Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ The 67 Commandments

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Jun 17, 1999

Posted on NewsTrolls 17 June 1999

So the American government sanctions the posting of the ten commandments in schools. I have long wondered about the ten commandments, and in this case again, wonder about their restraint.

Anyone who has actually read the Bible knows there are many commandments, not just ten. In fact, there are 67 of them. Here they are (my comments in red):

  1. You shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus Chapter 20 Verse 3)
  2. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. (Ex 20:4)
  3. You shall not bow down to them [idols] or worship them. (Ex 20:5)
  4. You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God (Ex 20; 7)
  5. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. (Ex 20:8-10)
  6. Honor your father and your mother. (Ex 20: 11)
  7. You shall not murder. (Ex 20:13)
  8. You shall not commit adultery. (Ex 20:14)
  9. You shall not steal. (Ex 20:15)
  10. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. (Ex 20:16)
  11. You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. (Ex 20:17)
  12. Do not make any gods to be alongside me. (Ex 20:23)
  13. Do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold. (Ex 20:23)
  14. Make an altar of earth for me and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, your sheep and goats and your cattle. (Ex 20:24) ) Shall we have burnt offerings in the schools?
  15. If you make an altar of stones for me, do not build it with dressed stones. (Ex 20:25)
  16. Do not go up to my altar on steps. (Ex 20:26)
  17. If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything (and his wife and kids too, unless he says otherwise, in which case his ear must be pierced with an awl). (Ex 21: 2-5)
  18. If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as menservants do (with some conditions). (Ex 21:7-10)
  19. Anyone who strikes a man and kills him shall surely be put to death. However, if he does not do it intentionally, he is to flee to a place I will designate. (Ex 21:11-12)
  20. Anyone who attacks his father or his mother must be put to death. (Ex 21:15) (This should trouble some teenagers...)
  21. Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death. (Ex 21:16)
  22. Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death. (Ex 21:17) (This should really trouble some teenagers)
  23. If men quarrel and one hits the other with a stone or with his fist and he does not die but is confined to bed, the one who struck the blow will not be held responsible if the other gets up and walks around outside with his staff; however, he must pay the injured man for the loss of his time and see that he is completely healed. (Ex 21: 17-19)
  24. If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property. (Ex 21:20-21) (Think we should post the verses condoning slavery in the schools?)
  25. If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman's husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise. (Ex 21:21-25) (cannibalism for cannibalism? Anal rape for anal rape?)
  26. If a man hits a manservant or maidservant in the eye and destroys it, he must let the servant go free to compensate for the eye. And if he knocks out the tooth of a manservant or maidservant, he must let the servant go free to compensate for the tooth. (Ex 21:26-27)
  27. If a bull gores a man or a woman to death, the bull must be stoned to death, and its meat must not be eaten. But the owner of the bull will not be held responsible. If, however, the bull has had the habit of goring and the owner has been warned but has not kept it penned up and it kills a man or woman, the bull must be stoned and the owner also must be put to death. (Ex 21:28)
  28. If a man uncovers a pit or digs one and fails to cover it and an ox or a donkey falls into it, the owner of the pit must pay for the loss; he must pay its owner, and the dead animal will be his. (Ex 21:34)
  29. If a man's bull injures the bull of another and it dies, they are to sell the live one and divide both the money and the dead animal equally. (Ex 21:35)
  30. If a man steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it, he must pay back five head of cattle for the ox and four sheep for the sheep. (Ex 22:1)
  31. If a thief is caught breaking in and is struck so that he dies, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed but if it happens after sunrise, he is guilty of bloodshed. (Ex 22:2-3)
  32. A thief must certainly make restitution, but if he has nothing, he must be sold to pay for his theft. (Ex 22:3) (Should we warn poor schoolchildren that if they steal they will be sold into slavery?)
  33. If a man grazes his livestock in a field or vineyard and lets them stray and they graze in another man's field, he must make restitution from the best of his own field or vineyard. (Ex 22:5)
  34. If a fire breaks out and spreads into thornbushes so that it burns shocks of grain or standing grain or the whole field, the one who started the fire must make restitution. (Ex 22:6)
