Moses Based the 10 Commandments on Ancient Egyptian Ma’at Confessions – Response


Excerpt from “Afrocentrism & Black Consciousness: Challenges For Christianity” by Dr. Clinton Chisholm:


What of the 10 commandments themselves and the allegation that they were stolen or borrowed? I think much common sense should prevail here. The now popular thesis of stolen legacy and the attempt to see almost everything of worth as stolen or borrowed from Egypt is hopelessly naive. One needs to remember that there were commonalities in the Ancient Near East, (e.g. cultural realities, legal codes, and marriage/divorce customs) but there were also national peculiarities.

Additionally, the fact that document A is prior to document B and looks similar to B does not mean that B was copied from A. It’s a logical mistake that we make so easily. Priority does not mean that the thing that comes later has taken from that. The usual allegation under the stolen legacy rubric is that Moses copied the 10 commandments from the earlier negative confessions in the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Now I have done lectures like this in several places and I am still asking the people who allege this can you show me in the Book of the Dead where there are similarities to the 10 commandments? I have one of the latest versions of the Book of the Dead. I can’t find similarities to the 10 commandments. So, I’m still asking – where are they? [Thus] people fail to show the clear similarities or identity in content or structure beyond what you would expect in any culture. Most ancient cultures would have a taboo on say, adultery, murder, and stealing…. [Further], nor have such critics been able to explain the peculiarities of the 10 commandments that have no likeness in the negative confessions. Like the critical taboo on graven images and the centrality of the Sabbath. Did they get this from Egypt and from the Book of the Dead?

The most serious allegation from another quarter is that Moses plagiarised the Babylonian code of Hammurabi to come up with the 10 commandments and other laws in the Pentateuch. Now we have to concede that there are structural and thematic similarities between Hammurabi’s code and sections of the laws in the Pentateuch, but the differences are very striking. There is nothing in Hammurabi that closely matches the 10 commandments.