I’m sure it’s occurred to many people that the Ten Commandments are honoured far more in the breach than in the observance. And understand, I’m giving all non-Christians and non-Jews a pass on this. If you do not profess a faith that in some way partakes of the dubious wisdom of the Pentateuch, it only makes sense that you would ignore the Ten Commandments. I mean, you probably still think that killing people isn’t such a great idea, but the other nine are likely more negotiable.
It’s just that it often seems to me that those who most loudly talk about the Ten Commandments seem to have a great deal of trouble understanding them – and even more trouble obeying them. But this doesn’t stop them from wanting to shove the Commandments down everyone else’s throats. Methinks they doth profess too much.
Starting tomorrow, and for the next nine weeks, I’ll be providing annotated versions of the Ten Commandments, each of them expanded to include the many, many apparent caveats, exceptions and loopholes that the Commandments seem to possess in actual practice. It should be a lot of fun (unless you’re a member of one of the relevant faiths, in which case, no, I’m sorry, it won’t be very much fun at all).
This work is dedicated to the two organisations that have done the most to inspire it: the Catholic Church of Rome, Italy, and the Republican Party of Washington, USA.
No doubt you’re familiar with the story: during the 40 years that the Israelites spent wandering in the Sinai desert between fleeing Egypt and entering Canaan, they encamped for some time at the foot of Mt Sinai.
At one point, God summoned Moses, his chosen prophet and the leader of the Israelites, to the top of the mountain, and here he gave him stone tablets upon which were inscribed the Ten Commandments – one of the world’s earliest legal codes that is still known to us.
When Moses carried the tablets back down the mountain, he was sufficiently enraged by the conduct and reaction of his fellow Israelites that he broke them half. Fortunately, God had made a backup copy, and Moses was able to once more bring the tablets of the Ten Commandments.
Jewish tradition holds that both sets of tablets were stored inside the Ark of the Covenant, which implies that their current resting place is a non-descript government warehouse somewhere in the USA.