1. The Israelites had been away from Egypt and in the wilderness for three months when the ten commandments were given to Moses.
2. This means that Adam, Noah, Abraham, and others, did not have the ten commandments. God did tell them what they needed to know, and they had a relationship with God, but the commandments came later.
3. God wrote the commandments on the stone tablets that Moses brought down from the mountain, not Moses. Exodus 31:18 says they were “written with the finger of God.”
4. There were, however, TWO sets of stone tablets, as the first set were broken when Moses threw them in anger at the sight of the idol Aaron had made while Moses was on the mountain with God. God had Moses made a new set of tablets and return to the top of the mountain.
5. They were not called the “ten commandments” by Moses. In the Bible, the term used in the original languages are “ten words;” because of this, they are often called the Decalogue (which means “ten words”).
6. The ten commandments can be found in two places in the Bible – in the Torah (or first five books). These are Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. They are referenced in Exodus 34, where it talks about the first ones then moves on to what happened.
7. The first four commandments regulate how man is to relate to God; the last six regulate how man is to relate to man.
8. These are distilled into two commandments by Jesus: “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart” and “love thy neighbor as thyself.”
9. When the Ark of the Covenant was built, the tablets containing the commandments were placed inside, along with a pot of manna and the rod of Aaron that bloomed.
10. Only one of the commandments comes with an associated specific blessing – the fifth. It says that people are to honor their parents, and, if they do, they can have longer life.
11. The commandment that is broken most often is probably the third. The phrase “Oh, my God” is taking God’s name in vain, which is specifically prohibited. Some posit that the original word “take” should actually have been translated “carry” and therefore means not to do wrong things while declaring one’s self God’s; however, it could be said that swearing is equally wrong under that interpretation of the commandment.
12. The sixth commandment, “thou shalt not kill,” refers to murder, based on the Hebrew word used. War and capital punishment were not covered under this commandment.
13. God tells His people to write the commandments in their hearts. This is an admonishment to memorize Scripture and saturate lives in the Word of God.
14. Unlike the Levitical law, all ten of the commandments are restated in the New Testament. However, the early Christians were not required to keep the Sabbath. They chose to observe the first day of the week, on which Christ rose, instead, as well as many groups meeting daily for worship.
15. The ten commandments were a synopsis of God’s law. The Levitical law mostly expanded on these ten. However, they are a vital part of the covenant of God with Israel. They were given specifically to the Jews, but Gentiles that joined the nation were expected to follow them, with some specific exceptions.
16. The ten commandments show us what matters to God. He gave us the ten commandments to show us something of His character in how he requires His people to live.
17. Living by the ten commandments makes believers different from the world of non-believers, who do not consider them to be set rules, but rather treat them more as suggestions, at best. There is no room for “situation ethics” in the ten commandments.
18. Ten is a common number in the Bible to indicate a completed set – such as ten plagues of Egypt, ten virgins in the story in the New Testament, ten lepers healed, and more.
19. The fact that there are ten commandments, and we have ten fingers, makes it possible to more easily memorize the commandments by assigning one to each digit.
20. Despite the representations today of the tablets, the reality is that they were inscribed front and back, according to Exodus 32:15.
21. There have been seven movies, at least, about the ten commandments since 1923. The first one was a silent film. The most well-known starred Charlton Heston and was released in 1956. An animated film was released in 2007, starring Christian Slater.
22. In addition, there have been countless documentaries, commentaries, and studies made about the ten commandments.
23. There have been many lawsuits regarding display of the ten commandments. Regarding government property, while some argue that the display violates the “establishment of religion” clause, others posit that the restriction of display “prohibits the free exercise thereof.”
24. Because the idea of the ten commandments offends some non-believers, yet they agree that rules are necessary, there have been secular alternative “ten commandments” made. Some of them are serious and enumerate decent principles, while others are tongue-in-cheek and written solely for comedic effect.
25. The term “ten commandments” has been used by many walks of life for lists of rules – including such as “The Ten Commandments of:
- Computer Ethics
- An IRS Audit
- Gun Safety
And many others.
Resources related to the ten commandments:
Where to Buy
1. 1956 movie DVD: The Ten Commandments 1956
2. 1923 movie DVD: The Ten Commandments: 50th Anniversary Collection
3. Animated DVD: The Ten Commandments
4. Resin Plaque: Ten Commandments Resin Stone
The ten commandments have been under much scrutiny in the political arenas of the world, but the fact remains that they are specific moral rules that are in the best interest of humans to observe. If all people chose to honor and follow the ten commandments, it is likely that the world at large would be a much more pleasant place to live.