The Commandments (Essay)


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The Decalogue
The Decalogue given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai was part of the covenant agreement
which set Israel apart from other civilisations. Allsop asserts that the moral significance of
these commandments are: "identified by Christians as containing central moral principles
which God wants human beings to observe." This means they are the core of Christian
ethics which must be obeyed in order to serve God in our lives. In this essay, I will study in
depth the moral and ethical principles of five of the Ten Commandments, the rights of God
and the rights of man which are presented in these commandments and the absolute,
definite and unchanging nature of the Decalogue.
The First Commandment is split in two the first part is a preamble in which God reminds the
Israelites of their liberation from Egypt by Yahweh's hand. This established a covenant
between the people and God and highlights the Jewish people as God's chosen nation. The
words "before me" that are used in this commandment, do not refer to the possible existence
of a deity of a higher position than Yahweh but instead mean "in my presence" therefore
prohibiting the idea that there is a Pantheon of Gods as many cultures of the time believed
and makes it clear that Yahweh is the sole deity whose ethics they must follow. They must
not worship other (false) gods in their lives this includes material goods such as money,
celebrity status or work.
The second part of this commandment is concerned with the methods of worship used by
the Israelites. Chandran informs us that: "The absoluteness and transcendence of God is
such that nothing in the created world, visible or invisible is adequate to represent him." This
can be explained by the knowledge that the worshipping of idols was widespread in ancient
times and often people would begin to worship the idol and not the deity. Moreover, spells
and enchantments were often performed on the idol to harm or care for the deity. This was
not how Yahweh was to be portrayed.
Houston stated that, from the second commandment: "it is quite clear that the improper use
of the name Yahweh is prohibited." This was because, in ancient times, a person's name
was often believed to be intimately connected to their being and essence and therefore for
the Israelites telling someone their name made them vulnerable. This commandment was
Fiona Donnelly 13D

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Israelites from using Yahweh's name to manipulate him and indeed
prohibited its use in hexing.
The commandment also prohibited the use of the name of God in oaths, both in court and in
society, to protect the sanctity of Yahweh's name as Chandran tells us: "God's name and
religious faith are not to be used for any human ends, however good they may appear to be.…read more

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However, Chandran tells
us the Jews were also "forbidden to spread baseless rumour or to assist the wicked by giving
malicious evidence." Therefore this commandment applied to all of society, not just a
courtroom. John Calvin supports this view by saying: "By malignant or vicious detraction, we
sin against our neighbour's good name: by lying, sometimes even by casting a slur upon him,
we injure him in his estate.…read more


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