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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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Question 12.29:
Why does the Torah talk about Other Gods?


We've all seen the lines in the Ten Commandments:

Thou shalt not have no other gods before me

Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any manner of 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.

These sentences are among the more problematic ones. Why is there a reference to "other Gods"? The problem is that for those who don't understand that this is a short-hand of an idea, they may think that the God is recognizing the existence of other gods (which was extremely common in Greek times). This is not the case. Rather, this is a commentary on the nature of man, who at times sets up other things/beings as gods, whether it is idol worship in some cultures, the worship of the Greek gods, the duality of the Zoroastrans, or (nowadays) the workshop of money or the priority of our workplace.

The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

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