Bible Review 5:6, December 1989

First Glance

Bible Review

The giving of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai, one of the most earth-shattering experiences in the entire Bible, fused a rag-tag collection of fleeing former slaves into a people and spawned a moral system that undergirds Western civilization. So important is the Decalogue that it is recorded twice: once at the beginning of the Israelites’ journey in the desert and again just before their entry into Canaan. David Noel Freedman has now identified another role for these cardinal commandments: Woven through the books of the Hebrew Bible, from Exodus through Kings, is a heretofore undiscovered pattern of violations of each of the commandments, a pattern that leads ultimately to the Israelites’ expulsion from their land and exile in Babylonia. Freedman discerns in this pattern the deliberate hand of an editor at work. He tracks the violations, one by one and book by book, in “The Nine Commandments.” Nine Commandments, you ask? See the article to find out which one is absent—and why.

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