And God spoke all these words, saying: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” (Exodus 20:1-2)
As I have mentioned previously, Judaism believes that this is the first of the Ten Commandments and that Israel heard these commands directly from the mouth of the Almighty. Obviously, the truths He wished to impart were so important and fundamental that they needed to be delivered directly to the people by the One who authorized them. Furthermore, in doing so, He made Himself known to Israel in an even more personable way than they had experienced beforehand. It is important that the first thing He said was, “I am the One who has delivered you and brought you to this place.”
Let’s think of it this way: how could one who experienced the release from Egyptian bondage deny His existence? Furthermore, how could anyone who saw the manifestation at Sinai and heard His voice thundering from the mountain doubt that there was only the One True God! After this, why would anyone call His authority into question? Consequently, this first command -– including the declaration “who brought you out of the house of bondage” — serves as the basis for the other commands.
For instance, the first and great command is to “Love the LORD your God” because He is the One who delivered us from bondage. In conjunction with that command is the one to love your neighbor even as you love yourself because, perhaps more than most, it is evidence that you truly love God in the manner He desires. Time and again, He reminded Israel to be careful how you treat others because you were “once slaves in Egypt.”
The point is, He had shown us mercy and compassion and, likewise, we should demonstrate the same attributes when dealing with others. Not only is it the right thing to do but, again, it is acknowledging that He is the One who brought us out of our bondage and into a personal relationship with Him. And so, to abide by this first command is to acknowledge His sovereignty and to take upon us the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven. So let us reaffirm, today, that we will seek His Kingdom and His Righteousness before anything else (Matthew 6:33) and that we will proclaim the Name of the One who has delivered us from bondage and brought us into His House.
Blessings and Shalom,