Most Christians know about the Ten Commandments, which are foundational to their beliefs. They’re one of the reasons it’s difficult to dispose of the Old Testament entirely due it’s plethora of heinous laws, commands and actions of Yahweh. Although many would find it challenging to recite them in their entirety, they often involve themselves in the defence of public displays of these fabled tablets, often depicted along with one of their greatest prophets, Moses.
“And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tablets of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them. 13 And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God.”
The story goes that the Ten Commandments were written by God upon two tablets of stone and then given to Moses on mount Sinai. Most scholars date this event around the 13th or 14th century BC. God gave the Decalogue, or 10 Commandments, to the Israelites shortly after they left Egypt. The record of the Ten Commandments can be found in the Bible, both in Exodus 20:2-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21.
**Spoiler Alert…. There’s another place they’re found**
The story of Moses and the 10 Commandments are often told and re-told to young children, along with the Flood (and all the cool animals), Jonah and the Whale and the loving kindness of Yahweh and Jesus. They may be taught an interpreted version like this one so they understand the true meaning.
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Honour thy father and thy mother.
Thou shalt not kill.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Thou shalt not steal.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Thou shalt not covet.
Although they’re basically the same 10 as the “real Christians” teach, this version by the Mormons has Moses hiking up Mt. Sinai to meet with Jesus, rather than God himself. But then they’re one and the same, right? OMG, (oh crap, was that blasphemy?) this is already getting confusing. Those poor kids. Wait util the Holy Spirit makes an appearance on the Biblical version of “Three’s Company”.
As an inquisitive, skeptical truth seeker, I’ve often been fascinated by “true believers”, many of whom know less about their holy book than atheists like myself. They all agree that the 10 Commandments listed above are an integral part of “the inerrant living word of God” aka The Bible.
People are free to believe what they choose, but I find it reprehensible when beliefs are presented as facts, particularly to children and gullible adults hungry for “meaning and purpose in life”. I often find sparring with evangelical Christians who feel compelled to share the “good news” with all of humanity, akin to a fist fight with a scrawny 7 year old girl. But sometimes they need a good smackdown to dampen their fanaticism. An old fashioned tune-up about the 10 Commandments is often in order.
Nearly every reference to these fabled laws of God (or alternatively Jesus) involve Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. Due principally to the avoidance of the mindless slaughter of the monstrous OT God, few bible thumpers have read all of their holy book, or they would have stumbled across the real 10 Commandments.….those given to Moses (sorry LDS) after he broke the first ones. Very few Christians, fundamentalist or otherwise, would be able to recall any of these dandies.
1. For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:
2. Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest.
6. And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.
7. Thrice in the year shall all your menchildren appear before the LORD God, the God of Israel.
8. 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.
9. The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the LORD thy God.
10. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.
Unlike the two commonly cited 10, Exodus 34:28 clearly identifies these rather bizarre commandments as the real ones…. “Moses was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments.“
The New Testament does contain some awesome parables and wisdom, but these are also found in thousands of other books, easier to understand and more appropriate to life today. My advice, as an atheist, to Christians, particularly those who choose to proselytize, is to quit insisting the Bible is inerrant and historically accurate. There are any number of reasons that so many people are “non-believers”. Waving a Bible in their faces insisting that it’s the ultimate book of answers will not convince them otherwise, but simply confirm their lack of belief.