Reverend Steve's Christian Website


  The Twelve Commandments

1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

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

3. 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.

4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 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: 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.

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

6. Thou shalt not kill.

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

8. Thou shalt not steal.

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

10. 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.

Matthew: 22.37

11.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the most important commandment.

12. The second most important commandment is like it: Love your neighbor as you love yourself.  The whole Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets depend on these two commandments.

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Traditional Division And Interpretation

According to the Medieval Sefer ha-Chinuch, the first four statements concern the relationship between God and humans, while the next six statements concern the relationships between people. Rabbinic literature holds that the Ten Statements in fact contain 14 or 15 distinct instructions.

  1. "I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me...".
  2. This commandment is to believe in the existence of God and His influence on events in the world, and that the goal of the redemption from Egypt was to become His servants (Rashi). It prohibits belief in or worship of any additional deities.
     
  3. "Do not make an image or any likeness of what is in the heavens above..."
    This prohibits the construction or fashioning of "idols" in the likeness of created things (beasts, fish, birds, people) and worshipping them.
  4. "Do not swear falsely by the name of the LORD..."
    This commandment is to never take the name of God in a vain, pointless or insincere oath.
     
  5. "Remember [zachor] the Sabbath day and keep it holy" (the version in Deuteronomy reads shamor, "observe")
    The seventh day of the week is termed Shabbat and is holy, just as God ceased creative activity during Creation. The aspect of zachor is performed by declaring the greatness of the day (kiddush), by having three festive meals, and by engaging in Torah study and pleasurable activities. The aspect of shamor is performed by abstaining from productive activity (39 melachot) on the Shabbat.
     
  6. "Honor your father and your mother..."
    The obligation to honor one's parents is an obligation that one owes to God and fulfills this obligation through one's actions towards one's parents.
     
  7. "Do not murder"
    Murdering a human being is a capital sin.
     
  8. "Do not commit adultery."
    Adultery is defined as sexual intercourse between a man and a married woman who is not his wife.
     
  9. "Do not steal."
    According to the Talmud, this commandment refers to kidnapping and not to theft of material property, as theft of property is forbidden elsewhere, and it is not a capital offense. In this context it is to be taken as "do not kidnap."
     
  10. "Do not bear false witness against your neighbor"
    One must not bear false witness in a court of law or other proceeding.
     
  11. "Do not covet your neighbor's wife"
    One is forbidden to desire and plan how one may obtain that which God has given to another. Maimonides makes a distinction in codifying the laws between the instruction given here in Exodus (You shall not covet) and that given in Deuteronomy (You shall not desire), according to which one does not violate the Exodus commandment unless there is a physical action associated with the desire, even if this is legally purchasing an envied object.