A Living Agreement

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Creative Commons Yad and Sefer Torah” by Rachel-Esther is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Deuteronomy 5:1-22

1 Moses called out to all Israel, saying to them: “Israel! Listen to the regulations and the case laws that I’m recounting in your hearing right now. Learn them and carefully do them. The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Mount Horeb. The Lord didn’t make this covenant with our ancestors but with us—all of us who are here and alive right now. The Lord spoke with you face-to-face on the mountain from the very fire itself. At that time, I was standing between the Lord and you, declaring to you the Lord’s word, because you were terrified of the fire and didn’t go up on the mountain.” The Lord said: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You must have no other gods before me. Do not make an idol for yourself—no form whatsoever—of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. Do not bow down to them or worship them because I, the Lord your God, am a passionate God. I punish children for their parents’ sins—even to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me. 10 But I am loyal and gracious to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments. 11 Do not use the Lord your God’s name as if it were of no significance; the Lord won’t forgive anyone who uses his name that way. 12 Keep the Sabbath day and treat it as holy, exactly as the Lord your God commanded: 13 Six days you may work and do all your tasks, 14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. Don’t do any work on it—not you, your sons or daughters, your male or female servants, your oxen or donkeys or any of your animals, or the immigrant who is living among you—so that your male and female servants can rest just like you. 15 Remember that you were a slave in Egypt, but the Lord your God brought you out of there with a strong hand and an outstretched arm. That’s why the Lord your God commands you to keep the Sabbath day. 16 Honor your father and your mother, exactly as the Lord your God requires, so that your life will be long and so that things will go well for you on the fertile land that the Lord your God is giving you. 17 Do not kill. 18 Do not commit adultery. 19 Do not steal. 20 Do not testify falsely against your neighbor. 21 Do not desire and try to take your neighbor’s wife. Do not crave your neighbor’s house, field, male or female servant, ox, donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor. 22 Those are the words the Lord spoke to your entire assembly with a loud voice while on the mountain, from the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick smoke. He added no more. God wrote them on two stone tablets, then gave them to mHe wrote them on two stone tablets, and gave them to me. (CEB)

[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]

Deuteronomy 5:1-22 in Other Words

Moses gathered the Israelites and said, “Listen, people, here are the rules by which we will organize our community. Pay attention so that you can live within their confines. Since Horeb we have had a covenant to which we bound ourselves in the name of God. Perhaps. This covenant is binding on us and the generations that come after us. It is a perpetual covenant. At Mt. Horeb I experienced, and then shared with you, that insistence which we identify with the name of God. Perhaps. It was as if God had actually been physically present to me and then to you. Even though we were all spooked by the experience of Horeb, our acceptance of the covenant is evidence that we have agreed to live as a people who are called in the name of God. Perhaps. This means that we will:

    • structure our corporate life in response to that calling to which we have been called, not seeking after gods who “exist”

    • neither make nor worship gods / idols who promise other callings

    • show compassion to those who respond with integrity to that to which we have been called

    • be vigilant that we ascribe the name of God (perhaps) only to that deep collective inner insistence to which we have been called

    • build sabbath into our personal lives as well as the corporate life of our community and extend the grace of sabbath to employees and those who are strangers in our midst

    • engage our extended families with probity

    • withdraw from violence

    • avoid inappropriate relationships

    • allow others to claim their own space and support their efforts to build an abundant life

    • speak to and about others with integrity

This is the calling to which, as I understand it, we are called in the name of God. Perhaps. To show how important these principles and precepts are, I have had them inscribed in stone.

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