Rabbi Dr Zvi Aviner

Dec 2021

Ó copyrights

IDOLATRY -1/ Idolatry stated

in Moses’ Ten Commandments



LAST class we discussed Noah’s Seven Commandments as a group.

Today we start examining them one by one, according to their list


We begin with Noah’s First Commandment – IDOLATRY.

All the patriarchs knew about it, fought against it,

and yet it does not appear as an explicit Commandment

in the Book of Genesis


We find it started explicitly in the Ten Commandments of Sinai

where G-d says (Exodus 20: 1-5)


The First of the Ten Commandments of Sinai:

(1)  I Am

(2) The Lord (Y*H*V*H) your G-d (EeLoHiM)

(3) Who took you out of Egypt land…

…………………Man ……………………

The Second of the Ten Commandments

(1) Thou shall   have no other gods

(2) besides me (over my face)

(3) Thou shall not make for yourself any carved idol

or any image of anything that is in the Heavens above

or that is in the Earth beneath, or in the waters under the Earth

(4) thou shall not bow down to them

(5) nor serve them …


Although the Ten Commandments were given by Moses to Israel,

All Nations may learn about IDOLATRY from them

Since, as a rule,

every Commandment given to Noah and repeated by Moses to Israel

applies to both Noahides and Israel



There are a few differences, though,

between Noahides and Israel

in regard to the IDOLATRY Command.

Generally, Israel should be more stringent about it.





The two Commandments

At the top of the tablets


 The First Commandments of Sinai presents the Speaker, G-d,

whom we should worship

The Second Commandments of Sinai presents the Idols,

whom we should worship not.



Technically, only the Second of the Ten Commandments

Addresses the idols, and therefore is often called

The IDOLATRY Commandment.


But the truth is that both Commandments,

the First and Second on the Tablets,

are two side of the same coin.




The idols listed

in Moses’ Second Commandment





 Line 1: 

“Thou shall have no other G-d…”


Linen 1 is   a headline.

It presents the most general definition of idols.

It defines the idols as “Other gods besides me”.



If you worship any entity “Other than” the G-d of Israel,

The G-d that Adam and Noah knew well

you are an idolater.


The idols, then, are defined in a negative, exclusive way,

anything you might worship other than the G-d of Israel.


This implies that you first need to know G-d precisely,

then you exclude anything else.

That is why Moses starts with the First Commandment,

Telling us first, who is G-d.



  Line 2 – “Over my face

Moses refers here to idols perceived powerful, yet

Side by side with G-d,

Or as God’s Partners.


Here Moses addresses idols perceived

As God’s Family, His Wife, His Son, Uncle, etc.


They are by His Side, or in the Front of Him

Separating Him from our eyes.


For instance:

Enosh, Adam’s illustrious grandson,

taught his generation to worship celestial bodies

As G-d Councilors.

Soon they forgot G-d, and worshipped the councilors

for their own power.

This is called “Enosh’s error.” (RMBM)



Another example:  

When Malki Zedek greeted Abraham,

He blessed him in the name of “ the Superior G-d.”

Malki Zedek, as a disciple of Abraham,

believe in the True G-d of Abraham

but only as Superior to other gods.


Line 3 prohibits the worshipping of Man-made statues images.


Line 4 prohibits the participation in the idol’s ways of worshipping.


Line 5 prohibits the worshipping of idols i

n the way we worship the true G-d of Israel.


For instance, we should not praise the idols by singing Psalms.

We should not prostrate on the ground before an idol

as it was done for the G-d of Israel in the Holy Temple.



Let’s go now to the First of the Ten Commandments,

where G-d presents Himself to Israel and to the world.