Lesson 50: Exodus 20, Part 2
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“Lesson 50: Exodus 20, Part 2,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)

“Lesson 50,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

Lesson 50

Exodus 20, Part 2


While the children of Israel were gathered at the base of Mount Sinai, God gave them the Ten Commandments. This lesson covers the last five of those commandments. After seeing the manifestations of God’s presence on Mount Sinai, the Israelites were afraid. The Lord, through Moses, gave additional instructions on how they should worship Him.

Suggestions for Teaching

Exodus 20:13–17

God gives the Israelites commandments pertaining to relationships with others

Before class, list the Ten Commandments on the board.

Begin the lesson by asking:

  • If someone were to ask you what the most important commandment is, what would you say? Why?

Explain that the Savior was asked a similar question during His mortal ministry. Invite a student to read Matthew 22:36–40 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Savior responded. Ask students to report what they find.

Write Love God and Love Thy Neighbor on the board. Explain that the Savior summarized all of God’s commandments into these two commandments. Ask students to categorize each of the Ten Commandments under one of these two headings. Write the number of the commandment under the heading students select. (For example, they might say that commandments 1 through 4 deal with loving God and commandments 5 through 10 deal with loving your neighbor.)

Write the following principle on the board: By living the Ten Commandments, we can show love for God and our neighbor. Invite students to ponder how this principle may relate to them as they continue to study the Ten Commandments.

In the following activity, students will study and then teach each other about one or two of the Ten Commandments. Divide students into four groups. Provide each group with a copy of one of the following four handouts. Explain that the groups will have five minutes to learn about a few of the Ten Commandments and prepare to teach the class using the outline provided. Student teachers from each group will have five minutes to teach the class about the commandment(s) they studied. (This activity was written for four groups with four students per group. You may need to adapt the activity if you do not have enough students. For example, you could create fewer groups and teach about one or more of the commandments yourself.)

If some groups finish their preparations before the allotted time is up, ask them to find a scripture reference that illustrates the importance of keeping the commandment(s) they learned about. They can use this reference when they teach the class.

Group 1—Exodus 20:13

Read aloud Exodus 20:13 and the following two paragraphs:

In Exodus 20:13, the word kill was translated from a Hebrew word that means murder. Murder means to intentionally and illegally end another person’s life. In the latter days, the Lord has expanded our understanding of this commandment by saying, “Thou shalt not … kill, nor do anything like unto it” (D&C 59:6). While Latter-day prophets have not stated that abortion is murder, they have taught that abortion for personal or social convenience fits into the scriptural description of “anything like unto it.” Murder does not include police or military action in the line of duty.

Prophets have affirmed that human life is sacred and is to be respected. Entertainment and media that glorifies or presents as acceptable murder and other forms of violence should be avoided. Such entertainment and media influence our attitudes and thoughts and offend the Spirit. (See For the Strength of Youth [booklet, 2011], 11–13, 22–23.)

Discuss the following questions:

  • How can the plan of salvation help us understand why murder and violence are wrong?

  • In what ways do media or various kinds of entertainment promote violence or disrespect for human life? What can we do to avoid these types of media or entertainment?

Choose one or more individuals from your group to do the following in front of the class: (1) Summarize what you learned about the commandment to not kill. (2) Lead a brief discussion using one or two of the preceding questions. (3) Bear testimony of the importance of respecting human life.

Group 2—Exodus 20:14

Read aloud Exodus 20:14 and the following two paragraphs:

“Physical intimacy between husband and wife is beautiful and sacred. It is ordained of God for the creation of children and for the expression of love between husband and wife. God has commanded that sexual intimacy be reserved for marriage” (For the Strength of Youth [booklet, 2011], 35). Adultery means sexual relations between a married individual and someone other than his or her spouse. Any sexual relations outside the bond of marriage between a man and a woman, including homosexual behavior, violate the Lord’s law of chastity.

To keep the law of chastity before and during marriage, prophets have also taught that we are not to share, view, read, or listen to anything that depicts or describes the physical body or sexual conduct in an immoral or pornographic way. We must keep our thoughts, desires, words, and actions pure.

Discuss the following questions:

  • What blessings come from being sexually pure? What negative consequences can result from not being sexually pure?

  • What safeguards can young men and young women follow to help them be sexually pure? How can following these safeguards help you prepare to keep your future marriage covenants?

  • What if an individual has fallen into sexual transgression? Given that sexual sin is so serious, is there a way to return to the gospel path? (Individuals who have committed sexual sin should speak with their bishop or branch president, who can help them through the process of repentance.)

Choose one or more individuals from your group to do the following in front of the class: (1) Summarize what you learned about the commandment to not commit adultery. (2) Lead a brief discussion using one or two of the preceding questions. (3) Bear testimony of the importance of keeping the law of chastity.

