Take Two Tablets: How Were the Dibrot Displayed on the Luhot?
1 א
2 ב

This was, until 1981, the insignia of Jewish chaplains in the U.S. military.

3 ג
(יב) וַיֹּ֨אמֶר ה' אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֗ה עֲלֵ֥ה אֵלַ֛י הָהָ֖רָה וֶהְיֵה־שָׁ֑ם וְאֶתְּנָ֨ה לְךָ֜ אֶת־לֻחֹ֣ת הָאֶ֗בֶן וְהַתּוֹרָה֙ וְהַמִּצְוָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר כָּתַ֖בְתִּי לְהוֹרֹתָֽם׃
(12) The LORD said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and wait there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the teachings and commandments which I have inscribed to instruct them.”
4 ד
(יח) וַיִּתֵּ֣ן אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֗ה כְּכַלֹּתוֹ֙ לְדַבֵּ֤ר אִתּוֹ֙ בְּהַ֣ר סִינַ֔י שְׁנֵ֖י לֻחֹ֣ת הָעֵדֻ֑ת לֻחֹ֣ת אֶ֔בֶן כְּתֻבִ֖ים בְּאֶצְבַּ֥ע אֱלֹקִֽים׃
(18) When He finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the Pact, stone tablets inscribed with the finger of God.
5 ה

(טו) וַיִּ֜פֶן וַיֵּ֤רֶד מֹשֶׁה֙ מִן־הָהָ֔ר וּשְׁנֵ֛י לֻחֹ֥ת הָעֵדֻ֖ת בְּיָד֑וֹ לֻחֹ֗ת כְּתֻבִים֙ מִשְּׁנֵ֣י עֶבְרֵיהֶ֔ם מִזֶּ֥ה וּמִזֶּ֖ה הֵ֥ם כְּתֻבִֽים׃ (טז) וְהַ֨לֻּחֹ֔ת מַעֲשֵׂ֥ה אֱלֹקִ֖ים הֵ֑מָּה וְהַמִּכְתָּ֗ב מִכְתַּ֤ב אֱלֹקִים֙ ה֔וּא חָר֖וּת עַל־הַלֻּחֹֽת׃ ... (יט) וַֽיְהִ֗י כַּאֲשֶׁ֤ר קָרַב֙ אֶל־הַֽמַּחֲנֶ֔ה וַיַּ֥רְא אֶת־הָעֵ֖גֶל וּמְחֹלֹ֑ת וַיִּֽחַר־אַ֣ף מֹשֶׁ֗ה וַיַּשְׁלֵ֤ךְ מידו [מִיָּדָיו֙] אֶת־הַלֻּחֹ֔ת וַיְשַׁבֵּ֥ר אֹתָ֖ם תַּ֥חַת הָהָֽר׃

(15) Thereupon Moses turned and went down from the mountain bearing the two tablets of the Pact, tablets inscribed on both their surfaces: they were inscribed on the one side and on the other. (16) The tablets were God’s work, and the writing was God’s writing, incised upon the tablets. ... (19) As soon as Moses came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, he became enraged; and he hurled the tablets from his hands and shattered them at the foot of the mountain.

