The Ten Commandments
by Estéban Trujillo de Gutiérrez
The Ten Commandments are in Deuteronomy and Exodus.
After the mountain was covered by a cloud for six days, Moses went up “in the mount forty days and forty nights.”
Moses said, “the Lord delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words, which the Lord spake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly.”
Moses was gone for so long, that the children of Israel decided that something had happened to him. Aaron accordingly fashioned a golden calf, and he built an altar before it. The children of Israel worshipped it. When Moses and Joshua came down from the mountain with the tablets of stone, “he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tablets out of his hands and brake them beneath the mount.”
Then the Lord told 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.”
According to Jewish tradition, Exodus 20:1-17 constitutes God’s first recitation and inscription of the Ten Commandments on the two tables. These were broken by Moses, and replaced by two different tablets, which were then placed inside the Ark of the Covenant:
1. “You shall have no other gods before me.”
2. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in the heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
3. “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”
4. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep 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, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
5. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that 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 bear false witness against your neighbor.”
10. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet his wife. or his male servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”
Of all Biblical laws and commandments, the Ten Commandments alone were “written with the finger of God,” (Exodus: 31:18), and alone were placed in the Ark of the Covenant.
There are 603 other commandments in the Torah, which form the basis of Jewish law. Elsewhere, there are references to “613 Mitzvot,” which are also commandments. Not sure about the discrepancy.
Allegedly there were ten commandments on each stone tablet, one set for the children of Israel, and one for the Lord. A covenant is comparable to a contract or to a treaty. Each party would receive and keep a copy.
The Talmud claims that the tablets were written on both sides, with the text penetrating to the reverse side. What is more, the writing was legible on both sides. It was not the reverse side of the writing on the surface. This is considered miraculous.