  This first thing is thought to be a "commandment" to acknowledge the existence of Elohim.  Then, in the Rabbinic view, the other nine matters are marked by the punctuation.

More likely we should consider the two commands in verse 17 as the last two matters.  In the Devarim version of the Ten Matters, the ninth matter is, "you shall not covet your neighbor's wife."  Then the tenth is, "you shall not covet your neighbor's house (and other things)."  But here in Shemot 20, the prohibition of coveting of your neighbor's house comes first, then the prohibition to covet your neighbor's wife, followed by the other things belonging to your neighbor.

Obviously, one of these two accounts of the Ten Matters has gotten scrambled and has been passed down to us out of order.  The Devarim 5 order seems most logical, because your neighbor's wife is altogether in a different category from your neighbor's house and other things.  So, in Devarim 5, the ninth matter pertains to your neighbor's wife while the tenth matter pertains to your neighbor's possessions.

Furthermore, the notes in the Masoretic text also indicate much uncertainty about the exact wording of the Shemot 20 account.  This uncertainty and the various readings of the manuscripts of Shemot 20 point to the obvious conclusion that the Shemot 20 account has been passed down with some discrepancy in the exact order of the words.  Therefore, on balance, we prefer the Devarim 5 account as most likely the original reading of the Ten Matters.

As we proceed with the detailed analysis of the Ten Matters, we will use the order and numbering as found in Devarim 5, because this account appears to be the original.

 One - You Shall Have No Other Elohim

The First Matter - Devarim 5:6-10

I am Yahuwah your Elohim, who brought you out of the land of Mitzrayim, from the house of slaves.  You shall have no other gods before me.  You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  You shall not bow down to them and you shall not serve them.  For I, Yahuwah your Elohim, am a jealous Elohim, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand [generations] of those who love me and keep my commandments.

At the very outset of this Covenant is the description of the one who is making this Agreement with his people.  "I am Yahuwah your Elohim."  This is the first and most important piece of information that needs to be understood.  The Mighty One who is making this agreement is none other than Yahuwah.  There were many so called gods being worshipped and elevated by the pagans around the world and in every culture.  But this Elohim is none of them.  This One is Yahuwah.

And just in case you are unfamiliar with the name of Elohim, he further describes himself as the one "who brought you out of the land of Mitzrayim, from the house of slaves."  The events which occurred in Egypt were well known by the people of the world at that time.  The plagues of Egypt, the rebuke of Pharaoh, the liberation of the family of Yisrael from Egypt, the parting of the Sea of Reeds and the drowning of Pharaoh's army were all reported and known by the people of that day.  The rest of the world was in awe of the Elohim who accomplished all this for his people.  This is the Elohim who is making this Agreement with the sons of Yisrael.

The first instruction from the Mighty One of fame and renown is that "You shall have no other gods before me."  The Hebrew word usually translated God in many English Bibles, and which we are transliterating as Elohim is the word ~yhil{a/ (pronounced ĕlōhēm).  While the exact root meaning of Elohim is uncertain, it is usually understood as meaning mighty, or mighty one.  This word most often is used as a designation of the Creator, but is also used in the Tanach for men (rulers) and angels.  (As an interesting side note, the root letters are hla which means "these" or "those."  This pronoun points to something that precedes or follows in the narrative.  The letter a is the first letter and may signify beginnings or that which comes first.  And the letter l points to what comes after.  The word la is the poetic shortened form of the word ~yhil{a.  So these two letters in that order may allude to the One who was [came first] and is to come!)

 Next, the phrase usually rendered before me in this command is the Hebrew y;n")P'-l[; (al panav).  This literally means upon my face or in my face.  If I may paraphrase, Elohim is saying here, "Don't bring some other so-called god and put him in my face"!  Yahuwah is Elohim and there is no other elohim.  All the rest of the elohim of the nations are imaginary deities.  They don't really exist.  They only exist in the minds and thoughts of men.  The prophet Yeshayahu (Isaiah) makes this point very clear:

I am Yahuwah, and there is no other; apart from me there is no Elohim. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me. I am Yahuwah, and there is no other.  I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, Yahuwah, do all these things. (Yeshayahu 45:5-7)

and

For this is what Yahuwah says-- he who created the heavens, he is Elohim; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited-- he says: "I am Yahuwah, and there is no other." (Yeshayahu 45:18)

Thus, the first stipulation in this Covenant Agreement is to acknowledge that Yahuwah is Elohim and that there is no other.  So, don't bring up any other so-called god in his face.

The second command in this matter of who the true Elohim is, is that "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below."   The Hebrew word ls,P, (pronounced pĕsĕl) is translated idol or image.  It comes from the root word ls;P' which means to hew, carve out. It can refer to anything carved, cut, hewn or formed into some particular shape.

The prophet Habakkuk speaks to the utter foolishness of casting an idol:

Of what value is an idol (Hebrew lsP), since a man has carved it? Or an image that teaches lies? For he who makes it trusts in his own creation; he makes idols that cannot speak (literally, dumb worthless things).  Woe to him who says to wood, 'Come to life!' Or to lifeless stone, 'Wake up!' Can it give guidance? It is covered with gold and silver; there is no breath in it. (Habakkuk 2:18-19)

Since idols are merely objects crafted by men's hands, they are nothing more than the material they are made from.  They are stone, or brick, or metal, or mud, or whatever.

These idols literally cannot see, hear, talk, think, help or save anyone.  As the Psalmist says,

Our Elohim is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.  But their idols are silver and gold, made by the hands of men.  They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but they cannot smell; they have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but they cannot walk; nor can they utter a sound with their throats.  Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them. (Psalm 115:3-8)

It is utter nonsense to carve an image or hew an idol and then set it up as a god or as representing a god.  Elohim is not like any of those things carved by men's hands.  So, Elohim commands his people not to make them.

Not only are we commanded not to carve such an image, but, in case we still don't understand, he tells us, "You shall not bow down to them.  You shall not serve them." (Devarim 5:9).  This means not to lower yourself, stoop down, or bow down to these images and idols.  We are not to pay homage to them, or adore them.  And it means we are not to be a slave or servant to them.  Since they don't hear or do anything, we are not to make our prayers and requests to them.  Whatever superstition requires of us in the presence of these idols, we are not to perform.

Yahuwah alone is to be feared, served, bowed down to and revered and adored.  Those objects made by men's hands have no intrinsic value, except for the value of the material they are made from.  Therefore, says the prophet,

Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any Elohim besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one."

All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless. Those who would speak up for them are blind; they are ignorant, to their own shame. Who shapes a god and casts an idol, which can profit him nothing? He and his kind will be put to shame; craftsmen are nothing but men. Let them all come together and take their stand; they will be brought down to terror and infamy.

The blacksmith takes a tool and works with it in the coals; he shapes an idol with hammers, he forges it with the might of his arm. He gets hungry and loses his strength; he drinks no water and grows faint.

The carpenter measures with a line and makes an outline with a marker; he roughs it out with chisels and marks it with compasses. He shapes it in the form of man, of man in all his glory, that it may dwell in a shrine.  He cut down cedars, or perhaps took a cypress or oak. He let it grow among the trees of the forest, or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow.  It is man's fuel for burning; some of it he takes and warms himself, he kindles a fire and bakes bread. But he also fashions a god and worships it; he makes an idol and bows down to it.  Half of the wood he burns in the fire; over it he prepares his meal, he roasts his meat and eats his fill. He also warms himself and says, "Ah! I am warm; I see the fire."  From the rest he makes a god, his idol; he bows down to it and worships. He prays to it and says, "Save me; you are my god."

They know nothing, they understand nothing; their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds closed so they cannot understand.  No one stops to think, no one has the knowledge or understanding to say, "Half of it I used for fuel; I even baked bread over its coals, I roasted meat and I ate. Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left? Shall I bow down to a block of wood?" (Yeshayahu 44:8-19)

For those who still insist on bowing down and fearing these ridiculous idols and images, Yahuwah will pay them their reward:

For I, Yahuwah your Elohim, am a jealous Elohim, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me (Devarim 5:9).

He calls those who bow down to images "those who hate me."  Whoever does not acknowledge the true nature of the real and living Elohim, and instead casts him in the image of something else, surely must hate who Elohim is.  For this reason, they are to be punished because they have rejected the revelation of the living Elohim.

There are many religions of the world which depict their mighty ones as objects of stone, metal, wood, or whatever.  Their criticism is evident.  But I want to focus on those people who claim the Bible as the inspired Word of God, but who still flagrantly transgress this most important of matters of the Covenant between Yahuwah and his people.  I'm talking about the Catholic Church and several of the Protestant Churches who use images and idols and pictures in their worship and in their places of worship.

I've heard Catholics defend their regular practice of kneeling, bowing and praying in front of statues and images of Jesus, paintings, pictures and statues of Mary, statues and images of the Saints, and the like.  They say, "We aren't worshipping the statues and images.  They only serve to remind us of God and of the persons whom the images represent."

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (Doubleday, New York, 1994, p.573) defends the practice of veneration of images in the Catholic Church in its explanation of this first of the Ten Matters. Their explanation begins thus:

2130 Nevertheless, already in the Old Testament, God ordained or permitted the making of images that pointed symbolically toward salvation by the incarnate Word: so it was with the bronze serpent, the ark of the covenant, and the cherubim.

Granted, Elohim did ordain these objects.  But they were not objects of veneration, adoration or worship.  The bronze serpent was setup on a pole so that those who were bitten by the snakes could look at the bronze serpent and live.  They were not instructed to bow down to or adore this bronze snake.  In fact, later on, this same bronze snake came into misuse by becoming an object of worship and the downfall of many.

The ark of the covenant and the cherubim were not objects of worship either.  The ark was a container for the tablets of the Ten Matters written with the finger of Elohim.  The cherubim were carved onto the top of the ark.  The one who sat between the cherubim on top of the ark of the covenant was the one who was worshipped.  So, pointing to these objects as biblical precedents for the manufacture of other idols, statues and symbols of adoration within the Catholic Church is like comparing apples and oranges.  The objects ordained by Elohim were not done so to be worshipped or adored, as are the objects in the Catholic Church.

