16 July 2012
from Gilead (Marilynne Robinson)
But I wished to say certain things about the Fifth Commandment, and why it should be thought of as belonging to the first tablet. Briefly, the right worship of God is essential because it forms the mind to a right understanding of God. God is set apart - He is One, He is not to be imagined as a thing among things (idolatry - this is what Feuerbach failed to grasp). His name is set apart. It is sacred (which I take to be a reflection of the sacredness of the Word, the creative utterance which is not of a kind with other language). Then the Sabbath is set apart from other days, for the enjoyment of time and duration, perhaps, over and above the creatures who inhabit time. Because 'the beginning,' which might be called the seed of time, is the condition for all the creation that follows. Then mother and father are set apart, you see. It seems to me almost a retelling of Creation - First there is the Lord, then the Word, then the Day, then the Man and Woman - and after that Cain and Abel - Thou shalt not kill - and all the sins recorded in those prohibitions, just as crimes are recorded in the laws against them. So perhaps the tablets differ as addressing the eternal and the temporal.