Tuesday, March 27, 2007

What are the 10 commandments?

You know the story: Moses went up the mountain, met God, got the 10 commandments on stone tablets, came down the mountain, broke the tablets in anger, later on went back up the mountain and carved the 10 commandments onto new tablets...

But the thing is, the first 10 don't seem to match with the second 10. Huh?

Exodus 20
The first 10 commandments

And God spoke all these words: "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
  1. You shall have no other gods before me.
  2. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments.
  3. You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
  5. Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."
Exodus 34
The second 10 commandments

Then the LORD said: "I am making a covenant with you. [...]. Obey what I command you today. [...]
  1. Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
  2. Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land [...].
  3. Do not make cast idols.
  4. Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread. [...].
  5. The first offspring of every womb belongs to me, including all the firstborn males of your livestock, whether from herd or flock. [...]. No one is to appear before me empty-handed.
  6. Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.
  7. Celebrate the Feast of Weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year. [...].
  8. Do not offer the blood of a sacrifice to me along with anything containing yeast, and do not let any of the sacrifice from the Passover Feast remain until morning.
  9. Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the LORD your God.
  10. Do not cook a young goat in its mother's milk."
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel." Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant — the Ten Commandments.

Which are the real '10 Commandments'? In the bible it is the second list that are actually referred to as 'the ten commandments', the first list are not.

Or do we have 17 commandments? Or do we only really have the three that are common to both lists?

Anyone got any inspiration here?


anon said...

Wow. I've never read the whole of Exodus. In my last stint of on-again (refer to my comment on another of your blogs), I resolved to read the whole Bible. Sadly, I only got to the first chapters of the book of Exodus. If only I had gotten just a few chapters beyond.

What a strange thing, that in the Bible most claim as inerrant, there are two sets of Ten Commandments, one set those same people do not refer to.

Can this be real?

Ricky Carvel said...

Reading the whole bible in the standard order is a pretty tough task. You get bogged down somewhere between Exodus and Leviticus and probably won't make it out again.

A much easier taks is reading the entire new testament. Or reading the historical narritive from Judges through to Ezra/Nehemiah.

But that way, of course, you miss out on all the stories that you really didn't know were in the bible in the book of Numbers.

Can this be real?

Depends what you mean by real. I'm pretty sure it contains some genuine writings of real people from not long after the time when the supposed events took place. But those writings (Genesis through to I Kings) have been edited (streamlined, compiled and perhaps modified) by a much later editor (some claim circa 500BC).

So if you're an editor wanting to record the truth but faced with two different documents containing two conflicting sets of "10 commandments" what do you do? Simply choose one? What if you choose the wrong one? Better include both just in case...