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God-In-A-Box

For a Covenant, or a Covenant lawsuit, to be legal, the court of God requires the testimony of a minimum of two witnesses. This was true under the Old Covenant, and it is also true under the New.

“On the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses the one who is to die shall be put to death; a person shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness.” (Deuteronomy 17:6)

“But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.” (Matthew 18:16)

“Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.” (1 Corinthians 14:29 [NKJV])

“Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.” (1 Timothy 5:19)

If anything, the New Covenant is more strict, especially as it applied to first century Jews:

“Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses.  How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10:28, 29)

Now, you might have noticed that an eye-witness generally has a minimum of two eyes and two ears and two nostrils. These are all organs of “judgment,” and they come in pairs. These are our into witnesses. We form our judgments based upon what these take in.

Our out-of witnesses are singular and plural, Head and Body. We have one mouth, which images the singular Word of God. But then we have two hands, which back up the testimony of our mouth with body language. For the deaf, we can learn to sign with our hands. The audible Word becomes visible in Flesh.

The Lord spoke to Moses, and He wrote on two tablets—in signs, or body language—the Ten Words. He wrote them with His finger, thus the two out-of witnesses are, symbolically, five fingers on two hands. You might also remember that the number five is military in nature. It is Maturity, the Covenant Body.

God’s Covenants follow the five-fold structure:

1 – TRANSCENDENCE: God’s sovereignty
“Who is in charge?”

2 – HIERARCHY: Man’s delegated authority
“To whom do we report?”

3 – ETHICS: God’s law
“What is the mission?”

4 – OATH/SANCTIONS: God’s blessings and curses
“What will we get?”

5 – SUCCESSION: Inheritance in history
“What’s next?”

How do we get from a five-point Covenant model to Ten Words? Ray Sutton1Ray Sutton, That You May Prosper: Dominion By Covenant. sees the structure of the Ten Commandments, on the two tablets, like this:

1
6
2
7
3
8
4
9
5
10

However, some of his correlations seem forced to me. I believe there is a better solution, presented by Jewish scholar Moshe Kline. It represents more perfectly the symmetry of a pair of human hands.

Generally, representations of the Decalogue have the first five Words on one tablet and the next five on the second, so that each tablet is in fact like a column in a table [as above].

This format is so common that one might assume that it is of biblical origin. In fact, there is no clear evidence as to how the text was written on the tablets. We know only that the revelation at Mount Sinai was made up of ten units of speech, dvarim, and that they were written on two separate stone tablets. No one but Moses is reported to have seen the writing on the tablets. The first set was destroyed before anyone could see them. Moses kept the second set in a box until it was placed in the ark. It is not recorded that the second set was ever shown to anyone. So it would seem that there is no way to determine definitively how the text appeared on the tablets. In this article I will suggest that literary analysis of the text points to the following arrangement:

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10

This format brings out the full significance of the Words being written on two tablets. They are five sets of pairs composing a tabular text having components of meaning both in the rows and in the columns…

This is how the Torah describes the writing on the tablets: ‘The tablets were written across from each other; (first) on one and (then) on the other were they written’ (Exodus 32:15). This description is the only evidence we have concerning the writing on the tablets. The Hebrew phrase which I have paraphrased ‘across from each other,’ literally means ‘from both sides’…

Surprisingly enough, the key question concerning the ten Words is ‘what are they.’ While the Torah states in several places that there are ten Words, nowhere does it indicate what they are. Both of the two editions recorded in the Torah can easily be read as containing over a dozen Words! The first problem is how to divide the text into ten parts…

Kline uses an ancient Jewish division of the Ten Words, one used by St. Augustine. He refers to it as the Scroll division. He wisely notes that it is the division itself which determines what underlying logic can appear in the arrangement of the Words. He continues:

Here is the basis for St. Augustine’s ‘Jewish’ reading. The text of the Torah, as it appears in the traditional Torah scroll, is divided into paragraph-like sections called parshiot. There are very few variations in these divisions in scrolls from different parts of the world. This testifies to the fact that they represent an ancient tradition. The division into parshiot can be read as the earliest extant commentary on the Torah. The text of the Ten Words is divided into ten parshiot in a manner that differs from the division in the Mechilta2“Mechilta: (Aramaic, lit. ‘the Compendium’); a text of exegesis on the Book of Exodus compiled in the era of the Mishnah, during the third century.” (from The Jewish Knowledge Base, www.chabad.org).3Moshe Kline, A New Approach to the Decalogue, www.chaver.com. I highly recommend reading the entire article.

To put it simply, the Scroll division combines our common first and second Words into one Word, and it divides our common tenth Word into two. This might seem arbitrary, but as Kline says, the internal logic suddenly becomes apparent.

What struck me immediately concerning the Scroll division of the Ten Words was their very obvious correspondence not only to the five-fold Covenant structure, but also their obvious division of the Ten Words into two tablets as a forming and a filling.

Warp and Weft

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the [Land] beneath, or that is in the water under the [Land].” (Exodus 20:4)

Kline also observes that the Scroll division’s First Word  deals with what is above, moves to what is on the Land, and then to what is under the Land. We can see the same progression, the same Covenant movement, in the entire structure:

Above Me Past
Land (Beside) You Present
Below Them Future

As in an accounting spreadsheet, the vertical columns form the legal structure, and the horizontal rows form the relational “glory.” The three-level house is formed and filled. Kline likens it to the warp and weft of weaving. The Lord is making a robe, a tent.

Forming
(Head – Adam – Priest)
Filling
(Body – Eve – People)
TRANSCENDENCE 1
Word from God
False gods
2
Word to God
False Oath
HIERARCHY 3
Man’s Work
Sabbath
4
Father and Mother
Fruit of Land and Womb
ETHICS 5
No Murder
Sons of God
6
No Adultery
Daughters of Men
SANCTIONS 7
No Theft
False Blessings
8
No False Witness
False Curses
SUCCESSION 9
Coveting Shelter
Formed House
10
Coveting the Sheltered
Filled House

As further support for this assertion, the odd-numbered commandments are Adamic (house forming) and the even-numbered commandments are Bridal (house filling). Adam is singular, and Eve is plural. Adam is the warp, the vertical, the structure between God and Man. Eve is the weft, the horizontal, the glory between Man and City. So, not only do we have this “weaving” process at the three-fold “Trinity” level, we have it at the five-fold Covenant Scroll level.

(Adapted from Bible Matrix II: The Covenant Key.)

For some thoughts on how the Covenant process sheds light on the doctrine of justification, see Justified In His Sight.

References   [ + ]

1. Ray Sutton, That You May Prosper: Dominion By Covenant.
2. “Mechilta: (Aramaic, lit. ‘the Compendium’); a text of exegesis on the Book of Exodus compiled in the era of the Mishnah, during the third century.” (from The Jewish Knowledge Base, www.chabad.org)
3. Moshe Kline, A New Approach to the Decalogue, www.chaver.com. I highly recommend reading the entire article.

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