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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Only 8 commandments originally


Our church is starting a series on the Ten Commandments, but listening to the story surrounding the events at Mt. Sinai makes me think that there were originally only Eight Commandments.

Let's set the scene. There's a somewhat irascible Old Testament God writing the commandments with his finger on stone tablets -- a tedious job. Moses takes the tablets back down the mountain, only to find that the ungrateful Israelites have set up a Golden Calf.  Moses angrily breaks the tablets and much angst ensues.

Later, Moses has to go back up the mountain and get another set of stone tablets. I can see God now, pretty angry at this turn of events. Here's the dialogue for the decalogue:

God: "They want to set up a Golden Calf, do they? After all I've done for them? Well, not only do they not get to commit adultery, they don't even get to think about committing adultery."

And thus we have the commandment about not coveting your neighbor's wife.

God: "And stealing? I don't want them just to not steal. Tell them don't even think about stealing."

And thus we have the commandment about not coveting your neighbor's ox, ass, and other property.

Of course, only Moses was up on the mountain to see this, and he'd already had enough of God's wrath to want to put that part of the story into Exodous.