The 10 Commandments List

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One of the best known parts of the Bible is the 10 Commandments. Even so, lots of people want to know where the 10 Commandments are found in the Bible. They also want a simple list of them.

The 10 Commandments List

Let’s start right away with a list of the 10 Commandments.

In another section of this article I’ll show you which verses match with each of these commandments.

  1. Believe in God
  2. Prohibition of idolatry
  3. Prohibition of vain oaths
  4. Observe the sabbath
  5. Honor your father and mother
  6. Prohibition of murder
  7. Prohibition of adultery
  8. Prohibition of stealing
  9. Prohibition of bearing false witness
  10. Prohibition of coveting

God Giving the 10 Commandments

The actual text of the 10 Commandments occurs twice in the Bible.

The first time is Exodus chapter 20. This chapter describes the event at the time it happened.

The Jewish people were standing at the base of Mount Sinai. God’s presence was resting on the top of the mount.

Then God spoke:

Exodus 20:1-14 Judaica Press Tanach
1 God spoke all these words, to respond:
2 “I am the Lord, your God, Who took you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 You shall not have the gods of others in My presence.
4 You shall not make for yourself a graven image or any likeness which is in the heavens above, which is on the earth below, or which is in the water beneath the earth.
5 You shall neither prostrate yourself before them nor worship them, for I, the Lord, your God, am a zealous God, Who visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons, upon the third and the fourth generation of those who hate Me,
6 and [I] perform loving kindness to thousands [of generations], to those who love Me and to those who keep My commandments.
7 You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain, for the Lord will not hold blameless anyone who takes His name in vain.
8 Remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it.
9 Six days may you work and perform all your labor,
10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord, your God; you shall perform no labor, neither you, your son, your daughter, your manservant, your maidservant, your beast, nor your stranger who is in your cities.
11 For [in] six days the Lord made the heaven and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and sanctified it.
12 Honor your father and your mother, in order that your days be lengthened on the land that the Lord, your God, is giving you.
13 You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
14 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, his manservant, his maidservant, his ox, his donkey, or whatever belongs to your neighbor.”

Retelling the Story

The second time the 10 Commandments are written in the Bible is in Deuteronomy / Devarim.

The Jewish people are at the end of their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Also, Moses is about to die.

Moses gathers the people together. These are the men, women, and children who will enter the land of Israel. Very few of them were alive 40 years ago when God gave the 10 Commandments.

Moses explains to the new generation what happened 40 years before:

Deuteronomy 5:4-19 Judaica Press Tanach
4 Face to face, the Lord spoke with you at the mountain out of the midst of the fire:
5 (and I stood between the Lord and you at that time, to tell you the word of the Lord, for you were afraid of the fire, and you did not go up on the mountain) saying,
6 “I am the Lord your God, Who took you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
7 You shall not have the gods of others in My presence.
8 You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness which is in the heavens above, which is on the earth below, or which is in the water beneath the earth.
9 You shall not prostrate yourself before them, nor worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a zealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons, upon the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me.
10 And [I] perform loving kindness to thousands [of generations] of those who love Me and to those who keep My commandments.
11 You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain, for the Lord will not hold blameless anyone who takes His name in vain.
12 Keep the Sabbath day to sanctify it, as the Lord your God commanded you.
13 Six days may you work, and perform all your labor,
14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall perform no labor, neither you, your son, your daughter, your manservant, your maidservant, your ox, your donkey, any of your livestock, nor the stranger who is within your cities, in order that your manservant and your maidservant may rest like you.
15 And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord your God took you out from there with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm; therefore, the Lord, your God, commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.
16 Honor your father and your mother as the Lord your God commanded you, in order that your days be lengthened, and that it may go well with you on the land that the Lord, your God, is giving you.
17 You shall not murder. And you shall not commit adultery. And you shall not steal. And you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
18 And you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor shall you desire your neighbor’s house, his field, his manservant, his maidservant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
19 The Lord spoke these words to your entire assembly at the mountain out of the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the opaque darkness, with a great voice, which did not cease. And He inscribed them on two stone tablets and gave them to me.

Matching the 10 Commandments to their Verses

Many people wonder exactly how the verses and the 10 Commandments match up.

In most printed Bibles the verses of the 10 Commandments are printed without any breaks between them.

However, a hand written Torah scroll is different. Based on Jewish tradition, the scribe leaves a gap between certain verses.

These spaces are left throughout the entire Torah, not just in this section. You can see some of those spaces in this photo of an open Torah scroll:

10 Commandments in the Bible

In the case of the 10 Commandments, those gaps show us which verses belong to which commandment.

