Did the 10 Commandments Exist Before The Old Covenant?

Were the ten commandments brought into existence at the time of the making of the old covenant between Yahweh and Israel? Did they come into existence when they were written on tablets of stone on Mount Sinai, or is there evidence in the scriptures to demonstrate that they existed long before that?

When the Israelites were brought out of Egypt but before the cutting of the Old Covenant at Sinai, what were the instructions given them for the gathering of manna?

Exodus 16:4-5 WEB
Then said Yahweh to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from the sky for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law, or not.
5 It shall come to pass on the sixth day, that they shall prepare that which they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.”

Exodus 16:22-23 WEB
It happened that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one, and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses.
23 He said to them, “This is that which Yahweh has spoken, ‘Tomorrow is a solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to Yahweh. Bake that which you want to bake, and boil that which you want to boil; and all that remains over lay up for yourselves to be kept until the morning.”

Exodus odus 16:26-30 WEB
Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day is the Sabbath. In it there shall be none.”
27 It happened on the seventh day, that some of the people went out to gather, and they found none.
28 Yahweh said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws?
29 Behold, because Yahweh has given you the Sabbath, therefore he gives you on the sixth day the bread of two days. Everyone stay in his place. Let no one go out of his place on the seventh day.”
30 So the people rested on the seventh day.

Already at this time they were expected to keep the seventh day Sabbath, and Yahweh was asking ‘How long do you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws?’

What was Abraham commended for?

Genesis 26:5 WEB
because Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”

It was more than 430 years before Israel came out of Egypt that Abraham was ‘obeying Yahweh’s voice and keeping His commandments, statutes and laws!

We see in Genesis 35 Jacob ridding his whole household of ‘foreign gods’ in keeping with the first commandment, and also the second regarding idols/graven images:

Genesis 35:1-4 WEB
God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel, and live there. Make there an altar to God, who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother.”
2 Then Jacob said to his household, and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, change your garments.
3 Let us arise, and go up to Bethel. I will make there an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.”
4 They gave to Jacob all the foreign gods which were in their hands, and the rings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.

Exodus 20:2-4 WEB
“I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 You shall have no other gods before me.
4 “You shall not make for yourselves an idol, nor any image of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

Job, who is believed to have lived at the time of Isaac, was also concerned to keep God’s laws and feared his children may have broken the third commandment in their hearts:

Job 1:5 RSV
And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.

Exodus 20:7 WEB
“You shall not take the name of Yahweh your God in vain, for Yahweh will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

Yahweh blessed and hallowed the seventh day Sabbath during ‘creation week’ by resting on it, the fourth commandment:

Genesis 2:3 WEB
God blessed the seventh day, and made it holy, because he rested in it from all his work which he had created and made.

See also Exodus 16 scriptures above.

Exodus 20:8-10 WEB
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 You shall labor six days, and do all your work,
10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your God. You shall not do any work in it, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your man-servant, nor your maid-servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates;

Jacob honoured and respected his father and mother, the fifth commandment :

Genesis 28:6-7 WEB
Now Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Paddan Aram, to take him a wife from there, and that as he blessed him he gave him a charge, saying, “You shall not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan,”
28:7 and that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother, and was gone to Paddan Aram.

Exodus 20:12 WEB
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which Yahweh your God gives you.

Cain committed the first murder by killing his brother Abel, thus breaking the sixth commandment:

Genesis 4:6-10 WEB
Yahweh said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why has the expression of your face fallen?
7 If you do well, will it not be lifted up? If you don’t do well, sin crouches at the door. Its desire is for you, but you are to rule over it.”
8 Cain said to Abel, his brother, “Let’s go into the field.” It happened, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel, his brother, and killed him.

Exodus 20:13 WEB
“You shall not murder.

Genesis 9:5-6 WEB
I will surely require your blood of your lives. At the hand of every animal I will require it. At the hand of man, even at the hand of every man’s brother, I will require the life of man.
6 Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man will his blood be shed, for in the image of God made he man.

Joseph knew that adultery was a sin against God and refused to do it when tempted, so avoiding breaking the seventh commandment, whilst Abimelech narrowly avoided it with Sarah:

Genesis 39:7-9 WEB
It happened after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph; and she said, “Lie with me.”
8 But he refused, and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, my master doesn’t know what is with me in the house, and he has put all that he has into my hand.
9 He isn’t greater in this house than I, neither has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”

Genesis 20:2-7 WEB
Abraham said about Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.
3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream of the night, and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man, because of the woman whom you have taken. For she is a man’s wife.”
4 Now Abimelech had not come near her. He said, “Lord, will you kill even a righteous nation?
5 Didn’t he tell me, ‘She is my sister?’ She, even she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands have I done this.”
6 God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this, and I also withheld you from sinning against me. Therefore I didn’t allow you to touch her.
7 Now therefore, restore the man’s wife. For he is a prophet, and he will pray for you, and you will live. If you don’t restore her, know for sure that you will die, you, and all who are yours.”

Exodus 20:14 WEB
”You shall not commit adultery.

Jacob knew all about honesty and stealing and respected the eighth commandment:

Genesis 30:33 WEB
So my righteousness will answer for me hereafter, when you come concerning my hire that is before you. Everyone that is not speckled and spotted among the goats, and black among the sheep, that might be with me, will be counted stolen.”

Exodus 20:15 WEB
“You shall not steal”.

Adam and Eve started the slippery slope of bearing false witness and coveting

Genesis 3:6 WEB
When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit of it, and ate; and she gave some to her husband with her, and he ate.

Genesis 3:9-11 WEB
Yahweh God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”
10 The man said, “I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.”
11 God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

Whilst Job again recognised these as breaking the ninth and tenth commandments:

Job 31:5-6 WEB
“If I have walked with falsehood, And my foot has hurried to deceit
6 (Let me be weighed in an even balance, That God may know my integrity);

Job 31:9-11 WEB
“If my heart has been enticed to a woman, And I have laid wait at my neighbor’s door;
10 Then let my wife grind for another, And let others sleep with her.
11 For that would be a heinous crime; Yes, it would be an iniquity to be punished by the judges:

Exodus 20:16-17 WEB
“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

God’s commandments are based on love and have always been in place for the benefit, blessing and protection of man:

1 John 5:3 NRSV
For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome,

Summary
As we have seen demonstrated and recorded in scripture, all of the ten commandments were in full force and understood well before they were written in stone at the making of the old covenant between Yahweh and Israel. This of course did not prevent Yahweh from making the keeping of them part of the covenant conditions to be met by the nation of Israel – why wouldn’t He build into this most serious of marriage covenant relationships His perfect laws of love? He wanted the very very best for His beloved – and still does today!

One thought on “Did the 10 Commandments Exist Before The Old Covenant?

  1. Shalom! It is always nice to find another believer of like mind. The Davidic covenant is one of the most neglected, under-emphasized and misunderstood concepts in the Scriptures, though it is vital to a full understanding of who Jesus is and his role in God’s plan. The role of the Davidic kings, in the OT, as the visible representation of Yahweh’s rule over His people, is key to a proper Christology in the NT. Check out on my blog the post titled Son of God(Part1). May God bless your work here to His glory.

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