Law of Moses
Is the whole body of the Mosaic legislation (1 Kings 2:3; 2 Kings 23:25; Ezra 3:2). It is called by way of eminence simply “the Law” (Heb. Torah, Deut. 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” (2 Kings 14:6; Isa. 8:20), the “book of the law of God” (Josh. 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.
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.
(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 (Galatians 3:17-24) 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, (Matthew 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. (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, (Ezekiel 18:1) ... and to bring out more clearly its great principles.
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.
OFFENCES AGAINST [[God]] (of the nature of treason.) 1St Command. Acknowledgment of false gods, (Exodus 22:20) as e.g. Molech, (Leviticus 20:1-5) and generally all idolatry . (13; 17:2-5) 2Nd Command. Witchcraft and false prophecy. (Exodus 22:18; 18:9-22; Leviticus 19:31) 3Rd Command. Blasphemy . (Leviticus 24:15,16) 4Th Command. Sabbath-breaking . (Numbers 15:32,36) Punishment in all cases, death by stoning . Idolatrous cities to be utterly destroyed.
ROYAL REVENUE. (1) Tenth of produce. (2) Domain land. (1 Chronicles 27:26-29) Note confiscation of criminal’s land. (1 Kings 21:15) (3) Bond service, (1 Kings 5:17,18) chiefly on foreigners. (1 Kings 9:20-22; 2 Chronicles 2:16,17) (4) Flocks and herds. (1 Chronicles 27:29-31) (5) Tributes (gifts) from foreign kings. (6) Commerce ; especially in Solomon’s time. (1 Kings 10:22,29) etc. IV. ECCLESIASTICAL AND CEREMONIAL LAW.