The Ten Commandments We Always See, Aren’t The Ten Commandments

The following is the first chapter from my bite-size Disinformation book 50 Things You’re Not Supposed to Know, published in 2003.

For more on me, check out this website, The Memory Hole.

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Moses With 10First Amendment battles continue to rage across the US over the posting of the Ten Commandments in public places — courthouses, schools, parks, and pretty much anywhere else you can imagine.

Christians argue that they’re a part of our Western heritage that should be displayed as ubiquitously as traffic signs. Congressman Bob Barr hilariously suggested that the Columbine massacre wouldn’t have happened if the Ten Commandments (also called the Decalogue) had been posted in the high school, and some government officials have directly, purposely disobeyed court rulings against the display of these ten directives supposedly handed down from on high.

Too bad they’re all talking about the wrong rules. Every Decalogue you see — from the 5,000-pound granite behemoth inside the Alabama State Judicial Building to the little wallet-cards sold at Christian bookstores — is bogus. Simply reading the Bible will prove this. Getting out your King James version, turn to Exodus 20:2-17. You’ll see the familiar list of rules about having no other gods, honoring your parents, not killing or coveting,
and so on. At this point, though, Moses is just repeating to the people what God told him on Mount Si’nai. These are not written down in any form.

Later, Moses goes back to the Mount, where God gives him two “tables of stone” with rules written on them (Exodus 31:18). But when Moses comes down the mountain lugging his load, he sees the people worshipping a statue of a calf, causing him to throw a tantrum and smash the tablets on the ground (Exodus 32:19).

In neither of these cases does the Bible refer to “commandments.” In the first instance, they are “words” which “God spake,” while the tablets contain “testimony.” It is only when Moses goes back for new tablets that we see the phrase “ten commandments” (Exodus 34:28). In an interesting turn of events, the commandments on these tablets are significantly different than the ten rules Moses recited for the people, meaning that either Moses’ memory is faulty or God changed his mind.

I. Thou shalt worship no other god.

II. Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.

III. The feast of unleavened bread thou shalt keep.

IV. Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest.

V. Thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest,
and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.

VI. Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord God.

VII. Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven.

VIII. Neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto the morning.

IX. The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the LORD thy God.

X. Thou shalt not seethe a kid [ie, a young goat] in his mother’s milk.

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Look for more 50 Things You’re Not Supposed to Know in the next 50 days under the tag “50 Things” on disinfo.com.

Above Image: Moses with the Ten Commandments by Rembrandt (1659).

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  • 5by5

    So it seems murder, lying, adultery, and disrespecting your parents are a go!

    Who knew?

    LOL!

    • EvilGod

      Actually, disrespecting your parents is both expressly forbidden and specifically required for entry to heaven.

    • New Guy

      To be a successful and respected American in today’s society those are the exact qualities you need. Be willing to murder, lie, cheat, and disrespect others and you’ll be a celebrity or a senator in no time!

  • vicroby

    Another wrong that needs righting: Thou, Theeand other words commonly used when referring to the Commandments are Old English from the King James Bible which was a translation written between 1604 and 1611 a LONG time after the biblical events. Biblical characters would NOT have used Old English words and phraseology. It hadn't even been “invented” yet.

    • lorily

      shut the fuck up wiseass

      • vicroby

        Hmmmm, thanks very much for your extremely mature comment.

        I wonder what you want to be when you grow up.

        Don't bother sending any more of your immature emails because I won't even lower myself to read them

        —————————————————–

    • AnonMouse

      middle english, not old

      • Claire van den Broek

        Actually you're both incorrect. Old and Middle English are significantly different. The King James version is written in Early Modern English, which is essentially what we speak today, only the way it looked a few centuries ago.

