Discrepancies between typical ten commandments displays and scripture

Whenever I see representations of the ten commandments on desk ornaments and such I always see the first set of commandments that Moses brought down from mount Sinai. Moses later smashed these funnily enough, even though these were given to him by his God :frowning:

1, You shall have no other gods before Me.
2, You shall make no idols.
3, You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
4, Keep the Sabbath day holy.
5, Honour your father and your mother.
6, You shall not murder.
7, You shall not commit adultery.
8, You shall not steal.
9, You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
10,You shall not covet.

but, nonetheless he climbs mount Sinai yet again the receive the commandments for the second time, but he comes down with a completely different set of commandments.

1, Thou shalt worship no other god.
2, Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.
3, The feast of unleavened bread thou shalt keep.
4, Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day, thou shalt rest.
5, Thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest,
and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.
6, Thrice in the year shall all your men shall appear before the Lord God.
7, Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven.
8, Neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the Passover be left unto the morning.
9, The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the LORD thy God.
10, Thou shalt not seethe a kid [ie, a young goat] in his mother’s milk.

Why is the first set of commandments used instead of the second set given to Moses?

What’s interesting is that the words on the second set of tablets matched the first:

[quote=Exodus34:1]1The Lord said to Moses, “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke

Also Exodus 34 is the only place in scripture that specifically uses the phrase “Ten Commandments”.

Here is the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the Ten Commandments, which appear twice in the Old Testament:


The Bible calls the commandments listed in Exodus 34 The Ten Commandments. It doesn’t call the ones in Exodus 20 The Ten Commandments.

Exodus Chapter 20 and Deuteronomy Chapter 5 are the Ten Commandments. Yes, there are many other commandments to the Jews in the Old Testament, but they are not the “Ten Commandments.”

Then why is the Bible, written under the guidance of The Holy Spirit, wrong in saying that the ones from Exodus 34 are The Ten Commandments?

Mike, I have a meeting to go to. I hope that someone who knows Exodus can answer that question for us. If not, I will be back in a few hours.

Can you explain this? I’m not seeing “Ten Commandments” in my Bible at all.

Absolutely. Not a problem. Exodus 34:28 calls them the 10 Commandments. (The link has multiple translations of that verse.)

Exodus 31, which describes the creation of the first tablets, doesn’t say what was written on them. Exodus 34 says that what was written on the second tablets matched those of the first, then gave what was written on the second tablets.

Exodus 20, which was the first time we get what is commonly referred to as The Ten Commandments, was the start of a long speech by God to Moses. It includes multiple topics including tort law, slavery, and some practices to keep.

Thanks. I didn’t go far enough into the chapter.

A quick read gives me pause; I’m not sure how you’re interpreting this differently compared to the understood way the Church (and Judaism) have read this for thousands of years, but I’ll keep working on it.

These are not two versions of the “ten commandments” given to Moses at Sinai.

There ARE two versions of the “ten commandments” stated in Exodus 20 and in Deuteronomy 5. The first listing you typed in is an abbreviation of one of the lists. There are more than 10 commandments stated there, by the way.

The Commandments may be summarized into saying Love God and Love your neighbor. But, the Bible “teases” out the meaning into 613 commands, in the Torah, the first five books of the Bible.

Now, both the Exodus and Deuteronomy versions have been painstakingly studied by believers to understand their meaning. The Bible is not read superficially, like a comic book or a tabloid magazine. These two versions of the “ten” commandments are slightly different. For example, one says to “observe” the Sabbath and the other says to “remember” the Sabbath. Jewish scholars have theories about that sort of thing.

The commandment that you cited about not seething a kid in its mother’s milk has a meaning to it. This was a delicacy in the near east, but only in non-Jewish groups of people. It’s a command to the Jews to distance themselves from their non-believing neighbors. There are other commandments that “make sense” when you study the times of ancient Israel and the teachings meant to encourage the Jews to be “holy.”

