The Ten Commandments

What are the Ten Commandments?

Also called the Decalogue, the Ten commandments appear in the Bible in the book of Exodus (20:2–17) and in the book of Deuteronomy (5:6–21). They are considered the summary of divine law as handed down by God to Moses, who not only heard them but received them in the form of writing on two stone tablets as he stood atop Mount Sinai (what is known today as Gebel Musa, on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula), where he had been summoned by God.

According to the Bible, the commandments, which are paramount in the ethical systems of Judaism and Christianity, are these: 1) Do not have any other god besides the Lord God; 2) Do not have or worship idols (carved images); 3) Do not make wrong use of the name of the Lord your God (or, do not take the name of the Lord in vain); 4) Keep the Sabbath day holy; 5) Honor your mother and your father; 6) Do not commit murder; 7) Do not commit adultery; 8) Do not steal; 9) Do not give false evidence against your neighbor; and 10) Do not covet your neighbor’s household or lust after your neighbor’s spouse.

People sometimes see the Ten Commandments as divided into two groups: the first group covers the relationship between people and God and the second covers relationships among people.


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