Exodus 20

Study the Inner Meaning

English: King James Version

← Exodus 19   Exodus 21 →

1 And God spake all these words, saying,

2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

13 Thou shalt not kill.

14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.

15 Thou shalt not steal.

16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

18 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.

19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.

20 And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.

21 And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.

22 And the LORD said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven.

23 Ye shall not make with me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold.

24 An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.

25 And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.

26 Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.

← Exodus 19   Exodus 21 →
   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Other references to this chapter:

Arcana Coelestia 1298, 1551, 1754, 2009, 2332, 2575, 2826, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 213, 392, 457, 474, 601, 847

Divine Providence 230

The Lord 59

Doctrine of Life 59

True Christian Religion 9, 284, 291, 301, 305, 309, 313, ...


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 78, 240, 304, 391, 504, 532, 539, ...

Coronis (An Appendix to True Christian Religion) 35, 43, 49

Marriage 9

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:


  Spiritual Topics:



Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Genesis 1:31, 2:2, 15:17, 27:20, 39:9

Exodus 13:3, 14, 16:23, 19:3, 16, 20:4, 23, 21:12, 17, 22:19, 23:1, 12, 24, 24:4, 28:42, 43, 29:46, 31:12, 32:4, 8, 34:7, 14, 17, 21, 35:1

Leviticus 11:45, 18:20, 19:3, 4, 11, 12, 20:5, 10, 23:3, 24:15, 25:38, 42, 55, 26:1, 2, 13

Numbers 5:12, 14:18, 15:32, 25:11

Deuteronomy 4:10, 16, 23, 25, 36, 40, 5:4, 6, 23, 27, 6:14, 7:9, 8:2, 16, 16:22, 20:1, 21:18, 27:5, 15

Joshua 8:31, 23:7, 24:19

Judges 6:10, 17:3

1 Samuel 22:3

1 Kings 8:12, 11:4, 12:28, 18:39

2 Kings 5:18, 27, 17:7, 12, 35

2 Chronicles 7:19, 33:7

Nehemiah 9:13, 14

Job 21:19

Psalms 50:7, 81:7, 10, 11, 101:2, 109:14

Proverbs 19:5

Isaiah 58:13

Jeremiah 16:14, 17:21, 22, 32:18

Ezekiel 18:2, 20:5, 7, 20

Daniel 3:18, 9:4

Hosea 12:10

Micah 2:2

Malachi 1:6, 3:5

Matthew 5:21, 27, 33, 15:4, 19:3, 18, 27:25

Mark 7:10, 10:19

Luke 13:14, 18:20, 23:56

John 9:2, 14:23

Acts of the Apostles 4:24, 17:29, 20:33

Romans 2:21, 7:7, 13:9

Ephesians 6:2, 3

Hebrews 4:10, 11, 12:18, 19

James 2:11

1 Peter 1

Word/Phrase Explanations

God
The Lord is love itself, expressed in the form of wisdom itself. Love, then, is His essence, His inmost. Wisdom - the loving understanding of...

spake
Like "say," the word "speak" refers to thoughts and feelings moving from our more internal spiritual levels to our more external ones – and ultimately...

Words
'Words,' as in Exodus 34:28, signify everything pertaining to doctrine.

the Lord
The Bible refers to the Lord in many different ways, which from the text seem indistinguishable and interchangeable. Understood in the internal sense, though, there...

Land
Land' in the Word, denotes the church, for the things which signify the church also signify the things relating to the church, for these constitute...

land of
'The land of Rameses,' as in Genesis 47:11, signifies the inmost of the spiritual principle in the natural mind.

Egypt
In the Bible, Egypt means knowledge and the love of knowledge. In a good sense that means knowledge of truth from the Lord through the...

house
A "house" is essentially a container - for a person, for a family, for several families or even for a large group with shared interests...

gods
The Lord is called "Jehovah" in the Bible when the text is referring to his essence, which is love itself. He is called "God" when...

before
In most cases, the meaning of "before" is pretty straightforward, both as a way of assessing relative time, and in its use meaning "in someone's...

Make
'To make,' as in Hosea 8:11, refers to good. In the opposite sense it refers to evil. To make heaven, and earth, and the sea,...

Graven image
A graven image, as in Exodus 20:4, which we are commanded not to make, signifies those things in us which are not from the Lord,...

