Were the Luchos two separate stones or were they connected somehow?

If we look at the versers that discuss the tablets it uses plural and singular language

שמות כ״ד:יב

ויאמר יהוה אל משה עלה אלי ההרה והיה שם ואתנה לך את לחת האבן והתורה והמצוה אשר כתבתי להורתם׃

Exodus 24:12

Hashem said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and wait there, and I will give you the tablets of stone with the teachings and commandments which I have inscribed to instruct them.

שמות ל״ד:א

ויאמר יהוה אל משה פסל לך שני לחת אבנים כראשנים וכתבתי על הלחת את הדברים אשר היו על הלחת הראשנים אשר שברת׃

Exodus 34:1

Hashem said to Moses: “Carve two tablets of stones like the first, and I will inscribe upon the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you shattered.

One could argue that there is a difference between the first set of luchos and the second. Yet in Devarim talking about the first set of Luchos Moshe says:

דברים ד׳:יג

ויגד לכם את בריתו אשר צוה אתכם לעשות עשרת הדברים ויכתבם על שני לחות אבנים׃

Deuteronomy 4:13

[Hashem] declared to you the covenant that you were commanded to observe, the Ten Commandments, inscribing them on two tablets of stones.

שמות ל״א

ויתן אל משה ככלתו לדבר אתו בהר סיני שני לחת העדת לחת אבן כתבים באצבע אלהים׃

Exodus 31:18

Upon finishing speaking with him on Mount Sinai, [God] gave Moses the two tablets of the Pact, stone tablets inscribed with the finger of God.

A plural language for the first Luchos. Hence my question is either why the change in language or how many stones were there?

Please bring sources

  • See my related answer here: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/13841/702
    – zaq
    Commented Mar 21, 2023 at 3:36
  • What makes you think they were connected? I’m looking for my source, but I read that the Luchot were like a contract between Hashem and the Jewish people. And like a legal contract there are two copies, one for each party.
    – zaq
    Commented Mar 21, 2023 at 3:55
  • 1
    Thank you for your answer I love the graphic you made very well done Commented Mar 21, 2023 at 8:44

3 Answers 3


When Moshe decended Har Sinai, the luchot were separated by two hand-breadths of space, according to Talmud Yerushalmi, Taanit 4:5:2

Rebbi Samuel bar Naḥman in the name of Rebbi Jonathan: The tablets were six hand-breadths long and three wide. Moses held two hand-breadth, the Holy One, praise to Him two hand-breadth, and two hand-breadths of space were between them. When Israel sinned in that way, the Holy One wanted to seize them from Moses’s hand, but Moses’s hand had the better of it and seized them from Him. That is what the verse praises him at the end and says, and all the strong hand, peace shall be on the hand which had the better on mine. Rebbi Joḥanan in the name of Rebbi Yose ben Abbai: the tablets wanted to fly off but Moses held them, [as is written,] I grabbed the two tablets. Deut. 9:17.

Deuteronomy 9:17

וָאֶתְפֹּשׂ֙ בִּשְׁנֵ֣י הַלֻּחֹ֔ת וָֽאַשְׁלִכֵ֔ם מֵעַ֖ל שְׁתֵּ֣י יָדָ֑י וָאֲשַׁבְּרֵ֖ם לְעֵינֵיכֶֽם׃

Thereupon I gripped the two tablets and flung them away with both my hands, smashing them before your eyes.

Adding Ibn Ezra on Shemot 12:4 to my already accepted answer to address the the use of stone (singular) vs stones (plural).

Ibn Ezra quotes (and disagrees with) an unidentified Spanish Sage who says that the singular "tablets of stone" is only used in reference to the first set of luchot, and it means they were carved from perfectly created stone vs the second set of luchot that Moshe carved. However, Ibn Ezra points out that the plural "tablets of stones" is later used (Deut. 9:9,10,12) to refer to the first set of luchot, so "tablets of stone" means tablets made of stone and not of wood, (and does not mean perfectly created stone).

  • 1
    Thank you for the answerr, very insightful yerushlmi! Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 15:17
  • You’re very welcome! It’s an area of interest to me, as you can tell. I suggest editing your question to focus on the question ‘were the Luchot connected’, rather than the shape of the Luchot, which is a different question
    – zaq
    Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 17:32
  • Changed thank you. Yes I could tell you know alot about this subject! Commented Mar 23, 2023 at 11:29

Each tablet was 6 Tefachim by 6 Tefachim by 3 Tefachim Deep see Bava Basra 14a

Presumably they are separate as they are sized individually, but given a logical necessity or Drash I can see one arguing they are just being measured separately. Similarly the name "luchot" is plural. Likely you could argue this fact, but the simple explanation is that they were separate.

See Rashi to Exodus 34:1 d''h פסל לך that they were made of sapphire.

I don't know what you mean by connected if they were two separate stones, I'd need to see a reason/source for the argument.

  • You are right in terms of they could be mesured sepratly. also see Shekolim perek 6 which says there was 4 stones. This does not disagree with that they were conneted. Reb Shlomo Kluger writes Moshe brought to Hashem 2 stones Hashem made them one (like by Yaccov) when Moshe came dows and saw the egel it turned back into 2 stones Commented Mar 20, 2023 at 14:21
  • @fulltimekollelguy Okay, not sure why you asked the question then lol.
    – msj121
    Commented Mar 20, 2023 at 14:23
  • I found this after I asked the question Commented Mar 20, 2023 at 14:24
  • Oh I see, fair enough. In general I think it is understood to be separate, but this drasha from R' Shlomo Kluger is interesting.
    – msj121
    Commented Mar 20, 2023 at 14:28

This question does not have a simple answer. It depends on how people learned to interpret if the ten commandments were written on one stone or on two joined stones. The verses do not use consistent words for stone, sometimes it is singular אבן and sometimes it is plural אבנים. I found two main approaches to this question.

One approach is from Rabbi Shlomo Kluger in חכמת התורה page 462. He suggests that this is similar to what happened with the stones that Yaccov put under his head when he slept. They were originally twelve stones but they became one stone. The Luchos were two stones that became one stone. After the sin of the Egel they became two again.

The other approach is from Zohar, Yitro 21:366 with Sulam (sefaria.org). This approach has a disagreement between Rebbe Yehuda and Rebbe Yitzchok about how many stones there were. According to Rebbe Yehuda it was one stone that looked like two. According to Rebbe Yitzchok it was one and Hashem split it into 2 (this is how I understand the Zohar).

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