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Is there significance to the order of the Ten Commandments?

by Mrs. Dinka Kumer


Library » Torah » 10 Commandments | Subscribe | What is RSS?


Of course there is significance! Let's start with the first commandment, “I am the Lord, your G-d.” A king must first establish his domination, and only then can he begin to declare laws.

I am G-d “...Who released you from Egypt.” G-d mentioned this miraculous event as opposed to His creating the world, since the Jewish people at Mt. Sinai would be more affected by something they themselves experienced. But because someone might think that the Creator was a different god...

(2) The second commandment comes to say, “Have no other gods.” The G-d Who released the Jews from Egypt is the One and Only G-d. Now, if believing in G-d is so holy, perhaps it would be good to mention G-d's name at most important and serious times, like a public trial. And even if someone is giving false testimony, he might think that no one will catch his lie, and the main thing is to sanctify G-d's holy name before other people. Therefore, G-d says...

(3) “Do not swear falsely by My name.”

(4) On the topic of sanctifying G-d's name, comes Shabbat. Jewish tradition calls each day of the week according to Shabbat: “Today is the first day of the Shabbat (week),” and then the second, third, fourth, etc., up until Shabbat, which we sanctify as a holy day. In calling each day according to Shabbat and then sanctifying Shabbat, we are constantly sanctifying G-d's name, for we are always acknowledging G-d’s supremacy; after all, He created the entire world in six days and rested on the seventh.

(5) From honoring G-d with Shabbat, we move on to honoring parents. There are three partners in creating a person: the mother, father, and G-d. If we honor our parents who created our finite bodies, then G-d also considers honor to Himself, the Creator of our infinite souls. Also, we see that the first five commandments relate to G-dly matters, and the latter five relate to human matters. Therefore, the first five all include G-d's name within the commandment, whereas the latter five do not. The proof that G-d includes Himself in honoring parents, is in the fact that His name appears within the commandment.

The second five commandments parallel the first five:

(6) “Do not murder,” relates to belief in G-d since man is made in G-d's image. In murder, a person denies belief in the G-dly part of a human being.

(7) “Do not commit adultery,” parallels the prohibition of idolatry. These two forbidden acts tended to go hand-in-hand; for both commandments teach us to be faithful—to G-d, and to our spouse.

(8) “Do not steal (kidnap),” corresponds to not swearing falsely, since a thief or kidnapper would most probably come to lie under oath.

(9) Bearing false witness relates to Shabbat. Someone who violates Shabbat bears false testimony that G-d did not create the world in six days and established Shabbat for rest. Also, since G-d made creation with His speech, we are careful on Shabbat not to even speak of weekday matters. If we are careful with our speech in such subtle ways, we would of course not come to speak falsely of our fellow man.

(10) “Do not envy,” corresponds to honoring parents. A person who is filled with jealousy will not grant even his own parents their minimum physical requirements, since he is so guarding of his own possessions and lustful for those of others.


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Mitzvot » 10 Commandments
Holidays » Shavuot » 10 Commandments

(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.