The Ten Commandments versus the “Golden Rule”: The Ten Commandments takes the Gold. Silver to the “Golden Rule”

the “golden rule” emanates from the torah. rabbi hillel commented upon it. jesus commented upon it. the “golden rule”, however, takes silver, to the ten commandments.

the relevant torah text is “the stranger that sojourneth with you shall be unto you as the home-born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: i am the lord your god.”

hillel opined “that which is hateful to you do not do to another; that is the entire torah, and the rest is its interpretation. go study.” Hillel, Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a

mathew provides jesus’ “thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

this pronouncement, in each of its forms, is problematic. modern society is possessed with individuals who do not know how to love. we are possessed with individuals who do not know how to feel. we are possessed with individuals who are completely oblivious to the fact that they even have a neighbor! nihilism, drugs, mental illness, the constant demands and complexity of modern society all play roles in the diminishment of our ability to feel let alone love. in light of that, the “golden rule” may be a non-starter in our society.

the ten commandments, on the other hand, are far superior. first, there are ten. second, they provide direction as to how individuals should conduct themselves. the ten commandments create some bright lines. it addresses the concept of the sabbath and working. it addresses the concept of coveting. it addresses the concept of parent child relations. it addresses the concept of humane treatment of animals. it addresses the treatment of subordinate employees.

if i was so lucky to be in the times of hillel, i would ask him the following question. from the ten commandments, i can derive the “golden rule.” from the “golden rule,” i cannot derive the ten commandments. in light of that, which would be better to start with in terms of one’s behavior and conduct?

be well!

Published by biblelifestudies

I am a practicing lawyer and long term admirer of the bible

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