Isaiah 54:11; “O afflicted, storm-tossed one, who has not been consoled: Behold, I will set down gems as your [flooring] stones and lay your foundation with sapphires.”
When the Prophet Moshe, A’aron, his sons and the seventy elders ascended Mount Sinai to meet with Elohim (G-d), the Torah notes the unique condition of the terrain beneath Him as He walked. “Moshes and A’aron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the Elohim of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear as the sky itself.” Exodus 24:9-10
Sapphire is also mentioned in relation to YHWH’s throne in Ezekiel 1:26-28; “… Above the expanse over (the heads of the living creatures) was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of YHWH. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.” Because no man has ever seen the face of YHWH and lived (Exodus 33:20), we know that this individual who also walked with Adam in Gan Edan, appeared to Moshe at Mount Sinai and later in Ezekiel’s vision, was none other than the preincarnate Messiah Yahshua. Rabbinic Judaism even admits that this tangible form of Elohim, who “…spoke to Moshe face to face” (Exodus 33:11), was YHWH’s tangible express image.
The stones or pavement of sapphire described in Exodus 24:10 relates the effect Elohim had on the earth of Mount Sinai, when He stepped off His throne. Thus the stone that was prepared for the Ten Commandments had to have been sapphire. To think that YHWH etched His chief eternal commands of the Torah on anything else other than this material, denies basic deductive reasoning espoused directly from the text. Exodus 24:12; “Elohim said to Moshe, ‘Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the cubes of stone, with the law and commands I have written for their instruction."
Sapphire carries a natural and beautiful blue hue. This colour symbolises wisdom and heavenly stability. It is the colour of the sky, the sea, and the colour of the throne room of heaven. Midrash Lekakh Tov describes the sapphire on which the Ten Commandments were etched as being literally cut from YHWH’s very own throne.
The word “sapphire” appears in the TaNaK as “sapir” and is actually borrowed from a Sanskrit word. Though it is a foreign term, it does have a Semitic root that relates to the Hebrew words: sefer, meaning “book,” sipur, meaning “story” and safar, meaning “recount.”
Although the stones on which the Ten Commandments are written are almost universally perceived as two rectangular slabs with rounded off tops, the Ten Commandments, according to the Talmud, were engraved on two cubes of blue sapphire stone.
Question: But why were they cubed and why don't believers generally know about this?
Answer: In Hebrew they are called Luchot ha-Berit, which literally means,” Cubes of the Covenant.” Whilst the word “tablet” is not necessarily an incorrect transliteration, it is less accurate, because a “cube” describes dimension and volume whereas the term “tablet” does not. Orthodox Judaism has always known the Ten Commandments were inscribed onto cubes. However, the rest of the world, especially Christianity, does not normally look to the Jews for Scriptural advice. The truth is that most western people unconsciously draw this aspect of Bible history from Cecil B. Demille's Film The Ten Commandments.
Exodus 32:16; “The cubes were Elohim’s handiwork, and the script was the script of Elohim engraved within the cubes.” According to rabbinic tradition they were perfect cubes, with sharp corners and words bored fully through the stone, rather than carved on the surface. “…they were inscribed on one side and the other” (Exodus 32:15b) It is said that the words did not appeared on the other side in reverse, but could be read normally. Furthermore, the inner parts of letters surrounded by complete joins stayed in exact position without any visible support.
The perfect cut of the cubes symbolised Divine perfection. It is no accident that their shape was patterned after the dimensions of a cube of salt, an essential ingredient to mankind’s very existence.
Salt’s unique taste serves as a human’s foundational reference point and heightens the natural flavour inherent in all foods. This function alludes to the Torah’s purpose as a reference point to understanding life and drawing the best from it.
Chloride and sodium ions, which are the two major components of salt, are necessary for the preservation of all living creatures. This concept of preservation is also another characteristic that mimics Torah, in that it preserves the soul of him who toils in it.
Matthew 5:13-16; “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? ... You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid... Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Messiah Yahshua is punctuating a seemingly simple teaching with symbolism straight from the Torah. His reference to salt alludes to the Ten Commandments and the light alludes to the brightness that emanated from Moshe’s face. The city on the hill refers to Moshe who stood on Mount Sinai.
Of all the 613 commandments, YHWH selected Ten Commandments for special attention. He did this by presenting them on two priceless objects that are synonymous with eternity, directly communicating them to Israel and placing them within the Ark of the Covenant.
The Ark of the Covenant rested in the Holy of Holies. This room, which was measured at 10 cubits by 10 cubits by 10 cubits, was also a perfect cube. It is said that when the Ark rested there it took up no space whatsoever. When each end of the Ark was measured to its facing wall it measured exactly 5 cubits. YHWH’s perfect law and perfect presence resided within another worldly dimension of perfect yet incomprehensible geometry. Sacred object was placed within sacred object, combining meaning and form. Note that the shape of the tefillin boxes that house pieces of Torah are also cubed.
Another Midrash says that the tablets “carried their own weight,” enabling Moshe to carry them down the mountain. Exodus 32:15a; “Moshe tuned and descended from the mountain, with two tablets of the testimony in his hands…”
Exodus 34:29; “It came about when Moshe was coming down from Mount Sinai (and the two cubes of the testimony were in Moshe’s hand as he was coming down from the mountain), that Moshe did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him (YHWH).”
