The theocratic Right is conducting a "Hang Ten!" crusade, to get the Ten Commandments posted on the walls of government buildings such as schools and courthouses, to give government endorsement to them. But the versions posted are usually edited and paraphrased, creating a false impression. Perhaps people would be more wary of these efforts if they read the original text, and understood the "divinely ordained" penalties attached. The following quotes will help put the Commandments in context. -JBH



The First Commandment:
Exodus 20:2, Deuteronomy 5:6
I am Yahveh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me.

The First Penalty:
2 Chronicles 15:13 ...whoever would not seek Yahveh, the God of Israel, should be put to death, whether young or old, man or woman.

Exodus 22:20 Whoever sacrifices to any god, save to Yahveh only, shall be utterly destroyed.

Deuteronomy 13:6-9 If your brother, the son of your mother, or your daughter, or the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, entices you secretly, saying, 'let us go and serve other gods', ... you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him; but you shall kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.

The Second Commandment:
Exodus 20:4, Deuteronomy 5:8
You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I Yahveh your God am a jealous god, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

The Second Penalty:
Exodus 32:27 Thus says Yahveh God of Israel, put every man his sword on his side, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor. [Who broke the above commandment.]

The Third Commandment:
Exodus 20:7, Deuteronomy 5:11
You shall not take the name of Yahveh your God in vain; for Yahveh will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

The Third Penalty:
Leviticus 24:16 He who blasphemes the name of Yahveh shall be put to death; all of the congregation shall stone him.

The Fourth Commandment:
Exodus 20:8, Deuteronomy 5:12
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 to Yahveh your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, or your male slave, or your female slave, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates; for in six days Yahveh made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore Yahveh blessed the seventh day and hallowed it.

The Fourth Penalty:
Exodus 31:14-15 You shall keep the sabbath, because it is holy for you; every one who profanes it shall be put to death; whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to Yahveh; whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall be put to death.

Exodus 35:2 Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a holy sabbath of solemn rest to Yahveh; whoever does any work on it shall be put to death; you shall kindle no fire in all your habitations on the sabbath day.

The Fifth Commandment:
Exodus 20:12, Deuteronomy 5:16
Honor your father and mother, that your days may be long in the land which Yahveh your God gives you.

The Fifth Penalty:
Leviticus 20:9 For every one who curses his father or his mother shall be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother, his blood is upon him.
Matthew 15:4 For Yahveh commanded, "honor your father and your mother", and "He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die."

Deuteronomy 21:18 If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son, who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother.... Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones...

[Also relevant here is Proverbs 23:13-14. Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.]

The Sixth Commandment:
Exodus 20:13, Deuteronomy 5:17
You shall not kill.

The Sixth Penalty:
Exodus 21:12 Whoever strikes a man so that he dies shall be put to death.

Leviticus 24:17 He who kills a man shall be put to death.

The Seventh Commandment:
Exodus 20:14, Deuteronomy 5:18
You shall not commit adultery.

The Seventh Penalty:
Leviticus 20:10 If a man commit adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death.
Deuteronomy 22:22 If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman; so shall you purge the evil from Israel.
[Having multiple wives, or keeping concubines, or having sex with prostitutes, is not adultery; adultery in the Bible consists of creating doubt about paternity, i.e. having sex with another man's wife.]

The Eighth Commandment:
Exodus 20:15, Deuteronomy 5:19
You shall not steal.

The Eighth Penalty:
For stealing slaves, Exodus 21:16: Whoever steals a man, whether he sells him or is found in possession of him, shall be put to death.
For a thief caught in the act, Exodus 22:2: If a thief is found breaking in, and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him; but if the sun has risen on him, there shall be bloodguilt for him.

For stealing most things other than slaves, penalties involve making restitution and paying fines. Exodus 22:1-3: If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and kills it or sells it, he shall pay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep... If the stolen beast is found in his possession... he shall pay double. He shall make restitution; if he has nothing, then he shall be sold [into slavery] for his theft.

