The Ten Commandments, also called the Decalogue (Lit. ten words), form the moral foundation of the law given by God to the ancient people of Israel through Moses in the form of two stone tablets. The commandments are listed in Exodus 20:3-17 and again in Deuteronomy 5:7-21.

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God's authority

In the preamble to the Ten Commandments. Moses asserts God's authority for imposing them, as follows (Deut 5: 2-5):

  • The Lord had made a covenant with the Israelites at Horeb,
  • The covenant was with the very people that Moses was speaking with, not even with their parents,
  • The Lord had spoken to the Israelites face to face out of the fire on the mountain, so dramatically in fact that they had asked Moses to stand between them and the Lord for fear of death (Exodus 20:19),
  • They owed the Lord their allegiance, as he had brought them out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

The commandments

The commandments are listed in Exodus 20:3-17 and again in Deuteronomy 5:7-21. Neither text actually provides numbers for the individual commandments, which has allowed for three main numbering traditions:

Protestant

  1. You shall have no other gods before me.
  2. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them.
  3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
  4. Observe the sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien within your gates, so that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as you do.
  5. Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor's house or land, his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Roman Catholic

  1. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them.
  2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
  3. Observe the sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien within your gates, so that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as you do.
  4. Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you.
  5. You shall not murder.
  6. You shall not commit adultery.
  7. You shall not steal.
  8. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
  9. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.
  10. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor's house or land, his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Jewish

  1. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
  2. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them.
  3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
  4. Observe the sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien within your gates, so that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as you do.
  5. Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor's house or land, his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.