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What Are The Ten Commandments In The Bible? | The Decalogue | How Did Jesus Speak Of The Commandments And Of Jewish Law?

Ten Commandments | Decalogue | Jesus And Jewish Law | Audio Bible

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Mark 12:28-34 | King James Audio Bible | King James Version | KJV

What Are The Ten Commandments? | The Decalogue | How Did Jesus Speak Of The Commandments And Of Jewish Law?

The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue, are a set of religious and moral imperatives believed to have been given by God to the Israelites and recorded in the Hebrew Bible. They are traditionally understood to provide a code of conduct for the faithful to follow, and are of great significance in Judaism and Christianity.

According to the biblical account, God delivered the Ten Commandments to Moses on tablets of stone on Mount Sinai, which he then brought down from the mountain and presented to the Israelites.

The Ten Commandments are divided into two parts, with the first part addressing the relationship between God and the faithful, and the second part addressing the relationship between people.

  1. ‘You shall have no other gods before me.’ This commandment requires us to put God first in our lives and to prioritize our relationship with him above all other allegiances. It reminds us that God is the source of all that is good and worthy of our devotion, and that we should seek to live in accordance with his will and to follow his teachings.
  2. ‘You shall not make for yourself an idol or worship any other gods.’ This commandment prohibits the creation of physical representations of deities and the worship of false gods. It reminds us that God is not a mere object or symbol, but is a living, personal being who deserves our worship and adoration.
  3. ‘You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.’ This commandment prohibits the use of God’s name in vain or for any purpose other than sincere worship. It reminds us to show reverence and respect for the name of God and to use it only in the context of prayer and worship.
  4. ‘Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.’ This commandment requires us to set aside one day of the week for rest and worship, and to refrain from engaging in work or other activities that might distract us from our relationship with God. It reminds us to take time to rest and to focus on our spiritual well-being.
  5. ‘Honour your father and mother.’ This commandment requires children to respect and obey their parents, and to show them love and appreciation for all that they have done for us. It reminds us to be grateful for the love and guidance of our parents and to honor them as a way of showing respect for God.
  6. ‘You shall not murder.’ This commandment prohibits the taking of another person’s life, and reminds us to respect the dignity and value of all human life. It calls us to refrain from violence and to work towards a world where all people can live in peace and harmony.
  7. ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ This commandment prohibits sexual relations with someone other than one’s spouse, and reminds us to be faithful and loyal to our partners. It encourages us to cultivate healthy and loving relationships that are based on mutual respect and trust.
  8. ‘You shall not steal.’ This commandment prohibits the taking of someone else’s property without their permission, and reminds us to respect the property and possessions of others. It calls us to be honest and fair in our dealings with others and to refrain from taking what does not belong to us.
  9. ‘You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour.’ This commandment prohibits lying or bearing false witness against someone else, and reminds us to be honest and truthful in all that we do. It calls us to speak the truth, even when it is difficult or inconvenient, and to refrain from spreading false or malicious rumours about others.
  10. ‘You shall not covet your neighbour’s house, wife, or possessions.’ This commandment prohibits the desire to take something that belongs to someone else, and reminds us to be content with what we have. It calls us to cultivate gratitude and to refrain from envy or jealousy towards others.

The Ten Commandments have had a significant influence on the development of Western legal systems and are considered to be a foundational document for many societies. They have also been the subject of much debate and interpretation over the centuries, with different religious traditions and denominations often offering their own understandings of the commandments and their significance. Despite these differences, the Ten Commandments are generally seen as a cornerstone of moral and religious behaviour.

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Additional Benefits Of The Ten Commandments

The commandments help to cultivate virtues such as faith, respect, honesty, and self-control, and so we can avoid behaviours that are harmful or detrimental to ourselves and others.

