[b-hebrew] Exodus 20:4-5 on idols

Dave Washburn davidlwashburn at gmail.com
Mon Feb 25 15:23:48 EST 2013

On Sun, Feb 24, 2013 at 2:22 PM, Jack Kilmon <jkilmon at historian.net> wrote:
> This is probably kindergarten stuff to the forum but I have wondered about
> it for 60 years or so.
> Exodus 3-5 are one commandment broken into three stanzas.  My interest is
> with 20:4 and 20:5.
> 20:4  לֹֽא תַֽעֲשֶׂה־לְךָ פֶסֶל וְכָל־תְּמוּנָה אֲשֶׁר בַּשָּׁמַיִם מִמַּעַל
> וַֽאֲשֶׁר בָּאָרֶץ מִתַָּחַת וַאֲשֶׁר בַּמַּיִם מִתַּחַת לָאָֽרֶץ
> Should there be conjunction understood between 4 and:
> 20:5  לֹֽא־תִשְׁתַּחְוֶה לָהֶם וְלֹא תָעָבְדֵם כִּי אָֽנֹכִי יְהוָה
> אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֵל קַנָּא פֹּקֵד עֲוֹן אָבֹת עַל־בָּנִים עַל־שִׁלֵּשִׁים
> וְעַל־רִבֵּעִים לְשֹׂנְאָֽי׃ ........
> so the reading/intent would be :
> 4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything
> that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the
> water under the earth....AND...
> 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am
> a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third
> and the fourth generation of those who reject me,

My own eisegesis suggests that there shouldn't be a conjunction,
because verse 4 is speaking of making these idols for yourself, while
verse 5 includes the possibility that such idols already exist. In
other words, whether it's something you built yourself or something
somebody else made, stay away from it.

But that's a thoroughly superficial reading on my part. I just toss it
out for whatever it might be worth.

Dave Washburn

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