Image
'An image' signifies falsities from self-derived intelligence.

heaven
"Heaven" and "heavens" are used many times in the Bible, with a couple of variations of meaning. Sometimes it is relatively literal, including times when...

earth
"Earth" in the Bible can mean a person or a group of like-minded people as in a church. But it refers specifically to the external...

beneath
Generally speaking things that are seen as lower physically in the Bible represent things that are lower or more external spiritually. In some cases this...

water
Water was obviously of tremendous importance in Biblical times (and every other time). It is the basis of life, the essential ingredient in all drinks,...

bow down
To bow in prayer is common in most religious practices, so it's not surprising that “to bow” in the Bible represents humility and worship in...

Bow
A bow signifies falsity of doctrine destroying truth, and spear, the falsity of evil de­stroying good. (Jer. 6:23.)

down
"Down" is used many different ways in natural language, and its spiritual meaning in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Phrases like "bowing down,"...

serve
Generally speaking, those who are at lower levels of an organization serve those at higher levels. Bosses boss and their employees serve; coaches devise strategy...

Jealous
Jealous' or 'zealous,' in Genesis 30:1, signifies an aspect of indignation.

visiting
There is a long history of using travel to round out an education, from the 19th-century “world tours” taken by Oxford and Cambridge graduates to...

iniquity
In Isaiah 59:6, 'webs' and 'garments' signify aspects of the understanding, or thought, 'Iniquity' and 'violence,' aspects of the will, or works.

upon
'Upon' or 'over' signifies being within.

children
A child is a young boy or girl in the care of parents, older than a suckling or an infant, but not yet an adolescent....

third
The Writings talk about many aspects of life using the philosophical terms "end," "cause" and "effect." The "end" is someone’s goal or purpose, the ultimate...

fourth
The number "four" in the Bible represents things being linked together or joined. This is partly because four is two times two, and two represents...

generation
To “generate” something is to create it, and that idea underpins the meaning of a “generation” of people – it is a group that was...

hate
If you truly hate someone, that means you would kill them and destroy their reputation if you could do so without repercussion – not a...

love
To some degree, there really is no spiritual meaning to the word “love” in the Bible. Why? Because if you truly love another, that is...

keep
"Keeping" in the Bible generally has to do with controlling the actual actions of life, though in some cases it can mean holding something away...

commandments
In Deuteronomy 11:1, 'statutes' signify the external parts of the Word, such as rituals, and representations of the internal sense. 'Judgments' signify the internal parts...

name
It's easy to see that names are important in the Bible. Jehovah changed Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah, changed Jacob to Israel and...

In vain
'To take the Lord's name in vain,' denotes profaning divine truths with blasphemies and applying divine teachings to idolatrous worship, as the Jews did when...

Hold
'A hold,' 'a den,' or 'dungeon,' as mentioned in Revelation 18:2, signifies hell, because people who are there are in confinement.

Remember
'To remember,' as in Genesis 41:9, signifies conjunction. 'Remembering' denotes conjunction because the remembrance of anyone in the other life joins them together, because as...

holy
The Bible describes many things as being holy, or sacred. The Ark of the Covenant is one very holy object. The inmost chamber of the...

six
Like most numbers in the Bible, "six" can have various meanings depending on context, but has a couple that are primary. When used in relation...

Six days
The six days' or periods of time, are the various consecutive states in a person's regeneration. They are, in general, as follows: The first state...

days
"Day" describes a state in which we are turned toward the Lord, and are receiving light (which is truth) and heat (which is a desire...

son
Marriages in the Bible represent the union we all can have between the desire for good and the understanding of truth (or an understanding of...

daughter
It is because of a celestial and angelic proprium, or selfhood, that the church is called 'a woman,' 'a wife,' 'a bride,' 'a virgin,' and...

cattle
Animals in the Bible generally refer to spiritual activity, the things we actually do on a spiritual level. "Cattle," as typically used in the Bible,...

Stranger
The word "stranger" is used many times in the Bible, and it is sometimes paired with the word "sojourner". They are different concepts in the...

gates
In Lamentations 2:8-9, 'wall,' 'rampart,' 'gates,' and 'bars' signify doctrines.

sea
'The sea and the waves roaring' means heresy and controversies in the church and individual.

blessed
The Lord is perfect love expressed as perfect wisdom. He created us so that He could love us, could give us love and wisdom of...

father
Father in the Word means what is most interior, and in those things that are following the Lord's order, it means what is good. In...

mother
In general, mothers in the Bible represent the Lord's church on earth, or the church among those who know and follow the Lord. In some...

Long
'Long' and thence to prolong, refer to good.

giveth
Like other common verbs, the meaning of "give" in the Bible is affected by context: who is giving what to whom? In general, though, giving...

