Thou shalt have no other gods before me
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|The Ten Commandments|
"Thou shalt have no other gods before Me" (Hebrew: לא יהיה־לך אלהים אחרים על־פני) is one of the Ten Commandments found in the Hebrew Bible at Exodus 20:2 and Deuteronomy 5:6, which establishes the exclusive nature of the relationship between the nation of Israel and its national god, Yahweh the god of Israel, a covenant initiated by Yahweh after delivering the Israelites from slavery through the plagues of Egypt and the Exodus.
In a general sense, idolatry is the paying of divine honor to any created thing. In ancient times, opportunities to participate in the honor or worship of other deities abounded. However, according to the Book of Deuteronomy, the Israelites were strictly warned to neither adopt nor adapt any of the religious practices of the peoples around them. Nevertheless, the story of the people of Israel until the Babylonian Captivity is the story of the violation of the first commandment by the worship of “foreign gods” and its consequences. Much of biblical preaching from the time of Moses to the exile is predicated on the either-or choice between exclusive worship of God and false gods. The Babylonian exile seems to have been a turning point after which the Jewish people as a whole were strongly monotheistic and willing to fight battles (such as the Maccabean Revolt) and face martyrdom before paying homage to any other god.
The Shema and its accompanying blessing/curse reveals the intent of the commandment to include love for the one, true God and not only recognition or outward observance. In the Gospels, Jesus quotes the Shema as the first and Greatest Commandment, and the apostles after him preached that those who would follow Christ must turn from idols. The Catholic Catechism as well as Reformation and post-Reformation theologians teach that the commandment applies in modern times and prohibits the worship of physical idols, the seeking of spiritual activity or guidance from any other source (e.g. magical, astrological, etc.), and the focus on temporal priorities such as self (food, physical pleasures), work, and money, for examples. The Catholic Catechism commends those who refuse even to simulate such worship in a cultural context, since “the duty to offer God authentic worship concerns man both as an individual and as a social being.”
"Elohim" (אֱלֹהִים) is one of the names of God in the Hebrew Bible. Though it has the masculine plural ending, it does not mean "gods" when referring to the god of Israel, and in such cases is (usually) used with singular verbs, adjectives, and pronouns (for example, in Genesis 1:26). In the traditional Jewish view, Elohim is the name of God as the creator and judge of the universe (Genesis 1:1-2:4a). H430 אלהים 'ĕlôhı̂ym el-o-heem': Plural of H433; gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative: - angels, X exceeding, God (gods) (-dess, -ly), X (very) great, judges, X mighty. According to some contemporary scholarship, the Second Commandment is presented in deliberate distinction to the Golden Calf, which represents moral systems that place undue emphasis on the worldly categories of power, beauty, and the works of our own hands.
It is part of the narrative developed in the texts that would later be collected in the Hebrew Bible during the 7th century BC, establishing a long history of national identity, originating with the remote founding-father Abraham, to whom the God that would later identify Himself as Yahweh first revealed Himself. The name Yahweh comes up in the narrative of the Book of Exodus, where Moses encounters God at the burning bush. At this point, God reveals His proper name Yahweh for the first time, identifying Himself as identical with the God already encountered by Moses' ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel):
Thus you will say to Israel’s sons: “Yahweh your fathers’ deity, Abraham’s deity, Isaac’s deity, and Jacob’s deity – He has sent me to you;” This is My name to eternity, and this is My designation age (by) age.— Exodus 3:15 (Anchor Bible)
In the Exodus narrative, after about 400 years of slavery in Egypt, the Israelites are delivered through the plagues of Egypt. After Moses leads them out in the Exodus, Yahweh makes a covenant with the Israelites on the basis of this deliverance. The Ten Commandments summarize the terms of this covenant, beginning with the commandment to have no other gods before him. Seemingly unrelated prohibitions, such as not to sow mixed seed, wear clothing of mixed fibers, or mark one’s body (i.e., tattoo), were possibly intended to keep the Israelites separate from practices associated with magical benefits or the honor of other deities.
