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500

Part Three

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.

18

2058

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.”

19

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.”

20

2059

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.”

21

). 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.

2060

The gift of the commandments and of the Law is part of

the covenant God sealed with his own. In

Exodus,

the revelation of

the “ten words” is granted between the proposal of the covenant

22

and its conclusion—after the people had committed themselves to

“do” all that the Lord had said, and to “obey” it.

23

The Decalogue

is never handed on without first recalling the covenant (“The Lord

our God made a covenant with us in Horeb.”).

24

2061

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:

18

Deut

5:15.

19

Deut

5:22.

20

Ex

25:16; 31:18; 32:15; 34:29; 40:1-2.

21

Deut

5:4.

22 Cf.

Ex

19.

23 Cf.

Ex

24:7.

24

Deut

5:2.

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