On the ten commandments

These are the ten words of God.

They are two aspects here, the first is man’s duty to God , the second is man’s duty to man.

The commandments were given to Israel to identify them as the people of God.

In order to get the full impact of them you need to start with Exodus 20:1 “And God spoke all these words, saying:” and include verse 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”

After this God gives the commands to Israel.

God identifies himself as God of power and grace, therefore as God who should be heeded.

In these first two verses you have a revealing of God’s graciousness to Israel. He had already delivered them from slavery and captivity in Egypt, giving them the gift of freedom, then he gave them the commands. He didn’t give the commands first and tell the Israelis I will deliver you if you obey these ten words. You also have a revealing of God’s power because you have the cue that he delivered them out of a house of bondage. And only someone stronger can deliver one from one’s captor.

After this he tells Israel this is how you will live as my people.

These ten words or commandments then are to become the character of Israel.