Steal
In a natural sense, the commandment 'Thou shalt not steal,' in Exodus 20:15, means, according to the letter, not stealing, robbing, or committing piracy in...

bear
Like many verbs, the spiritual meaning of "bearing" something depends greatly on context – what it is that's being borne, and why. It is further...

bear false witness
When people lie or speak falsely in the Bible, It represents what Swedenborg calls "falsity of faith" and the resulting "evil of faith." This is...

wife
The Hebrew of the Old Testament has six different common words which are generally translated as "wife," which largely overlap but have different nuances. Swedenborg...

Ox
'The son of a cow' signifies the celestial natural level and natural exterior good.

people
"Man" is a tricky word to discuss, because the Hebrew of the Old Testament uses six different words that are generally translated as "man," with...

saw
The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

lightnings
'Voices,' 'lightnings,' and 'thunders,' as in Revelation 16:18, signify rationalizations, falsifications of truth, and arguments grounded in falsities of evil in the church among people...

noise
'A voice crying,' and 'the voice of a cry,' are common expressions in the Word, and are applied whenever there is a noise or disturbance,...

Trumpet
The sounds of trumpets are heard in heaven when assemblies and appointments happen. So among the children of Israel, for whom everything was representative of...

mountain
The Writings tell us that the Lord's love is the sun of heaven, and it is natural for us to look above ourselves to the...

removed
As with many verbs, the meaning of "remove" in the Bible varies a good bit depending on context. It generally involves a separation of spiritual...

said
As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

moses
Moses's name appears 814 times in the Bible (KJV), third-most of any one character (Jesus at 961 actually trails David at 991). He himself wrote...

Us
Because people are governed by angels and spirits, in Genesis 1:26 it says 'let us make man into our image.' But because the Lord alone...

die
Death in the Bible represents spiritual death, or the destruction of everything that is good and all true beliefs in someone. This happens when people...

fear
Fear of the unknown and fear of change are both common ideas, and together cover a broad spectrum of the fears we tend to have...

Fear not
Fear not, as in Revelation 1:17; Daniel 10:5, 12; Matthew 17:5, 7; 28:10, etc., signifies resuscitation to life, and at the same time adoration from...

come
As with common verbs in general, the meaning of “come” in the Bible is highly dependent on context – its meaning is determined largely by...

sin
In the Word three terms are used to mean bad things that are done. These three are transgression, iniquity, and sin, and they are here...

drew
"Drawing" is used a number of different ways in the Bible, generally in the sense of pulling, leading or moving: People most commonly draw water,...

Near
'Near,' in the Word, signifies presence and conjunction. 'To be near' signifies being on internal levels. Near,' as in Genesis 19:20, signifies truth bordering upon...

darkness
"Darkness" is a state without light. "Light" is truth from the Lord, so "darkness" is a state where truth is lacking.

Israel
'Israel,' in Jeremiah 23:8, signifies the spiritual natural church. The children of Israel dispersed all the literal sense of the Word by falsities. 'The children...

silver
'Spoil of gold, and silver, and cattle' signifies falsified truths.

gold
Gold means good, and just as gold was the most precious metal known to ancient mankind so it represents the good of the highest and...

Altar
The first altar mentioned in the Word was built by Noah after he came out of the ark. On that altar, he sacrificed clean animals...

Offerings
'Offerings' signify worship.

peace
In ordinary life, we tend to think of "peace" as essentially "a lack of conflict." As a nation, if we're not at war, it's a...

sheep
It’s pretty easy for most people to read the Bible and get a sense for what “sheep” means without any help. They are simple, peaceful,...

Oxen
'Oxen' or 'calves' signify the affections of the natural mind.

altar of stone
Because 'stones' signify truths formed from good, or good itself in form, it was forbidden to fit them with a hammer, an axe, or any...

stone
Stones in the Bible in general represent truths, or things we know concerning the Lord and what He wants from us and for us in...

build
There are really two meanings for "build" in the Bible. When something is being built for the first time, or built in the most typical...

Hewn stone
The phrase 'hewn stone,' as in Isaiah 9:10, denotes something fictitious.

lift
The idea of "lifting" is used in a number of different ways in the Bible. In general, it means connecting with a higher spiritual state...

Tool
'To form an idol with a graving tool,' as in Exodus 32:4, denotes from self-intelligence.

Go up
To go up and to go down: in the Word, mention is made of going up and going down when speaking of going from one...

