Thou shalt have no other gods before me

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Ten Commandments
Protestant numbering
1st 6th
2nd 7th
3rd 8th
4th 9th
5th 10th
Catholic numbering
1st a b 6th
2nd 7th
3rd 8th
4th 9th
5th 10th

Exodus 20:1-3 Bible-icon.png:

1 And God spake all these words, saying,

2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Deuteronomy 5:6-7 Bible-icon.png:

6 I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

7 Thou shalt have none other gods before me.

Exodus 34:12-13 Bible-icon.png:

12 Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee:

13 But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves:


  • This commandment introduces god as the god that frees people in contrast to the gods of Egypt which enslave. It sets freedom as the "theme" for the following commandments. It forbids the creation of other gods which would only be used to legitimate the power of their priests and thus enslave the people again.


  • After the death of Isaac Newton, it was discovered that he interpreted this to clearly identify the Lord thy God as having brought thee out of the land of Egypt — not Jesus. For this reason Newton considered Trinitarianism as a violation of the first commandment.
  • What other gods? We are constantly told that there is one god and this god is clearly telling us to not accept any other gods, at least not before him.
    • It could refer to "created" gods instead of existing ones.
  • In Exodus, God also hardened the heart of the pharaoh on several occasions prolonging their 'house of bondage' and having them chased unnecessarily.
    • An allmighty god could have easily prevented all suffering. But the whole point of the suppression was to make a point about freeing them. This is just a special case of a general problem with omnipotence.

In United States law

  • The 1st commandment is not a part of U.S. law or customs. Laws in the U.S. specifically state that any such requirement cannot be made into law.
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