Here are additional ways in which the Ten Commandments can have a positive impact on our lives:

  • The first commandment, which requires us to put God first in our lives, can help us to develop a deeper relationship with God and to cultivate a sense of spiritual purpose and meaning. By prioritizing our relationship with God, we can find direction and guidance in our lives, and we can experience a greater sense of inner peace and contentment.
  • The second commandment, which prohibits the creation of idols and the worship of false gods, can help us to avoid being swayed by materialism or superficial values, and to focus on what is truly important and meaningful in life. It can also help us to avoid being swayed by the opinions or expectations of others, and to stay true to our own beliefs and values.
  • The third commandment, which prohibits the misuse of God’s name, can help us to cultivate a sense of reverence and respect for God and to use his name with care and dignity. It can also help us to avoid using God’s name as a way of manipulating or coercing others, or as a means of promoting our own agendas.
  • The fourth commandment, which requires us to observe the Sabbath, can help us to prioritize rest and relaxation, and to take time to reflect on our lives and our relationship with God. It can also help us to avoid overworking or becoming too caught up in the demands of daily life, and to maintain a healthy balance between work and rest.
  • The fifth commandment, which requires us to honor our parents, can help us to develop a sense of gratitude and appreciation for the love and guidance that our parents have given us. It can also help us to develop a sense of responsibility and respect for authority, and to recognize the value of tradition and family.
  • The remaining commandments help us to build strong and healthy relationships with others, and to create a sense of community and solidarity.
  • The sixth commandment prohibits the taking of another person’s life, and reminds us to respect the dignity and value of all human life. It calls us to refrain from violence and to work towards a world where all people can live in peace and harmony. By following this commandment, we can cultivate a sense of compassion and respect for others, and we can help to create a more peaceful and just society.
  • The seventh commandment prohibits sexual relations with someone other than one’s spouse, and reminds us to be faithful and loyal to our partners. It encourages us to cultivate healthy and loving relationships that are based on mutual respect and trust. By following this commandment, we can help to build strong and enduring relationships with our partners, and we can contribute to the stability and well-being of our families and communities.
  • The eighth commandment prohibits the taking of someone else’s property without their permission, and reminds us to respect the property and possessions of others. It calls us to be honest and fair in our dealings with others and to refrain from taking what does not belong to us. By following this commandment, we can cultivate a sense of integrity and honesty, and we can contribute to a society that is based on trust and mutual respect.
  • The ninth commandment prohibits lying or bearing false witness against someone else, and reminds us to be honest and truthful in all that we do. It calls us to speak the truth, even when it is difficult or inconvenient, and to refrain from spreading false or malicious rumours about others. By following this commandment, we can cultivate a reputation for honesty and reliability, and we can help to create a society that is based on trust and mutual respect.
  • The tenth commandment prohibits the desire to take something that belongs to someone else, and reminds us to be content with what we have. It calls us to cultivate gratitude and to refrain from envy or jealousy towards others. By following this commandment, we can cultivate a sense of contentment and satisfaction with what we have, and we can avoid the negative emotions and behaviours that can arise from coveting what belongs to others.

Moses And The Israelites

The story of the Ten Commandments is closely tied to the story of the Israelites’ escape from slavery in Egypt. According to the Bible, after leading the Israelites out of Egypt and into the wilderness, Moses received the Ten Commandments from God on Mount Sinai. God is said to have delivered the commandments to Moses on tablets of stone, which he then brought down from the mountain and presented to the Israelites.

Moses retreated for further conversation with God on Mount Sinai. During this time, the Israelites turned to idolatry and created and worshiped a golden calf.

Upon discovering that the Israelites had once again turned to idolatry, Moses became angry and threw the tablets of stone containing the Ten Commandments to the ground, breaking them into pieces. The Israelites were then required to participate in a series of purification rituals before they could receive the Ten Commandments anew from God.

After completing the purification rituals, Moses returned to Mount Sinai. Moses pleaded with God to spare the Israelites, and God relented and promised to forgive them if they turned away from their idolatry and worshiped him alone. Moses received a new set of tablets containing the Ten Commandments from God. He then brought these tablets down from the mountain and presented them to the Israelites, who pledged to follow the commandments and to worship God alone.

