The Ten Words

Note: I have added the biblical references by book, chapter and verse. These are not in the original text. All sentences and individual words which are in Hebrew rather than Arabic in the text are colored maroon. This does not apply to proper names, even though the Hebrew rather than the Arabic forms are usually used. The name and address of the publisher on the title page is in Roman script. You can click on underlined words to read an explanation; click on the pointer symbol at the end of the note to return to your place. You may wish to read the introduction to this text first.

[Title Page – 1a]

The Ten Words

They were said in truth and righteousness from the mouth of the source of power. And the Most High gave forth His voice, the voice of the Lord hewing out flames of fire, Cf. Psalms 29.8 (verse 7 in English bibles) on the day that he enjoined the words of the Torah on the children of Israel, the people near unto Him, in the choice assembly on Mount Sinai, when they drew near to the holy place (how awesome is it!) We are accustomed to read this on the day that [the words of the Torah] were given, here in the holy congregations of Oran and Tlemcen [Algeria] and the environs, in a clear and refined Arabic language, as they were prepared and explored by our powerful genius, the crown of our heads, our master Saadiah Gaon, of blessed memory. Here, Oran, (may He establish our city, amen!) in the year 5616/1856.


ORAN. Imprimerie Adolphe PERRIER, Boulevard Oudinot.

[1b]

Truly it is incumbent on me to make utterances
Incised, refined and pure in the holy assembly.
The holy nation is enjoined by our God
To understand and teach His greatness and wisdom
And the power of his mighty deeds in the choirs of the upright.
His words are sweeter than honey, and they are sound;
They are righteous, and they shine like luminaries.
These utterances are ten, like the ten utterances
With which God created the world,
And the ten mystical Sefirot.
His signs and mysteries are the basis
Of the six hundred and thirteen commandments.
Remember, O my people, to worship My Name
So long as you live.
Make not idols and sacred groves.
Cease to take My Name in vain,
For I shall never cleanse such a transgressor from sin.
Hasten to remember and sanctify the seventh day,
And honor father and mother, so may you live to see [further] generations.
Fear God, and kill not one whose hands are clean.
Fornicate not, go not astray after strange women.
Steal not the labor and wealth of your brother,
And give no evidence to pervert justice.
Covet not your neighbor's wife,
Or his precious possessions and the vessels he has.
Then you will succeed and be prosperous,
And you shall have blessings and peace as it were in torrents.

Blessed be God, the God of Israel. He is living, existing, lasting, remaining, eternal. He discloses vices and uncovers secrets. He knows what is in the inward parts and the thoughts. His deeds give evidence about Him, and his works point to Him, that He is living and enduring. None can behold Him, He is living and peerless, the exalted creator who knows that which is concealed, as our prophet and master Moses, on him be peace, said Deuteronomy 29.29: The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the revealed things belong to us and to our children forever, to observe all the words of this law.

The explanation of this is: The secret things belong to God, our God and Lord, and the revealed things belong to us and our children forever, to the end that we may observe the words of the law which is mentioned in this book.

[2a] I shall begin with the Ten Utterances. As we begin our speech, and open our mouths, and loosen our tongues, it is incumbent upon us to give thanks to our Lord. And let us praise and laud our God who chose and selected us from the seventy peoples [of the earth], who brought us out from Egypt, and redeemed us from the house of bondage. He drowned our foes in the middle of the sea, gave us manna and quails to eat. He satisfied our thirst with water from the rock. He drew us near to the choice Mount Sinai, and ennobled and favored us with the Torah and laws and scripture. In His grace he favored us, and with His blessing He showed mercy to us and blessed us, as He declared in the true and pure Torah Deuteronomy 1.11: The Lord God of your fathers increase you a thousand times as many as you are, and bless you as He said unto you.

The explanation of this is: God, the God of our fathers increase us a thousand times as many as we are, and bless us as He promised us.

It is as was said by the beloved prophet, the messenger of the compassionate and merciful God. He demanded and received a promise made to him, he demanded and received a pardon. He was purified of sin, he faithfully declared the truth, he was pure and upright, humble and God-pleasing. Such is our master Moses, son of Amram, on him be favor and peace. The light of God was bright and resplendent in perfection on his face. He was like a shining star when it rises in power and glory. He was like the bright appearance of the sun, on which none dare look to ascertain its appearance by looking. Just like this was the countenance of Moses son of Amram, our prophet, our noble one, our master, when he went out from his hidden place with commandments and declarations. None durst look on his face until he was turning his face aside, and assuming a veil and a covering.

[2b] And the evidence of this is: And Moses would replace the veil upon his face until he went in to speak with Him. Exodus 34.34 If Moses, peace be upon him, was speaking with our Lord, who is powerful and to be praised, he would remove the veil. And if he was speaking with the children of Israel, he would cover his face. And this too we have ascertained in respect of his power and majesty: there was none who might approach his nobility and rank, none who came before, and none who may yet come. As it is written in the Torah: Never since has there arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, as a man speaks with his friend Deuteronomy 34.10 confidently, in happiness and joy without regret. His nobility and faith strengthened and ennobled him, as it is written in the Torah of truth: He is faithful in all My house. Numbers 12.7

Our beloved and noble prophet, our master Moses, the messenger of God, on him be grace and peace, who was true in his promise, spoke to you in clear speech and most elevated language: May the Lord God of our fathers increase us a thousand times as many as we are, and bless us, as He has promised us in his statement in revealed scripture: The Lord God of your fathers increase you a thousand times as many as you are, and bless you as he said to you.Deuteronomy 1.11

In the third month of the going out of the children of Israel from the land of Egypt, on that day they came to the wilderness of Sinai. Exodus 19.1 et seqq.

In the third month of the going out of the children of Israel from the land of Egypt, on that day they came to the wilderness of Sinai. [3a] And they went up from Rephidim, and they came to the wilderness of Sinai, and they encamped in the wilderness, and Israel encamped there opposite the mountain, attentive and submissive, all of them single-heartedly, and with pure intention, to accept the Torah, and occupy themselves therewith. And Moses went up to God, and God called to him from the mountain saying: Thus you shall speak to the people of Jacob, and inform the children of Israel.

You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and I carried you as if on eagles' wings, and brought you to obedience to Me.

And if you accept My words, and observe My covenant, you shall be special unto Me from all nations. For the whole world is Mine. And you shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests and a sanctified people. This is the statement which you shall announce to the children of Israel. And Moses came and called to the elders of the people, and presented these matters which God had commanded.

And the entire people answered and said: Everything which God, may He be exalted, has said we shall do. And Moses brought back the statement of the people to God.

And God said to Moses: Lo, I reveal Myself to you in a thick cloud, in order that the people will hear what I speak with them, and so that they will believe in you forever. And Moses informed God of the statement of the people.

And God said to Moses: Go to the people and purify them today, and let them wash their clothes. And let them be ready for the third day, for on the third day God shall reveal Himself openly to all the people on Mount Sinai. And you shall set limits to the people all around saying: Be very careful, [3b] do not ascend the mountain, and do not touch its edge. Anyone who does so shall surely be put to death. No hand shall touch it, else he will surely be stoned, or surely be shot through, whether beast or human he shall not live. And when the horn sounds, ascending the mountain is permissible. And Moses went down from the mountain to the people. And he sanctified them, and they washed their clothes.

And he said to them: Be ready for the third day, do not touch a woman. And it was on the third day of the current month that there was the sound of the horn on the mountain very powerful, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. So Moses brought out the people to meet the light of God from the camp. And they stood opposite the mountain.

And Mount Sinai was smoking, all of it, on account of the fact that God revealed Himself upon it in fire. And its smoke went up like the smoke of the furnace, and the mountain trembled greatly. And the sound of the horn was going and becoming very great. Moses was speaking, and God answered him in a well-modulated voice. And God revealed Himself on the head of Mount Sinai. And then the angels of God descended on Mount Sinai in twenty-two thousand chariots, like the chariot which Ezekiel son of Buzi, on him be peace, saw, and the mountain spread and supported them through the power of God, may He be exalted. And God summoned Moses from the head of the mountain, and Moses went up.

And God said to Moses: Go down and give testimony to the people that they should not turn back to look at God, with the result that many of them would fall.

And also the priests who draw near to God must sanctify themselves, [4a] so that God should not break out against them. And Moses said in front of God: The people cannot go up to Mount Sinai, because You have testified against them saying: Set limits around the mountain and sanctify it. And God said to him: Go down, and come up having Aaron with you. And the priests and the rest of the people shall not venture to come up to the light of God, may He be exalted, lest many of them be killed.

And Moses went down to the people and spoke to them. And when Moses went up to the heavens to bring down the Torah to the children of Israel, God, may He be exalted, sent to him a cloud, and it bore him. And Moses went in among the clouds and reached the heavens.

And Moses began to walk in the heavens as he was wont to walk on earth. And troops and troops of angels met him, and he pronounced over them the high and mighty name of God, and they trembled before him at the name of God most high with great fear. And Moses walked on until he reached the third heaven, and came before the angel who was the head, and appointed over twelve thousand angels of destruction. And they sat at the gates of heaven, and the angel said to Moses: O mortal man [lit: born one] here you are in the pure place! And he said to him: I am Moses son of Amram, the messenger of God, may He be exalted. I am come at His command to bring down the Torah to Israel. But the angel would not permit him to pass. So Moses pronounced over him the high and powerful name of God his master, that is the Ineffable Name. Thereupon the angel was afraid of the mention of the name of God his master, and out of fear [4b] he fled. And he departed from the world a journey of five hundred years through cold and heat. And the heavens and the angels and land and seas trembled from the name of God which Moses pronounced.

And Moses began to walk in heaven as he walked on earth with great strength and nobility. Freely did he walk in the heavens amid the clouds, with the light of God upon him.

