Tuesday, July 15, 2008
The Ten Commandments
Have you ever wondered why the Ten Commandments are always shown to be on single, or double-arch topped stone tablets? If you check out the Ten commandments on 'Google images' almost all of the images show a double-arched top stone! You can Buy a 'Ten commandments' silver pendant with a double-arched top , or even a double arched top (life-size) resin garden ornament of the Ten commandments! So how did we arrive at this shape? Where did it originate? Is it authentic? You might be tempted to blame Cecil B. DeMille for starting it all in the 1956 Biblical epic 'The Ten Commandments' starring Charlton Heston, but it goes back a lot further.
O.k. then, what about Gustave Doré? Was he responsible? Well, he also showed the Ten Commandments to be on a double-arched top stone tablet in his 1865 engraving, but the shape goes back even further than Gustave Doré. In fact, 350 years earlier!
This is the earliest picture I came across (see left) showing the double-arched top stone tablet.
This picture dates back to 1512. (Sorry I don't know the artist!) You can clearly see the hand of God handing Moses the 'double-arched top' stone tablet. This image is taking us back into the realms of Christian Iconography, and I still can't find any clues as to why this shape was used-!!
What I would like to do though is suggest another shape that the tablets might have been! Square!
I was reminded when reading 'The Quest' of the significance of the square in the Bible . Many of the items that God designed were square. The 'Holy of Holies' in the Temple was square, The 'high priest's breastplate' was square, the 'alter of burnt offerings' was square, as was the 'alter of incense'. The end elevation of the 'Ark of the covenant' (which contained the stone tablets) was square, and the "Great City, the Holy Jerusalem" spoken of in Revelation is square! With this in mind, and the fact that the first tablets were written by God, isn't it feasible that the tablets might have been square in shape?
Of course, we won't know the shape of the tablets containing the Ten commandments until they find the Ark of the covenant. But, it's an interesting theory! Let me know your thoughts! Photo © NEAEHL
Update: 17 July 08
Just found out that the Talmud does record that the 'Ten commandment tablets' are in fact Square! (Amazing!) See the comments for more information on this.
The contents of the Ark