        Compare:

        Old English (Beowulf):

        Hwæt! We Gardena in geardagum,
        þeodcyninga, þrym gefrunon,
        hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.
        Oft Scyld Scefing sceaþena þreatum,

        Middle English (Chaucer):

        So hath my herte caught in rémembraunce
        Your beautè hool, and stedfast governaunce,
        Your vertues allè, and your hy noblesse,
        That you to serve is set al my plesaunce;

        Early Modern English (King James):

        1. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
        2. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
        3. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
        4. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
        5. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

  • Gregory

    This is fine for those of us who aren't mired in the ideology of Xianity. Xians are Xians in name only, not in their deeds or due to the following of their sacred texts. Which is strange, because we ought to be able to “fix” these Xians who have strayed from the straight and narrow way by simply reading their own book to them. But the truth is Xianity has since it became a state-sanctioned religion about 1500 yrs ago has had very little to do with the instruction book that comes with it.

    And of course the Ten Commandments, whether the real ones as noted above, or the ones that Xians refer to as the correct ones erroneously are part of the Old Covenant, and they're supposed to be under the New Covenant. For comparison, it's like using the drivers manual that came with your old 72 Volkswagen Super Beetle for your newer 98 Nissan Altima. Jesus in the New Covenant doesn't go on and on about commandments but says love your neighbor as you love yourself and that everyone is your neighbor. To Xians out there watching, that means brown people, too.

    Try and keep it between the ditches you Xians you.

    But as 5by5 pointed out below, this may also explain why Xians lie, steal, kill and “hike the appalachian trail” and otherwise do not seem to obey their official commandments themselves. It can explain why they worship money and power and why they coveteth what thou haseth and telleth you to keep your governmenteth hands off their medicareth lest their income goeth to thee so tho can haveth healthcareth. (Meanwhile, senior citizens go on teevee and testify why they didn't have to spend a penny on their new Hoveround(tm). I'd like to sit one of these oldies down who are doing donuts in their motorized la-z-boy and explain the concept of Redistribution of My Wealth to them.) Maybe they do know what the REAL Ten Commandments are and so they don't follow them, while wanting to foist the other ones on you to keep you in line, so they can have all the fun.

    Gawd help us all.

    • tonyviner

      You don't have to do that thing with the “X”, it's…just don't.

    • emptyvessel

      I agree with tonyviner. Your position is obvious without the X thing. Considering the context, the site on which it appears, and the other comments, it is unnecessary. That sort of behavior would be more appropriate if you were trolling a Christian-focused website. :-)

      • James J

        it seems odd that you express discontent at “the X thing”, yet you provoke him to go somewhere and do it in front of people who would be truly offended if they understood him. What is your stance here exactly? You aren't offended but you are, and you don't like him being an asshole but you want him to go be more of an asshole to others? wtf?

        • emptyvessel

          Hmm. Perhaps I didn't make my position clear. I'll attempt to remedy that. First, I merely found “the X thing” annoying and distracting. The term “preaching to the choir” comes to mind. I don't disagree with Gregory's position. Second, I fear no retribution. I don't know if that was directed my way, but I'm not sure how you inferred that. And, to clarify, my comment about trolling Christian forums was purely tongue-in-cheek. I read Gregory's tone and use of “the X thing” as intending to provoke a response. Here, among relatively like-minded people, that sort of thing is not needed, IMO. I was trying to say that the comment is the sort of thing I would expect a troll to post on a Christian forum. I certainly was not suggesting he do so. I wasn't even “talking down” to him. I was offering an observation (however critical it may be) as an equal. Furthermore, I never said he was an asshole or that I didn't like him for being one. I fear you read too deeply between the lines, finding messages that were not intended.

          My apologies for not making my stance more immediately apparent to you and perhaps others. I will endeavor to leave less room for such misunderstandings in the future. I do hope you better understand my position. For what it is worth, I am a huge proponent of the weird and the intelligent and would like to see both more often.

          Hail Eris, praise Bob.

          • http://disinfo.com Disinformation

            Thanks emptyvessel for the clarification: bring on more weirdness and intelligence, Praise Bob!

    • James J

      Gregory, I like the X's. this is a good place to do that. your detractors are afraid that having read your words will cause them retribution from a god of some kind. The assertion from one of them that you should go trolling Christian websites is ludicrous. This is Disinformation folks, we're allowed to be weird and it seems pointless to talk down to a weird intelligent person here.

