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

This week- Section 16
Name- בשׁלח B’Shallach (After He Had Let Go)
Parashah/Parsha- Sh’mot 13.17-17.16
Torah Portion: Exodus 13.17-17.16

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 5.16 and Exodus 20.12.

Deuteronomy 5.16 JPS
16Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may long endure, and that you may fare well, in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

Exodus 20.12 JPS
12Honor your father and your mother, that you may long endure on the land which the LORD your God is giving you.

– – – – –

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 fourth of the Ten.

In this Essay, I want to discuss the fifth of the Ten, but before I give my discussion on the fifth of the Ten, I want to add an addendum to the fourth of the Ten, which could cause quite the stir.

In Deuteronomy, the fourth of the Ten, includes: Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God.

There are two things I want to discussion regarding that statement.

One, as much as this will set uneasy for many, the phrase “six days… but the seventh” does not actually identify when to begin enumerating.

Therefore the statement is rather simple and not specific, making a simple statement: work six, rest the seventh; and provided no means of accounting for when to be counting. That sets odd with many, because for many Saturday has become equivalent to sabbath.

But the passage is quite absent in its details.

As such, one could begin working on a Tuesday, work Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and take Monday as a sabbath.

My speculation is that Jehovah made the statement simple and non-specific in order to allow the Israelites to determine upon which day they would take their weekly sabbath, which is not to be confused with high sabbaths which occur around Torah specified feasts days (e.g. Feast of Unleavened Bread and Passover).

However, communities of people like a social structure and generally insist that others follow that structure. That is my speculation for the rise of the enforced weekly sabbath occurring on a specific seventh day, that way the entire community had a specific count and everyone could follow that count.

That, however, is not to say that the communal decision was proper, just that it occurred, and has given rise to the occasion for many to follow the Gregorian calendar’s markings of the “week” where Sunday through Friday is the six days and the seventh, sabbath, is Saturday.

Is that required? No.

Is that expected? Yes, because it is the assumption and the insisting social construct.

But the reality seems to be that the fourth of the Ten provides latitude for personal discretion and personal judgment about when to begin the six and when to rest.

Two, the second thing I want to discuss is the phrase: a sabbath of the LORD your God.

The difficulty of that phrase is how does the “of” work?

Does the “of” show that God is in possession of the sabbath and thus the Israelite is provided an edict?

Or, does the “of” show that God is the source of the sabbath and thus the Israelite is provided with a blessing?

When one interprets the “of” as an edict, the fourth becomes a moment of burden.

When one interprets the “of” as a blessing, the fourth becomes a moment of benefit.

So why is the fourth even given?

My speculation is that it revolves around the social events that Israel experienced while in Egypt. The social event was continuous work, as slaves, Israel was not permitted to rest.

But when Jehovah delivered Israel into their inheritance, part of the gift was to find rest as a people, and as a people they were to experience weekly reminders of that rest, thus a weekly sabbath.

I now turn my attention to the fifth 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.

As I discussed in the previous Essays, that can be seen because there is a shift from the first person to the third person, meaning the first person declares the commandment, then the third person states something.

As such while Moses does not provide commentary on each of the Ten, Moses will 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 into the Deuteronomy narrative.

Here is a comparison between Deuteronomy 5.16 JPS and Exodus 20.12 JPS:

16a- Honor your father and your mother,
12a- Honor your father and your mother,

16b- as the LORD your God has commanded you,
12b- [there is no Exodus 20.12b, only a Deuteronomy 5.16b, but this note is to show alignment]

16c- that you may long endure,
12c- that you may long endure

16d- and that you may fare well,
12d- [there is no Exodus 20.12d, only a Deuteronomy 5.16d, but this note is to show alignment]

16e- in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.
12e- on the land which the LORD your God is giving you.

As can be seen from the above alignment, the Deuteronomy and the Exodus account are similar but strikingly different.

In the previous Essay, I provided my discussion about the difference between the fourth of the Ten in Deuteronomy and the fourth of the Ten in Exodus.

I mention that because, my discussion for the fifth of the Ten is relatively the same, and I do not see a need to repeat the bulk of that concept in this Essay.

For me, as I read through the fifth of the Ten in Deuteronomy, I can see that it is evident that Moses is recounting the events at Sinai, which means that it is difficult to reconcile Moses’ recount of the events against Moses saying “The LORD spoke those words -those and no more- to your whole congregation at the mountain”.

Why? Because it is evident that within the Ten there are more words than what Jehovah spoke to the whole congregation of Israel.

For instance, the fifth of the Ten shifts from first person (Honor your father and your mother), which is an edict, a directive, to a third person (as the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may long endure, and that you may fare well, in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.) which offers an explanation for the purpose of the fifth of the Ten.

For me, these kinds of grammatical elements reveal that the Deuteronomy Redactor, while compiling the information as it was recorded and given to the Deuteronomy Redactor, is also presenting what we consider to be inconsistencies, a blending of first person pronouncements conjoined with third person explanatives.

In past Essays, I have discussed why Moses is not speaking on behalf of Jehovah, and discussed that Jehovah does not speak things from a first person perspective then change to a third person to reference himself (gender retained for ease of my writing).

Rationally, the action of switching from first person to third person reveals a personality disconnect, which reveals unstable vernacular.

