Can you name the ten commandments? Most people can't.
Then God said all these things, "I am the Supreme One, your God, who led you out of the land of Egypt, out of slavery.
~ The Commandments Moses transmitted to the Israelites, as given in Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5.1-22, interpreted by Deborah Beach Giordano
The table below compares my translation of the text with that given by the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). I included additional information to clarify the reasons for the choices I made, and which I hope will provide some further insights into the commandments themselves.
|The Ten Commandments
(as interpreted in the NRSV)
|Commentary and clarifications||The Ten Commandments
(as interpreted by Deborah)
|Then God spoke all these words: "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.||Then God said all these things, "I am the Supreme One, your God, who led you out of the land of Egypt, out of slavery.|
|"You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them||Designates the custom of prostrating oneself before a person and kissing his feet, the hem of his garment, the ground, etc.; the Persians did this in the presence of their deified king, and the Greeks before a divinity or something holy; (fall down and) worship, do obeisance to, prostrate oneself before.||You shall have no other gods —only Me. You shall not idolize anything —not one thing on the earth or in the sea or the sky. You shall not worship them|
|or serve them||become enslaved to them;||or give yourself over to their power.
(I didn't go to all of the trouble of freeing you from servitude in Egypt just so you could enslave yourselves to something else!)
|for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God||zealot, enthusiast, adherent. w. additions indicating an ardent desire to join, promote, actively support, possess or defend||I, the Supreme One, your God, am passionate -|
|visiting the||LXX translation: demanding "recompense"/repayment of||and will hold the descendants liable for|
|iniquity||The absence of righteousness; injustice; inequality; unfairness; wickedness.
The action itself (Gr. amartesis) as well as its result (Gr. amartema), every departure from the way of righteousness is thought of as a debt/obligation due to God.
This is not an individual sinful act, but a communal moral failure to live justly. When the community or nation allows the strong to oppress the weak, the rich to exploit the poor: when widows and orphans go hungry. (These are God's "complaints against the people" which the prophets raise in the Lord's name.)
|the injustices done|
|of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations||These are not "families" as we understand them (e.g., "the descendants of Prescott Bush"), but describes a collective/national responsibility. The early Israelites had no concept of "me alone" or of "nuclear families" - but understood themselves as representatives of one tribe/people.
(Later generations are responsible for righting wrongs done in the past. God is an ardent supporter/defender of righteousness and justice - and won't allow it to be forgotten.)
("As you do to the least of these ...")
|by their ancestors: wrongs must be made right.|
|of those who hate Me,||hate, persecute in hatred, detest, abhor||Those who harm the planet, or oppress the people; those who hate and destroy, are attacking Me. And I won't forget what they have done.|
|but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me||have affection for||But I will be merciful to thousands of thousands, to those who love Me|
|and keep||keep watch over/guard/ observe||and who follow|
|My commandments.||divine injunctions/teachings.||My holy teachings.|
|You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses His name.||You shall not receive/accept/ take on/put on the name of God for trifles [idle, empty, fruitless, useless, powerless, lacking truth; an unworthy purpose. Gr. mataia: what is worthless, empty.] Perhaps lying about God; "using" God to justify one's own deeds/ behavior/opinions/prejudices.
The Name isn't just a word. It isn't what you call God —it is the character of God: what makes God God. These qualities are to be honored: celebrated and replicated. To do so is to continue to present God in the world (to re-present holiness to each new generation). Those who "hide behind God" —claiming to be Christians while ignoring the teachings of Jesus —are betraying the Holy One's sacred Name. Would those ministers who preach hatred and support destruction, the politicians who use God's name to justify war, torture, and the oppression of the poor continue to do those things if they really took "the Ten Commandments" seriously? I wonder.
|You shall not hide lies or unworthy actions behind God's name. God will not forgive those who use the Holy Name for their own purposes.|
|Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work —you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns.||Dedicate one day out of every seven to Me. Do all your work during six days, but the seventh day is a respite established by the Supreme One, your God. Everybody is to have a day off —there are no exceptions. Even the animals get one day of rest out of every seven.|
|For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.||It could be said that the Holy One restrained Godself on the seventh day. God could have done more, but chose to stop. Maybe the Beloved withheld some things: blessings to be bestowed at a later time. Perhaps, if God had not shown restraint, the universe would have been so filled with the Divine Work that there would have been no room for human freedom or human creativity.
Take a break to appreciate and evaluate what you've accomplished, and to admire what God has done. Give others the chance to do the same. Know when to quit.
|For in six days the Supreme One made the heavens, the earth, and the waters and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. That is why the Supreme One blessed the Sabbath day and declared it holy.|
|Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.||Honor those who raised you: both your father and your mother.|
|You shall not murder.||Do not kill.|
|You shall not commit adultery.||Be faithful to your partner.|
|You shall not steal.||Do not steal.|
|You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.||Do not lie.|
|You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."||Coveting/desiring/envying. Beyond simple admiration, envy is a felt need. It is the conviction that we must have the object of our desire —and we will do anything to attain it.||Don't envy what others have —or try to keep up with the Joneses. Be grateful for the blessings you have received."|