The individual who violated this commandment was subject to destruction on the testimony of two witnesses, and should the worship of other gods pervade the nation, it was subject to destruction as a whole A person who attempted to involve others in worship of a false god was similarly subject to capital punishment and was not to be spared even by a close relative. God’s interest in exclusive worship is portrayed as a strong jealousy, like that of a husband for his wife. “Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; for Yahweh your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and His anger will burn against you, and He will destroy you from the face of the land.”
Despite this personal relationship and its exclusive conditions, the story of the people of Israel until the Babylonian Captivity is the story of the violation of the first commandment by the worship of “foreign gods” and its consequences. Not only did the common people substitute Canaanite gods and worship for the one true God, polytheism and worship of foreign gods became virtually official in both the northern and southern kingdoms despite repeated warnings from the prophets of God.
Much of the power of biblical preaching from Moses to the time of the Exile comes from its stark either-or choice between Yahweh and the ‘other gods.” The great ninth-century B.C. contest at Carmel in 1 Kings 18 between Yahweh and Baal regarding control of the rain, hence of deity, contains the challenge of Elijah: “If the Lord is God, follow Him, but if Baal, then follow him.”— Idolatry, HarperCollins Bible Dictionary
Despite the clear victory and winning of the people’s allegiance that day, the official, polytheistic policy propelled by King Ahab’s wife Jezebel was unchanged.
Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Hosea referred to Israel’s worship of other gods as spiritual adultery: “How I have been grieved by their adulterous hearts, which have turned away from me, and by their eyes, which have lusted after their idols.” This led to a broken covenant between Yahweh and Israel and “divorce,” manifested as defeat by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon followed by exile, from which the northern kingdom never recovered.
The Bible presents Daniel and his companions as distinct, positive examples of individuals refusing to pay homage to another god, even at the price of their lives. During the time of the exile, Nebuchadnezzar erects a gold statue of himself and commands all subjects to worship it. Three Jewish officials – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – who had been taken to Babylon as youths along with Daniel, refuse to bow to the statue. As they face being burned alive in a furnace, they communicate their faith as well as their resolve: “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." In the later reign of Darius, Daniel’s refusal to give up private prayer to God and pray to the king instead results in him receiving a death sentence: being thrown into the lions’ den. According to the Book of Daniel, an angel comes and shuts the mouths of the lions so that Daniel is spared and rescued by the king himself the following morning.
The central prayer of Judaism is the Shema:
Hear you, Israel, Yahweh our God, Yahweh is one.— The Shema
Together with “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,” it is found in printed form in the Mezuzah, the small, tubed case on the doorposts of homes of observant Jews. This form was chosen to fulfill the mitzvah (Biblical commandment) to inscribe the words of the Shema "on the doorposts of your house.” “Thousands of martyrs did not go to their deaths muttering a numerical truism. When they said that God is one, they meant that … nothing in the universe is comparable to this God or can take the place of this God … that is why they are willing to die rather than abandon [these values].”
The national resolve toward monotheism solidified during the experience of the Babylonian Captivity. The sorrow and difficulty experienced by the Israelites as a whole during the exile is poignantly expressed in Psalm 137. The hard times experienced during the exile are remembered annually on the ninth of Av, when Jews fast and read aloud the scroll of Lamentations of Jeremiah regarding the destruction of Judah and the First Temple. In the centuries that followed, Jews were willing to suffer death rather than pay the honor due God to any other man or god. During the early days of the Maccabean revolt, for example, many Jews were martyred because they refused to acknowledge the claims of Seleucid deities. After Antiochus IV Epiphanes defeated Jerusalem in 167 BC, he forbade Torah and introduced worship of foreign gods into the Second Temple, prompting a revolt by many of the Jewish people. Their success in reclaiming the Temple and the miraculous provision of oil for the celebratory services are remembered on the Jewish holiday Hanukkah.
|PSALM 137 (WEB)|
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down.
