Pentecost +21 – Year A
Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20
So how would you redact this version of 10 commanding words?
Are the many more words about idolatry and Sabbath than the other commands needed because these are necessarily more complex and subtle than the rest? Can we really simplify these or do they need more said about them because of the little ways they can be subverted?
Wherever you come out on that matter, the harder questions are those at the end. Are you comforted by Moses' response urging us to have no fear because this is only a test to see how fearful (awe-full) we can get? I suspect that their rejoinder to Moses may well have been, "O, right!, there's no reason for us to be afraid, its only a test we can't pass. How could we have been so foolish – Not! We're still afraid!"
This response seems to be implicit because of the way the story proceeds to The Lord going on to give law upon law. And, I suspect, that the Israelites would have been corroborated in their fear - "Who, now, can do anything without going down in flames? Ten we could deal with, but hundreds?!"
During these days of Rosh Hashanah it might be good to remember the principle of a Selichot Prayer and its revelation of mercy before, after, and during a test.
In light of steadfast love and mercy, failure can be borne.