In the Old Testament, the laws given by God to the Hebrew leader Moses on Mount Sinai, engraved on two tablets of stone.
They are: 1. to have no other gods besides Jehovah (the One God); 2. to make no images of anything in heaven or on earth, or in the water under the earth, and not to worship idols; 3. not to use the name of God for evil purposes; 4. to observe the Sabbath and keep it holy; 5. to honour (respect) one's father and mother; 6. not to commit murder; 7. not to commit adultery; 8. not to commit theft; 9. not to give false evidence; and 10. not to be covetous - do not desire another man's house; do not desire his wife, his slaves, his cattle, his donkeys, or anything else that he owns. The commandments form the basis of Jewish and Christian moral codes; the ‘tablets of the Law’ given to Moses are also mentioned in the Koran. The giving of the Ten Commandments is celebrated in the Jewish festival of Shavuot.
The Ten Commandments are found in the Old Testament in Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:1-21. Moses was given the commandments by God to seal the covenant (agreement) between God and his people, the Hebrews (Jews). They were intended to influence the people, as followers of One God, to behave in the right way and to choose good rather than evil. The first four commandments set out how to behave towards God, and the next six were about showing consideration towards other people.
Christianity and the Ten Commandments
The Old Testament, in the commandments, stresses obedience to the Law of Moses as a way of pleasing God. Christians believe that Jesus' teachings, in the New Testament, are more concerned with the inner thoughts and attitudes of people. The Christian ideal, that Jesus encourages his followers to aim for, demands more than obedience to the letter of the Law of Moses. In St Matthew's Gospel (Matthew 22:37-40), Jesus summed up the commandments in the two greatest commandments: to love God totally, with heart, soul, and mind; and to love others as one would love oneself.
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