Parashah 317 Yitro Sh’mot (Exodus 18:1-20-23)

Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #17: Yitro Sh’mot (Exodus) 18:1-20:23
Haftarah: Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 6:1-13
B’rit Chadashah: 1 Corinthians 10:14-23

Today we are going to explore some of the more complex of the 10 Utterances, commonly called the 10 Commandments. There is so much confusion, mistranslation, and reinterpretation of these significant instructions of the G-d of Israel that it is imperative to get to the crux of how we are to relate to G-d and man, that things will go well with us (Ex.19:5-6;20:17).

First, we must acknowledge that the Commandments have been changed from the originals to “other” commands in Protestantism and Catholicism. In the Hebrew, the first command is a statement. Protestants abridge some of the commands and Catholics expunged the second, dividing the tenth into two commands to allow for ten.

The first command in Judaism reads” I am Adonai your G-d, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the abode of slavery.”
This first command 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.

There is great debate over this “First Commandment/Saying” because it is a statement. This commandment sets the stage for whether we will accept the others as “valid” or “reputable” warranting our obedience. Belief that G-d is who he says he is cannot be commanded since we have free will. This first command establishes the authority of the One who gave the other commands as the One G-d, the True G-d in a pantheon of gods in the ancient world. Therefore the Hebrews, and all future true believers would know from whom these commands were given.

The 10 commands fall naturally into two divisions. The first four legislate behavior between God and man, and the remaining six between man and man in society. The first commandment with which most people are familiar is the second command which is “ Thou shalt have no other gods before me…” Deuteronomy 6:5,6 tells us, “ And thou shalt love the L-rd they G-d with all thine heart, and with all thine soul, and with all thy might, and these words which I command you this day shall be in thine heart.”

Yahshua was asked to address this question:
Mark 12:28-30 “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? And Yahshua answered him, ‘The first of all the commandments is Hear, O Israel; the L-rd our G-d is one L-rd: And thou shalt love the L-rd they G-d with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. “

In Matthew 4:10 we read “Then saith Yahshua unto him, Get thee hence Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the L-rd thy G-d, and in him only shalt thou serve.”

Just from these few verses, we can learn much about the First Commandment. First, in Hebrew the word translated as heart is lev , which in most cases means “mind.” Our love for 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 has the priority before all else, human or otherwise. We must also differentiate between the soul and the spirit. The soul is the seat of our emotional being while the mind is the seat of our spiritual being. The mind is the grand communicator by which we communicate with G-d, while the soul contains that emotional element that creates the 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. Therefore, it is imperative that we return to the original 10 Commands of G-d for His people and decide whether the G-d who brought the Israelites out of Egypt is our G-d too. Although many mistake the Israelites and the G-d of Israel as a separate G-d from Yahshua (G-d incarnate), the Israelites were chosen to set the example for the world of how to relate to G-d and man; not because they were more righteous, but because they would be used by G-d throughout history for His glory, to make His Name known throughout the nations. If we want to be a part of G-d’s chosen people, then we must not only acknowledge the First Command, but incorporate it into our being. Otherwise, the remaining nine are of no import.

Two of the other commands that are mistranslated in English are the Third and Sixth Commands. The third command read in the Hebrew as follows “Lo Tissa et chem HaShem Elheikha la-shav. It is usually translated “You shall not take the L-rd your G-d’s name in vain.” In Hebrew lo tissa which means “You shall not carry.” This means we are not to use G-d’s name for selfish causes. Using G-d’s Name in the commission of an evil act discredits himself and G-d. This command is violated in ways we may not consider, such as professing to be a believer and committing a sinful act, ruining our testimony as a separate and holy people. We need to consider the commands carefully and examine our level of alignment, making the necessary corrections.
The Sixth Command consists of only two words in Hebrew; Lo tirtzakh. Most English translations render this as “You shall not kill.” However, this command should read “You shall not murder.” The Bible distinguishes killing from murder that is not permitted. G-d allows and commands killing for many reasons such as to maintain order in society and rid it of evil. Furthermore, slander is also considered as murder of one’s character by another. This is not a difficult concept to understand. If someone spreads gossip “lashon hara” which translates as “evil tongue,” the damage whether true or not cannot be undone. Gossip kills or murders three people; the one who talks, the one who listens, and the target of the gossip. Therefore, it is just as important not to remain in the presence of one who gossips as it is not to engage in this behavior in the first place.

