Laws on stone, why not in heart and mind and lifestyle?

Image from www.toonpool.com

Image from www.toonpool.com

[First posted in 2015.  Jewry will soon be celebrating Passover and according to biblical history, what comes next?  Sinai.  Here are some thoughts about what happened there.—Admin1.]

 

—————-

Ponder this:  what did the original tablets given to Moses look like?

The Creator who made this perfect universe chooses to produce one more item made from already existing material;  the first time he did  this was when he formed “adamah” (representative humanity) from the dust of the earth.   This time He produces for Moses 2 stone tablets on which He metaphorically inscribes with His ‘handwriting’, (in Hebrew alphabet presumably),  the essence of divine standards for how adamah,  ‘humanity created in His image’ should live.  

 

The connection between the two is subtle but significant and should not be lost on clueless readers, so let us spell it out:

 

The Creator who now appears as Revelator intended the created being made from existing dust to live according to a set of guidelines, ‘laws’ if you will, that the Law-Giver Himself determines for the only creature made in His image.  

 

Free will and choice are intertwined in yet another test of acceptance . . . or non-acceptance,  imposed no longer upon two human genders (first man and woman) but this time upon two categories of people (the ‘chosen’ that will become Israel, and non-chosen non-Israelite) in the “mixed multitude” liberated from Egyptian bondage, now assembled on Sinai, waiting for “what next?”  

 

Let us not miss the message; the lesson (not the non-existent devil)  is in the details.

 

 

Now back to the original set of tablets given to Moses, ‘ready made’.   Moses had no participation in this first set.   Just think:  what would tablets made by YHWH Himself look like and would their appearance mean something?

 

 What are we getting at?

  • Would the material of the tablets reflect the place where virtually every human being starts—rough, raw, imperfect in his earthly ways?
  • Or would the material represent the TORAH-transformed life, when a person’s mind and heart is seared by the very commandments of his new Master so that he willingly applies these to his conduct?
  • Or, would the material reflect the longings of the human heart to be perfect, a material of supreme value that demonstrates the human ideal, the highest he could aspire for? 

Are we reading too much in this simple narrative?  Perhaps not, literary critics of the Hebrew Scriptures point to the remarkable characteristic of the language, the narrative style,  in effect — “so much meaning in so few words.”  It is for the reader/listener/receiver of the message to connect the dots.  

 

Image from ccmlbv.tumblr.com

Image from ccmlbv.tumblr.com

While googling free images of the Ten Commandments, there was as usual, quite a variety to choose from, reflecting the creative imagination of bible illustrators:  from rough looking rectangles with rough uneven shapes, to polished perfect tablets with the familiar rounded-top.

 

 Now remember that this is the 1st original divine-issued tablets, not the 2nd human-hewn available desert material Moses had to reproduce later after he had broken the first pair.  

 

Ponder these:

  •  Why is this discussion bothering to focus on the material of the two tablets instead of on the more important Message from the Creator/Revelator/Law-Giver Who identified Himself as YHWH?  Of course the message is more important but don’t overlook the peripherals, the unstated or understated message.
  • Just think:  has any other god (albeit non-existent in reality but existent in human idolater’s minds) from antiquity issued commandments that have survived to this day as the supreme guide for ideal conduct for all humankind?  Some ancient religious cultures do claim so but theirs have not reached universal acceptance and application.  In fact these TEN have been widely embraced and even enshrined in important government edifices (specially in court buildings) in democratic societies.

 

Unbelievers and skeptics today don’t even realize the source of democratic ideals they adhere to as they live moral and ethical lives.  

 

Perhaps the most interesting image that turned up in google is the biggest structure that landed in the Guinness World Records and which, ironically, is right in the home  city of our core group of Sinai 6000:
.

