Archive for Decalogue

Ten Commandments Really Property Rights

Posted in Atheist, belief, Bible, culture, faith, Hebrew scripture, prehistory, religion, scriptures, Social with tags , , , , on August 1, 2013 by chouck017894

The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue (the ten words), are presented in two places in the Bible (Exodus 20:1-17, and Deuteronomy 5:6-21), both containing a short summary of godly demand allegedly revealed personally by God to Moses on Mount Sinai. These are known as Mosaic Laws. Strangely, those in Exodus and Deuteronomy are listed somewhat differently. Despite this, the brief list of commandments can be divided into four categories. The first three commandments (or four, depending on which faith system version) cannot be said to concern ethical, moral or even spiritual enlightenment, but lay down the “submit and obey” principles which any cult or faith system seeks to impose. Supposedly these first three (or four) commandments protect the religious followers from misusing divine power to serve personal ends. (How well these actually safeguard the misuse of divine power in political practice is periodically demonstrated by fanatics who belligerently post these commandments in courthouses and government buildings in attempts to force their particular religious convictions upon everyone else.)

In short, the first three (or four) commandments of the ten provide absolutely nothing to elevate any personal spiritual relationship with the creative Source: it is all about “I am the boss, and don’t you forget it.” This just happens, coincidently of course, to establish a power base for the go-betweens who (selflessly, of course) place themselves in service to the big boss. God will brook no rivalry and allows no divided loyalty. These opening commandments may therefore be considered to be the property rights for the priest-class, which leave the remaining commandments open for priestly interpretation of what the big boss wants (even though their interpretations often run counter to the stated commandments).

Not all biblically based faith systems, as noted, follow the same sequence, but the commandment that is most often placed after God’s self promotion is “Honor thy father and mother.” This is indeed a moral responsibility, but equally correct this commandment is a property right. for it protects the elderly when they may no longer be of any economical value to a society. (This places the religious rights’ domination of the Republican Party since 1996 in an awkward position, considering their constant push to destroy Social Security.) All the commandments, most of which are stated in negative “thou shalt not” form, are not strictly a system of heavenly righteousness as is routinely implied but concern matter-life property rights. The commandment “Thou shalt not kill, for example, is an affirmation of the sanctity (personal possession) of life: to take that right-to-life from any person for any reason is against social stability. How loyally this Thou shalt not kill commandment was observed is displayed in the priest-written book of Leviticus which lists twenty-some ways to kill those whom the priests judged did not follow the commandments!

Next is the “Thou shalt not commit adultery” commandment, the sole purpose of which is in regard to men’s property rights, for in priest-written sacred word, woman is assessed as merely the property of man. As in the holy story of Lot, man is free to sell, rent or loan out his daughters and he may use his wife however pleases him. Adultery is thus but a variation of the next commandment which declares “Thou shalt not steal” another man’s property.

The last two holy commandments are actually more in regard to one’s social and/or public reputation which could inflict negative consequences and damage the personal property rights of others—the personal treasure known as integrity (a quality of personhood virtually unknown among religious fanatics and politicians). Thus in bearing false witness (#9) another person’s honor (their personal property of integrity) is soiled which can easily ruin one’s life and property in a community. And “Thou shalt not covet” (#10) is to crave (and probably strive for) something which rightfully belongs to someone else.

Things to consider:
There is very little attention given in textbooks regarding any human cultures prior to around 2500 BCE. This has long been standard practice despite the fact that artifacts, archaeological sites and biological evidence confirms the existence of human cultures dating back at least one million years. Little noted in textbooks is the fact that in the timeframe c.2600 BCE a ruler of Sumer, named Urukagina, found so much immoral activity in his kingdom that he found it necessary to crack down on it. A long inscription by this ruler is regarded as the first-ever record of social reform, and it was founded on a virtuous sense of freedom, equality and justice. A few of the injustices that Urukagina addressed included the unfair use by supervisors of their power to take the best of everything for themselves; the abuse of one’s official position; and the practice of monopolistic groups to impose unbearable prices on the general public. Sound familiar?

Approximately 875 years later (c.1758 BCE) Hammurabi ascended the throne of Babylonia. History, surprisingly, does record that he was responsible for the codification of Babylonian laws and edicts, which were displayed on a stele for the public to see. Hammurabi depicted himself as receiving the code from the god Shamash. The code was strictly a civil code which contained 282 paragraphs covering such things as legal procedures and penalties for unjust accusations, false testimony, and injustice done by judges, etc. Other laws were based on equal retaliation–the eye for an eye approach which later became the suggested “law” practice in the priest-written book Leviticus.

Moses is speculated to have received the Ten Commandments around 1540-30 BCE, and thereafter the Decalogue is said to have served as the fundamental laws of the Hebrews. The Ten Commandments which Moses allegedly received directly from God functioned as a severely condensed version of those earlier rulers. It was the cunning act of dressing those laws in sacred scripture which subtly implied that they were enforced by divine power and which provided their endurance.