Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

5.2 The Forgotten Commandment: Do not make for yourself an image….

You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God….


5.2.1 Introduction

“Through the creation of an image, the eternal is robbed of its eternity… and forced into a place. The Supernatural is pressed into natural forms…” (Neuman zSt.) The prohibition on making images aims at the creation of false idols but also extends to every conception of God. All images of God are an overreach.

“Do not worship them” according to Neuman means: “If any value becomes irrationally elevated… and becomes an end in itself, then it mutates into service to a modern idol,” for example “striving after riches ruthlessly.” This is applicable to education, art, law. 

The Hebrew word “poked” (Ex. 20:5) according to Neuman does not mean punishing but rather remembering. Thus God remembers when the parents did badly and even credits it to a person positively if they were able to free themselves of it. This is a nice thought, but perhaps rather liberal.

Max Frisch builds on this idea in a beautiful manner in his novel The Andorran Jew. What we should not do to God should apply to our neighbor as well: do not form for yourself an “image” of another person. Do not “label” them. You will strip them of their dignity. 

In this line of reasoning, labeling people with a “zodiac sign” also violates the “forgotten” commandment. 

5.2.2 Source

Exodus 20

Neuman zSt***

Max Frisch – The Andorran Jew


5.2.3 Application/Discussion

Was Luther correct in his assertion that the commandment “not to make an image” is no longer relevant since God became man in Jesus? Or do you believe that the reformed tradition is correct?