It’s far-fetched that anybody would have such a “commandment” on their desk, I can’t imagine why.

psalm90, here’s what I have so far and I’m hoping you can help sort this out:

  1. The items in Exodus 34 are called The Ten Commandments in the Bible.
  2. The Bible says the items in Exodus 34 were written on the second set of tablets.
  3. The Bible says what was written on the second set of tablets matched what was written on the first set of tablets.
  4. The Bible does not say the items in Exodus 20 were written in stone. We can also infer this based off of parts 2 and 3.

Why would people call the items in Exodus 20 “The Ten Commandments” if the Bible says they were not written on either set of stone tablets but the items in Exodus 34 were? Thanks in advance.

the first set is stated in Exodus 20 verses 1-17 but these are never written down and never referred to as ‘the ten commandments’ or anything of the sort. in Exodus 34 verses 14-26 there are ten commandments given by god, chiselled into the stone tablets and referred to in verse 28 as the ten commandments. why are these not the commandments followed by modern Christians?

I wrote my previous response on “auto pilot.” I’ve read detailed commentaries on Exodus and the words of Exodus 34 went straight over my head. With regrets.

Don’t worry everybody makes mistakes sometimes :slight_smile:

according to Exodus, the tablets that were produced in Exodus 34 are the tablets in the ark of the covenant, therefore the true commandments from god.

In quickly re-reading some sections of the Jewish Publication Society Commentary on Exodus, some facts become clear.

The original Hebrew does not contain the words ‘the ten commandments.’ These are traditional for English versions of the Bible (possibly others). In Exodus 34, what seems to have been written down were ‘the ten commandments’ that we know and love, but other commandments as well.

The only purpose of the ark was to hold the ‘pact’ of the covenant – the laws that were required to support it. The terms of the covenant were kept in a sacred place before a nation’s god(s), in countries of the middle east and even in Rome.

The enumeration in the OP are of legitimate commands but do not reflect the contradiction that they seem to imply.

Thank you for writing back.

I agree with you that the specific term “Ten Commandments” isn’t in the Hebrew. The interlinear translation of the passage in Exodus 34 says it’s pretty close:

diḇ·rê (the words)
hab·bə·rîṯ, (of the covenant)
‘ă·śe·reṯ (the ten)
had·də·ḇā·rîm (commands)

Paragraph 2056 in the Catechism uses Exodus 34:28 as a footnote to show what is spoken of in that passage are the Ten Commandments.

I do have to disagree with you strongly when you say that the words written on the second set of tablets are from Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy. God starts by saying he will have Moses redo the tablets. God then recites Ten Commands. Then in Exodus 34:27 God says, “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.”. Finally the Bible says tha what Moses wrote down were the Ten Commandments.

Another other JPS source on this question refers to the first ten commandments in the original post as the universal decalogue that applies to all people, Jews and non-Jews, and is symbolized by its utterance in the wilderness away from national borders.

In Exodus 34, the second list of ‘ten commandments’ in the original post, are referred to as the ‘cultic decalogue’ those commands which distinguish the Jewish religion from others.

Again, they are all part of the 613 commandments found in the Torah (as I understand it, as Judaism teaches it) but this is not even close to being a fatal blow to the credibility of scripture, certainly no “discrepancies” here, when one commits oneself to the study.

Certainly the approach to scripture study by both Judaism and Christianity involves faith, patience, humility, perseverance, harmonization, awe, etc. to love God with one’s whole heart, soul, mind, and strength.

I managed to find a pdf of the Aleppo codices and managed to find the section containing the original Hebrew from the 900’s and it does, in fact, call them the ten commandments

כח ויהי שם עם יהוה ארבעים יום וארבעים לילה–לחם לא אכל ומים לא שתה ויכתב על הלחת את דברי הברית–עשרת הדברים

exodus 34 verse 28

Wikipedia article about this manuscript: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aleppo_Codex

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