Lectionary Year B
March 23, 2003
Exodus 20: 1-17

Step II: Disposition

A. Genre

(JFC) This lection seems to be what S. R. Driver, in his Cambridge Bible Commentary, calls "a terse and forcible summary of the fundamental duties of an Israelite towards God and his neighbor". It reads like a statement of intensions by God, self-identified in the first verse, and thereafter, right immediately, addressing what is to be done and more than that, what is not to be done. Some of the actions and/or inactions are followed by reasons from God's perspective. Others are so brief two words suffice. Some give added (at a later time?) examples, others seem not to need to give examples or explanations or justifications or rationalizations or anticipated ramifications. The style of this pericope is as uncommon as anything else in Scripture, with the exception, of course, of its parallel in Deuteronomy 5.

B. Personal Interaction

(JFC) Wonder what we do with the imperfect tenses which have been habitually translated as imperatives? That phrase "a jealous God" probably needs a glance again in Lent, too. What about the theology of God's promising (threatening?) to bless those who love Him and to curse those who hate/reject Him?

C. Organization

(JFC) The imperfect tenses occur in verses 3-5, 7 and 13-17. The "jealous God" phrase is found in the 5th verse. The blessing some and cursing others is in verse 5, too.

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