In the old testament of Exodus, we learn that the 10 Commandments were given to the people of Israel on Mount Sinai 40 days after the exile from Egypt. It is also referred as ‘The Ten Statements’ or in Hebrew Aseret Hadibrot. This event is known as the Giving of the Torah, where God carved the Ten Commandments on two tablets of stones and given to Moses. Each year, the commandments are being read 3 times in a Jewish synagogue.
Why the 10 Commandments? Because since the beginning, God created the world with 10 utterances. There were 10 generations from Adam to Noah, and 10 generations from Noah’s son Shem to Abraham. The people of Israel would be saved from Egypt by 10 plagues.
After 40 days on Mount Sinai, the LORD gave him the two tablets of stone. Why two? It is believed that near the ancient eastern culture, commonly two contracts would be produced in any covenantal agreement. Each to be kept by both sides. In this instance, one tablet for the people of Israel and the other for the LORD. But since the God dwells among His people, therefore it’s meant to be kept together in the tabernacle. However, the latter understanding is that each tablet was written 5 commandments. With the first set containing the 5 commandments about God and man’s relationship, while the second 5 commandments are about man and his fellow.
The Hidden Mysteries of The Two Tablets of Stone
In the Torah, the writing is describes as being “inscribe from both their sides, on one side and on the other side they were inscribed.” The sages believe that the inscription had been engraved through the stone. Where each letter would have been penetrate through the tablet completely on the other end. Exodus 32:15 “Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands. They were inscribed on both sides, front and back.” Now there are two Hebrew letters that are closed on all side. Making the centers piece of these letters to be miraculously suspended in the place.
What’s even more interesting is, thought these words were engraved all the way through the tablet, they still can be read from the back (in perfect order as you read it from the front). Rabbeinu Bechayei explains that the Torah can be understood in two levels, one revealed and one hidden. This is none other than the tablets of covenant inscribes by the divine finger of God. Exodus 31:18 “When the LORD finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the covenant law, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.”
Tradition tells us that the two tablets of stone were thick square blocks and no mention of having rounded top as we have seen in many illustrations and drawings. The size of each tablets are six handbreadths tall, six handbreadths wide and three handbreadths deep (18” x 18” x 9” in modern measurement). The sages of the Talmud describe in Exodus how Moses was commanded to make the Ark of the Covenant where these tablets are to be fitted in neatly.
The Symmetry and Relation of Each Tablets
Since all Ten Commandments were carved and written with the finger of God, and on two tablets (having 5 on each), and they convey hidden message. They can also be understood and read in two ways.
- We can read these commandments down along each tablet as Ten Commandments.
- Or read them side by side as the two tablets of stone are being placed side by side. For each set of five commandments reflect the other five.
Below, the Midrash provide us the connection between each commandments:
Commandments 1 and 6: Every human is created in the image of God, so murder is an offend to the Creator. (For we are not to destroy the image of God through one another.)
Commandments 2 and 7: When one worships a deity other than God, it is as akin to adultery. God is our loving spouse. As in the covenant we have with Him.
Commandments 3 and 8: A person may feel that stealing is only between him and the victim, but it is also a crime against God, whose name will ultimately be taken falsely.
Commandments 4 and 9: Through keeping Shabbat, we testify that God create the world in six days and rested on the seventh. When one disregards Shabbat, he testifies falsely about the Divine origin of the universe.
Commandments 5 and 10: The juxtaposition of jealousy and honoring parents tell us that one who lust after that which is not his, will ultimately give birth to a child who curses his parents and honors others instead.
In light of this revelation, the first sets of five commandments refer to the spiritual matters and our relationship between man and God. While the seconds sets of five commandments refer to our relationship with our fellow member. As we take a closer look, the first five commandments include the name of God, but His name is not mentioned once in the second set of five. However, all these commandments are given equal weight. When you add up all the Hebrew words on the second tablet, you will come to number 26, which is the numerical value of God’s name (‘YHVH’ – Yahweh יהוה).
On Two Tablets – Ink and Stone
According to Rabbi Yanki Tauber, God didn’t pen the commandments on a scroll. Instead, on two tablet of Sapphire stones. During the last days of Moses, the bible states that he inscribe the Torah on parchment of Scrolls. But we know that the divine word was first carved and etched by God on two tablets of Stone. What is the significant of these two? Ink and parchment are of two separate and different entities. But on the other hand, letters engrave in stone are being forge into it. Therefore, the words are stone and the stone is the words.
“By the same token, there is an aspect of Torah that is “inked” on our soul: we understand it, our emotions are roused by it; it becomes our “lifestyle” or even our “personality”; but it remains something additional to ourselves. Yet there is a dimension of Torah that is engraved in our being. There is a dimension of Torah which expresses a bond with G‑d that is of the very essence of the Jewish soul.”
Tablet Within Our Heart
In the New Testament, Jesus took this further to another level by saying that now we no longer carry the words of God on tablet of stones or with ink and parchment, but His words are being engraved upon our heart. For anyone who hates a brother (in Christ) or sister is a murderer (at heart). For in this new covenant, we are talking about heart level and no longer just on physical level. For the outward reflect our inner decision, thought and human desire. Therefore, let us allow the Holy Spirit to search our heart so that we may walk blameless before Him daily. “For above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23
As a follower, is His words being engraved upon your heart today?
Proverbs 7:3 “Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.”
Psalm 119:11 “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”