Exodus 20:4
Parallel Verses
New International Version
"You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.

New Living Translation
"You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea.

English Standard Version
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

New American Standard Bible
"You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.

King James Bible
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Do not make an idol for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth.

International Standard Version
"You are not to make for yourselves an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above, or on earth below, or in the water under the earth.

NET Bible
"You shall not make for yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or that is on the earth beneath or that is in the water below.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Never make your own carved idols or statues that represent any creature in the sky, on the earth, or in the water.

Jubilee Bible 2000
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above or that is in the earth beneath nor that is in the water under the earth.

King James 2000 Bible
You shall not make unto yourself any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

American King James Version
You shall not make to you any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

American Standard Version
Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven thing, nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, nor of those things that are in the waters under the earth.

Darby Bible Translation
Thou shalt not make thyself any graven image, or any form of what is in the heavens above, or what is in the earth beneath, or what is in the waters under the earth:

English Revised Version
Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor the likeness of any form that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

Webster's Bible Translation
Thou shalt not make to thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

World English Bible
"You shall not make for yourselves an idol, nor any image of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

Young's Literal Translation
Thou dost not make to thyself a graven image, or any likeness which is in the heavens above, or which is in the earth beneath, or which is in the waters under the earth.
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

20:3-11 The first four of the ten commandments, commonly called the FIRST table, tell our duty to God. It was fit that those should be put first, because man had a Maker to love, before he had a neighbour to love. It cannot be expected that he should be true to his brother, who is false to his God. The first commandment concerns the object of worship, JEHOVAH, and him only. The worship of creatures is here forbidden. Whatever comes short of perfect love, gratitude, reverence, or worship, breaks this commandment. Whatsoever ye do, do all the glory of God. The second commandment refers to the worship we are to render to the Lord our God. It is forbidden to make any image or picture of the Deity, in any form, or for any purpose; or to worship any creature, image, or picture. But the spiritual import of this command extends much further. All kinds of superstition are here forbidden, and the using of mere human inventions in the worship of God. The third commandment concerns the manner of worship, that it be with all possible reverence and seriousness. All false oaths are forbidden. All light appealing to God, all profane cursing, is a horrid breach of this command. It matters not whether the word of God, or sacred things, all such-like things break this commandment, and there is no profit, honour, or pleasure in them. The Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. The form of the fourth commandment, Remember, shows that it was not now first given, but was known by the people before. One day in seven is to be kept holy. Six days are allotted to worldly business, but not so as to neglect the service of God, and the care of our souls. On those days we must do all our work, and leave none to be done on the sabbath day. Christ allowed works of necessity, charity, and piety; for the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath, Mr 2:27; but all works of luxury, vanity, or self-indulgence in any form, are forbidden. Trading, paying wages, settling accounts, writing letters of business, worldly studies, trifling visits, journeys, or light conversation, are not keeping this day holy to the Lord. Sloth and indolence may be a carnal, but not a holy rest. The sabbath of the Lord should be a day of rest from worldly labour, and a rest in the service of God. The advantages from the due keeping of this holy day, were it only to the health and happiness of mankind, with the time it affords for taking care of the soul, show the excellency of this commandment. The day is blessed; men are blessed by it, and in it. The blessing and direction to keep holy are not limited to the seventh day, but are spoken of the sabbath day.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 4. As the first commandment asserts the unity of God, and is a protest against polytheism, so the second asserts his spirituality, and is a protest against idolatry and materialism. Verses 4 and 5 are to be taken together, the prohibition being intended, not to forbid the arts of sculpture and painting, or even to condemn the religious use of them, but to disallow the worship of God under material forms. When the later Jews condemned all representations of natural objects (Philo, De Orac. 29; Joseph. Ant. Jud. 8:7, § 5), they not only enslaved themselves to a literalism, which is alien from the spirit of both covenants, but departed from the practice of more primitive times - representations of such objects having had their place both in the tabernacle (Exodus 25:31-34; Exodus 28:33, 34) and in the first temple (1 Kings 6:18, 29, 32, etc.). Indeed, Moses himself, when he erected the "brazen serpent" (Numbers 21:9) made it clear that representations of natural objects were not disallowed by the law. To moderns in civilized countries it seems almost incredible that there should ever have been anywhere a real worship of images. But acquaintance with ancient history or even with the present condition of man in savage or backward countries, renders it apparent that there is a subtle fascination in such material forms, and that imperfectly developed minds will rest in them not as mere emblems of divinity, but as actually possessed of Divine powers The protest raised by the second commandment is still as necessary as ever, not only in the world, but in the very Christian Church itself, where there exists even at the present day a superstitious regard for images and pictures, which is not only irrational, but which absorbs the religious feelings that should have been directed to higher objects. Any graven image. Perhaps it would be better to translate "any image," for the term used (pesel) is applied, not only to "graven" but also to "molten images" (Isaiah 40:19; Isaiah 44:10; Jeremiah 10:14; etc.), since these last were in almost every instance finished by the graving tool. Or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above - i.e., "any likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air." Compare Deuteronomy 4:17. The water under the earth. See Genesis 1:6, 7. The triple division here and elsewhere made, is intended to embrace the whole material universe. Much of the Egyptian religion consisted in the worship of animals and their images.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image,.... An image of anything graven by art or man's device, cut out of wood of stone, and so anything that was molten, or cast into a mould or form, engraved by men, and this in order to be worshipped; for otherwise images of things might be made for other uses and purposes, as the cherubim over the mercy seat, and the brazen serpent, and images and impressions on coin, which we do not find the Jews themselves scrupled to make use of in Christ's time on that account; though they vehemently opposed the setting up any images of the Caesars or emperors in their temple, because they seemed to be placed there as deities, and had a show of religious worship: however, any image of God was not to be made at all, since no similitude was ever seen of him, or any likeness could be conceived; and it must be a gross piece of ignorance, madness, and impudence, to pretend to make one, and great impiety to make it in order to be the object of religious worship; on which account, not any image or the image of anything whatever was to be made:

