"The Ten Commandments are not the laws. They are the law," stated Cecil B. DeMille at the New York opening of his epic film, "The Ten Commandments." Starring Charlton Heston as Moses and Yul Brynner as Pharaoh Rameses II, the film was released by Paramount Pictures in 1956.
While filming on-location in Egypt, Cecil B. DeMille, then 75 years old, climbed a 107-foot ladder to shoot the famous Exodus scene from atop of the massive Per Rameses set. In the intense heat, DeMille suffered a near-fatal heart attack. Though doctors ordered him to rest, DeMille finished directing the movie.
DeMille never fully recovered and died of a heart condition on Jan. 21, 1959. He had anticipated doing a film on the Biblical Book of Revelation.
For almost five decades, Cecil B. DeMille produced monumental films in Hollywood, including: "Samson and Delilah," "The King of Kings," "The Sign of the Cross," "The Crusades," and "The Greatest Show on Earth," for which he won an Academy Award.
Cecil B. DeMille was educated at Pennsylvania Military Academy and at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. His niece, Agnes de Mille choreographed films and musicals, such as: "Oklahoma!" (1943); "Paint Your Wagon" (1951); "Carousel" (1945); and "Rodeo" (1942).
Continuing his comments at the 1956 New York opening of "The Ten Commandments," Cecil B. DeMille stated: "Man has made 32 million laws since the Commandments were handed down to Moses on Mount Sinai more than three thousand years ago, but he has never improved on God's law. ... The Ten Commandments are the principles by which man may live with God and man may live with man. They are the expressions of the mind of God for His creatures. They are the charter and guide of human liberty, for there can be no liberty without the law. ... What I hope for our production of 'The Ten Commandments' is that those who see it shall come from the theater not only entertained and filled with the sight of a big spectacle, but filled with the spirit of truth. ... That it will bring to its audience a better understanding of the real meaning of this pattern of life that God has set down for us to follow."
At a time the children of Israel left Egypt, sometimes dated around 1,500 B.C.:
- the Hittite language had around 375 cuneiform characters
- the Indus Valley Harappan language had around 417 symbols
- the Luwian language of Anatolian had over 500 logographic hieroglyphs
- the Akkadian language most prevalent in Mesopotamia had over 1,500 Sumerian cuneiform characters
- the Egyptian language had over 3,000 hieroglyphic characters
- the Chinese language had nearly 10,000 pictogram and ideogram characters, invented by scribes of China's Yellow Emperor
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, he not only had the Ten Commandments, but he had them written in an easy-to-learn 22-character alphabet, which resulted in the entire nation learning to read.
In most other countries, only the upper class could read: kings, pharaohs, emperors, their scribes, with the ruling and merchant class. In ancient Egypt, the literacy rate was less than one percent.
The National Archaeological Museum in Athens, Greece, has a display on "Scribes" in its section on Egyptian Artifacts: "Only a small percentage of ancient Egypt's population was literate, namely the pharaoh, members of the royal family, officials, priests and scribes. Particularly popular and lucrative, the scribe's profession was mostly hereditary. Scribes had careers in the government, priesthood, and army."
Keeping unintelligent masses ignorant and illiterate was a way to control them.
George Orwell wrote in "Nineteen Eighty-Four": "In the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on a basis of poverty and ignorance."
Anthropologist Claude Levi Strauss (1908-2009) wrote: "Ancient writing's main function was to facilitate the enslavement of other human beings."
This is similar to the United States prior to the Civil War, where Democrat slave-holding states had laws making it illegal to teach slaves to read, as it was understood that illiterate, uneducated people were easier to control.
Republican adviser to Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, had been born a slave in Baltimore, Maryland. When he was around 12 years old, his master's sister-in-law, Sophia Auld, was teaching him the alphabet. When her husband found out, he forbade it, saying that if slaves could read, they would grow discontent and desire freedom.
Frederick Douglass considered this the "first decidedly anti-slavery lecture" he had ever heard, causing him to be determined to read all the more. ("The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass: His Early Life as a Slave, His Escape from Bondage, and His Complete History," Dover Value Editions, Courier Dover Publications, 2003, p. 50).
In the nation of Israel, every person was expected to read, as each person was individually accountable to follow the commandments. Israel is the first well-recorded instance in history of an entire population being literate, an important prerequisite for prosperity.
The Hebrew commandments were not just a list of do's and don'ts, but they had a God above who was:
- watching everyone
- wanted everyone to be fair
- would hold each person accountable in the future
This motivated everyone to act fairly even with no police around.
Democrat candidate for president, Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, stated in his speech "The Prince of Peace" (New York Times, Sept. 7, 1913): "A religion which teaches personal responsibility to God gives strength to morality. There is a powerful restraining influence in the belief that an all-seeing eye scrutinizes every thought and word and act of the individual."
Referring to the Ten Commandments, President Harry S. Truman addressed the Attorney General's Conference, Feb. 1950: "The fundamental basis of this nation's laws was given to Moses on the Mount. ... I don't think we emphasize that enough these days. ... If we don't have a proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except for the State."
Herbert Hoover stated in San Diego, California, Sept. 17, 1935: "Our Constitution ... is based upon certain inalienable freedoms and protections which in no event the government may infringe. ... It does not require a lawyer to interpret those provisions. They are as clear as the Ten Commandments. ... The freedom of worship, freedom of speech and of the press, the right of peaceable assembly, equality before the law ... behind them is the conception which is the highest development of the Christian faith ... individual freedom with brotherhood."
