Ten Commandments

There are no specific events recorded for today in the gospels.  We have looked at the promise of Messiah in each of the Old Testament books.  We shall now begin looking at various historical & archaeological articles giving insight into the Bible and its background.

WHAT IS JESUS DOING?
Jesus is continuing His ministry of baptism in region around Jerusalem.

CUNEIFORM TABLETS WITH SEALS:
From earliest times important documents were shown to be genuine by the addition of a seal.  Such a seal would be equivalent to a modern day signature.  They could consist of finger marks, impressions of a person’s nail or the tassles on the hem of their garments.  It is possibly because of this practice of using a persons tassles as an authenticating seal that in Genesis 38 Tamar took Judah’s “cord” as part of his pledge of payment.

All the above examples show later seals consisting of sophisticated images and lettering.  Because sealing a document in this way led to the writing, in large part, being illegible the practice grew of duplicating the document without a seal or copying the documents contents onto the back of the tablet.

Some have suggested that the reason for two tablets containing the Ten Commandments was because of the above practice.  Others have pointed out that the fourth commandment is at the very centre of the Ten Commandments; from this they have suggested that this commandment represents YHWH’s seal, authenticating the commandments as His.

Description of the tablets in the picture above:

  • The top left picture is of a Hittite Cuneiform tablet replica of Ini-Teshub of Carchemish, the Hittite Viceroy of North Syria during the mid-thirteenth century BC (resin cast). The tablet records a lawsuit involving two merchants, one of whom demands payment of a debt. The text is written in Akkadian (Babylonian), the international language of the Late Bronze Age in the Middle East. In the center of a tablet is a bold impression of the king’s stamp seal bearing the figure of a Hittite god holding a winged sphinx, with the king’s name in both the cuneiform and Hittite hieroglyphic scripts.
  • The top right picture is of a Hittite cuneiform tablets from Bogazköy, Turkey and the picture is part of the UNESCO archives.
  • The bottom left picture is of a Cuneiform tablet of Ini-Teshub of Carchemish, the Hittite Viceroy of North Syria during the mid-thirteenth century BC. The tablet records a lawsuit involving two merchants, one of whom demands payment of a debt. The text is written in Akkadian (Babylonian), the international language of the Late Bronze Age in the Middle East. In the center of a tablet is a bold impression of the king’s stamp seal bearing the figure of a Hittite god holding a winged sphinx, with the king’s name in both the cuneiform and Hittite hieroglyphic scripts.
  • The bottom right picture shows a Hittite tablet with Cuneiform Inscription and the Seal of King Mursil II (1339-1306 BC).

“Behold, the days come, says YHWH, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:  Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they broke, although I was a husband to them, says YHWH.  But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says YHWH:  I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people:  and they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know YHWH’; for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says YHWH: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

WHAT’S HAPPENING?
No specific events are recorded for today.   However, Jesus at this time is in Jerusalem observing the sixth day of Unleavened Bread.

DEVOTIONAL:
As Christians we are familiar with the idea that when Messiah came God instituted a new covenant.  Indeed the part of the Bible we claim as our own, is called the New Testament (Covenant).  But how many know that God promised this through the Prophet Jeremiah?  Who is the promise to?  Jeremiah says: “the house of Israel and the house of Judah!”  Not as many would have us believe, a new covenant with the Gentiles!

Jesus told the woman at the well:
“You worship that which you don’t know. We worship that which we know; for salvation is from the Jews.”(Jn 4:22)

We cannot understand anything about God without understanding the faith of the Jews (that is as far as it is based upon the Old Covenant).  Without an understanding of the Old Testament we cannot understand the New.

Jeremiah also tells us the New Covenant involves having his law written upon our hearts.  Why would he do that?  So that we can behave as we like?  Never in a month of Sundays!  So that we can obey it without excuse, of course!  What, then would we expect to see?  At the very least lives obedient the Ten Commandments!  Could you list them all?

Take time to read those commandments today, you will find them in Exodus 20.

Are they written on your heart?

Could you stand before God and honestly say your life its in line with them all the time?

Remember, if you don’t match up, God has a solution:
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1:8-9)

BACKGROUND:
In some ways it is wrong to quote these few verses above without including the whole passage.  This passage goes on to say:  “Thus says YHWH: If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, then will I also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, says Yahweh.” (Jer.31:37)

Have you ever wondered why science has expanded so quickly in our time?  Why scientists have become almost the high priests of our day?  The people we go to for solutions!  Well, I love science and know many good believing men & women who are scientists.  However, I also have no doubt that the enemy, the satan, knows this passage well!  He knows that if mankind can fulfill this then he could stand before YHWH God and demand the Covenant with Israel was annulled!  A similar thing happened with the tower of Babel in Genesis (see Genesis 11).