      • http://disinfo.com Disinformation

        Well said, James J.

    • New Guy

      Everyone has been seduced by money and power, not just white, racist, capitalist “Christians” as your post seems to imply. We’ve all been programmed (by design) by this system, it’s media and propaganda, humanism, and our base desires. It must be so easy and satisfying to the ego to pick and choose bad examples of supposed Christians to stereotype a whole world-wide community? Maybe that’s how you elevate yourself? Seems counter to an intelligent and informative website such as this to engage in emotional bashing of a group based on personal bias and stereotypes. It takes no effort or wisdom or integrity and that’s why so many people do it. Isn’t that similar to hating all Muslims and Arabs as terrorists because of a few fanatical, murderous nut jobs? Also easy to do. How many thousands of innocent civilians and children have been maimed and murdered by unmanned drones etc in our institution of “freedom” (conquest) in the middle east? We barely bat an eye at this fact because of the media propaganda and our own callousness. Why don’t you talk about the Christians who are humble, not proud, study the Word, pray for others (even enemies), give unconditionally, and stand up for principles in this inhumane, hypocritical, greedy, me-first society? The fact is, people who want to manipulate, control, steal and kill, will forever use anything they can to justify their actions.

  • vicroby

    Thanks “lorily” for your silly, pathetic, childish and abusive comment. Don't bother sending anymore.

  • Synapse

    This is of course, only a surprise to someone who doesn't read the Hebrew scriptures as most christians do not. The bible makes very little sense when read literally as it was designed from the start to be read alongside an oral tradition that had it's own explanation for how the bible functions. The bible makes no sense without it, and therefore you end up with the christian interpretation through insanity of trying to complete a puzzle with only half the pieces.

    The true irony of the christians defending the ten commandments is that paul effectively said that the old commandments no longer apply, meaning everytihng, only the new covenant matters.

    • http://chiasmushf.livejournal.com/ Robert Fischer

      That supersessionist idea of Paul has been roundly rejected. Paul sees the new covenant as being a fulfillment of the previous covenants, thereby modifying them but certainly not saying they “no longer apply”.

      I had this out on my blog a while back:
      http://enfranchisedmind.com/blog/posts/prioriti

  • airborne11

    It would help if he listed the specific passage where these ten can be found. Here is a link which offers a little more clarity: http://www.positiveatheism.org/crt/whichcom.pdf

  • tonyviner

    Why does it matter which set of made-up rules we abide by?

  • Claire van den Broek

    Actually this web site is not correct. The well known Ten Commandments are given in 20:2-17. God then explicates them in many chapters, and follows with some more rules, mostly a repetition of the much earlier Passover rules (not ten, this website conveniently omits some!!), and then Exodus tell us that eventually, after forty days and forty nights (34:28), Moses writes down the Ten Commandments (given in 20:2-17).

    An understandable confusion on the side of Russ Kick and the author of this website, because the text is so spread out, and then suddenly refers back, in clear words though, to the earlier ten. The bible can be difficult to read, and there are many poor translations out there. Don't make assumptions on the basis of one guy who published a book about the bible, because as you can see here, even published books contain mistakes and misreadings of texts.

    However, Synapse is correct on all other points, in his comments. In Christianity, the Old Testament laws basically become invalidated at the moment that Christ redeems his people. Only New Testament law is relevant from that point on. This is of course where Christian and Jewish religious laws diverge.

    I should clarify that I am not writing this out of religious motivations (I'm an atheist), but merely out of my academic interest in Jewish and Christian mythology.

    • Nick

      Except that Jesus explicitly states that he did not come to abolish the old laws. Sooooo….yeah. How 'bout that?

      • Guest

        Jesus came to fulfill the Law – Gal 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

      • Lakeiran99

        that is true but what bout the sins and both the commandments witch one is more important?

