April 16, 2021

The True Ten Commandments

Illuminated Letter D What do you think of this?

The other day I was reading a site talking about 50 things that you’re not supposed to know and the first one on the list had to do with the Ten Commandments.  Traditionally, the Ten Commandments come from Exodus 20 and cover these 10 things:

  1. No other Gods
  2. No graven images, or worshipping them
  3. No taking the Lord’s Name in Vain
  4. Remember the Sabbath Day
  5. Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother
  6. Thou Shalt Not Kill
  7. Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery
  8. Thou Shalt Not Steal
  9. Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness
  10. Thou Shalt Not Covet

These things were spoken by Moses after God told them to Him.  The interesting thing is when you go over and look at Exodus 34.

This chapter starts out right after Moses destroyed the original tablets he brought down from Mount Sinai.  God instructs him to hew out two more tablets and to bring them up the mountain.  After listing some more laws, there’s this interesting statement at the end:

And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. (Exodus 34:28) [Emphasis Mine]

What are the ten listed prior to this verse?

  1. Thou Shalt Worship God and Him Only
  2. Thou Shalt Not Make Molten Gods
  3. Thou Shalt Keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread
  4. The first born or all things is mine.
  5. Six Days Shall You work, but on the Seventh thou shalt rest
  6. Thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, and three times a year your men children shall appear before the Lord.
  7. Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven.
  8. Neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the Passover be left unto the morning.
  9. The first-fruits of thy land shall you bring unto the house of the Lord Thy God.
  10. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.

So, what’s the big deal?  Well, these commandments are strictly for Israel.  We don’t keep the feast of Unleavened Bread, keep the Passover, etc.  Just this morning at church, my pastor said the line that I’ve heard many times about Jesus reinforcing all of the commandments in the ten commandments except for the one about the Sabbath.  But is this correct?

Have we fallen into a rut where someone’s said this for so long and it’s wrong?  Is there a different way to understand these passages?

In just my quick reading of them, God spoke one thing to Moses to speak to the people, and wrote a different set on the tablets of stone, but we’ve always equated the two.

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5 thoughts on “The True Ten Commandments

  1. I’ll have to read that exact part of Exodus but I would imagine that the reference to the ten commandments was to the original ten, whereas the listing of the laws previous to the statment were additional ways to honour God. I presume this is the way that the passage has been understood? It seems that Jews as well as Christians have the same understanding of what the ten commandments are. (I’m willing to be corrected here.)

  2. The part that I was shocked by was the actual phrase in the KJV “these are the ten commandments” in the latter Exodus passage, where the first simply said that God spoke these commands to Moses. And why did they change?

  3. It is confusing. It looks like there are two sets of Ten Commandments and it could be that we call the wrong set ‘The Ten Commandments’ but that doesn’t mean they aren’t very important. Don’t they get repeated in Deuteronomy?

    This is what it says in Wikipedia: The phrase “Ten Commandments” generally refers to the very similar passages in Exodus 20:2–17 and Deuteronomy 5:6–21. Some distinguish between this “Ethical Decalogue” and a series of ten commandments in Exodus 34 that are labelled the “Ritual Decalogue.”

    You can read about the ‘ritual decalogue’ here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ritual_Decalogue

    It makes a lot of sense to me to understand this issue as there being an ethical Ten Commandments and a ritual Ten Commandments. I’m not sure what Christians are supposed to do about the ritual ones though!

  4. I would definitely agree, Buffy, that the set in Exodus 20 seems to be a more appropriate set– but it’s weird that we attribute the name to something that the Bible doesn’t. I mean, what version was on the tablets? It seems that the Exodus 34 set were, not the Exodus 20 set.

    And Christians believe that the ceremonial law has passed– with Exodus 20 they simply say that means we don’t have to worship on Saturday, but I’ve never heard any discussion of Exodus 34. Sounds like the topic of a good sermon– “The Ten Commandments You Never Heard Of”. Maybe that would have been a better post title too! 🙂

  5. Or it could be, this was all made up, that’s why it doesn’t make sense, there are hundreds of examples of contradictions in the Bible. Much of it makes no sense. Like on the first day God said “Let there be light” and he divided the night and day. But he doesn’t create the Sun until the third day. So where did the light come from on day 1-2?

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