Deuteronomy 5

The Word Made Fresh

1Moses gathered the Israelites together and said, “Listen now, Israel, to the rules and laws I tell you today. Learn them and follow them diligently. 2The LORD your God made an agreement with us at Horeb. 3That agreement was not with our ancestors, but with us who are alive today. 4The LORD spoke directly to you from the fire on the mountain. 5I was standing between you and the LORD then and I relayed the LORD’s words to you. You were afraid because of the fire and you did not go up the mountain. This is what the LORD said:

6“I am the LORD your God who brought you out of your slavery in Egypt. 7You must not have other gods; only me.

8“You must not make idols representing anything in heaven or on earth, or in the water. 9Don’t acknowledge them or worship them. The LORD your God demands fidelity, and I will punish children for mistakes made by their parents, and if the parents reject me their punishment will extend three or four generations. 10But I will love those who love me and obey my rules and laws, and my love for them will extend to their children for thousands of generations.

11“Do not abuse the name of the LORD your God. The LORD will not overlook that abuse.

12“Observe the Sabbath as a holy day as the LORD your God has taught you. 13Do your work for six days, 14but set the seventh day aside as a Sabbath, a holy day to the LORD. Neither you nor anyone in your family, including slaves, and including the animals you have may do any work on that day. This applies to foreigners who may live among you as well. 15Don’t forget that you yourselves were slaves in Egypt when the LORD brought you out with a strong and mighty arm. This is why the LORD has decreed that you must observe the Sabbath day.

16“The LORD has also commanded that you give honor to your father and mother. If you do this, you will have a long and prosperous life in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

17“You must not kill.

18“You must not commit adultery.

19“You must not steal.

20“You must not falsely accuse your neighbor.

21“Do not desire your neighbor’s wife, or residence, or land, or slave, or oxen, or donkeys, or anything else that is your neighbor’s.

22“The LORD declared these things to you in a loud voice from the fire and cloud and darkness when you were standing before the mountain, and nothing has been added to them. The LORD wrote the words on two stone tablets and gave them to me.

23“When you heard the LORD’s voice your tribal leaders came to me and said, 24‘We have seen the LORD’s majesty and might. We heard the LORD’s voice coming from the fire, and today we have learned that God can speak to someone and let them still live. 25But why should we risk being burned alive by this terrible fire? If we continue to hear God’s voice, we will surely die. 26Has there ever been a case of people hearing the voice of the living God as we have and still live? 27You go near to hear whatever the LORD our God has to say and then tell us, and we will obey.’

28“The LORD heard what you said and told me that you were right in making that request. 29The LORD said, ‘If only they would maintain this attitude, to fear me and always obey me, then it would go well with them and their children from now on! 30Tell them to go back to their tents, 31but you stay here with me and I will give you all the rules and regulations and laws for you to teach the people so that they in turn will obey all these things when they settle the land that I’m giving them.’

32“So, be careful to do everything the LORD has told you and don’t change a word of it. 33Keep strictly to the path the LORD your God is leading you down so that you may live well and prosper in the land you are going to possess.”


1-5: This chapter begins the second speech of Moses. Verses 1-5 serve as an introduction. Verses 6-21 repeat the Ten Commandments first presented in Exodus 20.

6-11: The first three commandments are near verbatim repetitions of Exodus 20:2-7.

12-15: The fourth commandment, however, is presented with some interesting differences. Instead of “Remember the Sabbath,” Moses says, “Observe the Sabbath.” In Exodus the Sabbath day was commanded because God rested on the seventh day. Moses, however, equates the observance of the Sabbath with the remembrance of their slavery in Egypt and God’s rescue of them “with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.”

16: Moses also makes a slight addition to the fifth commandment; honor your parents not only so that you will live long in the land God is giving you, but also “that it may go well with you” in the land.

17-20: Commandments 6 -9 are pretty much as in Exodus.

21: The commandment about coveting (verse 21) gives the list of things in a slightly different order. Whereas in Exodus the first thing on the list is “your neighbor’s house,” here Moses has “your neighbor’s wife” at the head of the list. This is interesting to me because in Exodus they were at Mt. Sinai, and there were no houses to covet. Here in Deuteronomy, they have taken many of the towns on the east side of the Jordan and settled them, so Moses emphasizes instead the marriage covenant above any possessions.

22-33: These verses follow the rest of Exodus 20 but with some interesting differences again: the people’s fear of God is emphasized and praised. And Moses is more concerned here with “the land the Lord your God is giving you.” It is a land he will never enter.


The “Ten Commandments” form a foundation for what God wants and expects from us. Many more laws will be added to apply to Israel’s particular situation, and Jesus will take all of these and condense them into one: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.