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Did the Ten Commandments Exist Before Moses?

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They believe that the Sinai Covenant and God’s commandments came into existence together and went out of existence together.

But is such reasoning biblical? The facts show it is not. A close look at the Scriptures reveals that breaking the Ten Commandments was a sin before the covenant at Mt. Sinai, so arguments that they came into existence with that covenant and were terminated with it cannot be true. Let’s notice the scriptural proof.

God’s Word defines sin as “the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4 1 John 3:4Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
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, KJV) or “lawlessness” (New King James Version, NIV). Therefore, “where there is no law there is no transgression” (Romans 4:15 Romans 4:15Because the law works wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.
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). This is what the Bible clearly says! So do we find transgressions of the Ten Commandments described as sinful before Mt. Sinai? Clearly we do.

For example, Genesis 13:13 Genesis 13:13But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.
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tells us that “the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the Lord.” Since sin is violating God’s law, the people of Sodom could not have been punished for being wicked and sinful if no law condemned what they were doing. We must conclude, therefore, that God had already made available the knowledge of what is sinful.

Here is a clear example. Genesis 20:3-9 Genesis 20:3-9 3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, you are but a dead man, for the woman which you have taken; for she is a man’s wife. 4 But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, LORD, will you slay also a righteous nation? 5 Said he not to me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocence of my hands have I done this. 6 And God said to him in a dream, Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart; for I also withheld you from sinning against me: therefore suffered I you not to touch her. 7 Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for you, and you shall live: and if you restore her not, know you that you shall surely die, you, and all that are yours. 8 Therefore Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ears: and the men were sore afraid. 9 Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said to him, What have you done to us? and what have I offended you, that you have brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? you have done deeds to me that ought not to be done.
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and 39:7-9 describe adultery as “a great sin” and a “sin against God.” Adultery breaks the Seventh Commandment .

In Genesis 3:6-17 Genesis 3:6-17 6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also to her husband with her; and he did eat. 7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. 8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 And the LORD God called to Adam, and said to him, Where are you? 10 And he said, I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. 11 And he said, Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded you that you should not eat? 12 And the man said, The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. 13 And the LORD God said to the woman, What is this that you have done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. 14 And the LORD God said to the serpent, Because you have done this, you are cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; on your belly shall you go, and dust shall you eat all the days of your life: 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; it shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. 16 To the woman he said, I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in sorrow you shall bring forth children; and your desire shall be to your husband, and he shall rule over you. 17 And to Adam he said, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it: cursed is the ground for your sake; in sorrow shall you eat of it all the days of your life;
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, God punishes Adam and Eve for their coveting and stealing—breaking the Tenth and Eighth Commandments . They also dishonored Him as their parent, violating the Fifth Commandment .

In Genesis 4:9-12 Genesis 4:9-12 9 And the LORD said to Cain, Where is Abel your brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? 10 And he said, What have you done? the voice of your brother’s blood cries to me from the ground. 11 And now are you cursed from the earth, which has opened her mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand; 12 When you till the ground, it shall not from now on yield to you her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shall you be in the earth.
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, God punishes Cain for murder and lying—violations of the Sixth and Ninth Commandments .

In Exodus 16:4 Exodus 16:4Then said the LORD to Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.
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, several days to several weeks before God established His covenant with the Israelites at Mt. Sinai, we find God giving them a test to see “whether they will walk in My law or not.” His test involved whether they would rest on the seventh-day Sabbath as He commanded in the Fourth Commandment of that law—with which they were at least partly familiar. The seventh day had been hallowed—set aside as holy by God—from the time of Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:1-3 Genesis 2:1-3 1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.
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).

God’s reaction to their disobedience is revealing. He exclaims, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws?” (Exodus 16:28 Exodus 16:28And the LORD said to Moses, How long refuse you to keep my commandments and my laws?
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). God clearly speaks of both His “commandments and … laws” as already existing and in force well before He listed the Ten Commandments verbally at Mt. Sinai, as described four chapters later! Therefore, the Ten Commandments were only codified —written in stone as part of a formal covenant—at Mt. Sinai. Scripture clearly shows that they existed and were in force well before then.

This is stated explicitly in Genesis 26:5 Genesis 26:5Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.
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, where God tells Isaac that He blessed his father Abraham “because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.” This event took place centuries before the covenant at Mt. Sinai, centuries before Moses and two generations before Judah, head of the tribe that much later would become known as the Jews, was born! (Be sure to read “Did Abraham Keep the Same Commandments God Gave to Moses?” on page 13).

In Leviticus 18:21-27 Leviticus 18:21-27 21 And you shall not let any of your seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shall you profane the name of your God: I am the LORD. 22 You shall not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. 23 Neither shall you lie with any beast to defile yourself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion. 24 Defile not you yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: 25 And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof on it, and the land itself vomits out her inhabitants. 26 You shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojournes among you: 27 (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;)
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, God calls the idolatrous practices of the people of the land of Canaan “abominations”—actions so filthy and degrading that God compared their expulsion to being “vomited out” of the land (Leviticus 18:28 Leviticus 18:28That the land spew not you out also, when you defile it, as it spewed out the nations that were before you.
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). What was their sin? Among other things, idolatry (the worship of false gods) and human sacrifice, which violated the First, Second and Sixth Commandments .

The Bible shows that the Ten Commandments did not originate with Moses or in his time. Nor were they in any way limited only to the Jews. They were in effect and known long before Moses or a people known as the Jews existed. They are the foundation of God’s laws that show us how to love God (defined by the first four Commandments) and how to love our fellow man (defined by the last six).

This is why, after Jesus Christ returns to establish His glorious Kingdom on earth, Isaiah 2:3 Isaiah 2:3And many people shall go and say, Come you, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
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tells us that “many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”

At that time, all of mankind will at last be taught to live according to all of God’s laws and commandments!

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