[Vision2020] Which Commandments? How many?

Nielsen, Ralph (nielsen@uidaho.edu) nielsen at uidaho.edu
Wed Aug 20 19:53:28 PDT 2014

Sent to the Moscow Daily News and the Lewiston Tribune.

What’s the real story of the so-called Ten Commandments (Exodus 19-20)?
When the Israelites came to Mount Sinai Moses told them to wash their clothes and not have sex for three days. Then Mount Sinai was enveloped in thick clouds and smoke and rocked by earthquakes and loud trumpet blasts. Moses went up the mountain, where the LORD spoke "these words" (Exodus 20:1-17) to Moses, who in turn spoke them to the people.
These words or commandments are not numbered, and there are more than ten of them. Among others, you must not make an idol of anything that lives in the waters under the earth (the earth is flat, with four corners). You must not work between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday. If you honor your parents you will live a long life (because there is no life after death in which to be rewarded). You must not covet any of your neighbor’s property, including his house, his wife, his slaves and his livestock.
Nowhere in these two chapters (Exodus 19-20) does it say that these words or commandments were carved on tablets of stone. Nor are they numbered. Jews, Catholics and Protestants divide them into ten commandments, but they can’t agree on how to divide them, nor on how to number them.
So why waste time, money and materials to erect images of them on public land? You are bound to offend somebody: wrong listing, wrong numbering, wrong place.

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