The catechism goes on to say,

2131 Basing itself on the mystery of the incarnate Word, the seventh ecumenical council at Nicaea (787) justified against the iconoclasts the veneration of icons - of Christ, but also of the Mother of God, the angels, and all the saints.  By becoming incarnate, the Son of God introduced a new "economy" of images.

This justification for the use and veneration of images is illogical and without foundation.  First, the Catholic position is that by its own authority (the conclusions of their own council) the veneration of images is acceptable practice.  Never mind what Elohim has said as recorded in the Bible.  The Roman Catholic system acknowledges no other authority but their own - not even the authority of the Almighty when he makes a definitive declaration - in the conclusions they have reached.  And they are content to stand by this judgment because it is self serving in that it keeps people paying homage to their own religious system and it keeps people paying money into the coffers of the Catholic Church!

Second, where is the evidence from Scripture that the Son of God introduced a new "economy" of images? That's like saying the rules have changed.  They are teaching that Jesus altered the laws of God.  But how is that possible?  He himself had said that he only speaks what the Father has said.  For didn't the Father say, "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  You shall not bow down to them.  You shall not serve them"?  How then could Jesus change what the Father has declared?  There is no "new economy of images."  This is a concocted  line of reasoning which has no scriptural support.  But it serves the selfish purposes of a corrupted Catholic Church.

Next, the catechism says,

2132 The Christian veneration of images in not contrary to the first commandment which proscribes idols.  Indeed, "the honor rendered to an image passes to its prototype," and "whoever venerates an image venerates the person portrayed in it."  The honor paid to sacred images is a "respectful veneration," not the adoration due to God alone:

Religious worship is not directed to images in themselves, considered as mere things, but under their distinctive aspect as images leading us on to God incarnate.  The movement toward the image does not terminate in it as image, but tends toward that whose image it is.

Note from 2131, the catechism reports that the Council at Nicaea endorses the veneration of icons.  What is veneration if not worship?  Mirriam-Webster defines veneration as respect or awe inspired by the dignity, wisdom, dedication, or talent of a person.  This is precisely what worship is.  The Catholic Church promotes the veneration of icons in spite of the plain and simple commandment of God not to hew or carve images and statues.  By merely having such images and icons, they have already transgressed the commandment.

Next, Catholics endorse the transgression of the next commandment of the First Matter; namely, that "you shall not bow down to them nor serve them."  In 2132, the catechism boldly announces that veneration of images isn't contrary to the First Matter of the Covenant!  Wow, really?  God says "don't bow down in front of images and idols," a council of men say "its okay to venerate our images and idols," and that makes it okay?  This is a most audacious defiance of the instruction of God.  Then their justification of image veneration is so absurd that they pass it off as believable!  They justify bowing down to idols and images (which Elohim has unambiguously forbidden) because, if I may paraphrase, "we're not really bowing down before the images, we're bowing down to the people whom the images represent."

But it doesn't matter what their justification for veneration of images is.  They have already transgressed two of the commandments of the First Matter of the Covenant.  They have carved idols and images.  And they bow down before them - even if they think they are bowing to the person who is represented by the image.  It makes no difference.  They are breaking the commandment.

Furthermore, the fact that they believe they are admiring or honoring the person who is represented by the image is another aspect of their transgression of the commandment to worship only Elohim.  Many Catholics bow before a statue of Mary or of angels or of other Saints and pray to that one who is represented by the relic.  But Scripture indicates that "there is only one Mediator between God and men - the man Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 2:5, KJV).  Thus, in praying to these other persons (whom they contact through the idol) they are denying that Messiah is the only Mediator.  They are attributing prerogatives - including honor and esteem - to others which only Elohim possesses.

As to the bowing down before the images as a gesture of bowing to Mary or the Saints, well, that too is wrong, according to the Scriptures.  There are several examples in the Bible where someone bowed down before others and this practice was scorned.  First, note that when Yochanan (John) dropped down to honor the messenger of Yahuwah who was showing him the visions of the Book of Revelation, the messenger responded to him,

And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me.  But he said to me, "Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship Elohim!" (Revelation 22:8-9)

It's pretty clear that it is inappropriate to fall down before a messenger of Elohim, because they are servants of Elohim along with all the saints and those who obey Elohim  So then it must also be wrong to bow down in front of an image or statue of a good person to honor that person.  And therefore it is wrong to bow down and pray to an idol of Mary or of any of the saints.

Another example from Scripture is when Daniel's three friends were being compelled to bow down before an image of Nebuchadnezzar.  The king had made a large statue representing himself and he required all of the subjects of his kingdom to bow down before this enormous image.  But Daniel's three friends refused to bow down, because they knew of the requirement of the First of the Ten Matters, and they refused to prostrate themselves before this image.

They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, "O king, live forever!  You have issued a decree, O king, that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace.  But there are some Yehudim whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon-- Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego-- who pay no attention to you, O king. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up." (Daniel 3:9-12)

Since Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to bow down to this image, they were thrown into the fiery furnace.  And the rest is a matter of record.  Yahuwah honored their steadfast faithfulness to him in not bowing down to this image of Nebuchadnezzar and he preserved them through the fire.

It is difficult to understand why anyone who genuinely is seeking to know and obey God would be trapped by the catechism of the Roman Catholic Church and commit so flagrant a transgression in making and then in bowing down before images and statues.  The Catholics think they are worshipping in a valid way.  But it doesn't matter what you say you think you are doing.  Because when you are literally bowing down before these carved images and statues, you are doing that which Elohim very emphatically and specifically commanded his people not to do.

These churches, being led by wolves in sheep's clothing (deceivers), are telling you to put into practice the very thing that the Creator plainly and explicitly commanded you not to do.  Are you going to obey Elohim or are you going to obey men?  Stop carving idols and making images and then stop bowing down before these images and idols.  Get rid of the objects of worship which are an offence and an abomination to the living Elohim.  He does not regard your bowing and praying before images and idols as an acceptable form of worship.  He sees this practice as rejection of the revelation he gave of himself.  He interprets (rightly, of course) your actions as a defiant rejection of Himself.

Elohim has commanded us not a few times in the Instructions of his Word to have nothing to do with the carved images and idols of the pagan nations who do not know him.  In fact, we are to destroy from our midst all vestiges of this kind of false worship, for this is what he instructed his ancient people:

Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you.  Break down their altars, smash their set apart stones and cut down their Asherah polesDo not worship any other god, for Yahuwah, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous Elohim. (Shemot 34:12-14)

And

This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their set apart stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire. (Devarim 7:5)

And again,

Destroy completely all the places on the high mountains and on the hills and under every spreading tree where the nations you are dispossessing worship their gods.  Break down their altars, smash their set apart stones and burn their Asherah poles in the fire; cut down the idols of their gods and wipe out their names from those placesYou must not worship Yahuwah your Elohim in their way. (Devarim 12:2-4)

These instructions ought to give us a pretty good idea of what Elohim thinks about idols and images.  No matter what the reason for crafting those images, Elohim rejects and abhors such practices.

The worship of Elohim in spirit and in truth does not involve the use of images and statues and idols of any kind.  Doesn't matter if the statue is of the so-called Virgin Mary.  It is paganism to the core to practice such abomination.  Elohim Yahuwah has explicitly forbidden the use of anything that purports to represent Elohim in the practice of your worship or that takes the place of Elohim.  Elohim is spirit.  And no one has seen Elohim at any time.  Therefore, anything that you might use to represent Yahuwah in your worship is rejected and forbidden by him.

Two - You Shall Not Lift Up the Name Yahuwah Unto Emptiness

The Second Matter - Devarim 5:11

You shall not lift up the name of Yahuwah your Elohim unto emptiness, for Yahuwah will not hold anyone guiltless who lifts up his name unto emptiness.

The second matter of the Covenant between Yahuwah and his people has to do with the proper use of his name.  Elohim is holy, and the name of Elohim is holy.  Therefore, the misuse of his name is out of bounds.  Yahuwah will hold anyone who profanes his name accountable.

Let's break down the instruction first by considering the terminology in play.  The verb (aF'ti al{) employed in this instruction is the Hebrew af'n" (pronounced năsă) means lift, carry, take; lift up, take up.  It refers to the invoking of the name of Yahuwah.  Where many English Bible translations render the text in vain, the Hebrew is aw>v' (pronounced shăvĕh), which can convey emptiness, vanity, falsehood.

The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT) goes on to note

that the primary meaning of shw is "emptiness, vanity" no one can challenge. It designates anything that is unsubstantial, unreal, worthless, either materially or morally.

So also, as it is used in this instruction,

the evidence points to the fact that taking the Lord's name (i.e. his reputation) "in vain" will surely cover profanity, as that term is understood today, or swearing falsely in the Lord's name. But it will also include using the Lord's name lightly, unthinkingly, or by rote.

And those who lift up the name Yahuwah "in vain" will not be held "guiltless."  The Hebrew here is hq'n" (pronounced năkă), which can be rendered be clear, free, innocent, desolate, cut off.   Thus, those who violate this command will be held accountable.

We will discuss several ways we can understand this instruction.  First, lifting the name in vain refers primarily to the use of the name when taking oaths.  Second, as TWOT alluded to, using the name of Yahuwah in a frivolous, unthinking way is to transgress the command.  And third, the practice of refusing to enunciate the name Yahuwah when calling upon the Almighty is another way of "taking his name in vain."

Let's look, then, at the practice of taking oaths in the name of Yahuwah.  The practice of taking oaths in the name of Yahuwah is not only acceptable, but it is explicitly commanded!  The Torah instructs us to take our oaths in his name:

Fear Yahuwah your Elohim, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. (Devarim 6:13)

Fear Yahuwah your Elohim and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. (Devarim 10:20)

To take an oath in the name of Yahuwah is to guarantee the trustworthiness of the oath.  You are essentially presenting the reputation and character of Yahuwah as proof of the reliability of the oath.  Thus, the Torah commands us to take our oaths in his name.

And so this is the primary meaning of the commandment of the second Matter.  You are not to lift up the name of Yahuwah in an oath falsely.  To renege on your oath is to put forth the name of Yahuwah "in vain" or unto uselessness.  It is strictly forbidden to make a promise and then go back on your word and profane the reputation (name) of Yahuwah.

