Ten Commandments

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The Ten Commandments (always so called, although there are more imperatives given than ten: they are grouped into ten slightly different units by different traditions) are the laws said by Jews and Christians to have been received by the prophet Moses from God on the top of Mount Sinai. They are written in two slightly different forms in two places in the Old Testament. The first is in Exodus, chapter 20, vv 2-17. The translation is from the Authorised Version. The bold emphasis is added for this article in AWE. The numbers are those of the Bible verses

"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.

3: Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

the first commandment

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.

the second commandment

7: Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

the third commandment

8: Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

9: Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

10: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

11: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

the fourth commandment

12: Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

the fifth commandment

13: Thou shalt not kill.

the sixth commandment

14: Thou shalt not commit adultery.

the seventh commandment

15: Thou shalt not steal.

the eighth commandment

16: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

the ninth commandment

17: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's."

the tenth commandment

The second text of the Ten Commandments is given in Deuteronomy, chapter 5, verses 6 - 21. The translation is again taken from the Authorised Version.

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

7: Thou shalt have none other gods before me.

the first commandment

8: Thou shalt not make 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 waters beneath the earth:

9: Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto 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,

10: And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.

the second commandment

11: Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

the third commandment

12: Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee.

13: Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work:

14: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou.

15: And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.

the fourth commandment

16: Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

the fifth commandment

17: Thou shalt not kill.

the sixth commandment

18: Neither shalt thou commit adultery.

the sventh commandment

19: Neither shalt thou steal.

the eighth commandment

20: Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour.

the ninth commandment

21: Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour's wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour's house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbour's.

the tenth commandment

22: These words the LORD spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me."

It is because of this last line that the Ten Commandments are sometimes called 'The Ten Tables'.

For more about the circumstances in which God communicated the Ten Commandments to Moses see Moses: the Ten Commandments.