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The Ten Commandments

A Unique Covenant with the Nation of Israel:


The Ten Commandments are often touted as the single most important part of the Bible, the ten most important declarations that G-d ever made to humanity.  And indeed, the Ten Commandments do include some very fundamental directives:

  • I am the Lord your God – essentially a command to believe in the one God, Creator of heaven and earth, Who took the nation of Israel out of bondage in Egypt.
  • The ban against idolatry and taking God’s name in vain.
  • The commandment to honor the Sabbath, the 7th day of the week, as a rest day
  • The commandment to respect your parents
  • And the shorter but very important prohibitions against theft, murder, adultery, false testimony and coveting.

But the context of the Ten Commandments is what makes these verses so critical.  The Nation of Israel has just been formed and redeemed from slavery in Egypt.  And they are on their way to the Land of Israel where they will inherit the land that God had first promised to their forefathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 

God reveals Himself to the Children of Israel at this critical juncture to ensure that this nation is not just another nation intent on invading and capturing another country.  God’s plan for Israel is all-encompassing.   He has selected them from all other nations to enable them to bring God’s message to humanity.  The messages in the Ten Commandments are indeed messages that speak to all people everywhere. 

But these Ten Commandments are part of a unique covenant that God enters into with the Nation of Israel in particular.  And it is this covenant, this relationship between the nation and God that will enable the nation to inherit the Land of Israel as the nation of God.  And it is only from that land and as a result of the Revelation at Sinai, that the true mission of the Jewish people can be fulfilled: “From Zion will go Torah and from Jerusalem the Word of God.” (Isaiah 2:3)