Jonathan Kraut | Misconceptions on the Nine Commandments

Jonathan Kraut

The Louisiana Republican Legislature recently passed a bill, signed by their governor, ordering a poster of the “Ten Commandments” to be placed in every K-12 classroom in that state. 

If their intent was to make a statement that Christianity is the dominant and favored faith in Louisiana, it is curious that the quotations chosen were of Jewish origin made about 750 years before Christianity existed. 

Maybe the brighter minds in Louisiana don’t think this mandate was about Christianity. But likely duller minds, and many voters, do. 

Our Constitution bans the endorsement of faith by government. Yet many are of the misinformed belief that we are a religious nation founded on Christianity. 

If we were to be a nation of faith and following the lead of our founders, should we not adhere to the more notable faiths in America at the time of independence? These included Puritanism, Anglicanism, Presbyterianism, Protestantism and Sephardic Judaism. 

The posting of the “Ten Commandments” is no more than a sham pretending to try to influence young minds. Like a “No Smoking” sign, rules on a wall are just a suggestion if not enforced. 

Although I am the great-grandson of two rabbis and able to read Hebrew, I am aware my interpretation of Hebrew may not be perfect. Nevertheless, I am disappointed and appalled by the significantly corrupted and grossly inaccurate “Ten Commandments” embraced by Christians that we see today. 

If one is to rely upon quotes, one should use an accurate rendition. 

First of all, there are nine commandments, not 10. 

The stone blocks held by Moses were of blue rock and not gray (Exodus 24:12). In addition, Moses having two tablets, each containing half the verses, is a myth. The Hebrew Bible (Exodus 32:15) describes two identical tablets, an exact copy of each other, that were written on both the front and the back. 

1. The first phrase translated states, “I am the Supreme One, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” (Exodus 20) 

How does this remark apply to non-Jews? It does not. 

Items 2 through 5 pertain to moral guidelines. 

2. “You shall have no other gods before Me …” 

This second message forbids the indulging in successors, co-regents, or alternates to the Hebrew deity. This phrase specifically forbids any variation, offspring, avatar, or entity that would share or co-participate as the Supreme Creator or hold any godly power. The full passage also forbids worshipping any idols, statues, figures, or images of any deity. 

While prophets and saints are acceptable, this second pronouncement dictates there can be no Christ, no sharing power, no son of … etc., and that no other entity is to be venerated as having godlike status. 

Of course, your faith is your choice. But it makes no sense to co-opt this body of work while simultaneously ignoring this most foundational concept. 

3. “Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy.” referring to Saturday, not to Sunday. 

4. “No carrying (as in holding) God’s name in vain.” Supplanting the Supreme Creator with another deity or a shared God is disrespectful and violates this passage. 

5. “Respect your mother and father.” This implies offering consideration not just to your parents, but to your family, your traditions and your culture. 

Clearly the first four edicts are irrelevant applications of the text for Christians, yet Louisiana Republicans want their youth to obey these? Meanwhile, using taxpayer money to promote a religious text is a clear violation the Constitution’s separation of church and state. 

The last five phrases define “criminal acts.” 

6. “No murder” — the unlawful taking of a life. 

7. “No adultery,” to include with porn stars or Playboy models. 

8. “No taking” — of property to include of the person itself such as kidnapping or holding someone against their will, as in sexual assault. 

9. “No retaliation by lying/no offering false testimony.” 

10. “No desiring” for what does not belong to you. 

Louisiana Republicans are embracing a candidate for president who worships graven images, has committed adultery, has been found guilty of fraud and filing false legal documents, has been adjudicated of sexual assault and desires to win an election that does not belong to him. 

How about, with Trump in mind, Louisiana Republicans offer up The Two Commandments? 

Or why not post the Louisiana penal codes on the wall instead? 

It is because Louisiana Republicans wish to score some political points from Christian voters, whereas following the “commandments” themselves does not matter. 

Jonathan Kraut directs a private investigations agency, is the CEO of a private security firm, is the CFO of an accredited acting conservatory, former college professor and dean, is a published author, and Democratic Party activist. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal or of other organizations. 

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