Group 3—Exodus 20:15–16

Read aloud Exodus 20:15–16 and the following two paragraphs:

Stealing means taking something that rightfully belongs to someone else. Bearing false witness against your neighbor means to give or support an untrue statement about someone else.

“Be honest with yourself, others, and God at all times. Being honest means choosing not to lie, steal, cheat, or deceive in any way. …

“Dishonesty harms you and harms others as well. If you lie, steal, shoplift, or cheat, you damage your spirit and your relationships with others. Being honest will enhance your future opportunities and your ability to be guided by the Holy Ghost” (For the Strength of Youth [booklet, 2011], 19).

Discuss the following questions:

  • What are some common situations in which people choose to be dishonest? Why do you think people choose to be dishonest in these situations?

  • How is cheating a form of stealing?

  • What blessings have you received as a result of choosing to be honest?

Choose one or more individuals from your group to do the following for the class: (1) Summarize what you learned about the commandments to not steal or bear false witness. (2) Lead a brief discussion using one or two of the preceding questions. (3) Bear testimony of the importance of being honest.

Group 4—Exodus 20:17

Read aloud Exodus 20:17 and the following paragraph:

Coveting, in this context, means having a selfish, excessive desire for something that belongs to another person. Coveting can cause feelings of jealousy, envy, pride, and greed. Coveting can lead us to be ungrateful and never satisfied with what we have. We can admire what others have, and we can seek to improve our lives and circumstances, but we must do so with modest, humble desires and honest, appropriate efforts.

  • What are some specific examples of how the commandment to not covet is broken in our day?

  • How can obeying the commandment to not covet help us be happy?

  • What can we do to avoid coveting the possessions of others?

Choose one or more individuals from your group to do the following for the class: (1) Summarize what you learned about the commandment to not covet. (2) Lead a brief discussion using one or two of the preceding questions. (3) Bear testimony of the importance of not coveting.

After students have had time to discuss their assigned commandments in their groups, invite them to list numbers 1 through 4 in their class notebooks or scripture study journals. Ask them to write something they learn from each group of their peers.

Invite students from group 1 to come to the front of the classroom and teach as directed for no more than five minutes. Repeat for each additional group. Thank students for their participation.

Ask a few students to share what they wrote about what they learned from their peers’ instruction. Then ask the class:

  • How does living the commandments we have discussed help us show love for our neighbors?

  • How does living these commandments allow us to show love for God?

Exodus 20:18–26

The Lord gives additional instructions for worshipping Him

Summarize Exodus 20:18–26 by explaining that when the Israelites saw the thunderings and lightnings upon Mount Sinai and heard the Lord’s voice declare the Ten Commandments, they were afraid. Moses told them to “fear not” (verse 20). Moses’s words were meant to inspire their reverence and awe toward God and to motivate them to resist sin. From Moses’s response we learn that reverence for God helps us to resist sin. The Lord then gave instructions on how the Israelites were to worship Him.

Conclude by testifying of the truths and commandments students discussed today. Invite students to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals what they will do differently as a result of what they have learned.

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Scripture Mastery—Exodus 20:3–17

To help students memorize Exodus 20:3–17, arrange students in groups of two to four and invite them to create a way to remember the Ten Commandments in the order they are listed in the verses. For example, students might develop memory devices using rhymes, pictures, hand gestures, or stories. After sufficient time, invite each group to demonstrate for the class what they came up with. After each group’s turn, invite the class to repeat the Ten Commandments using the method the group developed.

Commentary and Background Information

Exodus 20:13. Killing is not always murder

There are some situations when someone may kill another person with different intentions from those associated with murder. These circumstances might include self-defense or war (although some may still have murderous intentions in war). Killing in such situations does not constitute murder. Regarding killing as part of war, President Harold B. Lee explained, “There is … a vast difference in destroying life while acting under the mandate of a sovereign nation whom we are in duty bound to obey and wantonly killing on our own responsibility” (“The Sixth Commandment—Part Two,” The Ten Commandments Today: A Discussion of the Decalog [1955], 94; see also Alma 43:45–47).

Exodus 20:14. “Thou shalt not commit adultery”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:

“[Why did] Alma … warn his son Corianton that sexual transgression is ‘an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost?’ [Alma 39:5].

“By assigning such seriousness to a physical appetite so universally bestowed, what is God trying to tell us about its place in His plan for all men and women? I submit to you He is doing precisely that—commenting about the very plan of life itself. Clearly among His greatest concerns regarding mortality are how one gets into this world and how one gets out of it. He has set very strict limits in these matters” (“Personal Purity,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 76).

Exodus 20:16. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour”

President Howard W. Hunter taught about ways in which the commandment to not bear false witness is broken:

“Primarily this commandment has reference to false testimony in judicial proceedings, but it is extended to cover all statements which are false in fact. Any untruth which tends to injure another in his goods, person, or character is against the spirit and letter of this law. Suppression of the truth which results in the same injury is also a violation of this commandment” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1965, 57).