10 Oddities About The 10 Commandments

There are 10 oddities about the 10 Commandments that you may or may not know. I used to spend a lot of time reading and rereading the book of Exodus, especially the part that contains the Ten Commandments. As with most parts of the Bible, the more I read it the more it has to say to me.

1. The Ten Commandments Are Located In Three Places In the Bible

The text of the Ten Commandments can be found in Exodus 20:2-17 (the first set of stone tablets), in Exodus 34:10-28 (the second set of tablets), and in Deuteronomy 5:6-21. The first five books of the Old Testament, or the Pentateuch, credit Moses as the author even though he talks of his own death in the last book, Deuteronomy 34:5-8. It’s a miracle!

2. Moses Destroyed the First Set of Stone Tablets

You may not know that Moses smashed to smithereens the first set of stone tablets that God made for him to take to his people, the Israelites. When Moses came down Mount Sinai (or Mount Horeb in Deuteronomy) carrying the two tablets in his hands (Exodus 32:15) made by God himself, he discovered that his brother, Aaron, had made a golden calf for the people to worship. Unfortunately, Aaron didn’t know yet, that he was breaking the Second Commandment. Moses lost his cool and slammed the tablets to the ground, shattering them to pieces (Exodus 32:19).

3. How Moses Got God to Make Him a Second Set of Tablets

After Moses calmed down he realized what he had done. Oh, no! He destroyed something made by God himself. God instructed Moses to kill 3,000 of his people to pay for their sins (Exodus 32:27-29). Moses didn’t actually kill them himself. He got the Levites to do it for him. It was a bloody scene and a lot of brothers, mothers, and sisters were slain for doing something against God’s command which hadn’t been presented to them just yet. Then Moses went back up to God to see if this massive killings would atone for their sins. God said that it’ll do for now. However, God still sent a plague on them just for kicks (Exodus 32:35).

4. The First Set of Tablets Was Never Called the “Ten Commandments”

Exodus 20 is where God begins reciting his commands and ends his recital in chapter 31. Apparently there must have been a lot of commands because Moses stayed with God for 40 days and 40 nights. Moses did take a short break to yell at his people not to be afraid and that God was just testing them so they wouldn’t sin. They were complaining because the thunder and lightning coming from the top of Mount Sinai was just too loud and a bit disruptive (Exodus 20:18-20). Anyway, God nor Moses called these two tablets the Ten Commandments.

5. God Made Moses Write on the Second Set of Stone Tablets

After God agreed to make Moses another set of commandments He told Moses to chisel out his own stone tablets this time (Exodus 34:1). God created and wrote on the first set of tablets. God also said that He would write on the second set of tablets himself. But, when you get down to verse 27, God must have changed His mind because He had Moses write down the commandments. And, of course, it took another 40 days and 40 nights (Exodus 34:27-28).

6. The Second Set of Tablets Were Explicitly Called the Ten Commandments

After God made Moses chisel out all the commands on this handful of tablets (tiny writing I suppose), the author of Exodus says, “And he wrote upon the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments (Exodus 34:28).” The first set of tablets were never called the Ten Commandments. The second set of tablets in the Book of Exodus were explicitly called the Ten Commandments! And the second set of tablets in Deuteronomy 10:4 is also called the Ten Commandments.

7. The Content on the First Tablets Were Different Than the Second of Tablets

According to a poll taken in 2018, most Christians surveyed didn’t realize that “Keep the Sabbath Holy” was one of the Ten Commandments. Here’s a quick quiz for you. Yes, you will have to dust off your Bibles. Take a look at the first set of commandments, the ones that are traditional and you may be familiar with (Exodus 20:1-17), and compare them to the second set of commands (Exodus 34:14-26), the ones called the Ten Commandments – the ones that went into the Ark of the Covenant.

Are they the same or maybe a little different? Look below for the second set of Ten Commandments. My favorite one is the last one, “Do not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.” I, personally, would never think of doing that! What’s your favorite?

The Ten Commandments from Exodus 34:14-28:

  1. You shall worship no other god, because the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
  2. You shall not make cast idols.
  3. All shall keep the festival of unleavened bread.
  4. All that firstborn male animals and humans are mine.
  5. No one shall appear before me empty-handed.
  6. Observe the Sabbath.
  7. Celebrate the Festivals of Weeks and Ingathering.
  8. No yeast in sacrifices, and don’t save Passover food for the morning.
  9. Offer only good fruit to Yahweh.
  10. Don’t boil a kid in its mother’s milk.

8. The Second Set of Tablets Was Stored In the Ark of the Covenant

Okay! Now we’re getting into some of the Raiders of the Lost Ark stuff here. Exodus 40:20 says that they put the new tablets (the second set) into the Ark of the Covenant. We know exactly what was on these tablets (Exodus 34:14-28)! 

9. The Ten Commandments Had Tough Penalties If Broken

When people demand that we display the Ten Commandments in front of Court Houses or in Public Schools, I think most don’t realize that the penalty for not following a commandment was usually death. That’s probably why the penalty list isn’t posted next to the Ten Commandments. It’s a bit harsh for our modern society. But, if we’re to follow these God-given commands, should we not follow the penalties, too? What’s your thought?

10. Most People Cannot Recite the Ten Commandments

Years ago I wrote a blog about how most Christians today could name more members of the Brady Bunch than they could the Ten Commandments. How about you? Grab a piece of paper and make two columns. On one column label it The Ten Commandments and the other The Brady Bunch (list at the end of this blog – don’t cheat). Which side wins?

The Brady Bunch

The Ten Commandments

Closing Thoughts

There have been a lot of articles and commentary about the Ten Commandments and the “Real Ten Commandments” by Christian Apologists, Clergy, Bible Scholars, Atheists, and more. I don’t know Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek so a lot of what they say is over my head. All I know is that the Bible that was given to me, sanctioned by my church, and preached from, is the one that I read and study. I’m not trying to convince you of anything, except to maybe read the Bible.

I hope you enjoyed reading my list of 10 things that you may not know about the Ten Commandments. I don’t mind if you disagree with what I write. But, please give me your kind thoughts.

Brady Bunch: Mike, Carol, Greg, Marcia, Peter, Jan, Bobby, Cindy, and Alice Nelson.

Posted by

I’m a busy, happily retired guy who is enjoying life with the love of my life, Jackie. I thrive to be in the moment, remembering that I will die someday (memento mori). That is the only thing that I know for sure. I have spent a great portion of my life studying and contemplating the Bible and the way of the Christian life. One of my passions is to write what I think. You may not agree with me and that's okay. That's what makes life so spicy and delicious! My intention is not to try and convince you to change or to denigrate any religion. I am not that smart. I am not a cleric or a biblical scholar. All of my writing comes from a layman's point of view.

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