Many are unaware that the Ten Commandments may have roots in our common animal ancestors.
Many scholars argue that human language has been around for about thirty thousand years. Although some will differ, many agree with this estimation. Written language, on the other hand, has only been around for four or five thousand years. Agriculture has been around for approximately ten thousand years.
Think about that progression of events. Man has been able to communicate with each other with complex sounds and expressions for thirty thousand years. At that time, man lived in small hunter-gatherer tribes of about 200 people. Most agree that the closest way to study how people behaved back then is to study modern apes and chimpanzees.Chimpanzees are thought to be more accurate because they live in large groups, while apes tend to live in smaller family groups separated by a large distance.
One interesting thing about Chimpanzee communities is the idea of the Alpha Male. The alpha male, it has been observed over and over again in various studies, gets most of the food, and most of the attention of the female, and consequently, fathers most of the children. As the alpha ages, he is naturally replaced by the strongest among his competitors.
If this was indeed the way pre historic man lived, then the invention of agriculture presented a particular problem. No longer having to roam around looking for food, man was able to settle in one place. This of course led to a massive increase in the size of societies around the world.Many believe this caused a problem with the "one alpha gets all the resources" model that had worked for so long. This would likely have caused violence among the many "alphas" that were in the ever increasing group.
Because there is a considerable gap between the invention of agriculture, and the emergence of the first societies, many believe that primitive man, as a society, attempted to create different models that would allow him to leave in peace with his neighbor. Only when they discovered a model that worked, was society free from the constant inter tribal violence, and start to grow in size.
What was this model? One only has to see that many of the first texts in primitive societies are religious in nature, with general rules to live by. If one was to design a society, and come up with a complete set of rules to best control man, considering his desires and tendencies, one couldn't do much better than the Ten Commandments. They are a perfect blueprint for keeping a modern society relatively free from violence from within. A perfect set of rules to allow a society to grow and flourish. Don't steal, don't covet, don't lie.These are the rules that are the basis for all of modern society's laws.
Whether they are inspired from God Himself, or whether they are an organic outgrowth of a society increasing in size and complexity, they are a powerful set of rules that have served man for thousands of years, and will likely do so for thousands more.
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