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Exodus 20

Exodus 20:1-26 . THE TEN COMMANDMENTS.

18-21. all the people saw the thunderings and the lightnings--They were eye and ear witnesses of the awful emblems of the Deity's descent. But they perceived not the Deity Himself.

19. let not God speak with us, lest we die, &c.--The phenomena of thunder and lightning had been one of the plagues so fatal to Egypt, and as they heard God speaking to them now, they were apprehensive of instant death also. Even Moses himself, the mediator of the old covenant, did "exceedingly quake and fear" ( Hebrews 12:21 ). But doubtless God spake what gave him relief--restored him to a frame of mind fit for the ministrations committed to him; and hence immediately after he was enabled to relieve and comfort them with the relief and comfort which he himself had received from God ( 2 Corinthians 1:4 ).

22, 23. the Lord said unto Moses--It appears from Deuteronomy 4:14-16 , that this injunction was a conclusion drawn from the scene on Sinai--that as no similitude of God was displayed then, they should not attempt to make any visible figure or form of Him.

24. An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me--a regulation applicable to special or temporary occasions.

25. thou shalt not build it of hewn stone, &c.--that is, carved with figures and ornaments that might lead to superstition.

26. by steps--a precaution taken for the sake of decency, in consequence of the loose, wide, flowing garments of the priests.

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