        • Jerebeat02

          Sin was there way before you were born actually. When Adam sinned, we where separated from the glory of God, and we all got a sin nature before we were born. Simply one sin agains the Laws was a condemnation which separate you from God. The Laws was just there to prove than we where not able to live a life without the needed of a savior, which God promised to Adam and all the prophets of the Old Testament. So Jesus came to be crucify at the cross that we can now be free from the Law and have a real relationship with Him. So when we accept Jesus as the Lord of our life and personal Savior, it is written than we can now go the Heaven.

          In the Bible, there is so many Laws, just take the book of Leviticus, than nobody was able to do such thing, and i’m not talking of what you add to do the purify you from the sin in the Old Testament, which was humanly impossible to do. So, we were all in need of a savior. Take just the Law : “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment”, who can honestly say that they can do it ALL THE TIME? Because if your not doing it for a second, you have sinned.

          So, all God’s want, is that we have a great relationship with him. That’s what we can clearly see through to whole Bible.

          But remember one thing, you must accept Jesus as your personal savior to experience a great relationship with God.

          Remember that life is short and that you got to choice to live eternally in Heaven or in hell…

          ps. I am a French speaking person, so i can make mistake in some words, i hope to have clearly made my point…

    • Trotty

      The distinction must be made between “Law” and “Covenant.” Exodus 20 and the proceeding chapters set down the “Law.” Exodus 34 introduces the “Old Covenant/Testament” which was done away with in Christ under the “New Covenant/Testament.” The “Law” was never abolished- Matthew 5:17 “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” Because Jesus fulfilled the “Law”; and in 1 John 2:3-6 Christians are taught that we are to imitate Jesus; by imitating Jesus we also fulfil the “Law.” Now, we cannot perfectly imitate Jesus as fallen creatures. So we are given the Holy Spirit, so that; as long as we surrender ourselves to His will; the Spirit enables us to live righteously (Galatians 5:16). The Spirit also acts to convict us and move us to repent when we refuse to submit to the Spirit and thereby sin against God (Ezekiel 36:27/John14:26).

    • rtaylortitle

      Yes, the mythology is interesting in that so many millions cling to it. For instance, the Bible in the OT speaks of a “virgin” when actually the word translates “young woman.” One would think a god that is omniscient, omnipotent, judicial, righteous, etc. would create a text with no errors and clear to comprehend. I’m a laissez-faire capitalist atheist, but Lenin was correct about one thing, “Religion is the opiate of the masses.”

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_76MITND6RHT2G3FEDZB2QJQM7E C.

        Marx said it actually.  But I agree!

  • Rev. Dr. Myrna Tuttle

    Why must writers continually say “Christians argue” or “Christians say” when only SOME Christians argue, or SOME Christians say a specific thing. In fact the 10 Commandments or Decalogue are a part of the Hebrew or Jewish sacred text as well as a part of the Christian Canon. Where do you get your disinformation, anyway? In fact there are several citations of decalogues in the Tanakh. Several writers and several witnesses were at work in developing the material. Look it up in any recent commentary.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.smyczek Jeremy Smyczek

      Dr. Tuttle,

      “Some Christians” is just as plausible a reading of “Christians” as “all Christians.” Additionally, anyone with a divinity degree who identifies himself or herself as “Dr.” disgraces the title. Go get an MD or a PhD if you want to impress anyone who matters. Your kind of doctor neither heals nor educates anyone.

      • Rev. Dr. Myrna Tuttle

        Jeremy, I disagree with you. Please recognize that you don't know what you don't know. Is “Some Jews” just as plausible a reading of “Jews” as “all Jews?” Or “Some Muslims” just as plausible a reading of “Muslims” as “all Muslims”? And what title am I disgracing? My ordination is authorized. My doctorate is earned.
        I understand it's fun to demonize groups of people unknown and unseen. It feels real good to fight back in any arena that is available. I only want to crab a bit about authors who cartoon rather than critique.

        • Jax

          Is that doctorate stuck in your ass or something? Puh-lease.

      • EAH

        “Your kind of doctor neither heals nor educates anyone.”
        Here's to Mr. Smyczek: personal pain you can believe in (at least until you don't).
        Good riddance to you, sir.

