Can someone explain Mosaic Law please??

by Super_Becka 20 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Super_Becka

    OK, so maybe I should've asked this a long time ago, but I'm a little slow sometimes. My apologies for being uneducated in this particular area. Hey, I'm still learning, that's why I'm here.

    I've seen a lot of references to Mosaic Law here on the board, but I'm a little unclear as to what it is, what it says, what it means, and who it applies to. Hey, I'm just a history student, I'm not a Bible scholar by any stretch of the imagination.

    So if you don't mind, I'd appreciate a little bit of explanation here, a nice bulleted list or something. And references to other threads that explain this would be much appreciated, too.

    Can anyone out there help me out??


    -Becka :) (of the "Biblically-challenged" class)

  • IP_SEC

    The law is encompassed in the books exodus through deut.

    Many laws having to do with cerimonial cleaness, daily life, atonement.

    Who could and couldnt have sex

    What to do with excrement.

    What animals were and werent eatable

    How to make sacrifces.

    The sabbath

    The law was fullfilled by jesus and no longer in effect for xians.

    Witnesses give undue attention to the law. They say they do not follow it to the letter but follow the spirit of the law.

    In reality they are not xians but Pharisaic Jews with some hint of christ belief. They give the law more importance than the words of jesus or his apostles.

  • Legolas

    The laws (beginning with the Ten Commandments) that God gave to the Israelites through Moses; it includes many rules of religious observance given in the first five books of the Old Testament (in Judaism these books are called the Torah)

  • FairMind

    It is the entire list of "Do's and Don'ts" God gave to the Israelites as recorded in the Old Testament.

  • Brigid
    the short of it: The Laws given from bible god to the Israelites at Mt. Sinai via Moshe (Moses--hence Mosaic) instituting the covenant between that G-d and the Jewish people.

    The Long of it:

    The 613 Mitzvot

    At the heart of halakhah is the unchangeable 613 mitzvot that God gave to the Jewish people in the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). The word "mitzvah" means commandment. In its strictest sense, it refers only to commandments instituted in the Torah; however, the word is commonly used in a more generic sense to include all of the laws, practices and customs of halakhah, and is often used in an even more loose way to refer to any good deed.

    Some of the mitzvot are clear, explicit commands in the Bible (thou shalt not murder; to write words of Torah on the doorposts of your house), others are more implicit (the mitzvah to recite grace after meals, which is inferred from "and you will eat and be satisfied and bless the LORD your God"), and some can only be ascertained by Talmudic logic (that a man shall not commit incest with his daughter, which is derived from the commandment not to commit incest with his daughter's daughter).

    Some of the mitzvot overlap; for example, it is a positive commandment to rest on the Sabbath and a negative commandment not to do work on the Sabbath.

    Although there is not 100% agreement on the precise list of the 613 (there are some slight discrepancies in the way some lists divide related or overlapping mitzvot), there is complete agreement that there are 613 mitzvot. This number is significant: it is the numeric value of the word Torah (Tav = 400, Vav = 6, Resh = 200, Heh = 5), plus 2 for the two mitzvot whose existence precedes the Torah: "I am the LORD, your God" and "You shall have no other gods before Me". There is also complete agreement that these 613 mitzvot can be broken down into 248 positive mitzvot (one for each bone and organ of the male body) and 365 negative mitzvot (one for each day of the solar year).

    The most accepted list of the 613 mitzvot is Maimonides' list in his Mishneh Torah. In the introduction to the first book of Mishneh Torah, Maimonides lists all of the positive mitzvot and all of the negative mitzvot, then proceeds to divide them up into subject matter categories. See List of the 613 Mitzvot.

    Many of these 613 mitzvot cannot be observed at this time for various reasons. For example, a large portion of the laws relate to sacrifices and offerings, which can only be made in the Temple, and the Temple does not exist today. Some of the laws relate to the theocratic state of Israel, its king, its supreme court, and its system of justice, and cannot be observed because the theocratic state of Israel does not exist today. In addition, some laws do not apply to all people or places. Most agricultural laws only apply within the Land of Israel, and certain laws only apply to kohanim or Levites. The modern scholar Rabbi Israel Meir of Radin, commonly known as the Chafetz Chayim, has identified 77 positive mitzvot and 194 negative mitzvot which can be observed outside of Israel today.

    Gezeirah: A Fence around the Torah

    A gezeirah is a law instituted by the rabbis to prevent people from accidentally violating a Torah mitzvah. For example, the Torah commands us not to work on the Sabbath, but a gezeirah commands us not to move a object only used to perform prohibited work (such as a pencil, money, a hammer), because someone handling the implement might forget that it was the Sabbath and perform prohibited work.

    It is important to note that from the point of view of the practicing Jew, there is no difference between a gezeirah and a Torah mitzvah. Both are equally binding. The difference is just in the severity of punishment: a Torah violation of the Sabbath is punishable by death, while a rabbinical violation of a gezeirah is punishable by whipping.

    Another difference between a gezeirah and a mitzvah is that the rabbis can, in rare appropriate circumstances, modify, or abrogate a gezeirah. Rabbis cannot change the Torah law that was commanded by God.

    Takkanah: A Law Instituted by the Rabbis

    Halakhah also includes some laws that are not derived from mitzvot in the Torah. A takkanah is a law that was instituted by the rabbis. For example, the "mitzvah" to light candles on Chanukkah, a post-biblical holiday, is a takkanah. The practice of public Torah readings every Monday and Thursday is a takkanah instituted by Ezra.

