Biblical Interpretation / Assignment 2
Dr. Wesley Hill
Write a brief paragraph on each of the following contexts for Exodus chapter 20, indicating why those contexts are important for understanding the chapter.
The immediately surrounding section of Exodus (i.e., how does Exodus 20 relate to Exodus 19 and 21ff?);
The surrounding sections show us that what Moses receives is from God and not from man. By giving the ten commandments in such a way as Exodus 19 describes we can be assured it is from God directly. Furthermore, the expounding of countercultural lifestyle is then elaborated on in Exodus 21. Obedience to the ten commandments is not to be taken as a one and done assignment at a particular place, but rather a lifestyle of fairness and obedience that mirrors God’s character.
The book of Exodus as a whole (i.e., how does Exodus 20 fit within the entirety of the book of Exodus?);
Israel went from being under enslavement with Pharoah as their master, who was claiming to be a god, to freedom in serving YHWH as their master who proved to be the only true and living God. As a master YHWH is establishing His rule and what He requires from His people. As a people of God, Israel is to be think and behave in a particular way. We too are called to know God and understand our relationship with Him.
The Pentateuch as a whole (i.e., what role does Exodus 20 play within the first five books of the Old Testament? - be sure to provide at least one other specific verse or chapter reference in your answer);
As a covenant people with YHWH, Israel is expounding on what it means to be follow the Law. This redemptive relationship is demonstrated through following commands that may seem arbitrary outside the context of the Pentateuch. The relationship is not only vertical, as indicated by the first four commandments, but also horizontal as well, as indicated by the final six. The way we think about and treat each other is a reflection of the way we think about and ultimately treat God. Deuteronomy 5 reiterated the Ten Commandments to show the importance of the focus the Israelites are to have. I find this placement interesting because it comes right after Deuteronomy 4:2, “Do not add a thing to what I command you nor subtract from it, so that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I am delivering to you.” (NET)
The entire Old Testament (i.e., what role does Exodus 20 in the whole Old Testament? Does it get referenced elsewhere…?);
The Commandments are the axiom by which the rest of the Old Testament judges and expounds on. Not just because of what they say, but because of what they are a reminder of. The story of the generation, degeneration, and regeneration of mankind. Exodus 20 is a reminder of even when times are at their hardest and everything seems lost, we can still have hope that God is true to His promises and He will see them to completion. The rediscovery of the centrality of God’s Law is seen in Ezra 7:10, “Now Ezra had dedicated himself to the study of the law of the Lord, to its observance, and to teaching its statutes and judgments in Israel.”
The entire Christian Bible (i.e., how does Exodus 20 fit within the entirety of Scripture, Old as well as New Testaments? Does it get referenced anywhere in New Testament specifically…?).
The ten commandments are either eluted to or directly related to in the New Testament. Jesus’ use of the ten commandments as the will of God shows that they are not a past concept to be meditated on, but a living eternal reality given to us. I found Brevard Childs book Exodus to be helpful in this understanding. By highlighting in his section, “The Decalogue and the New Testament,” we see insights in that, “Jesus simply quoted the ten commandments as the expressed will of God.” The way that Jesus addressed the rabbinic leaders was not engage in the question of what can the commandments mean, but instead what they do mean. Childs writes, “...behind all the laws lay the one will of God, the intent of which could be summarized in the command to love God and neighbor.” As Protestant Christians we like to get our theology direction from Paul’s body of work. Here we see him in agreement with Jesus from the letter to the Romans,
8 Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet,” (and if there is any other commandment) are summed up in this, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:8-10, NET)
To know the ten commandments is to know the will of God. For this reason we can see the central importance of knowing them and their relationship to scripture as a whole.
Also, provide brief definitions of the following terms:
The environment in which a particular event or idea has taken place in order to understand the intent of the author and how to relate to those events to the present time.
The style of genre of writing used for properly interpreting any book, letter, poem, etc.
Writings found inside or outside of the Canon of Scripture. Within the Canon, how the text relates to the rest of the Canon (i.e. the authorized collection of writings as inspired by God).