The 10 Commandments: the moral code??
One of the most shocking things to Christians and Jews is that the 10 Commandments they have learned in school are NOT the ones God wrote in stone. Do you remember Judge Roy Moore? He was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama who had a copy of the 10 Commandments etched on wooden tablets hanging in his court room. From 2001 to 2003 there were a number of legal battles which ultimately lead to his removal from office (Roy Moore recently announced his intention to run for President as a Republican for the 2012 elections). What Roy Moore didn’t know (and all he had to do was read Exodus to see), was that the list of commandments over which he lost his job were never written on stone tablets. That’s right, according to the Bible; the commonly known 10 Commandments were only spoken in speeches, and were never written on stone tablets!
Let’s take a minute to remember the story of Moses and the 10 Commandments. In the story, Moses goes up the mountain and God gives a really long speech (Exodus 20 to 31). In that speech God talks about the not killing, stealing, etc. (Exodus 20), but spends far more time discussing the offerings he wants, how to build his temple, and how he wants his curtain made (check out Exodus 26 for details on Gods curtains). It’s not until the last sentence of Exodus 31 that we even hear about stone tablets. God gives Moses two tablets written by the finger of God (it is not stated at that time what is written on the tablets), and orders him down off the mountain.
When Moses comes down from the mountain, carrying the stone tablets (that he never read), he finds the people worshiping a golden calf. Moses destroys the tablets in a fit of rage and is eventually forced to schlep back up the mountain in order to get another set. It is not until this second set of tablets, also written on stone and by the hand of God, that we learn what was written on both the first and second set of stone tablets (see Exodus 34). This second set is the only set that is called the 10 Commandments by the Bible (the Decalogue), and it is the set that is carried in the Arc of the Covenant and housed in the Temple on the Mound and worshiped by Jews for hundreds of years.
So where does the confusion come in? In Deuteronomy 5, Moses calls his people together to remind them about the long speech God had given them many years earlier. By this time most of the people to whom he was speaking were the children born in the desert and had not heard the original speech, and Moses was quite old. What Moses reminds them of is only the very first part of the long speech, the part in Exodus 20. Moses inaccurately states (in Deuteronomy 5:22) that God gave him two tablets of stone with Exodus 20 written on them, when in fact the stone tablets have Exodus 34 written on them.
So if you believe what the Bible says, Exodus 34 is the ONLY Ten Commandments and the ONLY thing ever written by the hand of God. Exodus 20 is never put in stone and is only given out as a speech along with a very long list of construction activities. So what are the real 10 Commandments? Below you will find the 10 Commandments that were written on stone by the hand of God, were worshiped by Jews, carried in the Arc, and placed in the Temple (a commonly used breakdown):
1 Obey the commandments. Yahweh will conquer the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hitiites, and Jebusites. Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you. Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, and cut down their Asherah poles.
2 Do not worship any other god, for Yahweh, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous god. Do not make treaties with those in other lands who worship other gods.
3 Do not make cast idols.
4 Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread. For seven days eat bread made without yeast during the first month of the Hebrew Year.
5 Sacrifice the first-born of every womb, including all the firstborn males of your livestock. You can sacrifice a lamb in place of a firstborn donkey, but if you do sacrifice the donkey break its neck. If your firstborn child is a boy sacrifice something else in its place. None shall appear before Yahweh without a sacrifice.
6 Do not work on the Sabbath, even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.
7 Celebrate the Jewish holiday “The Feast of Weeks” with the first fruits of the wheat harvest and celebrate the Jewish holiday “The Feast of Ingathering” at the turn of the year. Three times a year all your men are to appear before the god of Israel and he will conquer surrounding nations before you enlarging your territory.
8 Do not mix blood sacrifices to Yahweh with yeast and do not let any sacrifice from the Passover Feast remain until morning.
9 Bring the first fruits of your land to the house of Yahweh, your god.
10 Do not cook a baby goat in his mother’s milk.
So, according to the only stone plates that made it off the mountain, that were never read by anyone, and the last thing ever hand-written by God, killing, stealing, coveting, and bearing false witness are all OK. But boiling a baby goat in his mother’s milk… that’s a sin!