IDOLATRY-16/The Idols’ List in the Ten Commandments


© 2020 by Rabbi Dr. Zvi Aviner

IDOLATRY-16/The  Idols’ List  in the Ten Commandments


Know your CREATOR, know yourself and know the difference

1: Denying Moses’ First of the Ten Commandment is IDOLATRY


We can sum up the IDOLATRY Trial set up by Genesis Chapter One.

In principle: Doing the opposite of what the First of Moses’ Ten Commandments is a sort of IDOLATRY. Thus, when  the First Commandment says:

1. “I Am (Self, Essence)
2. “YHVH your ELoKiM (Attributes in Oneness
3. “Who took you out of Egypt Land…” (Kingship)

1. Denying His SELF, His Existence is a sort of IDOLATRY, the so called  “uprooting the tree.”
2. Denying His Attributes,  or their Oneness , or  Separating between them, or preferring one over the other – is a sort of  IDOLATRY, called “separating the glued ones.”   Similarly, mispronouncing them or distorting them is not only rude, betraying the person’s ignorance, but also IDOLATRY.
3. Rejection of  His Kingship (line 3) is a sort of IDOLATRY.

Let’s move to the Second Commandment, which lists all possible idols in the world!


2: The LIST OF IDOLS in Moses’ Second Commandment

(Moses’ Second of the Ten Commandments)
1. “Thou shall not have for yourself
2. “Other ELoKiMs
3. “Over my face
4. “Thou shall not make for yourself any image or statues
5. “Of anything in the Heavens above and in the earth below….
6. “Thou shall not bow to them
7. “Nor serve them…”

Note that the idols are listed immediately after KINGSHIP (line 3) of the  First Commandment.  Hence IDOLATRY is a battle of  KINGSHIP – we either enthrone “YHVH our ELoKiM” (line 2) on us, or enthrone the idols on us.

Note also that Moses leaves no ‘neutral option’ of worshiping no one. Moses assumes that Man is made to withstand the battle of attractions and fascinations –  the IDOLATRY trial.  We should therefore enthrone on us the true KING.

Let’s discuss the idols on the list, one by one.

1: “You shall not have for yourself…”
Many commentaries see this line as referring to ‘’anything Man may adore instead of his  true CREATOR.”  This can refer to drugs, alcohol, a political party, a philosophy, art, science, sex, seeking power, anything that may dominate our lives. .

2: ”Other ELoHiMS…”
here Moses  prohibits the worshiping entities considered powerful –  “Side by Side” with ELKM. These  are perceived as ELKM’s PARTNERS (Besides YHVH.)  n principle, any entity with which ELKM consulted prior to making Adam, can be perceived by idolaters as “His Partner.”  .   .

3: “Over My Face…” 
Here Moses forbids the worshiping of entities considered inferior to ELKM , shielding His Face from our eyes.  They are thought by the idolaters to have some power on their own, worthy of worshiping.  To this category belong entities like the putative God’s family- Mother, Son, etc.

4: “Any image of…”
Once you’ve worshiped any item in Nature, you’d be tempted to carve out a statue or an image of it and worship it.

5: “Of anything…”
This pertains to worshiping a statue of any imaginary power, like Demons, Spirits, Aliens, etc. .

6: “You shall not bow…”
This line prohibits the worshiping of idols in the specific way its followers worship. .

7: “Nor serve them…”
This line prohibits the worshiping of idols in the way we  worship the God of Israel, like chanting Psalms for it

Each of these items is a headline, requiring much elaborations.

Note that the Torah assumes that most idolaters are erroneous. They are not necessarily bad people, but in error.   .


3: Falling Down the Two Commandments:

Enosh and his Disciples



The RaMBaM (Maimonides) brings the story of Enosh from Genesis as an example of a generation that sled down the entire patch carved out by Moses.

Enosh was the illustrious grandson of Adam and Eve.  He is considered the best orator of all times. H eis described (in the Midrash and Zohar) as an enormously charismatic preacher, tall and slim and beautiful at the age of thousand years as he was at thirty.  Women loved him and his seeds filed the Earth.

On Enosh the verse says that “it was then that they began calling the name of YHVH.”   Iit sounds nice.   Enosh taught  people to see YHVH everywhere, which is quite true. Yet there is a hint here: The Hebrew word for ‘began,’ huchal, elected here, also means “profaned.” Hence Enosh desecrated YHVH name by his teaching.

The verb “to call YHVH” means “prayed to YHVH.”  What could be wrong with that?

The rabbis explained: Enosh profaned YHVH Name by praying ONLY TO HER.

It means: Enosh worshiped YHVH only, forgetting ELKM.

We call that error “separating between the Glued Ones.”

What happened? Enosh, as a true prophet, foresaw the Coming of YHVH to rule over earth Awesomely Alone, namely The Kingdom Of Mercy taking Over our Planet. Therefore, he preached, Man should pray only to YHVH. The fact is that prayer in principle should be addressed to YHVH, the Attribute of Mercy and Compassion and Forgiveness,  but never while forgetting ELKM.

The result of his erroneous teaching  was that his disciples came out of his fiery preaching convinced that the Merciful YHVH is already Ruling the World, so that Man’s sins are forgiven.  All you need is to repent and ask forgiveness, then go out and commit any crime you wish! (We’ll talk about Enosh more in due course as we learn about Noah’s Flood.)

Another, not less devastating consequences from Enosh’s teaching was the spread of IDOLATRY.  According to Maimonides, Enosh used to pray to the Sun and the Moon and the Trees and the Stones AS COUNCILORS of ELKM.  His disciples, however, began to pray to these entities for their own putative power. This is how IDOLATRY spread from Worshiping Councilors, to Partners, to Natural Forces, ti Imaginary Forces, to Statues and Images, as described in Moses’ Commandment mentioned above.

You can say that Enosh and his disciples sled over the entire two Commandments of Moses. They began by Separating the Glued , as described in the First Commandment, then sled into all the idols mentioned in Moses Second Commandment.

In summary- we see how Moses’ Commandments are based on the spiritual  downfall of Mankind through history, .