Idolatry is one of three sins (along with adultery and murder) the Mishnah says must be resisted to the point of death. By the time the Talmud was written, the acceptance or rejection of idolatry was a litmus test for Jewish identity: “Whosoever denies idols is called a Jew." "Whosoever recognizes idols has denied the entire Torah; and whosoever denies idols has recognized the entire Torah." The Talmud discusses the subject of the worship of other gods in many passages. An entire tractate, the Avodah Zarah (“strange worship”) details practical guidelines for interacting with surrounding peoples so as to avoid practicing or even indirectly supporting such worship. Although Jews are forbidden in general to mock at anything holy, it is meritorious to deride idols. This apparently originated in ancient times, as some of the several Hebrew words from the Tanakh translated as “idol” are pejorative and even deliberately contemptuous, such as elilim, “powerless ones,” and gillulim, “pellets of dung.”
Although Jews have characteristically separated themselves from the worship of physical idols or persons claiming divinity since the Babylonian exile, the tendency toward and practice of magic arts (chants, spells, charms, amulets, healing devices, special foods, lucky and unlucky days, magical numbers and a vast array of secret rituals) has continued to be found among some who claim Judaism as their faith. This has been true since ancient times, when the Israelites, having spent 400 years in Egypt, where magic was pervasive, wrongly thought that carrying the Ark of the Covenant into battle would guarantee victory. Such practices, though forbidden, were not surprising since “the ancient Israelites were not immune to the desire to control God.” However, Maimonides warned that special objects (e.g. a mezuzah) and prayers (e.g. the Shema) in Judaism are meant to remind people of love for God and his precepts and do not in themselves guarantee good fortune.
In the New Testament
According to the gospels, Jesus said the greatest commandment was to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.” The scripture in Deuteronomy to which he referred is known in modern times as the Shema, a declaration emphasizing the oneness of God and the sole worship of God by Israel. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus contrasted worship of God and running after material possessions and warned, “You cannot serve both God and money.”
According to Acts, Stephen summarizes the spiritual history of Israel and quotes the prophet Amos, who identified the worship of foreign gods as a reason for Israel’s defeat by the Babylonians and subsequent exile. Later in Acts, the apostles discussed the issue of what immediate behavioral changes would be required of gentiles who became followers of Jesus Christ. They decided to instruct new converts: “You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.”
In Athens, Paul was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols, and in the Areopagus, he presented the god of Israel as the creator of everything, as unique and not represented by any idol. He taught:
Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man's design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him [Jesus] from the dead.— Acts 17:29-3 (NIV)
According to Ephesians, Paul incurred the wrath of silversmiths (worried about losing income from decreased sales of idols) when people responded to his preaching and turned away from idol worship. Paul taught that Christians should actively avoid participating in the worship of anything other than God. He considered it common sense that the worship of God and the worship of any other spiritual being are incompatible:
Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say … Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord's table and the table of demons. Are we trying to arouse the Lord's jealousy? Are we stronger than he?— 1 Corinthians 10:14, 19-22 (NIV)
Paul warned the Galatians that those who live in idolatry “will not inherit the kingdom of God,” and in the same passage associates witchcraft with idolatry. In his letter to the Philippians, he refers to those whose “god is their stomach.” In several New Testament scriptures, including the Sermon on the Mount, the term idolatry is applied to the love of money. The apostle James rebukes those who focus on material things, using language similar to that of Old Testament prophets: “When you ask [in prayer], you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”
Paul commended the church in Thessalonica saying, “Your faith in God has become known everywhere … They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.” Paul identifies the worship of created things (rather than the Creator) as the cause of the disintegration of sexual and social morality in his letter to the Romans. The apostle Peter and the Book of Revelation also refer to the connection between the worship of other gods and sexual sins, whether metaphorically or literally.
