When and where did we get the idea there are ten commandments?

MooMoo Kerygmania Host
Here is part of Exodus 20
Then God spoke all these words:

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.

You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. For six days you shall labour and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.

Honour your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

You shall not murder.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.

You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.

If you look closely, it is clear that there are only nine. Some churches make ten by saying that "i am the Lord your God... is the first and "You shall not make for yourself an idol..." is the second. Other churches say that the ninth commandment is "You shall not covet your neighbor's house..." and the tenth is "You shall not covet your neighbor's wife..."

How did the idea there are ten commandments originate? Is it a Jewish idea or did Christians invent it? Does anyone know how this came about?

Comments

  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited November 24
    Moo wrote: »
    Here is part of Exodus 20
    Then God spoke all these words:

    I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.

    You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

    You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

    Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. For six days you shall labour and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.

    Honour your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

    You shall not murder.

    You shall not commit adultery.

    You shall not steal.

    You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.

    You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.

    If you look closely, it is clear that there are only nine. Some churches make ten by saying that "i am the Lord your God... is the first and "You shall not make for yourself an idol..." is the second. Other churches say that the ninth commandment is "You shall not covet your neighbor's house..." and the tenth is "You shall not covet your neighbor's wife..."

    How did the idea there are ten commandments originate? Is it a Jewish idea or did Christians invent it? Does anyone know how this came about?
    It’s a Jewish idea, as I understand it. In Hebrew, they are Aseret ha'Dibrot—“the ten words,” or “the ten sayings.” My understanding is that in the Jewish division, the first commandment is “I am the Lord, your God. You shall have no other gods before me.” The ten would be as per your paragraphs.

  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    Wikipedia has a helpful table delineating how different faith traditions divide up the commandments.

    For comparison here are the commandments as given in Deuteronomy.
    Moo wrote: »
    If you look closely, it is clear that there are only nine. Some churches make ten by saying that "i am the Lord your God... is the first and "You shall not make for yourself an idol..." is the second.

    "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery" seems like a pretty important bit. It establishes the identity of the God whom you're not supposed to have any others before (or besides), and some of the characteristics of that God, i.e. "brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery". These seem like very relevant details.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    But "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery" isn't a commandment, at least not as I understand the idea. It's a statement of identification, or at most, a justification for obeying the commandments that follow.

    "I am your physician, with a degree from Harvard Medical school. And I am telling you that you need to quit smoking now." Only the second sentence qualifies a doctor's order.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    Sorry. That should read "...qualifies as a doctor's order".
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited November 24
    stetson wrote: »
    But "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery" isn't a commandment, at least not as I understand the idea. It's a statement of identification, or at most, a justification for obeying the commandments that follow.

    "I am your physician, with a degree from Harvard Medical school. And I am telling you that you need to quit smoking now." Only the second sentence qualifies a doctor's order.
    But as I noted above, the Hebrew name for these translates as “the ten words” or “the ten sayings.” The Septuagint calls them the Decalogue—ten words. As best I can tell, “commandments” is an English term that started with the Geneva Bible and then was picked up by the King James.

    And as also noted above, by the traditional Jewish numbering, the first goes beyond what you quoted; it’s: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.”

    I’m not sure why there’s confusion about the number. (Yes, I know there are differences in how those numbers are parsed.) Looking at what @Moo has in OP, there are 10 paragraphs and 10 “you shalls/you shall nots” after the initial “Then God spoke all these words.”

    I must be missing something.

  • The term "commandment" is a misnomer. As Nick pointed out, the better term is "words."

    It as to do with how you approach the listed sayings. Do you approach them as something that is prescriptive? Or as descriptive? Are they demands concerning how to obtain righteousness, or are they indications of righteousness? To me, they describe an ideal community.

    Another word I learned in relation to these sayings is "gifts."
  • Gramps49 wrote: »
    The term "commandment" is a misnomer. As Nick pointed out, the better term is "words."

    It as to do with how you approach the listed sayings. Do you approach them as something that is prescriptive? Or as descriptive? Are they demands concerning how to obtain righteousness, or are they indications of righteousness? To me, they describe an ideal community.

    Another word I learned in relation to these sayings is "gifts."

    @Mousethief related that his ?lecturer said that they were the Ten Expectations. I've gone with that.
    My Religion of Israel lecturer called them apodictic laws, as there are no penalties for disobeying them, unlike Deuteronomic Laws which specified penalties.

