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    All in the singular

    The Ten Commandments are all in the singular.

    In old English, “I am the Lord your God” is “I am the Lord thy God”. “You shall not kill” is really “Thou shalt not kill”.

    Normally we would expect a series of plurals – statements and laws addressed to the nation as a whole.

    The drawback would be that some people would escape and hide behind the community, thinking, “It’s them He means – He doesn’t really mean me!”

    It recalls the preacher who severely castigated his congregation for their sins, but no-one took the rebuke to heart because they all said, “He gave it to them today, didn’t he?”

    To prevent this happening with the Ten Commandments, every command is in the singular, not “you” – in the plural –but “thou”, each and every one of the people.

    Every Jew has to say, “For my sake the Commandments were given… whatever is written in them is a personal obligation on me.”

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