6 ו
(א) וַיֹּ֤אמֶר ה' אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה פְּסָל־לְךָ֛ שְׁנֵֽי־לֻחֹ֥ת אֲבָנִ֖ים כָּרִאשֹׁנִ֑ים וְכָתַבְתִּי֙ עַל־הַלֻּחֹ֔ת אֶת־הַדְּבָרִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר הָי֛וּ עַל־הַלֻּחֹ֥ת הָרִאשֹׁנִ֖ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר שִׁבַּֽרְתָּ׃ (ב) וֶהְיֵ֥ה נָכ֖וֹן לַבֹּ֑קֶר וְעָלִ֤יתָ בַבֹּ֙קֶר֙ אֶל־הַ֣ר סִינַ֔י וְנִצַּבְתָּ֥ לִ֛י שָׁ֖ם עַל־רֹ֥אשׁ הָהָֽר׃ (ג) וְאִישׁ֙ לֹֽא־יַעֲלֶ֣ה עִמָּ֔ךְ וְגַם־אִ֥ישׁ אַל־יֵרָ֖א בְּכָל־הָהָ֑ר גַּם־הַצֹּ֤אן וְהַבָּקָר֙ אַל־יִרְע֔וּ אֶל־מ֖וּל הָהָ֥ר הַהֽוּא׃ (ד) וַיִּפְסֹ֡ל שְׁנֵֽי־לֻחֹ֨ת אֲבָנִ֜ים כָּרִאשֹׁנִ֗ים וַיַּשְׁכֵּ֨ם מֹשֶׁ֤ה בַבֹּ֙קֶר֙ וַיַּ֙עַל֙ אֶל־הַ֣ר סִינַ֔י כַּאֲשֶׁ֛ר צִוָּ֥ה ה' אֹת֑וֹ וַיִּקַּ֣ח בְּיָד֔וֹ שְׁנֵ֖י לֻחֹ֥ת אֲבָנִֽים׃
(1) The LORD said to Moses: “Carve two tablets of stone like the first, and I will inscribe upon the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you shattered. (2) Be ready by morning, and in the morning come up to Mount Sinai and present yourself there to Me, on the top of the mountain. (3) No one else shall come up with you, and no one else shall be seen anywhere on the mountain; neither shall the flocks and the herds graze at the foot of this mountain.” (4) So Moses carved two tablets of stone, like the first, and early in the morning he went up on Mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, taking the two stone tablets with him.
7 ז
(כח) וַֽיְהִי־שָׁ֣ם עִם־ה' אַרְבָּעִ֥ים יוֹם֙ וְאַרְבָּעִ֣ים לַ֔יְלָה לֶ֚חֶם לֹ֣א אָכַ֔ל וּמַ֖יִם לֹ֣א שָׁתָ֑ה וַיִּכְתֹּ֣ב עַל־הַלֻּחֹ֗ת אֵ֚ת דִּבְרֵ֣י הַבְּרִ֔ית עֲשֶׂ֖רֶת הַדְּבָרִֽים׃ (כט) וַיְהִ֗י בְּרֶ֤דֶת מֹשֶׁה֙ מֵהַ֣ר סִינַ֔י וּשְׁנֵ֨י לֻחֹ֤ת הָֽעֵדֻת֙ בְּיַד־מֹשֶׁ֔ה בְּרִדְתּ֖וֹ מִן־הָהָ֑ר וּמֹשֶׁ֣ה לֹֽא־יָדַ֗ע כִּ֥י קָרַ֛ן ע֥וֹר פָּנָ֖יו בְּדַבְּר֥וֹ אִתּֽוֹ׃
(28) And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he ate no bread and drank no water; and he wrote down on the tablets the terms of the covenant, the Ten Commandments. (29) So Moses came down from Mount Sinai. And as Moses came down from the mountain bearing the two tablets of the Pact, Moses was not aware that the skin of his face was radiant, since he had spoken with Him.
8 ח
(יג) וַיַּגֵּ֨ד לָכֶ֜ם אֶת־בְּרִית֗וֹ אֲשֶׁ֨ר צִוָּ֤ה אֶתְכֶם֙ לַעֲשׂ֔וֹת עֲשֶׂ֖רֶת הַדְּבָרִ֑ים וַֽיִּכְתְּבֵ֔ם עַל־שְׁנֵ֖י לֻח֥וֹת אֲבָנִֽים׃
(13) He declared to you the covenant that He commanded you to observe, the Ten Commandments; and He inscribed them on two tablets of stone.
9 ט
(יט) אֶֽת־הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֡לֶּה דִּבֶּר֩ ה' אֶל־כָּל־קְהַלְכֶ֜ם בָּהָ֗ר מִתּ֤וֹךְ הָאֵשׁ֙ הֶֽעָנָ֣ן וְהָֽעֲרָפֶ֔ל ק֥וֹל גָּד֖וֹל וְלֹ֣א יָסָ֑ף וַֽיִּכְתְּבֵ֗ם עַל־שְׁנֵי֙ לֻחֹ֣ת אֲבָנִ֔ים וַֽיִּתְּנֵ֖ם אֵלָֽי׃
(19) The LORD spoke those words—those and no more—to your whole congregation at the mountain, with a mighty voice out of the fire and the dense clouds. He inscribed them on two tablets of stone, which He gave to me.
10 י

