Thursday, 16 September 2010


The Ten Commandments: On Mount Sinai, which was wreathed in thick cloud, God spoke to Moses and gave him ten commandments written on two stone tablets with God's finger. The Ten Commandments are the pre-eminent orders from God to humankind. In summary, they are:

1.You shall have no other gods before me.

2.You shall not make for yourself an idol.
3.You shall not misuse the name of God.
4.Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it 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 give false testimony against your neighbour.
10.You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbour.

(Exodus 20:2-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21).
Images of the Commandments are shown on two stone tablets often identified only by their Roman numerals.

There is sometimes a division between the first four and the last six, since the first four are thought of as duties to God, the last six duties to other people. Often, though, the symmetrical division of five and five is used, the first five being thought of as ‘duties of piety’ the last five ‘duties of probity’.

After the Reformation, when some altarpieces (works of art displayed behind the altar) were swept away in the mood against imagery, some churches replaced them with two wooden or stone tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments. This arrangement enabled a neat reference to the altar as representing the Ark of the Covenant, in which the tablets bearing the commandments were stored. The Ten Commandments were affirmed by Jesus (Matthew 5 & 19), and are sometimes portrayed next to Jesus' 'Two Commandments'.

When Jesus was asked which were the greatest Commandments, he replied, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind', and 'Love your neighbour as yourself (Matthew 22:37; the two Commandments are taken from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18).

Flickr set.

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