Messiah Yahusha spoke in the Sermon on the Mount, in a much misunderstood teaching about taking oaths.  As recorded by Matthew, he said,

Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to Yahuwah.'  But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is Elohim's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Yerushalayim, for it is the city of the Great King.  And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black.  Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. (Mattityahu 5:33-37)

Yahusha is alluding to the commandment of the Torah cited above (Devarim 6:13 and 10:20).  He then goes on to elaborate.  "Do not swear at all" is what the writer recorded.  Of course, Yahusha was not saying never to swear at all.  The retelling of what he said has obviously left out what should have been understood by his listeners.

When he is cited as saying, "do not swear at all," we should understand that in context he is saying, "do not swear falsely at all."  This is simply a case of ellipsis, which means "to omit a word or phrase which is necessary for a complete syntactical construction but not necessary for understanding."  This is quite common.  The writer assumes the reader understands the context and therefore can fill in the missing word or phrase because the context demands it.

The Torah and the Prophets plainly teach that swearing falsely in the name of Yahuwah is forbidden.  The Torah says as much:

You must not swear falsely in my name, so that you do not profane the name of your Elohim. I am Yahuwah (Vayiqra [Leviticus] 19:12).

The reading of the Shem Tov Hebrew Matthew manuscript confirms this understanding.  The Hebrew reads, "but I say to you that you should not swear by anything falsely."  The Hebrew word utilized is sha-ve, which means "in vain, useless."  The instruction is not to swear in vain such as the Pharisees taught was acceptable.

Even in our vernacular, when we say, "I swear on my mother's life," we are signifying that the oath is as trustworthy as the effort I would make in guarding my own mother's life.  Likewise, when we swear in Yahuwah's name, we are implying that our oath is as reliable as Yahuwah's own character and reputation.  Thus, when we break an oath sworn in his name, we are proclaiming that Yahuwah cannot be trusted and that he, like our oath, is unreliable.  If that isn't "boring a hole in Yahuwah's name" then words no longer have any meaning.

In fact, all vows taken, whether or not taken in the name of Yahuwah, must be kept:

When you make a vow to Yahuwah your Elohim you must not delay in fulfilling it, for otherwise he will surely hold you accountable as a sinner (Devarim [Deuteronomy] 23:21).

If a man makes a vow to Yahuwah or takes an oath of binding obligation on himself, he must not break his word, but must do whatever he has promised (Bamidbar [Numbers] 30:2).

The prophets teach the same thing.  Vows are supposed to be taken in the name of Yahuwah.  This is a sign of the obedient one:

But they must carefully learn to follow the religious practices of my people. Once they taught my people to swear their oaths using the name of the elohim Baal. But then, they must swear oaths using my name, saying, "As surely as Yahuwah lives, I swear." If they do these things, then they will be included among the people I call my own.  But I will completely uproot and destroy any of those nations that will not pay heed,'" says Yahuwah (Yirmyahu 12:16,17).

But not everyone who takes an oath in the name of Yahuwah actually keeps the oath:

"Listen to this, O house of Ya'acov, you who are called by the name of Yisrael and come from the line of Yehudah, you who take oaths in the name of Yahuwah and invoke the Elohim of Yisrael-- but not in truth or righteousness-- (Yeshayahu 48:1)

The Pharisees in Yahusha's day taught various levels of sincerity in oath taking!  All of the swearing by other objects, such as the Pharisees taught, is merely an attempt to swear falsely; that is, to swear an oath that one intends to break.  But Messiah is teaching us not to swear at all under false pretenses.  Our word should be faithful.  Our "yes" should always mean "yes" and our "no" should always mean "no."

James retells the same:

Above all, my brothers, do not swear-- not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your "Yes" be yes, and your "No," no, or you will be condemned. (Ya'acov [James] 5:12)

Of course, as with the quotation of Messiah, here again the word "falsely" is assumed.    We are not to break any of our oaths, but must perform every one of them, as the Torah instructs us to do.

The second way we can understand the commandment not to lift up the name of Yahuwah unto uselessness is to invoke the name as profanity, or to use it lightly or unthinkingly.  This is really the most common understanding of this commandment.  To flippantly use the name, or to toss the name around carelessly or without thought to the holy character of the one whose name is being used, is to lift it up in vain.

Certainly, using the name of Yahuwah as profanity is a blatant affront to the living Elohim.  This is taken most seriously in Scripture.  An example of one who used the name Yahuwah as a curse is thus:

The son of a woman of Yisrael blasphemed (Hebrew bq;n" pronounced naqav) the Name with a curse; so they brought him to Mosheh. (His mother's name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri the Danite.)  They put him in custody until the will of Yahuwah should be made clear to them.  Then Yahuwah said to Mosheh:  "Take the blasphemer outside the camp. All those who heard him are to lay their hands on his head, and the entire assembly is to stone him.  Say to the sons of Yisrael: 'If anyone curses his Elohim, he will be held responsible; anyone who blasphemes the name of Yahuwah must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him. Whether an alien or native-born, when he blasphemes the Name, he must be put to death. (Vayiqra [Leviticus]24:11-16)

The Hebrew word naqav means to bore through, curse, slander, blaspheme.  Thus, to naqav the Name is to damage the Name of Yahuwah, as if boring a hole through it.  This sort of cursing and blaspheming the name of Elohim is so common in our world.  But in the community of faith, the name of the Almighty is to be respected and revered.  Yahuwah's name is never to be cursed. 

Likewise, Scripture prohibits this kind of misuse of the name by using a synonym to naqav.

Do not blaspheme (Hebrew ll;q' pronounced qalal) Elohim or curse the ruler of your people. (Shemot 22:28)

The word qalal is listed in the lexicons as having the meaning of to be slight, to be small, swift, trifling, of little account.  Here, minimizing the name Yahuwah is prohibited.  Much like the expression "to take the name in vain (emptiness, vanity, falsehood)," qalal indicates an emptying or diminishing of the honor and dignity deserving of Yahuwah's name.

Yet one more Hebrew word and our examination of this expression is complete.

Do not profane (Hebrew ll;x' pronounced chalal) my holy name. I must be acknowledged as holy by the sons of Yisrael. I am Yahuwah, who makes you holy (Vayiqra 22:32)

Very similar to naqav, chalal also means to wound (fatally), bore through, pierce.  In contrast to the sloppy, disrespectful way the world handles the holy name, Yahuwah demands from his people that they keep his name honored and set-apart.

The prophets echo the teaching of the respecting and honoring of the sacred name.

And now this admonition is for you, O priests.  If you do not listen, and if you do not set your heart to honor my name," says Yahuwah Almighty, "I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings.  Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not set your heart to honor me. (Malachi 2:1-2)

As the second of the Ten Matters instructs us, we are not to dishonor his name, diminish it, or lift it up unto emptiness.  To mishandle his name is to indicate that you do not love Yahuwah and do not want to honor him.  Those who hate his name are inviting his curses.

The third way we can understand the commandment not to lift up the name of Yahuwah unto uselessness is to see in this instruction an invitation not to fail to use this precious name when calling upon the Almighty.  When addressing Elohim in prayer, it is essential to our relationship that we call upon him by his name.  Just as we address humans by their given name, we are to speak to Elohim by using his revealed name - Yahuwah.

It is not common practice in Judaism or in Christianity to do this - to their shame.  The religious leaders in Israel, even before the time of Messiah, began to ban the use of the name of Elohim from use among his people.  They used as an excuse for this the fact that his name had come into misuse and abuse.  So, they reasoned, if no one is allowed to even pronounce the name Yahuwah, it would no longer be "taken in vain."  Thus, the very pronunciation of the name of Yahuwah was forbidden and even thought to deserve the death penalty (as though speaking the Name was to "misuse" it!)

So, the name Yahuwah was not in use, nor allowed on the lips of his people (except for the High Priest on the Day of Atonement).  In this way, the Sanhedrin banned the name and so began the dishonoring (diminishing) of his name.  Even to this day, when the Yehudi reads the Hebrew Scriptures, when the name appears, he says "Adonai" (Master) or "HaShem" (the Name) instead of actually saying and pronouncing the name of Elohim.

The Christian world very early on adopted this attitude toward the Name of Yahuwah.  All of the known Greek manuscripts of the New Testament use kurios (Greek for Lord, Adonai) whenever you would expect the name Yahuwah.  And in the English Bible translations, "the LORD" is written every time the Hebrew text reads Yahuwah.  As a result, almost no Christian even realizes that Yahuwah is the name of the Almighty Elohim.  They think his name is the LORD and they call upon him by this designation.  In doing so, the entire Christian world diminishes the honor and respect and dignity toward Elohim by refusing to address him by the name he revealed as his name forever:

Mosheh said to Elohim, "Suppose I go to the sons of Yisrael and say to them, 'The Elohim of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?"  Elohim said to Mosheh, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the sons of Yisrael: 'I AM has sent me to you.'"  Elohim also said to Mosheh, "Say to the sons of Yisrael, 'Yahuwah, the Elohim of your fathers-- the Elohim of Avraham, the Elohim of Yitzchak and the Elohim of Ya'acov-- has sent me to you.' This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation. (Shemot [Exodus] 3:13-15)

Elohim stated that the name Yahuwah is to be his name forever, and that he is to be remembered by this name from generation to generation.

But those who claim relationship with Elohim have not respected him in this way.  They have diminished and hidden his name and have given him their own name.  The commandment not to lift up the name of Yahuwah unto nothingness is fulfilled when people refuse to lift up his name with their lips and instead call upon an undistinguished "Lord" as their Father.

So, the commandment can be transgressed by breaking an oath you swore in the name of Yahuwah, by belittling the name and reputation of the Almighty, by cursing and ranting with the name, and by refusing to use the name and lift up the name Yahuwah when you call upon Elohim.  All of these ways dishonor Yahuwah and incur his discipline.

In the New Testament, this matter of the correct reverence and honor of Elohim's name is clearly taught and practiced.  When asked by his disciples how they ought to pray, Messiah Yahusha began his teaching about prayer with a reference to the honoring of the Father's name.