    Interestingly, In the Matthean presentation of Jesus as a prophet like Moses, in Jesus' first (of five) discourse there are nine Beatitudes. Of course, where God gives the Ten whatsit's to Moses, Jesus is the one giving the Beatitudes. We are left to make the connection/ comparison/progression.
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    edited November 24
    @Mousethief related that his ?lecturer said that they were the Ten Expectations. I've gone with that.

    Hebrew professor.
  • TelfordTelford Shipmate
    I have always wondered how it was possible to record it all on 2 tablets of stone
  • Telford wrote: »
    I have always wondered how it was possible to record it all on 2 tablets of stone
    And if the contents were properly remembered after they had been destroyed. 10C(version 2.0) came out a bit differently.
  • Gill HGill H Shipmate
    Telford wrote: »
    I have always wondered how it was possible to record it all on 2 tablets of stone

    It was downloaded from the cloud onto a tablet. Moses was very ahead of his time!
  • The authors of Genesis would have been familiar with the use of cuneiform and would have had plenty of examples of relatively small tablets carrying quite extensive texts - including legal codes. We could easily write the 10 Commandments onto a side a A4 paper, cuneiform or heiroglyphs are not as compact when inscribed into clay but two tablets of that size could have easily accommodated the same information (remember the text could be on both sides).
  • Nick Tamen wrote: »
    The Septuagint calls them the Decalogue—ten words.

    Where? Do you mean the Septuagint or the apparatus?
  • GarethMoonGarethMoon Deckhand, StyxNoComment
    Then God spoke all these words:

    I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.

    You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

    I'm sure I've heard somewhere that at some point Jewish thought was that these two (three?) were commandments from God and the others were additional laws from Moses to ensure compliance.

    After those it does seem to switch from God speaking in the first person to Moses speaking about God. At least in English.
  • tclunetclune Shipmate
    edited November 25
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    The term "commandment" is a misnomer.
    <SNIP>
    Another word I learned in relation to these sayings is "gifts."

    The Torah itself uses a variety of words to describe the list. Deuteronomy 5:22 uses the word mitzvot, which means "commandment." It has a secondary sense of "blessing," which is probably where the association with "gifts" comes from. While the ten commandments are called out specially in both Judaism and Christianity, Judaism traditionally identifies 613 mitzvot in the Torah. FWIW
  • mousethief wrote: »
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    The Septuagint calls them the Decalogue—ten words.

    Where? Do you mean the Septuagint or the apparatus?
    The Septuagint: Exodus 34:28 and Deuteronomy 10:4.

    Though I should have been more precise; the Septuagint doesn’t actually use “Decalogue” as such. It uses deka logous (ten words), from which we get the English word “Decalogue.”

  • TelfordTelford Shipmate
    Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. For six days you shall labour and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—

    It took the Jews many centuries to work out what 'work actually meant.
  • MaryLouiseMaryLouise Purgatory Host, Epiphanies Host
    Telford wrote: »
    Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. For six days you shall labour and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—

    It took the Jews many centuries to work out what 'work actually meant.

    That sounds really ugly. @Telford what are you saying?
  • Jesus had several run-ins with the Pharisees regarding Sabbath observance. For example, from Matthew 12
    10 And behold, there was a man with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath?” so that they might accuse him. 11 He said to them, “What man of you, if he has one sheep and it falls into a pit on the sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? 12 Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the sabbath.”
    The Jews of the 1st century, under guidance from the Pharisees and lawyers, had a strict understanding of Sabbath keeping and work, but one that they instinctively broke if there was even a sheep needing help. "It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath", says Jesus.

    Does this mean Jesus is removing Sabbath observance from the Ten Commandments? Or, adding some clarification that there are some forms of work (doing good) which are permitted? Or, even is He classifying doing good as something that isn't work, and therefore not proscribed by the Commandment against work on the Sabbath? Under that third option it could certainly be argued that the Jews hadn't understood what constitutes "work" within the context of Sabbath keeping.

  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    edited November 26
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    It uses deka logous (ten words), from which we get the English word “Decalogue.”
    I gather 'logous' has a wide range of meanings. Does it ever mean words specifically as distinguished from phrases or things said? Would ten sayings be a better translation? I don't know Greek.

  • Jesus had several run-ins with the Pharisees regarding Sabbath observance. For example, from Matthew 12
    10 And behold, there was a man with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath?” so that they might accuse him. 11 He said to them, “What man of you, if he has one sheep and it falls into a pit on the sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? 12 Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the sabbath.”
    The Jews of the 1st century, under guidance from the Pharisees and lawyers, had a strict understanding of Sabbath keeping and work, but one that they instinctively broke if there was even a sheep needing help. "It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath", says Jesus.

