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Receiving The Ten Commandments

The receiving of the Ten Commandments by Moses, from the Lord, is
recorded in the following manner:

"In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone
forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into
the wilderness of Sinai, . . . and there Israel camped before
the Mount. . . .

"And it came to pass on the third day that there were thunders
and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the Mount, and the
voice of the tempest exceedingly loud, so that all the people
that was in the camp trembled. . . .

"And Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord
descended upon it in fire, and the smoke thereof ascended as
the smoke of a furnace, and the whole Mount quaked greatly.
And when the voice of the tempest sounded long, and waxed
louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a

"And the Lord came down upon the Mount, and called Moses up
to the top of the Mount, and Moses went up."[58:1]

The Lord there communed with him, and "he gave unto Moses . . . . two
tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of

When Moses came down from off the Mount, he found the children of Israel
dancing around a golden calf, which his brother Aaron had made, and, as
his "anger waxed hot," he cast the tables of stone on the ground, and
broke them.[58:3] Moses again saw the Lord on the Mount, however, and
received two more tables of stone.[58:4] When he came down this time
from off Mount Sinai, "the skin of his face did shine."[58:5]

These two tables of stone contained the Ten Commandments,[59:1] so it
is said, which the Jews and Christians of the present day are supposed
to take for their standard.

They are, in substance, as follows:

1--To have no other God but Jehovah.
2--To make no image for purpose of worship.
3--Not to take Jehovah's name in vain.
4--Not to work on the Sabbath-day.
5--To honor their parents.
6--Not to kill.
7--Not to commit adultery.
8--Not to steal.
9--Not to bear false witness against a neighbor.
10--Not to covet.[59:2]

We have already seen, in the last chapter, that Bacchus was called the
"Law-giver," and that his laws were written on two tables of
stone.[59:3] This feature in the Hebrew legend was evidently copied
from that related of Bacchus, but, the idea of his (Moses) receiving the
commandments from the Lord on a mountain was obviously taken from the
Persian legend related of Zoroaster.

Prof. Max Mueller says:

"What applies to the religion of Moses applies to that of
Zoroaster. It is placed before us as a complete system from
the first, revealed by Ahuramazda (Ormuzd), proclaimed by

The disciples of Zoroaster, in their profusion of legends of the master,
relate that one day, as he prayed on a high mountain, in the midst of
thunders and lightnings ("fire from heaven"), the Lord himself appeared
before him, and delivered unto him the "Book of the Law." While the King
of Persia and the people were assembled together, Zoroaster came down
from the mountain unharmed, bringing with him the "Book of the Law,"
which had been revealed to him by Ormuzd. They call this book the
Zend-Avesta, which signifies the Living Word.[59:5]

According to the religion of the Cretans, Minos, their law-giver,
ascended a mountain (Mount Dicta) and there received from the Supreme
Lord (Zeus) the sacred laws which he brought down with him.[60:1]

Almost all nations of antiquity have legends of their holy men ascending
a mountain to ask counsel of the gods, such places being invested with
peculiar sanctity, and deemed nearer to the deities than other portions
of the earth.[60:2]

According to Egyptian belief, it is Thoth, the Deity itself, that speaks
and reveals to his elect among men the will of God and the arcana of
divine things. Portions of them are expressly stated to have been
written by the very finger of Thoth himself; to have been the work and
composition of the great god.[60:3]

Diodorus, the Grecian historian, says:

The idea promulgated by the ancient Egyptians that their laws were
received direct from the Most High God, has been adopted with success
by many other law-givers, who have thus insured respect for their

The Supreme God of the ancient Mexicans was Tezcatlipoca. He occupied
a position corresponding to the Jehovah of the Jews, the Brahma of
India, the Zeus of the Greeks, and the Odin of the Scandinavians. His
name is compounded of Tezcatepec, the name of a mountain (upon which
he is said to have manifested himself to man) tlil, dark, and poca,
smoke. The explanation of this designation is given in the Codex
Vaticanus, as follows:

Tezcatlipoca was one of their most potent deities; they say he once
appeared on the top of a mountain. They paid him great reverence and
adoration, and addressed him, in their prayers, as "Lord, whose servant
we are." No man ever saw his face, for he appeared only "as a shade."
Indeed, the Mexican idea of the godhead was similar to that of the Jews.
Like Jehovah, Tezcatlipoca dwelt in the "midst of thick darkness." When
he descended upon the mount of Tezcatepec, darkness overshadowed the
earth, while fire and water, in mingled streams, flowed from beneath his
feet, from its summit.[61:1]

Thus, we see that other nations, beside the Hebrews, believed that their
laws were actually received from God, that they had legends to that
effect, and that a mountain figures conspicuously in the stories.

Professor Oort, speaking on this subject, says:

"No one who has any knowledge of antiquity will be surprised
at this, for similar beliefs were very common. All peoples who
had issued from a life of barbarism and acquired regular
political institutions, more or less elaborate laws, and
established worship, and maxims of morality, attributed all
this--their birth as a nation, so to speak--to one or more
great men, all of whom, without exception, were supposed to
have received their knowledge from some deity.

