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Elaborate on the 1st Commandment.


Dear Jack,

One might wonder how such a simple request elicits such a long response. First, the Ten Commandments are different in Judaism, Protestantism, and Catholicism. So already, I have a problem, and that is upon which of the First Commandments do I elaborate.

Judaism’s first commandment is actually a statement, which follows. Protestants abridge some of the commandments and Catholics expunge the second dividing the tenth into two commandments to allow for ten.

The first commandment in Judaism is:

I am the L-rd your G-d who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage.

The second part of this verse is included in the second commandment, which becomes the first in Christianity.

This is interesting for the “First Commandment” seems to be a statement and that is why in Hebrew the “Ten Commandments” are called Aseret ha-Dibrot, the Ten Statements (Sayings) and not the Aseret ha-Mitzvot, Ten Commandments.

I will address the first from a Jewish perspective. There has been a great deal of squabbling over the “First Commandment” or “Saying” by Jewish scholars since there were scholars to squabble. Some determined that the statement commands belief in G-d, but others ask how can you command belief. Now to cut to the chase and this is a personal belief; it simply is a statement identifying the one true G-d in a pantheon of gods in the ancient world. Therefore, the Hebrews would know from whence these words, sayings, commandments came.

I might add while I am at it that two of the commandments or commonly mistranslated in English, and as such have caused all kinds of confusion. The Sixth Commandment which in Hebrew consists of only two words: Lo tirtzakh, is the one most often mistranslated. Most English translations render it, as “You shall not kill.” Opponents of capital punishment often recite this commandment in their opposition to capital punishment. Unfortunately, for them, the commandment should read, “You shall not murder.” The bible distinguishes killing from murder that is nonpermitted killing. G-d allows and commands killing for many reasons such as to maintain order and rid society of evil. The third commandment also has been mistranslated. In Hebrew it reads: Lo tissa et shem HaShem Elheikha la-shav. It is usually translated “You shall not take the Lord your G-d’s name in vain. In Hebrew Lo tissa means “you shall not carry. Most people think from the way its translated, “to not take G-d’s name in vain,” means not to cuss. Employing the correct translation, this commandment means much more for we are not to use G-d’s name as justification in selfish causes. Why? When a person commits an evil act, he discredits himself, but if he commits an evil act in the name of G-d, he or she discredits G-d. I think of the belt buckles that the Nazi wore during World War II. Embossed upon them was “Gott mit uns,” (G-d with us). How much more could you carry G-d’s name into discredit than that, killing millions of innocent people in the name of G-d.

Now, for an elaboration of the First Commandment.

The 10 commandments fall naturally into two divisions. The first four legislating

behavior between G-d and ourselves, and the second six between society and ourselves.

The first commandment most people are familiar with is this: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

Deuteronomy 6:5,6 tells us, “And thou shalt love the L-d thy G-d with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might, and these words which I command thee this day shall be in thine heart.”

Yahshua was asked to address this question:

Mark 12:28 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?
Mark 12:29 And Yahshua answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:

Mark 12:30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

And in:

Mat 4:10 Then saith Yahshua unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

From just this little information is derived much about the First Commandment. First, in Hebrew the word-translated heart is lev, which in most case means, “mind.” Our love of G-d is to transcend the soulish, emotional behavior mentioned later, and we are to love G-d with all that is within our consciousness, our mind. In other words, He is the overriding occupier of our thought processes that is to rule our lives. He has the priority before others, be they wife, children or “things.” We must also different between soul and spirit. For the soul is the seat of our emotional being while the mind is the seat of our spiritual being (See my study on the “The seat of the Spirit”). The mind is the grand communicator by which we can communicate with G-d, while the soul contains that emotional element, which creates desire for that significant other, thing or circumstance. However, emotions are fickle and easily counterfeited by HaSatan in order to lead us away from G-d. Our desires might change and may become something unhealthy and sinful. That is why in rank of importance the soul is listed in Deuteronomy and Mark after the mind (heart). In Deuteronomy we are told to love G-d with all our mind (heart) and then with all our soul for the mind when wholly G-d centered will not be subject to emotional whims leading us unto false loves. The term “might” used in Deutronomy has mostly been translated by the sages as meaning with all your resources. G-d has given us whatever we posses; our talents, skills, or abilities by which we earn our livelihood and obtain material possessions. Therefore, we are to make all our resources (might) available to Him in the process of bringing in the Kingdom. Yahshua our Messiah, Who according to the sages would interpret Torah for us, added “strength” to the list in Mark 12:30 above. This word in Greek means with all forcefulness or all that is within our power. We are not to be ambiguous or luke warm in our affection for G-d, but ardent, even all consuming in our love. This verse does not negate the giving of our material resources, but additionally commands that we are to Love G-d with all that we are in a forceful and powerful manner not allowing anything to come between G-d and ourselves. This means separating yourselves from any thing that would hinder your relationship with HaShem (G-d). We are to be set-apart unto Him only.

The end of all this is that anything that we put before G-d in our love, thought or activity even self is a violation of this commandment.

I pray I answered your request to your satisfaction.

Baruch HaShem, Rabbi Davis