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This Study Series is being released according to the Torah Reading Schedule.

This week- Section 15
Name- בא Bo (Go) (Enter)
Parashah/Parsha- Sh’mot 10.1-13.16
Torah Portion: Exodus 10.1-13.16

Unless otherwise specified, all quotes are from the JPS edition of The Torah, The Five Books of Moses, A New Translation of The Holy Scriptures, according to the Masoretic Text, First Section. Copyright 1967 by the Jewish Publication Society of America, Second Edition.

This week I want to discuss Deuteronomy 5.12-15 and Exodus 20.8-11.

Deuteronomy 5.12-15 JPS
12Observe the sabbath day and keep it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you. 13Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God: you shall not do any work -you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your ox or your ass, or any of your cattle, or the stranger in your settlements, so that your male and female slave may rest as you do. 15Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt and the LORD your God freed you from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the sabbath day.

Exodus 20.8-11 JPS
8Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy. 9Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God: you shall not do any work -you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, or your cattle, or the stranger who is within your settlements. 11For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth and sea, and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.

– – – – –

As I discussed in Essay 10, the Deuteronomy narrative of the Ten is from Moses’ perspective. In previous Essays, I have given substantial reasons explaining why. For this Essay, I am not going to restate or summarize any of those reasons. Instead, I assume my reader to have read those Essays.

In the previous Essay, I addressed the third of the Ten.

In this Essay, I want to discuss the fourth of the Ten.

 
As I have stated previously, the Deuteronomy account of the Ten is from Moses’ perspective. Moses, himself, is speaking the Ten, by quoting and referencing the Ten, when the Ten were given from Jehovah to Israel at Mount Horeb (Sinai).

While it seems evident that in Deuteronomy Moses is referencing and/or quoting the Ten, Moses is also providing additional commentary upon the Ten. Moses does not provide commentary on each of the Ten, but Moses does provide some commentary as he (Moses) is presenting the information to Israel.

However, as I mentioned in the previous Essay, it seems possible that the Deuteronomy Redactor incorporated other redacted commentary within the Deuteronomy narrative. I will explain as I present this Essay.

Here is a comparison between Deuteronomy 5.12-15 JPS and Exodus 20.8-11 JPS:

12a- Observe the sabbath day and keep it holy,
8a- Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy.

12b- as the LORD your God has commanded you.
8b- [there is no Exodus 20.8b, only a Deuteronomy 5.12b, but this note is to show alignment]

 
13- Six days you shall labor and do all your work,
9- Six days you shall labor and do all your work,

 
14a- but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God:
10a- but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God:

14b- you shall not do any work
10b- you shall not do any work

14c- -you,
10c- -you,

14d- your son or your daughter,
10d- your son or daughter,

14e- your male or female slave,
10e – your male or female slave,

14f- your ox or your ass,
10f – [for me, technically, i see Exodus 20.10f as being found in the next group, but this note is made to show the difference between the two passages and therefore I show alignment to phrasing]

14g- or any of your cattle,
10g- or your cattle,

14h- or the stranger in your settlements,
10h- or the stranger who is within your settlements.

14i- so that your male and female slave may rest as you do.
10i- [this note is made to show the difference between the two passages and therefore I show alignment to phrasing, which means that Exodus does not contain this phrasing.]

 
At this verse, Deuteronomy 5 takes a major deviation from Exodus 20, where Deuteronomy 5.15 and Exodus 20.11 do not even communicate the same concept.

Deuteronomy 5.15 JPS:
Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt and the LORD your God freed you from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the sabbath day.

Exodus 20.11 JPS:
For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth and sea, and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.

While both Deuteronomy 5.15 and Exodus 20.11 contain a conclusion beginning with the word “therefore”, the reason for that conclusion varies, which means it is crucial to see the reason for the “therefore” is completely different between the two verses (passages).

In essence, Deuteronomy 5.15 is offering to Israel a reason as to why slaves are to observe the sabbath. This reason is completely absent in the Exodus passage.

Importantly, Exodus 20.11 presents the concept of creation, making the creation narrative a reason to observe the sabbath. This reason is completely absent in the Deuteronomy passage.

 
Those differences pose a problem in the literature and create questions:
    – So which passage or verse is correct?
    – Do we have a contradiction in these passages or verses?
    – Did Jehovah say both?
    – Did Jehovah say neither?
    – What exactly is going on?

I will offer my answers, my answer is two-fold.

But first, both Deuteronomy 5.12-15 and Exodus 20.8-11 are correct, which means that I do not believe there is any contradiction, of which I will explain.

Additionally, I do not believe that Jehovah stated all of the contents of Deuteronomy 5.12-15 and Exodus 20.8-11. I will explain.

That means that I believe Jehovah is part of the passages and/or verses but only to a specific amount, of which I will explain.

All of those answers will be provided as I answer the question: what exactly is going on?

My answer to that question is two-fold.

One, as I have written, the contents of Deuteronomy are presented from the Deuteronomy Redactor’s point-of-view as the Deuteronomy Redactor presents the words (the sayings, the speeches, the sermons) that Moses presented to Israel, which as I have been showing are directly from Moses’ perspective, his own person, and that has been substantiated in many varied Essays which I have presented previously, so please refer to those Essays.

Two, this was hinted at in the previous Essay, but in essence there are two different redactor voices that are heard. One voice is in Exodus. The other voice is in Deuteronomy. Importantly, each redactor is presenting the Ten, but neither redactor is making a note about why they added to the information that Jehovah presented at the Mount.

