You shall not make 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 waters beneath the earth:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Deuteronomy 5:8. Thou shalt not make any graven image — Hast thou not formed any gross image of God in thy mind? Hast thou always thought of him as a pure spirit, whom no man hath seen, nor can see? and hast thou worshipped him with thy body, as well as with thy spirit, seeing both of them are God’s?Exodus 20 and notes.
Moses here adopts the Ten Words as a ground from which he may proceed to reprove, warn, and exhort; and repeats them, with a certain measure of freedom and adaptation. Our Lord Mark 10:19 and Paul Ephesians 6:2-3 deal similarly with the same subject. Speaker and hearers recognized, however, a statutory and authoritative form of the laws in question, which, because it was familiar to both parties, needed not to be reproduced with verbal fidelity.Exodus 20:2; see Gill on Exodus 20:2, and those commands are here delivered in the same order, and pretty near in the same words, with a little variation, and a few additions; which I shall only observe, and refer to Exodus 20:1 for the sense of the various laws. Thou shalt not make 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 waters beneath the earth:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)8. any form] See on Deuteronomy 4:12.
8–10. The Second Commandment; the differences from Exodus 20:4-6 are very slight (Ex. has the conjunction before any form and omits it before the third) and the Versions show them to be uncertain. On the questions of date raised by the prohibition of images see above, p. 85. The substance of the commandment is very fully treated in Driver’s notes on Exodus 20:4-6, which see.Verses 8-10. - Here the spirituality of God is asserted, and, in the prohibition of the use of images in the worship of the Deity, all idolatry is denounced, and all deification of the powers of nature in any sense is prohibited. By the Jews, this commandment was not always regarded, for they were not infrequently seduced into following the idolatrous usages of the nations around them. It does not appear, however, that, though they set up images of the idol-gods whom they were thus led to worship, they ever attempted to represent by image or picture the great God whom their fathers worshipped - Jehovah - by whom this command was given; and at a later period, when they had long renounced all idolatry, they became noted as the one nation that adored the Deity as a spirit, without any sensible representation of him: "Judaei mente sola unumque Numen intelligunt... igitur nulla simulacra urbibus suis, nedum temples sinunt" (Tacit., 'Hist.,' 5:5). It appears that, by many of them at least, the commandment was regarded as prohibiting absolutely the graphic and plastic arts (Philo, 'Quis Rer. Div. Haer. sit.,' p. 496, edit. Mangey; ' De Ebriet.,' p. 374; ' De Gigant.,' p. 270). This may account for the low state of these arts among the Jews, and for the fact that they alone of the civilized nations of antiquity have left no monuments of art for the instruction or admiration of posterity. Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them; LXX., προσκυνήσιες αὐτοῖς οὐδὲ μή λατρεύσης αὐτοῖς. Every kind of worship of images is forbidden, alike that of proskunesis and that of latria. And showing mercy unto thousands; i.e. to the thousandth generation (cf. Deuteronomy 7:9) Deuteronomy 4:37. Moses refers to the conclusion of the covenant at Sinai, which was essentially distinct from the covenant at Sinai, which was essentially distinct from the covenant made with Abraham (Genesis 15:18), though the latter laid the foundation for the Sinaitic covenant. But Moses passed over this, as it was not his intention to trace the historical development of the covenant relation, but simply to impress upon the hearts of the existing generation the significance of its entrance into covenant with the Lord. The generation, it is true, with which God made the covenant at Horeb, had all died out by that time, with the exception of Moses, Joshua, and Caleb, and only lived in the children, who, though in part born in Egypt, were all under twenty years of age at the conclusion of the covenant at Sinai, and therefore were not among the persons with whom the Lord concluded the covenant. But the covenant was made not with the particular individuals who were then alive, but rather with the nation as an organic whole. Hence Moses could with perfect justice identify those who constituted the nation at that time, with those who had entered into covenant with the Lord at Sinai. The separate pronoun (we) is added to the pronominal suffix for the sake of emphasis, just as in Genesis 4:26, etc.; and אלּה again is so connected with אנחנוּ, as to include the relative in itself.
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