In the Catholic Church
God revealed Himself to His people Israel by making His name known to them … God has a name; He is not an anonymous force.
The Catholic Church teaches that the first commandment forbids honoring gods other than the one Lord who has revealed Himself, for example, in the introduction to the Ten Commandments: “I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of Egypt, where you lived as slaves.” Through the prophets, God calls Israel and all nations to turn to him, the one and only God: "Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. . . . To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. ‘Only in the LORD, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength.' (Isaiah 45:22-24, see also Philippians 2:10-11)”
Because God’s identity and transcendent character are described in Scripture as unique, the teaching of the Catholic Church proscribes superstition as well as irreligion and explains the commandment is broken by having images to which divine power is ascribed as well as in divinizing anything that is not God. “Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons … power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc.” The Catechism commends those who refuse even to simulate such worship in a cultural context and states that “the duty to offer God authentic worship concerns man both as an individual and as a social being.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes that this commandment is recalled many times throughout the Bible and quotes passages describing temporal consequences for those who place trust elsewhere than in God:
Scripture constantly recalls this rejection of "idols, [of] silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see." These empty idols make their worshippers empty: "Those who make them are like them; so are all who trust in them."(Psalm 115:4-5, 8; see also Isaiah 44:9-20; Jeremiah 10:1-16; Daniel 14:1-30). God, however, is the "living God" (Joshua 3:10; Psalm 42:3; etc.) who gives life and intervenes in history.— Catechism of the Catholic Church 2112
While recognizing that God communicates with people, including prophets, the Catholic Catechism teaches that the first commandment forbids the practice of all attempts to tame occult powers as contradictory to the honor, respect and loving fear that is owed to God alone. Such practices are forbidden even if one has “good” motives, such as seeking to restore someone’s health, and “recourse to so-called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another's credulity.”
All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to "unveil" the future (see for example, Deuteronomy 18:10; Jeremiah 29:8). Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers.— Catechism of the Catholic Church 2116
Irreligion, in the specific forms of tempting God, sacrilege, and simony, is also considered a violation of the first commandment. The Catechism states that atheism is often based on a “false conception of human autonomy” and all forms of atheism are viewed as violating the first commandment in their common denial of the existence of God. Agnosticism as a way of life is portrayed as a lazy flight from the ultimate question of existence and as “all too often equivalent of practical atheism.”
Reformation and Post-Reformation commentary
Rev. G. Campbell Morgan emphasized the importance of the first commandment being given after Yahweh introduces Himself by name, saying, “There is deep significance in the name by which God here declares Himself … to take [the commandment] without the definition of the Person of God is to rob it of its great force.”
Morgan argues that everyone has “a center, a motive, a reason, a shrine, a deity somewhere” to which his or her energy and loyalty is directed. “In every case man demands a god, a king, a lawgiver – one who arranges the programme, utters the commandments and demands obedience. This incontrovertible fact reveals the genesis of idolatry.” Morgan goes on to argue that thus “idolatry” is not defined by geography or culture but by the object(s) of worship that are not God, which may be spiritual or physical.
Martin Luther, Matthew Henry, John Calvin, and John Wesley write in their respective commentaries that in the commandment to have no other gods, God is referring to the heart’s allegiance. In Luther’s exposition of this commandment, he explains:
[Idolatry] consists not merely in erecting an image and worshiping it, but rather in the heart, which stands gaping at something else, and seeks help and consolation from creatures, saints, or devils, and neither cares for God, nor looks to Him for so much good as to believe that He is willing to help, neither believes that whatever good it experiences comes from God.— Martin Luther
Like the ancient writers and Jewish theologians (see above), Luther considered occult or magic practices to be in violation of this commandment, explaining that those who seek benefit in such ways “make a covenant with the devil, in order that he may give them plenty of money or help them in love-affairs, preserve their cattle, restore to them lost possessions, etc. For all these place their heart and trust elsewhere than in the true God, look for nothing good to Him nor seek it from Him.” 
