Hi Lux – Here's a couple of thoughts. As said above, I believe in the 'events' recorded in the Bible because of the way I perceive what it is to be a symbol (as opposed to a sign). According to the text, Moses goes up the mountain, and comes down with two tablets of stone, written on by the finger of God. We know, as Moses knew, God doesn't have fingers, so here we're talking about a figure of speech. When the people fall into idolatry, Moses gets cross and breaks the tablets. Really? You mean God gave Moses two stone tablets, and Moses broke them? I don't think so. I wouldn't do that with a gift from God. I might do the angry 'that's the last you'll see of these you ungrateful bast ...!" that kind of thing, but break something given to me by God because I was angry with my neighbour ... no. The phrase 'written in stone' has entered our language to mean an insoluble contract. You can, as they also say, 'take it to the bank'. It was not sketched out on the back of an envelope, nor written in parchment nor a wax tablet, because those forms are ephemeral. The idea of being written on stone is that it's permanent. Eternal. Moses breaks the stones, to signify the contract has been broken – not by God, but by the people. Later God renews the contract: "And after this he said: Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the former, and I will write upon them the words which were in the tables, which thou brokest" (Exodus 34:1) So Moses cut the stones, not God, and Moses took the stones up the mountain (34:4). Then Moses talks to God, and after the formalities, God renews the covenant, and at the end of His discourse: "And the Lord said to Moses: Write these words by which I have made a covenant both with thee and with Israel" (34:27). So I would say that Moses cut the stones and had inscribed upon them the seal of the contract between God and Israel. In effect, the signature of both parties, as a contract is worth nothing until it is signed and witnessed. The discourse between God and Moses takes up whole chapters – 19-34 – too much, I would say, to inscribe on two stones that a man could carry. So what am I saying? I believe there were two stones, inscribed accordingly, to signify the contract. The stones are, in effect, the 'seal' affirming the deal. But that's my take on symbols. My faith doesn't depend on two tablets of stone. My faith doesn't even depend on the Ten Commandments. The evidence is that other contemporary cultures came up with much the same lists. My faith is in the God presented in Scripture. And the understanding and the commentary of the Traditions that hold those Scriptures to be sacred. That explain not what is said, but how it is to be read. In His discourse God declares that he is 'wrathful' and 'jealous' and will have 'vengeance'; that He has 'fingers' and 'hind parts' ... but it's also axiomatic that God is beyond all forms, and definitely not a man or any other creature ... When man writes or speaks, then it's in human terms, expressed as best he can, but it is not 'God's word' in the absolute literal sense. God did not dictate the terms of the covenant, He revealed them to man through the process of indwelling, revelation, inspiration, intuition. And, of course, man takes this revelation and 'fleshes it out' and therein lies the point where the celestial rubber, to coin a phrase, meets the human road. Where cultural practice 'clothes' the message. It can't be any other way. It's language, a human construct, and the words are human words. I don't think there's one word in the Hebrew Scriptures, in the New Testament or in the Quran that God 'invented' and man had never heard of before. So what God reveals is clothed in the language is common to humanity – and inevitably suffers for it. It can only ever fall short. The Jews teach that God said the first vowel, and that everything was contained in that. Because of man's incomprehension, another vowel followed to explain the first; then a second word to explain the first, then a second sentence, paragraph, chapter, book ... but there's nothing in the totality of Scripture that is not contained in that first vowel. The Hindus speak of 'Aum' as the Primordial Word of God. The same concept. Everything flows from that. But back to the dialogue. The people come to Sinai, Moses goes up the mountain, and while his back's turned, the people get up to their old mischiefs. Moses throws his toys out the pram; God becomes incandescent; Moses pleads for forgiveness; God relents, and re-institutes the contract the people broke, this time tougher than before ... this is all very human, isn't it. But the point is not how naughty Israel is, but that God forgives. A dad and his son are walking along the cliffs at the seaside. The son rushes towards the edge of the cliff. "Don't do that," dad says. "Why?" "Because you might fall off." "I won't." "You might" "No I won't" and he rushes to the cliff edge again. This conversation repeats itself three times. Eventually dad says "If you go near the cliff edge again, I will punish you." Same thing, really. Sometimes you need a tangible 'threat' because we're too wilful to pay any heed to the abstract – but very real – risks. If you keep the over-arching shape of the dialogue in mind, then the troublesome instances can be resolved, without recourse to sophistry or magic! Another thing. Exodus speaks of "And the glory of the Lord dwelt upon Sinai, covering it with a cloud six days: and the seventh day he called him out of the midst of the cloud" (24:16). Moses went up the mountain and was there for forty days and forty nights (24:18, 34:28). The language references creation, the flood, prefigures the wandering in the desert, Our Lord's fasting in the wilderness ... but it's not simply a literary trope, it's pointing to a deeper understanding of what's happening.