The Ten Commandments & The Days of the Judges

So that’s where judges first came from. Why did You have Moses and Aaron come up the mountain?

“And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Ex 20:1-2).

The Ten Commandments:

1. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Ex 20:3).

Gath or Gat (Hebrew: גַּת‬, wine press; Latin: Geth), often referred to as Gath of the Philistines, was one of the five Philistine city-states, established in northwestern Philistia. Gath is often mentioned in the Hebrew Bible and its existence is confirmed by Egyptian inscriptions.

Gath is mentioned in the El-Amarna letters as Gimti/Gintu, ruled by the two Shuwardata and ʿAbdi-Ashtarti. Another Gath, known as Ginti-kirmil (Gath of Carmel) also appears in the Amarna letters.

The site most favored as the location of Gath is the archaeological mound or tell known as Tell es-Safi in Arabic and Tel Zafit in Hebrew (sometimes written Tel Tzafit), located inside Tel Zafit National Park, but a stone inscription disclosing the name of the city has yet to be discovered. Recent excavations at the site have produced dramatic evidence of a siege and subsequent destruction of the site in the late 9th century BCE, which can be related to the biblical verse that mentions its capture by Hazael of Aram Damascus.

I’m sure Obama wished he would have said that first.

2. “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or 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” (Ex 20:4).

Oops, I guess the Catholics didn’t read that one.

3. “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Ex 20:7).

The Supreme Court, Washington D.C. and people like Oprah are guilty here, and they continue to do it.

4. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Ex 20:8).

5. “Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee” (Ex 20:12).

6. “Thou shalt not kill” (Ex 20:13).

7. “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Ex 20:14).

I’m guilty of number seven.

8. “Thou shalt not steal” (Ex 20:15).

Ouch, I’m really guilty of number eight.

9. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” (Ex 20:16).

The media is certainly guilty of number nine.

10. “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s” (Ex 20:17).

And I’m guilty of this one too.  But the good news is that as long as you do not continue to sin they are forgiven.

I have no doubt that God’s list of all my sins was quite lengthy, probably ten times the length of my rap sheet, and that’s pretty long.

But did you notice I said, my list of sins “was” long?  God has forgiven all of my sins and they no longer exist.  That’s the kind of God we have.

“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.

For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him” (Ps 103:8, 11-13).

From the Canaanite era, Ashkelon is the oldest and largest seaport yet known in Israel, and a thriving Middle Bronze Age (2000-1550 B.C.) metropolis of more thasn 150 acres, with commanding ramparts, including the oldest arched city gate in the world, still standing two stories high.

From the Philistine era (1175-604 B.C.), excavations of the seaport are uncovering remains of the city from the days of Samson and Delilah, and the city’s destruction by Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar.

“And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.

And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.

And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.

And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.

And the LORD said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven.

Ye shall not make with me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold.

An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee” (Ex 20:18-24).

The Days of the Judges

Capital of Moab Known in the Bible as as Kir, Kir Moab, Kir-Heres(eth), and Hereseth, this site (today Kerak) was the capital city of Moab. It is situated on an isolated hilltop, with a view in all directions. The Crusaders recognized the defensible aspect of the site and made Kerak one of their strongest fortresses in the Middle East in 1140 A.D.

“In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Jud 17:6).

The foothold gained by Israel through Joshua’s victories was tested in the period of the Judges. The tribes of Israel faced pressure from various groups competing for a share of Canaan.  

Canaanite city-states tenaciously clung to their territories and were a constant threat to Israel. 

The Philistines arrived in the southern coastal plain by 1150 B.C. and quickly established themselves in five cities – Gaza, Ashdod, Gath, Ashkelon, and Ekron.  Ammon, Moab, and Edom continued to press their claims to the Transjordan.   

Moreover, desert marauders like the Amalekites and Midianites periodically harassed the settled population, striking unsuspecting villages and towns quickly using the camel.  

Israel found herself surrounded by peoples seeking to expand their territorial advantage.  

With no king to lead them, the tribes were hard-pressed to match the strength of their more established neighbors. 

But an even greater threat to Israel than hostile neighbors emerged: Canaanite religion.

King’s Highway
Two highways run north-south through southern Transjordan.

The King’s Highway runs through the important cities of Heshbon, Medeba, Dibon, Kerak, Bozrah and Petra.

The Way of the Wilderness (of Moab and Edom) runs parallel to the King’s Highway but to the east, on the seam between the Arabian desert and the arable Transjordan Plateau.

The Israelites wanted to pass through Transjordan on the King’s Highway, but the Edomites would not allow them to do so (Num 20:17-18). Instead, the Israelites were forced to go around Edom’s south and eastern sides, utilizing the Way of the Wilderness (Deut 2:1-8).

Despite Yahweh’s command to drive out the Canaanites, Israel settled among them, adopting pagan ideas and customs (Jud3:5-6).   

Canaanite worship practices proliferated as Israel adapted to a more settled life and served Baal (Jud 2:11; 6:25-32). 

The rape of the Levite’s concubine recorded in Judges 19 epitomized the moral decay of this dark and dangerous era.