The popular name in this, as in so many instances,is not that of Scripture. There we have the "TEN WORDS," ( Exodus 34:28 ; 4:13 ; 10:4 ) the "COVENANT," Ex., Deut. 11. cc.; ( 1 Kings 8:21 ; 2 Chronicles 6:11 ) etc., or, very often as the solemn attestation of the divine will, the "TESTIMONY." ( Exodus 25:16 Exodus 25:21 ; 31:18 ) etc. The circumstances in which the Ten great Words were first given to the people surrounded them with an awe which attached to no other precept. In the midst of the cloud and the darkness and the flashing lightning and the fiery smoke and the thunder like the voice of a trumpet, Moses was called to Mount Sinai to receive the law without which the people would cease to be a holy nation. ( Exodus 19:20 ) Here, as elsewhere, Scripture unites two facts which men separate. God, and not man was speaking to the Israelites in those terrors, and yet, in the language of later inspired teachers, other instrumentality was not excluded. No other words were proclaimed in like manner. And the record was as exceptional as the original revelation. Of no other words could it be said that they were written as these were written, engraved on the Tables of Stone, not as originating in mans contrivance or sagacity, but by the power of the Eternal Spirit, by the "finger of God." ( Exodus 31:18 ; 32:16 ) The number Ten was, we can hardly doubt, itself significant to Moses and the Israelites. The received symbol, then and at all times, of completeness, it taught the people that the law of Jehovah was perfect. ( Psalms 19:7 ) The term "Commandments" had come into use in the time of Christ. ( Luke 18:20 ) Their division into two tables is not only expressly mentioned but the stress is upon the two leaves no doubt that the distinction was important, and that answered to that summary of the law which was made both by Moses and by Christ into two precepts; so that the first table contained Duties to God , and the second, Duties to our Neighbor . There are three principal divisions of the two tables:
[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[B] indicates this entry was also found in Baker's Evangelical Dictionary
Bibliography InformationSmith, William, Dr. "Entry for 'Ten Commandments'". "Smith's Bible Dictionary".