Like the New Testament writers, Morgan recognized that departing from the worship of God alone is frequently associated with sexual immorality: “’Tis the homage of the man who, losing his God, worships at the shrine of a fallen Venus.” He references Philippians 3:18-19 to support that gluttony and the pursuit of physical pleasure are also widespread, but not new, examples of idolatry.
Calvin recalls Moses’ warning to the people of Israel, “Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you,” and notes that this commandment was given despite the abundant temptation to superstitions in the cultures all around them and the lack of good examples. Also, he explains that it is not enough that followers of Yahweh put him first, while giving lesser respect to other superstitions or objects of worship.
We know that when the Israelites worshipped their Baalim, they did not so substitute them in the place of God as to put Him altogether aside, and assign to them the supreme power; nevertheless, this was an intolerable profanation of God’s worship.— John Calvin
In the first and second of his Quatre Sermons, Calvin also discouraged believers in Christ from simulating religious acts that are not worship of the true God in order to avoid persecution. He argued that the growth of the Christian church was based on the “seeds sown” by those who were willing to die, if necessary, rather than worship or appear to worship false gods and that without such people there would never have been a Christian church. He said that if one makes choices to suffer nothing for God’s word, one changes Jesus Christ to his own image: “Is that not to want to transform Jesus Christ to have him just as our flesh would like him to be?” Pierre Viret, a Swiss Reformed theologian and contemporary of John Calvin, made similar arguments.
Reformers such as Viret and Calvin imbued these decisions with social consciousness: choice of behavior had communal repercussions ranging from providing bad examples and leading others to the same sin, to bringing about God’s ire upon them all, bringing physical harm upon others, and finally to undermining the efforts of the martyrs.— Shepardson
Neither Calvin nor Viret advocated reckless martyrdom or purposeful public disturbance, but to the extent possible, to make public choices with “Christian modesty,” even recommending that leaving an area (self-imposed exile) is sometimes the most realistic response to persecution when resources permit.
- Ten Commandments, in HarperCollins Bible Dictionary, 1996, Achtemeier Paul J., ed., New York:HarperCollins Publishers, ISBN 0-06-060037-3. LXX gives two slightly different renditions of the identical Hebrew verses: οὐκ ἔσονταί σοι θεοὶ ἕτεροι πλὴν ἐμοῦ vs. οὐκ ἔσονταί σοι θεοὶ ἕτεροι πρὸ προσώπου μου
- God: names of God, in Illustrated Dictionary & Concordance of the Bible, 1986. Wigoder, Geoffrey, ed., G.G. The Jerusalem Publishing House ISBN 0-89577-407-0
- Moses, World Book Encyclopedia 1998, Chicago:World Book Inc., ISBN 0-7166-0098-6
- Idol, Image, in The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, 2006. Unger, Merrill F., Harrison, R.K., ed. Chicago: Moody Publishers ISBN 0-8024-9066-2
- Deuteronomy 12:4,31; Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Commentary on Deuteronomy 12
- Idolatry, HarperCollins Bible Dictionary, 1996, Achtemeier Paul J., ed., New York:HarperCollins Publishers, ISBN 0-06-060037-3
- Idol: In the Exile and After, in HarperCollins Bible Dictionary, 1996, Achtemeier Paul J., ed., New York:HarperCollins Publishers, ISBN 0-06-060037-3
- Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Wylen, Stephen M., Settings of Silver: an introduction to Judaism, 2000, Paulist Press, ISBN 0-8091-3960-X pp.104
- Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27; Shema, in HarperCollins Bible Dictionary, 1996, Achtemeier Paul J., ed., New York:HarperCollins Publishers, ISBN 0-06-060037-3
- Idolatry: Figurative, in The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, 2006. Unger, Merrill F., Harrison, R.K., ed., Chicago: Moody Publishers, ISBN 0-8024-9066-2
- Catechism of the Catholic Church 2136
- Strong's Bible Concordance
- David Hazony, The Ten Commandments (Scribner, 2010), ch. 2.