(ט) בַּעֲלֹתִ֣י הָהָ֗רָה לָקַ֜חַת לוּחֹ֤ת הָֽאֲבָנִים֙ לוּחֹ֣ת הַבְּרִ֔ית אֲשֶׁר־כָּרַ֥ת ה' עִמָּכֶ֑ם וָאֵשֵׁ֣ב בָּהָ֗ר אַרְבָּעִ֥ים יוֹם֙ וְאַרְבָּעִ֣ים לַ֔יְלָה לֶ֚חֶם לֹ֣א אָכַ֔לְתִּי וּמַ֖יִם לֹ֥א שָׁתִֽיתִי׃ (י) וַיִּתֵּ֨ן ה' אֵלַ֗י אֶת־שְׁנֵי֙ לוּחֹ֣ת הָֽאֲבָנִ֔ים כְּתֻבִ֖ים בְּאֶצְבַּ֣ע אֱלֹקִ֑ים וַעֲלֵיהֶ֗ם כְּֽכָל־הַדְּבָרִ֡ים אֲשֶׁ֣ר דִּבֶּר֩ ה' עִמָּכֶ֥ם בָּהָ֛ר מִתּ֥וֹךְ הָאֵ֖שׁ בְּי֥וֹם הַקָּהָֽל׃ (יא) וַיְהִ֗י מִקֵּץ֙ אַרְבָּעִ֣ים י֔וֹם וְאַרְבָּעִ֖ים לָ֑יְלָה נָתַ֨ן ה' אֵלַ֗י אֶת־שְׁנֵ֛י לֻחֹ֥ת הָאֲבָנִ֖ים לֻח֥וֹת הַבְּרִֽית׃ ... (טו) וָאֵ֗פֶן וָֽאֵרֵד֙ מִן־הָהָ֔ר וְהָהָ֖ר בֹּעֵ֣ר בָּאֵ֑שׁ וּשְׁנֵי֙ לֻחֹ֣ת הַבְּרִ֔ית עַ֖ל שְׁתֵּ֥י יָדָֽי׃

(9) I had ascended the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the Tablets of the Covenant that the LORD had made with you, and I stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights, eating no bread and drinking no water. (10) And the LORD gave me the two tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God, with the exact words that the LORD had addressed to you on the mountain out of the fire on the day of the Assembly. (11) At the end of those forty days and forty nights, the LORD gave me the two tablets of stone, the Tablets of the Covenant. ... (15) I started down the mountain, a mountain ablaze with fire, the two Tablets of the Covenant in my two hands.