And our master Moses began to walk until he reached the place of the angel Hadarniel, who is 600,000 times greater than any other [lit: his friend.] And when the aforesaid angel spoke, 12,000 flashes of white fire issued from his mouth. And when the angel saw Moses, he said to him: O thou born of the womb, thou art in the pavillion of the sanctified ones! And when our master Moses heard what he said, he shook and trembled exceedingly. He raised his eyes, and wanted to throw himself from the cloud. Yet our master Moses could not say anything, until God, may He be exalted, summoned him, and dispersed the cloud from him. And He said to him: O son of Amram, when I revealed Myself to you, and you were pasturing the flock, and you did not fear Me, but looked upon Me, I made known to you My powerful name. Yet now you have begun to fear one of My servants, and were unable to utter a word to him. And He said to him: Do not fear that he will take revenge on you.

When our master Moses heard God's remarks, may He who is great and mighty be exalted, his spirit revived, and he opened his mouth with a certain name of God which numbers 72 letters. This is the Ineffable Name, by which he spoke and was supported. And when our master Moses pronounced it, the angel was astonished and confounded, and he trembled and said: O son of Amram, to whom God has revealed what He has not revealed to any of us, who are His servants [5a] and messengers, God has ennobled you over us, and over all the prophets, and over His servants. At that time the aforesaid angel petitioned God, may He be exalted, and he said: O Lord, if Moses has come here by your precious command, we shall be before him like a pupil before his master.

The angel Hadarniel began to walk with Moses until they reached the place of fierce fire of the angel Sandalphon. The angel Hadarniel said to Moses: I shall turn away from you out of fear that Sandalphon will burn me with his fire. And when Moses saw the angel Sandalphon, he shook and trembled, and raised his eyes weeping, and sought mercy from the merciful and beneficent Lord God, and he recited: And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed: The Lord, the Lord, a God compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and mercy, extending kindness to a thousand generations and forgiving iniquity Exodus 34.36–37 At that time God summoned Moses, and let him pass by Sandalphon the angel who is greater than Hadarniel by a journey of 500 years with power and fire and strength. How manifold are your works, O Lord! Psalms 104.24

And when Sandalphon recited the Sanctus, Isaiah 6.3 all the angels and holy creatures raised themselves up, and the heavenly hosts and the Seraphim and Ophanim flew and praised and sanctified and magnified and lauded God, may He be exalted, and all said: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. Isaiah 6.3

And God showed Moses the heavens and their treasuries and their secret things, and the universe and the arrangement of the universe, and the treasuries of the winds. And Moses trod where no prophet had ever trod. And when the angels said to God, may He be exalted: Wherefore has Moses come hither? He said to them: He has come to receive the Torah, and to give it to Israel. And the angels rose up, and stood before him and said: O our lord creator, What is man that you should be mindful of him, and the son of man that you remember him? Psalms 8.4

[5b] And when God said to Moses: Answer them and do not fear them; Moses spoke up and said: O angels, what have you to do with receiving the Torah? For it is written therein: If a man dies in a tent… Numbers 19.14 As for you, there is no death among you! And it is written therein: If a man kidnaps a person, whether that person has been sold, or is still in his possession, he shall be put to death. Exodus 21.16 As for you, there is no kidnapping and no death!

At that time, God, may He be exalted, said to Moses: Tell the people of Jacob to give me a guarantor that they will follow the Torah and its precepts. And when Moses spoke up and said: Their father, the friend [of God, i.e. Abraham] who proclaimed your unity day and night will be a guarantor for them, God answered him and said: Ishmael [who was a wicked man] issued from him! Moreover, he said: Wherewith shall I know that I shall inherit it? Genesis 15.8 So Moses said: Jacob sits in the tents of the world; Genesis 25.27 he will be a guarantor for us. He answered him and said to him: Jacob did not live up to his promise to tithe, and he married two sisters, even though it was not yet prohibited by the Torah. And Moses said: Isaac, who was meant to be sacrificed, will be a guarantor for us. He answered him and said to him: The wicked man Esau issued from him, and was beloved of Isaac. And Moses said: The progenitors of the tribes will be a guarantor for us. He answered and said to him: They were present at the sale of Joseph. And Moses said: I will be a guarantor for us. He answered him and said to him: I will not accept your guarantee. And he said to Him: Our little children who are sucking their mothers' breasts will be a guarantor for us. Then God, may He be exalted, accepted his guarantee, saying: From the mouth of children and sucklings you have established strength. Psalms 8.2 The word "strength" implies Torah, as it is said: The Lord will give strength to His people, the Lord will bless His people with peace. Psalms 29.11

Then all the individuals not yet created at that time until the end of the world, and all the little children sucking at their mothers' breasts, accepted upon themselves the observance of the Torah and occupying themselves therewith, as it is said: [6a] I am making this covenant…not only with you who stand here today…but also with those who are not here with us today. Deuteronomy 29.13-14

At that time, God, may He be exalted, took an oath from the children of Israel, and Moses said to them: Know and establish for yourselves as true that God, may He be exalted, has taken an oath from you that if you fail to occupy yourselves with the Torah, and establish it, I will take revenge on your guarantors, namely your children, as it says in the Torah: Since you have forgotten the The Torah of your God, I also will forget your children. Hosea 4.6

Then God, may He be praised, opened the eyes of every baby in the womb of his mother. And through the power of God, may He be praised, they spoke up and accepted what God had enjoined upon them, and they opened their mouths in praise, sanctification, exaltation and laudation of God, the strong and the mighty. And they saw the Shekina [the Divine Presence] while they were in their mother's womb, and they declared the unity of the name of God their maker, as it is said: Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one. Deuteronomy 6.4

When Moses finished telling the children of Israel what God had told him, God, may He be exalted, called out from the top of the mountain with these words. Let them not say the messenger Moses is the one who was speaking to us. And Moses, on him be peace, trembled opposite the mountain, and God also said to the beings of the heavens that if Israel does not accept the Torah, I shall render the world empty and void, as it was at the beginning.

And when the heavens heard, they were greatly afraid, and they stayed terrified at the statement of God which they had heard from Him with firm purpose and emphasis, until Israel said: We shall do [first] and [then] listen Exodus 24.7 with pure intention. And they declared the unity of God, and believed in Him, and God, may He be exalted, said: O my angels, know that in forty days Israel will commit a grave sin, and transgress what I commanded them in My law, and they will disobey [6b] my injunctions. And the angels answered Him and said: Is such the sin of those who saw your powerful fire and heard your demands? Yet after this they will disobey you and your commands? God, may He be exalted, answered them: I call to mind their forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and I pardon and forgive them. When the angels heard the statement of God, may He be exalted, they speedily praised the name of God, and said in one voice, answering one another: Blessed be He, the glory of Whose kingdom is for ever and ever! Cf. Psalms 145.12-13 They said too in obeisance: Who, O God, is like unto Thee? And then God put light upon the face of our master Moses, and he shone from the powerful light of the Shekina, so that none could continually look upon his face. When the angels saw his power and dignity, with the light of God upon his face, every one of them began to impart to him their secrets, as well as the name of their lord, and the form of the declaration of his unity. Even the angel of death taught him one of His names, and said to him: O prophet of God, if you see a plague among Israel, I teach you this which you will teach them in love, and the plague will depart from them, and no damage will come to them from it. Take the censer, and put fire therein, and put incense, and go from tent to tent, and in this way, none of them shall be smitten with the plague.

And when Moses went up the mountain, God spoke to him these ten words, saying... And each word was going out from before the Lord, may He be praised, with a tender, gentle sound, and with powerful lightening. A sound went forth, and there was shaking and quaking and fire and burning flames. Then there was gloom and lightening, the heavens shook, and the earth quaked. The heavens moved, and the earth quaked. The mountains trembled, and the angels were perplexed. The waves of the sea contracted, and fire burned. The sun and the stars stood still. [7a] Castles tumbled down. Domestic and wild beasts were affrighted, and the wadis dried up. And the word of God, Who is powerful and praiseworthy, went through the seven heavens in turn, in a gracious sound from the Omnipotent, divided into seventy languages. It was imbued with every delectable aroma, as it were from the Garden of Eden, such as musk, ambergris, camphor and pure flowing myrrh, and it went up in the air, giving radiance.

When the word was heard from before the Omnipotent, His unity was made known, as it is written in the true, explicit and pure Torah.

The First Word

The first word came in written form upon the tablets, incised with smaragd [emerald], and it went out from the Lord of the worlds in firm truth, in a clear expression, in a beautiful voice and clear speech and gracious declamation. Every one of the children of Israel was graced with a powerful declaration, each according to his ability: the aged according to their ability, the young according to their ability, the little ones according to their ability, the sick according to their ability – and our master Moses, peace be upon him, according to his ability in a gracious voice, divided up into the seventy languages. Every nation understood in their own language. And the kings appropriately gave Him praise and prayers and honor and magnification and the declaration of His unity, in that He made known to the children of Israel the Ten Words, namely the 613 commandments. The following are included in the first word: the sacrifices and the offerings, the tithes, the first fruits, gifts, presents, the declaration of God's holiness, exaltation and greatness, burnt offerings, and prayer and thanksgiving to God, may He be exalted.