- Joshua 24:2; John Calvin (1509-1564) Commentary on Joshua, Commentary on Joshua 24:2
- Genesis 12:1; Idolatry, ; Idol, Image, in The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, 2006. Unger, Merrill F., Harrison, R.K., ed., Chicago: Moody Publishers, ISBN 0-8024-9066-2
- Moses, World Book Encyclopedia 1998, Chicago:World Book Inc., ISBN 0-7166-0098-6
- Leviticus 19:28; Idol, Image, in The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, 2006. Unger, Merrill F., Harrison, R.K., ed., Chicago: Moody Publishers, ISBN 0-8024-9066-2
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- Deuteronomy 17:2-7; Deuteronomy 13:6-10; Harper, William R., The Old and New Testament Student, 1891, Hartford:The Student Publishing Company, p.201
- Deuteronomy 6:14-15; God, Illustrated Dictionary & Concordance of the Bible, 1986. Wigoder, Geoffrey, ed., G.G. The Jerusalem Publishing House, Inc. ISBN 0-89577-407-0
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- Idolatry, HarperCollins Bible Dictionary, 1996, Achtemeier Paul J., ed., New York:HarperCollins Publishers, ISBN 0-06-060037-3
- Jeremiah 3:6-9, 5:7, Ezekiel 16:38, 23:37, Hosea 1:2; Adultery: OT Words, in Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Word studies for key English Bible words based on the Hebrew and Greek Texts, Renn, Stephen D., ed., 2005, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., ISBN 978-1-56563-938-6
- Ezekiel 6:9; Tuell, Steven, The New International Bible Commentary: Ezekiel, 2009, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., p. 33, ISBN 978-1-85364-736-9
- Jeremiah 3:8; Ryken P.G. and Hughes R.K., Jeremiah and Lamentations: From Sorrow to Hope, Chapter 3:God Files for Divorce, 2001, Crossway Publishers, ISBN 1-58134-167-9
- Daniel 3:17-18; Telushkin, Joseph, Jewish Literacy: The most important things to know about the Jewish religion, its people and its history, 1991, William Morrow, ISBN 0-688-08506-7 pp. 80-81
- Dan’iel, in The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, 2006. Unger, Merrill F., Harrison, R.K., ed. Chicago: Moody Publishers ISBN 0-8024-9066-2
- Daniel 6; Walvoord J.F. and Zuck R. B.; The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament, 1983, Colorado Springs:David C. Cook, p. 1349, ISBN 978-0-88207-813-7
- Shema, in The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary, 1996, Achtemeier Paul J., ed., New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc. ISBN 0-06-060037-3
- Bernstein, Philip S., What the Jews Believe, 1951, New York: Farrar Straus and Young p. 11
- Deuteronomy 6:9; Kadden, Barbara Binder and Bruce, Teaching Mitzvot: Concepts, Values and Activities, 2003, Denver: A.R.E. Publishing, Inc., ISBN 0-86705-080-2 p. 71
- Seeskin, Kenneth, No Other Gods: the modern struggle against idolatry, 1995, Behrman House, ISBN 0-87441-583-7 p. 111
- Telushkin, Joseph, Jewish Literacy: The most important things to know about the Jewish religion, its people and its history, 1991, William Morrow, ISBN 0-688-08506-7 p. 82
- Smith, Lacey Baldwin, Fools, Martyrs, Traitors: the story of martyrdom in the western world, Northwestern University Press, ISBN 0-8101-1724-X pp.49-50
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- Wylen, Stephen M., Settings of Silver: an introduction to Judaism, 2000, Paulist Press, ISBN 0-8091-3960-X pp.175-176
- Sanhedrin 74a; Telushkin, Joseph, A Code of Jewish Ethics: You shall be holy, 2006, Harmony/Bell Tower ISBN 1-4000-4835-4 pp 471-472
