The Ten Commandments: How Our Most Ancient Moral Text Can Renew Modern Life  -     By: David Hazony
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The Ten Commandments: How Our Most Ancient Moral Text Can Renew Modern Life

Simon & Schuster / 2010 / Hardcover

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Moses carried two tablets of stone "written with the finger of God" down from Mt. Sinai. Hazony clarifies anew the centuries-old wisdom in each of these 10 statements of God's revealed will for human society, outlining what they say about integrity, the family, life, property, sacredness, community, and more. 352 pages, hardcover. Scribner.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 352
Vendor: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 2010
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)
ISBN: 1416562354
ISBN-13: 9781416562351
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

ACROSS THE WESTERN WORLD, the Ten Commandments have become a source of both inspiration and controversy, whether in Supreme Court rulings, in film and literature, or as a religious icon gracing houses of worship of every Christian and Jewish denomination. But what do the commandments really stand for? According to polls, less than half of all Americans can even name more than four of them. Fewer still can name all ten, or have a clear idea of the ideals they were meant to promote. For most of us, agnostics and faithful alike, they have been relegated to the level of a symbol, and the teachings they contain are all but forgotten. In Western life today, the Ten Commandments are everywhere— except where we need them most.

In The Ten Commandments, David Hazony offers a powerful new look at our most venerable moral text. Combining a fresh reading of the Old Testament’s most riveting stories and ancient rabbinic legends with a fearless exploration of what ails society today, Hazony shows that the Ten Commandments are not just a set of obscure laws but encapsulate a deeply valuable approach to life—one that is as relevant now as it was when they first appeared more than two millennia ago.

The Ten Commandments
begins with a daring claim: Although they have become a universally recognizable symbol of biblically based religion, they are not, strictly speaking, a religious text. Rather than making a statement about faith or mystical realms inaccessible to reason, they contain a coherent prescription for how to make a better world. At their core stands what Hazony calls the "spirit of redemption," which he describes as one of the two basic spiritual components of Western civilization. While the Greeks gave us the "spirit of reason," teaching that we should be free to explore and express our views, the spirit of redemption teaches that every individual can, and should, act to improve the world. This spirit reached us from ancient Israel, in the form of the Hebrew Bible, and has stood at the heart of the most important social movements in our history.

Going through the commandments one by one, Hazony shows how each represents a poignant declaration about honesty, the self, life, love, freedom, community, and inner peace. Each commandment, we discover, adds another piece to the puzzle of how the redemptive spirit may enter our lives and help us become more caring, world-changing individuals.

Part memoir, part scholarship, part manifesto for a vital approach to life, The Ten Commandments tackles some of the most painful human questions that stand at the heart of who we are as modern, thinking people—and offers answers that are sure to start a new discussion about the meaning of one of our most enduring, yet least understood, traditions.

Author Bio

David Hazony is a writer living in Jerusalem. From 2004-2007, he was editor-in-chief of Azure, Israel’s leading journal of public affairs. He has written dozens of essays and reviews on Judaism and the Middle East for The New Republic, Policy Review, The New York Sun, and other publications. He is a regular contributor to Contentions, the blog of Commentary magazine.

Publisher's Weekly

Born in the United States, Hazony now lives in Israel, where he formerly edited Azure, a journal of Jewish thought. In this, his first book, Hazony uses the biblical text as a point of departure for 10 wide-ranging essays, examining each commandment as a contribution to constructing the good society. He calls this effort the "spirit of redemption," which requires individuals to help make the world better. While he sticks to the text, he also imaginatively roams far afield, broadening our comprehension of the commandments. For example, the Second Commandment ban of graven images is seen as prohibiting idolatry and fostering the search "for honesty, truth, and personal integrity." Similarly, the Fifth Commandment, to honor one's parents, provides Hazony with the opportunity to recount the story of Solomon's wise solution to the problem of two women who claim the same child. His major message, however, is that honoring and loving one's parents needs to be broadened to all humanity. Hazony has succeeded in extending the Ten Commandments to an impressive vision of how to attain the good society. (Sept.) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

Editorial Reviews

"Drawing on the Bible and classical rabbinical commentaries on the Bible, David Hazony adds his own insights to illuminate the central significance the Ten Commandments possess for modern life. In this broad ranging work, Hazony addresses the most existentially pressing issues of human concern--community, integrity, relationships, values, repair of the world--and judiciously mines these central biblical directives for the guidance and inspiration they provide for human life both personal and communal. This is a book of genuine wisdom."

-David Ellenson, President Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
“One of the greatest of Jewish literary arts is that of spinning brilliant and relevant disquisitions out of terse ancient texts, and David Hazony is a master at it. An exegesis of the Ten Commandments is precisely the book that needed to be written right now, and we are lucky that Hazony was around to write it.” –Judith Shulevitz, author of The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time
“David Hazony accomplishes the seemingly impossible: He manages, after three thousand years of commentary, to extract new, even startling meaning, from the Ten Commandments. He has written a book of truth and beauty that avoids pieties and renders these half-remembered injunctions profoundly relevant to our lives today.”

–Yossi Klein Halevi, author of At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew’s Search for God with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land

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  1. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    September 30, 2010
    David Kenney
    I loved this book fell in love with it right away. Hazonys voice is easy to read and his chapters break down easily as he takes each commandment a chapter at a time. Not only does he give you a clear understanding of each commandment, but he takes it a few more steps how the Hebrews would have understood them in history, how they often are observed today and what the deeper thought is behind each one.The 1o Commandments is neither an archaic remnant of a dead past nor an arbitrary set of laws handed down to a hundred generations of hungry supplicants and rebellious fools. The commandments represent rather, a whole attitude to life, one that recognizes both the weaknesses and the unfathomable potential of humanity a worldview that has largely been forgotten, but has a great deal to offer everyone of us today. (page 2)As I read, I was quickly underlining whole sections knowing full well I was coming back. Hazony argues that out of all the scriptures the 10 commandments were understood by the Hebrews as the core not only of faith, but of moral wisdom as well. Simply put, it is the most important text ever given to man. (page 17)This is a great book if you would like a little Hebrew scholarship in your life. Each chapter is filled with rabbinical quotes and history that you just cant get from Christian authors or your local church. For instance, did you know that Mount Sinai was neither the highest nor the lowest mountain i n the region, but in fact a medium sized one, symbolizing the average person to whom the the 10 commandments were addressed. ~ Sota 5AI loved this book and know for certain I will go back to it time and time again for reference and inspiration.
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