Have we got the Ten Commandments wrong? Why does this ancient copy look different from what we’ve been taught?

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Wait, what? The Ten Commandments have another commandment? The oldest known surviving stone tablet of the Ten Commandments has been auctioned off in California.

An auction house in Beverly Hills has sold a national treasure of Israel for $850,000. The artifact is a two-foot square stone inscription of the Ten Commandments. It weighs about 115 pounds and is dated to the 400 and 600s AD.

The tablet was released by the Israeli Antiquities Authorities to be sold in the U.S. on the condition that it is to be displayed in a museum. It likely hung at the entrance of a synagogue.

The tablet is the oldest surviving example of the Ten Commandments in stone.

Curiously, the tablet contains just nine of the ten commandments we know about. The prohibition against taking the Lord’s name in vain is not on the tablet. Instead, there is a commandment instructing the people to raise a temple on Mount Gerizim.

The mountain is a holy place to the Samaritan people who inscribed the tablets. The switch in commandments was unique to their faith community.

The tablet was put up for $300,000 and sold for $850,000. It will be displayed in a museum as a stipulation of its sale.

By Marshall Connolly


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  1. Patrick Gannon Reply

    Which ten commandments? There are three sets.

    Exodus 20:2-17 – this is the familiar set of rules, but Moses is just repeating what Yahweh told him on Mt. Sinai. These are not in written form.
    Exodus 31:18 – the mythical Mo goes back up the mountain and Yahweh gives him two tablets of stone, but when he returns, the people are worshipping the golden calf at the command of his brother Aaron (for which he is punished (?) by being put in charge of all the clergy!). Mo has a hissy fit and smashes the tablets (Exodus 32:19).
    The bible does not refer to either of these cases as “commandments.” It’s only when the big Mo goes back yet again for new tablets that we get rules that are actually referred to as the ten commandments! (Exodus 34:14-28). Note that the only set of rules actually referred to in the bible as the Ten Commandments, is quite different from the first two sets. Here you go:

    I. Thou shalt worship no other god.

    II. Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.

    III. The feast of unleavened bread thou shalt keep.

    IV. Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest.

    V. Thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest,
    and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.

    VI. Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord God.

    VII. Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven.

    VIII. Neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto the morning.

    IX. The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the LORD thy God.

    X. Thou shalt not seethe a kid [ie, a young goat] in his mother’s milk.

    So was Moses’ memory faulty? Did he have dementia, or did Yahweh change his mind?

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