Many readers of the bible and professing Christians do not have a full understanding of the receiving of the Ten Commandments. There are many movies that try to recount the event, but none of these accounts does justice to the true event described in Exodus of the Holy Bible. In fact, these representations skip the most critical chapters of the history of the Ten Commandments. There are several cinematic versions of the Ten Commandments which include many animated movies and the 1956 live action film. These all exclude important information that the bible contains. In addition to the exclusion of information, these films seem to prioritize depicting the life of Moses before his conversion.
Any serious bible study student knows that the history of God’s Law includes pre-existence to the time it was imparted unto Moses. (This will be discussed in another post.) The point is there is much about the history of the Ten Commandments that is not commonly discussed. In chapters 15 through 19 of Exodus, there are critical events that take place before the declaration of the Ten Commandments in the biblical account. We will explore the details of these events in this article. Be sure to grab your bible and take thorough notes of your own to help increase your knowledge of this true history.
After Escaping Egypt
As mentioned above, many cinematic depictions of the Exodus story excludes information that is expressed in the bible. Typically, these movies skip over what took place between crossing the Red Sea and receiving the tablets of the Ten Commandments. Let’s look at what happens after Pharaoh’s army was defeated.
In Exodus 15:1-21, Moses and the Israelites began to sing because of the protection of God. In verse 22, we see that they began to travel from the Red Sea.
“So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water.And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah.And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?” (Ex 15:22-24 KJV)
After leaving the shore of the Red Sea, the Israelites traveled to Marah for three days with no water. After three days of no water, they became discouraged and began to speak against Moses. Notice in Exodus 14, the Israelites witnessed a major miracle in addition to the ten plagues they witnessed in Egypt before chapter 14. Despite their physical eyes seeing the power of God, the Israelites still seemed to doubt God. This fact shouldn’t surprise anyone seeing how the Israelites showed their doubting nature in Ex 14:10-11. But in verses 25-27 of chapter 15 God explains why the Israelites had this experience. The following verses is that account:
“And he cried to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.There the Lord made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them, saying, ‘If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer.’ Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they encamped there by the water. (ESV)
God tested Israel with dehydration and began laying the frame-work for a covenant with them. Remember Israel had seen the power of God turn the waters of Egypt into blood (Ex. 7:19-21). They should have known that God could purify the water but God tested them anyway.
In the Wilderness of Sin and Beyond
In E’lim, the Israelites reverted back to the attitudes they displayed in Ex. 7:19-21. This happened despite the promise God just made them in Marah. In addition, the 27th verse of chapter 15 mentions that Israel was brought to a twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees yet they still were not satisfied with the fact that God would provide for them.
“They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. 2 And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, 3 and the people of Israel said to them, ‘Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.’” (Ex 16:1-4 ESV)
As a result of their complaints, God declared that He would rain bread from heaven and send meat for them at evening. Read verses 5 through 30. Note that in Ex 16:20, 27-28 the Israelites still disobeyed specific instructions they were given by God.
In Exodus chapter 17, Israel, “pitched in Reph’i-dim: there was no water for the people to drink.” (Ex 17:1 ESV)
“And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?And Moses cried unto the Lord, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me.” (Ex. 17:3-4 KJV)
Again God provided for the Israelites through miraculous means. Read verses 5-7.
Note verse 7 which reads:
“And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us, or not?” (KJV)
Notice what Moses noted. The children of Israel questioned if God was among them!!! Even though God had provided for them miraculously in several other occasions they still did not have faith.
This study is 10 pages. We decided not to post the full version of it because of its length. Please write us at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the full version of this article via email. It also includes two graphs representing the journey to receiving the Ten Commandments that we could not upload so we decided that we’d post this as an intro.