The Ninth Commandment:
Exodus 20:16, Deuteronomy 5:20
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

The Ninth Penalty:
Prov. 19:9 A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall perish.
This seems to be more of a rhetorical warning than a law, however. Some examples: 1 Kings 21, 2 Kings 5, those who testified falsely got off with only a curse on themselves and their descendants.

The Tenth Commandment:
Exodus 20:17, Deuteronomy 5:21
You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male slave, or his female slave, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor's.

There seems to be no particular penalty specified in the Bible for this, other than the following.

There are dire warnings of doom for those who break any of the Commandments. Deuteronomy 28:17-68 is a great rant, very much worth reading.

Matthew 5:17 Jesus says: Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

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Comment by Grinning Cat on July 12, 2014 at 2:59pm

Orthodox Judaism also teaches that there was an "oral law" given in parallel with the written law. (Even now great precedence is accorded to earlier generations of rabbinic interpreters, who were "closer to the revelation at Mt. Sinai".)

One of the early effects of this was to largely reinterpret the death penalties out of existence -- only applicable when the Sanhedrin, the religious high court in Jerusalem, existed; the person had to be warned with chapter and verse before committing the crime, etc. Another was to hold that "an eye for an eye" and so forth means the value of an eye for an eye; someone who maimed another person was to be fined proportionately, not maimed in return.

That still doesn't make "God said so" an authoritative or reliable source of morality!

As Joan Denoo said in another discussion: Morals and Ethics come from being born a social animal

Comment by Grinning Cat on July 12, 2014 at 2:53pm

Obligatory silliness: the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement might well be pleased with a very literal reading of this passage:

Leviticus 24:17 He who kills a man shall be put to death.

A bloody infinite loop!
Comment by IAmTheBlog on July 8, 2010 at 2:58am
But why should people have to actually *read* the full Ten Commandments, or have them explained to them? Everyone already knows the most important parts:

* There are 10 commandments.
* The Bill of Rights has 10 amendments. Coincidence?!
* Oh, and the Constitution or Declaration mentions God somewhere or another. And it's on our money. So there.

But seriously, they can't even decide what the 10 commandments are.

Although the explanations given about the commandments are good and would hopefully make children or their teachers think, it's also not the state's job to discourage religion. I think posting the Bill of Rights (and an explanation of them) would be useful. Maybe after studying the 1st amendment more in depth, children would understand why the 10 commandments shouldn't be up in their classrooms and could teach their elders a thing or two.
Comment by Michael Pianko on July 8, 2010 at 12:13am
Many people who claim to believe in the bible/Judaism/Christianity don't actually read the long version of the ten commandments; I know that there was no point in my Jewish religious attempted brainwashing when I was ever told to or expected to read any part of the Tanakh (aka old testament + psalms + other so called holy Hebrew texts). Yet I kept hearing about how important the torah (old testament) was; the religious Jewish establishment wants Jews to adopt certain attitudes and beliefs while acting under the pretense that these beliefs come from the torah, and they are always making up new casuistry to explain how anything and everything they want you to believe somehow has to come from the torah (so rabbi's can brainwash their scrupulosity and obsessive-compulsive behaviors and beliefs into others without being at fault in any way).
Comment by Dale on July 8, 2010 at 12:05am
I think it is all the more reason for them to push their beliefs on people and to be nosy into other peoples business. If you are going to be punished for the acts of your neighbor, on top of that punishment is regardless of age (or generation in some cases) then if you truly believe this crap you are going to be trying to make everyone just like you because one transgression means everyone is punished.
Comment by Dale on July 7, 2010 at 11:48pm
Don't forget for the second commandment, you don't just kill those who broke it, but their neighbors as well. I wonder if you are the neighbor do you have to kill yourself?
Comment by Michael Pianko on July 7, 2010 at 4:49pm
I mentioned the punishment about stoning children to my aunt who is an orthodox Jew, and she claims that the rabbis interpreted it so that you can only do this in the month of elul at 12 noon or some other crazy casuistry...
Comment by Loren Miller on July 7, 2010 at 3:30pm
[cut - paste!] DEFINITE keeper! Many thanks!



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