This, then, is how you should pray: "'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name..." (Matthew 6:9)

The Greek word usually translated hallowed (as it is here) means to sanctify, separate, set-apart, to make holy.  As the Torah requires, Yahusha reiterates the importance of honoring the sacred name Yahuwah.  We are to keep his name in honor and dignity.  And in his own prayer to the Father, Yahusha expressed this kind of respect toward the holiness of the Name:

I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you.  Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name-- the name you gave me-- so that they may be one as we are one. (4th Gospel 17:11)

Furthermore, Yahusha indicated that it is only when Yisrael will call blessed those who come in the name of Yahuwah that he would appear again:

For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of Yahuwah.'" (Matthew 23:39)

It seems that because of the irreverence of Yahuwah's name that Elohim would be silent and hidden from his people.  And then when they would again honor his name by calling upon him by his name that Elohim would answer their prayers and usher in the glorious reign of the Messianic Age.

Three - Guard the Sabbath to Keep it Holy

The Third Matter - Devarim 5:12-15

Guard the Sabbath day to keep it holy, as Yahuwah your Elohim has commanded you.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahuwah your Elohim. You shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien within your gates, so that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as you do.  Remember that you were slaves in Mitzrayim and that Yahuwah your Elohim brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore Yahuwah your Elohim has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.

The Third Matter is the signature commandment of the Covenant between the Creator and mankind.  It instructs its readers to imitate Elohim in ceasing from laboring on the seventh day of the week.  The reason for doing this is rooted in his creative acts.  The Shemot 20 version of this Third Matter reminds us that it is because Yahuwah worked six days and then rested on the seventh.

For in six days Yahuwah made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore Yahuwah blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Shemot [Exodus] 20:11)

This is pointing back to the creation account where we are told what Elohim did on the seventh day following the six days of creating:

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.  By the seventh day Elohim had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.  And Elohim blessed the seventh day and separated it, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (Bereshith [Genesis] 2:1-3)

Those who seek relationship with the Creator are implored to imitate him in this matter.

The commandment tells us in Devarim 5 to "guard the Sabbath day to keep it holy."  The Shemot 20 version tells us to "remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy."  The reason we should be doing this is that Elohim rested on the seventh day after creating heaven and earth.  On the first Sabbath day, Elohim blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy - which is to say, he separated the seventh day from the other six days.  The seventh day was to always have a special and unique agenda for mankind made in the image of Elohim.

The other six days of the week were appointed by the Creator to be days of labor and work.  All vocational and occupational work is to be done on those six days.  But, the seventh day is to be separated from the other six by ceasing from labor in order to experience the fellowship with Elohim that he created us for. Elohim himself did this separating of the seventh day from the sixth, and he calls on his people to do the same.

Why does the Creator ask us to do this?  How can he demand it of us?  Everyone has the free will to chose the path he will walk, but those people who seek Elohim and love him with all their heart, soul and strength will obey him in whatever he asks.  Elohim can demand the guarding of the Sabbath day because he created the heavens and the earth.  He owns it all and he owns all of us.  Thus, he has the right to command us in this matter.

But he gives another reason why he can demand of us to keep the Sabbath day holy.  It is because he ransomed his people from slavery:

Remember that you were slaves in Mitzrayim and that Yahuwah your Elohim brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore Yahuwah your Elohim has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day. (Devarim 5:15)

So, because he owns us by his act of creating us and by his act of redeeming us, he then has the right to demand of us to imitate him in the matter of keeping the Sabbath day holy.

The four commandments that make up this third of the Ten Matters of the Covenant tell us how to properly navigate this issue of the Sabbath.  First, we are to guard the Sabbath.  This means we are to protect it and defend it.  Yahuwah has given us this instruction, so we should stand up for it and make sure that we do not forget it or disregard it or trample on it.

The second and third commandments of this Third Matter tell us to do all our labor on the six days but then we are to rest on the seventh.  Just as important as resting on the seventh day is to labor the other six days.  Elohim has not created us to be slothful or lazy.  We have plenty of work to do.  And all of this work is to be done on the first six days of the week.

But we must cease from all our laboring on the seventh day.  And not just me, but everyone in my family and this includes all who are under my roof.  Anyone who works for me and lives on my estate is to also rest on the seventh day.  Even my working animals are to stop working on the seventh day.

And the fourth commandment of this Third Matter tells us to remember something.  We are to remember that it was Yahuwah who rescued us from the tyranny of Pharaoh and our slavery in Egypt.  Because he has done this, he has the right to command us to keep the Sabbath day holy.  So, this fourth commandment is to remember why we are keeping the Sabbath - it is because the One who established the Sabbath is the One to whom we are accountable.

Now when you look at the body of the Ten Matters, you will notice that this Third Matter is dead center in the very middle of the Covenant.  Keeping the Sabbath is at the very heart of the Covenant and the keeping of it is indicative of one's love for the Creator.  In another Scripture we are told that the Sabbath matter all by itself is a Covenant between the Creator and his people!

Say to the sons of Yisrael, 'You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am Yahuwah, who makes you holy.  Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people.  For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to Yahuwah. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death.  The sons of Yisrael are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenantIt will be a sign between me and the sons of Yisrael forever, for in six days Yahuwah made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested. (Shemot [Exodus] 31:13-17)

Note that the Sabbath is called a lasting covenant.  The fact that the keeping of the Sabbath day is to be a sign between Elohim and Yisrael indicates that all by itself, the Sabbath day reveals who are the genuine people of Elohim and who are not!

In fact, it has been made clear throughout history who the people are who really belong to Elohim.  Throughout their journeying, the Israelis who hated Elohim have instinctively disregarded his Sabbaths.  And on into the present era, those believers in Messiah who aren't devoted to Elohim have shown this to the world by disregarding the Sabbath day commandment of the Covenant.  How can one really love Elohim if they refuse to obey his commandments, just as he said, "If you love me, you will obey what I command."

The keeping of the Sabbath has always been and will always be the sign which the genuine people of Elohim carry and display which shows that they are faithful and loyal to the Creator.  This is one of the purposes of the Sabbath.  It will always reveal the difference between the sheep and the goats, between the real followers of Messiah and the wolves, between the saved and the lost.  Those who love the only living Elohim will guard the Sabbath.  Those that are just pretenders and all who are deceived will make excuses why they don't have to keep Sabbath.

Did Jesus do away with the Sabbath?  Does the New Testament teach that Sunday has replaced the Sabbath?  Not in your wildest dreams!  Nowhere will you find any such statement or indication that the Sabbath isn't just as binding on the disciples of Messiah as it was on the Old Testament people of Israel.  The Sabbath is eternal.  It was established at creation and will be kept on into the Messianic Age.  It remains at the heart of the Covenant between Elohim and man.  Even the book of Hebrews tells us that the Sabbath rest is still valid:

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of Elohim; for anyone who enters Elohim's rest also rests from his own work, just as Elohim did from his.  Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest... (Ivrim [Hebrews] 4:9-11)

The only work that Elohim ever rested from is the work of creating in six days.  Therefore, it is very clear that those who enter into Elohim's rest (believer's in Messiah) will cease from work on the seventh day, "just as Elohim did from his."  This is so, because keeping Sabbath is the sign that Elohim is making you holy.

The third of the Ten Matters is the most difficult of the commandments for Christians to accept, though it is not because it is hard to understand.  Most Christian churches and denominations have dismissed the commandment to keep the seventh day Sabbath, because they believe their long standing man made traditions instead.  Their leaders have been teaching for many centuries that this commandment was "done away with" and so they ignore it or change it.

It is common for Christians to insist that the commandment to keep the seventh day Sabbath was changed by Jesus.  They have been persuaded that the resurrection event, which allegedly took place on "Sunday morning," was in their view the signal that the Sabbath was changed to Sunday.  But it is not anything written in the Bible that has proved this or suggested this!  Yet, that doesn't matter because tradition is often more convincing than a plain "thus saith the Lord" from the Scriptures.

There are several reasons why Christians simply refuse to believe that the Sabbath commandment is "for us today."  First, their theologians have taught them that Sunday is the new "Lord's day."  Secondly, all their popular teachers, preachers and televangelists teach Sunday is the Lord's day and that the Sabbath has been done away with.  And thirdly, people reason that if so many great Christians for so many centuries have believed that Sunday has replaced Sabbath, then it must be true.

Of course, none of those reasons make it true.  This is why it is so amazing that the Christian world rejects the very plain teaching of the Third Matter of the Sabbath day.  If one would take the time and interest in doing just a little research into the history of the Lord's Day, they would see the plain evidence that the Roman Catholic Church by her own authority, and not by the authority of anything written in the Bible, changed the dignity of the Sabbath day to Sunday.

James Cardinal Gibbons, in The Faith of our Fathers (88th ed., p.89) claims the sanctification of Sunday is an act of the Catholic Church:

But you may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we never sanctify.

Gibbons also insists that this act of changing the Sabbath to Sunday is the very mark of authority of the Roman Catholic Church:

It could not have been otherwise, as none in those days would have dreamed of doing anything in matters spiritual and ecclesiastical and religious without her. AND THE ACT IS A MARK of ecclesiastical power and authority in religious matters. (From a letter written by James Cardinal Gibbons cited in Vance H. Ferrell, The Mark Of The Beast, Pilgrim's Books: Altamont, TN., 1985, p.56)

Even the Catholic Catechism claims that Sunday observance was instituted by the Church:

Question: Have you any other way of proving that the Church has power to institute festivals of precept?

Answer: Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her-she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday, the seventh day, a change for which there is no Scriptural authority(Stephen Keenan, A Doctrinal Catechism 3rd ed., p. 174)

Another Catholic catechism says the same thing:

Question: Which is the Sabbath day?

Answer: Saturday is the Sabbath day.

Question: Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?

Answer. We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday. (Peter Geiermann, C.S.S.R., The Converts Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, 1957, p. 50.)

Protestants are led by their own theologians and teachers to believe that Sunday observance is based on some New Testament principle.  But this is simply not so.  It is by the authority of the Catholic Church that Sunday has its place in modern day Christianity.  According to a Catholic weekly, even the Protestants, by virtue of their Sunday keeping acknowledge the authority of the Pope:

Protestants...accept Sunday rather than Saturday as the day for public worship after the Catholic Church made the change...But the Protestant mind does not seem to realize that in accepting the Bible, in observing the Sunday, they are accepting the authority of the spokesman for the Church, the Pope. (Our Sunday Visitor, Feb.5, 1950)

There are many others similar quotes from Catholic sources and from Protestant sources as well.  All of these point out the popularly unknown fact that the Scriptures plainly teach Sabbath observance, while the man made Church institutions promote and sanctify Sunday as the "Lord's Day" in place of the biblical Sabbath.  (You can see more of these quotes in an article entitled, The Mark of the Beast on this same website.)