    Does this mean Jesus is removing Sabbath observance from the Ten Commandments? Or, adding some clarification that there are some forms of work (doing good) which are permitted? Or, even is He classifying doing good as something that isn't work, and therefore not proscribed by the Commandment against work on the Sabbath? Under that third option it could certainly be argued that the Jews hadn't understood what constitutes "work" within the context of Sabbath keeping.

    Yes, I wondered if this was the sort of thing to which @Telford was rather obliquely referring.
  • Dafyd wrote: »
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    It uses deka logous (ten words), from which we get the English word “Decalogue.”
    I gather 'logous' has a wide range of meanings. Does it ever mean words specifically as distinguished from phrases or things said? Would ten sayings be a better translation? I don't know Greek.
    Nor do I. But my understanding is that logous/words is the literal translation of the Hebrew. (Again, though, I don’t speak Hebrew.)

    I assume “word” here is in keeping with the phrase often encountered in the OT: “The word of the Lord came to . . . . “ Something akin to a synecdoche.

  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    MaryLouise wrote: »
    Telford wrote: »
    Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. For six days you shall labour and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—

    It took the Jews many centuries to work out what 'work actually meant.

    That sounds really ugly. @Telford what are you saying?

    I'm not gonna assume that Telford meant anything ugly by that comment, though I would be interested in further explication on his part.
  • MaryLouiseMaryLouise Purgatory Host, Epiphanies Host
    @stetson, well @AlanCresswell suggested what @Telford might have been getting at. Cryptic phrases can be really confusing.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    edited November 26
    Jesus had several run-ins with the Pharisees regarding Sabbath observance. For example, from Matthew 12
    10 And behold, there was a man with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath?” so that they might accuse him. 11 He said to them, “What man of you, if he has one sheep and it falls into a pit on the sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? 12 Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the sabbath.”
    The Jews of the 1st century, under guidance from the Pharisees and lawyers, had a strict understanding of Sabbath keeping and work, but one that they instinctively broke if there was even a sheep needing help. "It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath", says Jesus.

    Does this mean Jesus is removing Sabbath observance from the Ten Commandments? Or, adding some clarification that there are some forms of work (doing good) which are permitted? Or, even is He classifying doing good as something that isn't work, and therefore not proscribed by the Commandment against work on the Sabbath? Under that third option it could certainly be argued that the Jews hadn't understood what constitutes "work" within the context of Sabbath keeping.

    Luther believed every day was as holy as any other day. For him, "sabbath-keeping" was in the hearing and following the Word of God every day of the week. To be sure, Luther, also recognized the importance of resting; but, again, it did not have to depend on a particular day of the week.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    MaryLouise wrote: »
    Telford wrote: »
    Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. For six days you shall labour and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—

    It took the Jews many centuries to work out what 'work actually meant.

    That sounds really ugly. @Telford what are you saying?

    It took me quite some time to decipher how Telford's post could be ugly. I read it as saying that it took the Jewish people quite some time to decide just what was barred on the Sabbath. Can you rescue a person trapped on a cliff? If yes, can you do the same for a lamb? Where do you draw the line?
  • RussRuss Deckhand, Styx
    MaryLouise wrote: »
    @stetson, well @AlanCresswell suggested what @Telford might have been getting at. Cryptic phrases can be really confusing.

    I read @Telford as saying that Jesus encountered and criticised a tradition that had developed over a long period of time.

    Implying that the word of God (who according to the OT originated the notion) is hard for humankind to grasp.

    Which seems pretty small-o orthodox, and not particularly cryptic nor ugly.

  • jay_emmjay_emm Shipmate
    edited November 27
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    But as I noted above, the Hebrew name for these translates as “the ten words” or “the ten sayings.” The Septuagint calls them the Decalogue—ten words. As best I can tell, “commandments” is an English term that started with the Geneva Bible and then was picked up by the King James.

    And as also noted above, by the traditional Jewish numbering, the first goes beyond what you quoted; it’s: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.”

    I’m not sure why there’s confusion about the number. (Yes, I know there are differences in how those numbers are parsed.) Looking at what @Moo has in OP, there are 10 paragraphs and 10 “you shalls/you shall nots” after the initial “Then God spoke all these words.”

    I must be missing something.

    I wonder if changing it from words to commandments forces a renumbering. "I am ...slavery" is a perfectly valid bullet point, and there definitely is a bit of instruction. But makes a rubbish commandment.

    [Counting you shall nots hidden, as boring]
    Then God spoke all these words:

    I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; (1)you shall have no other gods before me.

    (2)You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. (3)You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

    (4)You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

    Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. For six days (5?)you shall labour and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; (5b)you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.

    (?)Honour your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving 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 neighbour.

