The 10 Commandments are a set of Biblical principles that are very important in Christianity and Judaism. They are also known as the Decalogue, which is a word that comes from Ancient Greek and Latin.
The 10 Commandments can be understood as a moral guidebook explaining how people should behave toward each other. Most religions will have similar guidelines that help people make decisions and act in what they believe to be the right way.
We have listed and explained the 10 Commandments below. You can also find information about the story of the 10 Commandments as told in Exodus and Deuteronomy, two books of the Hebrew Bible.
The story of the 10 Commandments of God
The story of the 10 Commandments can be found in Exodus in the Bible. The story begins with a group of people called the Israelites. Moses was one of the Israelites, so he was part of the group. They were traveling through the desert when they came to Mount Sinai.
Moses decided to climb the mountain so that he could talk to God. He was already over 80 years old, so it was quite a challenge!
God spoke to Moses that day. He told Moses about the 10 Commandments engraved on two stone tablets. These were rules that God had made to tell people how they should live. God told Moses that people who disobeyed his Commandments would be punished.
Moses brought the two stone tablets with the 10 Commandments back to the Israelites, which were eventually written in the Bible.
The 10 Commandments of God explained
- Thou shalt not have strange Gods before me.
This Commandment tells believers that God should be the most crucial thing they believe in. Some people take this to mean that God is the only “real” God, but it can also be understood as meaning that faith is more important than anything else. So, for example, it might mean that people shouldn’t hold things like wealth or possessions above their faith.
- Thou shalt not make any graven image.
Like the Commandment above, this one tells people not to make any representations (like carvings or paintings) of any God, including the Christian God. Representations of gods are called “idols.”
This commandment ensures that people honor God and adequately worship Him.
- Thou shall not call the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
Like the previous two Commandments, this one is about having faith in God. It tells people not to misuse God’s name as a swear word or drop it into a conversation where it doesn’t belong.
- Remember to keep the Lord’s Day holy.
This Commandment instructs people to take the Sabbath day as a day of physical and mental rest. It comes from the story of the world’s creation in which God took the seventh day as a day’s rest.
Jewish people honor Shabbat as a day of rest. Therefore, they don’t do any work from sundown on Friday to sunset on Saturday to follow this Commandment. Often, they will have a big meal on a Friday night with their whole family to celebrate.
After the sun has gone down, they are not allowed to do anything considered “work, ” including cooking and cleaning. Of course, different families interpret this differently, but most Jewish people will honor Shabbat by taking a day off to rest and contemplate their relationship with God.
- Honour thy father and thy mother.
It might be a bit old-fashioned phrasing for today. However, we can interpret it as saying that people should be polite and respectful to their parents, guardians, or adults.
- Thou shalt not kill.
This one is relatively straightforward! Even though it uses the old-fashioned version of “you,” it still applies to modern life. Several of these Commandments are pretty good rules to follow, whether you are a Christian, have another faith, or have no faith.
- Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Some of the Commandments, like this one, are about faithfulness. The first is about devotion to God, and this is about loyalty to marriage vows. This Commandment says that married people should be loyal to each other and their vows when they marry.
- Thou shalt not steal.
Another easy one! Whether it’s toys from your siblings or more significant thefts, this Commandment says that people should respect other people’s possessions and not steal from them.
You can see from this Commandment that there is an overlap between Christian, secular (non-religious) values and the law. The Commandments can be seen as a way to help people understand right and wrong.
- Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
This Commandment says that we should be honest and truthful at all times. It means we cannot tell lies about others because that can be very hurtful.
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.
You should not take things that belong to other people. That could lead to temptation and doing something wrong, like stealing it.