Exodus 20:12-16

Exodus 20:12-16
Narrative Lectionary


12 “HonorA your fatherB and your mother,C so that your daysD may be longE

Notes on verse 12a

A “honor” = kabad. To be heavy, weighty, or severe. It can also be positive abounding in, rich, or honorable. The Hebrew word for “glory,” kabod, is taken from this root.
B “father” = ab. This is father, chief, or ancestor. It is father in a literal or figurative sense.
C “mother” = em. This is a mother as binding a family together or a breeding female animal. It could be mother in a literal or figurative sense.
D “days” = yom. Root may mean being hot. This is the day in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean birth, age, daylight, continually or other references to time.
E “may be long” = arak. This is to continue, lengthen prolong, delay, or endure. It is being long or causing something to be long in a literal or figurative sense.

in the landF that the LordG your GodH is givingI you.

Notes on verse 12b

F “land” = adamah. From the same as adam (man, humankind); perhaps from ‘adom (to be red). This is ground, earth, soil as red, or land.
G “Lord” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
H “God” = Elohim.
I “giving” = natan. This is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively.

13 “You shall not murder.J

14 “You shall not commit adultery.K

15 “You shall not steal.L

Notes on verses 13-15

J “murder” = ratsach. Properly, this is to dash something to pieces. It is to kill a person, but it is used particularly (though not exclusively) for murder.
K “commit adultery” = naaph. This is to commit adultery or, figuratively, to be an apostate.
L “steal” = ganab. This is to steal in a stealthy way rather than through violence. It can also mean to deceive. There is a Yiddish word ganef that derives from this root. It means thief or scoundrel.

16 “You shall not bearM falseN witnessO against your neighbor.P

Notes on verse 16

M “bear” = anah. This is answer, respond, announce, sing, shout, or testify. It means to pay attention, which implies responding and, by extension, starting to talk. Used in a specific sense for singing, shouting, testifying, etc.
N “false” = sheqer. This is deception, lie, or disappointment. It can also be something that is vain or wrongfully.
O “witness” = ed. From ud (to admonish, repeat, duplicate, testify, restore, record, relieve). This is a witness, testimony, or one who records testimony. It can also refer to a prince.
P “neighbor” = rea. From raah (to associate with). This is the same as neighbor in Leviticus 19:18 “love your neighbor as yourself.” This is friend, companion, fellow, neighbor. It is someone with whom you associate, whether more or less close.

Image credit: “Flames of the Phoenix” by Brett Nickell, 2006.

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