Monday, January 14, 2008


Maybe this should be called: What I Shouldn’t Have Said.

I’m a bit of a stickler for details. I really don’t like to tell a story unless it’s verified (and I don’t like embellishments). And I don’t like to use quotes if I don’t know a bit about the source. And I try hard to get dates right. Etcetera etcetera...

So some of you can check out at this point if you’re not into, er, details. But two weekends ago I made a point about Moses that got me researching a little more, and much to my chagrin, it’s not exactly what I had taught.

I mentioned that after Moses got mad at the Israelites for partying and screwing around with other gods while he had spent forty days without food or water in the presence of God, he threw down the tablets with the Ten Commandments on them...and they broke into pieces. These were written by God Himself.

Then I said that the next time he received the Ten Commandments, Moses had to write them himself on the stone. At least, that’s what I gathered from this particular passage in Exodus:

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” Moses was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments (Exodus 34:27-28).

God tells Moses to “write down these words”. Then it says, “And he wrote on the tablets…the Ten Commandments.” So what’s the problem? The pronoun “he” appears to refer to Moses, not God, in each translation. And even though in the first verse of that chapter God says He will write the words, it seems explicit that Moses is then instructed to write…and not just the preceding ceremonial and judicial laws.

But in Deuteronomy it records:

At that time the Lord said to me, “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones and come up to me on the mountain. Also make a wooden chest. I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. Then you are to put them in the chest.” So I made the ark out of acacia wood and chiseled out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I went up on the mountain with the two tablets in my hands. The Lord wrote on these tablets what he had written before, the Ten Commandments he had proclaimed to you on the mountain, out of the fire, on the day of the assembly. And the Lord gave them to me. Deuteronomy 10:1-4 (New International Version).

I have to go with that. It’s Moses’ own words recollecting the whole event. He’s the eyewitness here. I don’t think there’s a major theological breakdown, but there could be a mishandling of an application if one (like me) pushed the idea that Moses had to carve this one himself. It could lead to a performance emphasis that doesn’t handle grace properly.

So there you have it. And if you made it this far, you might think: “What’s the big deal, Dave? I’d rather talk philosophically than exegetically in this blog. Get over it. Let’s talk about Joshua.”

Uh, I’m out of time now. Talk amongst yourselves…


  1. Is this a majoring on the minors? Are you joining the pharisees?

    I am not going to fault you on if Moses wrote or God took over and wrote on the tablet. This discussion reminds me of some of the church splits I witnessed when I was a little one in a baptist church. Brings back so many bad memories.

    Its all under the blood, dont worry about it.

  2. I thought it was funny. I would have made him write it himself...

  3. Dave,
    Humility highlights your attitude.
    Making a correction is great, its what God can bless! Good Job!

  4. I am glad to see that truth is a high value of your =) Even the bible warns us to not take away or ad to what God has written. Thanks Dave for being a man of integrity. If more pastors took this approach I think there would be less church splits.

  5. Thanks for the clarification. It's awesome to know that you're a careful teacher...

  6. Dave,
    I for one admire your making the correction and appreciate it! The truth is most important.