The story of the Ten Commandments, as recorded in the book of Exodus, is significant because it shows how the Israelites struggled with their faith and their commitment to God, and how God ultimately granted them a set of moral and spiritual principles to guide their lives.

The Jewish Law Is Bigger Than The Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments are just a small part of the Jewish Law, also known as the Torah or the Mosaic Law. The Torah is the central document of Judaism, and it contains the teachings and commandments that are considered to be the basis of the Jewish faith. The Ten Commandments are found within the Torah, and they serve as a summary of the core principles that are central to the Jewish faith.

The Torah contains a wide range of laws and teachings that cover many aspects of Jewish life, including moral, ethical, and spiritual principles, as well as laws related to worship, festivals, and everyday living. The Torah also contains stories, poems, and other literature that are considered to be of great religious and historical significance to the Jewish people.

Here is a passage from the book of Deuteronomy, which contains a summary of the laws and teachings contained within the Torah:

‘Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, so that you may follow them in the land you are about to enter and possess, and so that, observing them, you may fear the Lord your God all the days of your life, and your children after you, and may live long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.

‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth. For if you will be careful to do all this commandment that I command you to do, loving the Lord your God, walking in all his ways, and holding fast to him, then the Lord will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations larger and mightier than yourselves. Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours. Your territory shall be from the wilderness to the Lebanon and from the River, the river Euphrates, to the western sea. No man shall be able to stand against you. The Lord your God will put the fear and the dread of you on all the land that you shall tread, as he promised you.’ (Deuteronomy 6:1-9)

What Did Jesus Say About The Jewish Law?

One of the central themes of Jesus’ teachings was the idea that the Law should be understood in a more spiritual and inward-looking way, rather than being seen as a set of external rules that one must follow in order to be considered righteous. Jesus often spoke about the importance of loving God and one’s neighbour, and he emphasized that these principles were more important than following the letter of the Law.

Here is a passage from the New Testament, in which Jesus speaks about the Law:

‘You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.’ (Matthew 5:43-48)

In this passage, Jesus challenges the traditional understanding of the Law, which stated that it was acceptable to hate one’s enemies. Instead, Jesus teaches that one should love one’s enemies and pray for those who persecute them, in order to be more like God. This teaching is seen as challenging because it goes against many people’s natural inclinations and requires a high level of self-control and compassion.

Jesus And The Pharisees And Sadducees

Jesus frequently challenged the religious authorities of his day, particularly the Pharisees and the Sadducees. These groups were influential Jewish sects that held positions of power and authority within Jewish society, and they were responsible for interpreting and enforcing the Mosaic Law.

Jesus frequently challenged the Pharisees and the Sadducees because he saw them as being more concerned with upholding their own power and authority than with following the teachings of God. He accused them of being hypocritical and of placing unnecessary burdens on the people, and he often criticized their legalistic and rigid approach to the Law.

Here is a passage from the New Testament in which Jesus challenges the religious authorities of his day:

‘The Pharisees and the teachers of the law are experts in the Law of Moses. So obey them and do what they teach you. But don’t follow their example, because they don’t practice what they teach. They tie heavy loads and put them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves aren’t willing to lift a finger to move them.

‘Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the places of honour at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.’ (Matthew 23:2-7)

In this passage, Jesus criticizes the Pharisees and the teachers of the law for being more concerned with their own status and power than with following the teachings of God. He accuses them of being hypocritical and of placing unnecessary burdens on the people, and he advises his followers not to follow their example.

Did Jesus Reference The Ten Commandments?

Yes, Jesus did reference the Ten Commandments in his teachings. Jesus often used the Ten Commandments as a starting point for discussing moral and ethical principles.

Here is a passage from the New Testament in which Jesus references the Ten Commandments:

‘One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’

‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.’‘ (Mark 12:28-31)

In this passage, Jesus is asked which of the commandments is the most important, and Jesus responds by citing the commandment to love God with all one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength. He then develops the spirit of the Decalogue to instruct Christians to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. Implicit here is an instruction to love ourselves.