A boy looks at the world's largest tablet of the ten commandments on display in Baguio City, north of Manila

http://ph.news.yahoo.com/philippines-gets-worlds-largest-ten-commandments-143349108.html

TEXT:  A building-sized edifice carved with the Bible’s Ten Commandments was unveiled Wednesday in the Philippines, making it the largest tablet of its kind, according to Guinness World Records.
The tablet, a copy of the rules supposedly handed down by God to Moses on Mount Sinai, was inaugurated by city officials on a hill overlooking the northern resort city of Baguio. A local religious group, donated the imposing 152.90 square metre (1,650 square foot) tablet to the city as they were presented a certificate from Guinness World Records:
 “This beautiful and divine edifice will serve to drive away the evils of spirits that time and again emerge,” said Baguio Congressman Bernardo Vergara at the inauguration. “May it drive away evils of illegal drugs, gambling, prostitution.”
The religious leader who sponsored the project, Grace Galindez-Gupana, topped her previous world record, attained in 2009 when she built a similar 65-square-metre tablet on a hill outside Manila.

 

The blog that followed this article and image is typical of the controversy that arises from any discussion of the 10 Commandments.  Why is this so? The first reaction is usually about which version was used in the text, the Catholic version or the Protestant/Evangelical version?  Nobody bothers to ask about the original version in the Hebrew Scriptures;  isn’t that strange for a religion that claims its adherents are under grace and not law?  

 

The 4th commandment is legible from the photograph, as the Sabbath, so the designers, thankfully, followed the true listing.

 

Image from suzannepayingattention.blogspot.com

Image from suzannepayingattention.blogspot.com

For the local officials to presume that setting up this monument will eliminate the evils in the community without the local government itself acting is wishful thinking and selective; why not throw in corruption, bribery, cheating in elections, misuse of government funds, modern slavery, and not to forget—church-cover up of clerical pedophelia, etc.— to the obvious short list of social evils cited: ‘illegal drugs, gambling, prostitution.” 

 

 

 External reminders are useless when these laws are not internalized and reflected in the lives of the population.  Governing leaders, legislators and enforcers of the law have to do their part to eradicate evil and ills in any society starting with being models themselves of the Torah lifestyle, basically the 10 C’s. And more importantly—enforce the laws equally and make sure justice is served. 

 

Jeremiah 31:31 speaks of a “new covenant” which has been misunderstood and therefore misused and misapplied by Christianity to refer to the “new covenant” with them, the “new Israel” as explained all over their “new testament”.    When one carefully reads the details (yes, YHWH the LawGiver is in the details), one will see who are the two parties involved in this RENEWED covenant spoken of by Jeremiah.  

 

The parties are the same as in the first covenant on Sinai, on what became the feast of Shavuot (anniversary of the giving of the Torah and virtually the official status of Israel as a recognizable national entity in that ancient world):

 

  • YHWH the Law-Giver,
  • and Israel/the mixed multitude as the Law-Receiver.  

 

What is the original covenant about?

 

 YHWH’s  guidelines for living for His people, and that would include any individual outside of Israel who embraces Him, the God of Israel, as God and Lord (gentiles in the mixed multitude who become integrated with Israelites).

 

 

What is the renewed or “new” covenant about?

 

It is still about His TORAH.  

 

That covenant is reiterated in Jeremiah 31:31-34 but what is the difference if there is any?

 

 Instead of being written on tablets of stone, the Law will be written on minds and hearts.  

 

By whom?  

 

Remember Who placed His signature on tablets of stone?  That same One. His Signature is in every one of us.  That is why every individual born on this earth has a sense of YHWH’s standard of right and wrong,  without having heard of Torah, even when he is in another world religion with a different scripture worshipping a god with another name.  That sense of right and wrong is inborn, as restated by the Creator-Revelator-LawGiver through His mouthpiece Jeremiah.  

 

That is what Rabbis teach as one of two inclinations in humanity—

  • the inclination to do good as opposed to—
  • the inclination to do the opposite of good.  

 

Choice . . . because humanity was divinely endowed with free will which they never lost;  humans are not ‘helpless’ and ‘hopeless’ because of ‘original sin’;  humans are born in ‘neutral’ condition with the two inclinations; otherwise what is the precious gift of free will for if it cannot be exercised?  Further, what use is free will in a context where there is only one choice or none,  except the one enforced by the dogmatic terrorizing two-legged religious or secular powers that rule?

