Surrounding cultures worshiped multiple gods. In sharp contrast, the Hebrews had one God who was personal, their national God, and for them the God of all the earth and everyone in it. Being loyal to, and trusting in, one god, was not always understood by other cultures, but the Hebrew culture influenced others by their beliefs and religious practices.
The appearance of the Lord at Mt. Horeb in Sinai to contract a Covenant with the Israelites was an auditory rather than a visual appearance. As the senior party of the Covenant, the Lord offers to redeem Israel from its multi-form, perennial Egypts and bring it into the freedom of his service, provided Israel accepts this offer and commits itself to the Covenant as God has made it known in the Ten Commandments. This chapters examines each commandment.
This account adds yet another dimension to the interplay of God with the world where human purpose is shown to be only temporarily effective when it is disobedient to God’s purpose. The prophet must be faithful, even when the word from the Lord is a hard word. Even those who disobey this word end up evidence of how God works out God’s purpose. The bitter realism of the passage becomes stark evidence of how God triumphs.
We do not think there is anywhere in the Bible a purely objective, detached account of sequential events. The essence of history, which must of course be extracted from. the actual event, is the revelation, the self-disclosure, of God.
The historical, etiological and theological meaning of the covenant in relation to the patriarchs (Genesis 12-50), the Sinai decalogue (Exodus 19-20), the Covenant Code (Exodus 2:1-24), the work and person of Moses (Exodus 32-34), the priestly cultus and ethic (Leviticus 16, 19, 23-26), the narratives of wilderness and occupation (Numbers 5-6, 11-17, 20-24; Joshua 1-12, 23-24).
The classical prophet, although highly creative and proclaiming a new word, was debtor, and certainly conscious debtor, to a core tradition already long established.
The history, background, and setting of the Ten Commandments
These priestly directions for instituting the Covenant are presented as coming from Moses and Sinai, and detail the building of the Temple as modeled on the Tabernacle, with descriptions of the Ark, table, lampstand, altar, court, nightlamp, priestly apparel and other more minor items, and culminating in a priestly emphasis on the Sabbath law as absolute.
Israel was fully aware of that most critical question of all man’s thought — the problem that man is to himself. So here the question of what is man is delved into seeking the answers that the Hebrew arrived at, and thought processes which we can use today.
The theme of anarchy pervades Joshua 1-12 and Judges 2-5 in telling the story of Israel’s being called out of Egypt under Moses and into the Promised Land under Joshua. Judges 6-21 and Ruth describe pre-monarchic Israel including accounts of Gideon, Jotham, Jephthah and Samson documenting this anarchy prior to the monarchy.