And they heard the first word: I am God your Lord, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. [7b] The earth and the castles shook, and the houses tumbled down. The mountains trembled. They raised their eyes towards heaven, and lo, they heard it from the surface of the earth. When they looked towards the east, they heard it from the west, when they looked to the west, they heard it from the south, when they looked to the south, they heard it from the north. Thus they knew that God, may He be exalted, is merciful and beneficent, powerful and able, quickening the dead, living, enduring, lasting, permanent, ongoing, exalted. Neither sleep nor slumber overcomes him. He existed before all created things. He has no forward and no backward, no above and no below, no right and no left. One cannot say when He is, where He is, how He is or what He is. Thought cannot approach Him. He is sole and alone, unique and peerless. Unto him belong rulership and separateness. He is creator of spirits and material things. He is powerful, strong, knowing the things that are concealed, revealing secret things, creator of darkness and of light, of good and evil. He addresses the children of Israel with a clear truth and a direct expression, and with a gentle voice and with explicit speech, giving laws and upright ordinances, in speech that penetrates the worlds unto the father and the children and the grandchildren. And the word spread through the seven heavens from end to end, and on the earth to its four corners.The world turned aside, the heavens trembled and the earth shook. The mountains were split, the wadis fled, and the seas moved. And the people of Jacob went out to meet the Torah as it came down. They all said: We shall hear and obey! We shall accept and expound the Torah and its injunctions, so that those who are in the tombs are astounded. All the places in the world rejoiced and were glad, and the wild beasts and animals were happy. The mountains and the wadis ran away, the trees which were in the world were astonished, the animals and flocks fled, and made for the seas, and cast themselves therein. And all the people [8a] rejoiced.

And the first word came out from Mount Sinai, from Him Who is merciful and beneficent, gracious, potent, forgiving, and it hovered. And the word of fire came down and inscribed itself on a tablet of engraved smaragd with an extraordinary utterance, and with an irresistable voice, and with an exalted declaration; with a remarkable expression, and awesome thundering, and with a fine aroma, and falling rain, and an outstanding utterance. In the heights of the heavens it hovered, and with a clear and permanent utterance, and with necessary conditions and an acceptable sound, it soared and said:

O children of Israel! I am God, your lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. I, God, created the seas and the dry land. And I drowned Pharaoh and his people, and they were destroyed. They were forced to acknowledge the unity of God; I am the one God like Whom there is none. I am sole and alone; I brought the heavens into being by Myself alone. When the earth did not exist, I existed. I did all this by my intelligence and My direct illumination, without vicegerent, seer, observer, lieutenant or guarantor. I restrain the floods, and good comes from Me. I rule over kings, and none can turn away from Me or oppose Me. I give life, and take it back, I overpower the house of the nobles, and make them of no account. I make some powerful, and bring down whom I choose. I impoverish, and I confer benefits; I disclose, and I restore; I create, and I punish; I dispense heavenly gifts to men; every day I have a totally new gift. I have treasuries of cold and chill and snow and ice, and thunder and lightening and powerful whirlwinds. I brought into existence the whole world and the heavens, without support. When the earth was not, I supported it, making it by my power and alone. And I said to everything that should be, and it was; none could restrain Me, or add. I make the learned hideous, likewise the house of the nobles and the wise, and make their intelligence of none effect. [8b] I bring near the far, and put far the near. I bring out from the dust of the earth the grain for reaping. When I look upon the earth, it trembles at my thunder. And if I eclipse the sun, there is shade and blackness. And if I withhold water, it is because of the sins of men; and if I send it, it is on account of My grace and generosity, and every drop comes expressly from Me. And I bestow in addition providential acts and gifts so that it reaches the point I desire. And I placed the moon uniquely in the skies. My brightly shining stars move steadily, and have nothing they want or desire. When I command them, they move to that place. And unto Me appertain the declaration of my unity, kingship and praise. And of My mighty acts and My ways, there is no measure or reckoning.

I am God: I am with whosoever knows me with pure intention in everything he desires, and I am his help for ever and ever. I am God, creator of the winds and the cold, I know the hidden things and uncover the secrets. I know what is in the innermost parts and in the liver. I am the potent God, the creator. There is none like unto Me, none who can oppose Me. I am God, the manifest creator. I revive those who are in the tomb. I am God, Who made the earth green with verdure, and filled the world with herbs and seeds, produce and flowers. I am the all-powerful God, Who holds back His anger, and pardons. And the earth has no pillars or support. I brought about every plant and every tree, and I apportioned My favor to My servants, fruits and dates. And I held back the sea by the breath of my command, and dammed it up with immovable sand. And I measured the heavens in their initiation. I am the most high God, who illuminates. I change times and seasons. And the rich man becomes poor, and the poor man is endowed with vast wealth. I am God most high, potent over all things. [9a] There is no comparison to my enlightenment, and none resembles my uniqueness. And unto Me appertains praise and laudation. I am the sole and illustrious God, as it is said in revealed scripture: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one lord. Deuteronomy 6.4

The explanation of this is: There is no god save one God, our Lord. He is sole, and there is no partner to his uniqueness, may He be praised.

The Second Word

The second word came in written form, and it hovered in the heights of the heavens from the lord of the worlds, with a straight truth, with a clear enunciation, with a beauteous sound, and understandable speech, and a gracious utterance and reliable testimonies and laws, and with an utterance that penetrated the worlds, obliging the parents and the grandchildren. And it floated and said: O children of Israel! You may not have any god other than Me. Nor may you represent Me by any figure, but you shall praise Me with honors, and laud My name with alacrity. For I am the strong and potent one, there is none who can revile my wonders. Nothing precedes Me in time. I am kind and beneficent to every single generation. I am God, the gracious, the benefactor. Beware of replacing Me with the worship of images, do not change Me for the worship of idols. Take not unto Me any equal lord, neither the sun, nor the moon, nor anything comparable to the stars of heaven, or its celestial bodies or comets, nor anything I created in the earth or the depths of the sea, or what I created in the water, and you shall not bow down to them in ignorance, as the common people do. I am God, to Whom appertains strength and power and wisdom and potency and magnificence. You shall not worship any other lord, nor any god besides Me, of gold or silver, or brass or wood or stone. For they are the work of the hands of the ignorant. They have ears, but they hear not. They have eyes [9b] but they do not see. They have a nose, but they do not smell. They have hands but they do not feel. They have feet but they do not walk. Their makers shall be like them, and all who trust in them. Cf. Psalms 115

O children of Israel, ye prominent and choice! Let your reliance and cure be with God, for verily I am God the creator, I will save and rescue you. I created the planets and the brightly shining stars, so do not venerate them and do not serve them. Do not exalt them, do not adore them, do not embellish them, do not bow down to them, for they are created, just like you. I, God, am a jealous lord, I watch and store up for ever and ever the sins of the evildoers among them, and observe too the gracious actions and righteous deeds of the upright.

O children of Israel, ye prominent and choice! I am God, the merciful, the forgiving. On the day of judgment and reckoning, I shall be a witness for those who observe My laws straightforwardly and openly. I visit the sins of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, and I show favor to the thousands of them who love Me and observe My commandments.

The Third Word

The third word came in written form, and it hovered in the heights of the heavens. And it floated and said: O children of Israel, take not My name in vain, or untruthfully, or to no purpose. For I will not clear anyone who swears by My name while lying. And if you witness or take an oath, be scrupulously truthful, so that it is the absolute truth, without twisting or prevarication. And if you give testimony, let your testimony be clean.

O children of Israel, stay far from vain oaths, or perverted testimony. And swear only truthfully by your lord, and mention His name [10a] only uprightly. And know that whoever swears by My name improperly will receive an everlasting requital, and he shall have no escape from the punishment of fire. Vain oaths and perverted testimony desolate houses and bring down and destroy monuments. Wood and stone fall,the palms are reft, greenery and flowers dry up, trees are destroyed, dew and rain are withheld. The inhabited lands will become waste and void, and the cities will be thrown down by force, and burned in fire, as we find in the case of the wicked Gehazi, when he went after Naaman and sought wealth from him, and lied concerning the instructions of the prophet Elisha, peace be upon him. I Kings 5.20-27 And Naaman gave him clothing and silver and gold and whatever he wanted. So when finally he stood before the prophet Elisha, peace be upon him, [Elisha] said to him: Gehazi, where were you? He answered him: My lord, I was not anywhere. So the prophet said: You wicked man, you are lying about the time when you went after a man, and he gave you what he gave you. Wicked Gehazi swore to him about that. He did not mention the name of God, may He be exalted, in vain, but he swore a false oath. And the prophet, peace be upon him, invoked upon him leprosy, poverty and degradation. As soon as he left the presence [of the prophet], he became leprous, poverty-stricken and reviled, he and his descendants for ever. When God, may He be exalted, said: Whoever swears in My name in vain, or lying, or to no purpose – I shall utter a curse against him, and cause it to enter the innermost part of his house to the point that his walls are cut down, and his roof is uncovered, and the wood of his house is destroyed, and his flowers are destroyed, and his trees wither, and his stones are split. Beware of uttering vain curses and perverted testimony. Take care not to swear in My name in vain, or even truthfully. Do not accustom your tongue to lie and curse. [10b] Magnify the name of your lord if you mention it, and give due deference to the name of God. If distress comes upon you, you should know that he brings maladies on the evildoers in that they mention God, may He be exalted, without having purity of mind or heart. If you venture to mention the name of God your lord, do so with truthfulness of tongue, and you should tremble, and your inward parts should shake, and you should be petrified and terribly afraid. And you should affirm the name of your powerful lord, Who is so gracious to those who place their trust in Him. This is My name which Idris pronounced when he raised himself against My throne. And this is My name which Noah pronounced, and I saved him from drowning in the flood. And this is the name which Abraham My friend pronounced, and I saved him from the fiery furnace. And this is the name which Isaac, who was due to be sacrificed, pronounced when I brought forth the ram from the thicket, and made it a substitute. And this is My name which Jacob pronounced when the king released him and clothed him in a garment. Genesis 41.42 And this is My name which Moses, peace be upon him, pronounced over the staff, and it became a serpent, and over the serpent and it became a staff as it was before.Exodus 7.10 And this is My name which he pronounced over the sea, and it split into twelve paths, one for each tribe. And this is My name which he pronounced over the blind so that they might see, and over the sick so that they recovered, and over the weary that they might be refreshed, and over the dead that they might be resuscitated. I am the first of the first, and the last of the last. I am the living, self-existing one, Who remains for ever. Nothing ever arose before Me. Be careful on judgment day ye who swear in My name in vain, and to no purpose; do not swear in My name, untruthfully and in vain, for I am God, who will not clear those who swear in My name in vain.

