17 Common Misconceptions About the Ten Commandments

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By Jonathan Trent

The Ten Commandments are a set of principles featured in the Bible that tell us how we should live our lives. However, over time, certain facts about them have been skewed. To illustrate, here are 17 common misconceptions about the Ten Commandments you may not have known.

Moses Was The Only Person to Receive Them.

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Many religious individuals believe that Moses was the only one to receive the Ten Commandments. However, in the Book of Exodus, Moses was given the Ten Commandments on two stone tablets for himself and to guide the Israelites in their relationship with God and others!

They Are Only Found in the Bible

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Contrary to popular belief, the Ten Commandments are not just found in the Bible. They can also be found in the Quran and are featured in secular legal codes throughout history. In addition, many old legal systems hint at the same ideas as the Ten Commandments.

Only Actions are Prohibited

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It’s wrong to assume that the Ten Commandments only address actions. They also reveal ideas about intentions and thoughts, such as “You shall not covet,” relating to inner desires. As Psychology Today notes, this is important, as thoughts may come at a whim, but actions are curbed by will.

All Religions Apply the Same Logic

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Perceptions of the Ten Commandments vary across various religions. For example, Jews, Christians, and Muslims all have different ideas about the Ten Commandments. This means that the wording is different across various denominations, with some people taking certain words literally and others not.

The Ten Commandments Are Irrelevant Today

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Although the Bible and its contents were written over two millennia ago, the lessons of the Ten Commandments are still applicable today. Many people still use them as a guide for living, and they continue to influence modern ethical and moral discussions, so don’t dismiss them!

Everyone Can Follow Them

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While the ideas in the Ten Commandments are easy to digest, practicing them is challenging as some commandments require significant personal and societal changes. As Psych Central points out, being a “good” person means embracing qualities that promote positive outcomes and well-being for humanity as a whole, which is difficult.

They Are Just Religious Rules

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The Ten Commandments are incredibly important in the Bible, but they don’t just contain lessons that can be applied to religious individuals. In fact, they also address social and legal principles, like prohibiting murder and theft. Overall, they promote communal harmony and personal integrity, which isn’t exclusive to religion!

God is the Only Thing That They Focus on

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God and the Ten Commandments are synonymous, but this does not mean that the Ten Commandments only center around God. In fact, half of the Commandments focus on interpersonal relationships while including rules on honoring parents and respecting others’ property. Everyone can learn from those–even atheists!

They Are the Oldest Laws

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One might assume that The Ten Commandments are the oldest laws. However, older legal codes, such as the Code of Hammurabi, came before the Ten Commandments. In fact, Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia had sophisticated and developed legal systems far before Sinai!

Only Devoutly Religious People Can Follow Them

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Religious individuals embrace the Ten Commandments, but as was briefly mentioned earlier, even atheists can learn lessons from them, as they have a universal relevance, regardless of religion. The Guardian explains that the key is not whether or not we have faith of some kind but how central it is to how we live.

They Only Provide Rules

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Although the Ten Commandments are branded as a set of rules, they actually symbolize a bigger vision for a fair and moral society. They are not solely for the purpose of dictating to others; they also promote a harmonious approach to living our lives.

The Ten Commandments Are a Complete Moral Code

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Many people around the world follow the Ten Commandments religiously because they believe they are a complete moral code, ignoring anything that they don’t reference. However, they should not be studied in isolation as they are part of a larger set of laws and teachings in religious texts.

Moses Received Them All at Once

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The process of Moses obtaining the Ten Commandments did not occur all at once, conflicting with many people’s beliefs. In fact, the Bible shows that Moses acquired the Ten Commandments in stages, traveling up Mount Sinai on many occasions to get further instructions.

Everyone Reads Them in the Same Way

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Everyone takes something different from the Ten Commandments as they don’t apply to everyone equally. While they offer general guidance for living our lives, different traditions interpret and implement them in various ways, according to their personal situation and the cultural or historical context.

Stone Tablets Were the Only Thing They Were Written on

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Those who have studied the Bible are convinced that the Ten Commandments were solely written on stone tablets. While they were initially transcribed onto scrolls, manuscripts, and books, the BBC reveals that the Gutenberg printing is widely considered to be one of the most important.

Only Negative Commands Are Contained Within Them

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Many ignorant people claim that the Ten Commandments are aggressively authoritative and negatively demanding. However, this is nonsense; they include many positive directives and constructive criticism, such as honoring parents and keeping the Sabbath. These help people conduct themselves better in life and keep their morals intact.

They are Universally Accepted

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Last but not least, different cultures and societies have challenged the applicability of the Ten Commandments–they’re not universally accepted. Although they are intended to benefit humanity as a whole, they are not embraced in the same way all over the world; in fact, they have faced vast criticism and reinterpretation throughout history!

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