Exodus 31:18: “And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.”
“Man is not complete until he is married, then he is finished.” Rough translation from Jewish literature
I was reading this passage in the Midrash Rabbah and discovered something I had not even noticed when I read this in my Hebrew Bible. The words when he had made an end of communing with him is just one word in Hebrew, kekalotho. The NIV says, “When the Lord finished speaking to Moses.” This is identical to the rendering by the New Living Bible which is a paraphrase. Yet, we consider the NIV to be a translation and not a paraphrase, yet this rendering from kekalotho is just as much a paraphrase (translator’s opinion) as is the Living Bible.
The Midrash Rabbah puts an entirely different spin on this word kekalotho which really puts it into its proper context. Yes see Moses has been with God now for almost a whole month, speaking with God face to face as a man would speak with a friend (Exodus 33:11). The word used for face is pani which is more than just face to face. God does not have a face, the word pani when used with God is a reference to His presence, His light, His entire being. Literally the entire being of God was el (unto) Moses and the presence or entire being of Moses was unto God. Then it adds, as a man would speak to a friend. The word for speak is dabar. Translators simply render the word dabar and amar as speak and never really make a difference between the two words, but there is a significant difference. Amar is just simply speaking, sharing chit chat, talking about the weather, how was your day, etc. It is every day normal speaking. Dabar, however, is the speaking of a husband to a wife, a friend to a friend, it is sharing one’s heart with another.
When Moses was on the mountaintop with God he was not some guru in a lotus position contemplating his navel. He was directly interacting with God, sharing his heart with God as God would share His heart with Moses. They were sharing their hearts with each other as friends. The word friend here is ra’ah which is a consuming passion. The rendering of the English word friend is not your best word in today’s English. Today we throw around that word friend like a worn out baseball. We go on Facebook and see how many friends we have. We become friends with someone on Facebook with just a click of the mouse and end that friendship just as easily. No, we cannot use the English word friend anymore for ra’ah. The word friend in English has changed so much over the last four hundred years since the KJV was translated, so much so that we are now scrambling to find new words to fit the context of the void lost in the modern use of the word friend. Today we call someone bro, best bud, or BBF.
No when Moses and God spoke to each other as ra’ah’s they were not speaking as friends as we know friends today, but as beloved as one who was their consuming passion, as a mother cooing to her baby and the little baby giggling and smiling at her, as two lovers sitting on a beach watching the moon rising thinking of nothing but each other, sharing their passion. That is why the Bible says, And He gave unto Moses kekalotho. You see the word kekalotho comes from the Semitic root word kalah, with a prepositional Kap as a prefix and a personal pronoun as a suffix which literally means as His bride. He did not give the ten commandments to Moses when he finished speaking to him, come on, He gave the ten commandments to Moses as His bride.
Such an unfortunate word used in English, commandments. God did not consummate his marriage with Moses by giving him ten orders to follow, cook my dinner, wash my clothes, keep my house etc. God chose his words very carefully here to show us clearly what the Ten Commandments were all about. He did this by calling Moses His bride. Sure the word kalah also means finished or complete. Jewish literature clearly teaches that man is not kalah (complete) until he gets married then he is kalah (complete). The word kalah means both complete and bride because a bride makes a man complete. On their wedding night a bride will often ask her new husband what she can do to show how much she loves him. The new husband will then reveal his heart to his new bride and reveal some of his deep longings and desires. Perhaps he will tell her not to have any other husband but him. Maybe he will ask that she never uses his name in vain or in a derogatory manner. Perhaps he will ask her to have one day during the week that will be reserved for just their selves. He will definitely ask that she not commit adultery, or bear false witness, that is lying to him. Sure on their wedding night both will form a covenant between them with list of rules that they will follow, rules that will keep declaring their undying love for each other.
That is why when Moses descended from the mountain God gave to Moses, kekalotho, His bride a list of things he could do to declare his undying love for God, things that were very precious to the heart of God and if you truly love Him you will follow this list very closely. We call them the Ten Commandments but they are really ten ways to express your love for God.