Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Ten Commandments: Changing the World

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                        

Moses, who was born in 1391 BCE, led the 600,000 slaves out of Egypt causing the Egyptians' pharoah to panic.  Moses was on a mission at the age of 80 and had to keep them moving.  He had to relate 10 commandments to them relayed to him from G-d.  Our legend is that the 10 commandments were offered to other people first who turned them down.  They didn't like 1 or 2 of them and didn't want to commit to all 10  that came in a package deal.  The Israelites accepted the covenant, which made the former slaves a kingdom of ministers and a holy nation.

After being given a set written by the finger of G-d, Moses through them down and broke them after seeing the slaves live it up with worshipping  a Golden Calf,  acting as if it was a god, something that could have taken place in Egypt where they believed that animals were gods.  So he had to write them out again on 2 stone tablets. This all happened at Mt. Sinai.   Moses died at the age of 120 in 1271 BCE.  Where he is buried is not known as he is not to be worshipped.

They are listed in 2 places.  The first is in Exodus 20:2-14.  The second place is in Deut. 5: 6-18.

The first 5 commandments describe man's duties to G-d.

1.  To believe in one G-d.  In a day of multiple gods as in Egypt, Greece and Rome, this is a new revelation.  The last to try this was a Pharoah who wished people to believe in the sun.  It was not a popular idea at all.
2. To not have any idols; idolatry was prohibited.
3. To not give oaths in vain.  We do not disgrace G-d's name by using it for no valid purpose.
4. To keep the Sabbath.  G-d himself created the world in 6 days and rested on the 7th.  So we shall, also. for 400 years the slaves had no day off.  It was continuous work.  No more of that.
 5. Honor your parents.  When people honor their parents, it's as if they are honoring G-d.

The next 5 commandments are our responsibilities to our fellow man.

6.. We are not to murder anyone.  Human life is given to us by G-d, thus we can't take someone's life away.
7. We do not commit adultery.  This means cohabitation with a married woman which is a capital offense.
8. We are not to steal, which actually means kidnapping.  Ordinary theft is listed in Leviticus.  Kidnapping leads to working for someone as a slave and the penalty is death for this.  A person who steals will swear falsely that he didn't, breaking another commandment.
9. We are not to bear false witness and this prohibits gossip and slander.  No loshen hora (gossip).
10.  We are not to covet other's things.  It means to desire what belongs to another, to wish for something enviously, to feel inordinate desire for what belongs to another.  If this happens, it can lead to committing acts of 6,7,8,and 9 as well.

A moral ruler such as a king or a president  can legislate against murder and theft, but only G-d can demand that people sanctify their thoughts and attitudes to the point where they purge themselves of such natural tendencies as jealousy and covetousness.

Resource; The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia
To Be a Jew, a guide to Jewish observance in contemporary Life by Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin
Tanach, the Stone Edition, ArtScroll Series from Mesorah Heritage Foundation Ten Commandments from wikipedia, about movie

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