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Chapter 20

Exodus 20 Commentary

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Exodus 20:1-2 meaning

The prologue to the giving of the ten “words” identifies the Sovereign and His qualifications for establishing the rules in the covenant. It serves as the basis for what follows.

Exodus 20:3 meaning

The 1st commandment prohibits the worship of all other gods.

Exodus 20:4-6 meaning

The 2nd commandment bans the manufacture of idols or objects that represent nature to worship. The LORD will judge those who reject Him but reward those who love and obey Him.

Exodus 20:7 meaning

In the 3rd commandment, the LORD prohibits the association of God’s holy name to something that is common. He promises that the offender would be punished.

Exodus 20:8-11 meaning

The 4th commandment is to keep the sabbath day holy. Keeping the sabbath was introduced earlier in the book of Exodus (16:23 – 29) and is established here. It is the only commandment that was given to the Israelites before it was established in the Ten Commandments. It is also mentioned more in the Mosaic Law than any other commandment.

Exodus 20:12 meaning

The 5th commandment speaks of respecting one’s parents.

Exodus 20:13 meaning

The 6th commandment prohibits a person from the immoral taking of another person’s life.

Exodus 20:14 meaning

The 7th commandment prohibits sexual intercourse between a married person and another person, married or unmarried.

Exodus 20:15 meaning

The 8th commandment protects the private property of each person.

Exodus 20:16 meaning

The 9th commandment is to protect a person from harm based on untrue accusations.

Exodus 20:17 meaning

The 10th commandment is to not yearn or lust for that which belonged to others.

Exodus 20:18-21 meaning

The LORD manifested Himself in thunder, lightning, and smoke. The Israelites looked on in great dread, so much so that they asked Moses to speak to them instead of having the LORD speak to them. Moses replied that the LORD's presence was a test to see if they would obey Him and not sin.

Exodus 20:22-26 meaning

Many scholars think that vv. 22 – 26 comprise the first part of a larger section called "the Book of the Covenant" (Exodus 24:7), which starts here and extends through Exodus 23:33. It contains forty-two judgments (Exodus 21:1 – 23:12) and ends just like it begins – a prohibition against idolatry (Exodus 23:13).