Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Ten Commandments 2.0

The 10 commandments found in Deuteronomy are similar to the ones found in Exodus. The biggest difference is that the Exodus 10 commandments are given to a slavepeople isolated in the wilderness with no sense of nationhood and little knowledge of God. The Deuteronomic ten commandments are given to an established people who have a vivid history with God, who have begun to establish cities and towns and at this point, forty years later, have a developing government and religious system.

The first four commandments center around honoring God. The second six commandments center around honoring humans. Honor to God is described as exclusive (only have one god - Yahweh), as experiential (not image/object oriented - Yahweh wants love, not lofty religiosity), as earnestness (don't use his name to take advantage of others); honor to Yahweh is also described as enjoyment (everybody rest, relax, reflect, restore one day a week due to God's work in the past - Creation & Exodus).

The final six commandments flesh out how honoring God is incarnated in honoring humans (who are made in the image of God). In all of humanity, your parents are to receive the most honor - God ties a clear blessing (and curse) to it - very very important! For the rest of humanity - particularly your family, friends and enemies, neighborhood and city, there are five commandments that are found in almost every code of laws in almost every culture (see Romans 1 and the argument Paul makes for people's ability to know something significant of God).

Murder is not the same as killing; murder is unjust killing - whether on purpose or by accident. Just killing is not murder. God often requires just killing - of those who oppose his covenant from within and without.

Committing adultery is defined as a married woman having voluntary sexual relations with a man other then her husband; it does not apply to a man having voluntary sexual relations with a woman other than his wife, since as a polygamist he may have several wives.

Stealing in an agricultural society ought to bring up images of the Wild West: horse stealing, cattle rustling, sheep swiping, refencing of fields, etc. They also did not have a Western-Enlightenment obssession with property rights (both land and possessions) that we Americans focus on excessivly.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor is not the same as a prohibition against lying. Sometimes lying is the right, just thing to do. It refers to a legal system rooted in an oral society, not one with paper trails. In legal situations at court, tell the truth.

Coveting is also known as craving, it is an dishonoring attitude, not an action like the previous four prohibitions. Coveting is listed last because it is often the root of murder, adultery, stealing and falsity.

In a society where a few had too much and most had too little, coveting was a serious issue. You dishonor those with too little when you crave and cling to too much.

In a society where too many have too much, coveting becomes disgusting and blatantly dishonoring. And so do the four sins that follow in its wake.

The Ten Commandments do not need to be posted in any courthouse in order to impact our society. They need to be taken more seriously by those who claim to believe in them.

Odds are that having read this post, if you then closed your eyes, you could not recite all ten commandments in order.

You remember what you care about. Devote yourself to honoring God and honoring humanity, in that order, in all things. Care about that more than...

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