Parsha Va-Etchannan (and I pleaded) arguably contains some of the most important words in all Scripture. It contains a version of The Ten Words, often referred to as The Ten Commandments. These words were reportedly spoken by God to the children of Israel at Horeb/Sinai from the midst of fire and later written on two stone tablets. But what were those words? We have two accounts, one in Exodus chapter twenty and one in Deuteronomy chapter five, and they disagree. Sure, the differences are relatively minor, but why are there any differences? Why would the versions of such important words not be exact? The version of Deuteronomy informs the reader that there are ten sayings, but there are disagreements as to how to count them. What precisely were the words spoken by God and later written on two stone tablets? Do either of the accounts (Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5) accurately present the words of the covenant, or do neither of the accounts? How are we to decide? According to the biblical narratives, only Moses saw the two stone tablets (he shattered them). How will we ever put the pieces of this mystery together? “The Bible’s Two Versions of The Ten Commandments” begins the search for the original words.
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