The light that radiated from Moshe’s face had a function beyond that of being evidence of prolonged exposure to YHWH’s presence. For when he held aloft one cube, the light emanating from his face would send out a strong beam of light into the sky, which caused the commandments to appear overhead as YHWH uttered them with an echoless voice that came from every direction. The Midrash describes each utterance literally causing every Israelite’s heart to fail, which required YHWH to continuously resurrect the Children of Israel at the close of each sentence. This ordeal was causing great trauma to the people, prompting them to plead with Moshe to stop Elohim speaking. Exodus 19:19 “…You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let Elohim speak to us, or we will die.’
Question: What about the second set of cubes? Didn’t Moshe write them?
Answer: The answer is no! Exodus 34:1; “YHWH said to Moshe, “Carve for yourself two stone cubes like the first ones, and I shall inscribe on the tablets the words that were on the first cubes, which you shattered.” After Israel had sinned they had descended very quickly to a considerably low spiritual level. The second set of cubes had to reflect this lowered state. By no longer being cut by YHWH, the cubes reflected this diminished spiritual level.
The shattered pieces of the original cubes were carefully gathered up and placed in the Ark along with the intact second set. These pieces are called, Shivrei Luchot, which means, “the remnants of the tablets (or cubes).”
The Ten Commandments
Now that the stones on which the Ten Commandments were bored have been investigated, let’s examine the some of the meaning in the commands themselves.
In the Torah there is an array of words used to describe its Divine command. They are: mitzvah (commandment or literally “love deed”), dibbur (word), mishpat (law), ed (testimonial), and chok (decree).
The word “chok” is distinct from the other terms for several reasons. It is a decree, which does not appear to have an obvious reason and upon deeper contemplation continues to elude any rationale. The word “chok” also means “boundary.” Proverbs 8:29; "When He assigned the sea its limits [chuko]."
However, the literal meaning of chok is “engraving.” So in a sense all the Ten Commandments can be classified as chukkim (plural) – engraved supra-rational laws.
According to the Zohar, the Torah was the genesis of the Divine Will and was originally encapsulated in the engraved supernal purified form of the Ten Commandments. Therefore, the engraved Torah preceded the written Torah.
Commandments under the Microscope on the First Cube
1. I am the YHWH your Elohim who took you out of the Land of Egypt.
It isn't beneath the Almighty omnipotent Elohim, before whom “all is considered like naught” to personally interfere in the workings of the world, whether to liberate a persecuted nation from the hand of their oppressors. We can always trust that YHWH is watching over us attentively and controlling all the events which affect our lives.
2. You shall not have other Elohim in My presence.
YHWH is the only one who controls all events and occurrences. No other entity – not your government, not your boss, not your spouse – can benefit or harm you unless YHWH has so decreed. Every one of us shares a special relationship with YHWH, and no power can interfere and disturb this relationship.
3. You shall not take the name of YHWH, your Elohim, in vain.
The above described relationship may indeed be intimate and personal, but you must never lose perspective—He's your Creator, not your buddy. Just as “familiarity breeds contempt,” so, too, prayer three times a day can dull one's senses and cause one to lose some of the reverence due to the King of kings.
4. Remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it.
Maintaining this relationship with Elohim requires effort on our part. All too often we are so immersed in our daily routine that we forget that in actuality it is our connection with YHWH which matters most. Therefore, Elohim commanded us to allocate one day every week for “relationship maintenance.” This is the Sabbath, a day to focus on the real priorities in life, and draw inspiration for the following week.
5. Honour your father and your mother.
Why is this commandment included in the "between man and Creator" tablet? Doesn't this command belong on the second tablet? Perhaps the lesson is that although we owe everything to YHWH, we must not forget to express gratitude to those people whom YHWH has empowered to help us in our journey through life. As the Talmud says: "The wine belongs to the host, but thanks is [also] said to the waiter."
Commandments under the Microscope on the Second Cube
Although most of the following prohibitions are against sins that most of us wouldn't even consider committing, these prohibitions have subtle undertones which are applicable to every person.
6. Do not murder.
Murder is a result of one person's deeming another person totally insignificant. In truth, every human was created by YHWH in His holy image, and therefore has an innate right to exist. The first message we must internalize is the importance of respecting every individual. YHWH thinks this person is important—so should you.
7. Do not commit adultery
Misguided love. Yes, we must be loving, kind and respectful to everyone, but this doesn’t mean we “love bomb” everyone constantly. There are guidelines which we must follow. Sometimes, love entails being severe and abstaining from exhibiting it.
8. Do not kidnap.
The essence of kidnapping is utilising another for personal gain. Focus on being a real friend; don't be in the relationship only for your own benefit. Be there for your friend even when it is uncomfortable or inconvenient for you.
9. Do not bear false witness against your neighbour
Every person judges. Every person is in a constant state of observing their acquaintances and friends, silently and subconsciously judging their every word and action. We must be wary of a tendency to “bear false witness” in the process of issuing our personal verdict on any matter concerning a neighbour. We must always give the benefit of the doubt, taking into consideration various factors of which we may be unaware, ensuring that we don't reach an erroneous judgment.
10. Do not covet your neighbour’s possessions
This means to be happy for your neighbour’s good fortune. This is done by training yourself to intellectually respect a neighbour who enjoys a significantly superior standard of living. Practice consistently viewing them in a positive light and learn to love their accomplishments. Share their sorrow during their difficult moments.
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“You will be like the wings of a dove covered with silver, And her feathers with yellow gold.” — Psalm 68:13
“O that I had wings like a dove then I would fly away and be at rest.”