You see, contrary to some people’s ideas, the covenant with Israel, through Abraham, can never be broken or annulled.  If it could, then YHWH God could just as easily deny the Covenant He made with us through His Son, Jesus!  No, YHWH God is not capricious, His love and mercy is everlasting.  We can be assured that because His Covenant love to Israel continues that His love for us will also endure.

[Today’s pic is available printed on a wide range of products.  To see an example visit ~ http://tinyurl.com/d4holxb]

“Yahweh spoke to Joshua, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘Assign the cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you by Moses, that the manslayer who kills any person accidentally or unintentionally may flee there. They shall be to you for a refuge from the avenger of blood.” (Joshua 20:1-3)

WHAT’S HAPPENING?
No specific events are recorded for today.   Hence we shall continue to look at the Promise of Messiah in the Old Testament.

DEVOTIONAL:
See Hebrews 6:17-18, “Wherein God, being minded to show more abundantly unto the heirs of the promise the immutability of his counsel, interposed with an oath; 18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have a strong encouragement, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.” 

From the beginning, God has provided a place of refuge for those fleeing “the avenger off blood”. Hebrews tells us we have fled to him for refuge. In our case, the avenger is death itself, the consequences of our own sin. As long as we remain in him we are safe. If the refugee left the city, the avenger could take him. As long as he remained inside its boundary, the avenger had no right to kill him.

How do we remain in him?  “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and remain in his love.” (John 15:10)  What are the commandments of Jesus?  He refers to the Ten Commandments on numerous occasions (for example, see Luke 18:20).  He also tells us a new commandment in John 15:12. We are to love one another as he has loved us.
Let us consider, do we keep these commandments? All of them? Do we love our brothers and sisters in Messiah whether we agree with them or not?  Let’s read Exodus 20 and see how we shape up. Today we can decide to walk with Messiah for real.

BACKGROUND:
Our picture today shows us Tell Kedesh in the Upper Galilee region, approximately halfway between Hazor and Dan.  It lay in the territory of Naphtali, later known as Galilee.  It was one of three Cities of Refuge set aside by Joshua after the People of Israel crossed over the Jordan into the land west of the Jordan.  The other three cities were Shechem in the central mountainous region and Hebron, the priestly city in the southern territory of Judah.  (See Johusa 20:7-9 for a full list.)

All these cities were Levite cities, with Hebron being a Priestly city.  These cities were set up to make provision for accidental taking of life.  This is something we often call manslaughter these days.  The Law of YHWH made it abundantly plain, the shedding of human blood polluted the land in which Israel lived – a people amongst whom YHWH God Himself dwelt.  Such shedding of blood could only be atoned for by the blood of the one responsible (Genesis 9:5-6; Numbers 35:33-34).  Cities of Refuge were provided to make provision for the accidental killing of another; e.g. an axehead flying off whilst someone was chopping wood and killing someone nearby (Deuteronomy 19:4).  Such unfortunate incidents were lovingly provided for by YHWH God providing the six Cities of Refuge.

Once the fugitive had reached one of these cities he had to state his case before the elders at the city gate.  Having done so he had to be received hospitably.  He would then be expected to face trial at the city gates of the city in which Jurisdiction the killing occurred.  This was to establish the innocence of the fugitive with regard to deliberate murder.  If this was established he was returned to the City of Refuge.  However, the safety of the man could only be guaranteed if he remained in the city for the rest of his life – or until the death of the High Priest.  Ni ransom could be accepted to alter these terms. (Numbers 35:22-29, 32; Joshua 20:4-6)

Because of its location Kedesh was also known as “Kedesh-Naphtali” (Judges 4:6) and “Kedesh in Galilee” (Joshua 20:7).  It seems that the Judge, Barak, lived in Kedesh.  It was to here that he rallied the 10,000 men from Naphtali and Zebulun which led to their victory over Sisera (Judges 4).  Kedesh was later to be conquered by the Assyrian King Tiglathpileser III (2Kings 15:29) during King Pekah’s rule over Israel (circa 751-732 BCE).

Excavations here took place between 1997 & 2000.  No work was carried out below the substantial Hellenistic  structures which lay just below surface level.  Recently the discovery of a rares gold coin at Kedesh was announced.  This is illustrated in the top-right of our picture (by Sue Webb, courtesy of the IAA).  The coin was minted in Alexandria by Ptolemy V in 191 BCE and bears the name of the wife of Ptolemy II, Arsinoë Philadephus.  It is the heaviest gold coin ever found in excavations in Israel and was probably not to be used commercially.  It seems to have served a symbolic function in relation to Queen Arsino, who had been deified during her lifetime.  It is called a “Mnaieion”, meaning a one-Mina coin, which is equivalent to 100 silver Drachmas – a Mina of silver.