The Ten Commandments Were Written on Sapphire Tablets From God’s Throne

Ten Commandments Sapphire

The majority of Christians think of the Ten Commandments as being inscribed on tablets of grey stone. However, rabbinical Judaism as found in the Talmud and Mishnah teaches that the tablets of the law were made of sapphire.[1] This was done to point to God’s creation in the heavens and to His throne.  The Talmud and Mishnah are far from being authoritative and even blasphemous in several respects, especially when teaching on Yeshua (Jesus).  Nevertheless, that does not mean that everything taught in rabbinical Jewish tradition is inaccurate.  Ancient tradition is especially useful in understanding what the Jewish people held to on scores of topics.  Scripture itself corroborates much of what the tradition has to say regarding the sapphire Ten Commandments.

and they saw the God of Israel.  There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness.  Exodus 24:10 (ESV)

Moses and the rest of Israel’s leadership were given the profound privilege of seeing God.  God appeared in the person of the Son as He expresses God’s image to man (cf. John 1:18; 14:9).  Under God’s feet was something that appeared to be sapphire.  The Hebrew cappiyr (pronounced sap-peer’) can either be translated as a sapphire or lapis lazuli.  It is from this pavement that God carved out the tablets upon which He wrote the law as recorded in Exodus 24:12:

The LORD said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and wait there, that I may give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.”

The stone from which the tablets were fashioned almost certainly refers to that which appeared to be sapphire only two verses earlier.  The sapphire is the only type of stone mentioned in the context.  It would be a leap to conclude that the tablets were made from any type of stone other than that which was recorded.  Unfortunately, many do not even consider the sapphire tablets an option because they have been unconsciously influenced by western images of the Ten Commandments.  No doubt that the Charleton Heston film alone has cemented certain imagery into the culture (a fine movie in any respect).

It is even a distinct possibility that the tablets were carved from God’s throne.  Consider Ezekiel 1:26:

Above the expanse over their heads was something like a throne, resembling a sapphire stone.  Above the shape of the throne was a figure of human appearance.

The figure upon this throne was the likeness of the glory of YHWH (Ezek. 1:28).  Like the appearance of God to the elders of Israel, this too was God in the person of the Son.  These two accounts of God appearing are of such a similarity that it is reasonable to conclude that the sapphire foundation and the sapphire throne are one in the same.  Not only were the tablets written on by God, but they were themselves a work of God (Ex. 32:16).  They were then of supernatural origin.  The tablets coming from God’s throne is consistent with both the narrative and the foundational importance of God’s law.

Even today it is evident that the color blue is important to both observant Jews and secular Israel.  The color was intended to remind the Israelites to observe God’s law.  Numbers 15:37-39:

The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner.  And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after. 

With the idea of tablets of sapphire in mind, it becomes obvious why a cord of blue would make the wearer mindful of the law.  It makes all the more sense that Isaiah would foresee Israel being blessed with a foundation of sapphires (Is. 54:11).

Why does the Torah enjoin us regarding techelet? Because techelet resembles sapphire, and the Tablets were made of sapphire, to tell you that as long as Bnei Yisrael gaze upon this techelet they are reminded of what is inscribed on the Tablets and observe the commandments, therefore it is written, ‘And you shall see it [the techelet string] and remember all of the commandments of G-d and you shall do them.’

– Mishnat Rabbi Eliezer, Chap. 14

[1] Obadiah Bertinoro on Mishnah, Avot 5:6.  Cf.  Babylonian Talmud, Nedarim 38a.  Note the value of the pieces of the broken tablets.

Comments

  1. ex33 moses in the camp was met by God in the tent. ex34 moses near the camp was instructed to chisel out the second set of tablets for God to write on.

    Was Gods throne in this tent? most likely not. Did moses find sapphire lying around to chisel out tablets. Most probably not

    To contend the second set of tablets were carved from sapphire is a stretch.
    Toe believe the Talmud above the bible is a larger stretch.

    perhaps a wonderful story

    • Matthew Ervin says:

      First, note that the article does not make a claim regarding the second set of tablets. The narrative concerns the creation of the first. Where did you glean that this was about the second set? That being said, it’s entirely plausible that Moses was provided with sapphire to make the second if the first were made with the precious stone. It matters to what degree the tablets were, “like” the first (Ex. 34:1).

      Second, to suggest that this article elevates the Talmud above the Bible is dishonest. The very first paragraph assures the reader that this is not the case and even criticizes both the Talmud and Mishnah. Scripture itself is looked to in order to see if the tablets could have been made of sapphire. While the answer is not definitive, the conclusion was simply that there was sufficient evidence to support the possibility of the thesis.

      Thank you for the comment.

    • Jonathan says:

      Actually, it was right in the midst of the “cleft of the rock” visitation that Moses had with God (where His face was glowing from being in God’s presence) that he received the second set of commandments, so yes – it was ENTIRELY possible that God provided the stone for the cutting of the second set of commandments.

  2. Matthew, this is an excellent article.

    The pavement before the throne was not a sheet – but a pavement. It was made of tiles based on the Hebrew wording. Either one tile was cut in half or two were used.

    First I’ve always wondered why Jesus said that wine represented his blood, since wine is purple. The answer is found in the three distinct colors of the tabernacle tapestries and garments. They become immediately clear when you understand that the blue represents the perfect law of righteousness carved from the very pavement of the throne of God. The blue represents the perfect law, the scarlet the blood of atonement, the purple represents the blood mixed with the law – or the fulfillment of law and blood. If you blend the two colors Sapphire and Scarlet which can be done online in any number of tools, voila – the color is purple.

    The reason the wine is the blood of the new covenant which is by the way reference to two distinct things – covenant and blood – is that it is the picture of atoning blood applied to God’s righteous law. The disciples were consuming a picture of the finished covenant of grace.

    According to the Talmud and other Jewish sages, each tablet was 1x1x 1/2 cubits so when they were put together made a cube 1x1x1 cubit in size Even more, the ark of the covenant was sized precisely to fit both sets of the law, the original sapphire tablets and the hewn tablets – making final dimensions of the two sets together 1 x 1 x 2 cubits. The ark was 1.5 x 1.5 x 2.5 cubits. My point is that the ark was made to accommodate both sets of the law. That which God created, and that which Moses cut with just a little extra room inside.

    I think you are absolutely right on the money.

    Blessings… great digging!
    Mike

    • Both sets of the law were put in the ark? The first one was broken. Where did the bible say there were two sets in the ark?
      The info on the colors of the temple is awesome. thanks.

      • Great question. First there has to be an assumption that the Jewish sages were correct in stating that when the two tablets of the law were put face to face it created a 1 cubit sized cube. If that’s true then the size of the interior of the ark is significant.

        To be clear, I didn’t state they were both in the Ark. Some Jewish sages suggest it but it’s impossible to know from the bible. What I said it was that the Ark was made to accommodate both, only meaning that both could fit inside. Probably was too dramatic of statement on my part “made to” implies intent and we don’t know God’s intent. I could have said, “It’s curious that the Ark had specific capacity to fit both sets of stone tablets.”

        That would certainly be consistent with idea of God’s covenant, God’s grace, God’s mercy, and God’s redemption, always being broader and possessing more capacity than the failures of man.

        Happy digging.
        Mike

  3. Excellent article. Thanks for the help with this week’s Parsha preparation. Lord bless your efforts.

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