When do one commandments stop and the next one start? Who's counting? Who got the number 10?

  1. I am Hashem
  2. your God
  3. You shalt have no other gods before me
  4. You shalt not make any graven image (So no 3D printing?)
  5. You shall not bow down to them
  6. or serve (them)
  7. You shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain
  8. Remember the sabbath day
  9. to keep it holy
  10. Six days you shall labor
  11. And do all your work
  12. but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God.
  13. On it you shall not do any work, you
  14. or your son
  15. or your daughter
  16. or your male servant
  17. or your female servant,
  18. or your ox
  19. or your donkey
  20. or any of your livestock,
  21. or the sojourner (non jews?) who is within your gates,
  22. that your male servant
  23. and your female servant may rest as well as you.
  24. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt,
  25. and the LORD your God brought you out from there
  26. with a mighty hand
  27. and an outstretched arm.
  28. Honor thy father
  29. and thy mother (2 commandments)
  30. Thou shalt not kill (actually murder/certain types of killing presumably against other humans only. Many killing, is perfectly fine and encouraged. Just read http://biblehub.com/1_samuel/15-3.htm)
  31. Thou shalt not commit adultery (Most disagree on what it really means)
  32. Thou shalt not steal
  33. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor (literally comrades)
  34. You shall not covet your neighbor's house
  35. you shall not covet your neighbor's wife,
  36. or his male servant,
  37. or his female servant,
  38. or his ox,
  39. or his donkey,
  40. or anything that is your neighbor's.

Some may think my division to 40 is excessive. Still if I shorten it, it'll still be way more than 10. Most denominations divide the commandments differently anyway, suggesting that the division is not clear cut.

  • 1
    Devarim 4:13 but it never says there are only 10 commandments. More like 10 statements.
    – Double AA
    Apr 29, 2014 at 3:53
  • It seems you are asking two different questions and might consider splitting it into two separate threads: 1. About how to divide the ten commandments 2. Why is the last commandment seemingly addressed only to men
    – Jewels
    Apr 29, 2014 at 4:12
  • Why so many downvotes? I mean c'mon.... This one is not even politically incorrect.
    – user4951
    Apr 29, 2014 at 7:25
  • 10 words in mechon mamre. So is God talking about these 40 commandment or some other sentences with 10 words?
    – user4951
    Apr 29, 2014 at 7:26
  • Command 24 is interesting. So, how things went in Egypt? Did you remember it? Got pics, memento, etc.?
    – user4951
    Apr 29, 2014 at 7:31

2 Answers 2


That which you call the 10 commandments are in Hebrew referred to as the Aseres HaDibros, which means the 10 utterances or 10 statements. There is no implication that there are 10 commandments therein. I think your 40 is a bit excessive (as you conceded), but the classic counts list either 13 (Behag) or 14 (Rambam) commandments in these 10 statements.

As an example that they are not one commandment each, it is actually the opinion of several major authorities (Behag, Ramban Hasaga 1 to Sefer HaMitzvos) that the first statement is not a commandment at all.

  • Some christian denomination count the first as a whole commandment. The second one is there should be no other God. Some combine 1st and 2nd into 1 commandment. I wonder where number 10 comes from. Everyone says it's 10 commandment. Rabam, as you said, think there are 13 of them.
    – user4951
    Apr 29, 2014 at 7:25
  • @JimThio the bible itself refers to asseret hadvarim. Asseret=10. Dvarim=statements (or maybe "things").
    – barlop
    Dec 31, 2015 at 4:52
  • where in the bible it says asseret dvarim?
    – user4951
    Jan 2, 2016 at 6:43
  • @user4951 Exodus 34:28
    – DonielF
    Mar 1, 2019 at 22:11

"The Ten Commandments" or Decalogue is not a Biblical concept - and you won't find a reference to it in the Tanach.

So your question makes an assumption - based on a popular mistranslation!

The closest you will get is a Pasuk in Devarim 10:4

וַיִּכְתֹּב עַל-הַלֻּחֹת כַּמִּכְתָּב הָרִאשׁוֹן, אֵת עֲשֶׂרֶת הַדְּבָרִים, אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר ה' אֲלֵיכֶם בָּהָר מִתּוֹךְ הָאֵשׁ, בְּיוֹם הַקָּהָל; וַיִּתְּנֵם ה', אֵלָי

Which roughly translates [with my comments] to: "And He [Hashem] wrote on the [second] tablets as was written in the first, the 10 items that Gcd spoke to you on the mountain [of Sinai] from within the fire on the day of the gathering and Hashem gave them [the tablets] to me."

How to get to 10 is a matter of dispute - and you can see 7 various versions from various schools of thought on Wikipedia.

See the answer from YEZ above for some Jewish opinions.

Regarding your query as to who decides what is a Mitzva - that has rules, as discussed in the Talmud. A popular set is Rabbi Yishmael's 13 principles we say in Shacharit every morning. Or see Rules by which early Jewish law was derived.

  • 10 items. Does that refer to the 10 (actually 40 commandments) or other 10 items or 10 other things?
    – user4951
    May 22, 2014 at 5:35
  • @JimThio - The verse refers to the 10 (actually ±40) commandments. May 22, 2014 at 9:20
  • How many tablets do God uses anyway for that 10 items? Christians believe there are 2 tablets. The first 4 items are in the first one and the second ones on the last. Then there is another that says that there are 2 tablets, each are "carbon copy" of another.
    – user4951
    May 23, 2014 at 3:53
  • @JimThio - it's says explicitly in the Bible that there were 2 stone tablets given to Moses. What was written on them is open to debate. May 25, 2014 at 7:16
  • @DannySchoemann He asked in comment if the verse refers to 10 commandments or items. And you replied to him in comment saying commandments, that's clearly wrong. As you know, mitzvot are commandments. dvarim is not commandments, it's statements. Your answer translates it fine but then your comment doesn't.
    – barlop
    Dec 31, 2015 at 4:53

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