Law of Moses
Law Of Moses (תּוֹרָה משֶׁה) signifies the whole body of Mosaic legislation (1Ki 2:3; 2Ki 23:25; Ezr 3:2), the law given by Moses, which, in reference to its divine origin, is called תּוֹרָת יהוֹה, the law of Jehovah
(Ps 19:8; Ps 37:31; Isa 5:24; Isa 30:9). In the latter sense it is called, by way of eminence, הִתּוֹרָה, THE law (De 1:5; De 4:8,44; De 17:18; De 27:3,8). When not so much the substance of legislation, but rather the external written code in which it is contained is meant, the following terms are employed: "Book of the Law of Moses" (2Ki 14:6; Isa 8:22; Isa 23:6) " Book of the La of the lord," or "Book of the Law of God" (Jos 24:26). "Judgments," "statutes," "testimonies," etc., are the various precepts contained in the law. In the present article (which has been carefully compiled from the most recent codifications, compared with the sacred text, and which strenuously maintains the perpetual obligation of the ten commandments), we propose to give a brief analysis of its substance, to point out its main principles, and to explain the position which it occupies in the progress of divine revelation. For the history of its delivery, SEE MOSES; SEE EXODE; for its authenticity, SEE PENTATEUCH; for its particular ordinances, see each in its alphabetical place.
The law is especially embodied in the last four books of the Pentateuch. In Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers there is perceptible some arrangement of the various precepts, although they are not brought into a system. In Deuteronomy the law or legislation contained in the three preceding books is repeated with slight modifications. See each of these books.
'The Jews assert that, besides the written law, שבכתב תורה , νόμος ἔγγραφος, which may be translated into other languages, and which is contained in the Pentateuch, there was communicated to Moses on Mount Sinai an oral law, תורה שבעל פה, νόμος ἄγραφος, which was subsequently written down, together with many rabbinical observations, and is contained in the twelve folio volumes which now constitut e the Talmud, and which the Jews assert cannot be, or at least ought. not to be, translated. SEE TALMUD ).
The Rabbins divide the whole Mosaic law into 613 precepts, of which 248 are affirmative and 365 negative. The number of the affirmative precepts corresponds to the 248 members of which, according to rabbinical anatomy, the whole human body consists. The number of the negative precepts corresponds to the 365 days of the solar year or, according to the rabbinical work Brandspiegel (which has been published in Jewish German at Cracow and in other places), the negative precepts agree in number with the 365 veins which, they say, are found in the human body. Hence their logic concludes that if on each day each member of the human body keeps one affirmative precept and abstains from one thing forbidden, the whole law, and not the Decalogue alone, is kept. The whole law is sometimes called by Jewish writers Theraiog, which word is formed from the Hebrew letters that are employed to express the number 613, viz. 400 = ת +200 = ר +10-= י +3 = ג Hence 613 = תריג theriog. Women are subject to the negative precepts or prohibitions only, and not to the affirmative precepts or injunctions. This exception arises partly from their nature, and partly from their being subject to the authority of husbands. According to some rabbinical statements women are subject to 100 precepts only, of which 64 are negative and 36 affirmative. The number 613 corresponds also to the number of letters in the Decalogue. Others are inclined to find that there are 620 precepts according to the numerical value of the word כמר=crown, viz., 400 = ת +200= ר + 20 כ; and others, again, observe that the numerical value of the letters תורה, law, amounts only to 611. The first in order of these laws is found in Ge 1:27, פרו ורבו, be fruitful and multiply. The transgressor of this law is, according to Rabbi Eliezer, as wicked as a murderer. He who is still unmarried at twenty years of age is a transgressor; and the law is binding upon every man, according to Schamai, until he has two sons; or, according to Hillel, one son and one daughter (compare Juris Hebraeorus leges, ductu Rabbi Levi Barzelonitae, auctore J. Henrico Hottinger). SEE CABALA.
I. The Law with reference to the Past History of the People. —
1. Here it is all-important, for the proper understallning of the law, to remember its entire dependence on the Abrahamic Covenant, and its adaptation thereto (see Ga 3:17-24). That covenant had a twofold character. It contained the "spiritual promise" of the Messiah, which was given to the Jews as representatives of the whole human race, and as guardians of a treasure in which "all families of the earth should be blessed." This would prepare the Jewish nation to be the center of the unity of all mankind. But it contained also the temporal promises subsidiary to the former, and requisite in order to preserve intact the nation, through which the race of man should be educated and prepared for the coming of the Redeemer. These promises were special, given distinctively to the Jews as a nation, and calculated to separate them from other nations of the earth. It follows that there should be in the law a corresponding duality of nature. There would be much in it peculiar to the Jews, local, special, and transitory; but the fundamental principles on which it was based must be universal, because expressing the will of an unchanging God, and springing from relations to him inherent in human nature, and therefore perpetual and universal in their application.
2. 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 in the person of the Messiah, involved the belief that the spiritual power must be superior to all carnal obstructions, and that there was in man a 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. The promise was the witness of the one truth, the law was the declaration of the other. It was "added because of transgressions." In the individual it stood between his better and his worse self; in the world, between the Jewish nation as the witness of the spiritual promise, and the heathendom which groaned under the power of the flesh. It was intended, by the gift of guidance and the pressure of motives, to strengthen the weakness of good, while it curbed directly the power of evil. It followed inevitably that, in the individual, it assumed somewhat of a coercive, and, as between Israel and the world, somewhat of an antagonistic and isolating character; and hence that, viewed without reference to the promise (as was the case with the later Jews), it might actually become a hinderance to the true revelation of God, and to the mission for which the nation had been made a "chosen people."
3. Nor is it less essential to note 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. It is on no unreal metaphor that we base the well-known analogy between the stages of individual life and those of national or universal existence. In Israel the patriarchal time was that of childhood, ruled chiefly through the affections and the power of natural relationship, with rules few, simple, and unsystematic. The national period was that of youth, in which this indirect teaching and influence gives place to definite assertions of right and responsibility, and to a system of distinct commandments, needed to control its vigorous and impulsive action. The fifty days of their wandering alone with God in the silence of the wilderness represent that awakening to the difficulty, the responsibility, and the nobleness of life, which marks the "putting away of childish things." The law is the sign and the seal of such an awakening.
4. Yet, though new in its general conception, it was probably not wholly new in its materials. Neither in his physical nor his spiritual providence does God proceed per saltune. There must necessarily have been, before the law, commandments and revelations of a fragmentary character, under which Israel had hitherto grown up. Indications of such are easily found, both of a ceremonial and moral nature, as, for example, in the penalties against murder, adultery, and fornication (Ge 9:6; Ge 38:24), in the existence of the Levirate law (Ge 38:8), in the distinction of clean and unclean animals (Ge 8:20), and probably in the observance of the Sabbath (Ex 16:23,27-29). But, even without such indications, our knowledge of the existence of Israel as a distinct community in Egypt would necessitate the conclusion that it must have been guided by some laws of its own, growing out of the old patriarchal customs, which would be preserved with Oriental tenacity, and gradually becoming methodized by the progress of circumstances. Nor would it be possible for the Israelites to be in contact with an elaborate system of ritual and law, such as that which existed in Egypt, without being influenced by its general principles, and, in less degree, by its minute details. As they approached nearer to the condition of a nation they would be more and more likely to modify their patriarchal customs by the adoption from Egypt of laws which were fitted for national existence. This being so, it is hardly conceivable that the Mosaic legislation should have embodied none of these earlier materials. It is clear, even to human wisdom, that the only constitution which can be efficient and permanent is one which has grown up slowly, and so been assimilated to the character of a people. It is the peculiar mark of legislative genius to mold by fundamental principles, and animate by a higher inspiration, materials previously existing in a cruder state. The necessity for this lies in the nature, not of the legislator, but of the subjects, and the argument, therefore, is but strengthened by the acknowledgment in the case of Moses of a divine and special inspiration. 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.