- Seeskin, Kenneth, No Other Gods: the modern struggle against idolatry, 1995, Behrman House, ISBN 0-87441-583-7 pp.14-15
- Talmud Megilah 13
- Midrash Sifre, Deuteronomy 54
- Sicker, Martin, Between Man and God: Issues in Judaic thought, 2001, Praeger, ISBN 0-313-31904-9 pp.12-14
- Talmud Megilah 25b
- Idol, in The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary, 1996, Achtemeier Paul J., ed., New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc. ISBN 0-06-060037-3; Idol, Image, in The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, 2006. Unger, Merrill F., Harrison, R.K., ed., Chicago: Moody Publishers, ISBN 0-8024-9066-2
- Seeskin, Kenneth, No Other Gods: the modern struggle against idolatry, 1995, Behrman House, ISBN 0-87441-583-7 pp.37-44
- 1 Samuel 4; Bell J.S. and Campbell S, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Bible, 2003, Indianapolis: Alpha Books, p. 103, ISBN 0-02-864382-8
- Seeskin, Kenneth, No Other Gods: the modern struggle against idolatry, 1995, Behrman House, ISBN 0-87441-583-7 p. 40
- Glustrom, Simon, The Myth and Reality of Judaism: 82 misconceptions set straight, 1989, Behrman House Publishing, ISBN 0-87441-479-2, p. 131; Kadden, Barbara Binder and Bruce, Teaching Mitzvot: Concepts, Values and Activities, 2003, Denver: A.R.E. Publishing, Inc., ISBN 0-86705-080-2 p. 71
- Matthew 22:37-38, Mark 12:29-30, Luke 10:27-28; Milavec, Aaron, The Didache: Faith, Hope and Life of the Earliest Christian Communities 50-70 C.E., 2003, The Newman Press, pp. 65-66, ISBN 0-8091-0537-3
- Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Bernstein, Philip S., What the Jews Believe, 1951, New York: Farrar Straus and Young p. 11
- Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13; Wiersbe, Warren, The Bible Exposition Commentary: New Testament, Volume 1, 2001, Cook Communications, ISBN 1-56476-030-8, p. 240
- Amos 5:25-27; Pilch, J.J., Stephen: Paul and the Hellenist Israelites, 2008, Liturgical Press, p. 13, ISBN 978-0-8146-5229-9
- Acts 15:29, Acts 21:25; Tomson, Peter J., Paul and the Jewish Law: halakha in the Letters of the Apostle to the Gentiles, 1990, Netherlands: Van Gorcum & Comp., pp. 177-178, ISBN 90-232-2490-6
- Acts 17:16; Walvoord and Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament, 1983, Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, p. 402, ISBN 978-0-88207-812-0
- Gods, False: Artemis, in The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, 2006. Unger, Merrill F., Harrison, R.K., ed. Chicago: Moody Publishers, ISBN 0-8024-9066-2
- Galatians 5:19-21; Galatians: Luther, McGrath A. and Packer J.I., eds., 1998, Wheaton: Crossway Books, p. 279, ISBN 0-89107-994-7
- Philippians 3:19; see also Romans 16:18, 2 Timothy 3:4, James 4:4; Hughes R.K., James: Faith that Works, 1991, Wheaton: Crossway Books, pp. 175-176, ISBN 0-89107-627-1
- Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13; Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5; Idolatry: Figurative, in The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, 2006. Unger, Merrill F., Harrison, R.K., ed., Chicago: Moody Publishers, ISBN 0-8024-9066-2
- James 4:3-5 (NIV); Hughes R.K., James: Faith that Works, 1991, Wheaton: Crossway Books, pp. 175-176, ISBN 0-89107-627-1
- 1 Thessalonians 1:8-10; Green G.L., The Pillar New Testament Commentaries: The Letters to the Thessalonians, 2002, Grand Rapids: W.B. Eardmans Publishing Co., p. 106, ISBN 0-8028-3738-7
- Romans 1:22-29; Dunn J.D.G., The Theology of Paul the Apostle, 1998, Grand Rapids: William B. Eardmans Publishing Company, pp.33-34, ISBN 0-8028-3844-8
