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The Role of the Ten Commandments and Exodus in Living a Rewarding Life

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Religion
Wordcount: 1576 words Published: 18th May 2020

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The religious texts of the bible have established themselves as some of the most significant and praised texts of all time. This is likely because of their ability to be analysed on a variety of levels, including the three worlds of the texts. The world behind the text analyses it and its historical significance. The world of the text is the literal interpretation of the contents and events of scripture. Lastly, the world in front of the text is how the scripture impacts society today and in the future. Out of the scriptures of the Old Testament, very few compare to the universal appraisal and appeal of Exodus. Arguably the most memorable part of Exodus is The Ten Commandments, a set of laws or guidelines written by God for his people the Israelites in Exodus 20:1-10.  Although these commandments had many meanings, there are two distinct parts. The first four of The Commandments detail man's relationship with God while the following six detail man's relationship with one and other. God's holy people, the Israelites, were freed from the slavery of the Egyptians with the help of God and the leadership of Moses. Once free many of God's people rejected his leadership and the Ten Commandments. Those who didn't reject him were rewarded, showing us that following the Ten Commandments rewards you.

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Long before Moses received The Commandments, God had made a similar statement through his covenant with Abraham. The covenant outlined Abraham's role in leading and founding his people, the Israelites, which were his descendants and would bind Abraham and the Israelites to God.  The covenant later was renewed through Abraham's son Isaac Genesis 26:3 "To you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will fulfil the oath which I swore to Abraham, your father." And then the covenant renewed through Isaac's son Jacob. After Jacob would be led to Egypt four hundred years later, his decedents would become slaves of the Egyptians and Pharaoh. God intended to retain his covenant throughout this time and was finally renewed again through the Ten Commandments prescribed and given to Moses. These commandments were not only laws; they upheld a much more integral unification of man and God. Moses, upon agreeing to the covenant in Exodus 19:8 ("All the Lord has spoken we will do." Is not only according to the laws, but he is also reinforcing and carrying on the age-old bond his ancestor Abraham agreed upon. As a result, upon breaking the requirements of these commandments, one is betraying both God and the Israelites and breaking this bond.

Moses was appointed by God as the leader of the Israelites and asked to assist in freeing them of Egyptian rule. Through the will of both Moses and the power of God, the Israelites managed to escape Egypt through the parting of the Red Sea. After about sixty to ninety days the Israelites would find Mount Sinai. Moses climbed Mount Sinai for forty days and once at the top God inscribed the Ten Commandments on two tablets, instructing Moses on how to live and lead his people. These commandments were (simplified and translated as). You shall have no other Gods but me. You shall not make for yourself any idol, nor bow down to it or worship it. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God. You shall remember and keep the Sabbath day holy. Respect your father and mother. You must not commit murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not give false evidence against your neighbour. You must not be envious of your neighbour's goods. You shall not be envious of his house nor his wife, nor anything that belongs to your neighbour. God wanted his people to live this specific way to ensure their lives were fruitful, meaningful and loyal, the laws would promote wellbeing and minimise sin while carrying on Abraham's promise and enforce God as the only sacred and spiritually connected being there is, and that would apply to their lives. Although upon agreeing to these commandments and descending Mount Saini, Moses was greeted by a crowd of Israelites already breaking the commandments and God's Covenant. The Israelites had assumed Moses had died ascending Mount Sinai and in response created and worshipped an Idol, a Golden Calf. "The story of the golden calf is widely regarded as one of the most disgraceful moments in Jewish history." (S.C Kesselman 2017). Moses returned, and upon seeing the Israelites worshipping an idol, he smashed the tablets. "Then the LORD said to Moses, "Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. 8 They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.'" Exodus 32: 7-8. Moses walked into the camp, saw the devastation created by their lack of faith and direction and destroyed the calf by melting it down and making the Israelites drink it. God punished those who had sinned and struck them with a plague. They had broken their covenant with God merely days after it had been initiated and renewed, and thus, they were punished and looked down upon by God. The Israelites would remain in the desert for forty years and then finally moving to the promised land. After Christ would die for our sins, the Ten Commandments' role in the covenant would become obsolete as the sin they are seeking to prevent was forgiven.

In the modern age, the Ten Commandments can still apply to one's life and for the most part, are still definitive basic morals to abide by. Of the ten, the most adaptable to current society is the latter six as man has a less prominent connection with God while the connection with one and other remains in our best interest. Of these six community-based Commandments, many global laws are related to. Thou shalt not kill and steal, particularly as we respect other's lives and possessions as we value our own and entrust it in others. Many people still retain keeping the Sabbath holy in a modernised weekend and weekday calendar. Adultery is sited as disgraceful in most cultures as men and women maintain loyalty and reverence to one and other in which we dedicate to one, and others live in response to the same thing. It has become difficult in the modern society to not envy others as the world has become much more materialistic and monitory and thus, we yearn for more possessional values although by minimising jealousy one can appreciate their life to the fullest still and remain acceptant of their possessions. The former four commandments are more irrelevant as a lack of connection to God in society. According to polls "The four which have fallen by the wayside are the requirement not to worship idols, use the Lord's name in vain, to worship no other God, and to keep the Sabbath day holy." (O Rudgard 2017). Although most of the Commandments can be translated into a modern setting, many substantial omissions make The Commandments inadequate. Most notably laws against rape, alcoholism, molestation, inequality and substance abuse. These are a necessity for any set of current guidelines and morals. Therefore, The Ten Commandments, for the most part, is still a rewarding way in which one can lead their lives and have a fruitful life despite a select few outliers although one can modify and create their own Ten Commandments.

Through research, at a modernised, historical and literal level it has become clear that the hypothesis is somewhat correct and that The Ten Commandments can lead to a fulfilling life in which one can be rewarded for their obedience and punished for their lack of it. They remain somewhat integral to laws relating to God and relating to everyday life, whether the goal is to attain a promised land or seek happiness and meaning without harming other people physically or emotionally. Thus, the Ten Commandments should remain sited as a textbook way in which one can uphold a connection with God and after minor editing, a modern way to treat your neighbour.


  • Graham, B 2015, Are the Ten Commandments Still Valid Today? BillyGraham, viewed 30 May 2019, <https://billygraham.org/answer/are-the-ten-commandments-still-valid-today/>.
  • Hoare, P 2016, ‘The Ten Commandments for the modern age’, NewStatesmanAmerica, 12 January, viewed 30 May 2019, <https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/religion/2016/01/ten-commandments-modern-age>.
  • Piper, J 1983, God's Covenant Through Moses, desireingGod, viewed 30 May 2019, <https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/gods-covenant-through-moses>.
  • Rudgard, O 2017, ‘The Six Commandments? Christians feel four of the ten are no longer important’, The Telegraph, 25 October, viewed 30 May 2019, <https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/10/25/six-commandments-christians-feel-four-ten-no-longer-important/>.
  • What are The Ten Commandments? 2018, Topmarks, viewed 30 May 2019, <https://www.topmarks.co.uk/judaism/the-ten-commandments>.


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