eMeditation on the Bible 

 

Question: How did God guide the Israelites to live by Godís values? 

 

Background 

After liberation from slavery in Egypt, the Israelites needed guidelines to enable them to become a community of social harmony with people growing into spiritual maturity. For hundreds of generations, they had spent all their time following the orders of their Egyptian slave-masters, who controlled every aspect of their lives. Thus, after the Israelites left Egypt, they needed to learn how to experience the well-being that comes from right relationships with God and each other. They needed to learn how to live as Godís sons and daughters.  

 

StoryThe Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) 

Moses led the Israelites on their journey through the Sinai Peninsula to the land in West Asia where the nation of Israel was established. During this journey, God provided the Israelites with a brief summary of the basic ďrules of lifeĒ necessary for a community to flourish. Because the summary consists of ten basic statements, it is known as The Ten Commandments. These statements are: 

1.     Worship no god but the true God, I AM WHO I AM

2.     Do not make statues or pictures of the true God.  

3.     Do not misuse God's name. 

4.     Dedicate the seventh day of the week to God. 

5.     Respect your parents. 

6.     Do not commit murder. 

7.     Do not commit adultery. 

8.     Do not steal. 

9.     Do not make a false accusation against anyone. 

10.  Do not desire to possess what belongs to another person. 

Historical Context 

Historically, all groups sharing an ethnic/cultural identity created moral codes consisting of some basic rules for living together. In early human history, these rules were passed down orally from generation to generation. As societies became more advanced, the moral codes were preserved in writing and became the foundation for the laws and judicial systems of nations and empires. The Ten Commandments became an important part of the foundation for Western civilization. They were also foundational for Jesusí teachings about Godís values.  

 

General Introduction 

The Ten Commandments are not a list of legal duties and prohibitions. Although written as laws, they are a set of principles or guidelines for both (1) social harmony and (2) spiritual growth and maturity. They place boundaries on how we live for our own well-being and also the well-being of our community. They guide our relationships with God and others so that our relationships are based on Godís values, the essence of which is love. The first four commandments apply to our relationship with God; the other six apply to our relationships with people. They all teach us how to live as Godís spiritual daughters and sons by living according to the core values of Godís family. In this way, they enable us to become fully human.