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(A)I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt,(B) out of the house of slavery. You shall not have other gods beside me.[a]

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  1. 20:3

    Beside me: this commandment is traditionally understood as an outright denial of the existence of other gods except the God of Israel; however, in the context of the more general prohibitions in vv. 4–5, v. 3 is, more precisely, God’s demand for Israel’s exclusive worship and allegiance.

    The Hebrew phrase underlying the translation “beside me” is, nonetheless, problematic and has been variously translated, e.g., “except me,” “in addition to me,” “in preference to me,” “in defiance of me,” and “in front of me” or “before my face.” The latter translation, with its concrete, spatial nuances, has suggested to some that the prohibition once sought to exclude from the Lord’s sanctuary the cult images or idols of other gods, such as the asherah, or stylized sacred tree of life, associated with the Canaanite goddess Asherah (34:13). Over the course of time, as vv. 4–5 suggest, the original scope of v. 3 was expanded.

14 you then become haughty of heart and forget the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that house of slavery;

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11 Then they remembered the days of old, of Moses, his servant:

Where is the one who brought up out of the sea
    the shepherd of his flock?
Where is the one who placed in their midst
    his holy spirit,(A)
12 Who guided Moses by the hand,
    with his glorious arm?
Where is the one who divided the waters before them—
    winning for himself an everlasting renown—
13 Who guided them through the depths,
    like horses in open country?
14 As cattle going down into the valley,
    they did not stumble.
    The spirit of the Lord guided them.
Thus you led your people,
    to make for yourself a glorious name.

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