What's Wrong With the Ten Commandments?
Nothing's wrong with the Ten Commandments. It's just that they don't command - which is to say, legally obligate - anyone except the people Israel. Alone of all the world's nations, the Jews are required to keep these holy laws. In fact, a Jew who violates any one of them faces extreme legal penalties, at least theoretically, while Noachides or non-Jews have absolutely no legal obligation to keep, for instance, the Fourth Commandment (pertaining to the Sabbath).
God gave these great and holy laws to Israel so that everyone could learn from them. But Israel stands in a unique relation to all this law. The Ten Commandments and the whole Ten Commandments system - a system of precisely 613 laws that were revealed at Sinai and inscribed by Moses in the Bible - constitute a wonderful but special priestly body of law for the Bible's "people of priests." They address Israel specifically - look at the language: God tells the Hebrews, "I am your God, O Israel, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage." Obviously, this isn't for the slavemasters of Egypt but for the people who had come out of slavery in Egypt. Note too, the self-identification of the Deity in these passages: He, the Lawgiver, identifies Himself by a particular holy name, the unique Name - the Tetragrammaton, the Y, H, V, and H - that most people of that age, quite like most people of our modern age, had never even heard of, but which was (and is) well-known to the Jews.
From Moses' time to the present, Israel's rabbis have taught that God gave Israel the Ten Commandments to obligate the Jews to serve Him in a unique way. The Ten Commandments rules Israel, and Israel alone. But everyone can and should learn from this law - which does, after all, come from the Deity Himself. And, so long as the people of Israel follow this law, they will be worthy and able to serve God by bringing their fellow human beings - all the descendants of Noach - God's most fundamental, universal laws: the Seven Commandments, the laws of the Rainbow Covenant.
Back to FAQ List