The 10 commandments first appear in Shemos Chapter 20. In Devarim Chapter 5 they make a second appearance, this time with slight changes.

What is the purpose for the repetition? Is it just for the nuanced differences? Like it says in Shevuos 19a: כל פרשה שנאמרה ונשנית לא נשנית אלא בשביל דבר שנתחדש בה? (meaning - "Every paragraph mentioned in the Torah and repeated, was repeated for the purpose of teaching us something new".)

I realize one is said from Hashem's perspective, and one is Moshe's perspective. The question is why do we need both.

  • Re your last paragraph, I don't think that's completely true. I understand your intention, here, is that it appears that the perspective of almost all of Devarim is Moshe speaking, and the few verses just prior to the listing of the 10 Commandments in Va'etchanan, it is clear that Moshe is talking. However, the last word prior to its start says Leimor, meaning "saying". So, this indicates that G-d is saying it, not Moshe. We also have the tradition of Shamor Vezachor Bedibur Echad, i.e., both were said by G-d simultaneously.
    – DanF
    Aug 3, 2017 at 19:31
  • @DanF if you look at the meforshim on the dibros achronos, many indicate that Moshe was quoting the origin dibros said by Hashem, and sometimes added things this time around. See Ramban to pasuk 12, 14, 15, Ohr HaChaim to pasuk 15, etc. It's clear he's speaking, albeit with nevuah like the rest of Devarim.
    – robev
    Aug 3, 2017 at 20:55
  • R' Sacks had a fascinating article last week, where he posits that the whole Book of Devarim copies the format of ancient treaties. Part of that format is to list general provisions of that covenant. This is the 10 commandments in Devarim. You can read the article here: ou.org/torah/parsha/rabbi-sacks-on-parsha/…
    – Menachem
    Aug 3, 2017 at 21:29

1 Answer 1


All those who had been born in the past forty years had not been at Har Sinai. As a result, Moshe Rabbeinu needed them to hear and understand the עשרת הדברות and understand that all of them whether they had been born before or after the 40 years in the desert (Rabbeinu Bachya). They also had to understand and be attentive to the details, so that they could perform them properly (Rabbi D. Z. Hoffman)

This emphasizes that all of us (including every generation in the future) were as much a part of the covenant as those who had been living at the Revelation at Sinai.

Rav Hirsch say that this begins the third part of Moshe introducing the repetition and explanation of the Torah.

This interweaves the general fundamental feelings of the fear of Hashem and love of Hashem into those laws, the fulfilling of which was to accompany the people everywhere in the greater isolation which now awaited them, as the constant incitement to, and promoter of these feelings.

But this deeper going into the laws begins with once again looking back at the historic event of the revelation on Sinai. Above in Ch. IV,10 et seq. and 33 et seq. that experience was again brought to their minds to teach them the full and put purport of our consciousness of Hashem. Here it was repeated as the foundation of the task of our lives, and for that, too, the Ten Commandments were also repeated as the fundamental principles of the whole Lawgiving.

  • I understand he had to tell them, but why do we have to be told them. If we need to know he told them, just say "and Moshe told the people the ten statements made by Hashem at Sinai". Why devote 12 verses to something we've seen before.
    – robev
    Aug 3, 2017 at 20:57
  • @robev "something we've seen before" - not entirely. The 3 most noticeable changes occur in dibrot 4, 5 and 10. Nonetheless, your question is valid, as if there was anything new to say, Moshe could have stated it as a group of separate commands, e.g. "Make sure that your slave and maidservant also rest on Shabbat as the rest of the list..."
    – DanF
    Aug 4, 2017 at 13:28
  • @DanF I mentioned that in my question, ie: is the sole purpose of the repetition the slight changes?
    – robev
    Aug 4, 2017 at 13:29

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