The Fourth Word

The fourth word came in written form, in an emerald tablet engraved and written, [11a] and it hovered in the heavenly heights, and it floated and said: O children of Israel! Observe and honor the sabbath day, and sanctify it. Six days shall you labor, and do all your work, but the sixth day is a day without work to God your lord. You shall not do any work, you and your daughter and your son and your slave, and your servant and your maidservant and and your ox and your ass, and your stranger and also your resident alien in your castles, so that he may rest like you. For in six days God created the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them, and on the seventh day he sat upon His throne. Therefore God blessed the sabbath day and sanctified it.

O children of Israel! Observe the sabbath and sanctify it. Bless it, exalt it, magnify it, beautify it, love it, cherish it, embellish it, observe it, delight in it, keep it good and pure. Make it special over the other days. Make it noble, strong, gracious, right, holy, uplifted. Keep it fresh, praise it, strengthen it. Be very strong in its observance.

O choice ones, O friends! Remember the ten wonders that I created in the world. I favored every seventh. And I favored you on account of the sabbath day, for it is the seventh, and thereon I sat upon My throne. And I created seven heavens,and of them I favored the seventh heaven, and called it `Araboth [pleasantness.] It is the most precious one to Me, and I favored it so that my power should dwell there, and I assigned to it My glorious and precious throne and made it the place where my light descends. I created seven universes, and I favored the seventh universe which is called Tebel. In the aforementioned universe I selected the place called the City of Peace (Jerusalem.) And in the City of Peace I selected Zion for My holy house. And I created seven seas, and of them I favored the Red Sea in which I made known wonders for My people. And I created the seven bright stars (planets) upon the sphere and the place of light And of them I favored [11b] the seventh sphere, which is the sphere of the sun, and I promoted it over them, and on that account it lights the whole world. And I elevated Idris (the same is Enoch) and he was the seventh. And I selected Abraham, the friend [of God.] And I chose Moses, and he was the seventh of the patriarchs. And I chose David, who was seventh among the sons. And I promised him that there would be seven of his descendants who would be righteous in the land, and of them I favored the Messiah, who is the seventh. Among the kings I favored Asa, who is the most precious.

And I created the world in six days, and sat upon My throne on the seventh day. The year is composed of twelve months [beginning for this purpose from Nisan, the spring month] and of them I favored the seventh month which is Tishri, in which occurs the New Year, the Day of Atonement, and the feast of Tabernacles. Then I wrote in My precious scripture that seven weeks of days, seven times seven, constituting forty-nine days, should pass, and I favored the fiftieth day to bring down the Torah. This is the blessed festival which is called "Weeks." Then I wrote in My precious scripture that the years should pass, and of them I favored the seventh year, which is the year of release. I declared a one year rest for the land; it should not be tended or tilled. For one year I decreed that the produce should be given to the stranger, the orphan, and the widow. It is the year in which the servant and the slave are released from their masters. Then I said that these should pass seven times seven, which makes forty-nine years. And of them I favored the fiftieth year, which is the year of setting free, the jubilee year, the year of freedom, the year in which everyone frees his manservant and maidservant, and each should return to his fortune and to his inheritance, the heir to his possession, the slave shall be freed of his master. And I created seven mountains, "the pegs of the earth", and of them I favored Mount sinai, which is the seventh. On it I brought down the Torah to Israel my people. With such [12a] favors I favored every seven, and over all of them I favored the seventh day, which is the seventh day of the week, and I called it the sabbath; a day of fidelity, a day of blessing, an extraordinary day, a day of beneficence, a great day, an important day, a powerful day, a fine day, a day of light, a day of enjoyment, a day of direction, a day of dignity, a unique day, a perfect day, a bright day, a day of pilgrimage, a beautiful day, a handsome day, a day of observance, a pure day, a goodly day, an acceptable day, a day which is exalted of all days, a great day, a day of excellence, a special day, a day created [by God], a sanctified day, a well-crafted day, a clean day, a day of illumination, a day of pleasantness, a happy day, a forgiving day, a day of joy, a tremendous day, a just day, a day of gladness, a day of relief, a gracious day, a rightful day, a day of prayer, a day of truth, a day of study, a day of rectitude, a day of gain, a day of repose, a day of acceptance, an elevated day, a day of mercy, a day of compassion, a day of awe, a day of exaltation, a day of praise, a day of success, a day on which I produced a flower, a day on which I completed the world, a day in which all the wicked have respite from their punishments, a day in which there is neither wailing nor weeping, neither jealousy nor terror, neither neither hunger nor grief.

O children of Israel, observe the sabbath and elevate it with clean garments, and with delicious food and drink, and charity and study and generosity. And I shall remove from you the cares and sorrows of the world, and put far from you every evil, and rescue you from every peril. And I shall requite everyone who does good to you. For between Me and you and your generations, there is a covenant of obedience, and I will save you from every evil and peril and mishap. And our sages, peace be upon them, said that if the children of Israel would observe two sabbaths as I commanded them, no people of the other peoples would rule over them, [12b] and we would not see what we see, and He would save us from all sorrow. And [the sages], peace be upon them, also said: If the children of Israel observed the sabbath appropriately, salvation would come unto them. And they also said that if one observes the sabbath appropriately, God, may He be exalted, will pardon him his sins, even though he rejected his lord as did Enosh the son of Seth, as the prophet, on him be peace, said: Happy is Enosh [usual translation: "Happy is the man"] who does this, and the son of Adam who holds fast to it, keeping the sabbath meHallelo (from profaning it), and keeps back his hand from doing any evil. Do not read meHallelo (from profaning it) but maHul-lo (he is forgiven.) So Enosh was forgiven. Everyone who observes the sabbath is saved from all such things for ever and ever. Therefore God blessed the sabbath day and sanctified it.

The Fifth Word

The fifth word came in written form, and it hovered in the heavenly heights, and it floated and said:

O children of Israel! Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long on the land which your lord gives you. Be very gentle with them, and expend money on them; then you will have good things for the duration [of your life], and in the other world, pity and compassion. Your speech with them should be smooth and beautiful, and you should also provide them with food and necessaries. If you reproach them with harsh speech, you shall be loathsome to the lord of the worlds. Similarly you are obliged to respect your elder brothers who are older than you, just as you respect your parents. Be particular to honor and respect your parents. Beware of being negligent in everything you are required to do for them with regard to showing filial piety to them, respecting them and honoring them, for showing them filial piety is showing filial piety to Me, and respecting them [13a] is like respecting Me, and honoring them is like honoring Me, and exalting them is like exalting Me, and observing their commands is like observing My commands. Be careful not to be insolent to them, or to despise them. Do not contradict them or lie to them, or interrupt them, whether they are saying something true or false. Consider what they say trustworthy, and obey their utterances. Honor parents exceedingly, for he who obeys them gains, and he who establishes their words shall be rewarded, and he who hastens to do their will shall rejoice, and he who serves them shall do well, and find repose, and in the other world shall be saved from hell, and he shall be like one who serves Me, and he who honors them is like one who honors Me.

O children of Israel, be particular in showing honor and filial piety towards your parents. For three participated in your creation, O man, God, may He be praised, the father and the mother. Babylonian Talmud, Qiddushin 30b-31a; Niddah 25b. The father supplies that which is white [the semen] for the white parts of the body, while the mother supplies that which is red [menstrual blood] ; this is what is called the bloody flux. From the fluid of the father ten things are formed in the body: the bones, the sinews, the marrow which is in the backbone, which is called the spinal cord, or [in Hebrew] the HuT ha$idra. Also the white of the eyes and the eyelids and the nails and the teeth and the molars and the brain and the ears and the intestines and the fat. And from the red fluid which is from the mother are created ten things, and they are formed in the body: the skin, the flesh, the blood, the liver, the lungs, the heart, the gall-bladder, the spleen, the face, the breasts. Also, the pupil of the eye, the red strands in the hair of the head, the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet, the red color of the lips, and the hair of the head. The ten things which are spiritual are from God, may He be exalted, praised, and magnified. These are the breath, and the soul, and the intelligence, and understanding, and speech, and wisdom, and hearing, and seeing, and taste, and size, and touch, and feeling, and [13b] locomotion, and the power of expression, and the heartbeat. Now if the white fluid, which is from the father, precedes [ovulation,] then the child is female through the power of God, may He be praised. Babylonian Talmud, Niddah 31a expounding Leviticus 12.2. So He is a participant with your parents in your creation, O man. So, my son, do not be insolent to them, do not lie to them, do not oppose them whether they speak truth or falsehood. Do not sit in their accustomed place, whether they are absent or present, do not put a wry face or expression towards them, or disregard what they say, rather, fulfil what they say. Regard their speech as trustworthy, obey their utterances. Let not obeying them be hard for you, do not reject their guidance, or respect for them. Beware of disobeying them. The twenty items found in your body, which are derived from your parents, obligate you in twenty respects. The first thing is to honor and respect them. Obey them, clothe them, provide for their upkeep and necessaries. Stand up before them. Carry them upon your shoulders. Do not give evidence against them, but allow them to give evidence against you. You are obligated to them, but they are not obligated to you.

Therefore, O son of Adam, you are obligated to these ten words with the firm will that is in you through the power of God, may He be exalted. Do not make idols, or ascribe partners to your sole lord. Do not swear in God's name in vain. Observe the sabbath. Show filial piety to your parents, and honor them. Do not kill an innocent soul. Do not fornicate, or go after mischief. Do not steal. Do not give false witness against your neighbor. Do not desire and long for that which is not yours, and do not covet [14a] the goods of your neighbor: then God will love you, and give you strength and length of life and many tremendous good things. Solomon, the son of David, peace be upon him, said: Every single child should honor his parents and show them filial piety. But the one who looks scornfully at them, and disobeys them – the birds will peck out his eyes and eat them, and the vultures will swallow them. Cf. Proverbs 30.7 And the wise man, on him be peace, said: My son, make efforts to show filial piety towards your parents, and be swift to fill their needs, and know that that will bring you long life. As you were with your parents, so will your children be with you. God will favor whoever honors the wise, so that he will have wise and learned sons. He who honors his parents earns long life in this world, and in the other world goodly pleasures will shine upon his countenance like the sun and the moon. The honor due to teachers is greater than that due to parents, for they protect you against evil deeds, and cause you to engage in good deeds.

The Sixth Word

The sixth word came in written form, and it hovered in the heights of the heavens, and it floated and said: O children of Israel, do not kill a person unlawfully and do not shed blood that is innocent. Do not spill guiltless blood. Do not have the idea of killing anyone. Have no pity or mercy on murderous and deceitful men, and have no association with them. There shall be no killer in your community, for on account of the sin of killing, drought and famine come into the world.

O children of Israel, be careful not to kill anyone, for God may He be praised, [14b] has prohibited it saying: If anyone destroys a faithful person by shedding his blood, or spills innocent blood, I shall punish him and not pardon him. Know that I created him in My image, and formed him according to my My heart, and I have imposed on him an inscribed likeness. I have designated my angels to encompass him, so how shall you kill him mercilessly? For I created him by my numerous wonders, and formed him in his mother's womb. Every man can readily hear this, and be astounded. First of all, the semen goes out from a remote place, moving from one section to another. It reaches the sections of the brain and the chambers of the chest. The white matter is needed for the heart. Then I order it to go around the veins and along the intestines. Then I give it the command and I place it in the womb curdled into a cheese as we find in the book of Job 10.10 Have You not poured me out like milk, and curdled me like cheese? And I create in it the power of thought, hearing, smell, taste, touch, feeling, understanding, and memory. I form intelligence in his brain. I create the brain as hot as fire, and the spinal cord as cold as ice. But for the heat of the brain, the spinal cord would kill him. And but for the cold of the spinal cord, the heat of the brain would kill him. And all this is by my mighty command. And I created for you in your mother's womb two walls; they do not stand when you stand, or subside when you sit. I embellished your face with brightness. I embellished your face with a sign that food should not hurt you. And I created for you two walls in your mother's womb, a wall on the right, and a wall on the left. And I created for you what is necessary for your eyes, and made it possible for them to direct you. Then I created for you a fold in the place of the jaws, and made a mediator between them, namely the tongue for expression and speech. And in the internal organs I created the liver and the heart for understanding and wisdom. I formed the kidneys which help skill and mentation. The kidney is the source of [the emotion] of happiness. The liver is the source of attraction, but the gall is known to moderate the attraction. The stomach [15a] is constituted to digest food. The paunch is for carrying the juices and the small and large intestines carry the food and drink. Then there are the eyes for sight, the ears for hearing, the nose for smelling. The tongue and the lips are for the consumption of food and speaking, the palate for tasting, the teeth for eloquence and clear speech, and the throat for crying out and expression, the canine teeth for eating, mastication, and drinking, the beard and moustache for decoration; all that is necessary for restorative sleep; the hair of the head to protect from heat and cold; hair for covering the body; the heart and the sinews and the shoulders for carrying, and the arms for lifting, the hands for gripping, and the fingers for grasping, and the nails for scratching; the palms for stretching, the knees for raising, the seat for sitting, the spine for standing, the legs for walking about, going and running. All of this I formed in seven days. And by forty days I put in breath and soul, in My knowledge and wisdom. In those days I decreed and declared concerning him whether he shall be male or female, clever or stupid, rich or poor, venerable or despicable, clearsighted or blind, hearing or deaf, speaking or dumb, tall or short, feeble or lively, sallow or ruddy, performing deeds of good or evil, as our teachers, on them be peace, said: Everything is in the hands of Heaven, save only the fear of Heaven. And as our master, may he be strong and exalted, said in the pure and true Torah: And you shall choose life. Deuteronomy 30.19 He sleeps here in his mother's womb with his head between his knees, and his hand on his side, and his side is supported by and ensconced in his sinews. His navel is open, and his mouth is shut tight. If the mother eats or drinks, taking something unclean into her body, then one of her veins becomes attached to his other mouth [the navel.] [The vein] is filled with blood, which flows through it so long as he is attached to his mother, all the time he is in his mother's womb, and from it he lives and stays alive. And when he goes out into the world, his mouth, which was shut tight, is opened, and his open navel is closed up. As for the place where he is, he stays the first three months in the area of the [15b] lower womb, the second three months in the area of the middle womb, and the third three months in the upper womb. When the mother completes the number of her months, he goes down from the upper area to the middle area and from the middle area to the lower area. Then I call unto him from My throne: O my servant! Go out into the world, and know My power! Know too that I am your God and your lord, who brought you out from the narrowness of the bowels, and from the darkness of the [interior of the] body into the world. You were born to this earth in a birth of divine grace. Should you not see with your eyes, and hear with your ears and not be happy with your coming hither? Should you not consider the good that is done to your self, and not regard the evil that arises before your eyes? I partnered with you, and expressed grace and mercy for you in My heart. I created two ducts in your mother's womb, and brought out from them cool milk in the summer so that the heat would not harm you, and warm in the winter so that the cold would not harm you.

O son of Adam! If you know and take cognizance, and see with your eyes, and hear with your ears, and feel with your hands, and walk with your feet, and speak with your tongue, then it is incumbent on you to know that I am your God, and beware, O son of Adam, of taking an oath by any of these things. Do not oppose me in disobedience, seeing that I am generous and merciful towards you. If you travel, I guide you to the place which you desire. If you are sick, I heal you. If you are hungry, I feed you. If you are thirsty, I give you to drink. If you are naked, I clothe you. If you rebel against me, I help you to return to me, and receive you in repentance. I am not avaricious towards you, and am not far from you. I am not quick to punish you, for I am long-suffering, and not one to rage against his servants when they disobey. O son of Adam! If you have disobeyed Me, you will find that I am forgiving. [16a] There are many wonders in man's creation, and I do not prolong My anger. Man is a microcosm, and in him there are many wonders, just as there are in the greater world. And I created him by commands which none other might indite. O man, rely on God, may He be exalted, so do not transgress and kill any of these created with these wonders, and spill not innocent blood. O deluded mortal! You cannot create such a one, or endow him with life. How can you destroy a soul into which you cannot breathe breath? How can you destroy it, and put an untimely end to its term? You should shun and be appalled at killing, and shedding another's blood, when you cannot [create him.] You should not even contemplate it, for the living and enduring God, may He be exalted, Who created him, will seek retribution for him. For He created him by His power, and formed and fashioned him at his command. Kill not a soul whom you did not create, and cannot endow with life. O deluded one! Do not think to confuse or to delude your lord! If you kill, you will be killed, if you destroy, you will be destroyed. It is a sin which God will never forgive save by shedding the blood of the one who sheds blood; and you should show no mercy to such a one. Be careful, my son, in respect of killing anyone, and shun the spilling of blood. For when someone kills or steals, or aids or associates with the one who kills, he is considered one who destroys the world. Such a one in truth denies God his Lord, who created and fashioned him. He will not be held guiltless and clear, and God will never forgive him. And if his heart and that of his household fail to become God-fearing, the land will reject him, and seek to swallow him up, and [16b] the heavens will be closed to him, and the mountains will expel him and shun him and testify against him for ever, and the seas and the rivers and everything in them will testify against him for his deeds and actions.

O deluded one! Do not kill, and do not even consider it! Do not dwell with any who would contemplate such a thing. Do not crave anything belonging to him, even though it be lawful. Do not get together with killers. Do not drink with them, do not greet them. Do not mix with them, do not seek their favor. For God, may He be exalted, will pardon and have compassion in respect of every sin after due consideration and punishment. He will have mercy on every sin and transgression, after the sinner returns to his lord with pure intent. But God, may He be exalted, will never pardon the one who kills and sheds blood. One who kills cannot be spared from being killed. And there are five categories of killers:

One who saves an Israelite is as though he saved a whole world. As our sages, peace be upon them, said: Everyone who saves a single soul of Israel is as if he kept alive a whole world. O son of Adam, know that three participated in your creation, your father, your mother, and God, may He be exalted. Therefore, O son of Adam, rely on God, may He be exalted, for the sake of your soul, and do not incur guilt on account of your fellow in respect of a mortal sin. As it is written in the precious Torah: And you shall love your neighbor as yourself. Leviticus 19.18 And take care and be concerned over your creation and formation, so that you do manifold good deeds to the upright. [17a] God, may He be exalted, delights in them, for He is merciful and most gracious.

The Seventh Word

The seventh word came in written form, and it hovered in the heights of the heavens, and it floated and said: O children of Israel, do not fornicate or seek after corruption. Be not the friend or associate of fornicators, corrupt and immoral folk, so that your children after you will not fornicate or engage in corruption and immorality, and learn immorality like you. For on account of the sin of fornication and corruption, drought and famine come to the land, and wild animals come upon the world. Sickness spreads among creatures. You should know that fornication and immorality render a man evil, and leave him totally without enlightenment or faith. He is the cause of famine which comes upon men, so long as he engages in [immorality.] And it is sure that one who does so, cannot be saved or rescued. It is like when something catches fire, it will surely be burned up. Or can a man walk on burning coals, and not burn his feet? Proverbs 6.27-29 Similarly, if one has intercourse with his neighbor's wife – no one who approaches her shall be held guiltless. You should know that there are two things that drive a man, and deceive him, and these are fornication and immorality. As Solomon, the son of David, peace be upon him, said: Keep your way far from her, and do not seek her company. Do not draw near the door of her house. The house of the strange woman is the source of death; she is like the colocynth, like a sharp sword.

