Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Backside of the Tablets

I was reading the Torah yesterday and came across this very interesting passage, “Moses turned and descended from the mountain with the two Tablets of the Testimony in his hand. Tablets inscribed on both their sides; they were inscribed on one side and the other.” (Exodus 32:15).

Both sides? One side and the other?

Think about that. We usually imagine Moses holding two tablets, two separate “tombstone” shaped pieces of rock, side by side, one in each arm. On the front of the tablets are the Ten Commandments—five on one tablet and five on the other. That is what we normally take “sides” to mean. But that image is due more to Cecil B. DeMille than Lord God Almighty.

The Torah says Moses had two tablets and God wrote on both sides of each of them! When we focus only on the Ten Commandments we are reading only half the message. What was written on the other side? I checked a few standard commentators and they ignore the issue. But I can’t.

Maybe God wrote a message for Moses’ eyes only, like: “Mo’s my main man,” or “Remember, all I care about is not cooking a calf in its mother’s milk; don’t get carried away.” Or maybe God wrote disclaimers or warnings on the other sides:

1. The opinions expressed in these tablets are those of the Author only, and not those of Moses, the People Israel, or tablet retailer Hewers of Stone, Inc. Or,

2. These tablets are for viewing only. Do not use for any other purpose than impressing people with the Word of God or violating the First Amendment. Or,

3. Remember—What happens on Sinai, stays on Sinai.

Or maybe the flip side of the tablets might explain the commandments on the front side. For example, on the flip side of “You shall have no other gods before me,” it might say, “But you can have some after me.” Or maybe on the other side of “Honor your father and your mother” it says, “Buy them a condo in Boca.” Or on the flip side of “You shall not murder” it might say “And by murder I mean kill, and by don’t I mean don’t kill anyone regardless of what they say about me, where they stand on a woman’s right to choose, or whether or not they have drawn cartoons of my prophet Mohammad.”

Of course I can’t be sure of any of these, so I put it to you: What do you think is written on the flipside of the Tablets? Please post your answers in the comments page of this blog.

I have it on good authority that God reads this blog, and if He likes any of your ideas, or if you happen to hit on the actual wording of the backside of the Tablets, He will provide you and a loved with a Get Out Of Hell Free Card. Good for one incarnation only. So send in your suggestions today.


Grégoire said...

11. Don't worry so much about dying, when you're dead you won't know it anyway.

12. When I talk about "graven images", I mean especially Mary. See the term "jealous God" for more on this.

13. All reality is narrative, so don't take yourselves so seriously.

14. Don't be a rat, everyone knows you're guilty too... it's especially obvious from my perspective.

Doug Hoag said...


Di said...

Take one tablet twice a day for pain. Take with food or milk (but not mother's milk if you are taking it with calf.) If you have good feelings that last more than four hours, please call a doctor or call all your friends and see who is up for a glass of wine!

Di said...

Don't roll your eyes when talking to your mother.

Eruesso said...

Made in China

Patti said...

Maybe the 10 commandments were spread out on all four sides. The front sides had 6 commandments written on them and the back side had 4. Or maybe the other way around, so the people didn't really know how much bad news Moses had for them. ;0)

Sharon Wendt said...

Both sides? One side and the other?

Apparently God is really in to the yin/yang, opposite, balance thing. This brings to mind your discussion of the creation of 'man,' with woman being on the backside (please forgive the paraphrasing).

So, back to the Tablets . . . I am thinking the other side had equally important stuff. Perhaps - here are the hard rules and flip over for how to go about living this life.

Maybe . . . "If you do not fast from the world you will not find the Kingdom." Sayings of the Gospel of Thomas 27a

Sharon Wendt said...

. . . and the flip side also would have been the place for the eleventh commandment:

11. Enjoy yourself

Judy said...

There is a commentary that says that the words were cut all the way through the stone so that no matter where one stood the words were the smae. Of course, one would need a mirror to be able to read the "other" side!

AaronHerschel said...

All commandments subject to change. Must be redeemed before 5767. Offer invalid in New Jersey.

Rabbi Rami said...

Our creativity overfloweth!