    (10)You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; (11)you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.
    Paragraphs are of course affected by our punctuation.
    There are 11 "Thou shall nots" in the text provided. I might look up to see there's a obvious Hebrew thing I can pattern match.

    First the header is 9 words (as spaced out), there doesn't seem any obvious compound words. It was worth a check, it wouldn't have been the first block of text referenced by how it begins.

    Secondly (and I do recall hearing this before), there's no "You shall not". But probably something like "not (inflected verb*)". Assuming that is the case, there are some elements that seem to match "(you shall) Not"'s, some "And (you shall) not" and of course "not acquit".

    I'm not going to be able to count them, that would require actual understanding and looking at sentence level rather than word level. Nothing screams out as being an obvious structure (but if it isn't obvious again, I'd have no chances of spotting it).
  • tclunetclune Shipmate
    ISTM that folks are putting too much emphasis on the number 10. The Bible is filled with numbers that have more symbolic than literal sense. Consider all the "40" things, or the "12" disciples (try getting a single list of THAT without providing a bunch of very suspect assumptions about naming!) Different religious traditions lump the text together in different ways to come up with the number 10, but if anyone has ever read Maimonides' list of the 613 mitzvot at the beginning of his Mishneh Torah, you will recognize that the list could have been shrunk to 500 or expanded to 700 with very little effort. It was 613 because that was what tradition called for, not because the text required it.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    edited November 27
    tclune wrote: »
    ISTM that folks are putting too much emphasis on the number 10. The Bible is filled with numbers that have more symbolic than literal sense. Consider all the "40" things, or the "12" disciples (try getting a single list of THAT without providing a bunch of very suspect assumptions about naming!) Different religious traditions lump the text together in different ways to come up with the number 10, but if anyone has ever read Maimonides' list of the 613 mitzvot at the beginning of his Mishneh Torah, you will recognize that the list could have been shrunk to 500 or expanded to 700 with very little effort. It was 613 because that was what tradition called for, not because the text required it.

    You may have something there. I found this explanation:
    The number ten relates to completion, wholeness, or speaking about
    something in its entirety. In Luke's Gospel, Yeshua uses the number ten frequently
    in His parables or when recounting an event. Yeshua spoke of ten coins (chapter
    15), ten lepers (chapter 17), ten servants (chapter 19), and ten units of money
    (chapter 19). In Matthew's Gospel, Yeshua refers to ten virgins; while in Mark's
    Gospel ten cities. In all of these passages, Yeshua is utilizing the number ten in a
    collective manner. In other words, He is speaking about ten in a general manner or
    as a whole. (R Baruch, PhD, Hebrew Numerology and the Bible)
  • Interesting @Gramps49 - thanks for that!
  • TelfordTelford Shipmate
    MaryLouise wrote: »
    Telford wrote: »
    Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. For six days you shall labour and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—

    It took the Jews many centuries to work out what 'work actually meant.

    That sounds really ugly. @Telford what are you saying?

    Nothing ugly about it. It's a reference to the Talmud. Jewish scholars got together and discussed how the law of Moses should be interpreted.
    Jesus had several run-ins with the Pharisees regarding Sabbath observance. For example, from Matthew 12
    10 And behold, there was a man with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath?” so that they might accuse him. 11 He said to them, “What man of you, if he has one sheep and it falls into a pit on the sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? 12 Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the sabbath.”
    The Jews of the 1st century, under guidance from the Pharisees and lawyers, had a strict understanding of Sabbath keeping and work, but one that they instinctively broke if there was even a sheep needing help. "It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath", says Jesus.

    Does this mean Jesus is removing Sabbath observance from the Ten Commandments? Or, adding some clarification that there are some forms of work (doing good) which are permitted? Or, even is He classifying doing good as something that isn't work, and therefore not proscribed by the Commandment against work on the Sabbath? Under that third option it could certainly be argued that the Jews hadn't understood what constitutes "work" within the context of Sabbath keeping.
    Good example
    Gee D wrote: »
    MaryLouise wrote: »
    Telford wrote: »
    Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. For six days you shall labour and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—

    It took the Jews many centuries to work out what 'work actually meant.

    That sounds really ugly. @Telford what are you saying?

    It took me quite some time to decipher how Telford's post could be ugly. I read it as saying that it took the Jewish people quite some time to decide just what was barred on the Sabbath. Can you rescue a person trapped on a cliff? If yes, can you do the same for a lamb? Where do you draw the line?

    Exactly what happened.
  • MaryLouiseMaryLouise Purgatory Host, Epiphanies Host
    Sorry if I misunderstood you, @Telford. Examples would have helped.
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