Theologically, the best explanation is not to describe Jehovah as inconsistent, but to determine the best possible reason that the Torah contains such literary movements.

For me, those literary movements reveal that the text, as we have it, in its final form cannot be the text that was delivered from God to Moses and from Moses to Israel, nope.

For me, the best possible explanation is that grammatically, and literarily, the text “became” the text we have because the text was developed over a course of time.

Does that mean I believe the text was a human construct to the exclusion of the Divine? No, not at all.

Does that mean I believe that Jehovah did not present the Ten and the remainder of the law to Moses and then Moses to Israel? No, not at all.

I believe Jehovah revealed the Ten and the remainder of the law to Moses.

I believe that Moses did not write down that information.

I believe that someone like Joshua, son of Nun, the assistant to Moses was the first person to record that which Jehovah gave to Moses which Moses revealed to Israel.

From there I believe there were developments in Israelite history that led to different presentations of Moses and the Torah, which ultimately gives us the final form of the text that we have, and those Redactors provided no notes as to why they did what they did.

That textual transmission is reasonable, and still retains a belief that the source of the Ten and the law itself was from Jehovah, as presented to Moses, then to Israel; but it also permits and accountants for inconsistencies (e.g. shifts from first person to third person) within the text as the information within the Ten and the law was written down and transmitted textually.

Was that an intentional error? No, I do not believe so, in their time period of history, accountability for textual transmission simply was not our accountability of textual transmission.

In our accountability of textual transmission, we expect footnotes, references, and other forms of presentation to reveal to us as readers the source of the materials, from superscripted footnotes and endnotes, to quotation marks when another source is being quoted.

In essence, human development of textual transmission had not yet developed to the level that we currently experience, expect, and demand from authors, publishers, and students.

Therefore, when we enter into the textual world of the Torah we find “inconsistencies” that must be reasonably accounted for.

For me, if I were presenting the Ten, I would not present them in the fashion found in Deuteronomy.

But, I am not the one who gave us the final form of Deuteronomy, because the final form is the work of the one I refer to as the Deuteronomy Redactor.

However, if I were to present the Ten, I would do so slightly differently, in order to remove the otherwise arbitrary movement from first person to third person, and to have Moses’ statement (“The LORD spoke those words -those and no more- to your whole congregation at the mountain” Deuteronomy 5.19) ring more earnestly.

For me, since I see that the shift from first person to third person places information within the Ten that was not “The LORD spoke those words -those and no more- to your whole congregation at the mountain” I would present the Ten differently.

If I were to publish the Deuteronomy Ten, I would present the Ten similar to the following:

I the LORD am your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage.

You shall have no other gods beside Me.

You shall not make for yourself a sculptured image, any likeness of what is in the heavens above, or on the earth below, or in the waters below the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am an impassioned God, visiting the guilt of the fathers upon the children, upon the third and upon the fourth generations of those who reject Me, but showing kindness to the thousandth generation of those who love Me and keep My commandments.

You shall not swear falsely.[1]

Observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy.[2]

Honor your father and your mother.[3]

You shall not murder.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

You shall not covet.[4]

 
Footnotes:
[1] “swear falsely” refers to: [to swear or make an oath] by the name of the LORD your God; for the LORD will not clear one who swears falsely by His name.

[2] Moses provided the following commentary: [Observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy], as the LORD your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but 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. 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.

[3] Moses provided the following commentary: [Honor your father and your mother], as the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may long endure, and that you may fare well, in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

[4] Moses provided the following commentary: [You shall not covet] your neighbor’s wife. You shall not crave your neighbor’s house, or his field, or his male or female slave, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s.

What is difficult is the presentation of the Ten in Deuteronomy and the presentation of the Ten in Exodus have become so revered within their published state that it becomes heretical to present the Ten in any other fashion.

That is unfortunate, because it is quite clear that Jehovah did not speak about himself (gender retained for ease of my writing) in the third person. Why? Because Jehovah made declarations (e.g. “You shall…”), then Mosaic or Redactor commentary was inserted (e.g. “as the LORD commanded”).

Unfortunately, Mosaic and Redactor commentary has become equated with Jehovah’s own words that any deviation of presentation is not accepted if not totally rejected.

What is even more unfortunate is that Jehovah is not going to reference himself (gender retained for ease of my writing) in the third person. Why? Because Jehovah is cogent and cognizant (as evidenced in the second of the Ten, Deuteronomy 5.8-10), as such no cogent and cognizant being speaks from themselves while referring to themselves in the third person.

For instance, I would not state to my students: “I am your teacher, the teacher whom you shall follow.” That is an arbitrary switch from first person to third, making me convey myself having megalomania. Instead, I would say to my students “I am your teacher, you shall follow me.” and thereby retain the first person as my point of reference, yet fully conveying my power as their teacher, the very essence of the manner in which the second of the Ten is presented (Deuteronomy 5.8-10).

Again, the difficulty is that the Ten were given to the nation of Israel, which applied only to the Israelites and those foreign nationals that chose to reside within the borders of Israel.

The difficulty in that is that the Ten did not apply to the other nations, the gentiles, not to Edom, not to Egypt, not to Assyria, not to Babylon.

Why? Because Jehovah did not deliver the Ten to the nations, but to Israel.

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