It’s not unusual to hear that we all need to obey the 10 Commandments found in the Books of Exodus and Deuteronomy in the Hebrew Bible, called the Old Testament by Christians.
Over the years, there have been efforts to post them in schools and courthouses. But when they were written, what were they really about? In whose interest are the 10 Commandments? To whom are they directed? Who benefits from them?
I’m going to suggest that the person who is addressed by them is an individual, a male, an Israelite, employed, a house-owner, married, old enough to have working children but young enough to have living parents, living in a city, wealthy enough to possess an ox and an ass and slaves, important enough to be called to give evidence in a lawsuit. He is a man who is capable of committing all the things listed here and quite likely to do them if it weren’t for the commands. As one scholar says, “It is a balding Israelite urban male with a mid-life crisis and a weight problem, in danger of losing his faith.”
Look at who isn’t included or who is pretty much sidelined.
- Women are present but not addressed. Apparently the work they do doesn’t count as work since they have nothing to rest from on the Sabbath. Mind you, their daughters who are out in the fields need the Sabbath rest, as do the sons. Women’s sexuality is pretty much ignored. They can be coveted by their husband’s neighbor, but they can’t covet either their neighbor’s husband or their husband’s neighbor.