It is popularly believed and taught in the Gentile world that the Ten Commandments/Decalogue (Exodus 20:1-17; Deuteronomy 5:5b-21) should be kept/observed by all. For example, the Council of Trent in the Reformation made them binding upon Roman Catholics with this exception: the fourth commndment concerning the Shabbat was changed into a command to observe Sunday, the first day of the week ('the Lord's day'). Is the Decalogue for Jews and Gentiles, or only for Jews?

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    Non Jews are considered B'nai Noach and are bound to obey the 7 Noahide laws. Of the 10 Commandments, I can think of only two that "overlap" - Prohibition against idolatry (Which IMO, many Christians are violating as they believe in Jesus as a god) and the prohibition against murder. Many of the rest are commandments that they should follow with the exception of Sabbath observance in the same manner that Jews do. (I.e., no work on the 7th day of the week.)
    – DanF
    Commented May 10, 2019 at 14:01
  • @DanF what about adultery? also kidnapping, which would presumably fall under the Noahide prohibition of theft.
    – wfb
    Commented May 10, 2019 at 14:15
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    also testifying falsely would presumably violate Dinim @DanF
    – wfb
    Commented May 10, 2019 at 14:21
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    The problem I have is at the beginning "It is popularly believed and taught" -- but by whom? Not by Jews, so once that isn't relevant, then the followup question seems out of placed: "What do Jews think about what other people think?"
    – rosends
    Commented May 10, 2019 at 17:23
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    DanF Rabbi Michael Skobac, education director at Jews for Judaism in Canada, just sent this answer to me: 'No, it is addressed specifically to Israel. Some of its laws are also congruent with the Noachide laws, but the Decalogue is not universal.' Commented May 10, 2019 at 19:53

1 Answer 1


Non-Jews are held responsible by seven laws, known as the Seven Laws of Noah. All of those laws are contained within the Decalogue, with exception to the third law1, the seventh law2, and to an extent, the fifth law3.

The Decalogue contains several laws not found in the Seven Laws of Noah, namely the fourth command4, the fifth command5, the ninth command6, and the tenth command7.

Clearly the Decalogue was written to be legislation for the Jewish people, based on the inclusion of the fourth law, which is to keep the Sabbath day. Maimonides writes that a non-Jew is forbidden from keeping the Sabbath day, and this idea also has roots in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 58b).

One could ask whether a non-Jew is obligated to honor his parents, etc. even though this is not explicitly written in the Seven Laws of Noah, but that is a separate question entirely.

TL;DR: The Decalogue is for the Jewish people to follow, non-Jews follow a different set of commands known as the Seven Laws of Noah.

1. "To establish courts of justice." 2. "Not to eat flesh torn from a living animal." 3. "Not to commit adultery, bestiality, or sexual immorality." The reason I say "to an extent" is although the prohibition of committing adultery is laid out in the seventh command of the Decalogue, technically that command makes no mention of other sexual immorality. 4. "Remember the Sabbath day." 5. "Honor your father and your mother." 6. "Do not bear false testimony." 7. "Do not covet."

  • 1)What does TL;DR stand for? (2) Please also specify what the third, fourth fifth, ninth and tenth command are in your answer for me. There are different ways of enumerating the commands. I come from a Roman Catholic background, and the Ten Commandments in the Catholic Church are differently numerated from the Jewish enumeration. Thanks. Commented May 13, 2019 at 5:20
  • @CliffordDurousseau "TL;DR" stands for "too long; didn't read" and generally proceeds a one sentence summary of the paragraphs above. I also specified each command in footnotes.
    – ezra
    Commented May 13, 2019 at 16:43
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    @ezraMasterpiece of an answer! Your good and hard work is appreciated. Commented May 13, 2019 at 17:35

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