Exodus 20:4
Parallel Verses
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.

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:

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.

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:

Exodus 20:4 Parallel
Commentary
Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament

After these preparations, on the morning of the third day (from the issuing of this divine command), Jehovah came down upon the top of Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:20), manifesting His glory in fire as the mighty, jealous God, in the midst of thunders (קלת) and lightnings, so that the mountain burned with fire (Deuteronomy 4:11; Deuteronomy 5:20), and the smoke of the burning mountain ascended as the smoke (עשׁן for עשׁן), and the whole mountain trembled (Exodus 19:18), at the same time veiling in a thick cloud the fire of His wrath and jealousy, by which the unholy are consumed. Thunder and lightning bursting forth from the thick cloud, and fire with smoke, were the elementary substrata, which rendered the glory of the divine nature visible to men, though in such a way that the eye of mortals beheld no form of the spiritual and invisible Deity. These natural phenomena were accompanied by a loud trumpet blast, which "blew long and waxed louder and louder" (Exodus 19:16 and Exodus 19:19; see Genesis 8:3), and was, as it were, the herald's call, announcing to the people the appearance of the Lord, and summoning them to assemble before Him and listen to His words, as they sounded forth from the fire and cloudy darkness. The blast (קול) of the shophar (Exodus 19:19), i.e., the σάλπιγξ Θεοῦ, the trump of God, such a trumpet as is used in the service of God (in heaven, 1 Thessalonians 4:16; see Winer's Grammar), is not "the voice of Jehovah," but a sound resembling a trumpet blast. Whether this sound was produced by natural means, or, as some of the earlier commentators supposed, by angels, of whom myriads surrounded Jehovah when He came down upon Sinai (Deuteronomy 33:2), it is impossible to decide. At this alarming phenomenon, "all the people that was in the camp trembled" (Exodus 19:16). For according to Exodus 20:20 (17), it was intended to inspire them with a salutary fear of the majesty of God. Then Moses conducted the people (i.e., the men) out of the camp of God, and stationed them at the foot of the mountain outside the barrier (Exodus 19:17); and "Moses spake" (Exodus 19:19), i.e., asked the Lord for His commands, "and God answered loud" (בּקול), and told him to come up to the top of the mountain. He then commanded him to go down again, and impress upon the people that no one was to break through to Jehovah to see, i.e., to break down the barriers that were erected around the mountain as the sacred place of God, and attempt to penetrate into the presence of Jehovah. Even the priests, who were allowed to approach God by virtue of their office, were to sanctify themselves, that Jehovah might not break forth upon them (יפרץ), i.e., dash them to pieces. (On the form העדתה for העידת, see Ewald, 199 a). The priests were neither "the sons of Aaron," i.e., Levitical priest, nor the first-born or principes populi, but "those who had hitherto discharged the duties of the priestly office according to natural right and custom" (Baumgarten). Even these priests were too unholy to be able to come into the presence of the holy God. This repeated enforcement of the command not to touch the mountain, and the special extension of it even to the priests, were intended to awaken in the people a consciousness of their own unholiness quite as much as of the unapproachable holiness of Jehovah. But this separation from God, which arose from the unholiness of the nation, did not extend to Moses and Aaron, who were to act as mediators, and were permitted to ascend the mountain. Moreover, the prospect of ascending the holy mountain "at the drawing of the blast" was still before the people (Exodus 19:13). And the strict prohibition against breaking through the barrier, to come of their own accord into the presence of Jehovah, is by no means at variance with this. When God gave the sign to ascend the mountain, the people might and were to draw near to Him. This sign, viz., the long-drawn trumpet blast, was not to be given in any case till after the promulgation of the ten words of the fundamental law. But it was not given even after this promulgation; not, however, because "the development was altogether an abnormal one, and not in accordance with the divine appointment in Exodus 19:13, inasmuch as at the thunder, the lightning, and the sound of the trumpet, with which the giving of the law was concluded, they lost all courage, and instead of waiting for the promised signal, were overcome with fear, and ran from the spot," for there is not a word in the text about running away; but because the people were so terrified by the alarming phenomena which accompanied the coming down of Jehovah upon the mountain, that they gave up the right of speaking with God, and from a fear of death entreated Moses to undertake the intercourse with God in their behalf (Exodus 20:18-21). Moreover, we cannot speak of an "abnormal development" of the drama, for the simple reason, that God not only foresaw the course and issue of the affair, but at the very outset only promised that He would come to Moses in a thick cloud (Exodus 19:9), and merely announced and carried out His own descent upon Mount Sinai before the eyes of the people in the terrible glory of His sacred majesty (Exodus 19:11), for the purpose of proving the people, that His fear might be before their eyes (Exodus 20:20; cf. Deuteronomy 5:28-29). Consequently, apart from the physical impossibility of 600,000 ascending the mountain, it never was intended that all the people should do so.

(Note: The idea of the people fleeing and running away must have been got by Kurtz from either Luther's or De Wette's translation. They have both of them rendered וגו ויּנעוּ, "they fled and went far off," instead of "they trembled and stood far off." And not only the supposed flight, but his idea that "thunder, lightning, and the trumpet blast (which were silent in any case during the utterance of the ten commandments), concluded the promulgation of the law, as they had already introduced it according to Exodus 19:16," also rests upon a misunderstanding of the text of the Bible. There is not a syllable in Exodus 20:18 about the thunder, lightning, and trumpet blast bursting forth afresh after the proclamation of the ten commandments. There is simply an account of the impression, which the alarming phenomena, mentioned in Exodus 19:16-19 as attending the descent of Jehovah upon the mountain (Exodus 19:20), and preceding His speaking to Moses and the people, made upon the people, who had been brought out of the camp to meet with God.)

What God really intended, came to pass. After the people had been received into fellowship with Jehovah through the atoning blood of the sacrifice, they were permitted to ascend the mountain in the persons of their representatives, and there to see God (Exodus 24:9-11).

Exodus 20:4 Parallel Commentaries

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Exodus 32:1,8,23 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron...

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 LORD your God.

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

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 that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath...

Deuteronomy 27:15 Cursed be the man that makes any graven or molten image, an abomination to the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman...

1 Kings 12:28 Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said to them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem...

2 Chronicles 33:7 And he set a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the house of God, of which God had said to David and to Solomon his son...

Psalm 97:7 Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all you gods.

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, neither my praise to graven images...

Isaiah 44:9-20 They that make a graven image are all of them vanity; and their delectable things shall not profit; and they are their own witnesses...

Isaiah 45:16 They shall be ashamed, and also confounded, all of them: they shall go to confusion together that are makers of idols.

Isaiah 46:5-8 To whom will you liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be like...

Jeremiah 10:3-5,8,9,14-16 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cuts a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax...

Ezekiel 8:10 So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel...

Acts 17:29 For as much then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like to gold, or silver, or stone...

Acts 19:26-35 Moreover you see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia...

Romans 1:23 And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts...

Revelation 9:20 And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands...

Revelation 13:14,15 And deceives them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast...

Revelation 14:9-11 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image...

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

Cross References
Exodus 32:8
They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, 'These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!'"

Exodus 34:17
"You shall not make for yourself any gods of cast metal.

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

Leviticus 26:1
"You shall not make idols for yourselves or erect an image or pillar, and you shall not set up a figured stone in your land to bow down to it, for I am the LORD your God.

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

Deuteronomy 4:15
"Therefore watch yourselves very carefully. Since you saw no form on the day that the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire,

Deuteronomy 4:16
beware lest you act corruptly by making a carved image for yourselves, in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female,

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