May 12, 2010 Special Dispatch No. 2950

Al-Hayat Columnist Jihad Al-Khazen Critiques the Ten Commandments: My Hobbies Include 'The Debunking of Biblical Myths' Such As The Ten Commandments

May 12, 2010
Special Dispatch No. 2950

Al-Hayat Columnist Jihad Al-Khazen Critiques the Ten Commandments: My Hobbies Include 'The Debunking of Biblical Myths' Such As The Ten Commandments

In a recent article, Al-Hayat columnist and former editor Jihad Al-Khazen states that although he once supported compromise with Israel for the sake of achieving peace, he has reassessed his views and now rejects the "fascist" and "Neo-Nazi" policies of the Israeli government. He writes, "In the 1990s, I agreed with Yasser Arafat... regarding the peace process," but adds that at this point, "all I can do is 'rant' as I accuse the Israeli government of being neo-Nazi or fascistic, and the Israeli army of being an immoral occupation army, and [say] that Israel was established exclusively on biblical myths that are not corroborated by factual historical [evidence]." He also notes that Israel is founded upon false historical claims, and critiques the Ten Commandments – which he condemns on grounds of faulty logic and unoriginality.

Following are excerpts his article in the London daily Al-Hayat, in the original English.[1]

"The Ten Commandments... Need Modification"

"...Since my hobbies include the debunking of biblical myths from a historical (and not a religious) standpoint, I recently examined the Ten Commandments. I found that they... need modification, and that some also need legal interpretation to elucidate the ambiguous parts. If I were a member of the Kuwaiti Parliament, I would have requested an interrogation of the Book of Exodus, where these commandments appeared in the 20th chapter.

"The First Commandment is: 'You shall have no other gods but Me.' I accept this one as it is, and it is synonymous with 'There is no God but Allah.'"

The Second and Third Commandments Are Superfluous, Because They Follow from the First

"The Second Commandment is as follows: 'You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.' I suggest that this one be abolished because it[s message] is [already] implied by the First Commandment, since worshipping God exclusively would proscribe the worship of idols.

"The Third Commandment is: 'You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God.' My objection here is that the belief in God [required] by the First Commandment also entails the reverence of His name..."

The Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Commandments Are in the Code of Hammurabi, "Who... Arrived at [Them]... With No Need for [Divine] Revelation"

"The Fourth Commandment is: 'Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.' We know that God sent not only Jewish prophets but others as well, and as a result Sunday is a holy day for Christians and Friday for Muslims.

"The Fifth Commandment is: 'Honor your father and your mother...' This is common to all religions, and is even observed by the non-religious.

"After that there are three more commandments, which are: 'You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal.' These are included in the Code of Hammurabi, who in fact arrived at these commandments by reason alone, with no need for revelation."

The Ninth and Tenth Commandments Seem to Apply Only to One's Relatives or Neighbors

"The Ninth Commandment definitely needs to be modified. It says: 'You shall not bear false witness against your relative.' However, the English translation uses the word 'neighbor' instead of 'relative.' (The Torah is not a text [whose interpretation] is unanimously agreed upon.) My objection here is that whether the word is 'relative' or 'neighbor,' does the commandment permit bearing false witness against strangers? I remember that in Lebanon, we used to have false witnesses for hire on the stairs of the Justice Palace, ready to testify to anything for a set fee. In fact, one of these individuals testified for me in 1958, in return for 10 pounds, when I tried to make myself older on the ID card so I could apply for a driving test.

"What raised my suspicions regarding the Ninth Commandment is that I know from Deuteronomy that usury is forbidden when it involves other Jews, but is permitted when it involves gentiles. This is similar to proscribing the bearing of false witness against relatives, while it is not clearly prohibited by scripture when involving other people.

"The Tenth Commandment is by far the strangest: 'You shall not covet your neighbor's wife...' Here, adultery seems to be applicable to the neighbor only and not to all women, as the Seventh Commandment suggests. My objection is that my neighbor's wife is not desirable and cannot be coveted anyway. However, the scriptures are clear, and I am not prohibited from coveting other women."

[1] Al-Hayat (London), May 4, 2010. The text has been lightly edited for clarity.

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