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Q: #369. Did God write the Ten Commandments with his own hand, or did Moses write them?

     A: The Bible clearly says in several places that God did indeed write the Ten Commandments Himself. The clearest verse in regards to this is found in (Ex 31:18), which says, “When He (God) had finished speaking with him (Moses) upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, WRITTEN BY THE FINGER OF GOD” (NASB) (Caps emphasis mine). (“Finger of God” being figurative since God is Spirit, and as Jesus said, “spirit” does not have flesh and bone (Jn 4:24)(Lk 24:39)(Mt 16:17).) Other verses also confirm that God wrote the Ten Commandments on the tablets (Ex 24:12)(Ex 32:15-16).

     After Moses received the Ten Commandments from God, he came down from Mount Sinai to find the Israelites worshipping the golden calf they had made, “and Moses anger burned, and he threw the tablets from his hands and shattered them at the foot of the mountain” (Ex 32:19)(NASB). After this, God told Moses to make two new tablets and return up the mountain where He would rewrite words on the new tablets (Ex 34:1-4)(Deut 10:1-5). Both of these places clearly show us that GOD wrote the 2nd set of Commandments as well.

     However, a bit of confusion comes because (Ex 34:27-28) says, “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” (28) So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did not eat bread or drink water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.” These verses make it sound like Moses wrote out the 2nd set of Commandments. But, when we filter these verses through what was said previously in (Ex 34:1-4), and later in (Deut 10:1-5), it seems clear that God also wrote the 2nd set.

     In my opinion, the best way to explain (Ex 34:27-28) in light of verses that say GOD wrote out the Commandments, is that perhaps Moses wrote out the things God said in (Ex 34:11-26) (See: Ex 17:14, Ex 24:4, Num 33:2, Deut 31:9), and God Himself wrote out the Ten Commandments.

     Matthew Poole’s Commentary explains it like this: “He wrote, not Moses, but the Lord, as appears from (Exodus 24:1), and from (Deu 10), the relative pronoun being here referred to the remoter antecedent, of which there are many instances, as (Genesis 10:12) (1 Samuel 21:14, 27:8) (Psalm 99:6).” (For the complicated explanation 🙂 )

P.S. Interesting: we learn from (Ex 32:15) that the tablets containing the Ten Commandments had writing on BOTH sides!

Copyright: © Steve Shirley

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