5. In close connection with this, 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 in the case of divorce (Mt 19:7-8) 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. Thus the punishment of filial disobedience appears severe (De 21:18-21); yet when we refer to the extent of parental authority in a patriarchal system, or (as at Rome) in the earlier periods of national existence, it appears more like a limitation of absolute parental authority by an appeal to the judgment of the community. The Levirate law, again, appears (see Mich. Alos. Recht, book 3, chapter 6, art. 98) to have existed in a far more general form in the early Asiatic peoples, and to have been rather limited than favored by Moses. The law of the avenger of blood is a similar instance of merciful limitation and distinction in the exercise of an immemorial usage, probably not without its value and meaning, and certainly too deep-seated to admit of any but gradual extinction. Nor is it less noticeable that the degree of prominence given to each part of the Mosaic system has a similar reference to the period at which the nation had arrived. The ceremonial portion is marked out distinctly and with elaboration; the moral and criminal law is clearly and sternly decisive; even the civil law, so far as it relates to individuals, is systematic, because all these were called for by the past growth of the nation, and needed in order to settle and develop its resources. But the political and constitutional law is comparatively imperfect; a few leading principles are laid down, to be developed hereafter; and the law is directed rather to sanction the various powers of the state than to define and balance their operations. Thus the existing authorities of a patriarchal nature in each tribe and family are recognized, while side by side with them is established the priestly and Levitical power which was to supersede them entirely in sacerdotal, and partly also in judicial functions. The supreme civil power of a "judge," or (eventually) a king, is recognized distinctly, although only in general terms, indicating a sovereign and summary jurisdiction (De 17:14-20); and the prophetic office, in its political as well as its moral aspect, is spoken of still more vaguely as future (De 18:15-22). These powers, being recognized, are left, within due limits, to work out the political system of Israel, and to ascertain by experience their proper spheres of exercise. On a careful understanding of this adaptation of the law to the national growth and character of the Jews (and of a somewhat similar adaptation to their climate and physical circumstances) depends the correct appreciation of its nature, and the power of distinguishing in it what is local and temporary from that which is universal.
6. In close connection with this subject we observe also the gradual process by which the law was revealed to the Israelites. In Exodus 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 Exodus 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. In certain cases, indeed (as e.g., in Le 10:1-2, compared with 8-11; Le 24:11-16; Nu 9:6-12; Nu 15:411; 27:1-11, compared with 36:1-12), we actually see how general rules, civil, criminal, and ceremonial, originated in special circumstances; and the unconnected nature of the records of laws in the earlier books suggests the idea that this method of legislation extended to many other cases.
The first revelation of the law in anything like a perfect form is found in the book of Deuteronomy, at a period when the people, educated to freedom and national responsibility, were prepared to receive it, and carry it with them to the land which was now prepared for them. It is distinguished by its systematic character and its reference to first principles; for probably even by Moses himself, certainly by the people, the law had not before this been recognized in all its essential characteristics; and to it we naturally refer in attempting to analyze its various parts. SEE DEUTERONOMY. Yet even then the revelation was not final; it was the duty of the prophets to amend and explain it in special points (as in the well-known example in Ezkiel 18), and to bring out more clearly its great principles, as distinguished from the external rules in which they were embodied; for in this way, as in others, they prepared the way of Him who "came to fulfill" (πληρῶσαι) the law of old time.
II. Analysis of its Contents. — It is customary to divide the law into the Moral, the Ceremonial, and the Political But this division, although valuable if considered as a distinction merely subjective (as enabling us, that is, to conceive the objects of law, dealing as it does with man in his social, political, and religious capacity), is wholly imaginary if regarded as an objective separation of various classes of laws. Any single ordinance might have at once a moral, a ceremonial, and a political bearing; and, in fact, although in particular cases one or other of these aspects predominated, yet the whole principle of the Mosaic institutions is to obliterate any such supposed separation of laws, and refer all to first principles, depending on the will of God and the nature of man. 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
(1) Civil; (2) Criminal; (3) Judicial and Constitutional; (4) Ecclesiastical and Ceremonial.
(I.) LAWS CIVIL.
1. OF PERSONS.
(A) Father and Son.
The power of a Father to be held sacred; cursing, or smiting (Ex 21:15,17; Le 20:9), or 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 (De 21:18-21).
Right of the first-born to a double portion of the inheritance not to be set aside by partiality (De 21:15-17). For an example of the authority of the first-born, see 1Sa 20:29 ("My brother, he hath commanded me to be there").
Inuheritance by Daughters to be allowed in default of sons, provided (Nu 27:6-8; comp. 36) that heiresses married in their own tribe.
Daughters unmarried to be entirely dependent on their father (Nu 30:3-5).
(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 (Nu 30:6-15). A widow or divorced wife became independent, and did not again fall under her father's power (verse 9).
Divorce (for uncleanness) allowed, but to be formal and irrevocable (De 24:1-4).
Marriage within certain degrees forbidden (Leviticus 18, etc.).
A Slave Wife, whether bought or captive, not to be actual property, nor to be sold; if ill treated, to be ipso facto free (Ex 21:7-9; De 21:10-14).
Slander against a wife's virginity to be punished by fine, and by deprival of power of divorce; on the other hand, ante-connubial uncleanness in her to be punished by death (De 22:13-21).
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 (De 25:5-10).
(C) Master and Slave.
Power of Master so far limited that death under actual chastisement was punishable (Ex 21:20); and maiming was to give liberty ipso facto (verses 26, 27).
The Hebrew Slave to be freed at the sabbatical year, and provided with necessaries (his wife and children to go with him 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 (Le 25:10), with his children. If sold to a resident alien, to be always redeemable, at a price proportional to the distance of the jubilee (Le 25:47-54).
Foreign Slaves to be held and inherited as property forever (Le 25:45-46); and fugitive slaves from foreign nations not to be given up (De 23:15). SEE SLAVE.
They seem never to have been sui juris, or able to protect themselves, and accordingly protection and kindness towards them are enjoined as a sacred duty (Ex 22:21; Le 19:33-34).
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 (Le 25:23).
(2) All sold Land therefore to return to its original owners at the jubilee, and the price of sale to be calculated accordingly; land redemption on equitable terms to be allowed at all times (25:25-27).
A House sold to be redeemable within a year; and, if not redeemed, to pass away altogether (25:29, 30).
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 (25:31-34).
(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 (Le 27:14-34).
(1) Sons. (2) Daughters. (3) Brothers. (4) Uncles on the Father's side. (5) Next Kinsmen, generally.
(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 (De 15:1-11).
(2) Interest (from Israelites) not to be taken (Ex 22:25-27; De 23:19-20).
(3) Pledges not to be insolently or ruinously exacted (De 24:6,10-13,17-18).
(1) Census-money, a poll-tax (of a half shekel), to be paid for the service of the tabernacle (Ex 30:12-16).
All spoil in war to be halved; of the combatant's half, one tive hundredth, of the people's, one fiftieth, to be paid for a "heave-offering" to Jehovah.
(a) Tithes of all produce to be given for maintenance of the Levites (Nu 18:20-24).
(Of this, one tenth to be paid as a heave-offering [for maintenance of the priests] [Nu 18:24; Nu 32].)
(b) Second Tithe to be bestowed in religious feasting and charity, either at the Holy Place, or every third year at home (?) (De 14:22-28).
(c) First-fruits of corn, wine, and oil (at least one sixtieth, generally one fortieth, for the priests) to be offered at Jerusalem, with a solemn declaration of dependence on God, the King of Israel (De 26:1-15; Nu 18:12-13).
Firstlings of clean beasts; the redemption-money (5 shekels) of man, and (shekel, or 1 shekel) of unclean beasts, to be givein to the priests after sacrifice (Nu 18:15-18).
(a) Gleanings (in field or vineyard) to be a legal right of the poor (Le 19:9-10; De 24:19-22).
(b) Slight Trespass (eating on the spot) to be allowed as legal (De 23:24-25).
(c) Second Tithe (see 2, b) to be given in charity.
(d) Wages to be paid day by day (De 24:15).
(4) Maintenance of Priests (Nu 18:8-32).
(a) Tenth of Levites' Tithe. (See 2, a.)
(b) The heave and wave offerings (breast and right shoulder of all peace-offerings).
(c) The meat and sin offerings, to be eaten solemnly, and only in the holy place.
(d) First-fruits and redemption money. (See 2, c.)
(e) Price of all devoted things, unless specially given for a sacred service. A man's service, or that of his household, to be redeemed at 50 shekels for man, 30 for woman, 20 for boy, and 10 for girl.
(II.) LAWS CRIMINAL.
1. OFFENCES AGAINST GOD (of the nature of treason).
1st Command. Acknowledgment of false gods (Ex 22:20), as e.g. Moloch (Le 20:1-5), and generally all idolatry (De 13; De 17:2-5).
2d Command. Witchcraft and false prophecy (Ex 22:18; De 18:9-22; Le 19:31).
3d Command. Blasphemy (Le 24:15-16).
4th Command. Sabbath-breaking (Nu 15:32-36). Punishment in all cases, death by stoning. Idolatrous cities to be utterly destroyed.
2. OFFENCES AGAINST MAN.
5th Command. Disobedience to or cursing or smitints of parents (Ex 21:15,17; Le 20:9; De 21:18-21), to be punished by death by stoning, publicly adjudged and inflicted: so also of disobedience to the priests (as judges) or Supreme Judge. Comp. 1Ki 21:10-14 (Naboth); 2Ch 24:21 (Zechariah).
(1) Murder, to be punished by death without sanctuary or reprieve, or satisfaction (Ex 21:12,14; De 19:11-13). Death of a slave, actually under the rod, to be punished (Ex 21:20-21).
(2) Death by negligence, to be punished by death (Ex 21:28-30).
(3) Accidental Homicide; the avenger of blood to be escaped by flight to the cities of refuge till the death of the high-priest (Nu 35:9-28; De 4:41-43; De 19:4-10).
(4) Uncertain Murder, to be expiated by formal disavowal and sacrifice by the elders of the nearest city (De 21:1-9).
(5) Assault to be punished by lex talionis, or danmages (Ex 21:18-19,22-25; Le 24:19-20).
(1) Adultery to be punished by death of both offenders: the rape of a married or betrothed woman, by death of the offender (De 22:13-27).
(2) Rape or Seduction of an unbetrothed virgin, to be compensated by marriage, with dowry (50 shekels), and without power of divorce; or, if she be refused, by payment of full dowry (Ex 22:16-17; De 22:28-29).
(3) Unlawful Marriages (incestuous, etc.) to be punished, some by death, some by childlessness (Leviticus 20).
(1) Theft to be punished by fourfold or double restitution; a nocturnal robber might be slain as an outlaw (Ex 22:1-4).
(2) Trespass and injury of things lent to be compensated (Ex 22:5-15).
(3) Perversion of Justice (by bribes, threats, etc.), and especially oppression of strangers, strictly forbidden (Ex 23:9, etc.).
(4) Kidnapping to be punished by death (De 24:7).
9th Command. False Witness; to be punished by lex talionis (Ex 23:1-3; De 19:16-21).
Slander of a wife's chastity, by fine and loss of power of divorce (De 22:18-19).
A fuller consideration of the tables of the Ten Commandments is given elsewhere. SEE THE COMMANDMENTS.
(III.) LAWS JUDICIAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL.
(a) Local Judges (generally Levites, as more skilled in the law) appointed, for ordinary matters, prolably by the people, with approbation of the supreme authority (as of Moses in the wilderness) (Ex 18:25; De 1:15-18), through all the land (De 16:18).
(b) Appeal to the Priests (at the holy place), or to the judge; their sentence final, and to be accepted under pain of death. See De 17:8-13 (comp. appeal to Moses, Ex 18:26).
(c) Two witnesses (at least) required in capital matters (Nu 35:30; De 17:6-7).
(d) Punsishment (except by special command) to be personal, and not to extend to the family (De 24:16).
Stripes allowed and limited (De 25:1-3), so as to avoid outrage on the human frame.
All this would be to a great extent set aside
1st. By the summary jurisdiction of the king. See 1Sa 22:11-19 (Saul); 2Sa 22:1-5; 2Sa 4:4-11; 1Ki 3:16-28; which extended even to the deposition of the high-priest (1Sa 22:17-18; 1Ki 2:26-27).
The practical difficulty of its being carried out is seen in 2Sa 15:2-6, and would lead, of course, to a certain delegation of his power.
2d. By the appointment of the Seventy (Nu 11:350) with a solemn religious sanction. In later times there was a local Sanhedrim of 23 in each city, and two such in Jerusalem, as well as the Great Sanhedrim, consisting of 70 members, besides the president, who was to be the high-priest if duly qualified, and controlling even the king and high-priest. The members were priests, scribes (Levites), and elders (of other tribes). A court of exactly this nature is noticed, as appointed to supreme power by Jehoshaphat. (See 2Ch 19:8-11.)
2. ROYAL POWER.
The King's Power limited by the law, as written and formally accepted by the king, and directly forbidden to be despotic (De 17:14-20; comp. 1Sa 10:25). Yet he had power of taxation (to one tenth), and of compulsory service (1Sa 8:10-18); also the declaration of war (1 Samuel 11), etc. There are distinct traces of a "mutual contract" (2Sa 5:3 (David); a "league" (Joash), 2Ki 11:17); the remonstrance with Rehoboam being clearly not extraordinary (1Ki 12:1-6).
T'he Princes of the Congregation. The heads of the tribes (see Jos 9:15) seem to have had authority under Joshua to act for the people (comp. 1Ch 27:16-22); and in the later times "the princes of Judah" seem to have had power to control both the king and the priests (see Jer 26:10-24; Jer 38:4-5, etc.).
3. ROYAL REVENUE.
(1)Tenth of produce.
(2) Domain land (1Ch 27:26-29). Note confiscation of criminal's land (1Ki 21:15).
(3) Bond service (1Ki 17:18), chiefly on foreigners (1Ki 9:20-22; 2Ch 2:16-17).
(4) Flocks and herds (1Ch 27:29-31).
(5) Tributes (gifts) from foreign kiings.
(6) Commerce; especially in Solomon's time (1Ki 10:22,29, etc.).
(IV.) ECCLESIASTICAL AND CEREMONIAL LAW.
1. LAW OF SACRIFICE (considered as the sign and the appointed means of the union with God, on which the holiness of the people depended).
(A) Ordinary Sacrifices.
(a) The whole Burnt-Offering (Leviticus 1) of the herd or the flock; to be offered continually (Ex 29:38-42); and the fire on the altar never to be extinguished (Le 6:8-13).
(b) The Meat-Offering (Le 2; Le 6:14-23) of flour, oil, and frankincense, unleavened, and seasoned with salt.
(c) The Peace-Offering (Le 7:11-21) of the herd or the flock; either a thank-offering, or a vow, or free-will offering.
(d) The Sin-Offering, or Trespass-Offering (Le 4; Le 5; Le 6).
 For sins committed in ignorance (Leviticus 4).
 For vows unwittingly made and broken, or uncleanness unwittingly contracted (Leviticus 5).
 For sins wittingly committed (Le 6:1-7).
(B) Extraordinary Sacrifices.
(a) At the Consecration of Priests (Le 8; Le 9). (b) At the Purification of Women (Leviticus 12). (c ) At the Cleansing of Lepers (Le 13; Le 14). (d) On the Great Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16). (e) On the great Festivals (Leviticus 23).
2. LAW OF HOLINESS (arising from the union with God through sacrifice).
(A) Holiness of Persons.
(a) Holiness of the whole people as "children of God" (Ex 19:5-6; Le 11-15; Le 17; Le 18; De 14:1-21) shown in
 The Dedication of the first-born (Ex 13:2,12-13; Ex 22:29-30, etc.); and the offering of all firstlings and first-fruits (Deuteronomy 26, etc.).
 Distinction of clean and unclean food (Le 11; De 14).
 Provision for purification (Le 12; Le 13; Le 14; Le 15; De 23:1-14).
 Laws against disfigurement (Le 19:27; De 14:1; compare De 25:3, against excessive scourging).
 Laws against unnatural marriages and lusts (Le 18; Le 20).
(b) Holiness of the Priests (and Levites).
 Their consecration (Le 8; Le 9; Ex 29).
 Their special qualifications and restrictions (Le 22:1-9).
 Their rights (De 18:1-6; Nu 18) and authority (De 18:8-13).
(B) Holiness of Places and Things.
(a) The Tabernacle with the ark, the vail, the altars, the laver, the priestly robes, etc. (Ex 25-28; Ex 30).
(b) The Holy Place chosen for the permanent erection of the tabernacle (De 12; De 14:22-29), where only all sacrifices were to be offered, and all tithes, first fruits, vows, etc., to be given or eaten.
(C) Holiness of Times.
