Why the Ten Commandments that we have? Or rather why the Ten Commandments that each sect has? Anyone ever really sit down and compare notes between each sect and what they think the Ten Commandments are?
Those who promote the idea of forcing the big ten into public places seldom notice this little discrepancy (I am not suggesting any here support this idea). But the fact of the matter is that the various followers of Abraham's God don't seem to agree on what the Ten Commandments are. So lets review.
The concepts of the Ten Commandments are taken from Exodus 20. Here is the relevant text.
2 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery;
3 you shall have no other gods before me.
4 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.
5 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,
6 but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7 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.
8 Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy.
9 For six days you shall labour and do all your work.
10 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.
11 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.
12 Honour your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
13 You shall not murder.
14 You shall not commit adultery.
15 You shall not steal.
16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
17 You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.
Right off the bat we are in trouble. Its pretty clear there are more than 10 commandments going on there. But each sect has struggled with this issue and paired it down to ten specific commandments it thinks are the one's God meant. Lets look at them.
Jewish Ten Commandments
1. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of slavery in Egypt.
2. You shall have no other gods but me.
3. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
4. You shall remember and keep the Sabbath day holy.
5. Honor your father and mother.
6. You shall not murder.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
10. You shall not covet.
Protestant Ten Commandments
1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me
2. Thou shalt not make for thyself an idol
3. Thou shalt not make wrongful use of the name of thy God
4. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy
5. Honor thy Mother and Father
6. Thou shalt not murder
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery
8. Thou shalt not steal
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness
10. Thou shalt not covet anything of thy neighbor's
Catholic Ten Commandments
1. I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not have strange gods before me.
2. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain
3. Remember thou keep the Sabbath Day.
4. Honor thy Father and thy Mother
5. Thou shalt not kill.
6. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
7. Thou shalt not steal.
8. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
9. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife.
10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's goods.
Notice how they don't quite match up? For commandments they certainly seem to leave a bit of interpretation open to them. But thats not the end of the problems. If you remember the story correctly Moses comes down from the mountain and in anger smashes the tablets baring the commandments. But later God appears to Moses again (revealing only his butt? Exodus 33:23) and tells him to prepare two new tablets that God may carve another copy of the commandments (cut and paste would have been so useful back then). And here is what is reportedly carved as the ten commandments on the second set of tablets. From Exodus 34
11 Observe thou that which I command thee this day: behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite.
12 Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee:
13 But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves:
14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:
15 Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice;
16 And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.
17 Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.
18 The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee, in the time of the month Abib: for in the month Abib thou camest out from Egypt.
19 All that openeth the matrix is mine; and every firstling among thy cattle, whether ox or sheep, that is male.
20 But the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb: and if thou redeem him not, then shalt thou break his neck. All the firstborn of thy sons thou shalt redeem. And none shall appear before me empty.
21 Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest.
22 And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year's end.
23 Thrice in the year shall all your menchildren appear before the LORD God, the God of Israel.
24 For I will cast out the nations before thee, and enlarge thy borders: neither shall any man desire thy land, when thou shalt go up to appear before the LORD thy God thrice in the year.
25 Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven; neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto the morning.
26 The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk.
Boiled down (sorry for the pun) these are as follows.
1. Worship no other god than the Lord: Make no covenant with the inhabitants of other lands to which you go, do not intermarry with them, and destroy their places of worship.
2. Do not cast idols.
3. Observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days in the month of Abib.
4. Sacrifice firstborn male animals to Yahweh. The firstborn of a donkey may be redeemed; redeem firstborn sons.
5. Do no work or even kindle a fire on the seventh day. Anyone who does so will be put to death.
6. Observe the Feast of First Fruits and the Feast of Ingathering: All males are therefore to appear before the Lord three times each year.
7. Do not mix sacrificial blood with leavened bread.
8. Do not let the fat of offerings remain until the morning.
9. Bring the choicest first fruits of the harvest to the Temple of the Lord.
10. Do not cook a kid in its mother's milk.
It is worth noting that the bible clearly says that this second set of tablets read the same as the first set of tablets.
Exodus 34:1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.
The Jews acknowledge this set of commandments as the Ritual Decalogue. But it is not clear as to why they are different from the first set of laws. Particularly considering God said they were the same. The rational given is that both sets of commandments were written on the fist set of tablets but were only mentioned during the second making. This is not clear given the text we have. But it certainly may serve as a rationalization for those that have to reconcile the story with itself.
Most of the time when we debate theists we focus on the god issue. We never really discuss the soul very much. Which is interesting because the concept of the soul may provide religion with more control over people than the concept of god.
Consider what the soul is. It is the religions definition of their identity. Seperate from the body it is that which is eternal. The body mortal and fallible.
Our instincts carry a very strong sense of selfpreservation. Typically this gets applied to making sure our body avoids nasty nasty things. But by creating this concept of self being seperate from the body the religion enables it to completely usurp a persons insticts of self preservation. Now instead of struggling to preserve themself (body) they have been rerouted to preserving this imaginary thing defined by the religion.
The religion now owns the mind of a person. Since the soul is eternal what happens to it that determines it's final outcome becomes more important that what happens to a person's body. A person with religious zeal will now suffer greatly should the religion proclaim that they should do so for the sake of the soul.
Using this notion the religion can now usurp other instincts to control the person. Because we are social creatures we have a natural tendency to be concerned for our fellow humans. We empathise with them. When we see them in danger or injured we feel a desire to help them.
But now the concept of soul intervenes. The soul takes precidents over the body. If they percieve a person's soul in danger of eternal damnation and are made to believe that doing things to the body may save it... well there you have torturing in the name of love. The inquisition was an attempt to save the Jews. Those that backslid were tortured until they confessed which was believed to be the way to save the soul. Witches were burned to death in the belief that the soul have been posessed by spirits and only by destruction of the body could the soul be freed.
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