- 1 Peter 4:3-4; Life Application Bible Commentary:1 & 2 Peter and Jude, 1995, Galvin J.C. and Beers R.A., eds., The Livinstone Corporation, p. 112, ISBN 0-8423-3031-3; Revelation 2:14, 2:20; Trebilco P., The Early Christians in Ephesus from Paul to Ignatius, 2004 (Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck) and 2007 (W.B. Eardman’s Publishing Co.), p. 311, ISBN 978-0-8028-0769-4
- 1 John 5:20-21; Barclay W., The New Daily Study Bible: The Letters of John and Jude, 2002, Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, p. 139, ISBN 0-664-22557-8
- Exodus 20:2 (NJB)
- Catechism of the Catholic Church 201
- Catechism of the Catholic Church 212
- Catechism of the Catholic Church 2113
- Catechism of the Catholic Church 2113
- Catechism of the Catholic Church 2136
- Catechism of the Catholic Church 2215
- Catechism of the Catholic Church 2116
- Catechism of the Catholic Church 2117
- Catechism of the Catholic Church 2118
- Catechism of the Catholic Church 2126
- Catechism of the Catholic Church 2123- 2126, 2140
- Catechism of the Catholic Church 2128
- Morgan, G. Campbell, The Ten Commandments, 1901, Fleming H. Revell Company, pp.16-18
- Morgan, G. Campbell, The Ten Commandments, 1901, Fleming H. Revell Company, p.19
- Martin Luther, The Large Catechism, Part First: The Ten Commandments, The First Commandment; Commentary on Exodus 20, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible; Commentary on the First Commandment; John Calvin, Harmony of the Law:Part 1, The Law: The First Commandment; John Wesley’s Notes on the Bible, Notes on the Second Book of Moses called Exodus, Exodus XX
- The Large Catechism III, Part First: The First Commandment, Translated by F. Bente and W.H.T. Dau Published in: Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books of the Ev. Lutheran Church, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, pp. 565-773
- The Large Catechism III, Part First: The First Commandment , Translated by F. Bente and W.H.T. Dau Published in: Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books of the Ev. Lutheran Church, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, pp. 565-773
- Morgan, G. Campbell, The Ten Commandments, 1901, Fleming H. Revell Company, p.20
- Deuteronomy 18:9; Commentary on Deuteronomy 18:9, John Calvin, Harmony of the Law: Part 1, The Law: The First Commandment
- John Calvin, Harmony of the Law: Part 1, The Law: The First Commandment
- Shepardson, Nikki, Burning zeal: the rhetoric of martyrdom and the Protestant community in Reformation France 1520–1570, 2007, Associated University Presses, ISBN 978-0-934223-87-4, pp. 138-140
- Shepardson, Nikki, Burning zeal: the rhetoric of martyrdom and the Protestant community in Reformation France 1520–1570, 2007, Associated University Presses, ISBN 978-0-934223-87-4, p. 140
- Shepardson, Nikki, Burning zeal: the rhetoric of martyrdom and the Protestant community in Reformation France 1520–1570, 2007, Associated University Presses, ISBN 978-0-934223-87-4 p. 140
- Tanakh (Holy Scriptures), Jewish Publication Society (JPS) 1917
- Explanation of Torah, Mishnah, Talmud versions
- Brief explanations of Talmudic works and their origins
- Catechism of the Catholic Church
- New Jerusalem Bible (Catholic)
- Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
- John Wesley’s notes on the Bible
- John Calvin’s commentary on the Bible
- Bible Gateway online reading and research tool; several versions are available