Exodus 34:28 established, ostensibly, that Moses recorded “Ten Words” (known as the Ten Commandments) revealed by Yahweh. What is in question is not how to number but how to name these Ten. Since Origen, different sets of ten commands have been proposed. Opposing Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant traditions exist. Logical, theological, and linguistic arguments have been offered as justifications for how to best divide the texts (Exod 20:3–17 and Deut 5:7–21) into two distinct commands and eight prohibitions. Most variations center on how to combine or split the several directives contained at the beginning and end, which respectively focus on idolatry and coveting. No consensus has been reached, although one list has become popular. Jewish exegesis includes a proposal for only nine. Some interpreters have proposed more than ten commands (12-14). Is a new approach possible? This article suggests there are ten clear prohibitions that leave aside the positive commands to keep Sabbath and honor parents. The proposal is made that these two could be seen as adjunctive to the prohibitions that precede, so do not function technically as two of the Ten negations intended.
Marlowe, W. Creighton
"Ten Commandments or Prohibitions? Numbering the Ten Words,"
The Journal of Inductive Biblical Studies:
2, p. 31-47.
Available at: https://place.asburyseminary.edu/jibs/vol8/iss2/4