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Bible Commentaries

Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Exodus 20

Verse 1

God spake . Hebrew. Elohim : hence of universal application. Compare Hebrews 1:0 .Deuteronomy 4:12 .Hebrews 12:26 ; Not Jehovah, for this title would have limited the law to Israel. See App-4 , and note on Exodus 6:2 .

all these words . It has been asserted that there are three strata of laws in the Pentateuch (1) The Prophetic code. Exodus. 20-23 and Exodus 34:17-20 .

(2) The Priest code. Rest of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers.

(3) The Deuteronomy code.

But the Structures of these books, displayed above, show that these were all in perfect order, spoken "at sundry times and in divers manners. "

The Ten Commandments divided by Christ into two [tables], Duty to God and Neighbour (Matthew 22:37-40 ). Divided by man into four and six. By Roman Catholics (in their Catechism) the second is joined to the first, and the tenth is divided into two. But this is impossible: see the Structure of Commandment X on Exodus 20:17 .

The Structure of the whole divides them into 5 + 5, the number of Grace. See App-10 , and p. John 1:17 , "the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ", which, by the Figure of speech, Hendiadys ( App-6 ) = "true grace". For there was grace in the law, seeing no other nation was favoured with it. Moreover, the first five are linked together by the words "the LORD thy God", the second five by the word "Thou".

saying . The Ten Commandments begin, therefore, with Exodus 20:2 . See App-39 .

Verse 2

I am , &c. = "I, Jehovah [am] thy God (Hebrew. Elohim) . " App-4 .

the LORD (Hebrew. Jehovah. thy God. This must go with Com. I, or we should not have the five repetitions of it in the first five.

Verse 3

before Me = before My face.

Verse 4

make. The making is equally forbidden as the worshipping.

graven image . Hebrew. pesel, a sculpture. First occurance.

Verse 5

jealous = zealous. Figure of speech Anthropopatheia. App-6 . Compare Deuteronomy 4:24 .Hebrews 12:29 .

GOD = El. See App-4 .

visiting = charging. This burden of God's revela tion of Himself reappears in Exodus 34:6 , Exodus 34:7 . Numbers 14:18 . Deuteronomy 5:9 , Deuteronomy 5:10 . The punishment being not lengthened in vengeance, but distributed in mercy over the third and fourth, so that the whole weight falls not on the first or second. iniquity. Hebrew. 'avon. App-44 .

children = sons.

Verse 7

take the name . . . in vain . Much more important than the mere mispronunciation of the Name.

not hold him guiltless . Figure of speech Tapeinosis. App-6 .

Verse 8

Remember . Because already hallowed, and com mand given. See App-15 , and notes on Genesis 8:5 , Genesis 8:10 , Genesis 8:12 , Genesis 8:14 . The Babylonians had a seventh-day rest, doubtless from Genesis 2:2-3 not this from Babylonians. Note the Structure of this longest Commandment:

Verse 9

labour . The Hebrew accent (zarka) marks this word for emphasis: implying that the fourth Commandment is twofold, and no seventh-day rest can be really enjoyed without, or apart from, the six days of labour.

Verse 10

any . Figure of speech Synecdoche (of Genus). App-6 . not any forbidden work. Compare Leviticus 23:7 , Leviticus 23:8 . Numbers 28:18 . nor. Note the Figure of speech Paradiastole ( App-6 ), for emphasis. thy manservant. Some codices, with three early printed editions and The Targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel, read "nor thy manservant". gates. Put by Metonymy (of Adjunct), App-6 , for cities.

Verse 11

made = took to make.

heaven and earth . See note on Deuteronomy 4:26 . the sea. Samaritan Pentateuch, Targum of Onkelos, The Targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel, Septuagint, and Syriac read "and the sea".

Verse 12

Honour . This completes the first five, and ends with "promise "(Ephesians 6:2 ). These five, that relate to piety, are thus separated from the five that relate to probity. The first and fifth begin and end the five with honour to God, and to our parents whom He honours. They have nothing to do with our "neighbours".

Verse 17

The Structure of Commandment X shows that it cannot be divided, except as follows:


( Introversion. )

A c | I Thy neighbour's house (General).

| d | Wife, servant, maid (human) (Particular)

| d | Ox and ass (animal)

c | Anything that is thy neighbour's (General).

Verse 18

saw . Figure of speech Zeugma. App-6 (here, Protozeugma), the one verb "saw" used for two things, but appropriate only for one. Emphasis on "saw". and. Note Figure of speech Polysyndeton ( App-6 ).

Verse 19

Speak thou , &c. From Deuteronomy 5:28 with Deuteronomy 18:7 we learn that on that very day God promised to send "Him that speaketh from heaven" (Exodus 18:15-18 ).

Verse 20

to prove : i.e. for the purpose of proving.

that = in order that.

sin . Hebrew. chat'a. See App-44 .

Verse 21

afar off. Note the difference between law and grace. (Ephesians 2:13 ).

drew near . Moses' fourth ascent. See note on Exodus 19:3 .

Verse 22

the LORD. [Hebrew. Jehovah] said. See note on Exodus 3:7 , and compare note on Exodus 6:10 .

Verse 24

of earth . . . in all places . Shiloh was the first place, Jeremiah 7:12 ; Bethel, 1 Samuel 10:3 ; then Zion, Psalms 78:68 . "Where'er we seek Thee Thou art found". sacrifice. Hebrew. zabach. App-43 .

Verse 25

not . . . hewn stone . No human handiwork tc be used in approaching God in worship. tool. Man's work, in this sphere, pollutes.

Verse 26

by steps. Only exposes nakedness. "I will come unto thee " (Exodus 20:24 ) is the essence of worship. Our approach is quite secondary. Whether by "tool" or "steps", it either pollutes the Divine or exposes the human.

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Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Exodus 20". "Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.