Why a second set of 10 Commandments given?

To give a bit of background, God spoke to the children of Israel, the first set of 10 commandments. God wrote these commandments on 2 tablets and gave it to Moses who was up with God in Mount Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights. Meanwhile, the children started creating their own god, the golden calf and having a festival below. Outraged, Moses broke the 2 tablets in anger. Then God calls Moses to prepare two tablets but this time, a different set of 10 commandments were written.

Exod 34:10-11 And He said: “Behold, I make a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation; and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD. For it is an awesome thing that I will do with you. Observe what I command you this day. …… (27-28) Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write these words, for according to the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel. So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.

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The first and second set of 10 commandments are compared in the below tabulation.

 First 10 Commandments (Exo 20) Second 10 Commandments (Exo 34)
1. I am your only God

Exod 20:2-3 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.

1. No covenant with the inhabitants of the land

Exod 34:11-12 Observe what I command you this day. Behold, I am driving out from before you the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be a snare in your midst.

2. No Idolatry

Exod 20:4-6 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image–any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

2. Destroy all pagan worship places

Exod 34:13-16 But you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images (for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they play the harlot with their gods and make sacrifice to their gods, and one of them invites you and you eat of his sacrifice, and you take of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters play the harlot with their gods and make your sons play the harlot with their gods.

3. No Blasphemy

Exod 20:7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

3. No Idolatry

Exod 34:17 “You shall make no molded gods for yourselves.

4. Keep the Sabbath on 7th day

Exod 20:8-11 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

4. Keep the Feasts of Unleavened Bread

Exod 34:18 The Feast of Unleavened Bread you shall keep. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, in the appointed time of the month of Abib; for in the month of Abib you came out from Egypt.

5. Honor your Parents

Exod 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.

5. First born males belong to God

Exod 34:19-20 All that open the womb are Mine, and every male firstborn among your livestock, whether ox or sheep. But the firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb. And if you will not redeem him, then you shall break his neck. All the firstborn of your sons you shall redeem. And none shall appear before Me empty-handed.

6. Don’t Murder

Exod 20:13 “You shall not murder.

6. Keep the Sabbath on 7th day even in plowing and harvest.

Exod 34:21 “Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; in plowing time and in harvest you shall rest.

7. Don’t commit Adultery

Exod 20:14 “You shall not commit adultery.

7. Men to appear thrice a year before God

Exod 34:22-24 “And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year’s end. Three times in the year all your men shall appear before the Lord, the LORD God of Israel. For I will cast out the nations before you and enlarge your borders; neither will any man covet your land when you go up to appear before the LORD your God three times in the year.

8. Don’t Steal

Exod 20:15 “You shall not steal.

8. No leavened sacrifice or leaving the Passover until morning

Exod 34:25 “You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leaven, nor shall the sacrifice of the Feast of the Passover be left until morning.

9. Don’t bear false witness

Exod 20:16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

9. Bring first fruits to house of the LORD

Exod 34:26a The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring to the house of the LORD your God.

10. Don’t Covet

Exod 20:17 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.

10. Don’t boil a young goat in it’s mother’s milk

Exod 34:26b You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.

The only overlapping commandments are no idolatry and keeping the Sabbath.

If any Sabbath denominations say that we need keep the Sabbath for it is the 4th commandment, ask which which set of 10 commandments, and let them know the 2nd set of 10 commandments has a lot of feasts to follow. I can assure you that you will never get back from them. But my motive is not to silence any Sabbath denominations but rather find the truth and the reason why there are 2 sets of 10 commandments.

The traditional view is that, instead of writing the same set of 10 commandments, they mentioned some other commandments. This view has serious flaws in it because the author will be guilty of misrepresenting the words of the covenant, the 10 commandments.

Exod 34:1 And the LORD said to Moses, “Cut two tablets of stone like the first ones, and I will write on these tablets the words that were on the first tablets which you broke.

Exod 34:27 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write these words, for according to the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.”

God said that He will write exactly the same that were on the first tablets. Hence, the contents written on the two tablets didn’t change. What was written on the first two tablets which God gave and Moses broke? The book of Exodus doesn’t record it. The first set of 10 commandments was spoken by God in chapter 20 and the second set of 10 commandments were mentioned as the words of the covenant, written by God on the two tablets brought by Moses the second time in chapter 34.

Deut 4:13-14 So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone. And the LORD commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that you might observe them in the land which you cross over to possess.

Deut 5:22 “These words the LORD spoke to all your assembly, in the mountain from the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness, with a loud voice; and He added no more. And He wrote them on two tablets of stone and gave them to me.

Deut 10:4 And He wrote on the tablets according to the first writing, the Ten Commandments, which the LORD had spoken to you in the mountain from the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly; and the LORD gave them to me.

However, it is the book of Deuteronomy that mentions about the 10 commandments being spoken by the Lord on the day of the assembly was the same that was given to Moses in the form of two tablets, confirming that the first set of 10 commandments are the ones that were written on the two tablets in both instances.

Purpose of the second set of 10 commandments

Exod 34:10 And He said: “Behold, I make a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation; and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD. For it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.

Exod 34:27 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write these words, for according to the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.

The book of Exodus gives us an important clue about the second set of 10 commandments. Now read the same above verses in Septuagint (LXX) to see how the Jews understood 300 years before Christ.

Exod 34:10 And the Lord said to Moses, Behold, I establish a covenant for you in the presence of all your people; I will do glorious things, which have not been done in all the earth, or in any nation; and all the people among whom you are shall see the works of the Lord, that they are wonderful, which I will do for you. (LXX)

Exod 34:27 And the Lord said to Moses, Write these words for yourself, for on these words I have established a covenant with you and with Israel. (LXX)

It is very much clear that the Lord is establishing the covenant for Moses in the presence of Israel but not for Israel. Moses had to write these words for himself and based on these words (the second set of 10 commandments), God is establishing the covenant with Moses and with Israel. God then gave Moses the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments (the first set of 10 commandments).

Is it possible such an important detail is lost in translation? Does the Scriptures even support such an idea?

Isa 42:6 “I, the LORD, have called You in righteousness, And will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, As a light to the Gentiles, To open blind eyes, To bring out prisoners from the prison, Those who sit in darkness from the prison house.

Isa 61:1 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; ……(8) For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery for burnt offering; I will direct their work in truth, And will make with them an everlasting covenant.

Just as God made a covenant with Moses to establish His covenant with Israel, the Father is giving His own Son as a covenant to His people and Christ is making an everlasting covenant with them.