The Commandments are easy to memorize, purposely spoken by G-d and written as they were in order that all the people could easily learn and practice them. More importantly, G-d’s commands, the 10 Words establish societal parameters for all time. These were not “Just for the Jews” or “Just for Testament times. We are witnessing as did the societies of old, what happens when these commands are removed and replaced with new rules for society or no rules at all. When adherence to these commands is taken out of society, chaos, lawlessness, and sin increase and dominate. Thirty-three centuries after the 10 Commands were given, they remain the most complete and simple guide for a successful society. There has never been a better time to consider the truth of the aphorism that when all else fails, read the instructions.

For those Christians or others who believe Yahshua did not teach, exemplify, and adhere to the Commands of G-d (Himself), the following B’rit Chadashah (“New Testament”) references are provided as a few examples:

Command 2: Mark 12;28-30; Matthew 4:10; 1 John 5:21; Acts 17:29; Rev. 9:20
Command 3: 1 Tim. 6:1
Command 4: Luke 23:56; Acts 13:14; Acts 13:42; Acts 13;44
Command 5: Matthew 19:19
Command 6: Matthew 19:18
Command 7: Matthew 19:18
Command 8: Matthew 19:18
Command 9: Matthew 19:18
Command 10: Matthew 19:19; Rom. 7:7; Rom. 13:9

Note that in Matthew 19, Yahshua was talking to a young man who was inquiring about how to obtain eternal life. The requirements have not changed and never will because G-d has not changed and never will. Yahshua is G-d and cannot lie or teach against his own commands.

Haftarah: Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 7:21-8:3
This is one of the first haftarot that doesn’t end with a happy note. Jeremiah is told by G-d not to pray, cry or intercede on the behalf of Israel for the sins it has committed. As we have read so many times in our Torah studies, G-d is a G-d of detail. He reminds the people that He had not given the orders concerning the offerings while bringing them out of Egypt. He orders them to pay attention to what he said and to live according to the way He ordered. Here we can clearly see that nothing has been abrogated. G-d expected obedience in these verses, and Yahshua, who came to do His Father’s will, confirmed it throughout the B’rit Chadashah (New Testament). If you read these verses you will see not G-d’s mercy, but His justice is manifest contrary to what a lot of Christian clergy teach.
G-d does not change; Yahshua as part of the compound unity of the G-dhead cannot become a separate entity inconsistent with the whole integrity of G-d. That would be like trying to extract the snow from a snow globe without changing its integrity. G-d tells Jeremiah ahead of time that the people will not heed his words, so Jeremiah need not be surprised.
This haftarah ends with G-d admonishing, “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom, nor the strong man boast of his strength, nor the rich man boast of his riches. But let him that boasts exult in this, that he knows and understands me, for I am G-d who practices kindness, justice and righteousness on the earth, for in these things I delight, says G-d. Note that G-d does not say ‘ I am all love, kindness, and grace.” Any doubt about whether or not He will execute His righteous judgment in the near future? Look around you and compare what you see to prophecy throughout the Bible. Compare what has happened to what is happening now. Prepare!
B’rit Chadashah: 1 Corinthians 10:14-23
Paul begins this section that follows that which we covered last week. Verse 13 reminds us that no temptation will be allowed beyond what we are able to bear, and that G-d will always provide relief. Immediately following this verse Sha’ul follows with “therefore, my dear friends, run from idolatry.” We are not to meander, stroll by, or participate in an idolatrous atmosphere thinking we are strong enough to resist if we remain in that atmosphere. HaSatan is going to tempt you at your weakest point, whether it is a family member, the opposite sex, jewelry, food, money, cars, sleep, or anything else that takes priority over serving G-d as He commands. We just read the haftarah that describes G-d’s punishment for Israel’s rebellion. How dare we think we are above such retribution for our own rebellion! We are not to associate with those who are anti-Torah. We are not to partake in activities that leave room for misinterpretation. Paul uses food offered to idols. Although we know that there is no significance to this, we are not to take part. This is what Paul is talking about. We cannot walk in two religions; continue to associate ourselves with our old belief systems and expect to be lifted and separated like a living bra! We have to make a choice and guard our hearts and minds at all times. The Ruach (Holy Spirit) will guide us in all things if we remain in Torah, learn His ways, and follow them. Remember, the King’s Highway is narrow and few will find it (Matt. 7:13-14).
Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart