Deuteronomy 5:5
(I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to shew you the word of the LORD: for ye were afraid by reason of the fire, and went not up into the mount;) saying,
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(5) In this verse a colon seems too large a stop after “the word of the Lord.” Perhaps it should rather be read thus: “I stood between Jehovah and you at that time (for ye were afraid by reason of the fire), and ye went not up into the mount.” The cause of their not going up into the mount was not their fear, but the express prohibition of Jehovah, as may be seen by Exodus 19

Deuteronomy 5:5. Between the Lord and you — As a mediator, according to your desire. The word of the Lord — Moses does not mean the ten commandments, which God himself had uttered, but the other statutes and judgments following them.

5:1-5 Moses demands attention. When we hear the word of God we must learn it; and what we have learned we must put in practice, for that is the end of hearing and learning; not to fill our heads with notions, or our mouths with talk, but to direct our affections and conduct.The "fathers" are, as in Deuteronomy 4:37, the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. With them God did indeed make a covenant, but not the particular covenant now in question. The responsibilites of this later covenant, made at Sinai by the nation as a nation, attached in their day and generation to those whom Moses was addressing. 5. I stood between the Lord and you at that time—as the messenger and interpreter of thy heavenly King, bringing near two objects formerly removed from each other at a vast distance, namely, God and the people (Ga 3:19). In this character Moses was a type of Christ, who is the only mediator between God and men (1Ti 2:5), the Mediator of a better covenant (Heb 8:6; 9:15; 12:24).

to show you the word of the Lord—not the ten commandments—for they were proclaimed directly by the Divine Speaker Himself, but the statutes and judgments which are repeated in the subsequent portion of this book.

As a mediator or messenger between you, according to your desire, below, Deu 5:27. Compare Exodus 19:16, &c.; Exodus 20:19 Galatians 3:19.

The word of the Lord; not the ten commandments, which God himself uttered, but the following statutes and judgments.

I stood between the Lord and you at that time,.... Between the Word of the Lord and you, as the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan; that is, about that time, not at the exact precise time the ten commandments were delivered, for these were spoken immediately to the people; but when the ceremonial law was given, which was ordained by angels, in the hand of a mediator, Galatians 3:19, and which was at the request of the people as follows, terrified by the appearance of the fire out of which the moral law was delivered:

to show you the word of the Lord; not the decalogue, that they heard with their own ears, but the other laws which were afterwards given, that were of the ceremonial and judicial kind:

for ye were afraid by reason of the fire, and went not up into the mount; lest they should be consumed by it: and indeed bounds were set about the mount, and they were charged not to break through:

saying; this word is in connection with the preceding verse, the Lord's talking out of the midst of the fire, when he said what follows.

(I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to show you the word of the LORD: for ye were afraid by reason of the fire, and went not up into the mount;) saying,
5. (I stood between the Lord and you … to shew you the word] In Heb. a circumstantial clause: I standing between Jehovah and you at that time, in order to publish, or declare, to you the word, etc.; to articulate what though directly declared had been in its awfulness but a sound of words (Deuteronomy 4:12). It is impossible to say whether this qualification is original or from a later hand.

at that time] See on Deuteronomy 1:9.

‘The Ten Words’

In this series—see Driver, Exodus, 191 ff.; cp. Chapman, Introd. to the Pent. 112 ff.—the ‘Ten Words’ have already been introduced, analysed and annotated. But a statement of the textual data and the questions they start is necessary also here, especially with reference to the relations of the two editions (in D and E) of ‘the Ten Words’ to each other and to other ‘Words’ said (by E and J) to have been delivered at Ḥoreb.

First, the Names for this central Hebrew code: (a) ‘Words,’ so E, Exodus 20:1 (all these words); either in the broadest sense of the term sayings, utterances, or more specifically words of command or order as used for a king’s decree, 1 Chronicles 21:4; 1 Chronicles 21:6, or for God’s, Genesis 44:2; Genesis 47:30 and often elsewhere. (b) ‘The Ten Words’ only in D (Deuteronomy 4:13, Deuteronomy 10:4) rendered by A.V. The Ten Commandments, which has thus become the ordinary English title; the LXX translates more broadly τὰ δέκα ῥήματα and οἱ δέκα λόγοι, whence the single term ἡ δεκάλογος, The Decalogue, the earliest known occurrence of which is in Clement of Alexandria, Paedagog. iii. 89, etc. (c) ‘The Covenant,’ also only in D; Deuteronomy 4:13 (His covenant), Deuteronomy 4:23, Deuteronomy 5:2 f.; cp. tables of the Covenant, Deuteronomy 9:9; Deuteronomy 9:11; Deuteronomy 9:15; ark of the Covenant of Jehovah, Deuteronomy 10:8, Deuteronomy 31:9; Deuteronomy 31:25 f.; when the same phrases occur in JE or other pre-deuteronomic writings they are to be explained as later intrusions (cp. Driver, Exod. 193); a fact sometimes betrayed by the disturbance of grammar which the intrusion has caused, e.g. Joshua 3:14; Joshua 3:17; the deuteronomic origin of this name can hardly, therefore, be doubted. (d) ‘The Testimony’ (‘edûth), rather attestation or solemn edict (see above on Deuteronomy 5:1), P’s name, occurring 36 times in P and nowhere else.

Second, the Two Editions of ‘the Ten Words’ and their relations to each other and to other ‘Words’ given at Ḥoreb:

Like so much else in D ‘the Ten Words,’ as revealed from God to Israel at Ḥoreb, are also recorded in E (Exodus 20:1 ff.), but in a form unusual in E for it contains a considerable number of deuteronomic phrases (Deuteronomy 5:2; Deuteronomy 5:4 b, Deuteronomy 5:5 a, Deuteronomy 5:10 a, Deuteronomy 5:10 b, Deuteronomy 5:12 b). It has besides a sentence (Deuteronomy 5:5 b, Deuteronomy 5:6) which echoes J; and another which both reflects the style of P and contains a statement found elsewhere only in P (Genesis 2:3; cp. Exodus 31:17 b); on all these see the notes on Exodus 20:1 ff. and the notes below.—Further, this E edition of the Ten Words is not called a ‘Covenant’ as in D, nor connected with a Covenant. E, however, does record a Covenant between Jehovah and Israel at Ḥoreb, Exodus 24:3-8, but associates this with other ‘Words,’ evidently the ‘Words,’ or decrees of moral and religious law, in Exodus 20:22-26; Exodus 23:10-33, which are distinct (as is now generally recognised) from the ‘judgements’ (mishpatim) or decisions in civil and criminal law, Exodus 21:1 to Exodus 23:9, embedded between their two groups1[121]. These ‘Words’ show a few striking parallels to the Ten Words.

[121] On this distinction between the ‘words’ and the ‘judgements,’ see Driver’s Exodus, 202, 252 ff.; and the Oxford Hexateuch.

J also records a Covenant at Sinai, Exodus 34:10, based upon ‘Words,’ 11–27, which have been called ‘a second Decalogue.’ But they are rather parallel to E’s Covenant words, and like them are more in number than ten. (See the notes to Exodus 34) The phrase ‘ten words’ in Deuteronomy 5:28 is probably a gloss.

In D’s edition of the Ten Words now before us we find again all the features of E’s edition except the last sentence of the 4th commandment, the sentence which reflects P (another of the many facts which support the argument that P is later than D). Instead another reason is assigned to the commandment in the language, and characteristic of the humane spirit, of D. In the same commandment D has its common keep or observe for E’s remember, and adds the clauses as Jehovah thy God commanded thee, nor thine ox nor thine ass nor any of (thy cattle); in the 5th it adds the phrases as Jehovah thy God hath commanded thee and that it may go well with thee; in the 9th it gives a wider term groundless or vain for E’s false; and in the 10th it adds to and rearranges the details with a finer ethical discrimination, using two verbs for covet or desire, and putting the wife of thy neighbour first and by herself, distinct from the rest of his household. Further, D asserts (Deuteronomy 5:22) in contradiction to E that the Ten Words were the only words spoken to Israel at Ḥoreb; and adds that He wrote them on two tables of stone. Note, also, that in D the Ten Words are introduced as a quotation in the Sg. form of address in a discourse which uses throughout the Pl.

P does not record the Ten Words. The legislation which it assigns to Sinai, Exodus 25-31 (with a variant edition 35–40), consists of directions, given to Moses on the Mount and afterwards proclaimed to the people, as to the sanctuary and priesthood (see Driver on these passages). The only parallel which this legislation offers to the Decalogue is the law of the Sabbath (Exo 31:22-27, Exodus 35:1 ff.). But P mentions incidentally the Testimony which I shall give thee (Exodus 25:16) and says that God gave unto Moses when He had made an end of communing with him upon Mount Sinai the two tables of the testimony (Exodus 31:18).

Such are the principal data of the various traditions of the legislation at Sinai-Ḥoreb. They start serious questions of literary construction and historical fact, to which several hypothetical, but no certain, answers are possible.

The question which mainly concerns us here is that of the relation of the two editions of the Ten Words in E and D. To the argument that because so much else of law and narrative in D is based on E, therefore D must also have derived the Ten Words from E, there are the following objections: (1) E’s edition has not only many deuteronomic phrases, but in the 4th commandment reflects P; while D’s is in style and spirit consistently deuteronomic. (2) E connects the Covenant at Ḥoreb not with the Ten Words but with others. (3) These other Words, while offering some parallels to the Ten, are of a distinctly less spiritual character and apparently from a more primitive stage of ethical development; and it is difficult to conceive that E could have first recorded the Decalogue as given at Ḥoreb and then based the Covenant there on other words of an inferior character. (4) Nor is it clear that E’s narrative of the theophany, Exodus 19:14-17; Exodus 19:19; Exodus 20:18-21, implies that the people heard from God any articulate words at all, before Moses (because of their apprehension that God would speak directly to them) entered the darkness out of which His thunder had come and received for them the Words (Exodus 20:22-26; Exodus 23:10-33) on which the Covenant was based.

On these grounds a strong case has been made out for the hypothesis that E did not originally contain the Ten Words; that these were the work of the deuteronomic school, based on the teaching of the 8th century prophets and expressed throughout in deuteronomic phraseology; that D, while borrowing from E the tradition of a Covenant at Ḥoreb, substituted them as the basis of that Covenant for the other words which E had connected with it, or else did not know of those other words in E, for he distinctly asserts (Deuteronomy 5:22) that God added no others to the Ten at Ḥoreb; and finally that a late editor, with both D and P before him, intruded the Ten Words into E repeating most of their deuteronomic phraseology, but substituting in the 4th commandment for one of D’s phrases a phrase based on P. This hypothesis finds support in the substance of the Decalogue, which it is maintained is suitable for an agricultural and not for a nomadic people; and especially in the prohibition of graven images, the early date of which is difficult if not impossible to reconcile with the use of images in Israel before the 8th century and particularly in the N. kingdom in which E was composed.

All the data, however, do not thus support the hypothesis of the priority of D’s Decalogue. It may not be certain that E’s remember the sabbath-day is earlier than D’s keep or observe, nor is E’s false witness necessarily more primitive than the wider vain, or groundless, which D employs—although they would appear to be so (with the former cp. J’s remember in the same sense, Exodus 13:3). But D’s form for the 10th commandment, because more developed and of a finer ethical standard, is almost certainly later than E’s; and so are the additions to the 4th and 5th commandments. Further, in the E edition the name of the Deity even in association with creation is not Elohim, but Jehovah.

This, however, only leads to the further question whether behind both editions there was not an earlier and much simpler form. In both the Ten Words are of very unequal length. In the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 10th the excesses over the others are hortatory enforcements in the language of D and in harmony with D’s usual method of elaborating his materials and adding reasons and enforcements: teaching and expounding the Law to use his own terms. Remove these excesses and there remain, besides the preface, Ten Words of similar length and divisible into two tables of virtually equal size.

I am Jehovah [thy God which brought thee out of the land of Egypt out of the house of slaves].

Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.

Thou shalt not make thee a graven image.

Thou shalt not take the name of Jehovah in vain.

Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy.

Honour thy father and thy mother.

Thou shalt do no murder.

Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Thou shalt not steal.

Thou shalt not bear false witness [against thy neighbour].

Thou shalt not covet [thy neighbour’s house].

