I keep hearing this chant, variously phrased: "The Ten Commandments are the foundation of Western morality and the American Constitution and government." In saying this, people are essentially crediting Moses with the invention of ethics, democracy and civil rights, a claim that is of course absurd.
While certainly embracing ethical concepts, neither Western morality nor the American Constitutional system are founded on "democracy and civil rights." As Madison explained in Federalist Paper #10, preventing Democracy was one of the motivations for the Federal Union. The Founders gave us a Constitutional Republic, not a Democracy--the rule of Law, not a counting of noses.
"Civil rights," on the other hand, are rights created by the Civil Authority, i.e. legislated "rights." American liberty was premised, from the first, on a Creational--not a secular, not a civil authority--basis. What are today labelled "civil rights," are a Socialistic departure from the basic premises of the traditional American free society. Claiming antiquity for the package that Lyndon Johnson rammed through a docile Congress in 1964 & 1965, is absurd.
The Ten Commandments are more directed towards the foundations of law and an ongoing Social order. In this they reflect the same concept of a Divine Foundation, as that set forth in our Declaration of Independence. The rules of Solon appear to relate more--where there is a divergence--to the problems of immediate civility. There is no conflict between the rules quoted from Solon, merely a somewhat different immediate focus; so I am not attacking the latter, merely the preconceptions of the essayist, which are 180 degrees divergent from the historic truth.
William Flax Return Of The Gods Web Site