From the May, 2003 issue of Touchstone
The First Commandment by Patrick Henry Reardon

The First Commandment

The first commandment of the Decalogue, “You shall have no other gods in my stead” (Exodus 20:3), is not the “first” simply in the sense of being the earliest in the sequence. It is not as though the order within the Decalogue could be switched around, so that it might begin with the prohibition of murder, say, or the injunction of the Sabbath. This lex prima is not prima inter pares.

The first of the Ten Commandments is the first, rather, in the sense that it is the source and fountainhead of the other nine. The commandments are not equal, and the first is formally different from the others. Its priority, that is to say, is not just material but qualitative. Its ̶ . . .


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