11 יא
(א) בָּעֵ֨ת הַהִ֜וא אָמַ֧ר ה' אֵלַ֗י פְּסָל־לְךָ֞ שְׁנֵֽי־לֻוחֹ֤ת אֲבָנִים֙ כָּרִ֣אשֹׁנִ֔ים וַעֲלֵ֥ה אֵלַ֖י הָהָ֑רָה וְעָשִׂ֥יתָ לְּךָ֖ אֲר֥וֹן עֵֽץ׃ (ב) וְאֶכְתֹּב֙ עַל־הַלֻּחֹ֔ת אֶת־הַדְּבָרִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר הָי֛וּ עַל־הַלֻּחֹ֥ת הָרִאשֹׁנִ֖ים אֲשֶׁ֣ר שִׁבַּ֑רְתָּ וְשַׂמְתָּ֖ם בָּאָרֽוֹן׃ (ג) וָאַ֤עַשׂ אֲרוֹן֙ עֲצֵ֣י שִׁטִּ֔ים וָאֶפְסֹ֛ל שְׁנֵי־לֻחֹ֥ת אֲבָנִ֖ים כָּרִאשֹׁנִ֑ים וָאַ֣עַל הָהָ֔רָה וּשְׁנֵ֥י הַלֻּחֹ֖ת בְּיָדִֽי׃ (ד) וַיִּכְתֹּ֨ב עַֽל־הַלֻּחֹ֜ת כַּמִּכְתָּ֣ב הָרִאשׁ֗וֹן אֵ֚ת עֲשֶׂ֣רֶת הַדְּבָרִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֣ר דִּבֶּר֩ ה' אֲלֵיכֶ֥ם בָּהָ֛ר מִתּ֥וֹךְ הָאֵ֖שׁ בְּי֣וֹם הַקָּהָ֑ל וַיִּתְּנֵ֥ם ה' אֵלָֽי׃ (ה) וָאֵ֗פֶן וָֽאֵרֵד֙ מִן־הָהָ֔ר וָֽאָשִׂם֙ אֶת־הַלֻּחֹ֔ת בָּאָר֖וֹן אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָשִׂ֑יתִי וַיִּ֣הְיוּ שָׁ֔ם כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר צִוַּ֖נִי ה'

(1) Thereupon the LORD said to me, “Carve out two tablets of stone like the first, and come up to Me on the mountain; and make an ark of wood. (2) I will inscribe on the tablets the commandments that were on the first tablets that you smashed, and you shall deposit them in the ark.” (3) I made an ark of acacia wood and carved out two tablets of stone like the first; I took the two tablets with me and went up the mountain. (4) The LORD inscribed on the tablets the same text as on the first, the Ten Commandments that He addressed to you on the mountain out of the fire on the day of the Assembly; and the LORD gave them to me. (5) Then I left and went down from the mountain, and I deposited the tablets in the ark that I had made, where they still are, as the LORD had commanded me.

12 יב

(א) יָדָיו גְּלִילֵי זָהָב, אֵלּוּ לוּחוֹת הַבְּרִית, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות לב, טז): וְהַלֻּחֹת מַעֲשֵׂה אֱלֹקִים הֵמָּה, גְּלִילֵי זָהָב, אֵלּוּ דִּבְרֵי תוֹרָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהלים יט, יא): הַנֶּחֱמָדִים מִזָּהָב וּמִפַּז, אָמַר רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בַּר נְחֶמְיָה, מַעֲשֵׂה נִסִּים הָיוּ נִגְלָלִין הָיוּ שֶׁל סַנְפִּירִינוֹן הָיוּ וְהָיוּ נִגְלָלִין. רַבִּי מְנַחֲמָא בְּשֵׁם רַבִּי אָבוּן אָמַר וַחֲצוּבִין מִגַּלְגַּל חַמָּה הָיוּ. כֵּיצַד הָיוּ כְּתוּבִין, חֲמִשָּׁה עַל לוּחַ זֶה וַחֲמִשָּׁה עַל לוּחַ זֶה, עַל שֵׁם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: יָדָיו גְּלִילֵי זָהָב, כְּדִבְרֵי רַבִּי חֲנִינָא בֶּן גַּמְלִיאֵל, הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב (דברים ד, יג): וַיִּכְתְּבֵם עַל שְׁנֵי לֻחוֹת אֲבָנִים. וְרַבָּנָן אָמְרֵי עֲשָׂרָה עַל לוּחַ זֶה וַעֲשָׂרָה עַל לוּחַ זֶה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים ד, יג): וַיַּגֵּד לָכֶם אֶת בְּרִיתוֹ אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה אֶתְכֶם עֲשֶׂרֶת הַדְּבָרִים וַיִּכְתְּבֵם עַל שְׁנֵי לֻחוֹת אֲבָנִים. רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן יוֹחָאי אָמַר עֶשְׂרִים עַל לוּחַ זֶה וְעֶשְׂרִים עַל לוּחַ זֶה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וַיִּכְתְּבֵם עַל שְׁנֵי לֻחוֹת אֲבָנִים, עֶשְׂרִים עַל לוּחַ זֶה וְעֶשְׂרִים עַל לוּחַ זֶה. רַבִּי סִימָאי אוֹמֵר אַרְבָּעִים עַל לוּחַ זֶה וְאַרְבָּעִים עַל לוּחַ זֶה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות לב, טו): לֻחֹת כְּתֻבִים מִשְּׁנֵי עֶבְרֵיהֶם מִזֶּה וּמִזֶּה, טַטְרוֹגָא.