(a) The Sabbath (Ex 20:9,11; Ex 23:12, etc.). (b) The Sabbatical Year (Ex 23:10-11; Le 25:1-7, etc.). (c) The Year of Jubilee (Le 25:8,16, etc.). (d) The Passover (Ex 12:3,27; Le 23:4-14). (e) The Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) (Le 23:15, etc.). (f) The Feast of Tabernacles (Le 23:33-43). (g) The Feast of Trumpets (Le 23:23-25). (h) The Day of Atonement (Le 23:26-32, etc.).
III. Distinctive Characteristic of the Mosaic Law. —
1. The leading principle of the whole is its THEOCRATIC CHARACTER, its reference (that is) of all action and thoughts of men directly antd immediately to the will of God. All law, indeed, must ultimately make this reference. If it bases itself on the sacredness of human authority, it must finally trace that authority to God's appointment; if on the rights of the individual and the need of protecting them, it must consider these rights as inherent and sacred, because implanted by the hand of the Creator. But it is characteristic of the Mosaic law, as also of all Biblical history and prophecy, that it passes over all the intermediate steps, and refers at once to God's commandment as the foundation of all human duty. The key to it is found in the ever-recurring formula, "Ye shall observe all these statutes; I am Jehovah." It follows from this that it is to be regarded not merely as a law, that is, a rule of conduct, based on known truth and acknowledged authority, but also as a revelation of God's nature and his dispensations. In this view of it, more particularly, lies its consecteion with the rest of the Old Testament. As a law, it is definite and (generally speaking) final; as a revelation, it is the beginning of the great system of prophecy, and indeed bears within itself the marks of gradual development, from the first simple declaration ("I am the Lord thy God") in Exodus to the full and solemn declaration of his nature and will in Deuteronomy. With this peculiar character of revelation stamped upon it, it naturally ascends from rule to principle, and regards all goodness in man as the shadow of the divine attributes, "Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy" (Le 19:2, etc. comp. Mt 5:48). But this theocratic character of the law depends necessarily on the belief in God as not only the creator and sustainer of the world, but as, by special covenant, the head of the Jewish nation. It is not indeed doubted that he is the king of all the earth, and that all earthly authority is derived from him; but here again, in the case of the Israelites, the intermediate steps are all but ignored, and the people are at once brought face to face with him as their ruler. It is to be especially noticed that God's claim (so to speak) on their allegiance is based, not on his power or wisdom, but on his especial mercy in being their savior from Egyptian bondage. Because they were made free by him, therefore they became his servants (comp. Ro 6:19-22); and the declaration which stands at the opening of the law is, "I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt." (Compare also the reason given for the observance of the Sabbath in De 5:15; and the historical prefaces of the delivery of the second law [Deuteronomy 4]; of the renewal cf the covenant by Joshua [Jos 24:1-13]; and of the rebuke of Samuel at the establishment of the kingdom [1Sa 12:6-15].)
This immediate reference to God as their king is clearly seen as the groundwork of their entire polity. The foundation of the whole law of land, and of its remarkable provisions against alienation, lies in the declaration, "The land is mine, and ye are strangers and sojourners with me" (Le 25:23). As in ancient Rome all land belonged properly to the state, and under the feudal system in mediaeval Europe to the king, so in the Jewish law the true ownership lay in Jehovah alone. The very system of tithes embodied only a peculiar form of tribute to their king, such as they were familiar with in Egypt (see Ge 47:23-26); and the offering of the first-fruits, with the remarkable declaration by which it was accompanied (see De 26:5-10), is a direct acknowledgment of God's immediate sovereignty. As the land, so also the persons of the Israelites are declared to be the absolute property of the Lord by the dedication and ransom of the first-born (Ex 13:22, etc.), by the payment of the half shekel at the numbering of the people " as a ransom for their souls to the Lord" (Ex 30:11-16), and by the limitation of power over Hebrew slaves as contrasted with the absolute mastership permitted over the heathen and the sojourner (Le 25:39-46). From this theocratic nature of the law follow important deductions with regard to
(a) the view which it takes of political society; (b) the extent of the scope of the law; (c) the penalties by which it is enforced; and (d) the character which it seeks to impress on the people.
(1.) The basis of human society is ordinarily sought, by law or philosophy, either in the rights of the individual, and the partial delegation of them to political authorities; or in the mutual needs of men, and the relations which spring from them; or in the actual existence of power of man over man, whether arising from natural relationship, or from benefits conferred, or from physical or intellectual ascendency. The maintenance of society is supposed to depend on a "social compact" between governors and subjects; a compact, true as an abstract idea, but untrue if supposed to have been a historical reality. The Mosaic law seeks the basis of its polity, first, in the absolute sovereignty of God; next, in the relationship of each individual to God, and through God to his countrymen. It is clear that such a doctrine, while it contradicts none of the common theories, yet lies beneath them all, and shows why each of them, being only a secondary deduction from an ultimate truth, cannot be in itself sufficient; and, if it claim to be the whole truth, will become an absurdity. It is the doctrine which is insisted upon and developed in the whole series of prophecy, and which is brought to its perfection only when applied to that universal and spiritual kingdom for which the Mosaic system was a preparation.
(2.) The law, as proceeding directly from God, and referring directly to him, is necessarily absolute in its supremacy and unlimited in its scope.
It is supreme over the governors, as being only the delegates of the Lord, and therefore it is incompatible with any despotic authority in them. This is seen in its limitation of the power of the master over the slave, in the restrictions laid on the priesthood, and the ordination of the "manner of the kingdom" (De 17:14-20; comp. 1Sa 10:25). By its establishment of the hereditary priesthood side by side with the authority of the heads of tribes ("the princes"), and the subsequent sovereignty of the king, it provides a balance of powers, all of which are regarded as subordinate. The absolute sovereignty of Jehovah was asserted in the earlier times in the dictatorship of the judge, but much more clearly under the kingdom by the spiritual commission of the prophet. By his rebukes of priests, princes, and kings for abuse of their power, he was not only defending religion and morality, but also maintaining the divinely-appointed constitution of Israel.
On the other hand, it is supreme over the governed, recognizing no inherent rights in the individual as prevailing against, or limiting the law. It is therefore unlimited in its scope. There is in it no recognition, such as is familiar to us, that there is one class of actions directly subject to the coercive power of law, while other classes of actions and the whole realm of thought are to be indirectly guided by moral and spiritual influence. Nor is there any distinction of the temporal authority which wields the former power from the spiritual authority to which belongs the other. In fact, these distinctions would have been incompatible with the character and objects of the law. They depend partly on the want of foresight and power in the lawgiver; they could have no place in a system traced directly to God: they depend also partly on the freedom which belongs to the manhood of our race; they could not, therefore, be appropriate to the more imperfect period of its youth.
Thus the law regulated the whole life of an Israelite. His house, his dress, and his food, his domestic arrangements and the distribution of his property, all were determined. In the laws of the release of debts and the prohibition of usury, the dictates of self-interest and the natural course of commercial transactions are sternly checked. His actions were rewarded and punished with great minuteness and strictness, and that according to the standard, not of their consequences, but of their intrinsic morality, so that, for example, fornication and adultery were as severely visited as theft or murder. His religious worship was defined and enforced in an elaborate and unceasing ceremonial. In all things it is clear that, if men submitted to it merely as a law, imposed under penalties by an irresistible authority, and did not regard it as a means to the knowledge and love of God, and a preparation for his redemption, it would well deserve from Israelites the description given of it by St. Peter (Ac 15:10) as "a yoke which neither they nor their fathers were able to bear."
(3.) The penalties and rewards by which the law is enforced are such as depend on the direct theocracy. With regard to individual actions, it may be noticed that, as generally some penalties are inflicted by the subordinate, and some only by the supreme authority, so among the Israelites some penalties came from the hand of man, some directly from the providence of God. So much is this the case, that it often seems doubtful whether the threat that a "soul shall be cut off from Israel" refers to outlawry and excommunication, or to such miraculous punishments as those of Nadab and Abihu, or Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. In dealing with the nation at large, Moses, regularly and as a matter of course, refers for punishments and rewards to the providence of God. This is seen not only in the great blessing and curse which enforces the law as a whole, but also in special instances, as, for example, in the promise of unusual fertility to compensate for the sabbatical year, and of safety of the country from attack when left undefended at the three great festivals. Whether these were to come from natural causes, i.e., laws of his providence, which we can understand and foresee, or from causes supernatural, i.e., incomprehensible and inscrutable to us, is not in any case laid down, nor indeed does it affect this principle of the law.