Yahuwah's Sabbath day always has been and always will be on the seventh day of the week.  This is the day he has blessed and sanctified.  And this is the day which if you guard it, you are displaying the sign that you belong to Yahuwah and to his Messiah.  So what will you do with this information?

Four - Honor Your Father and Your Mother

The Fourth Matter - Devarim 5:16

Honor your father and your mother, as Yahuwah your Elohim has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land Yahuwah your Elohim is giving you.

The Fourth Matter of the "Ten Commandments" is the directive to honor your father and your mother.  The Hebrew word usually translated here honor, is interesting.  It is dbeK' (pronounced căvād).  The Lexicon authored by Brown, Driver and Briggs gives this entry for our word: be heavy, weighty, burden-some, honoured.  And the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament notes that to be heavy in this context means to honor:

Likewise persons in positions of responsibility and authority were deserving of honor. It is significant to remind oneself that giving honor or glory is to say that someone is deserving of respect, attention and obedience.

Even in English slang, heavy means something that is serious or weighty or important.  Thus, it seems, to honor father and mother is to offer the respect and obedience due to those who are responsible for the passing down of the faith to their children.

First and foremost, this command to honor father and mother is akin to honoring Elohim our Creator.  He is, after all, our "heavenly father" and the one who directs our steps.  And he has compassion on his children just as a mother has compassion for her young.  Yahuwah has established the parental order as a picture of the authority structure of which he himself is the head.  In this hierarchical structure each of the participating family members has specific roles and responsibilities.

As such, this command to honor your father and mother can be understood to have several applications.  First, to honor means to obey.  It is for children to obey their parents.  The reason for this is found in an examination of the creation.  Elohim built into the creation the method for the propagation and growth of the human race.  What is right is seen in the natural order as Elohim created it, just as Paul wrote:

The wrath of Elohim is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about Elohim is plain to them, because Elohim has made it plain to themFor since the creation of the world Elohim's invisible qualities-- his eternal power and divine nature-- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20)

Therefore, we need merely to look at the created world, and at mankind, to see what is right and proper.  For did not Elohim create mankind as two sexes?

Then Elohim said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."  So Elohim created man in his own image, in the image of Elohim he created him; male and female he created them. (Bereshith 1:26-27)

He created them male and female for the proliferation of the race of mankind.

The basic structure of human kind is built upon the male and the female coming together to produce children.  There is no getting around this simple biological fact of nature.  Only a man and a woman coming together can produce offspring.  So, this is the order that Elohim has established.  This is the pattern he has created.

Elohim has also established in creation a hierarchical order for these humans he created in his own image.  He first created Adam and then from Adam's side he carved out Chava (Eve) to be Adam's partner.  This was not a random act, but carries consequence  The significance of this order is explained by Paul in 1 Timothy 2:11-13:

A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.  I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.  For Adam was formed first, then Chava.

The Torah thus presents this authority structure beginning with man having authority over his woman.  This order is not negotiable.  It was established by the Creator in the beginning.  And this order is confirmed and expanded upon throughout the Torah. (See my upcoming article entitled, Order in the Body of Messiah).

Next in the natural progression of this hierarchy is that the parents have authority over their offspring.  It is the responsibility of a man and woman coming together to care for and provide for their children.  It is a natural product of bearing children to love them and raise them under the protective umbrella of adult supervision.  Part of that responsibility the parents have for their children is to pass on to them the teachings regarding living righteously before Elohim..

When Mosheh finished reciting all these words to all Yisrael, he said to them, "Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law." (Devarim 32:45-46)

This commanding of their children is the natural inclination parents have.  And just as parents have the understood charge of raising and commanding their children, the children for their part have to be taught the submissive role of obedience.  And this is precisely the point this Fourth Matter of the Covenant is expressing.

Paul also upholds this interpretation of the Fourth Matter where he commands obedience from the children.  For children, to honor father and mother means to obey them.

Children, obey your parents in Yahuwah, for this is right.  "Honor your father and mother"-- which is the first commandment with a promise-- "that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth." (Ephesians 6:1-3)

The promise attached to the command to honor is that in doing so, children may live long on the earth.  What is implied here is that the parents are teaching and guiding their children with the borders and boundaries of the Torah, which are installed to protect us from all manner of harm.  So, by obeying father and mother, that is, by keeping the commandments of the Torah, children will receive the favor and protection of the Almighty to live long and avoid the pitfalls of sin which shorten man's life on the earth.

The command to honor father and mother is thereby shown to be a protective boundary for children.  It is for the good of their life that they are to honor their parents.  Yet, what happens when this proper behavior is violated?  Just as Yahuwah himself disciples those he loves, parents are to discipline their children to drive away any tendencies to disobedience.  The Proverbs teach us some of these principles of discipline:

Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying. (Proverbs 19:16)

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him. (Proverbs 13:24)

Children need the discipline of being corrected when they are wrong to steer them in the right direction.

There are additional instructions in the Torah to suggest a course of action to take for near adult children who defiantly resist their father and mother.

If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town.  They shall say to the elders, "This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard."  Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Yisrael will hear of it and be afraid. (Devarim 21:18-21)

Certainly taking this course of action will have a profound affect on the rest of the teenage and young adult males who would be thinking of defying the authority of the parents.  Real consequences for wrongdoing is always a strong deterrence to sin.  However, in a permissive society such as our own, rebellion and transgression of righteousness will abound and remain unchecked, with no easy solutions to allay them.

In the New Testament, Paul affirms the role of men (fathers) in keeping their children under disciplined control.  Speaking to those men who seek a leadership role in the congregation, Paul writes,

He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect.  (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of Elohim's assembly?) (1 Timothy 3:4-5)

From this we see that the command to honor father and mother has implications for the entire assembly of Yahuwah.  Just as fathers must teach their children to respect and obey, so the elders and leaders of the community have a responsibility to teach the obedience of faith to the assembly.  Their ability to properly lead many people can be assessed by their ability to lead and command and discipline their own children.  Much like the teaching of Yahusha where he said, "You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things" (Matthew 25:23), the father who is faithful in the teaching of his children will be entrusted with the care of the congregation.

Honoring father and mother, as we have seen, reflects an attitude of honoring Elohim himself.  This posture of showing respect and honor to father and mother does not cease with dignifying your Elohim and your parents.  The same kind of heaviness needs to be shown to all who are your elders.  The Torah instructs all to offer this high regard for the seniors among us:

Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your Elohim. I am Yahuwah. (Vayiqra [Leviticus] 19:32)

Thus, the entire household of faith is built and sustained by offering proper due respect to those in charge - the fathers and mothers of Yisrael.

All are to honor Elohim as our heavenly Father.  Children are to honor their mother and father by obeying them.  And all Yisrael is to honor the elderly, like our fathers and mothers, by rising in their presence and showing them the respect that they rightly deserve.

Five - You Shall Not Murder

The Fifth Matter - Devarim 5:17

You shall not murder.

The Fifth Matter is pretty simple to understand.  Usually translated "you shall not kill," this command really is referring to the murder of a brother without just cause.  The Hebrew xc;r' (pronounced ratsack) means to kill, to murder, slay, strike down, commit homicide, assassinate.  This Fifth Matter prohibition refers to the unjustified slaying of another human being - the killing of a human being with premeditation, without sufficient cause.

The Hebrew ratsack actually is used of premeditated and non-premeditated killing.  In Bamidbar [Numbers] 35, this same word is used many times of the killing of a person unintentionally (Hebrew hg"g"v. a sin of error, inadvertence, accidental error, inadvertent sin, unintentional mistake).  But we know that the command of Devarim 5:17 is referring to premeditated murder, because in Numbers 35 the ratsack for which a person could seek refuge and not be put to death was done unintentionally.

  Murder is a capital offense.  So murderers receive the death penalty.  A man who attacks his brother and kills him (premeditated murder) is deserving of death.

Anyone who strikes a man and kills him shall surely be put to death.  However, if he does not do it intentionally, but Elohim lets it happen, he is to flee to a place I will designate.  But if a man schemes and kills another man deliberately, take him away from my altar and put him to death. (Shemot [Exodus] 21:12-14)

This is repeated in Devarim:

But if a man hates his neighbor and lies in wait for him, assaults and kills him, and then flees to one of these cities, the elders of his town shall send for him, bring him back from the city, and hand him over to the avenger of blood to die.  Show him no pity. You must purge from Yisrael the guilt of shedding innocent blood, so that it may go well with you. (Devarim [Deuteronomy] 19:11-13)

This is also witnessed to in other places in Torah:

Whoever kills an animal must make restitution, but whoever kills a man must be put to death. (Vayiqra [Leviticus] 24:21)

Cursed is the man who kills his neighbor secretly. (Devarim 27:24)

The intentional taking of a human life without cause always has been a capital crime.  Shortly after the flood, the grievousness of murder was reiterated:

And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man.  Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of Elohim has Elohim made man. (Bereshith [Genesis] 9:5-6)

It is because of the value of a man's life (he is made in the image of Elohim) that Elohim holds to account anyone who kills another human without cause.

When we dig a little deeper we can begin to understand the spiritual intent of this command.  "You shall not murder" is directing us to examine the cause of premeditated murder.  What is the underlying meaning of this commandment?  Remember that Yochanan [John] pointed out that Cain's murder of his brother was caused by the absence of love for his brother:

This is how we know who the children of Elohim are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of Elohim; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.  This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.  Do not be like Qayin, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous.  Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. (1 Yochanan [John] 3:10-13)

His argument in this section is that the one who does not love his brother does not belong to Elohim.  But we should love one another and not be like Qayin (Cain) who killed his brother.  So don't be surprised if the world hates you (like Qayin hated his brother).  So then don't hate your brother (and kill him) but love your brother.

