THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Ten Commandments, or Decalogue, are a list of religious and moral imperatives which, according to religious tradition, were written by God and given to Moses on Mount Sinai in the form of two stone tablets. They feature prominently in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
The phrase "Ten Commandments" generally refers to the broadly identical passages in Exodus 20:2-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21. Some maintain that there is an additional set of Ten Commandments (Exodus 34) which they suggest predated the Ten Commandments now known as such.
Text of the Commandments
The following is the text of the commandments from Exodus 20:1-17, New Revised Standard Version. Because the commandments are divided in different ways, they are presented as verses below, without itemization.
"Then God spoke all these words:
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery
you shall have no other gods before me
You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth
You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments
You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name
Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God
you shall not do any work, you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it
Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you
You shall not murder
You shall not commit adultery
You shall not steal
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor
You shall not covet your neighbors house
you shall not covet your neighbors wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor
Origins of the Ten Commandments
Some historians believe that the Ten Commandments originated from ancient Egyptian religion, and postulate that the Biblical Jews borrowed the concept after their Exodus from Egypt.
Chapter 125 of the Book of the Dead (the Papyrus of Ani) includes a list of things to which a man must swear in order to enter the afterlife. These sworn statements bear a remarkable resemblance to the Ten Commandments in their nature and their phrasing. These statements include "not have I defiled the wife of man," "not have I committed murder," "not have I committed theft," "not have I lied," "not have I cursed god," "not have I borne false witness," and "not have I abandoned my parents."
The Book of the Dead has additional requirements, and, of course, doesn't require worship of YHWH.
Written in Stone
According to the Bible, God inscribed the Ten Commandments into stone:
"God said to Moses, 'Come up to Me, to the mountain, and remain there. I will give you the stone tablets, the Torah and the commandment that I have written for [the people's] instruction.'" (Exodus 24:12) also referred to as "tables of testimony" (Exodus 24:12, 31:18, 32:16) or "tables of the covenant" (Deuteronomy 9verses 9, 11, 15), which he gave to Moses.
Traditional Jewish sources (Mekhilta de Rabbi Ishmael, de-ba-Hodesh 5) discuss the placement of the ten commandments on two tablets. According to Rabbi Hanina ben Gamaliel, five commandments were engraved on the first tablet and five on the other, whereas the Sages contended that ten were written on each.
While most Jewish and Christian depictions follow the first understanding, modern scholarship favors the latter, comparing it to treaty rite in the Ancient Near East, in the sense of tablets of covenant.
Diplomatic treaties, such as that between Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II and the Hittite King Hattusilis III, circa 1270 B.C.E, were duplicated on stone with a copy for each party, and the subordinate party would place their copy of the pact in the main temple to his god, in oath to the king (cf. Ezekiel 17:11-19). In a pact between a nation and its God, then, the Israelites placed both copies in their temple.
Exodus 32:15 records that the tablets "were written on both their sides."
The Talmud (tractate Shabbat 104a) explains that there were miracles involved with the carving on the tablets. One was that the carving went the full thickness of the tablets.
The letter samec in the Hebrew alphabet looks similar to the letter "O" in the English alphabet. The stone in the center part of the letter should have fallen out, as it was not connected to the rest of the tablet, but it did not; it miraculously remained in place.
Secondly, the writing was miraculously legible from both the front and the back, even though logic would dictate that something carved through and through would show the writing in mirror image on the back.
Anything New with the Ten Commandments?