"Whence did Zoroaster, the prophet of the Persians, derive his
religion? According to the beliefs of his followers, and the
doctrines of their sacred writings, it was from Ahuramazda,
the God of light. Why did the Egyptians represent the god
Thoth with a writing tablet and a pencil in his hand, and
honor him especially as the god of the priests? Because he was
'the Lord of the divine Word,' the foundation of all wisdom,
from whose inspiration the priests, who were the scholars, the
lawyers, and the religious teachers of the people, derived all
their wisdom. Was not Minos, the law-giver of the Cretans, the
friend of Zeus, the highest of the gods? Nay, was he not even
his son, and did he not ascend to the sacred cave on Mount
Dicte to bring down the laws which his god had placed there
for him? From whom did the Spartan law-giver, Lycurgus,
himself say that he had obtained his laws? From no other than
the god Apollo. The Roman legend, too, in honoring Numa
Pompilius as the people's instructor, at the same time
ascribed all his wisdom to his intercourse with the nymph
Egeria. It was the same elsewhere; and to make one more
example,--this from later times--Mohammed not only believed
himself to have been called immediately by God to be the
prophet of the Arabs, but declared that he had received every
page of the Koran from the hand of the angel Gabriel."[61:2]


[58:1] Exodus xix.

[58:2] Exodus xxxi. 18.

[58:3] Exodus xxii. 19.

[58:4] Exodus xxxiv.

[58:5] Ibid.

It was a common belief among ancient Pagan nations that the gods
appeared and conversed with men. As an illustration we may cite the
following, related by Herodotus, the Grecian historian, who, in
speaking of Egypt and the Egyptians, says: "There is a large city called
Chemmis, situated in the Thebaic district, near Neapolis, in which is a
quadrangular temple dedicated to (the god) Perseus, son of (the Virgin)
Danae; palm-trees grow round it, and the portico is of stone, very
spacious, and over it are placed two large stone statues. In this
inclosure is a temple, and in it is placed a statue of Perseus. The
Chemmitae (or inhabitants of Chemmis), affirm that Perseus has
frequently appeared to them on earth, and frequently within the
temple." (Herodotus, bk. ii. ch. 91.)

[59:1] Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, had TEN commandments. 1. Not
to kill. 2. Not to steal. 3. To be chaste. 4 Not to bear false witness.
5. Not to lie. 6. Not to swear. 7. To avoid impure words. 8. To be
disinterested. 9. Not to avenge one's-self. 10. Not to be superstitious.
(See Huc's Travels, p. 328, vol. i.)

[59:2] Exodus xx. Dr. Oort says: "The original ten commandments probably
ran as follows: I Yahwah am your God. Worship no other gods beside me.
Make no image of a god. Commit no perjury. Remember to keep holy the
Sabbath day. Honor your father and your mother. Commit no murder. Break
not the marriage vow. Steal not. Bear no false witness. Covet not."
(Bible for Learners, vol. i. p. 18.)

[59:3] Bell's Pantheon, vol. i. p. 122. Higgins, vol. ii. p. 19. Cox:
Aryan Mytho. vol. ii. p. 295.

[59:4] Mueller: Origin of Religion, p. 130.

[59:5] See Prog. Relig. Ideas, vol. i. pp. 257, 258. This book, the
Zend-Avesta, is similar, in many respects, to the Vedas of the
Hindoos. This has led many to believe that Zoroaster was a Brahman;
among these are Rawlinson (See Inman's Ancient Faiths, vol. ii. p. 831)
and Thomas Maurice. (See Indian Antiquities, vol. ii. p. 219.)

The Persians themselves had a tradition that he came from some country
to the East of them. That he was a foreigner is indicated by a passage
in the Zend-Avesta which represents Ormuzd as saying to him: "Thou, O
Zoroaster, by the promulgation of my law, shalt restore to me my former
glory, which was pure light. Up! haste thee to the land of Iran, which
thirsteth after the law, and say, thus said Ormuzd, &c." (See Prog.
Relig. Ideas, vol. i. p. 263.)

[60:1] The Bible for Learners, vol. i. p. 301.

[60:2] "The deities of the Hindoo Pantheon dwell on the sacred Mount
Meru; the gods of Persia ruled from Albordj; the Greek Jove thundered
from Olympus, and the Scandinavian gods made Asgard awful with their
presence. . . . Profane history is full of examples attesting the
attachment to high places for purpose of sacrifice." (Squire: Serpent
Symbols, p. 78.)

"The offerings of the Chinese to the deities were generally on the
summits of high mountains, as they seemed to them to be nearer heaven,
to the majesty of which they were to be offered." (Christmas's Mytho. p.
250, in Ibid.) "In the infancy of civilization, high places were chosen
by the people to offer sacrifices to the gods. The first altars, the
first temples, were erected on mountains." (Humboldt: American
Researches.) The Himalayas are the "Heavenly mountains." In Sanscrit
Himala, corresponding to the M. Gothic, Himins; Alem., Himil;
Ger., Swed., and Dan., Himmel; Old Norse, Himin; Dutch, Hemel;
Ang.-Sax., Heofon; Eng., Heaven. (See Mallet's Northern Antiquities,
p. 42.)

[60:3] Bunsen's Egypt, quoted in Isis Unveiled, vol. ii. p. 367. Mrs.
Child says: "The laws of Egypt were handed down from the earliest
times, and regarded with the utmost veneration as a portion of religion.
Their first legislator represented them as dictated by the gods
themselves and framed expressly for the benefit of mankind by their
secretary Thoth." (Prog. Relig. Ideas, vol. i. p. 173.)

[60:4] Quoted in Ibid.

[61:1] See Squire's Serpent Symbol, p. 175.

[61:2] Bible for Learners, vol. i. p. 301.

Next: Samson And His Exploits

Previous: The Exodus From Egypt And Passage Through The Red Sea

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