You shall have no other gods before me – Meaning

Discuss the meaning of the phrase from Exodus 20:3, “You shall have no other gods before me” for an ancient Israelite

To ancient Israelites, it was forbidden of them to unite their worship with that of other deities. Egyptian religion, culture,and that of other neighbor nations were accepting of polytheism a practice that Israelites had picked up but one that was in contradiction with the monotheism nature of their recommended worship. After God delivered the Israelites from Egypt, He initiated a covenant between Himself and his chosen people, thus demanding an exclusive relationship with them. This first commandment was thus a reaction against polytheism,a reminder, and an assertion that there is only one true God. Obedience to this commandment would constitute one’s removal from the false dependence on idols consequently liberating the individual from misery by focusing on the worship of the one true God who was the fountain of all good and the promoter of man’s happiness. This commandment thus denotes and seeks to preserve the special relationship between the Israelites and the one true God who had saved them from Egyptians; their oppressors. By referring to Himself as the ‘Lord your God,’ Exodus 20:1-2 (Common English Bible, 2014) He contextualizes and defines the relationship a nation and their God that needs preservation.

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