Ronald Reagan stated at a National Rifle Association banquet in Phoenix, May 6, 1983: "If we could just keep remembering that Moses brought down from the mountain the Ten Commandments, not ten suggestions – and if those of us who live for the Lord could remember that He wants us to love our Lord and our neighbor, then there's no limit to the problems we could solve."
President William McKinley stated in his inaugural address, March 4, 1897: "Our faith teaches that there is no safer reliance than upon the God of our fathers ... who will not forsake us so long as we obey His commandments."
Alfred Smith, four-term governor of New York and Democratic presidential candidate in 1928, stated in May of 1927: "The essence of my faith is built upon the commandments of God. The law of the land is built on the commandments of God. There can be no conflict between them."
Franklin D. Roosevelt stated on Dec. 24, 1942: "We as a nation and as individuals will please God best by showing regard for the laws of God. There is no better way of fostering good will toward man than by first fostering good will toward God. If we love Him, we will keep His commandments."
Franklin D. Roosevelt stated in a radio address on Washington's birthday, Feb. 22, 1943: "Skeptics and the cynics of Washington ... are like the people who carp at the Ten Commandments because some people are in the habit of breaking one or more of them."
Franklin D. Roosevelt stated in a press conference, Dec. 22, 1944: "We don't all live up to the Ten Commandments, which is perfectly true, but on the whole they are pretty good. It's something pretty good to shoot for. The Christian religion most of us in the room happen to belong to, we think it is pretty good. We certainly haven't attained it. Well, the Atlantic Charter ... not comparing it with the Christian religion or the Ten Commandments ... was a step towards a better life for the population of the world."
In 1954, President Dwight David Eisenhower, said: "The purpose of a devout and united people was set forth in the pages of The Bible ... (1) to live in freedom, (2) to work in a prosperous land ... and (3) to obey the commandments of God. ... This Biblical story of the Promised land inspired the founders of America. It continues to inspire us."
On March 8, 1983, at the National Association of Evangelicals in Orlando, Florida, President Reagan stated: "There's a great spiritual awakening in America. ... One recent survey by a Washington- based research council concluded ... 95 percent of those surveyed expressed a belief in God. A huge majority believed the Ten Commandments had real meaning in their lives."
The U.S. District Court, in Crockett v. Sorenson, (W.D. Va. 1983), stated: "The Ten Commandments have had immeasurable effect on Anglo-American legal development. ... A basic background in the Bible is essential to fully appreciate and understand both Western culture and current events."
Senator Robert Byrd addressed Congress, June 27, 1962: "Above the head of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court are the Ten Commandments, with the great American eagle protecting them. Moses is included among the great lawgivers in Herman A. MacNeil's marble sculpture group on the east front."
In dissenting the Supreme Court's refusal to hear an Elkhart, Indiana, Ten Commandment case, 2001, Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote: "The text of the Ten Commandments no doubt has played a role in the secular development of our society and can no doubt be presented by the government as playing such a role in our civic order. ... A carving of Moses holding the Ten Commandments, surrounded by representations of other historical legal figures, adorns the frieze on the south wall of our courtroom, and we have said that the carving signals respect not for great proselytizers but for great lawgivers."
Dr. Billy Graham stated in accepting with the Congressional Gold Medal, May 2, 1996: "We have lost sight of the moral and spiritual principles on which this nation was established – principles drawn largely from the Judeo-Christian tradition as found in the Bible. ... There is hope! Our lives can be changed. ... The Scripture says, 'You must be born again.' ... Think how different our nation would be if we sought to follow the simple and yet profound injunctions of the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount."
John Adams wrote to Thomas Jefferson, Nov. 4, 1816: "The Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount contain my religion."
On Aug. 11, 1992, U.S. Rep. Nick Joe Rahall introduced a bill to declare Nov. 22-28 "America's Christian Heritage Week," stating: "While ... emerging democracies ... turn from the long held atheism of communism to true religious freedoms, we find ourselves, with heavy hearts, watching our own government succumb to pressures to distant itself from God and religion. Our own government ... has ... evolve into bans against the simple freedom as ... representation of the Ten Commandments on government buildings. ... Such a standard of religious exclusion is absolutely and unequivocally counter to the intention of those who designed our government."
On Feb. 5, 1996, Margaret Thatcher stated: "The Decalogue (Ten Commandments) are addressed to each and every person. This is the origin ... the sanctity of the individual. ... You don't get that in any other political creed. ... It is personal liberty with personal responsibility. Responsibility to your parents, to your children, to your God. ... Your Founding Fathers came over with that."
In 1973, as governor of California, Ronald Reagan stated: "With freedom goes responsibility. Sir Winston Churchill once said you can have 10,000 regulations and still not have respect for the law. We might start with the Ten Commandments. If we lived by the Golden Rule, there would be no need for other laws."
On Feb. 5, 1997, Governor Fob James threatened to call out the National Guard to prevent the removal of the Ten Commandments display from a courtroom in Gadsden, Alabama: "The only way those Ten Commandments and prayer would be stripped from that courtroom is with the force of arms."
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