Messiah Yahusha cleared up any misunderstand about the underlying meaning of this commandment.  While it is obvious that this Fifth Matter prohibits murder, it is also implying the prohibition of hatred toward your brother.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Messiah said,

You heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not murder, and whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.  But I say to you that whoever is wroth with his brother without a cause shall be liable to judgment. And whoever says to his brother, Raka! shall be liable to the Sanhedrin. But whoever says, You fool! shall be liable to fire of Gehenna. (Matthew 5:21-23)

This connection between anger and slander of a brother and hatred toward that brother, to which Yahusha is referring, is made explicit in Torah, where specific instructions are given about slander:

You must not walk about as a slanderer among your people. You must not stand idly by when your neighbor's life is at stake. I am Yahuwah.  You must not hate your brother in your heart. You must surely reprove your fellow citizen so that you do not incur sin on account of him.  You must not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the children of your people, but you must love your neighbor as yourself. I am Yahuwah (Vayiqra [Leviticus] 19:16-18).

Hatred issues forth in slander, bearing a grudge and vengeance, and ultimately in murder.  All of these attitudes and behaviors are rebuked by the Fifth Matter and explicitly in these other Torah instructions.  Instead, we are to conduct ourselves by the exhortation that follows: "you must love your neighbor as yourself" (Vayiqra 19:18).

But, while premeditated murder of a brother is strictly forbidden by the commandment, there are situations where killing a human being is clearly not punishable.  We have already discussed the unintentional or accidental killing of a human.  In the event of accidental manslaughter, the Torah allows for the slayer to escape the wrath of the relatives of the dead one and find refuge in certain cities in Yisrael.

Another situation is in warfare.  Though we will not get into a debate about righteous v. unrighteous wars, we must agree that the killing of enemies in war is not the same as murdering a brother.  Elohim himself ordered the slaughtering of many nations of people who were wicked beyond redemption.  And throughout his history, Israel fought wars against enemy nations under the leadership of their judges and kings.  All of this killing of enemies was commended because it is viewed as protective actions against peoples whose intent was to slaughter Yisraelis.

So it is vital that we exercise discernment when we examine and interpret Scripture.  The command not to murder has a specific context.  Remember that this is a Covenant agreement between Yahuwah and his people.  Therefore, his people are not to murder his people.  But at the will of Yahuwah, those who seek to destroy the people belonging to Yahuwah should be eliminated in war at the direction of Yahuwah.

Six - You Shall Not Commit Adultery

The Sixth Matter - Devarim 5:18

You shall not commit adultery.

The Sixth Matter of the Covenant between Elohim and his people also needs a little parsing.  Believe it or not, many people still don't really understand what this commandment entails.  And that is evident in the number of broken marriages and fractured homes caused by the infidelity of one or both of the marriage partners.  And I'm not talking about people who don't know Elohim.  I'm referring to the incredible instance of infidelity and adultery in people who call themselves Christian.

Let's begin with the definition of adultery.  For a man, committing adultery means having sexual relations with another man's fianc or wife.  For a woman, committing adultery means having sexual relations with a man other than her husband.  Note very carefully what I am describing here.  The bottom line is this: a woman can have a sexual relationship only with one man.  For her, any other sexual activity with another man constitutes adultery.  A marriage contract obligates a man to care for a woman all her days.  For the woman's part, being engaged or married obligates her for life - the length of her husband's life.

Now let's discuss what is not adultery.  A man taking a second wife is not adultery.  A man having sexual relations with a virgin is not adultery, but this act has bound them as one flesh.  The man is obligated by Torah to "marry" this woman and care for her.  But if that woman has sexual relations with any other man, she is committing adultery.  A woman whose husband has died can remarry - this is not adultery.

Now there are two (and only two) exceptions to marriage being a lifelong obligation.  First is divorce which releases a man from an adulterating woman.  And second is the death of the man which releases the woman from her marriage contract with the man.

Release for the woman from the law of marriage is described by the apostle Paul:

For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage.  So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man. (Romans 7:2-3)

Thus, if a man who has a wife does not commit adultery with another man's wife, his wife is obligated to stay with him and be faithful to him until he dies.

Divorce is only permitted by the Torah in the case of sexual promiscuity (adultery).  The Torah allows a man to divorce his woman in this instance:

If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man, and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies, then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of Yahuwah. (Devarim [Deuteronomy] 24:1-4)

The phrase here translated "something indecent" is believed to refer to evidence of other sexual activity - meaning that the woman this man marries is not a virgin.  She has been unfaithful.

The Master Yahusha confirms this interpretation.  When asked by the Pharisees under what conditions a man may divorce his wife, he replied,

But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery. (Matthew 5:32)

In other words, a woman promised to be a virgin who turns out not to be a virgin can be divorced by the man.  In any other instance, a man who divorces his wife causes her to commit adultery because (as it was in that culture) the woman is forced to find another husband, and in doing so, she is committing adultery.  Furthermore, the Master says, "anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery."  There is no exception to this rule.  Marrying a divorced woman is an act of adultery!

The punishment for transgressing the Sixth Matter, according to Torah, is death - death for both the adulterer and the adulteress:

If a man commits adultery with another man's wife-- with the wife of his neighbor-- both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death. (Vayiqra [Leviticus] 20:10)

The Book of Proverbs aptly describes this consequence of having sex with an adulteress:

(Wisdom) will save you also from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her seductive words, who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before Elohim.  For her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the deadNone who go to her return or attain the paths of life. (Proverbs 2:16-19)

Here, the adulteress is defined as "the wayward wife."  She has left he married partner.  Those who engage her will not attain the paths of life.  They are choosing death.

What is the reason that Yahuwah puts this stringent restriction on sexual relationships?  It is precisely because the marriage relationship between a man and a woman is a pattern and a picture of the relationship between Yahuwah and his people.  Just as it is forbidden to have any other elohim besides Yahuwah (see the First Matter of the Covenant), it is forbidden for a woman, who is a picture of the people of Yah, to have another husband.  Yahuwah alone is our Elohim, and one man alone is the Head of a woman.

This Covenant of the Ten Matters was given as a contract between Yahuwah and Yisrael much like when a man and a woman make vows to one another.

Then Mosheh went up to Elohim, and Yahuwah called to him from the mountain and said, "This is what you are to say to the house of Ya'acov and what you are to tell the people of Yisrael: 'You yourselves have seen what I did to Mitzrayim, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself.  Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words you are to speak to the sons of Yisrael."  So Mosheh went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words Yahuwah had commanded him to speak.  The people all responded together, "We will do everything Yahuwah has said." So Mosheh brought their answer back to Yahuwah. (Shemot [Exodus] 19:3-8)

Yahuwah promised that they would be his "treasured possession" - like a precious wife is to a man is they would be faithful to this Covenant.  And the people responded "yes" by saying "we will do everything Yahuwah has said."

Speaking of this people who agreed to this Covenant and who were led in the wilderness, the prophet Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) says, 

Go and proclaim in the hearing of Yerushalayim: "I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the desert, through a land not sown.  Yisrael was holy to Yahuwah, the firstfruits of his harvest; all who devoured her were held guilty, and disaster overtook them," declares Yahuwah. (Yirmeyahu 2:1-3)

And in the future, when Yisrael returns to faithfulness to Yahuwah's Covenant, they will once again be a bride to Elohim, as Isaiah points out:

I delight greatly in Yahuwah; my soul rejoices in my Elohim. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (Yeshayahu 61:10)

When Yisrael turned to other elohim besides Yahuwah, the metaphor of adultery was used by the prophets to describe this apostasy:

During the reign of King Yosiah, Yahuwah said to me, "Have you seen what faithless Yisrael has done? She has gone up on every high hill and under every spreading tree and has committed adultery there.  I thought that after she had done all this she would return to me but she did not, and her unfaithful sister Yehudah saw it.  I gave faithless Yisrael her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Yehudah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery.  Because Yisrael's immorality mattered so little to her, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stone and wood.  In spite of all this, her unfaithful sister Yehudah did not return to me with all her heart, but only in pretense," declares Yahuwah. (Yirmeyahu 3:6-10)

Even the metaphor of giving a certificate of divorce for adultery was used of Yahuwah terminating the Covenant contract with his people on account of their turning aside to other elohim.

Thus it is that fidelity and faithfulness in marriage is a testimony and picture to the faithfulness of Yahuwah and his people in righteous Covenant relationship.  This is why Yahuwah puts such a premium value on fidelity in the marriage contract between a man and a woman.

As we bring to a close this discussion of the meaning of the Sixth Matter, let's allow the words of the wise man summarize how we should protect this gift of sexuality from misuse and its consequences:

My son, pay attention to my wisdom, listen well to my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge.  For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword.  Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave.  She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths are crooked, but she knows it not.  Now then, my sons, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say.  Keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house, lest you give your best strength to others and your years to one who is cruel, lest strangers feast on your wealth and your toil enrich another man's house.  At the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent.  You will say, "How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction!  I would not obey my teachers or listen to my instructors.  I have come to the brink of utter ruin in the midst of the whole assembly."

Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well.  Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares?  Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers.  May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.  A loving doe, a graceful deer-- may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love.  Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress? Why embrace the bosom of another man's wife?  For a man's ways are in full view of Yahuwah, and he examines all his paths.  The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast.  He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly. (Proverbs 5:1-23)

Seven - You Shall Not Steal

The Seventh Matter - Devarim 5:19

You shall not steal.

The Seventh Matter is the simple "you shall not steal."  Really not difficult to understand at all.  Stealing is taking unto yourself something that belongs to someone else without their consent.  The Creator has endowed human beings made in his image with a very basic inalienable right to take possession of things earned or produced by man's work.  Thus, to take away these products or goods from a person is prohibited by the Almighty in this Seventh Matter of his Covenant.

Stealing can be taking possessions from someone or the taking of human beings against their will.  An example of stealing possessions is that of burglary and can be found in Shemot 22:2:

If a thief is caught breaking in (at night) and is struck so that he dies, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed.

And an example of stealing of a human being.

Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death. (Shemot 21:16)

If a man is caught kidnapping one of his brother sons of Yisrael and treats him as a slave or sells him, the kidnapper must die. You must purge the evil from among you. (Devarim 24:7)

Stealing a human being is a serious offense in Elohim's eyes.  Kidnapping is punishable by death.  Stealing possessions is a less grievous crime but still is strictly prohibited by Yahuwah.

