Hi, I'm Tim Coombs, co-pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Scotia, NY and a member of the network of biblical storytellers. To learn more about its mission, go to nbsint.org.
For many of us, understanding of this story is covered by the movie called The Ten Commandments. In fact, some of us have difficulty picturing Moses as other than Charlton Heston. Now the story is rather long and involved, but when we come to when the Jews are liberated, the Hebrews are liberated from pharaoh, they head through the wilderness. They cross the Red Sea, and Moses leads them to Mount Sinai. Now, God is said to dwell at the top of Mount Sinai, and Moses goes up the mountain to meet God, perhaps with the understanding that God is going to make a covenant with Moses and the people. And when Moses gets up there and he stays for many days, God writes in stone with God's finger the ten commandments. I have a friend who jokes that the reason there is only 10 is when you have to write in stone with your finger, it takes quite a bit of effort. Anyway, the ten commandments are in two parts. The first part deals with humans' relationship with God, that God alone is our God. We should have no other Gods before us. That there should be no graven images. And then the second of the commandments begin with honor your father and mother, and then we learn that we should not steal, murder, bear false witness, covet what our neighbor has. And so that is how God gives the ten commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai.