Second Exodus© Copyright 1996-2014 Marty Barrack. All rights reserved.

The Catholic Church as Eternal Israel

Jews, Catholics, Protestants


Jews


The rabbis teach that the first five commandments concern our relationship to God, and were written on the right tablet:

I am the Lord your God who brought you out of slavery in Egypt.
You shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
You shall remember and keep the Sabbath day holy.
Honor your father and mother.

The rabbis teach also that the second five commandments concern our relationship to one another, and were written on the left tablet:

You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
You shall not covet.

Catholics


"Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people" Jer 31:31-33.

§ 2067 The Ten Commandments state what is required in the love of God and love of neighbor. The first three concern love of God, and the other seven love of neighbor.

The Catholic Church, following Rabbi Yeshua, teaches that the right tablet contained the three commandments that concern our relationship to God:

You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

And that the left tablet contained the seven commandments that concern our relationship to one another:

Honor your father and your mother.
You shall not kill.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.
You shall not covet anything that is your neighbor's.

In the light of Rabbi Yeshua’s public revelation, St. Augustine saw the prohibition against idolatry as part of the larger precept to adore one God, and him alone, making the first two (Jewish) commandments into one.

St. Augustine then divided the final precept against concupiscence into two parts, using the sequence in Deuteronomy rather than Exodus, to reflect Rabbi Yeshua’s emphasis on interior holiness: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity" Mt 23:27. St. Augustine's division also reflected Rabbi Yeshua’s emphasis on interior purity by recognizing lust and envy as separate capital sins.

Because St. Augustine used the sequence in Deuteronomy, Deut 5:6-21 which places coveting the neighbor's wife ahead of his property, Catholics quoting from the Ten Commandments traditionally use the Scripture citations in Deuteronomy rather than those in Exodus:

§ 2066 "The division and numbering of the Commandments have varied in the course of history. The present catechism follows the division of the Commandments established by St. Augustine, which has become traditional in the Catholic Church. It is also that of the Lutheran confessions. The Greek Fathers worked out a slightly different division, which is found in the Orthodox Churches and Reformed communities."

Catholic Reverence for the Ten Commandments


How does the Church understand the Ten Commandments today? Pope Benedict XVI declares, “As we have seen, [the Decalogue given on Mount Sinai] is by no means abolished by the Sermon on the Mount, nor is it reduced to an ‘old law,’ but it is simply developed further in a way that allows its full depth and grandeur to shine forth in all its purity.”

On the same page the Holy Father went even further. “The Decalogue is not, as we have seen, some burden imposed upon man from the outside. It is a revelation of the essence of God himself—to the extent that we are capable of receiving it—and hence it is an exegesis of the truth of our being.”

Matthew Levering summarizes St. Thomas Aquinas by observing that, “The Mosaic Law is ordered to one end: communion or ‘friendship’ with God.” Levering, for St. Thomas, adds, “The Mosaic Law, in a real sense … is still observed by Christians.” Levering continues, “Aquinas’s account of salvation is built around the idea that Christians, as members of the Mystical Body of Christ, share in the redemptive acts of their Head (Christ). Christians share, and all human beings potentially share, in Christ’s fulfillment of all aspects of the Mosaic Law.” “It is not you that support the root, but the root that supports you” Rom 11:18.

Protestants


For a thousand years all Christians worldwide accepted St. Augustine's enumeration. Then, during the 1500s, Protestants (except Lutherans) as part of their rejection of Church authority reverted to the Jewish way of counting the commandments. However, they tinkered with that too, using as their first commandment "You shall have no other gods before me" Ex 20:3 which was the Jews second commandment.

The traditional Protestant count is:

Love God


You shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
You shall not make any graven image.

Love One Another


Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Honor your father and your mother.
You shall not kill.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor's wife. You shall not covet anything that is your neighbor's.