 

 

The wonder of the God of Israel (the God of the Nations as well) is that He values the gift of free will in humankind so much so,  that while He sets the standard of what is RIGHT,  yet  He allows that supreme standard to be ignored, if not violated wilfully but not without declared consequences.  Divine justice works in strange ways!  And yet again,  the All Powerful God  judges wisely and mercifully when the violation is out of ignorance of His Law:  ‘unintentional’ sin.  

 

 

Did you know that the purpose of “sacrifices” and “offerings” at the Sanctuary and later at the Temple were only for unintentional sin? Don’t take our word for it, review Exodus and Leviticus or read more carefully if this is your first time.

 
The ever gracious God of mercy and compassion even provided ‘cities of refuge’ for cases of homicide, unintentional taking of human life; such places provided for by the LawGiver Himself, where fugitives who accidentally killed could run to as sanctuaries of safety from avenging relatives or tribes. What a righteous and wise and merciful God is our Lord YHWH, indeed! 

 

What about intentional wilful sin?  

 

There is no sacrifice for intentional sin.  The requirement for wilful sin, outright disobedience is not substitution of a sacrifice, whether animal or human, substitution for what a sinner himself should be doing for himself!  

 

 

And what is that?  REPENT!

 

 

Recognize wrongdoing, ask forgiveness,  change heart and mind, and turn 180 degrees from the direction you have always or momentarily taken.

 

 Something or somebody else dying for you does not get you off the hook because IT DOES NOT CHANGE YOU!   Only you can make that crucial decision to turn your life around because you can,  because you are not helpless to inherited sin and therefore hopeless and dependent on a ‘savior’. 

 

But back to the reiteration of the Sinai Covenant by the prophet Jeremiah —review the text.  We provide here the ArtScroll Tanach rendering (we add the Tetragrammaton Name after HASHEM):

 

 

[AST]  Jeremiah/Yirmeyahu 31:31-34 
30  Behold, days are coming– the word of HASHEM {YHWH}–when I will seal a new covenant with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah:
31  not like the covenant that I sealed with their forefathers on the day that I took hold of their hand to take them out of the land of Egypt, for they abrogated My covenant, although I became their Master —the word of HASHEM {YHWH].  
32  For this is the covenant that I shall seal with the House of Israel after those days —the word of HASHEM {YHWH}—I will place My Torah within them and I will write it onto their heart; I will be a God for them and they will be a people for Me.
33  They will no longer teach —each man his fellow, each man his brother — saying, ‘know HASHEM {YHWH}!  For all of them will know Me, from their smallest to their greatest—the word of HASHEM {YHWH}—when I will forgive their iniquity and will no longer recall their sin.  
34  Thus said HASHEM {YHWH},  Who gives the sun as a light by day and the laws of the moon and the starts as light by night; Who agitates the sea so that its waves roar;  HASHEM {YHWH}, Master of Legions, is His Name:  
35  If these laws could be removed from before Me–the word of HASHEM {YHWH}–so could the seed of Israel cease from being a people before Me forever.

One final point:  

Was it only in Jeremiah’s time that the the Law-Giver
intended His Torah to be etched in human hearts and minds?  

[EF] Deuteronomy / Davarim11: 18
18  You are  to place these my words
upon your heart
and upon your being;
you are to tie them as a sign on your hand,
let them be as bands between your eyes;
19 you are to teach them to your children,
by speaking of them in your sitting in your house,
in your walking on the way,
in your lying-down, in your rising-up.  
20  You are to write them upon the doorposts of your house,
and on your gates,
in order that your days may be many,
along with the days of your children
on the soil that YHWH swore to your fathers,
to give them  (as long) as the days of the heavens over the earth.  
22 Indeed, if you will keep,
yes, keep all this commandment that I command you to observe,
to love YHWH your God, to walk in his ways and to cling to him,
23 YHWH will dispossess all these nations from before you,
and you will dispossess nations greater and mightier (in number)
than you.
Blessed be the God of Israel,  
the God of all nations,
the God we,  Sinaites,  acknowledge,
love and embrace 
as the One True God.  
Blessed be His holy Name,
YHWH,
 the Name we proudly proclaim
in all reverence and awe!
Amen.

 

Sig-4_16colors
logo

Reader Comments


Join the Conversation...

61 − = 56