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You shall not bow down to them nor serve

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for I, YHVH


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(read Adonai your Elohim) am

a jealous God,

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visiting the punishment for the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons to the third and fourth [generation]

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of those who hate me.

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You must not do things that demonstrate submission and loyalty to them, nor live out that loyalty to them with your actions and efforts, for I, THE ETERNAL AND PERSONAL GOD, who is also your OWNER AND RULER am protective of what is mine and will not relinquish it easily; I protect by using punishment in order to teach fathers and sons and grandsons down as far as I need to go in cases where people demonstrate disregard for what I have required of them.



“serve” is closely tied to the idea of labor, i.e. serving through one’s efforts or exertion. Serving a deity was by no means a passive thing.


This name of God comes from Elohim but is spelled differently because it means “your God,” not just God. It is serving a different grammatical function so it takes a different form. However, I have expressed it as “your Elohim” to avoid confusion.


This was the simplest form of the word “God,” and for the Hebrews it had the meaning of “God” in a general sense. It was not a proper name, but was the foundation for the name Elohim, and was also the root of the Arabic word Allah. There was a Canaanite deity named El.


The word “generation” is not in the Hebrew but is the assumed from context.


“hate” does mean “to hate.” By implication it refers to someone who has disregard for God’s covenant, expressed through failure to follow the covenant conditions. It is contrasted with “love” in the next verse.