(ב) חֲנַנְיָה בֶּן אֲחִי רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ אָמַר בֵּין כָּל דִּבּוּר וְדִבּוּר, פָּרָשִׁיּוֹתֶיהָ וְדִקְדּוּקֶיהָ שֶׁל תּוֹרָה הָיוּ כְּתוּבִין. רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן כַּד הֲוָה פָּשֵׁיט קְרָיָה וַהֲוָה מָטֵי בְּדֵין פְּסוּקָא מְמֻלָּאִים בַּתַּרְשִׁישׁ, הֲוָה אָמַר יָפֶה לִמְּדַנִי בֶּן אֲחִי רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ, מַה גַּלִּים הַלָּלוּ בֵּין גַּל גָּדוֹל לְגַל גָּדוֹל גַּלִּים קְטַנִּים, כָּךְ בֵּין כָּל דִּבּוּר וְדִבּוּר פָּרָשִׁיּוֹתֶיהָ וְדִקְדּוּקֶיהָ שֶׁל תּוֹרָה הָיוּ כְּתוּבִים. מְמֻלָּאִים בַּתַּרְשִׁישׁ, זֶה הַתַּלְמוּד, שֶׁהוּא כַּיָּם הַגָּדוֹל, הֲדָא דְאַתְּ אָמַר (יונה א, ג): תַּרְשִׁישָׁה, הֲדָא מַה דְאַתְּ אָמַר (קהלת א, ז): כָּל הַנְּחָלִים הֹלְכִים אֶל הַיָּם.

HIS HANDS ARE AS RODS OF GOLD. These are the tablets of the covenant, as it says, "And the tables were the work of God" (Ex. 32:16). RODS [G'LILEI] OF GOLD. These are words of Torah of which it is said, "[The Torah of Adonai is perfect ...] More desirable than gold, yea, than fine gold" (Ps. 19:11). R' Yehoshua ben Nehemia said, "They [the tablets] were of a miraculous nature: they rolled up [niglalin], yet were of hard stone. R' Menahema said in the name of R' Abun, "They were hewn from the orb of the sun." How were they inscribed? Five commandments on one tablet and five on the other, as it says, "HIS HANDS ARE AS RODS OF GOLD." This follows the view of R' Hanina ben Gamliel, who adduced the verse, "And He wrote them on two tables of stone" (Deut. 4:13). The Rabbis say there were ten on each tablet, as it says, "And He declared unto you His covenant, which He commanded you to perform, even the ten statements; and He wrote them on two tables of stone." R' Shimon ben Yohai said, "There were 20 on each tablet, as it says, 'And He wrote them on two tables of stone'" -- that is, 20 on each. R' Simai said, "There were 40 on each stone, as it says, 'Tables that were written on both their sides, on this one side and on that' (Ex. 32:15) -- in a square."
(2) Hanania the son of R' Yehoshua's brother said, "Between every two statements were written the sections and details of the Torah. When R' Yohanan in the course of studying the Scripture came to this verse, "SET WITH BERYLS," he used to say, "I have to thank the son of R' Yehoshua's brother for teaching me this. Just as in the sea between every two large waves there are small waves, so between every statement and the next one, the sections and details of the Torah were written." SET WITH BERYLS [TARSHISH}. This refers to the Talmud which is like the Great Sea, as we read, "Unto Tarshish" (Jonah 1:3), and so we read, "All the rivers run into the sea" (Eccl. 1:7).
[Soncino transl., with modifications.]

