Torah:, Ex 18:1-20:23; Haftorah: Isa 6:1-7:6, 9:5
by Rabbi David Markel Hall and Bart Star
After our fathers arrived at Mt. Sinai, the stage was set. Yit'ro (Jethro), Moses’ father-in-law, came to meet him bringing his wife and two sons. Jethro’s name means ‘excellence.’ He was kohen mid'yan (a priest of Midian). Midian was a son of Abraham by his wife Keturah, whom he married after Sarah died. Moses spoke to Jethro about G-ds deliverance. Jethro was also a polythiest, acknowledging numerous gods.
Upon hearing about the great deliverance Jethro responded Ki-gadol ADONAI mikol-haelohim "the L-RD is greater than all gods for He was above them in the things that they did proudly." Jethro saw that the plagues demonstrated G-d’s mastery over the Mitzryim (Egyptian) gods. The plague of darkness that fell upon Egypt was the L-RD, demonstrating His power over Egypt's sun deity. The Nile was another of their deities, and by turning its’ water to blood, the L-RD demonstrated His power over it. After hearing these things, Jethro offered a burnt offering and sacrifices to G-d.
The next day, Jethro watched Moses as he judged the people. He inquired of Moses, "What are you doing? You will certainly kill yourself and these people. Jethro then gave wisdom gained through his years of service as a priest of Midian. Establish leaders or ‘judges’ among the people to share the responsibility. When this was accomplished there were a total of 81,220 judges based on their population of 620,000. Now, we see why Jethro was concerned about Moses. Imagine attempting to do the work of 81,000 people.
Later, G-d manifested Himself with an awesome display of power. Moshe brought "the people out of the camp to meet with G-d; and they stood at the ‘nether’ part of the mount." Rabbi Dimi b. Hasa in the Talmud tells us, "We learn from this verse that the Holy One arched the mountain over the people of Israel like a tent and said to them, ‘If you accept the Torah, all is well; but if not, then here shall your grave be.’" The rabbis teach us that accepting the Torah is our ‘duty.’
The Ten commandments are the basis for our belief system and worship. These were spoken in a very dynamic way from the mountain with trumpet blasts, broken boulders, and lightening, in the hearing of over 600,000 people.
1. Thou shalt not have any other
gods before Me.
2. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain.
3. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
4. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.
5. Honour thy father and thy mother.
6. Thou shalt do no murder.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
8. Thou shalt not steal.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
10. Thou shalt not covet.
The people were afraid to hear more direct words from G-d so they asked Moshe to go up and speak with G-d and relay to them His covenant. Today, People are no different. They do not want to hear from G-d. If they did, they might have to do what He tells them.
For Gentiles, the commands are different and yet very similar. See Noachide Law. Also, any "stranger" may attach him/her self to G-d and keep His covenant. Isaiah 56
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