        —James 3:1

        • ape2angel

          'kin 'ell !!! RIght on; might as well go the whole hog with James 3:1-12 !

  • The Pope

    In my opinion, posting the 10 Commandments in public places is not really a good idea.
    First of all, the first 5 are exclusively related to the worship of the Judeo-Christian god. Since religion should not be mixed with stuff like this, it would be a little inconsiderate to stuff these “laws” in the face of everyone, when not all US citizens are part of the Christian religion, or any religion for that instance.

    • raydar878

      Religion is that very things humans cannot be : perfect. Two to five thousand years' ago was only a stone throws away in terms of living history. Therefore, to take man-made religion as serious is to believe as the Aztecs did while they raoed and scraped the skin of a living virgin. If anything, the 10 commandments were made exclusively for practising Jews.

  • Morgan

    Actually if you do the proper research,you will find there were more than just ten commandments.The people that wrote the Bible only used the ten that are commonly known.There are also more books of the Bible,(or scriptures),that the powers that be decided the common man didn't need to know about.If you have ever actually read the Bible,you will find that it is also extremely contradictary.Some verses say the exact opposite or invaladate others.You must rember,the Bible was written by man.It was written after the events surposedly happned.It is not an eye witness account,The people who decided to put it all together,are the ones who decided what you were allowed to know,and hou you were to interprit what you know.

  • Ampuskli

    Also the 10 comandments are part of the 42 negitive confessions in the Egyptian BOOK OF THE DEAD or THE BOOK OF COMMING FOURTH BY DAY. Moses was thuat by the Egypyians please note he states that his supior power came from reading the Holy books in the other books that they refused to include in the Bible

  • ape2angel

    ‘kin ‘ell !!! RIght on; might as well go the whole hog with James 3:1-12 !

  • dngcal

    One problem…the King James Version is wrong and DISINFORMATION is dis-informed. Fact: the 4th commandment (not actually commandments at all but Statements from G_D) make Keeping the Sabbath holy Number 4. Moses repeats what Torah (the 5 books of Moses) state in Deut. not Exodus. The King James Version has beenedited more than 1200 times until the Council of Trent. Only another un-informed Christians makes these errors in the bible as all they know is the KJV. Proof: http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/63255/jewish/The-Bible-with-Rashi.htm

    As for the KJV being wrong…proof: http://www.messiahtruth.com

    The KJV is filled with errors and misrepresentations which attempt to deify Jesus through man made changes within the texts. Your information on the bible requires more study.

    D. Glassman

  • dngcal

    One problem…the King James Version is wrong and DISINFORMATION is dis-informed. Fact: the 4th commandment (not actually commandments at all but Statements from G_D) make Keeping the Sabbath holy Number 4. Moses repeats what Torah (the 5 books of Moses) state in Deut. not Exodus. The King James Version has beenedited more than 1200 times until the Council of Trent. Only another un-informed Christians makes these errors in the bible as all they know is the KJV. Proof: http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/63255/jewish/The-Bible-with-Rashi.htm

    As for the KJV being wrong…proof: http://www.messiahtruth.com

    The KJV is filled with errors and misrepresentations which attempt to deify Jesus through man made changes within the texts. Your information on the bible requires more study.

    D. Glassman

  • dngcal

    One problem…the King James Version is wrong and DISINFORMATION is dis-informed. Fact: the 4th commandment (not actually commandments at all but Statements from G_D) make Keeping the Sabbath holy Number 4. Moses repeats what Torah (the 5 books of Moses) state in Deut. not Exodus. The King James Version has beenedited more than 1200 times until the Council of Trent. Only another un-informed Christians makes these errors in the bible as all they know is the KJV. Proof: http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/63255/jewish/The-Bible-with-Rashi.htm

    As for the KJV being wrong…proof: http://www.messiahtruth.com

    The KJV is filled with errors and misrepresentations which attempt to deify Jesus through man made changes within the texts. Your information on the bible requires more study.

