Catholic numbering of the Commandments

Why do we not follow the Jewish numbering of the Commandments?

I read that we and the Lutherans follow with the list that one of the early Church Fathers gave us (I think it was Saint Augustine?). However, his numbering differs from that of the Jewish numbering, which protestants follow.

Doesn’t it make more sense to follow the Jewish numbering, since it outdates Saint Augustine’s interpretation?

I wouldn’t worry about it too much. There are two different versions of the Decalogue in the Bible itself! Content, not presentation, is the important thing.

Actually, Protestants don’t follow the Jewish numbering. (Or at least not the modern Jewish numbering)

The Decalogue consists of 14 imperative statements grouped into 10 commandments, with no indication of how.

Some are obviously their own commandment (“Thou shalt not kill”), and some obviously go together (“Keep holy the sabbath” is 3 imperatives). The two pairs where it’s iffy how they split are “No false gods” and “No idols”, as well as “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods” and “…thy neighbor’s wife”. (Where “no idols” is, itself, actually a pair of imperatives that everyone agrees should be together)

The Augustinian reckoning (used by Catholics and Lutherans) groups “No false gods” and “No idols”, but separates the two statements on coveting. The Greek reckoning, used by Eastern Orthodoxy and most of Protestantism does the opposite. They split “No false gods” and “No idols” into separate commandments, and lump the two “covets” together. Judaism groups both pairs together, and leaves “I am the LORD your God” as its own first commandment.

The division, though, isn’t actually dogmatic. We traditionally use the Augustinian division, but we don’t say it’s the correct one. Personally, I find the arguments in favor of the Jewish division most convincing. (Or rather, the arguments in favor of grouping each pair make sense to me)

But of course, the easiest way to refer to them without any ambiguity is to simply refer to the imperative statement, instead of the “exact” number. (Or to the group of 2 that is “No idols”, or to the group of 3 that is “Keep holy the sabbath”)

The numbers are arbitrary. The bible itself does not contain numbering. The Catholic grouping makes perfect sense.

There is a good chart in the Wikipedia entry on the Ten Commandments, showing the various enumerations by various groups:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Commandments

It probably would be a lot easier for a man to forgive his neighbor who just used his brand new lawnmower against his explicit prohibition to do so, than it would be for him to forgive another neighbor who raped his wife. Both sins are evil and wrong, but the second is much more serious (Cf. 1 Jn. 5:16-17), and so Catholics count prohibitions against them as two different commandments.

Notice that we are not talking about stealing. We are talking about in appropriate desires that could lead to borrowing or raping. In order to get the other person to seriously consider what we just said it can be very helpful to ask questions.

Let us assume that each neighbor escapes legal prosecution and that the husband has the financial resources to move. I suggest asking the Protestant to whom you just explained the above:

Would it be easier for the husband to remain next door neighbors with one who borrowed his lawnmower or the one who raped his wife ?

John

There are two versions of the Commandments in The Bible:

Deuteronomy 5:6-21

(King James) Version (KJV)

6 I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
7 Thou shalt have none other gods before me.
8 Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth: 9 thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, 10 and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.
11 Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
12 Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee. 13 Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work: 14 but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ***, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou. 15 And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.
16 Honour thy father and thy mother, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
17 Thou shalt not kill.
18 Neither shalt thou commit adultery.
19 Neither shalt thou steal.
20 Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour.
21 Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour’s wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour’s house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ***, or any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

and

Exodus 20:2-17

Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)

2 I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 5 thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 6 and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
7 Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 10 but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: 11 for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
13 Thou shalt not kill.
14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
15 Thou shalt not steal.
16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ***, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

Neither has them numbered 1-10.

That, sir, is a non-sequitur. How the verses are numbered has little bearing on how the commandments are numbered. We could remove chapters, only count verses, and make it Dt 167-182, and it wouldn’t change that fact that there are TEN commandments. Being TEN commandments, there’s still a first, still a second, still a third, etc. The verse numbers have no bearing on that (and are relatively recent at that).

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.