Exodus 20

God's identity; first commandment 1
Second and third commandments no images and reverence 4
Fourth commandment God's authority and the Sabbath 8
Last six commandments 12
Adultery prohibited 14
People, Moses, fear 18
Altars instead of images 22
.1 ¶ And God ['elohiym] spake all these words, saying,
.2  I am the LORD thy God [yahwhe 'elohiym], which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
.3  Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
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The ten commandments may be seen as ten blessings for the covanant people (and us). This may be confirmed by the Hebrew text.
   1 - God spoke The commandments were later written on stone. And the laws existed in other forms before Sinai. See note below. Also below are thoughts on the involvement of the Father and the Son.
   2 - I brought you out This is what God does for us, too. It's His part of the covenant.
   Also notice that Elohiym and Yahwhe Elohiym are the same person as the text reads. See on ge0204.
   3 - [1st commandment] - no other gods The gods didn't bring out the Israelites. They kept them in. And other things we may place ahead of God act the same way.
.4  Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
.5  Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
 6  And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
.7  Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
  4 - [Second commandment] Not ... graven image A photo is an image although not carved. The angels on the ark of the covenant were images, too ex2518. Also ex2601, nu2108.  The key to understanding is in the words, "unto thee." The preceding verse said "no other gods." People are not to make for themselves  images to worship. de0416, ex3201. Sadly, this commandment has been ignored by the church that arose from the apostasy of the early church.
  5 - Visiting the iniquity Consider the result of Solomon's apostasy. See 1ki1112 and context.
  6 - Mercy How loving is our God! Obedience is a natural response to God's call for obedience jn0407-21. jn1715,21, 1jo0205, 2j006.
  7 - Name of the Lord ... in vain First we must avoid careless speech using words like Gee (substitute for Jesus) or Gosh (substitute for God), or Mercy and Goodness (attributes of God). We also take His name in vain when we assume to be Christians without following Christ. Also on ge0204 and mal0111.
.8  Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
 9  Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
.10  But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
.11  For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore [Literally, "for this reason"] the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
   8 - Remember It seems strange that we are expected to forget the only commandment which God told us to remember. Or at least we are to forget all of it except the first sentence or two re1407g.
   11 - In six days The Sabbath commandment testifies to the truth of the literal six-day creation. We find creation again as part of God's final warning messages to the world re1407g.
   11 - In six days ... rested This is a direct reference to the time when God set aside the seventh day as holy time ge0201. God's word is established forever in heaven ps119089. He does not change mal0306.
.12 ¶ Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
.13  Thou shalt not kill.
.14  Thou shalt not commit adultery.
.15  Thou shalt not steal.
.16  Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
.17  Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.
   12 - More than obedience As a parent, I came to realize that this honor includes the joy of having children who remain faithful to the Lord pr2903, pr2020.
   13 - Not kill As with others, Jesus explained the deeper meaning mt0521.
   14 - Adultery Sexual impurity. This rule for happiness has been widely ignored. Jesus clarified its meaning mt0527.
   16 - False Witness This means more than speaking in court ex2301.
   17 - Covet This summary commandment helps us remember the other nine.
.18 ¶ And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.
 19  And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.
.20  And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.
 21  And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.
  18 - People saw ... removed. Rather than "removed, the text should read, "trembled."
  20 - Fear Here Moses compares the wrong and right ways to fear.
.22 ¶ And the LORD said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven.
 23  Ye shall not make with me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold.
.24  An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.
.25  And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.
 26  Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.
  23 - Gods of silver ... gold An important command for those who had come out of Egypt with many gods and who were in an environment of image worship. Sadly the people made a gold calf to worship ex32
  25 - Hewn stone Compare jos0831.
Exodus home
Commentary home

God's law was before Sinai

See the following texts: ge1210, ge1623, ge2009, ge3909. Especially ge2605. From the beginning God has specific rules for the happiness of His creatures ge0217, ge04.
Principles of commandments are found in many places. Notice several in the book of Job, chapter 31: jb3104, jb3111, jb3116, jb3128.
Who gave us the law?
Who gave the law from Sinai and wrote it on stone? Although both Father and Son must have been involved, I believe the Father gave us the ten commandments (basic but specific principles) and that Christ gave the ceremonial laws which amplified and explained the commandments. We see Christ explaining and amplifying the law in Matt. 5:17, and beginning at 5:21.