In Exodus, God finally reveals his law to the Israelites. Some of it is reasonable and timeless (i.e. don’t murder, don’t steal) but much of it is irrelevant and just plane kooky (i.e. laws about slavery and cheeseburgers). Death is a common a consequence for not following the law. Perhaps the most outrages decree follows the second commandment:
4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” (Ex. 20:4-6)
Wow. Certainly punishing the guilty is just, but the guilty’s great-grandchildren? A lot of people don’t even live to see their fourth generation. I guess the concept of individual responsibility escapes Yahweh.
Less disturbing but still puzzling is the lack of precision in the language. What if I worship an idol, but my children don’t, what will be the fate of my grandchildren and their children? Legalese certainly has come a long way in three thousand years.
The next time someone tries to put a Ten Commandments statue in your courthouse, point out the incompatibility of the justice in the second commandment with that found in modern democracy, which the court functions in. It might even be worth mentioning that their worship of the Commandments could be construed as a form of idolatry. Sorry kiddies.