The Decalogue: Direct From Hashem or Via Moshe?

Introduction

Unidentified Audience

The verse introducing the Decalogue in Shemot 20 is the only case in the entire Torah in which Hashem speaks and His addressee is not identified:

וַיְדַבֵּר אֱלֹהִים אֵת כָּל הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה לֵאמֹר.

To whom did Hashem communicate the Decalogue? Did He speak directly to the nation, or did He deliver it only to Moshe who was then charged with relaying it to the nation?

Contradictory Verses

Numerous texts seem to imply that the nation heard the Decalogue directly from Hashem, without any intermediary. This is particularly true of several verses throughout Devarim 4:

(יב) וַיְדַבֵּר ה' אֲלֵיכֶם מִתּוֹךְ הָאֵשׁ קוֹל דְּבָרִים אַתֶּם שֹׁמְעִים וּתְמוּנָה אֵינְכֶם רֹאִים זוּלָתִי קוֹל.
(טו) וְנִשְׁמַרְתֶּם מְאֹד לְנַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶם כִּי לֹא רְאִיתֶם כָּל תְּמוּנָה בְּיוֹם דִּבֶּר ה' אֲלֵיכֶם בְּחֹרֵב מִתּוֹךְ הָאֵשׁ.
(לג) הֲשָׁמַע עָם קוֹל אֱלֹהִים מְדַבֵּר מִתּוֹךְ הָאֵשׁ כַּאֲשֶׁר שָׁמַעְתָּ אַתָּה וַיֶּחִי.
(לו) מִן הַשָּׁמַיִם הִשְׁמִיעֲךָ אֶת קֹלוֹ לְיַסְּרֶךָּ וְעַל הָאָרֶץ הֶרְאֲךָ אֶת אִשּׁוֹ הַגְּדוֹלָה וּדְבָרָיו שָׁמַעְתָּ מִתּוֹךְ הָאֵשׁ.

The unmediated nature of the Divine communication would appear, at first glance, to also be the very point that Moshe is attempting to drive home to the nation in Devarim 5:4:

פָּנִים בְּפָנִים דִּבֶּר ה' עִמָּכֶם בָּהָר מִתּוֹךְ הָאֵשׁ.

However, the very next verse seems to contradict this, implying that, even during the Decalogue, Moshe mediated between the nation and Hashem:

אָנֹכִי עֹמֵד בֵּין ה' וּבֵינֵיכֶם בָּעֵת הַהִוא לְהַגִּיד לָכֶם אֶת דְּבַר ה' כִּי יְרֵאתֶם מִפְּנֵי הָאֵשׁ וְלֹא עֲלִיתֶם בָּהָר לֵאמֹר.

Yet a third possibility is implied by Shemot 19:9.  From there it appears that Hashem's entire objective was, not to speak to the nation, but only that they should listen in while He spoke to Moshe:

וַיֹּאמֶר ה' אֶל מֹשֶׁה הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי בָּא אֵלֶיךָ בְּעַב הֶעָנָן בַּעֲבוּר יִשְׁמַע הָעָם בְּדַבְּרִי עִמָּךְ וְגַם בְּךָ יַאֲמִינוּ לְעוֹלָם וַיַּגֵּד מֹשֶׁה אֶת דִּבְרֵי הָעָם אֶל ה'.

And, finally, a fourth option, that the people heard the Decalogue from both Moshe and Hashem, might be understood from Shemot 19:19:

וַיְהִי קוֹל הַשּׁוֹפָר הוֹלֵךְ וְחָזֵק מְאֹד מֹשֶׁה יְדַבֵּר וְהָאֱלֹהִים יַעֲנֶנּוּ בְקוֹל.
What exactly happened?  Was the Decalogue transmitted to the Israelites by Hashem, Moshe, or some combination?

Grammatical Inconsistency

In the middle of the Decalogue, there is a shift in speaker which may be relevant to our question. While in the opening section, Hashem speaks in first person, the subsequent verses speak of Him in third person. The following table highlights this disparity:

Third Person – גוף שלישיFirst Person – גוף ראשון
(ו) לֹא תִשָּׂא אֶת שֵׁם ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ לַשָּׁוְא כִּי לֹא יְנַקֶּה ה' אֵת אֲשֶׁר יִשָּׂא אֶת שְׁמוֹ לַשָּׁוְא. (ז) זָכוֹר אֶת יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת לְקַדְּשׁוֹ. (ח) שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים תַּעֲבֹד וְעָשִׂיתָ כָּל מְלַאכְתֶּךָ. (ט) וְיוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי שַׁבָּת לַה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה כָל מְלָאכָה אַתָּה וּבִנְךָ וּבִתֶּךָ עַבְדְּךָ וַאֲמָתְךָ וּבְהֶמְתֶּךָ וְגֵרְךָ אֲשֶׁר בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ. (י) כִּי שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים עָשָׂה ה' אֶת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת הָאָרֶץ אֶת הַיָּם וְאֶת כָּל אֲשֶׁר בָּם וַיָּנַח בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי עַל כֵּן בֵּרַךְ ה' אֶת יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת וַיְקַדְּשֵׁהוּ. (יא) כַּבֵּד אֶת אָבִיךָ וְאֶת אִמֶּךָ לְמַעַן יַאֲרִכוּן יָמֶיךָ עַל הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לָךְ. (ב) אָנֹכִי ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר הוֹצֵאתִיךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם מִבֵּית עֲבָדִים לֹא יִהְיֶה לְךָ אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים עַל פָּנָי. (ג) לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה לְךָ פֶסֶל וְכָל תְּמוּנָה אֲשֶׁר בַּשָּׁמַיִם מִמַּעַל וַאֲשֶׁר בָּאָרֶץ מִתַָּחַת וַאֲשֶׁר בַּמַּיִם מִתַּחַת לָאָרֶץ. (ד) לֹא תִשְׁתַּחְוֶה לָהֶם וְלֹא תָעָבְדֵם כִּי אָנֹכִי ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֵל קַנָּא פֹּקֵד עֲוֹן אָבֹת עַל בָּנִים עַל שִׁלֵּשִׁים וְעַל רִבֵּעִים לְשֹׂנְאָי. (ה) וְעֹשֶׂה חֶסֶד לַאֲלָפִים לְאֹהֲבַי וּלְשֹׁמְרֵי מִצְוֹתָי.

If all of the commandments were delivered directly by Hashem, one would expect them all to be in first person. Conversely, if Moshe is the speaker, then even the first two should be in third person.  Is it possible that the speaker shifted in the middle of the commandments? Could this account for the ambiguous wording of 20:1 which does not specify Hashem's audience?

Philosophical Issues

The Decalogue is the only case in history in which an entire nation experienced some form of Divine revelation.  This raises additional issues regarding the nature of prophecy and its prerequisites.  Does a three day purification period suffice to prepare a person for prophecy?  Can anyone receive prophecy, or is it limited to people who have perfected their intellect and personalities?  Do all prophets achieve the same level of prophecy, or are there different degrees of clarity?

Moreover, what was the purpose of the revelation at Sinai?  Was it intended to prove Hashem's existence, or to verify that Moshe was His messenger and chosen conduit to convey the commandments of the Torah?  If the former, it would be fitting for the entire nation to hear Hashem's words, but if the latter, perhaps a distinction between the people and Moshe was necessary.

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