Biblical scholarship has demonstrated that there are at least three separate sets of Commandments which we now refer to as the Ten Commandments of Moses: Deuteronomy 5 from the seventh century BCE, the Exodus 34 version, and the usual one, Exodus 20. All of these came into a written form about the same time as the 7 Greek Sages at Delphi were publishing their 147 maxims. It is possible that the 10 Commandments were a short list of key ideas selected from the Seven Sages of Greece’s 147 Suggestions. Hmm.
Exodus 20 New International Version (NIV)
1 And God spoke all these words:
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before[a] me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
13 “You shall not murder.
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal.
16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
In the 6th century BCE the Seven Sages of Ancient Greece carved the 147 suggestions, rendered here below in English, in stone stelae at Delphi, Greece, and sent them for display in public places throughout the world known to the Greeks. If a person could speak the Greek language and went to a public square and heard lectures about these stelae, they could learn the alphabet and thus learn to read. That permitted almost all Greek speakers to communicate with one another.
147 Suggestions from the Seven Greek Sages at Delphi
1. Pursue goodness.
2. Obey all laws.
3. Praise goodness.
4. Obey your parents.
5. Honor justice.
6. Use your proven wisdom.
7. Base your wisdom on facts.
8. Whisper reasons to yourself.
9. Support a healthy family life.
10. Prepare for opportunities.
11. Adjust your actions to living.
12. Behave with discretion.
13. Bring honor to your family.
14. Avoid excessive actions.
15. Empower your friends.
16. Moderate your emotions.
17. Avoid unnecessary risk.
18. Respect the inevitable.
19. Avoid all swearing.
20. Encourage friendship.
21. Learn all you can.
22. Seek virtuous actions.
23. Discover what works best.
24. Reward good acts.
25. Avoid accusations.
26. Recognize quality behavior.
27. Practice being fair.
28. Be respectful of everyone.
29. Don’t expose weakness.
30. Practice courage.
31. Shun every form of evil.
32. Participate in events.
33. Protect what’s valuable.
34. Respect people’s stuff.
35. Respect people’s thoughts.
36. Keep religion personal.
37. Do many kindnesses for friends.
38. Prevent excess.
39. Make extra time for actions.
40. Prepare ahead of needs.
41. Subdue offensive actions.
42. Respect refugees.
43. Make everything comfortable.
44. Challenge your kid’s minds.
45. Help giving empowerment.
46. Look into others’ reasons.
47. Praise good actions.
48. Copy wise acts and thoughts.
49. Judge with a long view.
50. Plan your actions.
51. Shun criminals and murders.
52. Seek what you can earn.
53. Choose honest friends.
54. Challenge your character.
55. Share your gifts.
56. Start off positive.
57. Share your best work.
58. Maintain your limits.
59. Reward good deeds.
60. Shun jealousy.
61. Always be careful.
62. Acknowledge hope.
63. Despise accusations.
64. Earn what you receive.
65. Reward good actions.
66. Understand the judges.
67. Participate in family life.
68. Aim for positive outcomes.
69. Eschew cosigning.
70. Speak to communicate.
71. Seek friends like yourself.
72. Maintain slack in everything.
73. Enjoy what is easy.
74. Obey your shame.
75. Do tiny good deeds.
76. Whisper your positive goals.
77. Enjoy random events.
78. Observe and reflect.
79. Earn what you seek to own.
80. Avoid conflicts.
81. Prevent disgraceful actions.
82. Speak fairly.
83. Block improper actions.
84. Judge by accepted laws.
85. Finish your tasks promptly.
86. Judge by law not by interest.
87. Don’t slander absent people.
88. Speak from knowledge.
89. Suppress violent behavior.
90. See blessings, ignore sorrows.
91. Treat people gently.
92. Admire your completed works.
93. Help people to their goals.
94. Guide kids toward good ends.
95. Help your wife.
96. Take good care of yourself.
97. Give friendly greetings.
98. Set goals before deadlines.
99. Work hard and play fair.
100. Do your best and move on.
101. Show repentance quickly.
102. Keep your eyes on good goals.
103. Think tomorrow before action.
104. Keep actions purposeful.
105. Protect friendship as life.
106. Display your gratitude.
107. Reveal mutual interests.
108. Keep secrets secret.
109. Remember rulers’ obligations.
110. Make actions for mutual gain.
111. Say YES to opportunities.
112. Discuss mutual advantages.
113. Love old age as a gift.
114. Don’t boast about gifts.
115. Speak with kind thoughts.
116. Walk quietly away from hatred.
117. Earn money in fair ways.
118. Finish your tasks promptly.
119. Walk away from temptation.
120. Avoid unnecessary dangers.
121. Ask good questions.
122. Keep slack so you can finish.
123. Respect people’s silly beliefs.
124. Treat your dependents well.
125. Don’t challenge the departed.
126. Respect everyone, like elders.
127. Make fun games for kids.
128. Be open to people’s problems.
129. Treat yourself with respect.
130. Never force people to actions.
131. Think fondly of ancestors.
132. Risk dying for your country.
133. Use life as an opportunity.
134. Never disparage the dead.
135. Learn from the unlucky.
136. Be happy, shun debauchery.
137. Grieve losses, then move on.
138. Find healthy spouse for kids.
139. Make and accept no promises.
140. Honor all that is past.
141. Live vigorously.
142. Preplan responses to luck.
143. Explore everything.
144. Cultivate self-control.
145. Work your best options.
146. Exemplify tranquil living.
147. Die with pleasant memories.
Read the Bishop of Newark John Shelby Spong‘s book Unbelievable – Why Neither Ancient Creeds Nor the Reformation Can Produce a Living Faith Today, Chapter 27, on How the Ten Commandments Have Changed Through History for more details on the Biblical scholarship, and for the story of how the combination of a whole church congregation Spong spoke to couldn’t come up with all 10 Commandments. (p. 208) – See YouTube videos of Spong.