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Daily manna from the Torah by Dr Ketriel Blad

Yitro 17-7


Exodus 20:18-26 (15-23 Heb.)

Moses said to the people, "Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin."

Ex. 20:20 ESV

To fear or not to fear, that is the question.

After the tremendous experience that the people had at Mount Sinai, they were very afraid of the Eternal. Fear of death had overtaken them such that they didn't want to listen to the Eternal's voice from heaven.

That's why Moshe tells them not to fear; however, in that same phrase he says that the Eternal had come with these powerful manifestations in order to produce a permanent fear in them and keep them from sinning. In the Hebrew text the same word appears twice. On the one hand they should not fear, but on the other, they had to fear always to avoid sinning.

This teaches us that there are two kinds of fear and that there is a balance that must be present regarding the fear of the Eternal.

If we talk about two kinds of fear, we can explain them with two different words: fright and respect. It's not good to be afraid of the Eternal because He is love and love casts out that kind of fear. On the other hand, we must have such respect for Him that it borders on dread.

To fear, indeed, but without being afraid.

May the Eternal fill our hearts with great fear so that we don't sin, but may we never be afraid to approach Him as our heavenly Father.

Shabbat shalom!


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