O children of Israel! Beware of immorality, and stay far from evil deeds. Do not find pleasure in evil, corrupt people. Stay far from seductive women. Do not give in to the desire for evil, which is foolish, rebellious, [17b] and disgraceful, looking at women other than one's wife. One who seeks and desires this is a murderer. Avoid it always, and be constantly careful and cautious. Be content with what God has assigned to you, and permitted to you expressly, in firm truth. The reputation of one who seeks out fornication is bad in the entire land. Every trace of him is obliterated, and his secret is disclosed. For God discloses the secret of the one who has disclosed the secret of others, but he saves from harm and distress the one who keeps the secret of others. Rely, my son, on your intelligence, and keep your conscience pure for your lord. Be satisfied with that which brings you joy, and drink pure water from your own well. Proverbs 5.15 God will give you strength with your wife, overflowing from your well, that is to say, a man's wife. Do not draw near to immorality, do not approach it. Take care, O deluded one, you will find no path in the world For the way [of immorality] is the way of destruction, its path is the path of death, and from it is no escape. Make a barrier between you and it, and be not an associate of it, do not become its friend. Stay away from it as far as you possibly can. For if you avoid it, you are a righteous man, son of a righteous man. My son, stay far from an evil woman, and from associating with her. If she sets her mind on you, she will open her lattice to you, and catch you in her toils. So do not be one of her men, select not her gate, for her words follow you, and her blandishments are sweet unto you. And she will make you drink of her water, so summon up your alertness and your power, for your company, and that of others has perished. The one who escapes her carries on, but the one who falls into her hands dies. For she stands between the gates, and chats to people between the lintels, and cunningly entraps the young men until they fall into error and folly. Proverbs 7.11–13 Happy the one who is strong, and places a screen between himself [18a] and her. For the loose woman chooses the scents of the world, and beautifully perfumes her clothing so that man falls into every kind of rebellion. Her pursuit leads to disgrace, to forbidden company, rebelliousness, the disclosure of secrets, falling into poverty, lack of means, and bodily shame. Your natural force will abate as you persist in rebelliousness, and you will take on poverty. You should know that you were created with twenty things, but the influence of an evil woman reduces their number to ten. First of all, if he asks concerning any of these if he can agree to any of these things without prior agreement, he will say no. The first of them is as the prophet Amos, on him be peace, said: How shall two walk and get together on a path together without prior agreement? Amos 3.3–8 And he says: Does the roar of some lion goes up from its place unless it has taken something dead or wounded? Does anyone hear the lion roar in the thicket if he has taken no prey? And he said: Does a bird fall to the ground and get caught without a snare being prepared for it? Shall a snare go up from the earth if it has taken nothing? Shall the trumpet sound in the city and its people not be afraid and tremble? Shall there be a disaster in the town and God, may He be exalted, have not ordained it? Will God come down for destruction against a community save on account of their violence and sins? How shall the leopard change its spots? And how shall someone light a fire in his bosom? And how shall someone walk on fire, and escape from the burning coals? And this is the utterance of the speech of Amos, peace be upon him: Do two walk together unless they have made a prior agreement? Does a lion roar in the forest, when it has no prey? Does a young lion cry out from its den, if it has caught nothing? Does a bird fall into a snare on the earth, when there is no trap for it? Does a snare spring up from the ground, when it has taken nothing? Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does [18b] disaster befall a city, unless the Lord has done it? Surely the Lord God does nothing, without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets. Amos 3.3–7 The explanation of this is that God does not do anything without revealing his secret to His servants the prophets. This is as sure as when the lion frightens, who shall not be afraid? When God the master speaks, who shall not prophesy And Jeremiah, on him be peace, said: Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Jeremiah 13.23 The explanation of this is: how shall a black man change his skin, and how shall a leopard change his spots and coloration? In the same way, people who become transgressors will never return and do good deeds. And our master Solomon, the son of David, on him be peace, said: Shall a man light a fire in his bosom, and shall someone walk on fire, and escape from burning and scorching his clothes. Proverbs 6.27 Similarly if one goes to someone else's wife, and has sex with her, he will never be saved, rescued, cleansed or purified of his deed. For a bad woman, and the man who has sex with her, are doing something that is stronger than the strong, and God has created nothing stronger than this in the world. And the ten things which are powerful in the world are the following. Cf. I Esdras 3.4–4.40

First of all, we find that a stone is strong, but iron cuts it. Iron is strong but fire melts it. Fire is strong, but water quenches it. Water is strong, but the cloud absorbs it. The cloud is strong, but the wind disperses it. The wind is strong, but the earth takes it away to the earth. Man is stronger than the earth, but cares overcome him. Cares are strong, but liquor takes them away. Liquor is strong, but sleep takes it away. Sleep is strong, but death is stronger than it. Death is strong, but a bad woman is stronger than it. For the one who dies returns to [eternal] life, but she dies in distress in this world and the next. And the wise man our master Solomon, on him be peace, said: I found the woman more bitter than death. Ecclesiastes 7.26 [19a] The explanation of this is: I found something more bitter than death – the bad woman; for her entrapment is more powerful than the entrapment of the snare. Our master Solomon, on him be peace, said: Everyone who comes to her will not come back, and will not walk on the path of life. Proverbs 2.19 And as for those ten things which overcome one another, the one who seeks out corruption and sexual activity for himself comes to rebellion, and the revealing of secrets, and bringing on poverty, and destruction of the body, and the loss of strength, and the onset of disobedience. My son, we explored these things, and found that a bad, evil, ruinous woman is stronger than all of them. She acts, and she says: What have I done? She eats, and wipes her mouth, and says: What have I eaten? cf. Proverbs 30.20 And this is the three things which are inexplicable: the way of the eagle in the sky, and the way of the snake on the rock, and the way of the ship on the sea. cf. Proverbs 30.18–19 Similarly the way of the bad and corrupt woman cannot be known. My son, keep away from a bad woman, depart from her ways and her snares, and rely on your lord that He will raise you, and He will guard you and watch over you. Know that the different aspects of fornication are one worse than the other. The first [wrongful connexion] is the 'amah which means the serving girl. The second is the beautiful woman. The third is when she is known to be infertile. The fourth is one of consanguinity according to Torah law. The fifth is an 'eshet 'ish, that is to say, another man's wife. The sixth is a menstruous woman. Leviticus 18.19 The seventh is the unbelieving woman, that is to say a gentile woman. The eighth is homosexuality and bestiality. Do not associate with corrupt people, and do not fall passionately in love, for such is fornication. And know that fornication brings no good in this world or the next. Happy the one who is satisfied with his condition, and heeds the words of our sages: Who is rich? He who is happy with his lot. Mishna, Abot, 4.1

[19b] The explanation of this is that he is enriched who rejoices in his lot. And Solomon, peace be upon him, said: Good is a little with fear of the Lord. Proverbs 15.16

The Eighth Word

The eighth word came in written form, and it hovered in the heights of the heavens, and it floated and said: O children of Israel, be careful of theft. Do not be friends or associates of thieves. Be not counted among them, and be not of their community as an inveterate thief, so that your children may not rise up and learn theft. For through the sin of theft the clouds disperse, and abundant rain is withheld from creatures.

O children of Israel, stay away from idle speech, avoid corruption and evil deeds, and do not take what is not yours. O mortal, at the time of your creation, your sustenance was assigned to you, and your means of life and power for a specified time, and in what manner you shall leave the world, and how your soul shall be separated from your body. At that time nothing will be left of your sustenance which was accorded to you. O mortal, fulfil My intent, and know My power, for I am God, may He be exalted, who brought you out from the constriction of the womb and the darkness of the belly. My son, do not steal; I established your means of life whether your sustenance was little or great, as your lord assigned to you. Therefore I said to you: Whatever does not belong to you do not bring to your house. And the wise man Solomon, on him be peace, said: If you sow what is not yours, you will not reap it. Cf. Proverbs 22.8 If you are content with a little of that which is permitted, God will bring you much, and God will favor you so that you can enjoy it. Be content with what you have, and God will favor your person. He said also: O mortal, how do you expect to enjoy this world, seeing that your life is so short? Hire yourself out like a person of little account, and clothe yourself in esparto and sackcloth [the cheapest fabrics], and put in your mouth only what is necessary like a small person, but on no account steal, whether it be little or much. Do not steal from a wealthy man, saying "he will not care about it!", and do not steal from a poor man, for thereby you increase his poverty. Nor should you have someone especially beloved among your family and brethren, yet be miserly towards your neighbors. He said also, what is before you by way of property should be a sure thing for you, and not something to begrudge. Have patience, do not render yourself stingy. Be content, do not lower yourself by demanding more power than you have already. For in this way the star and planet will be against you, so do not let yourself be stingy, for many different states can afflict a man, and the star afflicts and goes against the wealthy. Be content, my son, that from on high is His power and the strength of His glory, and His splendor, and His eminence. Know that in terms of time, man's splendor and wealth are but little, his work endureth not. Wretched man, be content with where you are. And beseech God, may He be exalted, to supply your needs from that which is permitted. And know that stealing and coveting that which is not yours will lead to manifest vengeance on you. If one looks for stolen merchandise, it will happen to him as occurred to Achan son of Zerah Joshua, chapter 7 who was of the tribe of Judah at the time when Joshua was besieging Jericho, and he took it on the sabbath day. He placed a ban upon its wealth, that no one should take it, or benefit from it. The aforementioned Achan came, and stole something, trangressing the ban. The stolen items came into his possession. He committed an error, and strayed, and was ungodly, and so no trace of him remained, for he was stoned and burned, he, and his children, and his family, and his possessions, and that which he stole, and he was eliminated from the children of Israel. And know that falling into evil ways brings about evil results. So my son, stay away from such things, and be steadfast, and patient, and keep yourself from theft and disobedience. Happy the one who has right guidance, intelligence, perfection. The Lord will reward him greatly, and let him enjoy the little of that which is permitted, which comes to him beneficently.

