Our intention was not to create a story, but to be worthy of the Divinely inspired story created three thousand years ago—the five Books of Moses.

Cecil B. DeMille

The Ten Commandments, also known as Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments, is a 1956 American religious historical epic film produced, directed, and narrated by Cecil B. DeMille. It stars Charlton Heston as Moses, Yul Brynner as Rameses II, Anne Baxter as Nefretiri, Edward G. Robinson as Dathan, Yvonne De Carlo as Sephora, Debra Paget as Lilia, and John Derek as Joshua.


Pharaoh Rameses I of Egypt has ordered the death of all firstborn Hebrew males, but a Hebrew woman named Yochabel sets her infant son adrift on the Nile in order to save him. The infant is rescued from the Nile by Bithiah, the Pharaoh's daughter, who decides to adopt the boy even though her servant Memnet recognizes that the child is Hebrew and protests.

As a young man, Prince Moses becomes a successful general, claiming victory in a war with Ethiopia and then entering Egypt into an alliance with them. Moses loves Nefretiri, who is the throne princess and must marry the next Pharaoh. She is equally in love with him. An incident occurs when an elderly woman, who is greasing the ground for the pillar of stone to move easier, is almost crushed to death when her scarf gets caught under the slab of stone, prompting Moses to scold overseer Baka. Moses frees the elderly woman from her dangerous chore, not realizing that the elderly woman was his natural mother Yochabel. While working on the building of a treasure city for Pharaoh Sethi's jubilee, Moses meets the stonecutter Joshua, who tells him of the Hebrew God.

Moses institutes numerous reforms concerning the treatment of the slaves on the project, and eventually Prince Rameses II charges Moses with planning an insurrection, pointing out that the slaves are calling Moses the "Deliverer" of prophecy. Moses defends himself against the charges, arguing that he is simply making his workers more productive by making them stronger and happier and proves his point with the impressive progress he is making. During this time, Rameses has been charged by Sethi, his father, with finding out whether there really is a Hebrew fitting the description of the Deliverer.

Nefretiri learns from Memnet that Moses is the son of Hebrew slaves Nefretiri learns from the servant Memnet that Moses is the son of Hebrew slaves. Nefretiri kills Memnet but reveals the story to Moses only after he finds the piece of Levite cloth he was wrapped in as a baby, which Memnet had kept. Moses goes to Bithiah to learn the truth. Bithiah evades his questions, but Moses follows her to the home of Yochabel and thus learns the truth.

Moses spends time working amongst the slaves to learn more of their lives. Nefertiri urges him to return to the palace, then he can help his people when he becomes pharaoh. During this time the master builder Baka steals Lilia, who is engaged to the stonecutter Joshua. Joshua rescues Lilia but is captured himself; Moses frees Joshua but strangles Baka. Moses confesses to Joshua that he too is Hebrew; the confession is witnessed by the ambitious Hebrew overseer Dathan. Dathan uses the information to bargain with Rameses for Baka's house, a post as Governor of Goshen, and the ownership of the slave Lilia.

Based on Dathan's information, Moses is arrested and brought before Sethi. Moses tells Sethi that he is not the Deliverer, but would free the slaves if he could. Bithiah tells her brother Sethi the truth about Moses, and Sethi reluctantly orders his name stricken from all records and monuments. Moses is banished to the desert, but not before he receives the word that Yochabel had died before she delivered the piece of Levite cloth. Rameses is declared the next Pharaoh.

Moses becomes a shepherd and marries Sephora in the land of Midian Moses makes his way across the desert, nearly dying of hunger and thirst before he comes to a well in the land of Midian. At the well, he defends seven sisters from Amalekites who try to push them away from the water. Moses finds a home in Midian with the girls' father Jethro, a Bedouin sheik, who reveals that he is a follower of "He who has no name," whom Moses recognizes as the God of Abraham. Moses impresses Jethro and the other sheiks with his wise and just trading, and marries Jethro's eldest daughter Sephora (the Greek form of Zipporah used in the film).

While herding sheep in the desert Moses finds Joshua, who has escaped from the copper mines of Ezion-Geber that he was sent to after the death of Baka. Moses sees the burning bush on the summit of Mount Sinai and hears the voice of God. God charges Moses to return to Egypt and free His chosen people. In Egypt, Sethi dies, his last word being Moses's name. Rameses succeeds him as Pharaoh.

At Pharaoh's court, Moses comes before Rameses to win the slaves' freedom, turning his staff into a cobra to show Rameses the power of God. Rameses decrees that the Hebrews be given no straw to make their bricks, but to make the same tally as before on pain of death. As the Hebrews prepare to stone Moses in anger, Nefretiri's retinue rescues him; however when she attempts to resume their relationship he spurns her, reminding her that not only is he on a mission, but that he is also married.

