Scala/Art Resource, New York, NY

Agape with awe, Moses cradles one of the tablets bearing the Ten Commandments, while holding the other tablet in his raised hand, in Moses with the Tablets of the Law by Guido Reni (1575–1642), an Italian painter noted for the dramatic illumination of his subjects. The commandments are inscribed in anachronistic square Hebrew.

Of the hundreds of laws in the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible), only ten are accorded special treatment as the Decalogue (Ten Commandments), and nine of these are repeated at other places in the Pentateuch. So why were the Ten Commandments chosen for this unique grouping? Author Weinfeld suggests that they serve as a formulation of conditions for membership in the community of the faithful.