The Evil Inclination At Sinai

The giving of the Torah at Sinai provided Israel with a unique moment and opportunity in history. A Midrashic passage explains:

When Israel (at Sinai) heard the commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” [Exodus 20:3], the evil inclination was uprooted from their hearts; but when they came to Moses and said unto him, “Our master Moses, become the messenger between us [Israel and the Lord], as it is said, ‘Speak to us...but let not God speak with us lest we die’ [Exodus 20:19], the evil inclination came back at once in its place.” They came again to Moses and said, “Our master Moses, we wish that God should again reveal himself to us.” He answered them, “This is impossible now (but will take place in the future).¹

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Author: Stephen D. Benin

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Bible reference(s): Genesis 2:7, Genesis 4:7, Genesis 8:21, Exodus 20:3, Deuteronomy 10:16, Job 1:6-12, Job 2:1-7, Psalms 51:10, Proverbs 25:21, Isaiah 5:18, Isaiah 14:4-19, Isaiah 57:14, Ezekiel 28:11-17, Ezekiel 36:26, Joel 2:20, Matthew 4:1-11, Matthew 6:13, Mark 1:13, Luke 11:4, Luke 4:2-13, John 8:44, John 13:2, Acts 5:3, Romans 7:17-24, 1 Corinthians 7:5, 2 Corinthians 12:7, 2 Corinthians 11:14, Galatians 1:4, Ephesians 4:27, Ephesians 6:11, Ephesians 6:16, 1 Thessalonians 3:5, 1 Timothy 3:6-7, 2 Timothy 2:26, Hebrews 2:14, James 4:7, 1 John 2:13-14, 1 John 3:8, 1 John 3:10, 1 John 3:12, 1 John 5:18-19, Matthew 5:18, Revelation 20:10

Source: The Footprints of God: Divine Accommodation in Jewish and Christian Thought (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993).

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