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Exodus - Week 5

May 6, 2020: Chapters 16-20

Image Credit: Rembrandt - Moses Breaking the Tablets of the Law - 1659


Read and Discuss Chapter 20:1-26.

  1. How many commandments are there?
  2. Some things lose meaning when we become too familiar with them. Which commandments strike you as unusual, if any?
  3. Are the commandments monotheistic? Or monolatrous? And does it matter?
  4. Suzerainty and External influences (and differences) in the. Ten Commandments


Other Things to Discuss, time permitting.

  • Woody Allen quote that he would believe in God, "if only God would give me a clear sign, like making a large deposit in my name in a Swiss bank." Do miracles lead to faith?
  • Manna, meat, toilet paper, and God's economics.
  • Liberty vs. security (then and now)
  • Masah and Meribah (test and quarrel) and etiology.
  • Battle with Amalek, Jethro, and leadership.
  • Sunday Best: Preparation for encountering God (chapter 19)
  • NRSV Study Bible footnote on 19:21-22: "The absence of a temple to contain and to regulate the holiness of God creates a dangerous situation." Chapter 20: How many commandments are there? Count them carefully (look at verbs) This is not as obvious as it seems.

Questions to consider for Week 6 (chapters 21-25)

  1. Chapter 21 begins with laws concerning slaves. Do the laws imply an encouragement of slavery or a regulation of existing practices? Does "slavery" in ancient Israel mean the same thing as slavery in early America? Consider closely verse 16.
  2. In chapter 22, verses 8 and 9 both refer to bringing an offender "before God." Check your bible for footnotes here. What is meant by "god" in this case? Might this be a clue to foreign influence in the law of Moses? Cultic practice?
  3. Sorcery is prohibited by death in 22:18. Why do you think this was so important? Extra research: Where does our word "sorcerer" come from, and is it the same as the Hebrew word keshaph which is often translated as sorcerer?
  4. The first section of Chapter 23 lays out ethical (and legal!) principles for court cases. Are these observed in modern legal and ethical practices? Notice the reference to "majority" or democracy in verse 2.
  5. Overall, does the law of Moses seem more concerned with inner thought or outward behavior?
  6. Google Search: Lex Talionis. Is there value to the principle of "eye for eye and tooth for tooth?" How does this contrast with later Christian teaching? How does it contrast with popular sentiment about justice today?
  7. Chapter 24 concludes the contract between God and people with a lot of blood. What's the significance of blood in the ancient world? Today? Contrast with our own rituals and ceremonies that involve making a contract or pact between individuals, communities, or religions. Do we have anything similar?
  8. Chapter 25 goes into great detail about the composition and crafting of religious implements. Why the specificity? And what does this chapter imply about the importance of artistry and craftsmanship?