The 10 Commandments appear in three places in the Bible: in Exodus, chapter 20, in Exodus, chapter 34 and in Deuteronomy, chapter 5. All three versions differ.http://undergod.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000824
Statement: Different biblical sources contradict each other on what is contained within the Ten Commandments.
Answer: This statement is self-evidently false. Let's deal with the issue that the versions differ by using the RSV to compare Exodus 20 and Deutoronomy 5:
|Exodus 20||Deutoronomy 5||Differences|
|2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.||6 ”'I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.||Exactly similar.|
|3 “You shall have no other gods before me.||7 ”'You shall have no other gods before me.||Exactly similar.|
|4 “You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;||8 ”'You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;||Exactly similar.|
|5 you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me,||9 you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,||Exactly similar.|
|6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.||10 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.||Exactly similar.|
|7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.||11 ”'You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.||Exactly similar.|
|8 “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.||12 ”'Observe the sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you.||Exactly similar except for a nod to the fact the commandment was given earlier.|
|9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work;||13 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work;||Exactly similar.|
|10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant, or your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your gates;||14 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, or your manservant, or your maidservant, or your ox, or your ass, or any of your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your gates; that your manservant and your maidservant may rest as well as you.||Essentially exactly similar; ox vs. cattle, addition of ass and servants (which may have been acquired during the period between Exodus and Deutoronomy). No noticeable change in meaning.|
|11 for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.||15 You shall remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out thence with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day.||Rationale is different, but this is not a commandment.|
|12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the LORD your God gives you.||16 ”'Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God commanded you; that your days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with you, in the land which the LORD your God gives you.||Essentially similar wording, exactly similar meaning.|
|13 “You shall not kill.||17 ”'You shall not kill.||Exactly similar.|
|14 “You shall not commit adultery.||18 ”'Neither shall you commit adultery.||Essentially exactly similar.|
|15 “You shall not steal.||19 ”'Neither shall you steal.||Essentially exactly similar.|
|16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.||20 ”'Neither shall you bear false witness against your neighbor.||Essentially exactly similar.|
|17 “You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor's.”||21 “'Neither shall you covet your neighbor's wife; and you shall not desire your neighbor's house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor's.'||Essentially exactly similar.|
As you can see, there is no stock in the argument that “All three versions differ”. Exodus 20 and Deutoronomy 5 are essentially exactly the same. What remains is Exodus 34. Let's take a look. Exodus 34:1 states
1 The Lord said to Moses, “Cut two tables of stone like the first; and I will write upon the tables the words that were on the first tables, which you broke. Then, in Exodus 34:10 (titled “The Covenant Renewed” in the RSV) we read as follows:
10 And he said, “Behold, I make a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been wrought in all the earth or in any nation; and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord; for it is a terrible thing that I will do with you. 11 “Observe what I command you this day. Behold, I will drive out before you the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Per′izzites, the Hivites, and the Jeb′usites. 12 Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither you go, lest it become a snare in the midst of you. 13 You shall tear down their altars, and break their pillars, and cut down their Ashe′rim 14 (for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), 15 lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and when they play the harlot after their gods and sacrifice to their gods and one invites you, you eat of his sacrifice, 16 and you take of their daughters for your sons, and their daughters play the harlot after their gods and make your sons play the harlot after their gods.
As you can see, this gives the commandment “You shall worship no other God” as an explanation to a verbal covenant God is making, which is separate from
”…the words that were on the first tables, which you broke.“ God continues:
17 “You shall make for yourself no molten gods. 18 “The feast of unleavened bread you shall keep. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month Abib; for in the month Abib you came out from Egypt. 19 All that opens the womb is mine, all your male cattle, the firstlings of cow and sheep. 20 The firstling of an ass you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. All the first-born of your sons you shall redeem. And none shall appear before me empty.
21 “Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; in plowing time and in harvest you shall rest. 22 And you shall observe the feast of weeks, the first fruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end. 23 Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the Lord God, the God of Israel. 24 For I will cast out nations before you, and enlarge your borders; neither shall any man desire your land, when you go up to appear before the Lord your God three times in the year. 25 “You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven; neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left until the morning. 26 The first of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring to the house of the Lord your God. You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.”
27 And the Lord said to Moses, “Write these words; in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” 28 And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.
In this rather lengthy passage, God gives Moses some new things to write down. Now, it is true that he mentions two of the old commandments again in slightly different wording; – “Do not make molten idols” and “on the seventh day you shall rest”. But it then states that Moses was with God for a further 40 days and wrote down the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. So the contents of God's words in Exodus 34 are not a re-statement of the ten commandments. So since the passage says Moses wrote down the original commandments from before in two different places, we find no justification for the belief that the wrote down something different.
(Exodus 31:18 is where the first set of tablets were made, and in Exodus 34:1 God states that the wording on the second set will be the same as on the first. In Exodus 34:27-28 we see that Moses wrote down the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.)
Conclusion: We have carefully examined the evidence and determined there is no reason to believe there is any difference between any of the times the Ten Commandments are discussed in Exodus and Deuteronomy.