This small book does some impressive things. Not only does it explain the Ten Commandments and what they are (including paraphrasing of difficult vocabulary), but also puts them into a historical framework. Additionally, it provides pen-and-ink sketches of several biblical scenes and characters, including the crossing of the Sea of Reeds, offerings brought to the golden calf, the first battle of Jericho, and multiple Egyptian gods. At the end of the book there are photographs of the Dome of the Rock, a rabbi reading from a Torah, and tourists exploring Mount Sinai in Egypt. A timeline is also included, allowing the reader to compare these historical events with others occurring simultaneously elsewhere in the world.
Sections in bold print explore the observance of Passover; what the Sabbath is for Jews, Christians, and Muslims; the Old and the New Testaments and what the terms mean in the modern world; and what happened to the First and Second Temples. The term “The Promised Land,” and its meaning to the Jewish people, is discussed as well.
What Are the Ten Commandments? also raises questions about the historical accuracy of some of the stories found in the Bible. Was there actually a Moses? Did the Israelites really leave Egypt? If so, why is there no written history to verify this information since the Egyptians were known for “… keeping records of almost everything”? The author also mentions that, although the Constitution of the United States provides for all religions, Benjamin Franklin suggested that the Founding Fathers use the Ten Commandments as a framework for the United States federal government.
Smoothly integrating Jewish history with histories of other religions, this useful book is recommended for ages 10 to 15.