  35. If a man gives his neighbor silver or goods for safekeeping and they are stolen from the neighbor's house, the thief, if he is caught, must pay back double. But if the thief is not found, the owner of the house must appear before the judges to determine whether he has laid his hands on the other man's property. (Ex 22:7-8)
  36. In all cases of illegal possession of an ox, a donkey, a sheep, a garment, or any other lost property about which somebody says, `This is mine,' both parties are to bring their cases before the judges. The one whom the judges declare guilty must pay back double to his neighbor. (Ex 22:9)
  37. If a man gives a donkey, an ox, a sheep or any other animal to his neighbor for safekeeping and it dies or is injured or is taken away while no one is looking, the issue between them will be settled by the taking of an oath before the LORD that the neighbor did not lay hands on the other person's property. The owner is to accept this, and no restitution is required. (Ex 22:10) (Yeah. Swear that it's true, and it is!)
  38. If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife. If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he must still pay the bride-price for virgins. (Ex 22:16-17) (So be careful when seducing virgins.)
  39. Do not allow a sorceress to live. (Ex 22:18) (Eek! Pasty, hope you aren't a sorceress!)
  40. Anyone who has sexual relations with an animal must be put to death. (Ex 22:19) (This could add a few new faces to death row...)
  41. Whoever sacrifices to any god other than the LORD must be destroyed. (Ex 22:20) (Hm. Should we officially endorse Holy Wars in our schools?)
  42. Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him. (Ex 22:21)
  43. Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. (Ex 22:22)
  44. If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not be like a moneylender; charge him no interest. (Ex 22:25) (How about this? I wonder whether the government will force the banks and trust companies to obey?)
  45. If you take your neighbor's cloak as a pledge, return it to him by sunset. (Ex 22:26)
  46. Do not blaspheme God or curse the ruler of your people. (Ex 22:28)
  47. Do not hold back offerings from your granaries or your vats. (Ex 22:29)
  48. You must give me the firstborn of your sons. (Ex 22:30) (Quick note: sons are property to be 'given' to the church. Let your teenage headbanger stew on that for a bit...)
  49. Let your cattle and your sheep stay with their mothers for seven days, but give them to me on the eighth day. (Ex 22:30)
  50. Do not eat the meat of an animal torn by wild beasts; throw it to the dogs. (Ex 22:31)
  51. Do not spread false reports. (Ex 23:1)
  52. Do not help a wicked man by being a malicious witness. (Ex 23:1)
  53. Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd, and do not show favoritism to a poor man in his lawsuit. (Ex 23:2-3)
  54. If you come across your enemy's ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to take it back to him. (Ex 23:4)
  55. If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help him with it. (Ex 23:5)
  56. Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits. (Ex 23:6)
  57. Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death. (Ex 23:7)
  58. Do not accept a bribe. (Ex 23:8) (This one could be hard on politicians)
  59. Do not oppress an alien. (Ex 23:9)
  60. For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops, but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what they leave. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove. (Ex 23:10-11) (Wouldn't it be nice were the poor able to occupy and use one seventh of the nation's agricultural land?)
  61. Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest and the slave born in your household, and the alien as well, may be refreshed. (Ex 23:12)
  62. Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips. (Ex 23:13)
  63. Three times a year you are to celebrate a festival to me. Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Abib. Celebrate the Feast of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field. Celebrate the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field. (Ex 23:14-16)
  64. Three times a year all the men are to appear before the Sovereign LORD. (Ex 23:17)
  65. Do not offer the blood of a sacrifice to me along with anything containing yeast. The fat of my festival offerings must not be kept until morning. (Ex 23:18)
  66. Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the LORD your God. (Ex 23:19)
  67. Do not cook a young goat in its mother's milk. (Ex 23:29)

It's all very nice to say that this is a nation founded on God, and that His laws should be posted and obeyed. But let's cut the crap. You know and I know that this nation has only a nodding acquaintance with religion as it is actually professed, and that the laws which are followed are those which are convenient, not those which are ordained.

If the government wants to endorse a Christian morality, let's see the laws against usury enforced, let's see a lot more executions for minor transgressions, let's purge some witches, let's see some blood sacrifices (especially during the holy month of Abib), let's get those holy wars on the road.

Or maybe - let's show a little common sense and let people choose for themselves which creed they wish to follow. Hm?

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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