or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above; any form, figure, portrait, or picture of anything or creature whatever, whether in the supreme, starry, or airy heaven; as of angels, which some have gone into the worship of; and of the sun, moon, and stars, the host of heaven; and of any of the birds of the air, as the hawk by the Egyptians, and the dove by the Assyrians:

or that is in the earth beneath; as oxen, sheep, goats, cats, dogs, &c. such as were the gods of Egypt:

or that is in the water under the earth: as of fishes, such as were the crocodile of Egypt, the Dagon of the Philistines, and the Derceto of the Syrians: this is the second command, as the Targum of Jonathan expressly calls it; that is, the first part of it, which forbids the making of graven images for worship; the other part follows, which is the worship of them itself: Clemens of Alexandria (d) observes, that Numa, king of the Romans, took this from Moses, and forbid the Romans to make any image of God, like to man or beast.

(d) Stromat. l. 1. p. 304.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

4, 5. Thou shalt not make … any graven image … thou shalt not bow down thyself to them—that is, "make in order to bow." Under the auspices of Moses himself, figures of cherubim, brazen serpents, oxen, and many other things in the earth beneath, were made and never condemned. The mere making was no sin—it was the making with the intent to give idolatrous worship.

Exodus 20:4 Additional Commentaries
Context
The Ten Commandments
3"You shall have no other gods before Me. 4"You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 5"You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,…
Cross References
Exodus 32:8
They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, 'These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.'

Exodus 34:17
"Do not make any idols.

Leviticus 19:4
"'Do not turn to idols or make metal gods for yourselves. I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 26:1
"'Do not make idols or set up an image or a sacred stone for yourselves, and do not place a carved stone in your land to bow down before it. I am the LORD your God.

Numbers 12:8
With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?"

Deuteronomy 4:15
You saw no form of any kind the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully,

Deuteronomy 4:16
so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman,

Deuteronomy 5:8
"You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.

Deuteronomy 27:15
"Cursed is anyone who makes an idol--a thing detestable to the LORD, the work of skilled hands--and sets it up in secret." Then all the people shall say, "Amen!"

Judges 17:3
When he returned the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his mother, she said, "I solemnly consecrate my silver to the LORD for my son to make an image overlaid with silver. I will give it back to you."

2 Kings 17:12
They worshiped idols, though the LORD had said, "You shall not do this."

Psalm 78:58
They angered him with their high places; they aroused his jealousy with their idols.

Ezekiel 8:3
He stretched out what looked like a hand and took me by the hair of my head. The Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and in visions of God he took me to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the north gate of the inner court, where the idol that provokes to jealousy stood.

Ezekiel 20:7
And I said to them, "Each of you, get rid of the vile images you have set your eyes on, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt. I am the LORD your God."
Treasury of Scripture

You shall not make to you any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

Exodus 32:1,8,23 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the …

Exodus 34:17 You shall make you no molten gods.

Leviticus 19:4 Turn you not to idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the …

Leviticus 26:1 You shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither raise you up …

Deuteronomy 4:15-19,23-25 Take you therefore good heed to yourselves…

Deuteronomy 5:8 You shall not make you any graven image, or any likeness of any thing …

Deuteronomy 27:15 Cursed be the man that makes any graven or molten image, an abomination …

1 Kings 12:28 Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and …

2 Chronicles 33:7 And he set a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the house …

Psalm 97:7 Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves …

Psalm 115:4-8 Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands…

Psalm 135:15-18 The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men's hands…

Isaiah 40:18-20 To whom then will you liken God? or what likeness will you compare to him…

Isaiah 42:8,17 I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, …

Isaiah 44:9-20 They that make a graven image are all of them vanity; and their delectable …

Isaiah 45:16 They shall be ashamed, and also confounded, all of them: they shall …

Isaiah 46:5-8 To whom will you liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that …

Jeremiah 10:3-5,8,9,14-16 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cuts a tree out of …

Ezekiel 8:10 So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and …

Acts 17:29 For as much then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to …

Acts 19:26-35 Moreover you see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost …

Romans 1:23 And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made …

Revelation 9:20 And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet …

Revelation 13:14,15 And deceives them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles …

Revelation 14:9-11 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any …

Revelation 16:2 And the first went, and poured out his vial on the earth…

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