Every year, without fail, in an attempt to share our upbringing with our children, my family would spend the evening sitting in front of the television watching the annual airing of ‘The Ten Commandments’. Somewhere between Easter and Passover, this annual event had become a tradition in our house, carried over from my childhood in my parents’ home.
“Oh, look.”, my wife said. “The Ten Commandments is on tonight.”
“How many times have we seen it?”, I asked. “20 or 30 times?”
“I guess.”, she said.
“You know, they are the same commandments as the first time we watched it.”, I added. “Nothing’s changed.”
“I know.”, she said. “But its such a good movie.”
“I don’t know about that.”, I stated. “It would have been better if they had talked about the 1st set of commandments.”
“What are you talking about?”, she asked.
“Remember when Moses returned from Mt. Sinai with the tablets that he smashed upon seeing the people praying to the golden calf?”, I continued. “Well, apparently, there were a completely different set of commandments on those first tablets. When Moses returned to retrieve the commandments again, the contents of those second tablets were very different.”
“Really?”, she asked.
“That’s what biblical scholars are saying.”, I told her. “But that singular fact could have changed the direction of the film.”
“How do they know what was on the first tablets?”, she asked. “The ones that were destroyed.”
“They weren’t destroyed.”, I reminded her. “They were smashed. During an archaeological expedition, pieces of the tablets were excavated and placed together. Translated by experts in biblical writing, it revealed a very different set of ideals.”
“A long time ago.”, I said, “Maybe in the 1920s or so. It had been kept secret, hidden from the people by a council of leaders of all of the monotheistic religions, so as not to create upheaval in their respective faiths. About 30 years ago, someone going through documents in The Vatican Library uncovered documents that referenced this discovery, and the conspiracy to cover it up.”
“Wow.”, she said. “Did they reveal what was on the first tablets?”
“Not at first”. , I explained. “It wasn’t until about 2007, that the tablets were presented to the public, and their contents revealed.”
“Well?”, my wife asked, encouraging me to go on.
“Well, what?”, I answered.
“What was on the first tablets?”, she asked.
“Well”, I said. “While the current commandments are filled with what we should not do, so eloquently prefaced with ‘Thou Shalt Not’ , interestingly enough, the first set of tablets were more positive, giving man a list of things that he should do.”
“So,”, she asked, “what are they?”
“Give me a minute to try and remember.”, I said. After a short pause I continued. “Okay, now I don’t think these are in any particular order, and I am paraphrasing, but one was be kind to yourself and to each other. There was pay attention to those that seem dim, for their lights shine the brightest. There’s go west and see the Pacific Ocean at least once. Oh, and…
“Oh, crap!”, she shouted. “You just made all of that up, didn’t you? I don’t know why I even bother to listen to any of your stories.”
“Wait.”, I told her. “There’s more.”
“I don’t want to hear anymore.”, she said. “I’m turning on The Ten Commandments.”
“Oh, come on.”, I pleaded. “Not again.” And then she gave me those Spanish-Moroccan eyes, the look that needed no words to explain its meaning. “Alright.”, I said as I left the room.
“Wait.”, she called out to me. “Aren’t you going to watch it with me?”
“No.”, I answered. “It never goes well. You talk the whole way through the movie, and I simply groan with boredom.”
“Oh, come on.”, she requested. “This time it will be fun. You can do your running commentary, and you can even do your own version of the narration.”
“Are you sure?”, I asked.
“Yes.”, she said, beckoning me over to the seat beside her.
“How did I get so lucky to wind up with you?”, I asked as I sat down in my assigned seat.
“I have no idea.”, she said. “But you did, so don’t mess it up.”
“I do my best.”, I told her.
“I know.”, she answered. “And I love you. Now let’s watch the movie. Who is that guy?”
“Which guy?”, I asked.
“The old one.”, she said.
“He’s The King”, I replied. “The Pharaoh.”
“I thought the bald guy was the King.”, she advised.
“Well, he is.”, I told her, but not of Egypt. He is the king of Siam.”
“Are you sure?”, she inquired.”
“Pretty sure.”, I told her. “You’ll just have to watch and see.”