Are the Ten Commandments Universal Principles for All Mankind? (5 January, 2014, 4 Shevet 5774)
The Ten Commandments were Given too all Israel. They were not given to non-Israelites BUT they encompass principles that apply to all mankind and that were in effect before the existence of Israel. The Decalogue was addressed to the Israelites. They have come to represent Universal Moral Principles. They also resonate with inner yearnings of the American Psyche and with the Hebrew Origins of many in the USA especially those descended from Joseph and the Lost Ten Tribes.
David Jackson wrote:
Since not working on the Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments, and since
it was established in creation week, it seems like this law is applicable to
all people. Are the Ten Commandments only binding on Jews? Not sure I'd
want to live in a land where they were considered optional!
Also, it's been observed that while days, months, quarters and years are
determined by physical realities, weeks are not. Even though virtually the
entire world is based on a 7-day week, there is apparently no physical
justification for it. This seems to be to indicate that God has ordained it
for all people.
3. The Sabbath was created at the Creation.
These questions and other like them are necessary BUT it is important to remember that our primary goal is to reveal the identity of the Ten Tribes and to confirm it.
This is the most important thing we can do. This is what we intend to do.
All other matters are subsidiary to this. To our mind they are theoretical.
Too much preoccupation with other issues is a distraction, possibly harmful to us and may have a troll-like effect.
Trolls and Enemies
#5. Keeping the Commandments and the Troll Effect
Now to your posting,
The Sabbath was created at the Creation.
It has an intrinsic sanctity. This is emphasized in Rabbinical Thought. It may have always been recognized as different from other days.
To extrapolate from this that all peoples are commanded to rest on the Sabbath Day however is taking it too far.
Perhaps all peoples of the world will keep the Sabbath in some form in the Messianic Era. See below.
Concerning the present we need Biblical verses relating to the Sabbath and the other commandments before we can even begin to consider such a possibility.
4. The Seven Noachide Laws
# Are the Ten Commandments only binding on Jews? Not sure I'd want to live in a land where they were considered optional! #
We Need to distinguish between the Universal Laws of Morality that the Ten Commandments incorporate and the Ten Commandments as encompassing the Law given to Israel.
Before the giving of the Torah Law there were Laws that everyone had to keep.
For example it was forbidden to murder (Genesis 4:10), murder had to be revenged (Genesis 9:6), taking the wife of another man was to be avoided (Genesis 20:11), rape was to be punished (Genesis 34:31), the Cities of Sodom and Gomorrha were destroyed because of oppression and immorality (Genesis 20:21-22), etc.
These Laws are popularly known as the Seven Noachide Laws. Actually there are more than seven and they are general principles as much as specific enactments.
5. The Ten Commandments
Here are the Ten Commandments.
They encompass the general moral principals that already existed but apart from that are directed expressly to the Israelites who were brought out of Egypt as seen in Exodus 20:2 below.
1 Then God spoke all these words:
2 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; 3 you shall have no other gods before* me.
4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, 6 but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7 You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.
8 Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy.
9 For six days you shall labour and do all your work.
10 But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work; you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns.
11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.
12 Honour your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
13 You shall not murder.
14 You shall not commit adultery.
15 You shall not steal.
16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
17 You shall not covet your neighbour's house; you shall not covet your neighbour's wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.
The Ten Commandments include some of the universal principals for all mankind but basically are directed to Israel. They are part of the Torah Law. There are Rabbinical opinions that consider the Ten Commandments to be, in addition, to specific commandments also generic headings under which all the others laws may be categorized.
A system of universal morality encompassing all-Mankind may be embodied in the Ten Commandments but this existed before they did.
6. Original Intention of the Law. Universal Ethics
Your trend of thought however may have intuited the same general message as that perceived by Maimonides.
Maimondies says in effect that the original intention was for Israel to have influence over all mankind and to coerce the rest of humanity to respect the Universal Laws.
We may envisage an End-of-Days type ideal in which all Mankind is directed by Israel, under an Israelite Umbrella, where Universal Laws are applied to non-Israelites in accordance with Torah Principles.
We saw that there were two types of sojourner or "ger" amongst the ancient Israelites.
(1) The righteous ger who was gereca i.e. your ger and who became the same as you and whom you were commanded to love and treat with equality.
(2) The sojourner with rights of dwelling (Ger Toshav) who remained a Gentile but had rights and obligations of his own.
Israel and the Sabbath
#4. Different Laws for Israelites and non-Israelites
The Ger Toshav though remaining a Gentile was still in a sense part of the Israelite Community.
Perhaps in the future the rest of mankind shall enjoy a similar status?
Even though strictly speaking the Ten Commandments (also known as the Decalogue) were given to Israelites and not to all mankind there exists a Universal Code of Behavior with Biblical Sanction that needs to be adhered to. People know this. They also instinctively are aware that God exists. Belief in God often emanates from an innate arousal that we need Moral Authority outside of ourselves. Only the Bible gives this. After we realize this we may continue to confirm our beliefs through rational reasoning and worship. The Ten Commandments have come to represent a condensation of Divine Authority. From this point of view they really do apply to all mankind and not only to Israel.
What is more the only people nowadays who really adhere to these beliefs are to be found amongst Israelite nations, especially America. The principles apply not only to the Israelites in Israelite countries but to all their citizens. The Ten Commandments are express Israelite heritage even when the Israelites concerned are not on the whole aware of their Israelite origins. They are part of the Israelite soul. US legal principles are believed to be based on the Ten Commandments. "The Ten Commandments decorate the courtroom of the Supreme Court, directly above the bench where the Honorable Justices are seated". In the inner consciousness of many Lost Israelites from the Ten Tribes exists a yearning to return to the God of Israel and HIS Law.
One of the reasons the Ten Tribes were exiled was to bring them down to the level of Gentile non-Israelites and then elevate themselves upwards dragging the rest of mankind up with them.
Ultimately they will re-unite with Judah and once again be recognized as Israelites and keep the Torah. The Ten Commandments symbolize an inner recognition of this.
The above discussion was somewhat theoretical. It concerned Israelites as they would have been if they had continued to keep the Law. They did not. Only Judah did. We thus find ourselves with three, not two, categories:
b. Israelites who are like Gentiles as far as they and the world are concerned.
c. Jews from the Biblical and Historical kingdom of Judah.
The case of Israelites from the Ten Tribes who are descended from Hebrews but not aware of their ancestry will be discussed again, elsewhere.