To sum up—it appears necessary to postulate some such brief form of the Ten Words as prior to the editions of them in E and D on these grounds: that all of the contents of these editions which is over and above this form consists of easily separable expansions of a hortatory or explanatory character, expressed in the language and the spirit of D; and that it was the general practice of D thus to expand, refine and enforce the materials of earlier traditions. Also D treats the Ten Words as a quotation (see above).

Whether this pre-deuteronomic Decalogue was originally part of E is more than doubtful. In E there is neither room nor reason for any ‘Words’ at Ḥoreb before those on which E bases the Covenant; nor any trace that the Divine voice became at all articulate before the latter were spoken. The double tradition of E and J is that the Covenant ‘Words’ spoken by God in Ḥoreb-Sinai, while offering certain parallels to the Decalogue, were more primitive than this. And that excludes the only possible alternative theory, that, if these ‘Words,’ now associated in E with the Covenant, along with ‘the judgements’ that are embedded within their two sections, were originally assigned to Israel’s residence in Moab, their removal to the Ḥoreb period (see above) displaced the Decalogue from its association with the Ḥoreb Covenant and pushed it forward to a point in the narrative at which it has no proper connection with its context.

From the literary data, therefore, the most probable conclusion is that the Decalogue came to D from a source independent of J and E. Whether its origin was earlier than E and may even have been Mosaic or was later, and in fact the result of the teaching of the 8th century prophets, are far more difficult questions; for which answers must be sought, not in the literary forms, so much as in the substantial ideas, of the Decalogue. The theory that the Decalogue is later than E gets rid of the historical difficulties for an early date for the 2nd commandment which arise from the use of images by leaders in Israel and especially in the N. kingdom, without any rebuke from prophets before the 8th century, and for an early date for the 4th commandment as one impossible of fulfilment by, and therefore unnatural to prescribe to, a people still in the pastoral stage of culture. And if J and E’s record of a more primitive form of Covenant words at Ḥoreb be regarded as reliable this is also a reason for assigning the Decalogue to a later stage in Israel’s social and ethical development. On the other hand, there are good grounds for the possibility of the prohibition of images as early as Moses. Not only do the ‘Words’ assigned by E to the Covenant at Ḥoreb forbid gods of silver and gold (Exodus 20:23) and by J molten gods (Exodus 34:17); but E and J never impute the use of images to the Patriarchs, while E (Exodus 32) records Moses’ anger and God’s threat to destroy the people because of the golden calf which they had fashioned. More significant is the absence from all the historical records of any mention of an image in connection with the Ark, or the sanctuary at Shiloh or Gibeon or Jerusalem, or other place before the disruption of the kingdom. As to the Sabbath-law, the presumably oldest form of it is perfectly possible for a purely pastoral people; while the fuller forms, though evidently designed for an agricultural people, could not be literally observed even by them (unless the Heb. term for work be limited to field-work), because they continued to have flocks and herds. As for the other Commandments there is not one of them in its shorter form which makes a date for it impossible before the settlement of Israel in Canaan—not even the first commandment, for it merely forbids the worship of any gods but Jehovah (henolatry), and does not assert His sole deity (monotheism). The possibility of the Mosaic origin of the Decalogue is, therefore, clear so far as its ideals are concerned. The real difficulty with regard to it rests upon its superiority to the ‘Words’ which the other traditions describe as the laws of the Covenant at Ḥoreb. See further ‘The Date of the Decalogue,’ App. IV. to Driver’s Exodus.

From whatever source the deuteronomists derived the Decalogue it is interesting that they developed it in more than one edition. For this we shall find analogies in their practice with regard to other laws (Deuteronomy 5:12-26).

The Decalogue with its Preface has been variously arranged and divided. The LXX (cod. B) makes the commandment against adultery follow immediately on that to honour parents, thus naturally bringing together the two commandments which concern family life: in Ex. that against murder follows, but in D precedes, that against theft. In the N.T. the order varies, following the Heb. order in Matthew 5:21; Matthew 5:27[122] (so far as murder and adultery are concerned), Deuteronomy 19:18, and Mark 10:19; but the Greek of D in Luke 18:20, Romans 13:9. The Talmud takes the Preface as the 1st commandment and the prohibitions of other gods and of images as together the 2nd, on the ground presumably that the reason annexed to the latter is equally, or even more, suitable to the former. This conjunction was accepted by Augustine and through him by the Roman and Lutheran Churches, but they keep the Preface as such and divide the 10th commandment into two (though the latter half as we have seen is not original). Philo, Josephus, Origen and other fathers, the Greek and Reformed Churches and most modern scholars divide as follows: Preface; 1, Other gods; 2, Images; 3, Name of Jehovah; 4, Sabbath; 5, Parents; 6, Murder; 7, Adultery; 8, Theft; 9, False witness; 10, Covetousness.

