St. Augustine on How the Ten Commandments are to Be Divided
|Collectio selecta SS. Ecclesiae Patrum, CXIII.||[A Select Collection of the Fathers of the Church, vol. 113]|
|Patres Quinti Ecclesiae Saeculi, S. Augustinus, VI.||[Fathers of the Fifth Century of the Church, St. Augustine, vol. 6]|
|Edited by A.B. Caillau and N.S. Guillon|
|Paris: Parent-Desbarres, 1836|
|Sancti Augustini Episcopi||[of Saint Augustine, Bishop]|
|Operum Pars III: Opera Exegetica||[Part 3 of the Works: Exegetical Works]|
|Qaestionum in Heptateuchum, Libri VII||[Seven Books of Questions into the Heptateuch]|
|Quaestiones in Exodum, Lib. II||[Book II, Questions into Exodus]|
I. Quaerutur, decem praecepta Legis quemadmodum dividenda sint1 : utrum quatuor sint usque ad praeceptum de sabbato, quae ad ipsum Deum pertinent; sex autem reliqua, quorum primum est, « Honora patrem et matrem, » quae ad hominem pertinent : an potius illa tria sint, et ista septem. Qui enim dicunt illa quatuor esse, separant quod dictum est, « Non erunt tibi dii alii praeter me2 : » ut aliud praeceptum sit, « Non facies tibi idolum, » ubi figmenta colenda prohibentur. Unum autem volunt esse , « Non concupisces uxorem proximi tui : Non concupisces domum proximi tui,3 » et omnia usque in finem. Qui vero illa tria esse dicunt, et ista septem, unum volunt esse, quidquid de uno colendo Deo praecipitur, ne aliquid aliud praeter illum pro Deo colatur : haec autem extrema in duo dividunt, ut aliud sit, « Non concupisces uxorem proximi tui , » aliud, « Non concupisces domum proximi tui. » Decem tamen esse praecepta neutri ambigunt, quoniam hoc Scriptura testatur.
II. Mihi tamen videtur congruentius accipi tria illa, et ista septem, quia et Trinitatem videntur illa quae ad Deum portinent insinuare diligentius intuentibus. Et revera quod dictum est, « Non erunt tibi dii alii praeter me, » hoc ipsum perfectius explicatur cum prohibentur colenda figmenta. Concupiscentia porro uxoris alienae, et concupiscentia domus alienae , tantum in peccando differunt , ut illo quod dictum est. « Non concupisces domum proximi tui, » adjuncta sint et alia dicente Scriptura, « Neque agrum ejus, neque servum ejus, neque ancillam ejus, neque bovem ejus, neque subjugale ejus, neque omne pecus, neque quaecumque proximi tui sunt.4 » Discrevisse autem videtur concupiscentiam uxoris alienae a concupiscentia cujuslibet rei alienae, quando utrumque sic coepit : « Non concupisces uxorem proximi tui , Non concupisces domum proximi tui, » et huic coepit caetera adjungere. Non autem cum dixisset, « Non concupisces uxorem proximi tui, » huic connexuit alia dicens, neque domum ejus, neque agrum ejus, neque servum ejus, et caetera : sed omnino apparent haec esse conjuncta quae uno praecepto videntur contineri, et discreta ab illo ubi uxor nominata est. Illud autem ubi dictum est, « Non erunt tibi dii alii praeter me, » apparet hujus rei diligentiorem executionem esse in iis, quae subjecta sunt. Quo enim pertinet, « Non facies tibi idolum, neque ullum simulacrum, quaecumque in coelo sunt sursum, et quaecumque in terra deorsum , et qucecumque in aqua sub terra, non adorabis ea, neque servies illis,5 » nisi ad id quod dictum est, « Non erunt tibi dii alii praeter me? »
It is asked, in what way the Ten Commandments of the Law are to be divided: whether there are four up to the commandment concerning the Sabbath, which pertain to God Himself, and six that remain, of which the first is, “Honor thy father and mother,”1 which pertain to man; or whether it is more fitting that the former be three, and the latter seven. Indeed those who say the former to be four, separate the commandment, “You have have no other gods before me,” that it might be a separate commandment, “You shall not make for yourself an idol,”2 whereby the worshipping of images is prohibited. However those same wish to combine into one, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife; you shall not covet your neighbor’s house,”3 and all the rest up to the end. Certainly those who say the first group to be three, and the second group seven, wish to combine into one whatever is commanded concerning worshipping God, that nothing before God is worshipped. These on the other hand divide the last one into two, that “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house” might be a separate commandment. In neither case is there any doubt that there are Ten Commandments, since Scripture itself testifies to this.
Still it seems to me more fitting that the first group be accepted as three, and the other as seven, because those three which pertain to God seem to make known the Trinity to those diligently contemplating. And truly the commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me,” is itself explicated more completely by the prohibition of worshipping images that follows. Further on, coveting another’s wife, and coveting another’s house, differ as much in the sins as in the commandments themselves. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house” might also be joined to other things Scripture says, “Nor his field, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything of your neighbor’s.”4 Moreover coveting the wife of another seems to be separate from coveting anything else of another, since both begin thus, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife; You shall not covet your neighbor’s house”: both commandments begin with the statement “You shall not covet,” but it is only to the latter that it fastens the other things, saying nor his house, nor his field, nor his servant, and the rest. These all appear to have been joined together and seem to be contained by one commandment, and are separate from that commandment where the wife has been named. The commandment which says, “You shall have no other gods before me,” appears more devoted to the carrying out of those things which have been placed under it. To what indeed does this pertain, “You shall not make an idol, nor any likeness of anything which is in heaven on high, or anything on earth below, or anything in the sea beneath the earth; you shall not worship them or serve them,”5 unless to the commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me”?