Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Ten Commandments?


The Ten Commandments are a list of religious and moral imperatives which, according to Biblical tradition, were written by God and given to Moses on Mount Sinai in the form of two stone tablets. They feature prominently in Judaism and Christianity. The phrase "Ten Commandments" generally refers to the very similar passages in Exodus 20:2–17 and Deuteronomy 5:6–21.

While many churches and religions treat the Ten Commandments differently, all recognize them as ten separate commandments or laws. For example, The Roman Catholic Church considers Exodus 20:2, 3, and 4 to be a single commandment, while separating Exodus 20:17 (the prohibition against coveting) into two separate commandments. Alternatively, the reformed churches consider Exodus 20:2 to be a "preface" and Exodus 20: 3 and 4 to be two distinct commandments, while Exodus 20:17 is a single commandment. Similarly, the Orthodox Church (Greek) treats Exodus 20:2, and 3 to be a single commandment, while taking the reformed churches' view on Exodus 20:17. Jews agree with the reformed and Orthodox churches on 20:17, but consider 20:3 and 4 to be a single commandment.

All of this confusion can be traced to the simple, inescapable fact that there are more than ten statements contained in the "Ten" Commandments and the Bible never really implies that there are ten. In fact, a close and careful reading of the Bible will show that there are, in fact, only two commandments.

The Gospel of Mark records Yeshua's understanding of this fact at Mark 12:30-31:

"…The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength: this is the foremost commandment. And the second is like, namely this, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment superior to these."

Clearly, Yeshua, paraphrasing Deuteronomy 6:4, lumps Exodus 20:2 - 11 under the single command to "love the Lord." Likewise, he lumps Exodus 20:12 - 17 under the single command to "love your neighbor."

So, the commandments can be better understood as:

Commandment #1 - I am Yahweh your God, who has brought you out from the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage: you shall not have any other gods before Me; You shall not make a carved image for yourself, or any likeness in the heavens above, or in the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth; you shall not bow to them, and you shall not serve them; for I am Yahweh your God, a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of fathers on sons, on the third and on the fourth generation, to those that hate Me; and doing kindness to thousands, to those loving Me, and to those keeping My commandments; you shall not take up the name of Yahweh your God in an empty manner; for Yahweh will not leave unpunished the one who takes up His name in an empty manner; remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy; six days you shall labor and do all your work; and the seventh day is a sabbath to Yahweh your God; you shall not do any work, you, and your son, and your daughter, your male slave and your slave-girl, and your livestock, and your stranger who is in your gates; for in six days Yahweh made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all which is in them, and He rested on the seventh day; on account of this Yahweh blessed the sabbath day and set it apart. [Note: These are the ways we honor God and love him.]

Commandment #2 Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long on the land which Yahweh your God is giving to you: You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not testify a witness of falsehood against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male slave, or his slave-girl, or his ox, or his ass, or anything which belongs to your neighbor. [Note: These are the ways we honor our father and mother and love our neighbors.]

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