I always enjoy when members of Jehovah’s Witnesses come knocking on my door to teach me a little about their faith, and that’s just what happened this morning. I invited them inside for a cup of coffee and a chat, and since Xmas is fast approaching, they wanted to refresh my memory about the life of Jesus Christ. We quickly went through the well-known tale about Joseph and Mary, her pregnancy and Virgin Birth (which they didn’t bother to elaborate on), and further on to the visiting by the Three Wise Men who came all the way from the Far East. At that point I became curious and took out a map to see if we could figure out approximately where they might have come from. After some random guessing (Persia, India, Tibet and even China all seemed likely when following the old trade routes), the Witnesses suddenly changed subject and went on to talk about the Ten Commandments. Not surprisingly, I couldn’t remember all of them, so I guess I made their day by having them go through all 10 rules for me, one by one.
When the Witnesses had left, I decided to look up the Commandments on the Internet, and to my surprise I found at least 5 different versions. The various sects (Catholics, Protestants, Lutherans, Jews, Evangelicals, Mormons, etc) all have different versions of the same Commandments, and when I found a photo from a church in Texas (see above), I noticed it actually had 12 Commandments! I suppose somebody ought to ask the Pope to sort out this confusion, since the holy Bible clearly states that those fundamental laws were inscribed by the finger of the almighty God himself on a pair of stone tablets! I haven’t been able to find a photo of the original tablets, but later discovered that Moses actually smashed them in anger towards his people and was ordered to make some new copies. Anyway, here’s how the extended Texan version reads:
01. I AM the LORD thy God.
02. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
03. Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven images.
04. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
05. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
06. Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
07. Thou shalt not kill.
08. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
09. Thou shalt not steal.
10. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
11. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house.
12. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his cattle, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.
Apparently, you can just merge or leave out some of the rules to make it 10, as you see fit. For instance, I noticed the Protestant version has skipped the first Commandment and merged 11 and 12 to make it Ten. The Catholic church has left out the third Commandment, presumably because it loves to make ‘graven images’ of their holy figures. And if president Obama is a Christian of some sort, he most likely has left out the seventh Commandment in order to make allowance for his murderous drone program.
Actually, there are many more Commandments if you continue reading the holy texts. For example, Exodus 20,25 (New International Version) says: “If you make an altar of stones for me, do not build it with dressed stones, for you will defile it if you use a tool on it.” Verse 26: “And do not go up to my altar on steps, or your private parts may be exposed.”
Exodus 21,20: “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, 21 but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.”
Exodus 22,2: “If a thief is caught breaking in at night and is struck a fatal blow, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed; 3 but if it happens after sunrise, the defender is guilty of bloodshed.”
Exodus 22,16: “If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife. 17 If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he must still pay the bride-price for virgins.”
Exodus 22,29: “Do not hold back offerings from your granaries or your vats. You must give me the firstborn of your sons. 30 Do the same with your cattle and your sheep. Let them stay with their mothers for seven days, but give them to me on the eighth day.”
Exodus 31,14: “Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it is to be put to death; those who do any work on that day must be cut off from their people.”
Exodus 34,12: “Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you. 13 Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles. 14 Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”
Exodus 34,15: “Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. 16 And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same.”
Exodus 34,19: “The first offspring of every womb belongs to me, including all the firstborn males of your livestock, whether from herd or flock. 20 Redeem the firstborn donkey with a lamb, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem all your firstborn sons. No one is to appear before me empty-handed.”
My goodness, what kind of God is that? I think I have a few questions to ask next time Jehovah’s Witnesses come knocking on my door. Lesson’s over for today, peace be upon you all. Oh, and don’t forget to observe the Sabbath! There’s a death penalty for breaking that law! And it’s actually on Saturdays and not Sundays, as you may have become accustomed to.