(4.) The bearing of this principle on the inquiry as to the revelation of a future life, in the Pentateuch, is easily seen. So far as the law deals with the nation as a whole, it is obvious that its penalties and rewards could only refer to this life, in which alone the nation exists. So far as it relates to such individual acts as are generally cognizable by human law, and capable of temporal punishments, no one would expect that its divine origin should necessitate any reference to the world to come. But the sphere of moral and religious action and thought to which it extends is beyond the cognizance of human laws and the scope of their ordinary penalties, and is therefore left by them to the retribution of God's inscrutable justice, which, being but imperfectly seen here, is contemplated especially as exercised in a future state. Hence arises the expectation of a direct revelation of this future state in the Mosaic law. Such a revelation is certainly not given. Warburton (in his Divine Legation of Moses) even builds on its non-
existence an argument for the supernatural power and commission of the lawgiver, who could promise and threaten retribution from the providence of God in this life, and submit his predictions to the test of actual experience. The truth seems to be that, in a law which appeals directly to God himself for its authority and its sanction, there cannot be that broad line of demarcation between this life and the next which is drawn for those whose power is limited by the grave. Our Lord has taught us (Mt 22:31-32) that in the very revelation of God, as the "God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob," the promise of immortality and future retribution was implicitly contained. We may apply this declaration even more strongly to a law in which God was revealed as entering into covenant with Israel, and in them drawing mankind directly under his immediate government. His blessings and curses, by the very fact that they came from him, would be felt to be unlimited by time, and the plain and immediate fulfillment which they found in this life would be accepted as an earnest of a deeper, though more mysterious completion in the world to come. But the time for the clear revelation of this truth had not yet come, and therefore, while the future life and its retribution is implied, yet the rewards and penalties of the present life are those which are plainly held out and practically dwelt upon.
(5.) But perhaps the most important consequence of the theocratic nature of the law was the peculiar character of goodness which it sought to impress on the people. Goodness in its relation to man takes the forms of righteousness and love; in its independence of all relation, the form of purity; and in its relation to God, that of piety. Laws which contemplate men chiefly in their mutual relations endeavor to enforce or protect in them the first two qualities; the Mosaic law, beginning with piety as its first object, enforces most emphatically the purity essential to those who, by their union with God, have recovered the hope of intrinsic goodness, while it views righteousness and love rather as deductions from these than as independent objects. Not that it neglects these qualities; on the contrary, it is full of precepts which show a high conception and tender care of our relative duties to man (see, for example, Ex 1:1-21:7,22; Ex 23:1-9; De 22:1-4; De 24:10-22, etc.); but these can hardly be called its distinguishing features. It is most instructive to refer to the religious preface of the law in Deuteronomy 6-11 (especially to De 6:4-13), where all is based on the first great commandment, and to observe the subordinate and dependent character of "the second that is like unto it" — "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself; I am the Lord" (Le 19:18). On the contrary, the care for the purity of the people stands out remarkably, not only in the enforcement of ceremonial "cleanness," and the multitude of precautions or remedies against any breach of it, but also in the severity of the laws against self-pollution, a severity which distinguishes the Mosaic code before all others, ancient and modern. In punishing these sins. as committed against a man's own self, without reference to their effect on others, and in recognizing purity as having a substantive value and glory, it sets up a standard of individual morality such as. even in Greece and Rome, philosophy reserved for its most esoteric teaching.
Now in all this it is to be noticed that the appeal is not to any dignity of human nature, but to the obligations of communion with a holy God. The subordination, therefore. of this idea also to the religious idea is enforced; and as long as the due supremacy of the latter was preserved, all other duties would find their places in proper harmony. But the usurpation of that supremacy in practice by the idea of personal and national sanctity was that which gave its peculiar color to the Jewish character. In that character there was intense religious devotion and self-sacrifice; there was a high standard of personal holiness, and connected with these an ardent feeling of nationality, based on a great idea, and, therefore, finding its vent in their proverbial spirit of proselytism. But there was also a spirit of contempt for all unbelievers, and a forgetfulness of the existence of any duties towards them, which gave even to their religion an antagonistic spirit, and degraded it in after .times to a ground of national self-glorification. It is to be traced to a natural, though not justifiable perversion of the law by those who made it their all, and both in its strength and its weaknesses it has reappeared remarkably among those Christians who have dwelt on the Old Testament to the neglect of the New.
(6.) It is evident that this characteristic of the Israelites would tend to preserve the seclusion which, under God's providence, was intended for them, and would in its turn be fostered by it. We may notice, in connection with this part of the subject, many subordinate provisions tending to the same direction. Such are the establishment of an agricultural basis of society and property, and the provision against its accumulation in a few hands; the discouragement of commerce by the strict laws as to usury, and of foreign conquest by the laws against the maintenance of horses and chariots, as well as the direct prohibition of intermarriage with idolaters, and the indirect prevention of all familiar intercourse with them by the laws as to meats — all these things tended to impress on the Israelitish polity a character of permanence, stability, and comparative isolation. Like the nature and position of the country to which it was in great measure adapted, it was intended to preserve in purity the testimony borne by Israel for God in the darkness of heathenism, until the time should come for the gathering in of all nations to enjoy the blessing promised to Abraham.
2. The second great and obvious design of the Mosaic statutes was to found, in pursuance of the theocratic idea, a complete system of national CULTUS, and, in order to the perpetuity of this, to establish a permanent sacred caste or HIERARCHY. We here use the word hierarchy without meaning to express that the Mosaic legislation was like some later hierarchies falsely so called, in which it was attempted to carry into effect selfish and wicked plans by passing them off as being of divine appointment. In the Mosaic hierarchy the aim is manifest, viz. to make that which is really holy (τὸ ἱερόν) prevail, while in the false hierarchies of later times the profanest selfishness has been rendered practicable by giving to its manifestations an appearance of holiness calculated to deceive the multitude. In the Mosaic legislation the priests certainly exercise a considerable authority as external ministers of holiness, but we find nothing to be compared with the sale of indulgences in the Romish Church. There occur, certainly, instances of gross misdemeanor on the part of the priests, as, for instance, in the case of the sons of Eli; but proceedings originating in the covetousness of the priests were never authorized or sanctioned by the law.
In the Mosaic legislation almost the whole amount of taxation was paid in the form of tithe, which was employed in maintaining the priests and Levites as the hierarchical office-bearers of government, in supporting the poor, and in providing those things which were used in sacrifices and sacrificial feasts.
The taxation by tithe, exclusive of almost all other taxes, is certainly the most lenient and most considerate which has ever anywhere been adopted or proposed. It precludes the possibility of attempting to extort from the people contributions beyond their power, and it renders the taxation of each individual proportionate to his possessions; and even this exceedingly mild taxation was apparently left to the conscience of each person. This we infer from there never occurring in the Bible the slightest vestige either of persons having been sued or goods distrained for tithes, and only an indication of curses resting upon the neglect of paying them. Tithes were the law of the land, and nevertheless they were not recovered by law during the period of the tabernacle and of the first Temple. It is only during the period of the second Temple, when a general demoralization had taken place, that tithes were farmed and sold, and levied by violent proceedings, in which refractory persons were slain for resisting the levy. But no recommendation or example of such proceeding occurs in the Bible. This seems to indicate that the propriety of paying these lenient and beneficial taxes was generally felt, so much so that there were few, or perhaps no defaulters, and that it was considered inexpedient on the part of the recipients to harass the needy.
Besides the tithes there was a small poll-tax, amounting to half a shekel for each adult male. This tax was paid for the maintenance of the sanctuary. In addition to this, the first-fruits and the first-born of men and cattle augmented the revenue. The first-born of men and of unclean beasts were to be redeemed by money. To this may be added some fines paid in the shape of sin-offerings, and also the vows and free-will offerings.
