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.
You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.
You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.
Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. For 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. 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.
Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
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.
The Ten Commandments are controversial. Yet, their importance signifies the Jewish relationship with God portrayed throughout the Hebrew Bible. The commandments convey that God is of the utmost importance. One’s relationship with God transforms the individual and assists in life’s daily interactions in the community.
When recognized for relational importance, the commands are no longer oppressive orders people must obey in order to avoid receive punishment. Rather, commands offer instruction for helpful living in communion with God. In addition, commands engender honest relationships with God, self and others.
A.J. Jacobs, writer for Esquire magazine and professed agnostic, explored his tentative and distant relationship with his Jewish heritage before his son’s birth, discovering his connection with and validity of passing along Jewish traditions to his growing family when he wrote The Year of Living Biblically. Jacobs spent one year attempting to live literally by the 600+ commandments of the Hebrew Bible. Through his pursuit he grew a beard, wore traditional clothing, and threw rocks at people on the New York subway in attempts of “stoning.” Although the front cover depicts a man crying out carrying stone tablets in one hand and a coffee cup in the other, from his book, one gathers there is more to the Abrahamic faiths than ten commands. God’s relationship with God’s people is complex, thoughtful and at times strange. However, God travels with the Israelites out of Egypt, into the desert, and even during the Babylonian exile. God and humans maintain the relationship through communication and direction.
Although, the ten commandments are not the only commands in Jewish scripture, when read as commitments to a relational lifestyle, they succinctly retell the biblical narrative of God’s importance and the significance of genuine relationship with self and others.
Other commandments I might add:
11. Brush your teeth.
12. Ask thoughtful questions.