Not many people know that the Biblical version of Ten Commandments (written in 1440 B.C.) are very similar to codes of conduct written many years earlier: the Cuneiform laws of the Sumerians, Assyrians, Elamites, Hittites, Kassites, etc., written between 2350-1650 B.C.; the Code of Urukagina, 2380 B.C.; the Code of Ur-Nammu, 2050 B.C.; the Hammurabi Codes (the most well-known of the cuneiform laws of the Assyrian Empire) written in (1795 -1750 B.C.); and the commandments outlined in Chapter 125 of the Egyptian Book of the Dead (1520 B.C.).
The Israelites probably had access to the Egyptian rendition of these ancient codes during their Egyptian captivity. Urukagina was inspired to write a lawful code by Anu, the God of Mesopotamia. Ur-Nammu was instructed to write a legal code of conduct by the Sumerian God Marduk. Hammurabi claimed to receive his code from the Babylonian god of justice, Shamash. The Egyptians reported receiving their codes from Amon-Ra; Moses received the commandments atop Mount Sinai directly from Jehovah, the God of the Israelites.
If these dates are right, Moses simply ‘borrowed’ text from the Babylonians who ‘borrowed’ codes from Hammurabi, who ‘borrowed his text from… – you get the point! That brings the whole episode of Moses at Mount Sinai into question (Exodus 34) and the manner in which the Commandments were written on the mount as highly suspect.
Apart from the ‘heavenly authorship’ claim of the Biblical Ten Commandments, it’s important to note that the Mosaic Law elevates the value of human life, and its whole tenor is more compassionate than that of the Hammurabian Code and earlier codes of conduct. The spiritual dimension and ‘one God focus’ of the Biblical Commandments is what makes Moses’ version of the laws of conduct unique.
© 1984, 2001, 2015 Bil and Cher Holton, YourSpiritualPractice.com