4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
8 Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth:
9 Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,
10 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.
14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:
15 Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice;
16 And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.
Though typically shortened to Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image the 2nd commandment is the longest commandment serving as a complete prohibition against making any likeness of anything in air, land, or sea. Bowing before such likenesses is also prohibited. This is because God is jealous.
The "iniquity" will be visited unto the third and fourth generations.
- God will punish you because your great grandfather drew a picture of a fish. At face value, this commandment rules out all art!
- It is telling that the Catholics (and Lutherans) downplay this particular commandment by merging it with the 1st and divide up the 10th commandment into coveting wife and house separately. This is mostly because, some would say, Catholicism is all about the graven images. Many Jewish divisions of the ten commandments also ignore this commandment, dividing up the 1st commandment into I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt and Thou shalt have no other gods before me. replacing the 2nd.
In United States law
- The 2nd commandment is not a part of any U.S. law or custom. This statement, ironically, appears on a graven image monolith of the Ten Commandments in many locations. The U.S. government sets aside grants specifically to fund and encourage the breaking of this commandment by artists. If this commandment was a law, it would violate free speech.