The Ten Commandments (1200 BC), also called the Decalogue, are the first ten laws given by God to Moses at the top of Mount Sinai. More than 600 other laws followed, but these first ten were written into stone and are seen as the heart of the moral law for both Christians and Jews.
In my endless passion for top tens, here are the Ten Commandments as Augustine knew them (I use his numbering and a translation of the Old Testament that he knew, the Septuagint):
- I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods beside me. Thou shalt not make to thyself an idol, nor likeness of anything, whatever things are in the heaven above, and whatever are in the earth beneath, and whatever are in the waters under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down to them, nor serve them; for I am the Lord thy God, a jealous God, recompensing the sins of the fathers upon the children, to the third and fourth generation to them that hate me, and bestowing mercy on them that love me to thousands of them, and on them that keep my commandments.
- Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord thy God will not acquit him that takes his name in vain.
- Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days thou shalt labour, and shalt perform all thy work. But on the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God; on it thou shalt do no work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy servant nor thy maidservant, thine ox nor thine ass, nor any cattle of thine, nor the stranger that sojourns with thee. For in six days the Lord made the heaven and the earth, and the sea and all things in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it.
- Honour thy father and thy mother, that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest live long on the good land, which the Lord thy God gives to thee.
- Thou shalt not commit adultery.
- Thou shalt not steal.
- Thou shalt not kill.
- Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife;
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house; nor his field, nor his servant, nor his maid, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any of his cattle, nor whatever belongs to thy neighbour.
Jesus Christ put all this more simply as two commandments (see Matthew 22:37-40):
- Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy mind.
- Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
The first one covers one’s duty to God, the first three commandments.
The second one, also known as the Golden Rule, covers one’s duty to man, the other seven commandments.