    Some takkanot vary from community to community or from region to region. For example, around the year 1000 C.E., a rabbi instituted a prohibition of polygyny, a practice clearly permitted by the Torah and the Talmud. It was accepted by Ashkenazic Jews, who lived in Christian countries where polygyny was not permitted, but was not accepted by Sephardic Jews, who lived in Islamic countries where men were permitted up to four wives.

    A takkanah, like a gezeirah, is just as binding as a Torah mitzvah.

    Blah blah blah, if ya ask me....but works for some people.


  • Nosferatu

    The Mosaic Law = The rules of the JW religion.

    Oh yeah, and when you're on your period, anything you touch becomes unclean.

  • Leolaia

    Every nation had its law code. Judah had several and these are edited together in the Torah, including the Yahwist/Elohist law, the Deuteronomistic law (Deuteronomy is literally "second law") promulgated by King Josiah in the seventh century BC, and the Priestly code from the exilic period (i.e. the sixth century BC). These separate law codes varied in the particulars and later midrashic legal interpretation was devoted to harmonizing the various laws and extending them to new circumstances. Post-exilic Judaism in the fifth and fourth centuries BC were dominated by the Temple cult, led by Zadokite priests who followed the Priestly code especially.

    But by the third century BC, there were dissenters who came to view the Zadokite high priests as corrupt (cf. the view in the Animal Apocalypse and the Apocalypse of Weeks in 1 Enoch, and in the seventy weeks oracle in the Testament of Levi), especially as Hellenizers who are leading the people astray from God. This started a new halakhic movement (the Hasideans) opposed to the priesthood who applied Priestly holiness rules to themselves that previously were intended only for the priests. These Jews viewed themselves as a congregation of holy ones, a community of "priests", but they soon split over legal interpretation and calendrical issues. The Essenes (from the Aramaic cognate of the same word as "Hasideans") arose by the second century BC and they had a very strict interpretation of the Torah and adhered to the traditional solar calendar of the Jerusalem Zadokite priesthood. The Pharisees (from the Hebrew word for "seperate", i.e. the dissenters) was another sect that had a different oral interpretation of the Law (to some extent less strict than the Essenes), but endorsed the "apostate" Hellenistic lunar calendar that the Jerusalem priests adopted in the Hasmonean period. One group of the Essenes withdrew to the desert and produced the Dead Sea Scrolls. John the Baptist possibly came from the Essenes as well. The Sadducees (< Zadokites) was the name of the Jerusalem priesthood by the second century BC, tho they were no longer descended from the line of Zadok.

    This shows that the "Mosaic Law" was not a monolithic entity in the first place, and its interpretation by the first century AD was also diverse with different Jewish groups taking different positions on the matter. The Sadducees who ran the Jerusalem Temple cult believed that sins were atoned through sacrifice at the Temple and penance. The Essenes and Pharisees, on the other hand, insisted that priestly holiness and purity laws must be followed as well. Each group had a dualistic view of salvation that defined the saved as justified through righteousness, through following God's will as expressed in the Law. A true worshipper of God was viewed as one who strived to abide by the Law and be found "perfect". The wicked were those who did not follow God's law, i.e. by following an incorrect halakhic interpretation of it. Thus the Essenes regarded the Pharisees as "Men of Mockery" who failed to follow the Law their way (believed by them to be the only correct way).

    The NT has two basic stances towards the Law. The older, more Jewish, view in Matthew is that Jesus came to complete the Law by giving it its final, proper interpretation. Not only did he give midrashic explanation of the Law (such as in the Sermon on the Mount), but the gospel also presents him as following it by example. The author viewed the halakha of the Pharisees as authoritative and essentially correct, but viciously condemns them for failing to follow the Law by their example (hence they are "hypocrites"). The main difference is that Jesus privileges certain commandments over purity/holiness laws which the Pharisees treated as inviolable. The halakha of the Matthean Jesus is thus one that resolves conflicts between laws in the Torah in such a no wise is Jesus presented as abolishing the Law; in fact, it has a condemnation of those who believe that the Law should no longer be followed. Other Law-observant works in early Christianity include James, the Didache, the Ascents of James, the Kerygmata Petrou, and the Epistula Petri. It is commonly believed among scholars that James the Just and Peter/Cephas were Law-observant, Peter to a lesser degree than James (who according to Hegesippus was practically an Essene leader in his priestly manner). The other, more Gentile, view is that of Paul and other anti-nomians who believed that Jesus rendered the Law irrelevant through his death and resurrection. This was in part facilitated by the Christian adoption of the "new covenant" motif from the Prophets which enabled them to dispose of the Law as the old obsolete "old covenant". For Law-observant Christians, the "new covenant" instead involved a new understanding of the Law that Jesus brought through his teaching, not its abolition. In the NT itself, but also in second-century Christian works, you can hear the arguing back and forth on both sides of the issue, which is reminiscent of the older disputes between the Pharisees and Essenes or between both groups against the Sadducees. By the third century AD, the anti-nomians condemned Law-observant Christians as heretic "Judaizers" while Jewish Christians condemned the anti-nomians as lawless themselves, and Paul in particular as an apostate apostle.

  • M.J.

    Here's a Christian viewpoint on what happened to the law, from Randy Watters in case you haven't read it:

  • Frannie Banannie
    Frannie Banannie

    In the scriptures, God is reputed to have written the ten commandments on stone tablets and Moses is credited with writing the rest of the laws from Exodus to Deuteronomy. Makes sense to me. I really can't see a spiritual deity being concerned with what type of clothing we wear or how long our hair is or any such things as decorations, etc.

  • peacefulpete

    Well as Leolaia said the collection is a patchwork. Even the Ten Words betray multiple sources. Lev 20 and Lev 34 do not even come close to matching but are in fact 2 versions of the tale stitched.

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