TEN      7'1m*f RT: Moses and the ten commandments

(RT == Readers' Theater: requires little or no memorization,
little or no rehearsal. An indefinite number of reporters are
salted throughout the audience.)

MOSES -- (enters wearing tunic and sandals, crosses to podium) 
Good Morning. My name is Moses. I am God's appointed leader of
the Hebrews. The reason I called this press conference is to
announce that God has handed down to us, his chosen people, ten
sacred commandments. These commandments have been chiselled in
stone and will be stored in a gold box so that they may be
preserved for centuries to come.

REPORTER -- Moses, can you tell us the contents of the ten
commandments? Or are these commandments, like a secret
handshake, to be shared only among the Hebrews?

MOSES -- Not at all. I have read the ten commandments aloud to
all who could hear me, including my family members from Midian
and the few Egyptians who accompanied us during the great exodus
from Egypt. Before the stone tablets are put away in the gold
box, they are on display for all to see.

REPORTER -- Can you give a preview of the ten commandments?

MOSES -- Yes, the first four commandments govern our
relationship with our God. The last six commandments govern our
relationships with our fellow man.

REPORTER -- Is it true that this is not the first time you
presented your people with these same ten commandments?

MOSES -- That's true. The first time I came down the mountain
with these commandments, the first thing I saw was several of my
people breaking all four of the commandments honoring God. 

REPORTER -- Can you be more specific?

MOSES -- Yes. The first commandment tells our people that they
may not have any other gods. The second says that we can't make
any idols or images of other gods and that we can't bow down to
idols or other gods. The third commandment tells us not to
misuse the name of our God. The fourth commandment specifies a
day of rest every week which commemorates God's resting from
creating the universe. During the forty days that I was up on
Mount Horeb receiving the commandments, my people broke all four
of these commandments.

REPORTER -- How did they violate the commandments?

MOSES -- They cast an idol of gold in the form of an Egyptian
god and worshipped it almost the entire time I was on the

REPORTER -- What was there about those violations that caused
God to decide to reissue the ten commandments a second time?

MOSES -- It wasn't their violations that cause God to reissue
the commandments. It was my reaction to their violations.

REPORTER -- What did you do?

MOSES -- I.... I have a rather bad temper. When I came down the
mountain and saw what they were doing... After our God had
literally devastated the land of Egypt with ten plagues... After
God opened up the Red Sea for us and used that same Red Sea to
drown the entire Egyptian army... After our God made a rock
split open and spew out water for them to drink... I just
couldn't understand how my people could turn their backs on such
a powerful and loving God. I just lost it. I threw the stone
tablets at their feet, smashing them to bits.

REPORTER -- So, you went back up the mountain to get a second
set of stone tablets?

MOSES -- That's right. But first, I had to show my people the
error of their ways.

REPORTER -- How did you do that?

MOSES -- I recruited the men of my tribe, the Levites, to kill
all those who took part in the breaking of the first four

REPORTER -- How many people did you kill?

MOSES -- Three thousand were taking part in the violations and
three thousand were killed.

REPORTER -- Three thousand?

MOSES -- From a percentage standpoint, it was only a small
fraction of the millions of Hebrews. But three thousand people
seemed like a lot of carnage at the time.

REPORTER -- Did it work?

MOSES -- Work?

REPORTER -- Did the people cease the violations?

MOSES -- Well, yes, but that's not why we did it.

REPORTER -- Why did you do it?

MOSES -- Well, first of all, I can tell you why we DIDN'T do it.
We didn't kill those people as a deterrent. The deaths have a
deterrent effect. But that's not why we killed them. We killed
them because that's what justice demands. When people willfully
sin against God, God demands death. It's been that way since
Adam and Eve. Some day, God himself will shed his own blood to
pay for the sins of his people, but until then, the people must
pay for willful sins against God and man with their own lives.

REPORTER -- Are you saying that God himself will become a man
and shed his own blood to pay for the sins of man?

MOSES -- That's what I'm saying.

REPORTER -- Why would God do that?

MOSES -- I don't know. One thing I do know: it isn't because man
DESERVES such mercy.

REPORTER -- Can you tell us when this self-sacrifice of God will

MOSES -- God hasn't revealed that to me. But I can tell you that
it will be several generations from now.

REPORTER -- How do you know that?

MOSES -- Because God's own sacrifice will take place in the
promised land, which we haven't even conquered yet. After we
conquer the land, it will take us several generations to drive
out the many tribes now living in the promise land. After we
drive them out, it will take several generations to build a
permanent temple for our God. Only then will the Lord himself
come to the promised land.

REPORTER -- You referred to the PROMISED LAND. Is that the land
of Canaan?

MOSES -- Yes. The Lord God promised our ancestor Abraham that
the land of Canaan would belong to his descendants some day.

REPORTER -- When will you cross over into the land of Canaan?

MOSES -- Well, after the recent violations, I'm not sure. Could
be days... could be years, depending on how well the people
trust and obey God.

REPORTER -- Are you saying that the decision to cross over into
Canaan is up to the Hebrews?

MOSES -- In a manner of speaking. God gave us a free will. That
means we may choose to do God's will or we may choose to go our
own way, as 3000 people just did. We were made to be in a trust
relationship with our creator. But if we trust some other god
for our future, God may delay our entry into the promised land
for generations. It's all up to us.

REPORTER -- Is it true that in addition to the ten commandments
chiselled in stone, there are hundreds more commandments that
God handed down to govern the Hebrews?

MOSES -- That's true. But most of those laws are specific to our
people at this time in history.

REPORTER -- How do you expect your people to memorize hundreds
of laws?

MOSES -- I don't. And neither does God. He has given me the task
of writing these laws on parchment so people can refer to it
rather than memorize it. In addition, I will also be writing a
history of my people during my life time. Which reminds me. I
have a lot of writing to do. Now, if you'll excuse me....


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