Sources, Sources, Sources, Sources….Jingle Bells

Ok, so part of the idea of this blog is to serve as a resource. I might have linked to my Tzelem Elokim blog, which had some of these sources, but I want to present them again, because now I have questions to go with them – questions I would love to hear the answer to!

Source 1:

Leviticus 19:30-37: 30 Ye shall keep My sabbaths, and reverence My sanctuary: I am the LORD. 31 Turn ye not unto the ghosts, nor unto familiar spirits; seek them not out, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God. 32 Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and thou shalt fear thy God: I am the LORD. {S} 33 And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not do him wrong. 34 The stranger that sojourneth with you shall be unto you as the home-born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. 35 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure. 36 Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. 37 And ye shall observe all My statutes, and all Mine ordinances, and do them: I am the LORD.

Questions about this source:

1.  Why do you think the phrase “I am the Lord your God” is repeated so many times?

2. Do you think there is a connection or common theme between the various injunctions in this paragraph?

3. Note verses 34 and 37. What roles is the Exodus story playing in this source?

Source 2:

Exodus, 20: 2-13: 2 I am the LORD thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. 3 Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any manner of 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; 4 thou shalt not bow down unto 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; 5 and showing mercy unto the thousandth generation of them that love Me and keep My commandments. {S} 6 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. {P) 7 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 8 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work; 9 but the seventh day is a sabbath unto the LORD thy God, in it thou shalt not do any manner of work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; 10 for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested on the seventh day; wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. {S} 11 Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. {S} 12 Thou shalt not murder. {S} Thou shalt not commit adultery. {S} Thou shalt not steal. {S} Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. {S} 13 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house; {S} thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

Questions:

 1. Do you think there is a reason for the ordering of the various commandments? If so, what might that reason be? How do the different commandments connect to each other.

2. What role does the Exodus story play in these passages?

3.  Which passages concern the family unit? Is there a common theme or attitude towards family that emerges?

Comment:

The rabbis traditionally divide 2-11 as commandments concerning the relationship between humans and God, with verses 12-13 being about interpersonal relationships. Verse 11, concerning parental relationships, is sense as the cross-over commandment, since it involves interpersonal relationships, yet also highly influences one’s relationship with God, which in rabbinic though, is modeled after the parent-child bond. Like a parent, God provides for His children, and like a parent, His love for them is unconditional. Arguably, the series of commandments laid out here, is one of logical progression: Belief in God is the moral imperative for following the ethical code laid out in the Ten Commandments. This belief is based on the Exodus, which served the Israelites both as proof of God’s existence, and as a moral imperative in its own right – the oppressed should know not to oppress others. Thus, the Exodus both reinforces the original moral imperative of Theism, while becoming a moral imperative in its own right. Since Theism is the moral imperative for following the moral code, the first commandments concern an affirmation of that Theism. Once the belief in the God of the Israelites has been affirmed, through not worshipping idols or taking God’s name in vain, thus solidifying the moral imperative for the Ten Commandment code of ethics, only then does the Bible move on to laying out that code of ethics itself, from verse eleven onwards.

How does the Sabbath fit into this? Very simple: As a day of rest, the Sabbath reinforces the family unit – a major theme of these passages, since in Biblical theology, the micro-health of society as reflected in the family unit is key to society’s macro-health. Furthermore, by symbolizing faith in God both as creator of the universe and as the redeemer of the Exodus story, the Sabbath symbolized acceptance of the moral imperative that was a pre-requisite for the interpersonal moral code ensconced in the last five commandments.

Also, if you take a look at verse 8, you see that the different family members’ right to the day of rest is enumerated (especially since servants than were part of the household). Combine this with the parental respect and anti-adultery clauses, and you have a general picture of a text trying to protect the family unit.

Source 3:

Exodus, 22: 20-22:  20 And a stranger shalt thou not wrong, neither shalt thou oppress him; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. 21 Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. 22 If thou afflict them in any wise–for if they cry at all unto Me, I will surely hear their cry.

Source 4:

Leviticus, 19, 1-2, 16-18:  1 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 2 Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them: Ye shall be holy; for I the LORD your God am holy 16 Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people; neither shalt thou stand idly by the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD. 17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart; thou shalt surely rebuke thy neighbour, and not bear sin because of him. 18 Thou shalt not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD. (The Hebrew word, reecha, translated as neighbor,  can also mean friend or peer.)
Above  sources have mostly been culled from an AJWS/YU source-sheet concurring genocide in Sudan.

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