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Monday, January 30

Which Ten Commandments?

As part of my general research into morality, including religious theories about it, I thought it would be good to look up the Ten Commandments and look at the text of them for myself.

I was surprised to find that that the commandments don't obviously break down into ten commandments. At least, the text could be broken down in a number of ways, but it's not obvious that it's 10 ways much less which 10 ways. I could see ways to group the ideas into somewhere between 8 and 12 commandments.

According to this particular article, Protestants, Catholics, and Jews each break them up differently. It might not matter much if they are all worded the same way or essentially mean the same things. Also, it might have actually seemed "obvious" to Moses and the people of his culture. Except his "culture" due to his upbringing was partly Egyptian... It just seems odd to give a number at all.

Exodus 20:
2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
13 Thou shalt not kill.
14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
15 Thou shalt not steal.
16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

Further references:


Leo said...

Why do people still make such a fuss of such a silly old book? It was just meant as a constitution/ civil code. It's outdated now. Wives and asses are not at the same level anymore, for instance. :)

Becky said...

I don't know why people make such a fuss of it, but since they do, I think it could be useful to be familiar with it.