Catechism of the Catholic Church

500 Part Three This liberating power of the Decalogue appears, for exam­ ple, in the commandment about the sabbath rest, directed also to foreigners and slaves: You shall remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out thence with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. 18 2058 The “ten words” sum up and proclaim God’s law: “These words the Lord spoke to all your assembly at the mountain out of the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness, with a loud voice; and he added no more. And he wrote them upon two tablets of stone, and gave them to me.” 19 For this reason these two tablets are called “the Testimony.” In fact, they contain the terms of the covenant concluded between God and his people. These “tablets of the Testimony” were to be deposited in “the ark.” 20 2059 The “ten words” are pronounced by God in the midst of a theophany (“The Lord spoke with you face to face at the mountain, out of the midst of the fire.” 21 ). They belong to God’s revelation of himself and his glory. The gift of the Commandments is the gift of God himself and his holy will. In making his will known, God reveals himself to his people. 2060 The gift of the commandments and of the Law is part of the covenant God sealed with his own. In Exodus, the revelation of the “ten words” is granted between the proposal of the covenant 22 and its conclusion—after the people had committed themselves to “do” all that the Lord had said, and to “obey” it. 23 The Decalogue is never handed on without first recalling the covenant (“The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb.”). 24 2061 The Commandments take on their full meaning within the covenant. According to Scripture, man’s moral life has all its mean­ ing in and through the covenant. The first of the “ten words” recalls that God loved his people first: 18 Deut 5:15. 19 Deut 5:22. 20 Ex 25:16; 31:18; 32:15; 34:29; 40:1-2. 21 Deut 5:4. 22 Cf. Ex 19. 23 Cf. Ex 24:7. 24 Deut 5:2. 2170 1962 707 2823 62