The First Commandment

 

The first commandment in Exodus is conventionally translated along the lines of “You shall have no other gods before Me“.

However, the actual Hebrew gives a slightly different twist:

עַל־פָּנָיַ

אֲחֵרִים

אֱלֹהִים

יִהְיֶה־לְךָ

לֹא

above-my-face

other

gods

shall-there-be-to-you

Not

You shall not have other gods above me

Vocabulary Note: the Hebrew word panai (lit: face) occurs in a myriad of biblical idioms. The TWOT offers this explanation:

[panim] identifies the person and reflects the attitude and sentiments of the person. As such, panim can be a substitute for the self or the feelings of the self.

[Q] Does this mean we can believe in other gods so long as we regard the God of the Abraham as commanding our highest priority?

 

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