3. In addition to these great moral and liturgical ends of the Mosaic institutes, we must not fail to notice their REPUBLICAN ECONOMY. The whole territory of the state was to be so distributed that each family should have a freehold, which was intended to remain permanently the inheritance of that family, and which, even if sold, was to return at stated periods to its original owners. Since the whole population consisted of families of freeholders, there was, strictly speaking, neither citizens, nor a profane or lay nobility, nor lords temporal. We do not overlook the fact that there were persons called heads, elders, princes, dukes, or leaders among the Israelites; that is, persons who by their intelligence, character, wealth, and other circumstances were leading men among them, and from whom even the seventy judges were chosen who assisted Moses in administering justice to the nation. But we have no proof that there was a nobility enjoying prerogatives similar to those which are connected with birth in several countries of Europe, sometimes in spite of mental and moral disqualifications. We do not find that, according to the Mosaic constitution, there were hereditary peers temporal. Even the inhabitants of towns were freeholders, and their exercise of trades seems to have been combined with, or subordinate to, agricultural pursuits. The only nobility was that of the tribe of Levi, and all the lords were lords spiritual, the descendants of Aaron. The priests and Levites were ministers of public worship, that is, ministers of Jehovah the King, and as such, ministers of state, by whose instrumentality the legislative as well as the judicial power was exercised. The poor were mercifully considered, but beggars are never mentioned. Hence it appears that as, on the one hand, there was no lay nobility, so, on the other, there was no mendicity.
Owing to the rebellious spirit of the Israelites, the salutary injunctions of their law were so frequently transgressed that it could not procure for them that degree of prosperity which it was calculated to produce among a nation of faithful observers; but it is evident that the Mosaic legislation, if truly observed, was more fitted to promote universal happiness and tranquillity than any other constitution, either ancient or modern.
4. We close this part of our discussion by a few miscellaneous observations on minor peculiarities of the Mosaic code.
It has been deemed a defect that there were no laws against infanticide; but it may well be observed, as a proof of national prosperity, that there are no historical traces of this crime; and it would certainly have been preposterous to give laws against a crime which did not occur, especially as the general law against murder, "Thou shalt not kill," was applicable to this species also. The words of Josephus (Contra Apionem, 2:24) can only mean that the crime was against the spirit of the Mosaic law. An express verbal prohibition of this kind is not extant.
There occur also no laws and regulations about wills and testamentary dispositions, although there are sufficient historical facts to prove that the next of kin was considered the lawful heir, that primogeniture was deemed of the highest importance, and that, if there were no male descendants, females inherited the freehold property. We learn from the Epistle of Paul to the Hebrews (Heb 9:16-17) that the Jews disposed of property by wills; but it seems that in the time of Moses, and for some period after him, all Israelites died intestate. However, the word (διαθήκη, as used in Matthew-, Mark, Acts, Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, and repeatedly in the Hebrews, implies rather a disposition, arrangement, agreement between parties, than a will in the legal acceptation of the term. SEE TESTAMENT.
There are no laws concerning guardians, and none against luxurious living. The inefficiency of sumptuary laws is now generally recognized, although renowned legislators in ancient times and in the Middle Ages displayed on this subject their wisdom, falsely so called.
Neither are there any laws against suicide. Hence we infer that suicide was rare, as we may well suppose in a nation of small freeholders, and that the inefficiency of such laws was understood.
The Mosaic legislation recognizes the human dignity of women and of slaves, and particularly enjoins not to slander the deaf nor mislead the blind.
Moses expressly enjoined not to reap the corners of fields, in consideration of the poor, of persons of broken fortunes, and even of the beasts of the field.
The laws of Moses against crimes are severe, but not cruel. The agony of the death of criminals was never artificially protracted, as in some instances was usual in various countries of Europe even in the present century; nor was torture employed in order to compel criminals to confess their crimes, as was usual in ancient times, and till a comparatively recent period. Forty was the maximum number of stripes to be inflicted. This maximum was adopted for the reason expressly stated that the appearance of the person punished should not become horrible, or, as J.D. Michaelis renders it, burnt, which expresses the appearance of a person unmercifully beaten. Punishments were inflicted in order specially to express the sacred indignation of the divine Lawgiver against willful transgression of his commandments. and not for any purposes of human vengeance, or for the sake of frightening other criminals. In some instances the people at large were appealed to in order to inflict summary punishment by stoning the criminal to death. This was, in fact, the most usual mode of execution. Other modes of execution also, such as burning, were always public, and conducted with the cooperation of the people. Like every human proceeding, this was liable to abuse, but not to so much abuse as our present mode of conducting lawsuits, which, on account of their costliness, often afford but little protection to persons in narrow circumstances. In lawsuits very much was left to the discretion of the judges, his position greatly resembling that of a permanent jury, who had not merely to decide whether a person was guilty, but who frequently had also to award the amount of punishment to be inflicted.
In the Old Testament we do not hear of a learned profession of the law. Lawyers (νομικοί) are mentioned only after the decline of the Mosaic institutions had considerably progressed. As, however, certain laws concerning contagion and purification were administered by the priests, these might be called lawyers. They. nevertheless, did not derive their maintenance from the administration of these laws, but were supported by glebe-lands, tithes, and portions of the sacrificial (offerings. It is, indeed, very remarkable that, in a nation so entirely governed by law, there were no lawyers forming a distinct profession, and that the νουικοί of a later age were not so much remarkable for enforcing the spirit of the law as rather for ingeniously evading its injunctions, by leading the attention of the people from its spirit to a most minute literal fulfillment of its letter. SEE LAWYER.
IV. In considering the relation of the law to the future, it is important to be guided by the general principle laid down in Heb 7:19, "The law made nothing perfect" (οὐδὲν ἐτελείωσεν ὁ νόμος). This principle will be applied in different degrees to its bearing
(a) on the afterhistory of the Jewish commonwealth before the coming of Christ;
(b) on the coming of our Lord himself; and
(c) on the dispensation of the Gospel.
1. To that after-history the law was, to a great extent, the key; for in ceremonial and criminal law it was complete and final; while, even in civil and constitutional law, it laid down clearly the general principles to be afterwards more fully developed. It was, indeed, often neglected, and even forgotten. Its fundamental assertion of the theocracy was violated by the constant lapses into idolatry, and its provisions for the good of man overwhelmed by the natural course of human selfishness (Jer 34:12-17); till at last, in the reign of Josiah, its very existence was unknown, and its discovery was to the king and the people as a second publication: yet it still formed the standard from which they knowingly departed, and to which they constantly returned, and to it, therefore, all which was peculiar in their national and individual character was due. Its direct influence was probably greatest in the periods before the establishment of the kingdom and after the Babylonian captivity. The last act of Joshua was to bind the Israelites to it as the charter of their occupation of the conquered land (Jos 24:24-27); and, in the semi- anarchical period of the Judges, the law and the tabernacle were the only centers of anything like national unity. The establishment of the kingdom was due to an impatience of this position, and a desire for a visible and personal center of authority, much the same in nature as that which plunged them so often into idolatry. The people were warned (1Sa 12:6-25) that it involved great danger of their forgetting and rejecting the main principle of the law — that "Jehovah their God was their king." The truth of the prediction was soon shown. Even under Solomon, as soon as the monarchy became one of great splendor and power, it assumed a heathenish and polytheistic character, breaking the law both by its dishonor towards God and its forbidden tyranny over man. Indeed, if the law was looked upon as a collection of abstract rules, and not as a means of knowledge of a personal god, it was inevitable that it should be overborne by the presence of a visible and personal authority.
Therefore it was that from the time of the establishment of the kingdom the prophetic office began. Its object was to enforce and to perfect the law by bearing testimony to the great truths on which it was built, viz. the truth of God's government over all kings, priests, and people alike, and the consequent certainty of a righteous retribution. It is plain that at the same time this testimony went far beyond the law as a definite code of institutions. It dwelt rather on its great principles, which were to transcend the special forms in which they were embodied. It frequently contrasted (as in Isaiah 1, etc.) the external observance of form with the spiritual homage of the heart. It tended therefore, at least indirectly, to the time when, according to the well-known contrast drawn by Jeremiah, the law written on the tables of stone should give place to a new covenant, depending on a law written on the heart, and therefore coercive no longer (Jer 31:31-34). In this it did but carry out the prediction of the law itself (De 18:9 -22), and prepare the way for "the Prophet" who was to come. Still the law remained as the distinctive standard of the people. In the kingdom of Israel, after the separation, the deliberate rejection of its leading principles by Jeroboam and his successors was the beginning of a gradual declension into idolatry and heathenism. But in the kingdom of Judah, the very division of the monarchy and consequent diminution of its splendor, and the need of a principle to assert against the superior material power of Israel, brought out the law once more in increased honor and influence. In the days of Jehoshaphat we find, for the first time, that it was taken by the Levites in their circuits through the land, and the people were taught by it (2Ch 17:9). We find it especially spoken of in the oath taken by the king "at his pillar" in the Temple, and mad e the standard of reference in the reformation of Hezekiah and Josiah (2Ki 11:14; 2Ki 23:3; 2Ch 34:14-31).
