Reference: Law Of Moses
is the whole body of the Mosaic legislation (1Ki 2:3; 2Ki 23:25; Ezr 3:2). It is called by way of eminence simply "the Law" (Heb Torah, De 1:5; 4:8,44; 17:18-19; 27:3,8). As a written code it is called the "book of the law of Moses" (2Ki 14:6; Isa 8:20), the "book of the law of God" (Jos 24:26).
The great leading principle of the Mosaic law is that it is essentially theocratic; i.e., it refers at once to the commandment of God as the foundation of all human duty.
The law was like a straight edge given by God to make manifest the crookedness of man. "The law entered that the offence might abound " (Ro 5:20), that is, not to increase sin, but to show its offensiveness, and to bring it home to the soul. "By the law is the knowledge of sin." Ro 3:20. The apostle said that he would not have known lust had not the law said, "Thou shalt not covet." Ro 7:7. The object of the law therefore was to evince the heinousness of sin, while it was a test of the obedience of man to God. It was given to Israel only, the one nation which was under God's special dealings, and in which He was trying man in the flesh. The heading of the ten commandments is "I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage," and this could apply only to the Israelites. Again, God says, "You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities." Am 3:2. The Gentiles are described as not having the law, Ro 2:14, though they had the work of the law written in their hearts, and a conscience which bore witness when they did wrong. As the Gentiles became associated with Israel, and heard what God required morally of man, they doubtless became more or less responsible according to the light received. But greater light having come in, the Galatian Christians are sharply rebuked for putting themselves under law, where, as Gentiles, they never had been. Some things forbidden in the law were wrong intrinsically, such as theft, murder, etc.; but other things were wrong only because God had forbidden them, such as the command to abstain from eating certain creatures called 'unclean.'
The law in its enactment of sacrifices and feasts was essentially typical and foreshadowed what was to be fulfilled in Christ. In accordance with this, Paul, as a Jew, could say, "The law was our schoolmaster unto Christ;" and the Lord said, "Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me." Joh 5:46. This is an important point, for the passage that speaks of the law as the schoolmaster goes on to say that it was in order that they "might be justified by faith." After that faith was come believers were no longer under a schoolmaster. Ga 3:25. A converted Jew was no longer under the law
Law of Moses.
It will be the object of this article to give a brief analysis of the substance of this law, to point out its main principles, and to explain the position which it occupies in the progress of divine revelation. In order to do this the more clearly, it seems best to speak of the law, 1st. In relation to the past; 2d. In its own intrinsic character.
1. (a) In reference to the past, it is all-important, for the proper understanding of the law, to remember its entire dependence on the Abrahamic covenant. See
That covenant had a twofold character. It contained the "spiritual promise" of the Messiah; but it contained also the temporal promises subsidiary to the former. (b) The nature of this relation of the law to the promise is clearly pointed out. The belief in God as the Redeemer of man, and the hope of his manifestation as such int he person of the Messiah, involved the belief that the Spiritual Power must be superior to all carnal obstructions, and that there was in man spiritual element which could rule his life by communion with a spirit from above. But it involved also the idea of an antagonistic power of evil, from which man was to be redeemed, existing in each individual, and existing also in the world at large. (c) Nor is it less essential to remark the period of the history at which it was given. It marked and determined the transition of Israel from the condition of a tribe to that of a nation, and its definite assumption of a distinct position and office in the history of the world. (d) Yet, though new in its general conception, it was probably not wholly new in its materials. There must necessarily have been, before the law, commandments and revelations of a fragmentary character, under which Israel had hitherto grown up. So far therefore as they were consistent with the objects of the Jewish law, the customs of Palestine and the laws of Egypt would doubtless be traceable in the Mosaic system. (e) In close connection with, and almost in consequence of, this reference to antiquity, we find an accommodation of the law to the temper and circumstances of the Israelites, to which our Lord refers int he case of divorce,
as necessarily interfering with its absolute perfection. In many cases it rather should be said to guide and modify existing usages than actually to sanction them; and the ignorance of their existence may lead to a conception of its ordinances not only erroneous, but actually the reverse of the truth. (f) In close connection with this subject we observe also the gradual process by which the law was revealed to the Israelites. In Ex 20-23, in direct connection with the revelation from Mount Sinai, that which may be called the rough outline of the Mosaic law is given by God, solemnly recorded by Moses, and accepted by the people. In Ex 25-31, there is a similar outline of the Mosaic ceremonial. On the basis of these it may be conceived that the fabric of the Mosaic system gradually grew up under the requirements of the time. The first revelation of the law in anything like a perfect form is found in the book of Deuteronomy. yet even then the revelation was not final; it was the duty of the prophets to amend and explain it in special points,
... and to bring out more clearly its great principles.