Additionally, stealing can be done through stealth or thorough deceit.  An example of stealing through stealth is burglary, or to take something that belongs to someone else secretly.  A example of stealing through deceit is by using dishonest scales in your transactions with your neighbor.  Thus, Yahuwah forbids the use of dishonest scales.

Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight or quantity.  Use honest scales and honest weights, an honest ephah and an honest hin. I am Yahuwah your Elohim, who brought you out of Mitzrayim. (Vayiqra [Leviticus] 19:35-36)

Dishonest scales and weights are used by people who wish to take more from their neighbor than his neighbor is aware of.  Thus, it is being done by deceit.  Yahuwah hates this kind of theft by deception:

Do not have two differing weights in your bag-- one heavy, one light.  Do not have two differing measures in your house-- one large, one small.  You must have accurate and honest weights and measures, so that you may live long in the land Yahuwah your Elohim is giving you.  For Yahuwah your Elohim detests anyone who does these things, anyone who deals dishonestly. (Devarim [Deuteronomy] 25:13-16)

The Proverbs confirm and elaborate on this:

Yahuwah abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight. (Proverbs 11:1)

Honest scales and balances are from Yahuwah; all the weights in the bag are of his making. (Proverbs 16:11)

Another kind of theft by deception is that of moving the boundary stone set up between your field and your neighbor's field.  This would presumably be done by a neighbor to steal part of your property to be used by him for his own profit and benefit.

Do not move your neighbor's boundary stone set up by your predecessors in the inheritance you receive in the land Yahuwah your Elohim is giving you to possess. (Devarim 19:14)

Such deceptive manipulation is strongly discouraged and condemned by the Torah:

"Cursed is the man who moves his neighbor's boundary stone." Then all the people shall say, "Amen!" (Devarim 27:17)

The punishment for theft depends on the thing stolen.  As we saw above, the punishment for kidnapping is capitol punishment.  However, the run of the mill, average theft would cost the convicted thief the recovery of the item and the payment of its equivalent value:

If a man gives his neighbor silver or goods for safekeeping and they are stolen from the neighbor's house, the thief, if he is caught, must pay back double.  But if the thief is not found, the owner of the house must appear before the judges to determine whether he has laid his hands on the other man's property.  In all cases of illegal possession of an ox, a donkey, a sheep, a garment, or any other lost property about which somebody says, 'This is mine,' both parties are to bring their cases before the judges. The one whom the judges declare guilty must pay back double to his neighbor. (Shemot 22:7-9)

This is just compensation and penalty because the thief has to return the stolen item or return its value to the true owner and then the same amount to the wronged party.  It amounts to costing the thief the amount of the goods he stole.

Though the immediate penalty for theft is not so severe, the longer lasting consequences are unaffordable.  Paul explains the long term cost of theft:

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of Elohim? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of Elohim. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

As with anyone who makes breaking the commandments of the Covenant their own lifestyle choice, thieves will ultimately be rejected by Messiah at his judgment of all men.

Eight - You Shall Not Bring Against Your Neighbor a False Witness

The Eighth Matter - Devarim 5:20

You shall not bring against your neighbor a false witness.

This Eighth Matter of the Covenant between Yahuwah and his people has to do with bringing personal eyewitness testimony to a court of judgment.  The commandment is that you shall not bring false testimony against your fellow.  In order for justice to be served to all of Yisrael, each case must be adjudicated according to the eyewitness testimony.  Even in our courts of law, witnesses are made to swear that their testimony will be "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."  Such an oath is designed to dissuade the temptation of giving false information to the judges.  It does not guarantee, but it promotes and encourages a righteous outcome.

So it is paramount in the kingdom of Elohim that his people give an honest testimony concerning what they have seen or heard when a brother's actions are called into question.  Intentionally bringing false information or lying about what the witness knows or saw can result in the innocent being punished and the guilty being freed from obligations or retribution.  And thus it is that one of the great matters in the relationship between Yah and his people is that no one may bring a false testimony against his neighbor.

The Torah gives instructions and guidelines for a situation in which a crime has been committed or someone has been wronged in the community so that the truth may be investigated and discovered and justice may be served.  But the eyewitness testimony of a single witness is not sufficient to convict anyone of anything.

One witness is not enough to convict a man accused of any crime or offense he may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. (Devarim 19:15)

The reason for this is that people do not always recall accurately everything that they see and hear.  In any situation in which there are two or more witnesses, an interview of the witnesses (privately, of course) will turn up some startling apparent contradictions.  The witnesses almost always tell the story of what they have witnessed differently.  They will each remember or forget different details and usually get something out of order.

As a result, no single testimony by itself is deemed reliable to know the exact truth in detail of what has happened.  But in the testimony of two or more witnesses, the truth can usually be discerned.  So it is that each case must be decided.  An investigation of the charges and the evidence is brought.  Witnesses testify and are questioned.  And the case is decided by the judges as best they can with the evidence presented.

But what if a witness is proven to by lying?  How is this situation to be handled.  The Torah has a righteous answer for this:

If a malicious witness takes the stand to accuse a man of a crime, the two men involved in the dispute must stand in the presence of Yahuwah before the priests and the judges who are in office at the time.  The judges must make a thorough investigation, and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony against his brother, then do to him as he intended to do to his brother. You must purge the evil from among you.  The rest of the people will hear of this and be afraid, and never again will such an evil thing be done among you.  Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. (Devarim 19:16-21)

The beauty and simplicity of this instruction should be obvious.  Whatever the false witness intended to be done to the accused is done to the false witness.  This, if implemented in our judicial systems, would be a great deterrent to bringing false testimony and of assuring a more righteous judgment.

No wonder the people of Israel should have been proud to have such a righteous Torah to guide them in their affairs.  As Mosheh said to Israel,

See, I have taught you decrees and laws as Yahuwah my Elohim commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it.  Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, "Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people." (Devarim 4:5-6)

Indeed, those who follow these instructions will be regarded as a wise and understanding people.  The instruction to do to the false witness as he intended to do to the accused is a strong example of the great wisdom that the Torah holds.

Nine - You Shall Not Desire Your Neighbor's Wife

The Ninth Matter - Devarim 5:21a

You shall not lust after your neighbor's wife.

When we come to the Ninth and Tenth Matters of the Covenant between Yahuwah and his people, we enter into new territory.  The first eight matters all deal with instructions for behaviors that can be observed in one's speech and actions.  But the Ninth and Tenth Matters deal with our thoughts and attitudes, which are not always visible for others to see.  These two commandments target our minds as the human part that needs to be under the control of the Holy Spirit.

The Ninth Matter tells us that "you shall not lust after your neighbor's wife."  Why is this a separate and distinct commandment from the one that follows, which is "you shall not desire your neighbor's house or land, his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor"? There is a significant difference in these two matters.

As we described under the section on the command not to commit adultery, the marriage relationship is of great magnitude to the heart of Elohim because he created it to be a picture of his relationship with his people.  Therefore the oath of marriage is a lifelong obligation.  Faithfulness in this relationship is akin to faithfulness to Elohim himself.  Likewise, just as having other elohim and worshipping and serving them is rejection of Elohim and an annulling of relationship and fellowship with him, so having intimacy with someone other than your marriage partner is breaking the covenant of marriage.

Even the contemplation of worshipping other elohim is an offense and a betrayal of the Covenant with Yahuwah.  This is why the Torah commands his people to completely destroy all vestiges of the pagan worship along with all of its objects:

When Yahuwah your Elohim brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations-- the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Yebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you-- and when Yahuwah your Elohim has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy.  Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and Yahuwah's anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you.  This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their set apart stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire.  For you are a people holy to Yahuwah your Elohim. Yahuwah your Elohim has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. (Devarim 7:1-6)

There is no place in Yahuwah's kingdom for any remnants of pagan gods or their worship implements.  They must be destroyed so that they are out of mind and out of sight.

So it is with the marriage relationship.  Once a man and woman are together in this relationship, neither of them are permitted to attach to anyone else who is or has been in a marital contract.  This is because marriage is at the very core of the structure of faithful community before Elohim.  For a man, even to set his eyes and mind upon a woman married to another man is tantamount to committing adultery.  This is what the Master Messiah taught his disciples.

Regarding committing adultery, Yahusha reminded his followers that this is what the ancients taught.  But adultery is more than just the physical act:

But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:28)

The Ninth Matter of the Covenant forbids even pondering the act of adultery because one doing this is performing the sin of adultery in his mind and in his heart.

Now every man knows what it means to look at a woman lustfully.  Elohim has put a natural desire for a woman in the personality of a man.  Single men have a natural inclination to see the beauty of a woman's face and form and a desire for a woman for himself.  This is Elohim's plan.  So, it is not sin for a man to desire a virgin daughter of Israel.  If a man has his eye on a single woman, and has the means to do so, and the woman and her father are in agreement, he should take her as his wife.  There is no sin in that.

But the parameter of the Ninth Matter forbids a man to look with this kind of desire at a woman who is committed under oath to another man.  She is accounted for.  She is already taken and is off the market.  Yahuwah forbids any man from placing his desire on any woman married to someone else.

Furthermore, the Proverbs not only describe the perils of committing adultery, but they warn men not to look with desire on a woman already married.

For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life,  keeping you from the immoral woman, from the smooth tongue of the wayward wife.  Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes, for the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, and the adulteress preys upon your very lifeCan a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?  Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched?  So is he who sleeps with another man's wife; no one who touches her will go unpunished. (Proverbs 6:23-29)

Because following through with the act of adultery has such disastrous results for those who participate in it, the wise man warns of even thinking about it: "do not lust in your heart after her beauty...."  It would be like scooping fire into your own lap or walking on hot coals.  You will get burned!

Yochanan wrote about the sin of breaking the Ninth Matter of the Covenant.  He calls it "the lust of the flesh":

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For everything in the world-- the lust of the flesh, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does-- comes not from the Father but from the world.  The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of Elohim lives forever. (1 Yochanan [John] 2:15-17)

The lust of the flesh, that is, the desire to participate in illicit sexual encounters is something the world vigorously promotes.  If you watch television, listen to the radio or surf the internet, you can't help being bombarded constantly by advertising which uses sex to allure you, sexual innuendo, and situations which are designed to lower your sensitivities and allure you to prohibited behaviors.

