I see in this webpage it says "The passage in Exodus contains more than ten imperative statements, totalling 14 or 15 in all. However, the Bible itself assigns the count of '10'..." So is there debate about which constitute the 10 statements? Or if they just include every single statement, then is there a debate about the grouping?

And i've heard that there are more than 10 commandments there too. Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb of Ohr Sameach, says here within the first minute of talking, that there are 15/16 commandments. (so I suppose he'd mean 15/16 commandments were given at Sinai that can be derived from the statements on the tablets)

So from that I'd say it seems there are more than 10 statements and more than 10 commandments derived from them.

What(if any), are the different opinions then about What constitute the 10 statements?

And of how many commandments were given or derivable, from what was on the tablets at Sinai?

I have read that the 10 commandments are categories, and i've read that they are 10 of the 613 and there are 603 others. The idea that both of these are simultaneously true doesn't make a lot of sense to me. If it's just a category, and it's listed in the 613, then you can delete it 'cos it'd be covered by the others that are in the category. I understand though from here that the saadia gaon considers them 10 categories and 10 mitzvot and that there are 603 others. I don't see how it's possible to be a category and an individual mitzva(without repetition), but also, I see that the idea of 10 commandments + 603, differs from what rabbi dovid gottlieb of ohr sameach says in the first minute of that video.. which is that there are 15/16 commandments there.

So my question is,

What are the different opinions regarding what constitute the 10 statements? if it was thought that there were more than 10 and they grouped them up then was there debate on how to group them? Or if more than 10 then were some statements excluded?

And, what are the different opinons regarding how many commandments are derived from the 10?

And also in the saadya gaon's worlview, how can a commandment be a category and its own commandment, without there being repetition. (theologically speaking, there's meant to be no repetition in the torah, so i'd have thought, all the moreso, in the commandments).

  • As far as your title goes, YES! Isn't nearly everything in Torah subject to debate?
    – LN6595
    Dec 29, 2015 at 20:53
  • @BruceJames that is not addressing the question. If you could list the 15/16 commandments that rabbi gottlieb is talking about there being there, then that'd address something of what I asked. By the way, jewfaq.org/10.htm "In the Torah, they are called Aseret ha-D'varim (Ex. 34:28, Deut. 4:13 and Deut. 10:4). In rabbinical texts, they are referred to as Aseret ha-Dibrot"
    – barlop
    Dec 30, 2015 at 19:44
  • related judaism.stackexchange.com/q/37601/4794 Dec 31, 2015 at 3:32

1 Answer 1


Rabbi Yitzhok Etshalom, shlita, answers your questions, I think, in this article on the O-U website. Summarizing the article is difficult, but he answers your question about the different ways on how to number the statements based on: 1) the tradition of the scribes who assigned separate paragraphs for each statement; 2) grammatical concerns, and 3) thematically. He notes also that it is hard to call them the Ten Commandments when the statement "I am God..." is a statement and not a commandment, and if we add up the commandments contained in the list, we can find 14 or 15 actual commands. Rabbi Etshalom also addresses the issue of why these 10 commandments/statements are singled out from the entire Torah, in which we say that there are 613 total commandments. He voices one approach that sees the 10 statements as an outline for the Torah, but points out the problems with that -- e.g. no mention of the priests here, yet the Torah talks about them a lot. Rabbi Etshalom's article also take up the issue that, maybe God intended to speak the entire Torah, but the people couldn't bear to hear His voice and interrupted him before he got out more than a few statements. Another discussion focuses on the differences between the Ten statements in Exodus and those slightly different ones in Deuteronomy. He then finishes off with a nice discussion of some of the commandments which are difficult to understand.


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