Exodus 20:4

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:”

King James Version (KJV)

Other Translations for Exodus 20:4

Thou shalt not make vnto thee any grauen Image, or any likenesse of any thing that is in heauen aboue, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water vnder the earth.
- King James Version (1611) - View 1611 Bible Scan

"You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.
- New American Standard Version (1995)

Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any likeness `of any thing' that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
- American Standard Version (1901)

You are not to make an image or picture of anything in heaven or on the earth or in the waters under the earth:
- Basic English Bible

Thou shalt not make thyself any graven image, or any form of what is in the heavens above, or what is in the earth beneath, or what is in the waters under the earth:
- Darby Bible

Thou shalt not make to thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
- Webster's Bible

You shall not make for yourselves an idol, nor any image of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
- World English Bible

`Thou dost not make to thyself a graven image, or any likeness which [is] in the heavens above, or which [is] in the earth beneath, or which [is] in the waters under the earth.
- Youngs Literal Bible

Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any manner of likeness, of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;
- Jewish Publication Society Bible

Bible Commentary for Exodus 20:4

Wesley's Notes for Exodus 20:4


20:2 I am the Lord thy God - Herein, God asserts his own authority to enact this law; and proposeth himself as the sole object of that religious worship which is enjoined in the four first commandments. They are here bound to obedience. Because God is the Lord, Jehovah, self - existent, independent, eternal, and the fountain of all being and power; therefore he has an incontestable right to command us. He was their God; a God in covenant with them; their God by their own consent. He had brought them out of the land of Egypt - Therefore they were bound in gratitude to obey him, because he had brought them out of a grievous slavery into a glorious liberty. By redeeming them, he acquired a farther right to rule them; they owed their service to him, to whom they owed their freedom. And thus, Christ, having rescued us out of the bondage of sin, is entitled to the best service we can do him. The four first commandments, concern our duty to God (commonly called the first - table.) It was fit those should be put first, because man had a Maker to love before he had a neighbour to love, and justice and charity are then only acceptable to God when they flow from the principles of piety.

20:3 The first commandment is concerning the object of our worship, Jehovah, and him only, Thou shalt have no other gods before me - The Egyptians, and other neighbouring nations, had many gods, creatures of their own fancy. This law was pre - fixed because of that transgression; and Jehovah being the God of Israel, they must entirely cleave to him, and no other, either of their own invention, or borrowed from their neighbours. The sin against this commandment, which we are most in danger of, is giving that glory to any creature which is due to God only. Pride makes a God of ourselves, covetousness makes a God of money, sensuality makes a God of the belly. Whatever is loved, feared, delighted in, or depended on, more than God, that we make a god of. This prohibition includes a precept which is the foundation of the whole law, that we take the Lord for our God, accept him for ours, adore him with humble reverence, and set our affections entirely upon him. There is a reason intimated in the last words before me. It intimates, That we cannot have any other god but he will know it. That it is a sin that dares him to his face, which he cannot, will not, overlook. The second commandment is concerning the ordinances of worship, or the way in which God will be worshipped, which it is fit himself should appoint. Here is, [1.] The prohibition; we are forbidden to worship even the true God by images, #Ex 20:4|,5. First, The Jews (at least after the captivity) thought themselves forbidden by this to make any image or picture whatsoever. It is certain it forbids making any image of God, for to whom can we liken him? #Isa 40:18|,25. It also forbids us to make images of God in our fancies, as if he were a man as we are. Our religious worship must be governed by the power of faith, not by the power of imagination. Secondly, They must not bow down to them - Shew any sign of honour to them, much less serve them by sacrifice, or any other act of religious worship. When they paid their devotion to the true God, they must not have any image before them for the directing, exciting, or assisting their devotion. Though the worship was designed to terminate in God, it would not please him if it came to him through an image. The best and most ancient lawgivers among the Heathen forbad the setting up of images in their temples. It was forbidden in Rome by Numa a Pagan prince, yet commanded in Rome by the Pope, a Christian bishop. The use of images in the church of Rome, at this day, is so plainly contrary to the letter of this command, that in all their catechisms, which they put into the hand of the people, they leave out this commandment, joining the reason of it to the first, and so the third commandment they call the second, the fourth the third, &c. only to make up the number ten, they divide the tenth into two. For I the Lord Jehovah, thy God, am a jealous God, especially in things of this nature. It intimates the care he has of his own institutions, his displeasure against idolaters, and that he resents every thing in his worship that looks like, or leads to, idolatry: visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation - Severely punishing. Nor is it an unrighteous thing with God if the parents died in their iniquity, and the children tread in their steps, when God comes, by his judgments, to reckon with them, to bring into the account the idolatries their fathers were guilty of. Keeping mercy for thousands of persons, thousands of generations, of them that love me and keep my commandments - This intimates, that the second commandment, though in the letter of it is only a prohibition of false worship, yet includes a precept of worshipping God in all those ordinances which he hath instituted. As the first commandment requires the inward worship of love, desire, joy, hope, so this the outward worship of prayer and praise, and solemn attendance on his word. This mercy shall extend to thousands, much further than the wrath threatened to those that hate him, for that reaches but to the third or fourth generation.


Discussion for Exodus 20:4

  • Shannon on Exodus 20:4
    Water below the earth sounds like something we have no knowledge of still. He didn't say on the earth, he said below.
  • Chris - in Reply on Exodus 20:4
    Shannon, I think that this verse is meant to show that God forbids the making of any graven image that represents any creature in His creation. If it does mean something specific, as you suggest, there could be some reference to Genesis 8:2: "The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained". And this reference mentions that at the time of Noah's drifting on the flooded Earth, God stopped the rain & the waters that came from below the Earth.

    So, if there was some type of body of water under the Earth at that time, there may be some who believed in some 'mythical' creatures also in existence there, & which could be represented as idols on Earth. So God forbad the making of any image, whether real or imaginative. All speculation on my part, of course.
  • Ambrose Okech on Exodus 20:4
    Verse 4 clearly talks about graven images and i'm getting a picture of how God detests such with a passion. Read on its own or in conjunction with other scriptures on graven images, it cannot escape one's notice that they are expressly forbiden. God is a jealous God. So where do catholics get their authority to form graven images and shamelessly place them conspicuously in their places of worship with impunity? Definitely not the bible!
  • Florence on Exodus 20:4
    NEVER WORSHIP GRAVEN IMAGES,THEY ARE JUST MAN MADE,MADE OF WOODS OR STONES FOR GOD IS A SPIRIT,we cannot see HIM but we need to believe HE IS D CREATOR of us all..amen...
  • Sister Angie on Exodus 20:4
    I understand it to include any image of anything in heaven, on earth and inder the earth - this includes pictures, videos, TV, YouTube, Facebook and such things.
  • Carolyn on Exodus 20:4
    My son pointed out that the verse includes likeness separately from graven image and said that it includes photographs so will no longer use a camera. I am here to research this since what he said seems true and yet I do not want to give up pictures that help me remember happy times, like being with my family.
  • Shannon - in Reply on Exodus 20:4
    Does your son still not agree with pictures?
  • Carolyn on Exodus 20:4
    Do you have an inspirational image for Exodus 20:4?
  • Cynthia kelly on Exodus 20:4
    First of all if our Father says not to do something you should not.He does not have to ans to you but you ans to him.
  • Chet on Exodus 20:4
    This is the most true but sadly one of the most misinterpret guideline of wisdom. It is really unfortunate for people to think of this as just the shell or surface of the true meaning.


 

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