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Thursday, June 28 2012
Turning The Tables
The English word "table" originated from a Latin word, tabula, which meant to extend. Most simply, a table extended the eating or working surface of one's lap. A "tablet" was a small table. Later usage widened to include everything from large dining or meeting tables to small tablets for writing (some today still call a pad of paper a "writing tablet"). "Tablet" also came to be used for even smaller flat-surface items, from tablets of soap (now more commonly known as "bars of soap") to tablets of various medicines.
There are two original Hebrew words that are translated as "table." The first, pronounced shool-khawm, means what is commonly thought of as a table today:
"37:16 And he made the vessels [see also The Temple Vessel Prophecies Today] which were upon the table, his dishes, and his spoons, and his bowls, and his covers to cover withal, of pure gold" (Exodus 37:16 KJV)
The other original Hebrew word of the Holy Scriptures that is translated as "table," in the King James Version and the Revised Standard Version, is pronounced loo-awkh. It means to shine, as in a highly-polished flat surface. It is used to refer to the "tables of stone" upon which were written The Ten Commandments:
"31:18 And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai [see also Paul's Geography Lesson], two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God." (Exodus 31:18 KJV)
Other translations use "tablets" instead of "tables." Examples:
"31:18 When he finished talking to Moses on the mountain of Sinai, he gave him the two tablets with the law, the two stone tablets inscribed by God's own finger." (Exodus 31:18 James Moffat Translation)
While the definition of "tablet" is moreover the same as that for "table" (i.e. a "tablet" is a small "table," but a "table" nevertheless) it does perhaps provide a Biblical accuracy in that the two tables of stone were almost certainly not as large as commonly and popularly portrayed. If they were as large and unnecessarily thick as that, Moses, who despite his greatness as a servant of the LORD, was nevertheless a normal human - would not have been able to carry one of them, or two of them, far down a mountain (or, as we will read, their replacements back up the mountain). The fact that he was able to throw and shatter them (as we will read) as relatively easy as he did would indicate that they were not thick.
Another common inaccuracy in how the Ten Commandments are portrayed is that they were actually written on both sides of the tables of stone - which may also indicate that they were not as large in length and width as popularly portrayed. Moses held one in each hand, or, as the King James Version renders it, "the two tables of the testimony were in his hand."
"32:15 And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written." (Exodus 32:15 KJV)
As such, the Ten Commandments could not, as is commonly thought, be fastened to a wall for display because the writing on the other side would not be seen. The only way that they could be read is either by turning the tables over (an endless and cumbersome chore) or by positioning them so that people could walk around them, to read the Commandments on both sides.
Which of the Commandments were written on each side? The Scriptures don't specify, however, as taught by the Messiah, the Ten Commandments are classified under groupings of "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind" and "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
"22:36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
The First to the Fourth Commandments detail how to "love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind" (keeping also in mind that the Messiah was "the LORD God" Who proclaimed the Ten Commandments; see What Does Word of God Mean To You? and Appearances Of The LORD God).
"20:1 And God spake all these words, saying,
The Fifth to the Tenth Commandments detail how to "love thy neighbour as thyself."
"20:12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
Moses received the original set of the tables of stone at the end of the forty days that he spent with the LORD atop Mount Sinai.
"24:12 And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them." (Exodus 24:12 KJV)
Immediately upon his return, the original set of stones were broken - along with the infamous "golden calf" that the Israelites had made for themselves while Moses was away on the mountain. Notice again, in reference to their size, "he cast the tables out of his hands" i.e. they were in his hands, and they weren't heavy objects that he merely dropped - he "cast" them away.
"32:19 And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.
Although the writing done by the LORD upon them was identical, the LORD commanded Moses to make the second set of stones himself.
"34:1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest." (Exodus 34:1 KJV)
Fact Finder: What will be the basis of all Law in the Kingdom of God? Did the word "King" originate from a word that means family? Why is God called our "Father"?
This Day In History, June 28
1389: The Ottoman (a ruling dynasty of Turkey) Empire victory at the Battle of Kosovo; a turning point for the Ottomans in the development of their European empire, and a tragedy for the medieval kingdom of Serbia because it began for the Serbs more than 4 centuries under Ottoman rule (listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire and see the entry for 1914, below).
1461: Edward IV was crowned King of England.
1519: Charles I of Spain became Holy Roman Emperor.
1629: The Peace of Alais. Peace settlement between French royal forces and the Huguenots by which the Huguenots retained their religious and civil liberties but lost their military power.
1635: The French colony of Guadeloupe was established in the Caribbean.
1838: The official coronation of Queen Victoria took place in Westminster Abbey, a year after she had ascended the throne.
1846: The saxophone was patented by Adolphe Sax (the instrument was named after its inventor) in Paris, France.
1914: Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, 51, nephew of Emperor Franz Josef and heir apparent to the Habsburg throne of Austria-Hungary, and his wife Sophia were assassinated by a Bosnian, Gavrilo Princip, in Sarajevo, setting off the First World War (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars). The assassination took place on the anniversary of the defeat of the Serbs by the Ottomans at the Battle of Kosovo in 1389 (see the entry for 1389, above).
1919: At the end of the First World War, the Treaty of Versailles was signed in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles Palace, near Paris. Germany was stripped of all its overseas colonies, demilitarized, and ordered to pay heavy reparations (see also A History Of Jerusalem: The British Mandate).
1940: Italo Balbo was killed at age 44. The Italian airman and Fascist leader, who was decisive in developing Benito Mussolini's air force, was killed by "friendly fire" when his own anti-aircraft gunners mis-identified their commander's aircraft and shot it down in Tobruk harbor.
1951: The first color-TV broadcast.
1967: Israel annexed East Jerusalem (see A History Of Jerusalem: War And Peace).
1968: Daniel Ellsberg was indicted for leaking the "Pentagon Papers."
1989: On the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo (see the entries for 1389 and 1914, above), Serbian leader Slobodan Miloševic delivered the Gazimestan speech at the site of the historic battle.
2001: Slobodan Miloševic (see the entry for 1989, above) was deported to stand trial for war crimes.
2006: The Republic of Montenegro was admitted as the 192nd Member of the United Nations.