Im a little confused by some commentaries as to how they describe the laws given to Moses.

  1. We see a first set of commands listed in Exodus 20:1-17 and 20:22-23:33. These are then agreed upon by Israel in a ceremony of sorts in 24:3–8
  2. In response to incident of the Golden Cow and the breaking of the first set of tablets, we see two things in chapter 34. 1. a replacement set of tablets and 2. some new regulations in 34:10-27, verse 10 and verse 27 naming these a covenant.

So the question is are there two separate covenants? Perhaps the second set "wraps" the first set? Or perhaps the second set amends the first?

  • I always assumed they were identical, so there is no pragmatic difference.
    – user3961
    May 23, 2015 at 0:11
  • I don't think there's any indication that they were anything but identical, making the question moot. May 23, 2015 at 5:40
  • @Mr.Bultitude We read in Exodus 34:10, "Then God said, “Behold, I am going to make a covenant...." Up until Ex 34:27 "for in accordance with these words I have made ba covenant with you and with Israel.". This section of commands is written after the previous commands were given, and accepted (Ex. 24:3–8) by Israel.
    – Jay
    May 25, 2015 at 4:30

4 Answers 4


I assume you are talking about the tablets of the Ten Commandments which Moses broke in Exodus 32:19, then the second set of tablets made in Exodus 34:4. You are wondering if God wrote something different on the second set.

Exodus 34:1 gives us the answer to your question: "Cut two tablets of stone like the first ones, and I will write on these tablets the words that were on the first tablets which you broke."

So the second set of laws was the same as the first set.

  • 1
    But that alone doesn't mean that the covenants are the same. Two weddings may have the same vows, but they initiate two marriage covenants. (I'm not sure if this question is appropriate for this site. It may be too opinion based.)
    – curiousdannii
    May 22, 2015 at 13:42
  • Yep, it clearly states that the stone tablets are the same. I guess the confusion is around definition of the word covenant? My question is not about the ten commandments those, but the "covenant" or "covenants" implied in 19-31 and the second set in 32-40
    – Jay
    May 22, 2015 at 14:25

I take the passage as God having one covenant with Israel, and Israel, having to make two attempts to respond to that covenant. The covenant is the promise from God, and it is not affected by the fact that the first set of tablets was broken; the second set of tablets was proof that the covenant endured.


Are there one or two covenants in Exodus? Clarifying the role of the first set of laws compared to the second set.

The covenant with Israel

Exodus 19:5-8 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him. And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD.

The covenant ratified

Exodus 24:7 And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient. And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words.

The tablets

Exodus 24:12 And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them.

Exodus 25:21 And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee.

Exodus 31:18 And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.

Exodus 32:15-16 And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written. And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.

Exodus 32:19 And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.

Exodus 34:1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.

Exodus 34:28-29 And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.

It may be possible that what was written on the tablets were the entire law (600+) laws including the ten specific commandments.

It may be that the tablets had just the ten commandments as a representation of the entire law.

It may be that Moses wrote down the additional laws and God wrote the second copy of the ten commandments.

However, there is only one law (of which the ten commandments are part). There is only one covenant that was established by the nation accepting and being sprinkled with blood.

Jeremiah foretold of a new covenant for Israel.

Jeremiah 31:31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:

Jesus offered this covenant to Israel.

Matthew 26:28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

There was one covenant with Israel and there will be a new covenant.

Revelation 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

Isaiah 66:8 Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.


The consequences of not waiting are enormous and punishing. If they had waited quietly for Moses to come down and received the Ten Commandments, the additional 603 might never have been heard??? But no, God knew it all before hand. Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Apparently this was not in question. I know of no difference between the two sets of tablets, other than the stone they were written on. If there were we could not know what they were as the first were destroyed.

  • I think you missed what the question was asking. It is not asking about the Levitical Law. It is asking about the tablets that Moses brought down, which were destroyed, and how they are different covenantially from the tablets that replaced them.
    – user3961
    May 26, 2015 at 20:23
  • Thank you for taking the time and effort to improve your posts.
    – user3961
    May 26, 2015 at 21:51

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