Yitro: A Summary of the Parashah

Jethro, Moses' father-in-law suggests a system for establishing lower courts to settle disputes; God speaks the Ten Commandments to the Children of Israel amidst fire, smoke, and the sound of the shofar.

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God spoke all these words, saying, “I the Lord am your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

“You shall have no other god beside Me. You shall not make for yourself a sculptured image, or any likeness of what is in the heavens above, or on the earth below, or in the waters under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the guilt of the fathers upon the children, upon the third and upon the fourth generations of those who reject Me, but showing kindness to the thousandth generation of those who love Me and observe My commandments.

“You shall not take in vain the name of the Lord your God; for the Lord will not clear one who swears falsely by His name.

“Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and accomplish all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord, your God; you shall not do any work--you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, or your cattle, or the stranger who is within your settlements. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth and sea, and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and sanctified it.

“Honor your father and your mother that you may long endure on the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you.

“You shall not murder.

“You shall not commit sexual impropriety.

“You shall not steal.

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

“You shall not covet your fellow human’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female slave, or his ox or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

When the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the blare of the shofar and the mountain smoking, they fell back in fear. “You speak to us, Moses, and we shall hear. Let God not speak to us lest we die.”

Do Not Be Afraid

“Do not be afraid,” responded Moses. “God only spoke directly so that the fear of the Lord may forever be with you, so that you do not go astray.”

The people stood from afar while Moses approached God in the thick cloud.

“Tell the Israelites,” God said to Moses “you, yourselves, saw that I spoke to you from the very heavens. Therefore, never make any gods of silver or gold. Make an Altar of earth for Me and sacrifice offerings. In every place My name is mentioned, I will come to you and bless you.”

Questions For Discussion

1) Why do you think God chose to give The Ten Commandments to all the people at the same time and not just have Moses relate them to the people?

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Nancy Reuben Greenfield

Nancy Reuben Greenfield has written three adaptations of the Torah, including an
interactive family version at www.TiptoeThroughTheTorah.com, and an engaging
Jewish immigrant novel, The Golden Medina, available on itunes and Amazon.