The revelation at Horeb (Deut 4:9-4:20)

“But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen not to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children. How you once stood before the Yahweh your God at Horeb, when Yahweh said to me, ‘Assemble the people for me. I will let them hear my words. Thus, they may learn to fear me as they live on the earth, and may teach their children so.’ You approached and stood at the foot of the mountain, while the mountain was blazing up to the very heavens, shrouded in dark clouds. Then Yahweh spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words, but saw no form. There was only a voice. He declared to you his covenant, that he charged you to observe, that is, the ten commandments. He wrote them on two stone tables. Yahweh charged me at that time to teach you the statutes and ordinances for you to observe in the land that you are about to cross into and occupy.”

Is this is Mount Sinai? They seem to be the same. Horeb may be more generic term. However, they might be different places. The Priestly and the Jahwist tradition call it Mount Sinai in Exodus and Numbers, but the Elohist and Deuteronomy strands clearly call it Mount Horeb. They appear to be the same place. The Israelites have to tell their children’s children what happened at Mt Horeb. The difficulty is that those who heard and saw things at the mountain are now all dead. Their children may have heard about this from their parents. The voice of Yahweh appeared without a form or face. Thus the word of Yahweh became important. The ‘Ten Words’ of Yahweh or the Ten Commandments can be found Exodus, chapter 20. These statutes and ordinances apply to the Israelites when they come into the good land across the Jordan.

“Since you saw no form when Yahweh spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire, take care and watch yourselves closely, so that you do not act corruptly by making an idol for yourselves. Do not make any form or figure, the likeness of any male or female, the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air, the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth.  When you look to the heavens, and see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, do not be led astray and bow down to them and serve them, things that Yahweh your God has allotted to all the peoples everywhere under heaven. But Yahweh has taken you, and brought you out of the iron-smelter, out of Egypt, to become a people of his very own possession, as you are now.”

Once again referring to Horeb, this is a very strong admonition against idol forms or figures of any kind, humans, animals, birds, fish, sun, moon or stars. Do not bow down before anything. Yahweh has you as a possession because he has taken you out of the iron smelter of Egypt.

17 thoughts on “The revelation at Horeb (Deut 4:9-4:20)

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