The Ten Commandments

Concise Bible Dictionary:

These have a special place as having been written on the tables of stone by “the finger of God” (Ex. 31:1818And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God. (Exodus 31:18)). Deuteronomy 10:44And he wrote on the tables, according to the first writing, the ten commandments, which the Lord spake unto you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly: and the Lord gave them unto me. (Deuteronomy 10:4) (margin) reads “the ten words,” and they are often referred to as the DECALOGUE. They are also called “the words of the covenant,” in Exodus 34:2828And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. (Exodus 34:28). It was after hearing these ten commandments rehearsed by Moses that the Israelites said to him, “Go thou near, and hear all that the Lord our God shall say; and speak thou unto us all that the Lord our God shall speak unto thee; and we will hear it and do it” (Deut. 5:2727Go thou near, and hear all that the Lord our God shall say: and speak thou unto us all that the Lord our God shall speak unto thee; and we will hear it, and do it. (Deuteronomy 5:27)). The two stones are also called the “tables of the testimony” (Ex. 34:2929And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. (Exodus 34:29)), and they were laid up in the ark of the covenant, (Ex. 40:2020And he took and put the testimony into the ark, and set the staves on the ark, and put the mercy seat above upon the ark: (Exodus 40:20); 1 Kings 8:99There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt. (1 Kings 8:9); Heb. 9:44Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; (Hebrews 9:4)); over which were the two cherubim as guardians of God’s rights together with the mercy-seat.
The giving of the two stones to Israel by God (who, though gracious and merciful, would by no means clear the guilty) amid a measure of glory is referred to by Paul, when he describes the commandments written in letters thereon as “the ministration of death”; in contrast to which he speaks of the glory of the ministration of the Spirit (that is, of Christ, for the Lord is that Spirit), and of the ministration of righteousness: it is the story of man’s failure, and of God’s righteousness available to the believer through Christ (2 Cor. 3:7-117But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: 8How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? 9For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. 10For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. 11For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious. (2 Corinthians 3:7‑11)).

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