The Ninth Word

[20b] The ninth word came in written form, and it hovered in the heights of the heavens, and it floated and said: O children of Israel, beware of false testimony, and stay away from idle talk and vicious matters. Let there not be in your community a false witness, so that your children do not arise after you and learn to be false witnesses. For through the sin of false testimony and malevolence, evil comes to the world, and you perish on account of pointless speech. Do not follow the path of evil doers and murderers, and do not kill innocent souls. Do not give evidence about what you have not seen, or speak about something which is not a fact. For you can stab him without a lance, and kill him without a sword, for you are armed with speech in the hand of a warrior. You take away the breath from his body, and bring him to an untimely end. For he will surely die, and the one who gives false testimony kills three, destroys six. He kills himself, for he gives false, untruthful testimony. He kills the judge to whom he gave the false testimony, as we find with Doeg the Edomite who gave false testimony about Ahimelech (I Samuel 22:7 et seqq.) and about Nob, the city of priests. He did not give true testimony in the presence of Saul King of Israel, and the king accepted the testimony from him, and killed the priests, them, their wives, children and took their property, and on account of the sin of false testimony Doeg the Edomite died and was cut off from Israel in this world and in the next, as our master David, peace be upon him, declared concerning him: God will break you down for ever. Psalms 52, verse 7 (verse 5 in English Bibles.) The explanation of this is: God, may He be exalted, will destroy him and cut him off for ever, and will uproot him root and branch unto eternity. The aforementioned priests against whom he testified died, and King Saul, who had accepted the [21a] false testimony died also. So did Abner ben Ner his general, who did not prevent any of them. So you should know how powerful is false testimony, for it killed three and involved six, and the perpetrator has no place in the other world. So, O criminal, you give false and vain testimony, and do not think about lying. Do not speak about anything which you did not hear or see, and then God, may He be exalted, will look kindly on you and bless you. Therefore be in awe of God, and fear your lord, so that God, may He be exalted, will not punish you in this world and the next on account of your false and vain testimony. Otherwise, you will go without this world and the next, without religion and without belief, without satisfaction, without protection and security, and you will deny the lord of heaven; a denier at heart, a liar on the tongue, fearful, wayward, accursed, corrupt. Woe to you if God, may He be exalted, detests you! This is what He has testified against such a one: Be careful, O criminal, to rely on God, may He be exalted, in your spirit, and be sure of your lord, who is powerful and praiseworthy, and fear your master. Know that there are consequences if you engage in false testimony. You will go in strength, and return, having lost your way. You will go on horseback, and come back on foot. So, my son, be firm in your utterance. Know that the world cheats those who possess it, and know that evil deeds dim the sight of those who love them; no eye shall see it, no ear shall hear it, no heart shall understand it. This is what the prophet Isaiah said: Make fat the heart of this people. Isaiah 6.10 And know that false testimony kills three, and destroys six, as we said. As Isaiah, on him be peace, said, and this is the explanation of his statement: Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who make darkness as the light, and light as the darkness, who make the bitter sweet, and the sweet bitter. Isaiah 5.20

The explanation of this is: A curse upon him who says that the wicked is good, and the good is wicked; that the right is wrong, and the wrong is right. He makes the sweet bitter, and the bitter sweet, the unjust just, and the just unjust. He deals little with truth and greatly with nonsense. The curse [21b] of God, may He be exalted, is upon them, and on everyone who gives false testimony, as well as on all those who abet and aid them, who are accomplices with them, associate with them, and show regard to them. My son, do not come into the presence of those who give false testimony, or take counsel with them. So rely on God, my son, in your soul, and return to your lord, for He is omnipresent, and all your deeds and all your intentions are known to Him. Nothing escapes Him of whatever you do, or say. The thoughts of your heart are known to Him, as He says, may He be exalted, through the prophet our master Jeremiah. This is what he means when he says: I am the Lord who examines the heart and investigates the reins, and gives to a man according to his ways. Jeremiah 17.10 The explanation of that is: I am God, I examine and know everything that a man thinks in his heart and in his reins. I requite a man according to his paths and according to his deeds. So rely on God, my son, in respect of what He says in the clear and pure Torah: Cursed is he who strikes his neighbor in secret. Deuteronomy 27.24 The explanation of this is: Cursed is he who strikes his neighbor in secret, that is to say, this statement refers to false testimony. So rely on God, my son, and he will watch over you and rescue you and help you with good things, and you will enjoy good and pleasant things if you refrain from false testimony. God, may He be exalted, will be your helper.

The Tenth Word

The tenth word came in written form, and it hovered in the heights of the heavens, and it floated and said: O children of Israel, do not covet the house of your neighbor, and do not covet his wife, or his servant, or his ass, or his ox, or anything which he has. Beware of jealousy and covetousness, keep away from what belongs to others, and avoid seductive women, for seductive women lead to all kinds of foolishness, as we find with Ahab, king of Israel, I Kings chap. 21 when he desired, wanted, and coveted the garden of the man Naboth the Jezreelite, and he sent to him and said to him: Naboth, [22a] sell me your garden, or exchange it with me. He said to him: My lord, I will not sell or exchange the ancestral land of my forefathers. And Ahab came in vexed on account of this. Wicked Jezebel came in, and said to her husband Ahab: Why are you vexed and jealous? He answered that it did not go well for him with Naboth in respect of his garden which he desired and coveted. Wicked Jezebel sent to Naboth's assembly, and told them to assemble against Naboth, and they should give false testimony against him, and stone him. It was so, and they brought false testimony against him, and killed him without mercy. The dogs licked up his blood, and Ahab took his garden. Elijah the prophet, on him be peace, said to him: Ahab, Jezebel, you wicked people, why did you desire the property of the man, and you decreed upon him stoning and death, and the dogs licked up his blood. Like what happened to him, by the command of God, may He be exalted, Jezebel will be stoned, and the dogs will eat her flesh, and lick up her blood. As happened to Naboth, it happened to them, as the prophet, peace be upon him, said. Therefore, rely on your intelligence, and keep far from prostitutes, and stay away from seductive women.

If a person is enamored and covetous of that which belongs to someone else, his vision becomes cloudy, and he will not desist from all that he desires in his heart, and he will be unable to judge what he is doing. For him bitter is sweet, and sweet is bitter. The seas are the dry land, and the dry land is the seas. Bad for him is excellent, and excellent is bad. For him the crooked is straight, and the straight is crooked. The correct is deviant, and the deviant is correct. If covetousness overcomes a man, it dims his eyes and rules his heart, and renders him sick. Like a rising mist, like a rushing shower, dreadful covetousness blinds the one who has it, the heart distinguishes not, the intelligence understands not, the eye does not see, the ear does not hear. If covetousness is restrained, his vision and his state are sound. If a man's religion is sound, his mode of expression and demeanour are fine, [22b] and his zeal among his people is powerful. But one who is covetous and gluttonous has nothing from which he can benefit. One who is content has benefit from his days. If one restrains his desires, his state is righteous. But it may be that instead of humility comes pride, and instead of humbleness comes aggrandizement, and pride in one's dwelling arises to an excessive degree. In place of satisfaction come avariciousness and pride, and from pride comes seeking wealth and gluttony. From gluttony comes grossness, and this will not leave of from making him enormous. From theft and covetousness comes putting on fine clothes and from putting on fine clothes come errors in calculation, and from errors come stumbling, a fall, and disputations. From disputations comes poverty, and from poverty comes degradation and from degredation come abjections and from abjection comes being contemned. As a result of this, you do not withhold yourselves from what does not belong to you, and you long for what was not assigned to you, and was not marked and apportioned for you. But if you firmly establish obedience to Me, God, may He be exalted, and his angels will love you. So all of you, do not disobey his commands, laws and precepts.

Let us ask of God the merciful and compassionate, may He be exalted, that he will watch over us, and guide us towards obedience to Him, and to His service, and let us study His laws. And may He put in our hearts the fear of Him, and may He bring to us the Messiah. May He gather our scattered brethren, and establish in us His blessing, as He has promised us. May He build the Temple for us. May He look kindly upon us, and rescue us from chastisement for His name's sake. May He gather us to the land of Israel in His power and glory. May He perfect in us everything for which we hope from Him, as also those who hearken to Him and all Israel His people, gathered in the presence of the prophets who were favored by Him. May He perfect our return, and bring us, and exalt our glory, and take vengeance for us. May He perfect our happiness, and deliver us from this exile. May He establish the great and the little among us, our wives and children. And all shall declare His utterance: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. Deuteronomy 6.4.

O Lord of the worlds, Amen, Amen!

