“And God spoke all these words, saying:
I am the L-RD thy G-D, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” Shmoth (Exodus) 20.1-2
What does the [prophetic] statement (Shmoth 20.1-2), “you shall have no gods before My Face (viz, in My Presence)” mean? No doubt Shmoth 20.1-2 is a prohibition against idolatry (avoda zarah) but the deeper significance (SOD) of the “prohibition” is a revelation (גִּלּוּי gi’lu’iy?) (“I shall be that which I wish to be”) of the Thirteen Attributes (Middot “Measures”) of Mercy (RACHOOM)! Shmoth 34.6-7: The L‑RD passed before him and proclaimed: “L‑RD, L‑RD, benevolent G‑D, Who is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth, preserving lovingkindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity, rebellion and sin, and He pardons.
What Are the 13 Attributes of Mercy?
Understanding the Yud Gimel Midot Harachamim – When HaShem passed before Moshe, He gave a Ma’Amar (discourse) on the Name mentioned in Shmoth 3.14-15 “I shall be that which I wish to be” (as it [Shmoth 33.19] says, “And He said: ‘I will make all My goodness pass before thee, and will proclaim the name of the L-RD before thee; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.’ “)
- י-ה-ו-ה / Hashem — compassion before a person sins;
- י-ה-ו-ה / Hashem — compassion after a person has sinned;
- א-ל / G‑d — mighty in compassion, to give all creatures according to their need;
- רַחוּם / rachum — merciful, that humankind may not be distressed;
- וְחַנּוּן / ve’chanun — and gracious if humankind is already in distress;
- אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם / erech apayim — slow to anger;
- וְרַב-חֶסֶד / ve’rav chesed — and plenteous in kindness;
- וֶאֱמֶת / ve’emet — and truth;
- נֹצֵר חֶסֶד לָאֲלָפִים / notzer chesed laalafim — keeping kindness unto thousands;
- נֹשֵׂא עָוֹן / noseh avon — forgiving iniquity;
- וָפֶשַׁע / vafeshah — and transgression;
- וְחַטָּאָה / VeChata’ah — and sin;
- וְנַקֵּה / VeNakeh — and pardoning.
Shmoth 20.1-2 is an EMPHATIC/PROPHETIC statement of truth: It means that the People of Israel will KNOW HASHEM – (as Hoshea 2.19-20 says, “I will betroth you to Me forever. in righteousness, in justice and in mercy. and in faithfulness and you shall know HaShem.) Just as the People of Israel said, “Zeh Eli” (This is my G-D), they will know HaShem!
“Lo, it is a people that shall dwell alone, And shall not be reckoned among the nations.” For it says, “And upon the nobles of the children of Israel He laid not His hand; and they beheld G-D, and did eat and drink.”
“And you will know that I am the L-RD when I bring you to the land of Israel, to the land that I lifted My hand to give to your forefathers.”
— Book of Ezekiel 20:42
v’Ya’da’at (And you will Know) is connected to Yad HaShem “The Uplifted Hand of HaShem” (The OATH HaShem swore to the Patriarchs) – that the Children of Yisrael shall inherit Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel). Shall is emphatic/prophetic, as is, “and you will know” [all doubt is eliminated]!
לֹא-יִהְיֶה לְךָ אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים, עַל-פָּנָי. You shall not have other gods before My Face; shall not is a emphatic/prophetic state of Knowing HaShem as in “you shall Love HaShem with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might/resources.”
Support for this position that Shmoth 20.1-2 is a “prophetic / emphatic statement of truth – emeth” can be found in This Week’s Haftarah – “But let him that boasts exult in this, that he understands and knows me, for I am the L-RD Who practices kindness, justice and righteousness on the earth; for in these things I delight, says the L-RD.” Jeremiah 9.23
“and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (“and you shall know with all your heart, soul and might HaShem, in righteousness, in justice and in mercy“) Ecclesiastes 4.12.
a threefold cord: 1) with all your heart, soul and might,
2) in righteousness, in justice and in mercy,
3) kindness, justice and righteousness.
“If any of thine that are dispersed be in the uttermost parts of heaven, from thence will the L-RD thy G-D gather thee, and from thence will He fetch thee. And the L-RD thy G-D will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and He will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. [….] And the L-RD thy G-D will make thee over-abundant in all the work of thy hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, for good; for the LORD will again rejoice over thee for good, as He rejoiced over thy fathers;” Devarim 30.4-5, 9.
Again, a threefold cord: “He will gather thee, He will fetch thee, and He will bring thee;”
and again a threefold cord: “the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land,”
The way I understand the passuk is that it is an emphatic prophesy of the eventual spiritual state the Children of Israel will be in when “HaShem shall be One and His Name One” (Zechariah 14.9). That is, only HaShem will be their G-D, and none else!