It took a year to read the Bible, then almost 9 months to read the Apocrypha. Now, I'm going to try to offer reflections on the Narrative Lectionary. But, I won't be posting daily--at least, for a while.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Thou Shalt Not, a Reflection on Exodus 20:12-17

Imagine being in that group of people that first heard these commandments. In Egypt, everybody knew what they were supposed to do and not do because the pharaoh and his minions were in charge. Now these former slaves were free of Egypt and were on their way to the land promised to them by the Lord.   

God provides them with a guide to forming a new nation, one in which they can prosper, one in which they care for the other, one in which they recognize that those two things are interdependent.

Verses 12-17 deal specifically with interpersonal behavior, within the family and within the community. Your neighbors are your partners not sources to be exploited.

Here's a repeat of the posting from October 2, 2008, which quotes from Preaching the Old Testament, by Allen & Williamson:

Eight of the ten words begin: "you shall not." People often speak of negative commandments as off-putting "do nots" that constrict life....But that misconstrues the negative instructions in the Torah. First, we can keep all of them while taking a nap. ...Second, negative mitzvoth deal with the parameters of behavior. They do not specify what we should do, simply what we should not do. They name the actions that cancel all possibility of living with others a life of well-being (which can only be lived with others.)

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