That means, as I read through Deuteronomy, phrases like “as the LORD your God has commanded you” give literary clues as to what is going on.

Therefore as the Deuteronomy Redactor presents Moses in Deuteronomy 5.12 JPS, “Observe the sabbath day and keep it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you.” there are two important things that the Deuteronomy Redactor presents, which are from Moses’ perspective.

One, when we read the phrase “Observe the sabbath day and keep it holy” Moses is quoting Jehovah.

Two, it can be known that in One Moses’ is quoting Jehovah because of the phrase that Moses adds “as the LORD your God has commanded you.”

Therefore, with “as the LORD your God has commanded you.” Moses is making it clear that Jehovah stated “Observe the sabbath day and keep it holy”.

Therefore, in Deuteronomy everything that follows the phrase “as the LORD your God has commanded you” is Moses providing his commentary as to why Israel is to keep the sabbath.

What is evidenced in Deuteronomy 5.13-14 is that Moses incorporates part of what is found in Exodus 20.9-10, but then in Deuteronomy 5.15 Moses adds his personal commentary as to why Israel should observe the sabbath, which is completely different from Exodus 20.11.

So why the difference?

I offer that Exodus 20.8 and Deuteronomy 5.12a represent the extent to what Jehovah stated, to where Jehovah stated only to Israel: Observe the sabbath day and keep it holy.

That means that I do not interpret Jehovah as providing any explanation for observation, which means that I interpret Jehovah as making a declarative statement to Israel (Observe the sabbath day and keep it holy) expecting Israel to simply do the statement because Jehovah did not feel or think there was a need to explain the command to observe the sabbath day and keep it holy.

That means that I interpret Deuteronomy 5.12b-15 and Exodus 20.9-11 as information not original to Jehovah’s statement of the fourth of the Ten.

That will bother some, especially those who presume that Jehovah stated all of the information associated with the fourth of the Ten.

But, as I have presented about Deuteronomy 5.12-15, the manner of expression literarily shows that Moses is doing the talking, not Jehovah.

Therefore, since Deuteronomy 5.12b-15 differs literarily from Exodus 20.9-11, there has to be an explanation.

My explanation is that Exodus and Deuteronomy have different redactors.

Which was first? For me, that question doesn’t affect the final form of Exodus or the final form of Deuteronomy, both of which is what we have.

Yet, there are simply two different voices.

A voice is the Deuteronomy Redactor who presents the fourth of the Ten as coming from Moses about Jehovah’s commandment to observe the sabbath day and keep it holy.

Another voice is the Exodus Redactor, who combines two things within the fourth of the Ten.

The first thing is the commandment from Jehovah “Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy”.

But then the Exodus Redactor offers an explanation, an explanation for the purpose of the fourth of the Ten, which is an explanation that is not from Jehovah.

Why? Because when Jehovah speaks, Jehovah speaks from the first person perspective not the third person perspective which is what happens in Exodus 20.9-10a “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God”.

Importantly, the third person perspective is found again in Exodus 20.11 “For in six days the LORD… therefore the LORD…”.

From that then we can see that the Exodus Redactor shifts voices from first person (Jehovah’s command to observe the sabbath and keep it holy) to third person (the reason for doing the fourth of the Ten as presented by the Exodus Redactor Exodus 20.9-11).

But according to our modern accountability of keeping track of the voice changes, the Exodus Redactor fails us as modern readers and students. Yet and importantly the Exodus Redactor did not fail their own literary truth, because at that time in history the nature of literary recording did not require a notification of when the voice changed from first to third person.

Yet, importantly for us as students, that change from first person to third person is found within Deuteronomy, as the Deuteronomy Redactor has Moses present the fourth of the Ten.

Between those two passages then, I derive that there is Jehovah making the command (observe the sabbath and keep it holy) and I derive that there is another voice within Exodus which is different from the voice within Deuteronomy, yet both give their own reasons for observing the sabbath and keeping it holy.

The Exodus Redactor offers a reason.
The Deuteronomy Redactor through Moses offers a reason.

Jehovah made a simple statement: observe the sabbath and keep it holy.

Nothing more. Nothing less.

The Redactor’s in the Torah, the voices within the narrative, offered their take on the meaning of the fourth of the Ten.

The Exodus Redactor presents that the six days of creation and its subsequent rest are important and all should rest, even the animals and servants.

The Deuteronomy Redactor presents through Moses that the sabbath is necessary because Israel was not able to rest when they were slaves in Egypt, therefore everything should rest, including the animals and servants, because Israel, who was once a servant has found rest and should give out that rest to all within its borders.

Which is it? Either or? Both? Neither?

I go with both, and neither, and yet Israel can find other reasons to observe and keep the sabbath. Why? Jehovah provided no reasons, but a command to do. Therefore each Israelite can find their own reason(s) for observing and keeping the sabbath.

As speculation, I offer that it is possible that both the Exodus Redactor and the Deuteronomy Redactor assembled their materials sometime after the event in the book of Numbers and the violation of observing the sabbath.

I offer that the event (Numbers 15.32-36) was such a dramatic and traumatic moment to and for Israel that the Exodus Redactor and, what appears to be, even Moses himself offered reasons why it was crucial to observe the sabbath. Certainly presented from differing perspectives, but reasons for observing the sabbath when the event in Numbers revealed that the sabbath had not been kept holy.

For Israel and those who live within Israel’s borders, they are to observe and keep the sabbath, and they have, at least, two reasons for observing sabbath and keeping it holy.

But, observing the sabbath and keeping it holy was never specifically given to the nations (Gentiles) outside of the borders of Israel.

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