The Master tells us to be in the world but not to be of the world.  I think this means that though we must live in the here and now, we don't have to participate in the sins of those who don't know Elohim.  This problem of lust, which is a great stumbling block for most men, is exasperated by the world which is in rebellion against the righteous Elohim.  Those who know their Elohim must overcome the temptation to do wrong.  We must be strong in our Master and live victoriously.  The wise man gave great advise to men who would look to lust:

Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. (Proverbs 4:25)

Those who keep their eyes forward and their feet on the path of righteousness will overcome all temptation to sin, even those temptations of the mind.

Ten - You Shall Not Desire Your Neighbor's Things

The Tenth Matter - Devarim 5:21b

You shall not set your desire on your neighbor's house or land, his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."

The Tenth Matter is the commandment forbidding us from coveting anything belonging to our neighbor.  Coveting is the act of intently desiring to have something that is not yours.  It is a sin of the thoughts, a lack of control of the mind.

Yochanan calls coveting "the lust of the eyes."

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For everything in the world-- the lust of the flesh, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does-- comes not from the Father but from the world.  The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of Elohim lives forever. (1 Yochanan [John] 2:15-17)

Coveting is seeing something with your eyes, and desiring to have it, though it doesn't belong to you.  It is a worldly sin.  A great deal of advertising uses this impulse of coveting to sell their products.  They convince you that you need it and that you want it.  You didn't even know that you needed or wanted their product until they explain to you that your life will be better when you buy and use their merchandise!

The Master responded to the tax collectors who wished to know what they could do to bring themselves closer to Elohim:

Then some soldiers asked him, "And what should we do?" He replied, "Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely-- be content with your pay."

It is well known that tax collectors used their authority to assess the tax liability of the common people to extort extra money from them which they took for themselves.  They were greedy and covetous. So they stole this wealth from their tax subjects.  Yahusha instructs them to stop taking extra money.  After all, as the Master taught elsewhere, "you cannot serve Elohim and money."

The writer to the Hebrews also takes up this theme where he extols the practice of being content:

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because Elohim has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." (Ivrim [Hebrews] 13:5)

Coveting leads to discontent and to more coveting.  Those who keep on coveting what they do not have are always seeking to get more and more.  And these certainly don't have the contentment and peace which trust in Yahuwah brings.

In contrast to this inordinate desiring of things, Paul also exhorts his readers to be content with what Yahuwah has supplied:

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13)

Contentment is a product of the Holy Spirit.  It is an expression of self-control:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Those who fear Yahuwah find contentment.

The fear of Yahuwah leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble. (Proverbs 19:23)

The Tenth Matter wraps up the Covenant by suggesting that to shun covetousness is to rest contented in Yahuwah.

The Gravity of the Covenant Commandments

If you survey the Christian world on their attitude towards the matters of the Ten Commandments, you will get feedback that will astonish you.  While some believers are serious about the importance of keeping the commandments, most Christians have a somewhat nonchalant attitude toward the Ten Commandments.  Many see the Ten Words as an ethics standard for the Old Testament nation of Israel.  But these do not correlate this Covenant with Messiah's people.

Christians routinely transgress the commandments and think nothing of it.  The First Matter is dismissed by those who hang pictures of Jesus in their worship places and adore him in this false depiction (after all, that isn't really the Savior in those pictures, it is someone's guess as to what he might look like).  Catholics and some Protestants have statues and images of Jesus, Mary and the Saints which they use as an integral part of their worship and adoration of God.  This is a clear disobedience of the First Matter.

The Second Matter is transgressed as the name of Yahuwah has many centuries ago been ignored, shunned and forgotten.  Believers prefer to refer to the Almighty and call upon him by the unspecific designation Lord instead of by his true name Yahuwah.  And nearly all ignore and diminish the Third Matter of the Covenant - the commandments concerning the seventh day Sabbath.  In their thinking, the Sabbath was long ago abolished.  So they pretend it isn't there anymore.  They work on Elohim's holy day and brag about it.

The Matter of Adultery is also diminished in the minds of Christians.  The attitude is that while God doesn't like divorce, Messiah has died for all our sins, so breaking this commandment will merely result in our being forgiven by our merciful and understanding brother Jesus.  Thus, Christians marry and divorce at the same rates as the rest of the world who don't know Elohim.  Then they take another "good Christian girl" or "good Christian guy" and remarry, ignoring what Yahusha said about divorce and remarriage an act of adultery!

Much more could also be said about murder and hatred, theft, white lies, lusting after a brother's wife (and then stealing her, committing adultery) and all the other nasty things that happen as a matter of course in the churches which claim the Bible as the Word of God and Jesus as the "Lord and Savior."  Little do most of these ignorant folk know that their actions will not result in their forgiveness, but in their rejection when the Master comes back to pronounce on those who did so many things in his name, "depart from me you workers of lawlessness.  I never knew you" (Matthew 7:23).  They are ignorant of the Torah - the eternal and abiding Covenant of Elohim with his people.  Their casual ignorance will cost them dearly, just as the prophet said, "My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6).

Messiah Yahusha was once asked how one can obtain eternal life.  His response was to cite the commandments of the Covenant:

Now a man came up to Yahusha and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?"  "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Yahusha replied. "There is only One who is good.  If you want to enter life, obey the commandments."  "Which ones?" the man inquired. Yahusha replied, "'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,' and 'love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Matthew 19:16-19)

He explicitly replied to the man that you get eternal life by keeping the commands of Yahuwah.  Then he rehearses five of the ten matters of the Covenant.  In other words, the way to eternal life is to faithfully comply with the stipulations of the Covenant commandments.

This is what we have been discovering in the Word all along.  The Ten Matters of the Covenant are the rules and stipulations for relationship with the Almighty and all of the benefits that it brings.  Why then should it be a surprise that in adhering to the Covenant commands one finds favor and relationship with the Almighty, while transgressing the Covenant commandments earns you rejection and death?

The breaking of most of the Matters of the Covenant unquestionably results in death via the death penalty or the second death in the final judgment.  Anyone who promotes transgression of the First Matter is to be put to death:

If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, "Let us go and worship other gods" (gods that neither you nor your fathers have known, gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. You must certainly put him to death. Your hand must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the peopleStone him to death, because he tried to turn you away from Yahuwah your Elohim, who brought you out of Mitzrayim, out of the land of slavery. (Devarim [Deuteronomy] 13:6-10)

Yahuwah gave instruction about what to do to the one who transgressed the Second Matter of the Covenant - that regarding his holy name:

Say to the sons of Yisrael: 'If anyone curses his Elohim, he will be held responsible; anyone who blasphemes the name of Yahuwah must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him. Whether an alien or native-born, when he blasphemes the Name, he must be put to death. (Vayiqra [Leviticus] 24:15-16)

The transgressor of the Third Matter - the Sabbath commandment - was also to be put to death:

Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people.  For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to Yahuwah. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death. (Shemot [Exodus] 31:14-15)

Transgression of the Fourth Matter - that of honoring father and mother - resulted in putting to death:

Anyone who attacks his father or his mother must be put to death.... Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death (Shemot [Exodus] 21:15,17).

Breaking the Fifth Matter of the Covenant - committing murder - issues in death:

And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man.  Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of Elohim has Elohim made man. (Bereshith [Genesis] 9:5-6)

Whoever kills an animal must make restitution, but whoever kills a man must be put to death. (Vayiqra [Leviticus] 24:21)

Anyone who strikes a man and kills him shall surely be put to death. (Shemot [Exodus] 21:12)

Transgression of the Sixth Matter - that of committing adultery - results in the death penalty:

If a man commits adultery with another man's wife-- with the wife of his neighbor-- both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death. (Vayiqra [Leviticus] 20:10)

Breaking the Seventh Matter - stealing from your brother - results in you repaying double back to your wronged brother, while stealing another human being brings you the death penalty:

Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death. (Shemot 21:16)

And breaking the Eighth Matter - giving false testimony against your brother - results in the transgressor receiving the punishment he intended for his brother against whom he testified, up to and including death:

Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. (Devarim [Deuteronomy] 19:16-21)

Who says the Ten Commandments are mere suggestions for Christian living?  No, indeed.  They are the very serious stipulations upon which our relationship to the living Elohim depends.  The commandments are requirements.  Breaking them results in death.  There can be no casual attitude about keeping or not keeping the Ten Matters.  Our very life with Him depends on our being faithful to this Agreement.

Yet, everyone has broken some or many of these Covenant stipulations at some time.  Except for the compassion, kindness and forgiveness of our Maker we would all be lost forever.  But the death of Messiah to make atonement for the nation provides forgiveness from all our sins and redemption for the people of Elohim.  But this kindness of Elohim should not be thought of as license to continue sinning.  The Christian world needs to understand that Elohim expects a response of faithfulness from those who are the recipients of Messiah's forgiveness.  That means we must stop transgressing his commandments and begin to comply with this Covenant with which Elohim and his people are legally attached.

Final Thoughts

 Messiah Yahusha told his disciples,

If you love me, you will obey what I command. (4th Gospel [John] 14:15)

Messiah has commanded us to guard the Covenant commandments.  Entrance into the kingdom of heaven is contingent upon this.  We need to be diligent to obey the commands of our saving and life-giving Elohim.  Many need to repent of their transgressions of the Covenant.  That means that from now on, stop sinning.  Fear Elohim and keep his commandments.  For this is the whole duty of man.

Yochanan affirms this teaching of Messiah.  He describes the walk of faith in simple, concrete terms:

We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.  The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But if anyone obeys his word, Elohim's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him:  Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Yahusha did. (1 Yochanan [John] 2:3-6)

What is it exactly that followers of Messiah are called to obey?  His commandments.  What are his commandments?  Every word and teaching that comes from the Master Messiah.

Now it is well known that Messiah promoted obedience to the Law of Mosheh as the correct walk of faith.  The entire Sermon on the Mount is the recording of the Master teaching the correct interpretation of the Torah for his disciples.  And those are the commandments that Yahusha himself walked in.  So, as Yochanan call us to "walk as Yahusha walked," so we also must walk in obedience to the Torah commandments which are summarized in the Ten Matters of the Covenant.

END