Those subversive Ten Commandments
Carl G. Estabrook defends the Ten Commandments in a recent Counterpunch, the best political Left newsletter around (both offline and online). Estabrook’s remarkable article, “The Subversive Commandments,” was prompted by the U.S. Supreme Court’s focus on the Commandments’ posting on the grounds of the Texas Capitol and in two
“Conservatives defend the postings in
and Kentucky on the grounds that the Ten Commandments ‘formed the foundation of American legal tradition.’ Liberals on the other hand insist that the posting is an ‘establishment of religion,’ contrary to the first amendment to the Constitution. In fact, both are wrong; the Ten Commandments in their historical setting are a revolutionary manifesto, dedicated to the overthrow of traditional authority and religion. Texas
“... the Israelites as a people began in a revolution of slaves against the Egyptian empire, a massive rejection of the society of the time. That society was one of authority and religion, presided over by a king whose position was guaranteed by the gods. The Hebrews (the word seems originally to have meant ‘outlaws’) rejected both the kings and the gods.
“The Exodus events of perhaps the thirteenth century BCE were not so much a migration (as is pictured in the bible story) but a ‘going out’ (exodus) from a society and its assumptions. The Ten Commandments are a proclamation of that revolution, a ‘Declaration of Independence of Liberated Israel.’ ...
“The Ten Commandments in their proper historical context commend atheism in regard to the religion of the gods and anarchism in respect to the laws of the kings. Arising from a revolutionary people, they support the overthrow of authoritarian structures in the name of human community. That sounds pretty good to me.”
Sounds good to me, too. Read Estabrook’s complete article right here.