So totally against the flow of things I’d like to take a look at one of the more intricate and subtle differences found in the Bible, rather than theorising over its nature and the usual over-indulent postmodernist musing (not that it’s actually that bad, anyway…).
A friend asked me tonight why there were differences between the 2 times the 10 commandments are stated (Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5). There seem to me to only be two differences. Both are fascinating.
Deuteronomy contains some extra text that Exodus (the earlier of the two) does not. It says:
“Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day.”
It’s only been, what, a few months – or years – and the Israelites already need to be reminded that working for 7 days on the trot is shit! You’d think they wouldn’t ever want to work that hard again wouldn’t you! But we are workaholics, often defined by what we do rather than who we are. You were a slave, but now you are saved by God from that slavery!
An easy lesson to forget, especially in our day and age.
The other noticeable difference is in the final commandment. It’s simply a swapping of the order – in the first, ‘house’ comes before ‘wife’. In the second (Deuteronomy) the order has reversed. I suppose this could be mere coincidence. But it does make me think – perhaps it is a priorities thing? On the road for so long, with no permanent home yet within their grasp; the Israelites needed to be reminded more not to seek after what they could not have rather than that which they are alien towards.
I wonder if we get our priorities right when we think about temptations. Do we deal with the immediate? Do we rethink our priorities when we are confronted with a change in life, circumstance or desires? Or do we tend to stick to what we know of ourselves? I suppose it’s a good idea to keep check on what we (think we) know causes us to slip up.
Little, subtle things. But a fun thing to look into! And a nice short blog post for those of you with a short attention span! If you’re interested in the comparisons I found this page useful: http://catholic-resources.org/Bible/Decalogue.htm