The ten commandments, also known as the Decalogue, are laws that concern the cult and ethics in the Bible, which are vital for Christianity, Judaism and Islam. These religions interpret them differently and number the verses in Exodus 20: 1-17 and Deuteronomy 5: 4-21 differently in ten commandments. The Hebrew Bible contains these commandments in Exodus and Deuteronomy. The first mention is in Exodus 19 when the Israelites arrived at Mount Sinai. Jewish traditions state that Exodus 20: 1-17 is God’s first speech of the commandments on two tablets, yet Moses broke them during an act of anger against the Israelites who, during his absence, forced Aaron to create a golden calf for them to worship. Much later, Moses rewrote the ten commandments and placed them in the ark of the covenant. Deuteronomy 5: 6-21, repeat the commandments to the younger generation of Israelites.
The Ten Commandments are not rules but rather guiding principles for the different circumstances applied unanimously. In all religious interpretations, no one mentions any punishment for violating the commandments.
These commandments are the foundation of Jewish law and the basis of the rest of the commandments in the Torah. Jewish culture provides various interpretations of the arrangement of commandments on the tablet. One interpretation states that each tablet contained five commandments while the other states that the tablets were duplicated. During the reign of the Sanhedrin, those who challenged some of the commandments faced the death penalty while in the Second Temple, the faithful recited every day. Currently, the synagogues read the commandments three times a year.
Biblically, God wrote the commandments using his own fingers and the inscriptions passed through both sides of the two tablets. However, Catholics and Protestants disagree with the numbering of two of the commandments. Catholics consider the commandments essential to human growth, while the first Protestant theologians considered them the basis of Christian morality. Most Christian traditions maintain the Decalogue as a moral law.
Main points of interpretative difference
On the Sabbath, the three Abrahamic religions observe several days of Sabbath, the weekly rest day is Friday in Islam, Saturday in Judaism and Sunday in Christianity.
As for the murder, the Hebrew Bible prohibits the illegal killing that results in the guilt of blood but does not prohibit murder during wars, self-defense and capital punishment. The New Testament, on the other hand, states that murder is a great moral evil.
Scholars such as Albrecht Alt of Germany have argued that initially, the command “not to steal” has only kept people from stealing other people through acts of slavery and kidnapping although all three religions agree that the commandment prohibits any form of theft.
All Abrahamic religions prohibit the worship of idols and interpret idols as representations of God, however, in Christianity, particularly in Catholicism, this does not limit expression in art.
Finally, the first interpretations of the commandment on adultery forbade an Israelite to have sexual relations with another man’s wife. However, they were free to have dealings with slaves and some single women. Over the years, this situation has changed and today Christians consider adultery as a relationship outside the marriage union.
Exhibition on public property in the United States
The public demonstration of the commandments in the United States generates many legal and religious debates. To begin with, many consider such an act as imposing a religion on people. However, the Texas State Capitol shows great replicas of the ten commandments. By law, the United States prohibits the establishment of religion. In the 1950s and 1960s, the fraternal Order of Eagles placed over ten thousand images of the ten commandments in schools and courts, although they omitted the numbers as this made it seem sectarian.
As a result, during the early days of 21st stthe century, political and religious organizations have filed lawsuits questioning the exhibition of the ten commandments in public buildings. Opponents claimed that this violated the clause establishing the First Amendment to the United States Constitution while the proponents claimed that the commandments represented the moral and legal foundations of society. The US courts have continually established that the Ten Commandments excluded other religions unrelated to the Judeo-Christian religions. However, the courts have not ruled against the visualization of the Ten Commandments in relation to the historical context of the development of the law.