Hebrew Highlights 69 – GOD’S FINGER
Shalom. This is Yuval Shomron, coming to you from Jerusalem.
EXO 31:18, “And when He had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God.”
EXO 32:15-16, “Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets which were written on both sides; they were written on one side and the other. And the tablets were God's work, and the writing was God's writing engraved on the tablets.”
Have you ever paid much attention to the fact that the tablets of law were written by the finger of God? In Hebrew the word here is “etzbah”, meaning literally “finger”. This is no spiritual or allegorical picture. God actually etched or engraved the law on the stones with His finger. By the way, we are not talking about something soft, like sandstone. Mount Sinai, and the surrounding peaks are made of solid granite, streaked with porphyry, a red volcanic rock. You most likely recognize granite as the rock used today for tombstones. Granite is very hard stuff.
Of course, God is much more real, and therefore solid, than anything here on this temporal planet. In Cecil B. Demille’s epic film “The Ten Commandments”, this writing on the tablets was depicted as a sort of lightning coming out of God’s finger and engraving on the stone. I don’t really think God needed the lightning.
I’ve climbed Mount Sinai’s 7380 feet twice. It’s possible to walk up without any ropes or other help in about two hours. Because of it’s height, and the stark surroundings of the Sinai wilderness, you really do feel it is possible to be alone there with the Heavenly Father.
There are a couple of scriptures where God’s finger is in fact alluded to in a more metaphoric manner. For instance in EXO 8:19, after one of the ten plagues, we read, “Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God." But Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had said.” Here, Aaron had stretched out his staff, in a picture of wielding God’s authority, causing the onset of the plague of gnats, or lice. Another word we get from the same root as “etzbah” is “lehatzbiah”, which means to point, or in this century, also to vote.
Another more spiritual use of this phrase is used by Yeshua Himself, when He declares in LUK 11:20, "But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” Here again, it is a symbol of authority.
When you think about it, God could have used a piece of iron, or another rock, or even a diamond to engrave the Ten Commandments into the tablets. I like to think that He used His finger out of love. Pointing out our sin in a personal way.
Another story which may have involved the “finger of God” is found in JOH 8:3-11, “And the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the midst, they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. "Now the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?" And they were saying this, testing Him, in order that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And when they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the midst. And straightening up, Jesus said to her, "Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?" And she said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go your way. From now on sin no more."
Many scholars musing on this story conclude that Yeshua was writing the Ten Commandments one after another on the ground with His finger. This is plausible. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time.
Shalom, Shalom , from Jerusalem.