Everything You Need to Know AboutThe Ten Commandments

They are the most important rules in the Bible, literally set in stone. Yet most people don't know what the original list was nor acknowledge how lousy of a covenant it was.

1The Ten Commandments in Exodus are different than the ones in Deuteronomy.

“The Ten Commandments” is a specific name the Bible gives to a specific list of commandments, the covenant between God and his people. Exodus and Deuteronomy disagree on which list that is. The list most people know is from later book of Deuteronomy.

But originally, in Exodus, those were just some of the commandments Moses recited verbally, not from the covenant that was written on stone tablets and placed in the Arc. It is possible that the author of Deuteronomy accidentally referred to the wrong list, or intentionally changed them to be more appealing.

2Where to find the original Ten Commandments...

In Exodus 24:12 Moses gets stone tablets.

In Exodus 32:19 Moses breaks the stone tablets before anyone else has a chance to read them.

In Exodus 34:1 God said to Moses, “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke.”

In Exodus 34:10-26 God says he is making a covenant with Moses then cites the commandments of the covenant.

In Exodus 34:27-28 God tells Moses to write down the commandments he just cited. The Bible says Moses wrote on the tablets (even though God said he was going to write on them) the words of the covenant, then calls the covenant “The Ten Commandments.”

3The original Ten Commandments were mostly about dietary habits.

Below are the original Ten Commandments. The ones, according to Exodus, that were written on the stone tablets, and placed within the Arc. This is God’s original covenant with his people…

1 Do not make a treaty with those in other lands. Instead go to break down their alters, smash their sacred stones, and cut down their Asherah poles. (Exodus 34:12-13)

2 Do not worship any other god, for Yahweh, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous god. Do not make treaties with those in other lands who worship other gods. (Exodus 34:14-16)

3 Do not make cast idols. (Exodus 34:17)

4 Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread. For seven days eat bread made without yeast during the first month of the Hebrew Year. (Exodus 34:18)

5 Sacrifice the firstborn of every womb, including all the firstborn males of your livestock. You can sacrifice a lamb in place of a firstborn donkey but if you do sacrifice the donkey break its neck. If your firstborn child is a boy sacrifice something else in its place. None shall appear before Yahweh without a sacrifice. (Exodus 34:19-20)

6 Do not work on the sabbath, even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest. (Exodus 34:21)

7 Celebrate the Jewish holiday “The Feast of Weeks” with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest and celebrate the Jewish holiday “The Feast of Ingathering” at the turn of the year. Three times a year all your men are to appear before the god of Israel and he will conquer surrounding nations before you enlarging your territory. (Exodus 34:22-24)

8 Do not mix blood sacrifices to Yahweh with yeast and do not let any sacrifice from the Passover Feast remain until morning. (Exodus 34:25)

9 Bring the firstfruits of your land to the house of Yahweh, your god. (Exodus 34:26)

10 Do not cook a baby goat in his mother’s milk. (Exodus 34:26)

And the Lord said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel. And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.
Exodus 34:27-28

4Both lists are lousy covenants.

The original covenant in Exodus contains nothing moral. It is only about worshiping an admittedly jealous god, basic dietary habits, and the immoral claim that people in other lands, of other religions, are your enemies.

Even with the popular version in Deuteronomy, only 3 of the 10 are actually laws in most of the world. And the first 3 commands are solely about how insecure and jealous God is. Any first grader could come up with a better covenant than either Ten Commandments.

Better than god

5A better Ten...

  1. Only do onto others if you believe it’s something they would want done onto them.
  2. If something is done onto you that you don’t like, don’t assume negative intent. People are only bad people if they act with bad intent.
  3. React only to WHY something was done, instead of simply what was done. Learn the intent, instead of assuming the intent.
  4. Never spread or listen to gossip. Only pass judgment until you personally sought out and learned of all the evidence and heard from all sides.
  5. People are to remain innocent until proven guilty, not guilty until proven innocent.
  6. Judge people only on their overall decisions and behavior. If a person lies once that does not make them a liar, as that is not their defining characteristic. Just as a person who plays basketball once would not be considered a basketball player.
  7. Remain open-minded and question everything, even everyday traditions.
  8. Always take time to think before you act.
  9. Remember that the world you live in is shared space.
  10. Treat everyone as they are your family.


The changing stories clearly show that Exodus and Deuteronomy were written by different authors without any divine guidance. These sort of changes are exactly what we expect to see during the retelling of fictional stories and legends.