2. In giving an analysis of the substance of the law, it will probably be better to treat it, as any other system of laws is usually treated, by dividing it into-- I. Laws Civil; II. Laws Criminal: III. Laws Judicial and Constitutional; IV. Laws Ecclesiastical and Ceremonial. I. LAWS CIVIL.
1. LAW OF PERSONS. (a) FATHER AND SON. --the power of a father to be held sacred; cursing or smiting,
and stubborn and willful disobedience, to be considered capital crimes. But uncontrolled power of life and death was apparently refused to the father, and vested only in the congregation.
Right of the first-born to a double portion of the inheritance not to be set aside by partiality.
Inheritance by daughters to be allowed in default of sons, provided,
comp. Numb 36:1 ... that heiresses married in their own tribe. Daughters unmarried to be entirely dependent on their father.
(b) HUSBAND AND WIFE. --the power of a husband to be so great that a wife could never be sui juris, or enter independently into any engagement, even before God.
A widow or a divorced wife became independent, and did not against fall under her father's power. ver.
Divorce (for uncleanness) allowed, but to be formal and irrevocable.
Marriage within certain degrees forbidden.
... etc. A slave wife, whether bought or captive, not to be actual property, nor to be sold; if illtreated, to be ipso facto free.
Ex 21:7-9; De 21:10-14
Slander against a wife's virginity to be punished by fine,a nd by deprived of power of divorce; on the other hand, ante-connubial uncleanness in her to be punished by death.
the raising up of seed (Levirate law) a formal right to be claimed by the widow, under pain of infamy, with a view to preservation of families.
(c) MASTER AND SLAVE. --Power of master so far limited that death under actual chastisement was punishable,
and maiming was to give liberty ipso facto. vs.
The Hebrew slave to be freed at the sabbatical year, and provided with necessaries (his wife and children to go with only if they came to his master with him), unless by his own formal act he consented to be a perpetual slave.
Ex 21:1-6; De 15:12-18
In any case, it would seem, to be freed at the jubilee,
with his children. If sold to a resident alien, to be always redeemable, at a price proportioned to the distance of the jubilee.
Foreign slaves to be held and inherited as property forever,
and fugitive slaves from foreign nations not to be given up.
(d) STRANGERS. --These seem never to have been sui juris, or able to protect themselves, and accordingly protection and kindness toward them are enjoined as a sacred duty.
2. LAW OF THINGS. (a) LAWS OF LAND (AND PROPERTY).-- (1) All land to be the property of God alone, and its holders to be deemed his tenants.
(2) All sold land therefore to return to its original owners at the jubilee, and the price of sale to be calculated accordingly; and redemption on equitable terms to be allowed at all times.
A house sold to be redeemable within a year; and if not redeemed, to pass away altogether, ch.
But the houses of the Levites, or those in unwalled villages, to be redeemable at all times, in the same way as land; and the Levitical suburbs to be inalienable. ch.
(3) Land or houses sanctified, or tithes, or unclean firstlings, to be capable of being redeemed, at six-fifths value (calculated according to the distance from the jubilee year by the priest); if devoted by the owner and unredeemed, to be hallowed at the jubilee forever, and given to the priests; if only by a possessor, to return to the owner at the jubilee.
(4) Inheritance. (b) LAWS OF DEBT. -- (1) All debts (to an Israelite) to be released at the seventh (sabbatical year; a blessing promised to obedience, and a curse on refusal to lend.
(2) Usury (from Israelites) not to be taken.
Ex 22:25-27; De 23:19-20
(3) Pledges not to be insolently or ruinously exacted.
(c) TAXATION. -- (1) Census-money, a poll-tax (of a half shekel), to be paid for the service of the tabernacle.
All spoil in war to be halved; of the combatants' half, one five-hundreth, of the people's, one fiftieth, to be paid for a "heave offering" to Jehovah. (2) Tithes.-- (a) Tithes of all produce to be given for maintenance of the Levites.
(Of this one tenth to be paid as a heave offering for maintenance of the priests. vs.
) (b) Second tithe to be bestowed in religious feasting and charity, either at the holy place or (every third year) at home.