Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Wife Says

"Christmas is when the faithful demonstrate their piety by demanding the right to violate the 2nd commandment on public property."


David Bratman said...

So which one is the Second Commandment, "You shall have no other gods before me," "You shall not make for yourself an idol," or "Do not take the name of the Lord in vain"? The numbering differs, depending on who's counting them up.

John D. Rateliff said...

Hi David
We were going by the King James, that being the version we've been using on our read-all-the-Bible-in-order project. Hence, the Second Commandment is "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 (Exodus 20.4). This is repeated in almost exactly the same words in Deuteronomy 5.8, while Deuteronomy 4.15-18 spells out in detail just what all is covered: ", , , the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female. The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air.The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth." (verse 19 seems to extend this to the sun, moon, & stars as well).
Against this must be set the Ark of the Covenant, which so far as I can tell violates the Commandment because it has a statue of a cherub at either end (Exodus 25.19), not to mention Moses breaking his own rules when he creates the Nahushtan, or a brass serpent on a pole for the people to look on and be cured of snakebite (Numbers 21.9); this relic was destroyed centuries later by one of the kings of Judah (2nd Kings 18.4)*


*interestingly enough, they recently uncovered a copper snake in the Temple at Samaria, according to the latest issue of BIBLICAL ARCHEOLOGY REVIEW