Why does the miracle of turning the water into wine and the temptation of
Christ in the wilderness take place at the same time if you read the story
in two different books of the NT? Why are the 10 rules found in Ex. 20 and
Ex 34 not the same ?

It took me a while to understand your first question. I could
not tell how you thought the two events happened at the same time. Upon
careful reading of Matthew’s account of the temptation of Jesus, I saw how
you were caused to ask this question. If one reads Matthew 4:1-11, which
describes the temptation of Jesus, it follows immediately after the
account of the temptation of Jesus. The passage starts with the phrase,
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert…” which leads into the
temptation of Jesus by Satan. When one reads John chapter one and two, it
gives a very specific account of the days which followed upon the baptism
of Jesus, saying that “on the third day” Jesus attended a wedding, where
the miracle of turning of the water into wine took place. I am assuming
that this is where the question comes from.

The answer to your question is that both Matthew and Mark make
a consistent habit of describing events which were separated by a
significant amount of time–sometimes even weeks and months–by beginning
the next account with the word then…. If you thumb your way through the
first two gospels, especially Mark, you will notice this to be the style
of writing. If you look carefully, you will see both of the gospel
writers using “then…” to describe events which definitely had a
significant amount of time between what is described as happening. This
was a literary style which, for the audience at the time, gave a sense of
drama. Mark and Matthew wrote accounts of the life of Jesus which were
not necessarily in chronological order, but wrote in a style which was
appropriate to the fact that many or most who heard the gospels were
listening to the letters being read out loud, as the majority were not
literate. I believe you can assume that the description in John
represents the actual timing of the events. About all you can assume by
the statement in Matthew that, “then Jesus was led by the Spirit….” is
that the events of the temptation followed after the events of the baptism
of Jesus.

About Ex. 20 and Ex 34, you may have to clarify your question
for me. In Exodus 20:1-17 one finds the “Ten Commandments” which were
written on the stone tablets by God. In Exodus 34, God told Moses to
“chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones.” Exodus 34 does not
say exactly what God did with these tablets. Did God ask Moses to
engrave the Ten Commandments into these tablets by hand, as a copy of the
original? Did God miraculously rewrite the same commandments onto those
tablets? Could God have had Moses put different laws onto these tablets?
The Bible simply does not say, so one is left to speculate what ended up
on these tablets. To be honest, I do not see what your specific question
would be from Exodus 34. Are you thinking that the rules/laws described
in this chapter are what Moses inscribed onto the tablets? If so, you
will notice that the passage simply does not say what was inscribed on the
tablets. If this does not answer your question, please send me another
more specific question.

John Oakes

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