Far more was this the case after the captivity. The revival of the existence of Israel was hallowed by the new and solemn publication of the law by Ezra, and the institution of the synagogue, through which it became deeply and familiarly known. SEE EZRA. The loss of the independent monarchy, and the cessation of prophecy, both combined to throw the Jews back upon the law alone as their only distinctive pledge of nationality and sure guide to truth. The more they mingled with the other subject-nations under the Persian and Grecian empires, the more eagerly they clung to it as their distinction and safeguard; and opening the knowledge of it to the heathen by the translation of the Septuagint, they based on it their proverbial eagerness to proselytize. This love for the law, rather than any abstract patriotism, was the strength of the Maccabaean struggle against the Syrians (note here the question as to the lawfulness of war on the Sabbath in this war [1 Macc. 2:23-41]), and the success of that struggle, enthroning a Levitical power, deepened the feeling from which it sprang. It so entered into the heart of the people that open idolatry became impossible. The certainty and authority of the law's commandments amidst the perplexities of paganism, and the spirituality of its doctrine as contrasted with sensual and carnal idolatries, were the favorite boast of the Jew, and the secret of his influence among the heathen. The law thus became the molding influence of the Jewish character; and, instead of being looked upon as subsidiary to the promise, and a means to its fulfillment, it was exalted to supreme importance as at once a means and a pledge of national and individual sanctity.
This feeling laid hold of and satisfied the mass of the people, harmonizing as it did with their ever-increasing spirit of an almost fanatic nationality, until the destruction of the city. The Pharisees, truly representing the chief strength of the people, systematized this feeling; they gave it fresh food, and assumed a predominant leadership over it by the floating mass of tradition which they gradually accumulated around the law as a nucleus. The popular use of the word "lawless" (ἄνομος) as a term of contempt (Ac 2:23; 1Co 9:21) for the heathen, and even for the uneducated mass of their followers (Joh 7:49), marked and stereotyped their principle.
Against this idolatry of the law (which, when imported into the Christian Church, is described ad vehemently denounced by St. Paul) there were two reactions. The first was that of the Sadducees; one which had its basis, according to common tradition, in the idea of a higher love and service of God, independent of the law and its sanctions, but which degenerated into a speculative infidelity and an anti-national system of politics, and which probably had but little hold of the people. The other, that of the Esssenes, was an attempt to burst the bonds of the formal law, and assert its ideas in all fullness, freedom, and purity. In its practical form it assumed the character of high and ascetic devotion to God; its speculative guise is seen in the school of Philo, as a tendency not merely to' treat the commands and history of the law on a symbolical principle, but actually to allegorize them into mere abstractions. In neither form could it be permanent, because it had no sufficient relation to the needs and realities of human nature, or to the personal subject of all the Jewish promises; but it was still a declaration of the insufficiency of the law in itself, and a preparation for its absorption into a higher principle of unity. Such was the history of the law before the coming of Christ. It was full of effect and blessing when used as a means; it became hollow and insufficient when made an end.
2. The relation of the law to the advent of Christ is also laid down clearly by St. Paul. The law was the παιδαγωγὸς εἰς Χριστόν, the servant (that is) whose task it was to guide the child to the true teacher (Ga 3:24); and Christ was "the end" or object "of the law" (Ro 10:4). As being subsidiary to the promise, it had accomplished its purpose when the promise was fulfilled. In its national aspect it had existed to guard the faith in the theocracy. The chief hinderance to that faith had been the difficulty of realizing the invisible presence of God, and of conceiving a communion with the infinite Godhead which should not crush or absorb the finite creature (compare De 5:24-27; Nu 17:12-13; Job 9:32-35; Job 13:21-22; Isa 45:1l, 64:1, etc.). From that had come in earlier times open idolatry, and a half-idolatrous longing for and trust in the kingdom. in after times the substitution of the law for the promise. The difficulty was now to pass away forever, in the incarnation of the Godhead in one truly and visibly man. The guardianship of the law was no longer needed, for the visible and personal presence of the Messiah required no farther testimony. Moreover, in the law itself there had always been a tendency of the fundamental idea to burst the formal bonds which confined it. In looking to God as especially their king, the Israelites were inheriting a privilege, belonging originally to all mankind, and destined to revert to them. Yet that element of the law which was local and national, now most prized of all by the Jews, tended to limit this gift to them, and place them in a position antagonistic to the rest of the world. It needed, therefore, to pass away before all men could be brought into a kingdom where there was to be "neither Jew nor Gentile, barbarian, Scythian, bond, or free." In its individual, or what is usually called its "moral" aspect, the law bore equally the stamp of transitoriness and insufficiency. It had, as we have seen, declared the authority of truth and goodness over man's will, and taken for granted in man the existence of a spirit which could recognize that authority; but it had done no more. Its presence had therefore detected the existence and the sinfulness of sin, as alien alike to God's will and man's true nature; but it had also brought out with more vehement and desperate antagonism the power of sin dwelling in man as fallen (Ro 7:7-25). It only showed, therefore, the need of a Savior from sin, and of an indwelling power which should enable the spirit of man to conquer the "law" of evil. Hence it bore testimony to its own insufficiency. and led men to Christ. Already the prophets, speaking by a living and indwelling spirit, ever fresh and powerful, had been passing beyond the dead letter of the law, and indirectly convicting it of insufficiency. But there was need of "the Prophet" who should not only have the fullness of the Spirit dwelling in himself, but should have the power to give it to others, and so open the new dispensation already foretold. When he had come, and by the gift of the Spirit implanted in man a free internal power of action tending to God, the restraints of the law, needful to train the childhood of the world, became unnecessary and even injurious to the free development of its manhood.
The relation of the law to Christ, in its sacrificial and ceremonial aspect, will be more fully considered elsewhere. SEE SACRIFICE. It is here only necessary to remark on the evidently typical character of the whole system of sacrifices, upon which alone their virtue depended; and on the imperfect embodiment, in any body of mere men, of the great truth which was represented in the priesthood. By the former declaring the need of atonement, by the latter the possibility of mediation, and yet in itself doing nothing adequately to realize either, the law again led men to him who was at once the only mediator and the true sacrifice.
Thus the law had trained and guided man to the acceptance of the Messiah in his threefold character of king, prophet, and priest; and then, its work being done, it became, in the minds of those who trusted in it, not only an encumbrance, but a snare. To resist its claim to allegiance was therefore a matter of life and death in the days of St. Paul, and, in a less degree, in after ages of the Church.
3. It remains to consider how far it has any obligation or existence under the dispensation of the Gospel. As a means of justification or salvation, it ought never to have been regarded, even before Christ: it needs no proof to show that still less can this be so since he has come. But yet the question remains whether it is binding on Christians, even when they do not depend on it for salvation.
It seems clear enough, that its formal coercive authority as a whole ended with the close of the Jewish dispensation. We may indeed distinguish its various elements; yet he who offended "in one point against it was guilty of all" (Jas 2:10). It referred throughout to the Jewish covenant, and in many points to the constitution, the customs, and even the local circumstances of the people. That covenant was preparatory to the Christian, in which it is now absorbed; those customs and observances have passed away. It follows, by the very nature of the case, that the former obligation to the law as such must have ceased with the basis on which it is grounded. This conclusion is stamped most unequivocally with the authority of St. Paul through the whole argument of the Epistles to the Romans and to the Galatians. That we are "not under law" (Ro 6:14-15; Ga 5:18); "that we are dead to law" (Ro 7:4-6; Ga 2:19), " redeemed from under law" (Ga 4:5), etc., is not only stated without any limitation or exception, but in many places is made the prominent feature of the contrast between the earlier and later covenants. It is impossible, therefore, to avoid the conclusion that the formal code, promulgated by Moses, and sealed with the prediction of the blessing and the curse, cannot, as a law, be binding on the Christian.