In this section I list the 10 Commandments along with the relevant verses for each one.

Commandment #1: Believe in God

Exodus 20:2
2 I am the Lord, your God, Who took you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

This verse is not worded as a command. Even so, most Jewish Bible commentators count this as the first commandment.

Commandment #2: Prohibition of idolatry

Exodus 20:3-6
3 You shall not have the gods of others in My presence.
4 You shall not make for yourself a graven image or any likeness which is in the heavens above, which is on the earth below, or which is in the water beneath the earth.
5 You shall neither prostrate yourself before them nor worship them, for I, the Lord, your God, am a zealous God, Who visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons, upon the third and the fourth generation of those who hate Me,
6 and [I] perform loving kindness to thousands [of generations], to those who love Me and to those who keep My commandments.

These 4 verses prohibit several different aspects of idol worship. Together they count as one commandment.

Commandment #3: Prohibition of vain oaths

Exodus 20:7
7 You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain, for the Lord will not hold blameless anyone who takes His name in vain.

The essence of this commandment is not to use one of God’s names for no valid purpose.

Commandment #4: Observe the sabbath

Exodus 20:8-11
8 Remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it.
9 Six days may you work and perform all your labor,
10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord, your God; you shall perform no labor, neither you, your son, your daughter, your manservant, your maidservant, your beast, nor your stranger who is in your cities.
11 For [in] six days the Lord made the heaven and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and sanctified it.

According to Jewish tradition, each day of the week goes from sundown to sundown. In other words, the sabbath begins at sundown on Friday and ends at sundown on Saturday.

These verses link the six work days followed by a sabbath day to the 7-day pattern of creation.

The wording of this commandment is very different in Deuteronomy:

Deuteronomy 5:12-15
12 Keep the Sabbath day to sanctify it, as the Lord your God commanded you.
13 Six days may you work, and perform all your labor,
14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall perform no labor, neither you, your son, your daughter, your manservant, your maidservant, your ox, your donkey, any of your livestock, nor the stranger who is within your cities, in order that your manservant and your maidservant may rest like you.
15 And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord your God took you out from there with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm; therefore, the Lord, your God, commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.

I’m sure you noticed that in Exodus the command is to “remember the Sabbath” but here it is to “keep the Sabbath.”

According to tradition, there are 2 aspects to the sabbath.

First is the positive idea of remembering and doing those things that make the day special. That is the message in Exodus. Second is the prohibition to not do those activities which degrade the day. That is the message in Deuteronomy.

Whereas Exodus links the sabbath to creation, Deuteronomy links the sabbath to the Jewish people being taken out of Egypt.

Commandment #5: Honor your father and mother

Exodus 20:12
12 Honor your father and your mother, in order that your days be lengthened on the land that the Lord, your God, is giving you.

This commandment is very easy to state, but probably the hardest one to properly fulfill.

NOTE: Commandments 6 – 9 all come from the same verse, Exodus 20:13. In a hand written Torah scroll they are written with spaces between them. But in printed Hebrew Bibles they are included as only 1 verse.

I’ve noticed that in many Christian Bibles, they are written as 4 separate, short verses.

Commandment #6: Prohibition of murder

Exodus 20:13 (part)
You shall not murder.

The 10 Commandments prohibit murder, they do not prohibit killing.

These are 2 different words in Hebrew. The word “murder” in Hebrew is spelled reish-tzadi-chet. The word “kill” in Hebrew is spelled hey-reish-gimmel.

Murder is never justified. Killing may be justified such as during war or in self defense.

Commandment #7: Prohibition of adultery

Exodus 20:13 (part)
You shall not commit adultery.

Commandment #8: Prohibition of stealing

Exodus 20:13 (part)
You shall not steal.

According to Jewish tradition, this commandment is not a prohibition against stealing property. That prohibition is real, but is covered in other verses.

This commandment actually prohibits stealing (kidnapping) a person.

Commandment #9: Prohibition of bearing false witness

Exodus 20:13 (part)
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

This commandment prohibits lying in court and, in addition, slander and gossip.

Commandment #10: Prohibition of coveting

Exodus 20:14
14 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, his manservant, his maidservant, his ox, his donkey, or whatever belongs to your neighbor.”

This 10th Commandment requires us to respect other people’s property. If we realize that our possessions come from God, then we will not want what another person owns.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t desire to acquire the same model car that your neighbor drives. However, you can’t covet his car.

Conclusion

In this article I’ve listed the 10 Commandments, matched them with their verses, and briefly explained them.

You may also be interested in these articles about the giving of the Torah and the 10 Commandments:
Who Wrote the 10 Commandments?
Parshat Yitro Summary

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