Bible Dictionary

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Commandments, the Ten

(Ex. 34:28; Deut. 10:4.) The Hebrew name for these is the “Ten Words,” hence the Greek name Decalogue. They are also called the Covenant (Deut. 9:9) or the Testimony (Ex. 25:21). The giving of the Ten Commandments by God to Moses, and through him to Israel, is described in Ex. 19:16–20:21; 32:15–19; 34:1. They were engraved on two tables of stone, which were placed in the Ark; hence the Ark was called the Ark of the Covenant (Num. 10:33). There has been a difference of opinion as to the way in which the commandments were divided into ten. The Roman Church, following the example of St. Augustine, unites what we know as the first and second and divides the last into two. Our Lord, quoting from Deut. 6:4–5 and Lev. 19:18, has summarized the Ten Commandments in “two great commandments” (Matt. 22:37–39). To get their full significance we must read them in the light of our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount (see also Mark 2:27 and Matt. 15:4–6 for interpretation of fourth and fifth), where it is shown that they are intended to control our thoughts and desires as well as our acts.

The Ten Commandments have been reiterated in latter-day revelation, certifying as to their genuineness and importance, as also Moses’ experience on Sinai has been thus verified. See Mosiah 12:32–37; 13:5; D&C 42:18–28; 59:5–13.