What Are the Ten Commandments?

The Ten Commandments are a set of biblical principles that outline instructions on ethics and worship practices in the Jewish and Christian religions. The Ten Commandments deal with subjects such as adultery, murder, blasphemy, idolatry and dishonesty.

The wording of the Ten Commandments varies depending on the version of the Bible. A common, shortened variation of the first five commandments is: you shall have no other gods before me, you shall not make idols and you shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain; in addition to: remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy, and honor your father and mother. While the first five commandments are concerned mostly with worship practices, the last five commandments focus more on ethics: you shall not murder; you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor, and you shall not covet.

In the Bible, the Ten Commandments are inscribed on two stone tablets that are given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai. After remaining there for forty days, Moses descended and shared the Ten Commandments with the children of Israel, who were gathered at the base of Mount Sinai.

The Ten Commandments appear in Exodus 20: 2 to17 in the New King James version of the bible. The commandments appear twice in the Hebrew Bible, first in Exodus, then again in Deuteronomy.