As Moses continues to challenge Pharaoh's hold over his people, Egypt is beset by divine plagues. Moses warns him that the next plague to fall upon Egypt will be summoned by Pharaoh himself. Enraged at the plagues and Moses' continuous demands, as well as his generals and advisers telling him to give in, Rameses orders all first-born Hebrews to die. Nefretiri warns Sephora to escape with her son Gershom on a passing caravan to Midian, and Moses tells the Queen that it is her own son who will die. In an eerily quiet scene, the Angel of Death creeps into Egyptian streets in a glowing green cloud, killing all the firstborn of Egypt, including the adult son of Pharaoh's top general, and Pharaoh's own child. The Hebrews who have marked their doorposts and lintels with lamb's blood are eating a hasty meal and preparing to depart. Bithiah reunites with Moses and decides to go with him and his people when they leave. Broken and despondent, Pharaoh orders Moses to take his people, and cattle, and go. In the following day, the Pharaoh's soldiers force the Hebrews to gather up their possessions and leave their homes. Among the expellees is Dathan, who is denounced for his incompetence and forced out like all the others. The Hebrews, now homeless and uprooted, begin their exodus from Egypt.

Nefretiri goads Pharaoh into a rage so that he arms himself and pursues the former slaves to the shore of the Red Sea. Held back by a pillar of fire, the Egyptian forces watch as Moses parts the waters. As the Hebrews race over the seabed, the pillar of fire dies down and the army rides in hot pursuit. The Hebrews make it to the far shore as the waters close on the Egyptian army, drowning every man and horse. Rameses looks on in despair. All he can do is return to Nefretiri, confessing to her, "His god is God."

The former slaves camp at the foot of Sinai and wait as Moses again ascends the mountain. During his absence, the Hebrews lose faith and, urged on by the evil Dathan, build a golden calf as an idol to bear before them back to Egypt, hoping to win Rameses' forgiveness. They force Aaron to help fashion the gold plating. The people indulge their most wanton desires in an orgy of sinfulness, except for a few still loyal to Moses, including Sephora and Bithiah.

High atop the mountain, Moses witnesses God's creation of the stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments. When Moses finally climbs down and meets Joshua, they both behold their people's iniquity. Moses hurls the tablets at the idol in a rage. The idol explodes, and Dathan and his followers are killed. After God forces them to endure forty years' exile in the desert wandering lost, to kill off the rebellious generation, the Hebrews are about to arrive in the land of Canaan. An elderly Moses, who is not allowed to enter the promised land, because of his disobedience, appoints Joshua to succeed him as leader, says a final good bye to Sephora, and goes forth to his destiny.

List of chaptersEdit

The chapters listed are from the 55th Anniversary Blu-ray of The Ten Commandments.

  1. "Overture"
  2. "Prologue"
  3. "Main Title"
  4. "Rameses the First"
  5. "Floating Basket"
  6. "Prince of Egypt"
  7. "Moses the Conquerer"
  8. "Throne Princess"
  9. "Goshen"
  10. "The Keystone"
  11. "Temple Granaries"
  12. "Hounds and Jackals"
  13. "Treasure City"
  14. "Hebrew Cloth"
  15. "The Binding Tie"
  16. "Brick Pits"
  17. "Royal Barge"
  18. "Master Butcher"
  19. "Pharaoh's Justice"
  20. "Dathan's Bribe"
  21. "Robe and Staff"
  22. "The Wilderness of Shur"
  23. "Well of Midian"
  24. "Mountain of God"
  25. "Jethro's Daughters"
  26. "Moses Chooses Sephora"
  27. "Sethi's Death"
  28. "A Man Among the Sheep"
  29. "Intermission"
  30. "Entr' Acte"
  31. "Burning Bush"
  32. "Return Into Egypt"
  33. "Bricks Without Straw"
  34. "Bound to a Shepherd Girl"
  35. "Plagues on Egypt"
  36. "Death to the Firstborn"
  37. "Lamb's Blood"
  38. "Passover"
  39. "Set Free"
  40. "Exodus"
  41. "Hardened Heart"
  42. "Pharaoh's Chariots"
  43. "Parting of the Red Sea"
  44. "Mount Sinai"
  45. "Finger of God"
  46. "Idolaters"
  47. "The Lord's Side"
  48. "Go, Proclaim Liberty!"
  49. "Restoration Credits"
  50. "Exit Music"



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