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Discussion 4 to Ask the Patriarch 261 & 262
The Ten Commandments

by: JT

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Perhaps you chose to provide your understanding of what are commonly called* the ten commandments knowing that I find them of little value. (Reflection 6) Now I don't mind other people following the 10 commandments, however they choose to interpret them, as long as they don't expect me to use them to guide my life.

But you wanted my view.

As do most of those that talk about the 10 commandments, you have lifted them out of context - lifted the overall selection from the context they are in, and lifted individual commandments from the context of the individual verses. Of course this keeps things brief, but I suggest it changes the flavour.

For example - you start off with, as the first commandment "Thou shall have no other god's before me." But there is a passage that precedes it, and I think it is quite important as it identifies who should follow these rules:

Exodus 20:

  1. And God spake all these words, saying,
  2. I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

Deuteronomy 5

6 I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

That's who these rules (or statutes and ordinances, as the text refers to them, not commandments) are for. They are for the people brought out of Egypt. And this is seen as important enough that the Jews (who break the same passage down differently) call it the first commandment.

Of course God doesn't say others can't follow these statutes and ordinances if they want - but the instructions are directed at Moses' followers - the Israelites.

Now let's look at your second commandment: "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image." Relatively innocuous isn't it - except for artists, perhaps. But you have plucked it out of context of the biblical verses:

Going to Exodus 20 for the complete instruction:

4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

To me this says everything about the morality of the supposed god who issued these instructions - he's an evil entity who will punish children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren for something done by an ancestor. This is profoundly immoral, profoundly wrong, and completely evil. These three verses by themselves are sufficient to reject this god as a force for good and as something to obey.

I just want to make one more point about your understanding of the commandments. Let's look at what you have to say about the 5th and 6th.

5. Honor they father and thy mother.

'Well they brought you into the world, without them you wouldn't exist. Parents always know best provided they are righteous, some, unfortunately, are evil and therefore unable to be honoured.'

6. Thou shall not kill

'No one has the right to take a life regardless of what you think or believe. If they want to kill you, they will suffer for it. Not including accidental death'

What I see here is an interpretation which is essentially an absolute interpretation of the injunction against killing, and a relative interpretation of the injunction to honour parents. You can choose not to honour parents if they don't deserve it - but cannot kill someone, even if they deserve it.

I find that inconsistent, though I do agree with your interpretation of the 5th.

I think it's good to have a moral code. We all should have one. And I commend you for reinterpreting the text in the Bible for what you think is right rather than following the intended meaning. But as soon as you deviate from the original meaning, it's no longer a biblical moral code. It's a personal moral code.

DISCUSSION 5 >

Note

* What we commonly call the 10 Commandments are nowhere identified as such in the Bible. Rather, what the Bible specifically identifies as 10 commandments in Exodus 34:28 are what Moses engraved on two stone tablets (Exodus 34:1, and 34:27) following his god's instructions. Those 10 commandments are found in Exodus 34:14-26. Only three of them correspond to what we commonly call the ten commandments.

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