This liberating power of the Decalogue appears, for exam
ple, in the commandment about the sabbath rest, directed also to
foreigners and slaves:
You shall remember that you were a servant in the land of
Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out thence with
a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.
The “ten words” sum up and proclaim God’s law: “These
words the Lord spoke to all your assembly at the mountain out of
the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness, with a loud
voice; and he added no more. And he wrote them upon two tablets
of stone, and gave them to me.”
For this reason these two tablets
are called “the Testimony.” In fact, they contain the terms of the
covenant concluded between God and his people. These “tablets
of the Testimony” were to be deposited in “the ark.”
The “ten words” are pronounced by God in the midst of a
theophany (“The Lord spoke with you face to face at the mountain,
out of the midst of the fire.”
). They belong to God’s revelation of
himself and his glory. The gift of the Commandments is the gift of
God himself and his holy will. In making his will known, God
reveals himself to his people.
The gift of the commandments and of the Law is part of
the covenant God sealed with his own. In
the revelation of
the “ten words” is granted between the proposal of the covenant
and its conclusion—after the people had committed themselves to
“do” all that the Lord had said, and to “obey” it.
is never handed on without first recalling the covenant (“The Lord
our God made a covenant with us in Horeb.”).
The Commandments take on their full meaning within the
covenant. According to Scripture, man’s moral life has all its mean
ing in and through the covenant. The first of the “ten words” recalls
that God loved his people first:
25:16; 31:18; 32:15; 34:29; 40:1-2.
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