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The Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments


1. "I am the Lord your G‑d, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

2. "You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, nor any manner of likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them, nor serve them. For I the Lord your G‑d am a jealous G‑d, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children of the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me; and showing mercy unto the thousandth generation of them that love Me and keep My commandments.

3. "You shall not take the name of the Lord your G‑d in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain.

4. "Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work; but the seventh day is a Sabbath unto the Lord your G‑d. On it you shall not do any manner of work -- you, your son, your daughter, your man-servant, your maid-servant, your cattle, and your stranger that is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested on the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath Day, and hallowed it.

5. "Honor your father and mother, so that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your G‑d gives you.

6. "You shall not murder.

7. "You shall not commit adultery.

8. "You shall not steal.

9. "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

10. "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, his manservant, his maid-servant, his ox, his ass, nor anything that is your neighbor's."

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Discussion (37)
June 22, 2016
Re: 10 Commandments
It is true that "Ten Commandments" is only a loose translation of "Aseret Hadibrot," albeit one that people are familiar with.
The Ten Commandments were not meant to be exhaustive, as there are 613 commandments in the Torah. Immoral acts are indeed abhorred by the Torah. However, we should not expect the Torah to express itself in terms that have only lately come into popular use. There is no reason to assume that those are the best ways to categorize what is morally bad. Also see Torah Slavery and the Jews and Does the Torah promote genocide
The Torah was not given all in a single sitting, but was completed over forty years. See also How did the Torah exist before it happened
On the Oral Torah see What is the Oral Torah?
Indeed, those laws that have a rabbi's name attached to them are not considered to be directly from Moses.
Rabbi Shmary Brownstein
June 8, 2016
The 10 Commandments
The concept of "10 commandments" since there is no equivalent expression in Judaism, as far as I know. עשרת הדיברות means "the 10 utterances", not "the 10 commandments."

Why is there no commandment not to enslave, rape or commit genocide? All of those actions, in one way or another, are sanctioned by God, yet as 21st century human beings, we all know that they are immoral, reprehensible and subject to severe punishment.

Just exactly what is alleged to have transpired at Mt. Sinai? What is meant by "receiving the Torah"? Did the Jewish people receive a hand written, complete sefer torah? If the Oral Tradition was given there also, why, throughout the Mishneh and Gemara, are all statements made in the name of rabbi so and so? If God gave us the Oral Tradition, should not all statements of halacha be prefaced with "God said at Sinai"? If God didn't provide the rules, then who did?
Adiv Abramson
May 25, 2016
'take' and 'vain'
Came here looking for deeper meanings of 'take' and 'vain' in #3, which has puzzled me for about half a century. Then I saw the parallel 'five things' version. Then I saw 'take' as in marriage, and then I saw not ten, and not five, but one.
January 4, 2016
To covet?
In Hebrew, the word is "chamad" which means "take" rather than "covet." Commonly accepted translations are often suspect, as with "murder" rather than "kill."
April 16, 2015
re : are all commandments equal ?
Thank you Ben, for the clarification.
anonymous gentile
April 16, 2015
Re: are all 10 commandments equal?
'anonymous gentile' - your comments are correct.

(p.s. it is not only the Sabbath that can be violated to save a life (including your own) - any of the 613 commandments can be violated to save a life, except for the 3 cardinal sins.)
Ben Finger
April 12, 2015
are all 10 commandments equal
one exception I know of is that a Jewish person may discontinue the Sabbath temporarily in order to help save a life. eg. If I was hanging off a 200m cliff by one hand and an orthodox rabbi happened to walk by, it's most likely that he would help me even if it is Sabbath.
anonymous gentile
April 12, 2015
Re: are all 10 commandments equal?
One of the expressions I 've read about the Mitzvot is that each one is like a fiber from a single rope which connects the Jewish soul and G-d.
You keep the commandments so as not to sever this bond, and one must cleave to G-d.
Although a gentile I've been visiting for about 3 years and have never heard or read a comment by a rabbi or a rebettzin(a wife of a rabbi) that says one mitzvah has more value than the other . I think it also says in either the Oral tradition or the Pirkei Avot (sorry memorizing is not one of my gifts) that one should not compare the value of each mitzvah. But as Ben commented Gentiles can follow the 7 Noachide laws, unlike christianity which says if one does not accept their beliefs "salvation" cannot be attained. In Judaism individual salvation is not the point, Tikun Olam (a kind of collective salvation , betterment of the world and the coming of the moshiach) is.
anonymous gentile
March 23, 2015
re. are all 10 commandments equal?
What do you mean by equal?

They are equal in the sense that Jewish people need to follow all 10 of them (plus the other 603 commandments and their related rules).
According to most opinions, all the commandments are equally important and in any case we have to keep them all, regardless of what seems more important. There are three cardinal sins which we must die rather than commit, all the others we do not need to die for, so in some sense those three are more important.
You could generally say that the first commandment is the most important because you need the belief in G-d, and the belief that He gave the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai and to Israel, to be the underlying reason you perform all the commandments.

The Rabbis have drawn added significance to different commandments to illustrate a philosophical point but ultimately, we have to follow all commandments and we do not know which are more important than others, and most likely, they are all equally important. One example: Rabbi Hillel said “love thy neighbour as thyself – this is the greatest commandment” – but that is just to illustrate the point that the commandments fall into 2 general categories (a) between man and G-d; and (b) between man and man, and whilst both are essential, the second category is more important on one level, because G-d will forgive you if you repent sincerely, but there is no guarantee with man. Also, man can be hurt by your not being nice to him, but G-d of course can never be hurt by your not following His commandments because He is in no way deficient.

Ultimately, the reward two people get for following the same commandment will almost certainly differ. We are judged subjectively based on our individual circumstances, not against some objective standard. So for example: if I steal a sweet from a shop I might get minus 10 points, but if a starving person who’s parents are robbers steals a sweet, he might get minus 1 point only for not stealing 2 sweets! So we can’t tell the reward. We all have to follow all the commandments we can.
Ben Finger
London, UK
March 22, 2015
are all 10 commandments equal?