Prohibiting the worship of any other god seems like an obvious next step after the First Commandment (“I am the Lord your God”), and the instruction to have no other gods seems fairly obvious. As basic as this commandment may seem, the text itself is very specific, detailing both ambiguous worship (unseen other gods) and the worship of any natural part of the universe (in heaven above, earth below or in the water--i.e. sun, moon, stars, etc). Since the worship of idols, according to the Midrash, stemmed from people thinking of the sun or thunder as more approachable servants of God, these details are important.
In addition to the detailed definition of not having other gods, the text of the Second Commandment includes what seems like an explanation of the reason not to worship other gods. The second half of the Second Commandment, which includes details such as God being a jealous god, conveys, in human terms, the seriousness of this transgression. Because God loves the Jewish people, He notifies them of the dire consequences of idol worship; that it doesn’t just affect one person, but impacts on many generations.
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