DECALOGUE. A term, from the Greek, corresponding to the Hebrew Words' (Ex. xxxiv. 28; Deut. x, 4) ; in the Septuagint 01 diga )6yoi. In the Pentateuch it appears in two versions (Ex. xx, 2-17 and Deut. v, 6-18) with some variants that have given rise to much discussion and criticism. The sources in the Bible describe it as embodying the Ftatements of cod on Mount Sinai; reveale4 to Moses and the people of Israel on the third month after the deliverance from Egypt amid thunder, lightning and heavy smoke. The Ten Words were written by Him on two tablets of stone of .testimony' or 'tables of the covenant)), and given to Moses. In his anger at the people's apostasy, Moses broke the tables (Ex. xxxii, 19), and later God com manded him to make two other tables like the first (Ex. xxxiv, 1), upon which to rewrite the Ten Words. In another passage, however (Ex. xxxiv, 27-28), Moses was ordered to rewrite and did rewrite the commandments him self ; but in Deut. iv, 13, and other passages, God is the writer. Moses placed in the book (Ex. xxv, 16, 21, xl, 20) this second set brought down from Mount Sinai. The Ark was called, therefore, (Ark of the Testimony' (Ex. xxv, 22; Num. iv, 5).
The Decalogue begins with the declaration in the first person that the speaker is Israel's God who led him out of Egypt and bondage. Hence no other gods shall be for Israel, and as a necessary corollary, no graven image or representation of anything shall be made as idol to bow down to and serve. The sin of idolatry is further enlarged upon as contrast ing with the nature of the Deity, who while punishing the children for the sins of their fathers unto the third and fourth generation of those who hate God is merciful to the thousandth generation of those who love Him and keep His commandments. Next comes the prohibition against taking His name in vain, which is followed by the injunction to keep the Sabbath holy as a rest day from all work for man as well as beast, the stranger as well as the household. Honoring father and mother is the substance of the next commandment, and a reward is added — long life. In quick suc cession murder, adultery, theft, and false testi mony are forbidden. The Decalogue concludes with a commandment against covetousness of anything that is one's neighbor's.
The differences in the two versions of the Decalogue form an interesting chapter in the critical study of the Pentateuch. While there is no essential variation so far as vital obliga tions are concerned, verbal changes occur and in one instance, that of the Sabbath, an en tirely different reason is adduced for its ob servance. The slight variants in the Mas oretic text, occasional differences in words, as for instance °covet° for adesire,"remember the Sabbath° in one case and °keep° in the other, and °false witness" in one and °a witness of deceit° in the other; some additions and amplifications, all this has been explained as due to carelessness on the part of transcribers, who trusted to their memory. But the varia tion in the reason alleged for the Sabbath cannot be so readily explained. The Exodus version connects it with creation; that of Deuteronomy associates it with Israel's release from Egyptian slavery. In the one case, the universal, in the other a national historical element. One can understand how the critics
of the different schools analyze these variants to discover which text is the earlier. The difficulty is less felt by the early rabbis who claim both versions to be alike of divine origin and spoken at the same time. The division of the Decalogue is another subject of inquiry. A$ it was written on two tablets of stone and on both sides, its arrangement would have been naturally one group of five "words" each on one stone. So, m fact, is the statement as to the original division made by Josephus Vol. III, 5, 4) and by Philo (We 12) the first group of five in cluding the commandments referring to our relation to God and the second referring to our conduct toward our neighbors. Another variation is to be noted. The sequence of cer tain of the °words° differs in various versions. The Masoretic text, Josephus, the Syriac Hexapla agree as to the order of the pro hibitions against murder, adultery, and theft, but the Septuagint, Codex Alexandrinus and Ambrosianus have the sequence of "murder, theft, and adultery," while Philo has the order "adultery, murder, theft," and the Codex Vaticanus "adultery, theft, murder" — slight variations, it is true; but in so fundamental a code as the Decalogue one would expect in every version uniformity throughout. No less peculiar is the diversity in the numbering of the different commandments. According to the Jewish tradition, Ex. xx, 2, forms the first °word,* while verses 3-6 constitute the second. The Codex Vaticanus of the Septuagint and the Deuteronomy of Ambrosianus have a similar arrangement. Josephus and Philo re gard verse 3 as first, verses 4-6 as second, verse 7 as third, verses 8-11 as fourth, verse 12 as fifth, verse 13 as sixth, verse 14 as seventh, verse 15 as eighth, verse 16 as ninth and verse 17 as tenth commandment. The Roman Catholic and Lutheran rule combines verses 3-6 into the first, and every commandment is advanced by one to the last, the traditional Jewish °tenth* being divided into ninth and tenth, to maintain the traditional number. In the exegetical and philosophical writings of the early and mediaeval rabbinical authorities, the Decalogue plays an important part — piety, mysticism and ingenuity alike enter into their interpretations. A point that aroused much dispute was the relation of revelation to the Ten Words. Was the Deca logue exclusively essential compared to the rest of the Law? In the daily liturgy in early Talmudic times the recital of the Ten Words was a special feature, but later withdrawn to silence the inference that the Decalogue alone had been revealed by God on Mount Sinai (Berak. 11a).
Consult Caverno, C., Words' (Boston 1899) ; Driver, 'Introduction to the Old Testa ment' (New York 1902) ; Geffken, 'tidier die Versifications Eintheilungen des Dekalogs' (Hamburg 1838) ; Green, 'Higher Criticism of the Pentateuch' (New York 1895) ; Monte fiore in Hibbert Lectures (London 1892) ; Robinson, 'The (Chicago 1899) ; Smith, W. Robertson, 'The Old Testament in the Jewish Church' (pp. 331-345). Consult also the latest Bible dictionaries and the Cath olic and Jewish encyclopedias.