Steps
'Steps,' as in Exodus 20:26, signify ascent to higher or interior degrees.

nakedness
Clothing in general represents day-to-day knowledge about spiritual things, held in the memory so it can be used for the goodness of life. For someone...

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library by following this link.


 A Day of Rest
In the New Church we are told that when we are trying to be loving and kind to other people, then the Lord is at rest. And this is the real Sabbath.
Worship Talk | Ages 4 - 6

 Does the Lord Forgive?
Lesson and activities looking at the Lord's love and mercy in forgiving us.
Religion Lesson | Ages over 15

 Forgiveness and Mercy
The Lord forgives sins, because He is mercy itself. To receive forgiveness a person must admit wrongdoing, stop doing evil, and begin a new life.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 For Reflection: A Perfect Sabbath
Think about ways to look to the Lord and also get some rest and recreation as you celebrate the Sabbath day.
Activity | Ages over 4

 His Life Within You
The first commandment calls us to commit our life to the Lord, to delight in knowing Him and in feeling His life within us.
Article | Ages over 15

 Honor Your Father and Your Mother
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 I Am the Lord Your God
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Identify and Name False Gods
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Memory Verse: Holy Is His Name
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Memory Verse: Keeping the Sabbath
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Memory Verse: Love Me Keep My Commandments
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Memory Verse: The Lord Our God
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Memory Verse: Worship of the Heart
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Moses Receiving the Ten Commandments
Color and cut out the pieces to assemble a project showing Moses receiving the Ten Commandments.
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 No Other Gods
The first commandment tells us that we should worship the one true God and have no other Gods before Him. This sounds simple enough. Who would bow before a carved image or worship an idol? The fact is, we all do. The First Commandment is as important for us today as it ever was.
Worship Talk | Ages 15 - 17

 Our Covenant with God
A covenant is a promise made between two or more people. New Church teachings explain how keeping covenant joins a person with the Lord.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Our Covenant with the Lord
Lesson and activities exploring our covenant with the Lord and how we can respond to His love.
Religion Lesson | Ages over 15

 Overview of Lead and Guide Us Levels A B C for Ages 3-14
Overview of the Youth Journey Program "Lead and Guide Us", Levels A, B and C, for ages 3-14. Suitable for Sunday schools, camps, classrooms and families.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 3 - 14

 Picture the Giving of the Ten Commandments
Make a picture of Moses bringing the two tablets of stone down Mount Sinai to help you focus on the miraculous way the Lord gave us the Ten Commandments.
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 Quotes: Holy Is His Name
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Quotes: Keeping the Sabbath
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Quotes: Love Me and Keep My Commandments
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Quotes: The Lord Our God
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Remember the Sabbath
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Resting in the Lord
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Sensual Pleasure and Delights
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Taking the Lord's Name in Vain
Might you be coming close to taking the Lord's name in vain without even realizing it? 
Activity | Ages 11 - 17

 The Eighth Commandment
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 The Fifth Commandment
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 The First Commandment
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The First Commandment
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 The Fourth Commandment
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 The Function of Wings
Compare the function of a bird's wings with how the Ten Commandments - and other parts of the Lord's Word - help us.
Activity | Ages 7 - 17

 The History and Meaning of the Sabbath
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Lord's Commandments Mobile
This complex project combines the two great commandments and the Ten Commandments in one mobile.
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 The Lord Will Not Hold Him Innocent
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 The Ninth and Tenth Commandments
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 The Second Commandment
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 The Seventh Commandment
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 The Sixth Commandment
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 The Ten Commandments
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 The Ten Commandments
Family lessons provide a worship talk and a variety of activities for children and teens..
Religion Lesson | Ages 4 - 17

 The Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments list actions a person must do in order to connect with God. Explore the spiritual meaning to commandments using New Church online resources.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 The Ten Commandments
This lesson discusses a story from the Word and suggests projects and activities for young children.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Ten Commandments
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Ten Commandments
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 The Ten Commandments (3-5 years)
Project | Ages 4 - 6

 The Ten Commandments Calligraphy
Color the border around this calligraphy of the Ten Commandments.
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 The Ten Commandments in Hebrew
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Ten Commandments Received, The Golden Calf
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Third Commandment
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 The Two Tablets
Use a modeling compound to make small tablets. 
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 Turning Away from False Gods Collage
Make a collage showing things people might “worship” or seem to make a higher priority in their lives than the Lord. 
Project | Ages 7 - 17

 What Worship Is
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Why We Need Rules
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Worshiping the Lord Alone
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Worshiping the One True God
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 You Shall Not Take the Name of the Lord Your God in Vain
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14


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