[122] So R.V.; but A.V. following Another text has the order: adultery, murder. Matthew, Mark and Luke all give the 5th Commandment after the 6th–9th.

With regard to the scope and spirit of the Ten Words it is enough to say that they lay down the double duty of Israelites towards God and towards men: religion and morality. The duty towards God is expressed with regard to the special temptations of the people at the time—the belief that there were other gods actually existent and with divine powers and spheres of action, and the custom of worshipping the deity in images. The 1st commandment is not the expression of a pure monotheism, and it is remarkable that the deuteronomists did not expand it as well as those which follow it (but see below on Deuteronomy 5:7). Yet it has been found a suitable statement, not only of the sovereignty but of the oneness of the Deity. Similarly the 2nd has been understood as a statement of His spirituality. The 3rd forbids the irreverence which is the sin equally of the ignorant and careless and of the familiar but formal worshipper. Duty towards men is covered in its main aspects in the life of the family and of society by the 5th to the 10th ‘Words,’ the last adding the sphere of thought and feeling to that of action detailed in the others. Between these two groups the 4th commandment forms the transition, for while it expresses man’s due to God in setting apart a regular portion of time to Him, it also in its expanded form enforces that the Sabbath was equally a duty to himself, his family, and his dependents. How fine and true was the instinct of the deuteronomists in thus expanding the Sabbath-law is shown by the saying of Christ that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath2[123].

[123] The following may he noted among the Christian expositions of the theological and ethical contents of the Decalogue. From the Roman side, Catechism of the Council of Trent, Pars iii. Capp. i.–x. From the Protestant, the Larger Westminster Catechism, John Forbes (‘the Aberdeen Doctor’), Theologia Moralis, and R. W. Dale, The Ten Commandments. See also Prof. W. P. Paterson’s art. ‘The Decalogue,’ in Hastings’ Dict. of the Bible.

For full notes on the separate verses the reader is referred to Exodus 20:1-17. The following may be added: they are chiefly on the matter found only in Deut. or here expressed differently from Exodus 21:1-17Deuteronomy 5:5"Jehovah talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire," i.e., He came as near to you as one person to another. בּפנים פּנים is not perfectly synonymous with פּנים אל פּנים, which is used in Exodus 33:11 with reference to God's speaking to Moses (cf. Deuteronomy 34:10, and Genesis 32:31), and expresses the very confidential relation in which the Lord spoke to Moses as one friend to another; whereas the former simply denotes the directness with which Jehovah spoke to the people. - Before repeating the ten words which the Lord addressed directly to the people, Moses introduces the following remark in Deuteronomy 5:5 - "I stood between Jehovah and you at that time, to announce to you the word of Jehovah; because ye were afraid of the fire, and went not up into the mount" - for the purpose of showing the mediatorial position which he occupied between the Lord and the people, not so much at the proclamation of the ten words of the covenant, as in connection with the conclusion of the covenant generally, which alone in fact rendered the conclusion of the covenant possible at all, on account of the alarm of the people at the awful manifestation of the majesty of the Lord. The word of Jehovah, which Moses as mediator had to announce to the people, had reference not to the instructions which preceded the promulgation of the decalogue (Exodus 19:11.), but, as is evident from Deuteronomy 5:22-31, primarily to the further communications which the Lord was about to address to the nation in connection with the conclusion of the covenant, besides the ten words (viz., Exodus 20:18; Exodus 22:1-23:33), to which in fact the whole of the Sinaitic legislation really belongs, as being the further development of the covenant laws. The alarm of the people at the fire is more fully described in Deuteronomy 5:25. The word "saying" at the end of Deuteronomy 5:5 is dependent upon the word "talked" in Deuteronomy 5:4; Deuteronomy 5:5 simply containing a parenthetical remark.
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