    D. Glassman

  • hiker

    The people God had delivered first hand personally experienced Gods power. They saw His great power and had agreed to be loyal. Thier leader Moses was receiving the greatest revelation of how they were to fulfill thier agreement. Moses arrived at the camp to see the majority of them perish because they had become overwhelming corrupted and destructive to God’s purposes. Those that survived had been changed from the experience and were able to receive a fuller understanding of God’s commandments. God Does Not Change.

  • hiker

    The people God had delivered first hand personally experienced Gods power. They saw His great power and had agreed to be loyal. Thier leader Moses was receiving the greatest revelation of how they were to fulfill thier agreement. Moses arrived at the camp to see the majority of them perish because they had become overwhelming corrupted and destructive to God’s purposes. Those that survived had been changed from the experience and were able to receive a fuller understanding of God’s commandments. God Does Not Change.

  • New Guy

    Everyone has been seduced by money and power, not just white, racist, capitalist “Christians” as your post seems to imply. We’ve all been programmed (by design) by this system, it’s media and propaganda, humanism, and our base desires. It must be so easy and satisfying to the ego to pick and choose bad examples of supposed Christians to stereotype a whole world-wide community? Maybe that’s how you elevate yourself? Seems counter to an intelligent and informative website such as this to engage in emotional bashing of a group based on personal bias and stereotypes. It takes no effort or wisdom or integrity and that’s why so many people do it. Isn’t that similar to hating all Muslims and Arabs as terrorists because of a few fanatical, murderous nut jobs? Also easy to do. How many thousands of innocent civilians and children have been maimed and murdered by unmanned drones etc in our institution of “freedom” (conquest) in the middle east? We barely bat an eye at this fact because of the media propaganda and our own callousness. Why don’t you talk about the Christians who are humble, not proud, study the Word, pray for others (even enemies), give unconditionally, and stand up for principles in this inhumane, hypocritical, greedy, me-first society? The fact is, people who want to manipulate, control, steal and kill, will forever use anything they can to justify their actions.

  • New Guy

    To be a successful and respected American in today’s society those are the exact qualities you need. Be willing to murder, lie, cheat, and disrespect others and you’ll be a celebrity or a senator in no time!

  • Lakeiran99

    that is true but what bout the sins and both the commandments witch one is more important?

  • Anonymous

    Yes, the mythology is interesting in that so many millions cling to it. For instance, the Bible in the OT speaks of a “virgin” when actually the word translates “young woman.” One would think a god that is omniscient, omnipotent, judicial, righteous, etc. would create a text with no errors and clear to comprehend. I’m a laissez-faire capitalist atheist, but Lenin was correct about one thing, “Religion is the opiate of the masses.”

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_76MITND6RHT2G3FEDZB2QJQM7E C.

    Marx said it actually.  But I agree!

  • The House of Madness

    A kid seethed in its mother’s milk. How ironic!

  • The House of Madness

    A kid seethed in its mother’s milk. How ironic!

  • Jerebeat02

    Sin was there way before you were born actually. When Adam sinned, we where separated from the glory of God, and we all got a sin nature before we were born. Simply one sin agains the Laws was a condemnation which separate you from God. The Laws was just there to prove than we where not able to live a life without the needed of a savior, which God promised to Adam and all the prophets of the Old Testament. So Jesus came to be crucify at the cross that we can now be free from the Law and have a real relationship with Him. So when we accept Jesus as the Lord of our life and personal Savior, it is written than we can now go the Heaven.

    In the Bible, there is so many Laws, just take the book of Leviticus, than nobody was able to do such thing, and i’m not talking of what you add to do the purify you from the sin in the Old Testament, which was humanly impossible to do. So, we were all in need of a savior. Take just the Law : “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment”, who can honestly say that they can do it ALL THE TIME? Because if your not doing it for a second, you have sinned.

    So, all God’s want, is that we have a great relationship with him. That’s what we can clearly see through to whole Bible.

    But remember one thing, you must accept Jesus as your personal savior to experience a great relationship with God.

    Remember that life is short and that you got to choice to live eternally in Heaven or in hell…

    ps. I am a French speaking person, so i can make mistake in some words, i hope to have clearly made my point…