13 יג

שְׁנֵי לֻחֹת הָעֵדֻת, מַהוּ שְׁנֵי לֻחֹת, כְּנֶגֶד שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ, כְּנֶגֶד חָתָן וְכַלָּה, כְּנֶגֶד שְׁנֵי שׁוֹשְׁבִינִין, כְּנֶגֶד הָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה וְהָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. שְׁנֵי לֻחֹת הָעֵדֻת, אָמַר רַבִּי חֲנִינָא לֻחֹת כְּתִיב, לֹא זוֹ גְּדוֹלָה מִזּוֹ.

SH'NEI LUHOT HA'EDUT. What is "two tablets"? Corresponding to heaven and earth. Corresponding to groom and bride. Corresponding to the two shoshvinim [agents/groomsmen]. Corresponding to this world and the world to come.
SH'NEI LUHOT HA'EDUT. R' Hanina said, "It is written [as if it were vocalized] luhat [an apparently singular form] -- neither of them bigger than the other..

14יד

שמות רבה מ"א ו' יפה תאר

לֹא זוֹ גְּדוֹלָה מִזּוֹ.

Exodus Rabba 41:6, Y'feh To'ar

NEITHER GREATER THAN THE OTHER. ... Also, there were five statements on one tablet and five statements on the other, and on the first tablet there were the statements that were between the person and the Omnipresent, and on the second tablet there were the statements that were between person and person. And the midrash says that they were equally important, and neither one was superior to the other.

15 טו

(א) כבד את אביך הנה השלים כל מה שאנו חייבין בדברי הבורא בעצמו ובכבודו, וחזר לצוות אותנו בעניני הנבראים ...

HONOR YOUR FATHER. Having finished all that we are obligated towards the Creator Himself and His glory, He turns now to command us about those matters which concern created beings.... [transl. Chavel]

16 טז

וזהו סוד מה שאמרו רז"ל זכור ושמור בדבור אחד נאמרו כי זכור מדת רחמים ושמור מדת הדין והוא הקול בזכור ושמור מדת רחמים במדת הדין, ומטעם זה היו הלוחות שתים חמש כנגד חמש לוח אחד כנגד מדת רחמים ולוח שני שיש בו ה' דברות ג"כ בה' לאוין ומתחיל לא תרצח כנגד מדת הדין, ועל כן היו שנים ולא היה הכל בלוח אחד, ומשה רבינו ע"ה המשיג השם המיוחד הוא מדת התפארת היה שומע זכור וכל ישראל שמור

This is also the mystical aspect of our sages’ saying (Shevuot 20), “the words "zachor" and "shamor" were said as one,” for "zachor" is the attribute of compassion, and "shamor" the attribute of justice, and so the voice with "zachor" and "shamor" is the attribute of compassion within the attribute of justice. This was also why there were two tablets, five against five, one tablet corresponding to the attribute of compassion and the second tablet, on which there also five statements, with five negative statements and beginning with "do not murder," corresponding to the attribute of justice, and for this reason, they were two, and not all of the statements were on a single tablet. And Moshe our Teacher, a"h, who reached HaShem the special One, _he_ is the attribute of tif'eret, he would hear "zachor," and all of Israel "shamor."

17יז

שיר השירים רבה ה' י"ד מהרז"ו

Shir HaShirim Rabba 5:14, Peirush Maharzu

... That which is said, "Aseret Had'varim" [Deut. 4:13] is superfluous, because this is already known. Rather, that all ten statements were together, and He did not divide them. And thus "aseret" and not "asarah"; rather, all being on this tablet.