But what, then, becomes of the declaration of our Lord, that he came "not to destroy the law, but to perfect it," and that "not one jot or one tittle of it shall pass away?" what of the fact, consequent upon it, that the law has been reverenced in all Christian churches, and had an important influence on much Christian legislation? The explanation of the apparent contradiction lies in several considerations.
(1.) The positive obligation of the law, as such, has passed away; but every revelation of God's will, and of the righteousness and love which are its elements, imposes a moral obligation, by the very fact of its being known, even on those to whom it is not primarily addressed. So far as the law of Moses is such a revelation of the will of God to mankind at large, occupying a certain place in the education of the world as a whole, so far its declarations remain for our guidance, though their coercion and their penalties may be no longer needed. It is in their general principle, of course, that they remain, not in their outward form; and our Lord has taught us, in the Sermon on the Mount, that these principles should be accepted by us in a more extended and spiritual development than they could receive in the time of Moses.
To apply this principle practically there is need of study and discretion, in order to distinguish what is local and temporary from what is universal, and what is mere external form from what is the essence of an ordinance. The moral law undoubtedly must be most permanent in its influence, because it is based on the nature of man generally, although at the same time it is modified by the greater prominence of love in the Christian system. Yet the political law, in the main principles which it lays down as to the sacredness and responsibility of all authorities, and the rights which belong to each individual, and which neither slavery nor even guilt can quite eradicate, has its permanent value. Even the ceremonial law, by its enforcement of the purity and perfection needed in any service offered, and in its disregard of mere costliness on such service, and limitation of it strictly to the prescribed will of God, is still in many respects our best guide. In special cases (as, for example, that of the sabbatic law and the prohibition of marriage within the degrees) the question of its authority must depend on the further inquiry whether the basis of such laws is one common to all human nature, or one peculiar to the Jewish people. This inquiry may occasionally be difficult, especially in the distinction of the essence from the form but by it alone can the original question be thoroughly and satisfactorily answered.
(2.) A plain distinction of this kind seems to lie on the face of the subject, as to the main question at issue. The ceremonial or ritual department of the Mosaic laws, which stood in meats, and drinks, and carnal ordinances (Heb 9:10); which were of a typical character, and a mere shadow of good things to come, was abolished by the introduction of the Gospel for then they ceased to have any pertinence, the reality having come of which they were the figures. But the kernel of the law, properly speaking, the moral law, which is a transcript of the divine mind, is eternal and unchangeable in its obligations and sanctions. It was fulfilled rather than abrogated by the Gospel. It was confirmed by Christ, and explained in its infinite comprehension and spirituality by him and his apostles throughout the New Testament (Mt 5:17-18; Lu 10:26-28; Ro 5:15-8:39). Hence, when, in Ro 6:14; Ro 7:1-6; Ga 2:19; Ga 5:18, the moral law is spoken of as not being the mere rule of life for persons who rely on the grace of God, and who are authorized to expect a salvation not to be purchased by their works, it is so depreciated simply because in that aspect it is regarded as a law according to which rewards and punishments should be adjudged in so rigid and inexorable a manner as to exclude all grace, and all reliance on grace (Ro 4:12-14; Ga 2:21; Ga 3:10-12). In short, it is abrogated as a justifying ground of salvation by good works, because none can keep it perfectly to that end. Yet it is not abolished as an external criterion of virtue and piety, and as the final test before the assembled universe. SEE ANTINOMIANS.
(3.) Another very important fact in this discussion is that all the moral precepts of the Decalogue have been re-enacted by our Lord and his apostles, not only in principle, but in explicit terms (Mr 10:19; Ro 13:9). It is true Jesus sums up the spirit of the whole ten commandments in the two of love to God and man (Mt 22:37-40), and St. Paul (Ro 13:10), as well as St. John (1Jo 3:11), substantially do the same. But this is not done with a view to derogate from the precise form of the Mosaic commands, much less to abolish them; but rather with a view to re-enforce them by educing their permanent and universal principle of obligation. Christianity has therefore in all ages justly recognized the paramount and unvarying force of the moral law as promulgated on Mount Sinai.
The only exception to the above remark of the direct renewal of all these commandments by Christ and his apostles is that relating to the Sabbath, which is never quoted among the rest, but is noticeably omitted, and has even been held to be intentionally discarded, by precept, inference, and example, by them. The exception, however, is only apparent, and is due to the peculiar nature of this observance. It really rests upon an earlier than the Mosaic institute, for it dates from the creation, and was therefore appropriately introduced at, Sinai by the allusion, "Remember the Sabbath day." Moreover, the Jews of our Lord's day were in no need of being reminded of this institution; they were slavishly and superstitiously observant of it. Finally, as the day of its observance was changed by the very first Christians, there would have been an obvious impropriety in their referring to the institution itself under that name. That the obligation to occupy in religious rest one day in seven was scrupulously recognized by them the historical fact of the "Lord's day" abundantly attests. SEE SABBATH.
(4.) Indeed, the same remark as to primeval origin and validity applies to the whole Decalogue, although this cannot be so clearly proved in a historical argument as with regard to the Sabbath. Yet it has been shown above (§ 1, No. 4) that these moral enactments at least were nothing new; indeed, as all must at once admit, they lie at the very foundation of civil law and social organization; and it could easily be shown that the Hebrews had substantially recognized their force for ages. They were therefore, in fact, but republished on Sinai, under new sanctions, and do not require for their authority the support of any special dispensation.
The argument of the apostle Paul, especially in the epistles to the Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews, invariably is an appeal from the legal bondage of Judaism — not merely, be it observed, the intolerable ceremonial yoke (Ac 15:10), but still more emphatically the law of "good works," including, of course, especially the moral code (see Ro 2:21-22; Ro 7:7) — to the ante-Mosaic dispensation, the faith which Abraham had when yet a Gentile (Ro 4:10; Ga 3:17-18), and the primitive priesthood of Jesus (Hebrews 7). Yet this law of faith, so far from ignoring the moral law, is its only effectual support (comp. Joh 6:29); and thus the solution of this question becomes likewise the reconciliation of the doctrine of St. Paul with that of St. James. SEE JAMES, EPISTLE OF.
V. Literature. — J.D. Michaelis, Mosaisches Recht (Frkft. 1770-75), translated by Alexander Smith under the title Commentaries on the Laws of Moses (London, 1814); J.H. Hottinger, Juris Hebraeorum leges 261, ad Judaeorum eentem explicatae (Tiguri. 1655); Selden, De Jure naturali et gentinum juxta Hebraeorum Disciplinam (Argentorati. 1665); Reimarus, De legibus Mosaicis ante Mosem (Hamb. 1741); D. Hornsyli De principiis Legume Mosaicarum (Hafnie, 1792); Staudlin, Commentationes II de Legum Mosaicarum (Gottingoe, 1796); Purmann, De fontibus et aeconomia Legum Mosaicarum (Francofurti. 1789); T.G. Erdmann, Leges
Mosis praestantiores esse legibus Lycurgi et Solonis (Viteberge, 1788); Pastoret, Histoire de la Legislation (Par. 1817), volumes 3 et 4; J. Salvador, Histoire des Institutions de Mose et du Peale hebreu (Paris, 1828,3 volumes); Manson, De legislatura Mosaica quantum ad hygienen pertinet (Haag, 1835); Welker, Die Letzen Grunde von Recht, page 279 sq.; Staudlin, Geschichte der Sittenlehre Jesu, 1:111 sq.; Holberg, (Geschichte der Sittenlehre Jesu, 2:331 sq.; De Wette, Sittenlehre, 2:21 sq. Luther's views are given by C.H.F. Bialloblotzky, De Legis Mosaice Abrogatione (Gottingae, 1824). For other, chiefly older, works on the subject in general, see Winer, Realworterbuch, s.v. Gesetz; Danz, Worterbuch, s.v. Moses; Volbeding, Index Programmatum, page 37; Darling, Cyclop. Bibliogr. column 237 sq. Among later discussions we may name Duncan, Character and Design of the Law of Moses (Edinburgh, 1851); an art. in the Stud. u. Krit. 1846, 1:43 sq.; Saalschutz, D. mos. Recht m. Berucksicht. des spat. Jud. (Berl. 1846); Piccard, De legislationis Mosaicae indole morali (Utr. 1841); Kubel, Das alttestam. Gesetz und seine Urkunde (Stuttg. 1867). SEE MOSES.