Notes

  1. The Ten Utterances are referred to in Mishna Abot, chapter five, being the ten expressions God said in Genesis 1.3,6,9,11,14,20,24,28,29 and 2.18. Various other sets of ten are listed there. <–
  2. The midrash on "attentive and submissive"is based on the change of a verb from plural to singular. <–
  3. The addition of the Arabic word for "like" shows that the expression "eagles' wings" is metaphorical and not meant to be taken literally. This follows the Targum kd`l. (19.4) The Targum is the official Jewish translation into Aramaic. Similarly with the phrase "into obedience" which the Targum renders "to My service." The Hebrew means literally "to my voice." The Targum typically avoids anthropomorphisms. <–
  4. The use of the word "light" is another avoidance of anthropomorphism. The Targum inserts the word mymr' "word, logos." <–
  5. The Hebrew has simply "in a voice." "Well-modulated" is added as an explanation.<–
  6. Jacob was suspected of not fulfilling his promise to tithe in Genesis 28.22, since there is no mention of his doing so. In Midrash Genesis Rabba, 70.8 it is recorded that a sectarian raised this issue with Rabbi Meir. Rabbi Meir, with his usual perspicacity, pointed out that one of ten tribes (Levi) was devoted to God. But this suspicion was enough to disqualify him as a guarantor.<–
  7. In Arabic the word "Torah" commonly means the entire Hebrew scriptures.<–
  8. In Numbers 17.11-15 Moses commands Aaron to put fire and incense into the censer, and use it to stop a plague, yet there is no indication that God ever imparted this procedure to Moses, so the Rabbis suggest that this is one of the secrets imparted to Moses by the angels when he went to receive the Torah. <–
  9. The word "saying" represents the Hebrew l’mr. This seemingly superfluous word is taken to apply to the listeners, such that they responded "Yea" to the positive commands, and "Nay" to the negative commands. <–
  10. Traditionally, there were seventy distinct languages. <–
  11. The Arabic phrase, which is repeated several times, is quite obscure. Dana translates it "as recorded" which does not seem to me a possible translation, nor does it have any meaning for me. I offer this translation ("in written form") tentatively. It seems to me that it expresses part of the miracle of the giving of the Ten Commandments. Each commandment was a single divine word, which must needs be expressed as one or more complete sentences in human speech. Moreover, the differing forms of the Ten Commandments in Exodus and Deuteronomy were implicit in these single words, something impossible in human speech. Moreover each "word" was audible, but was also inscribed on the tablets, i.e. was in written form – containing implicitly all 613 commandments of the written law. <–
  12. Idris is identified in Arabic tradition with the biblical Enoch, and this identification is mentioned explicitly at the beginning of page 11b. For further details, see note 19 infra.<–
  13. According to Rabbinic tradition, Abraham was subjected to ten tests, of which this was one, namely King Nimrod had him cast into a fiery furnace (just like Daniel and his friends) from which he was miraculously saved. The culminating test was the order to sacrifice Isaac. <–
  14. This notion of twelve separate paths for the tribes is based on Psalms 136.13 "Who split the Red Sea into sections." Rashi's commentary ad loc. reads: Twelve sections for the twelve tribes. The popular commentary of Rabbi David Altschuler, The Tower of David, (Zolkiev, 1754) is even more specific: Into sections – into many pieces, a path for each tribe by itself. The Revised Standard Version renders the verse: who divided the Red Sea in two. But there is no warrant for "in two" in the Hebrew original. <–
  15. The writer of the sharh recognises two types of "stranger", as distinguished in the Babylonian Talmud (Gittin 57b, and elsewhere) the "righteous stranger" (ger cedeq) who has accepted the Jewish religion in every respect, and is, in almost every respect, the equal of a native-born Jew, and the "resident alien" (ger toshab) who has accepted only the seven so-called Noachide commandments, which involve forswearing idolatry, and certain other heathen practices. The ger toshab is not actually required to observe the sabbath, but a Jew cannot use him or her to do things which are prohibited to a full Jew. In rabbinic tradition, Nebuzaradan is given as the example of a righteous stranger, who repented his dreadful deeds and accepted Judaism, while Naaman was only a resident alien. See II Kings 25.8 et seq, and II Kings 5.1. <–
  16. The sharhist uses the Arabic word for "castles" or "palaces" to translate the Hebrew word meaning literally "your gates." Current English versions do not render "your gates." The new Revised Standard Version translates "your towns" and the new Jewish Publication Society version renders "your settlements." Both clearly feel a need not to use the literal meaning. Numerous major settlements (some deserted) in North Africa and the middle east have the word in their names, e.g. Ksar el-Kebir (Alcazarquivir in Spanish), Qasr al-Hayr, Qasr `Amrah etc. <–
  17. The Hebrew word meaning "and he rested" is translated here "sat upon his throne" thus avoiding the extreme anthropomorphism of God's rest. It should be noted that the Hebrew word for "rest" can also mean "be placed", the same double meaning that the English word "rest" has.<–
  18. The word "bless" begins a paean of praises using epithets in alphabetic order. This is very common in the piyyutim (medieval religious poems.) <–
  19. Enoch was the seventh generation of mankind in Genesis chapter five:
    1. Adam
    2. Seth
    3. Enosh
    4. Kenan
    5. Mahalalel
    6. Jared
    7. Enoch.
    The fourteenth century scholar and physician Profiat Duran in his He$eb ha'epod identifies Enoch with Hermes Magistos, the subject of the Hermetic literature, and believes he invented the calendar. Hermes in turn is identified as thrice-blessed Thoth, the Egyptian deity. Idris is the Arabic equivalent of Enoch, although it is unclear how this identification came to be made, none of the proposed origins being convincing. The biblical text appears to regard Enoch as a righteous man, but rabbinic legend suggests that "God took him", in the words of Scripture, before he could do real harm. This is a neat solution to the problem of why "the good die young" – they are being providentially rescued from sin. Note that the fallen angels who lusted after the daughters of men landed on Mount Hermon to begin their evil deeds. The upshot is that Enoch was favored, but failed to live up to the divine expectations, as observed in note 12 supra. Arabic dictionaries gloss Idris as the prophet Enoch. <–
  20. The seven patriarchs are:
    1. Abraham
    2. Isaac
    3. Jacob
    4. Levi
    5. Kohath
    6. Amram
    7. Moses.<–
  21. According to I Samuel 17.12-14, David was the eighth son of Jesse, not the seventh. Dana's text reads: "seventh of the forefathers." On the seventh day of Tabernacles, seven circuits are made in the Synagogue according to Sephardic tradition, in honor of seven prominent leaders, not necessarily patriarchs. These are:
    1. Abraham
    2. Isaac
    3. Jacob
    4. Moses
    5. Aaron
    6. Phineas [Numbers 25.7]
    7. David. <–
  22. Dana's text reads: "the Messiah Yinnon." This is based on a midrashic interpretation of Psalms 72.17, according to which the name of the Messiah is "Yinnon", found in the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 98b. Dana erroneously transcribes this name "Yanon."<–
  23. The "kings" are:
    1. Moses
    2. Saul
    3. David
    4. Solomon
    5. Rehoboam
    6. Abijam (also known as Abijah)
    7. Asa.
    Moses is there on account of the interpretation of the word "king" in Deuteronomy 33.5 as a reference to Moses. The medieval commentator Abraham ibn Ezra gives this interpretation. However, Rashi, and most moderns take it as a reference to God. <–
  24. In the Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 118b, we read of the issue of two sabbaths in a statement by R. Johanan in the name of R. Simeon b. Yochai. This is based on the principle that the minimum plural is two. See Isaiah 56.4. There is a parallel passage in the Midrash Exodus Rabba 25.12 in the name of R. Levi. <–
  25. Enosh is mentioned in Genesis 4.26, and it was in his days that idolatry began. Note that since Adam was clearly a monotheist, the ancients perforce had to explain polytheism as a corruption of the primeval monotheism. <–
  26. "Do not read" introduces a midrashic punning interpretation, and is not meant to be taken literally as a textual emendation. <–
  27. The commandment does not read simply "Do not kill", but rather, "Do not murder", because killing is permissible in the case of a condemned man, or, under some circumstances, in a war of self-defense. Moreover, the Hebrew verb has reference specifically to killing a human being. <–
  28. The colocynth, Citrullus colocynthis,also known as the squirting cucumber or bitter apple, is the extremely bitter fruit of a Mediterranean vine, which was anciently used as a strong laxative. It is often used as a metaphor for a highly unpleasant event. <–
  29. There is a pun here between the Arabic word for "lion" which is 'asad (also used as a personal name!) and the word for "master" which is sayyid (which gives rise to the Spanish word cid). The pun does not work in Hebrew, but is a rather neat use of the comparison here between God and a lion. <–
  30. The theme of a list of powerful entities, in increasing order of power, is a commonplace in popular literature. Probably the most famous is the story of the three soldiers in the Apocrypha, in I Esdras, chapters three and four. Another is the children's song in the Haggadah, the home service on the feast of Passover, entitled Had Gadya, "Only one kid." <–
  31. Cf. Proverbs 2.18, 5.5, 7.27, Ecclesiastes 7.26.<–
  32. Acquiring a woman, who, as a minor, has been sold into slavery by her father, without the need of a marriage contract, as alluded to in Exodus 21.8, is permissible but nonetheless undesirable. Hence it is the least of the sins of lust.<–
  33. The beautiful woman is a captive who may be used for sexual purposes under specified conditions, but this is deprecated also. See Deuteronomy 21.11.<–
  34. The Arabic word rizq, which I have rendered "sustenance", represents a concept well established in Islam, less so in Judaism, that at birth God assigns to the individual, along with his or her personal characteristics, a measure of sustenance which can in no way be changed. It matters not what the individual does, or thinks he is doing; if God has decreed that he will be rich, he will be rich, however careless he may be with money, and poverty the same way. So to speak, a sustenance account is created at birth, and this is drawn on by the individual until he or she dies, at which point it is exhausted. This fatalism is doubtless at the root of many manifestations currently seen in the world of Islam; since all is in the hands of God, risk taking, even to the point of death is not an issue. This text shows the influence of Islamic thought on North African Jewry.<–  

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


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Alan D. Corré
corre@uwm.edu