The Ten Commandments have two subjects – God and man. Later theology offers a more detailed analysis about God – that is, if there is anything at all that we can really say about Him whose real nature is unknown to and unknowable by human beings.
What the Ten Commandments say is not so much what He is but how we should relate to Him.
• The first commandment, according to Maimonides, is to know He exists. It also tells us that He is not aloof from His Creation: He cares, He protects, He guides human beings. It implies that when one human group oppresses another it is against His will, and the victims have a right to be free.
• The second commandment insists that in His presence there are and can be no other gods. Nothing in heaven or earth can be Divine except Him. In the long run those who make gods out of anything or anyone else will some tumbling down.
• The third commandment tells us never to speak of Him without reverence. He must not be downgraded into a mere swear word. Nor may His name be uttered other than in a devotional mood.
• The fourth commandment establishes the sacredness of His great gift of time. Our days must be spent according to His will – six days a week of earthly activity and a seventh day of prayer, study, contemplation and thought.
• The fifth commandment talks of parents but impliedly speaks about God. Through the sequence of parents and children God entrusts man with the means of continuing the world and its civilisation.