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2 years ago  ::  Apr 05, 2012 - 3:43PM #1
Dudette
Posts: 137
Hello everyone!

I'm at it again...

I'm continuing to read the equivalent of the book "The Old Testament for dummies" and I came accross something else that piqued my interest and would like your opinion on.

What were the laws before Moses?  I know of a couple (no adultery and no eating choked animals) but can someone elaborate on how come there was such a difference in term of amount (unless there were many laws before Moses?).
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2 years ago  ::  Apr 05, 2012 - 4:06PM #2
nieciedo
Posts: 5,617

Jewish tradition has held that there were seven laws in place at least since the time of Noah and the Flood that are applicable to all humans, not just Jews. These are not all explicitly spelled out in the Bible because the Bible was never intended (by Jews) to be a text for everyone: it was only supposed to have the history and laws and basis for the life of the Jewish people.


These 7 laws are:


1. No murder


2. No stealing


3. No adultery


4. No idolatry


5. No blasphemy


6. No eating a limb from an animal that its still alive


7. Do establish a legal system to uphold law and order.


These are believed by some Jews to be the bare minimum code of behavior that everyone is obligated to observe.


The additional laws that were revealed to Moses, are applicable only to Jews. One purpose of this differential of laws (613 vs. 7) is to distinguish Jews as a unique people with a priestly calling to serve God.

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2 years ago  ::  Apr 05, 2012 - 4:08PM #3
nieciedo
Posts: 5,617

These "Noahide laws," however, are really rather vague.


Murder and stealing are pretty clear, but how can you definie "adultery" without defining what marriage is?


Same with blasphemy and idolatry, and the whole idea of eating a limb of an animal that is still alive is just plain weird.


 

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2 years ago  ::  Apr 05, 2012 - 5:00PM #4
ffb
Posts: 2,116

there were laws before moses received the law (or started teaching the law given to him by god, which happened even before the revelation at sinai but after the exodus from egypt). The laws fall into a few categories


1. the pre-noachide laws (adamic law -- be fruitful and multiply...don't eat that fru--d'oh!)


2. the noachide laws (as stated)


3. abrahamic law -- circumcision, spread the understanding of god


4 post abrahamic but pre-egypt law -- not eating the sciatic nerve of an animal


5. egypt era law -- mostly the laws like the new month and the passover, all given pre redemption


 


there is another idea -- that the forefathers had access to what would be called "mosaic" law and studied it and lived by (parts of) it voluntarily. this is a tradition from rabbinic understanding of the textual events.

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2 years ago  ::  Apr 06, 2012 - 9:16AM #5
Dudette
Posts: 137

Hi nieciedo!


Thank you for the information...I'm learning a lot!


You write:


"Jewish tradition has held that there were seven laws in place at least since the time of Noah and the Flood that are applicable to all humans, not just Jews."


Can I ask how to differenciate what is only for Jews or includes all humans?

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2 years ago  ::  Apr 06, 2012 - 9:22AM #6
Dudette
Posts: 137

Hi ffb!


This is all very interesting stuff...thank you!


You write:


"there were laws before moses received the law (or started teaching the law given to him by god, which happened even before the revelation at sinai but after the exodus from egypt)."


Where can I look this up in the Scriptures?


What does:


"not eating the sciatic nerve of an animal"


mean?

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2 years ago  ::  Apr 06, 2012 - 11:40AM #7
Pam34
Posts: 2,649

Differentiate first via timeline - the first 'covenant' was with Adam - the next with Noah - those apply to 'all humans' because all humans are descended from those two. We see those 'laws' as being things like 'be fruitful and multiply' and 'don't murder'.



The next covenant in the Bible is with Abraham - this is incumbent on Abraham's descendents, which include Jews but not only Jews (the Ishmaelites also descend from Abraham). Circumcision, for instance, was part of the covenant with Abraham. This applies to the descendants of Abraham but not all humans.



Sinai is incumbant on all Jews - and ONLY the Jews - it is the 'covenant with the Children of Israel' (the Jews as we are now known).



We don't eat the sciatic nerve (in the hip) because Jacob was wounded there in the wrestling bout at the ford of the Jabbok (Genesis).


The other 'kosher food laws' are given at Sinai.



We generally say (as a kind of shortcut) that Noah was given 'seven' laws (which are rabbinically derived from Genesis) for 'all mankind' and we got an additional 606 laws just for us at Sinai, for a total of 613 for the Jews and 7 for non-Jews. It's hard to be a Jew!



(actually only about 240 or so are really applicable nowadays, and some are just for men, some just for women, some just for priests, some only apply if you live in Israel, and so on.)



There are a couple of side references in the Bible which appear to tell us that God has 'covenants' with other nations, but since those aren't 'ours', they aren't part of our traditions or scriptures.


Ours says, God will be our one and only deity, and we will be God's 'special' people, chosen for the purpose of living according to all those extra rules, and thereby being a living example of a people set apart to be an example of holy living. We are set apart all right, so I guess that part worked.



Our scripture also says we weren't chosen because we had any particular redeeming qualities, because we didn't and don't.



Blessed are You, HaShem, Who blesses the years.
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2 years ago  ::  Apr 06, 2012 - 12:56PM #8
ffb
Posts: 2,116

Apr 6, 2012 -- 9:22AM, Dudette wrote:

Hi ffb!


This is all very interesting stuff...thank you!


You write:


"there were laws before moses received the law (or started teaching the law given to him by god, which happened even before the revelation at sinai but after the exodus from egypt)."


Where can I look this up in the Scriptures?


What does:


"not eating the sciatic nerve of an animal"


mean?


look in the biblical text for anything that says something to the effect that "god spoke to moses saying, speak to the children of israel..." this indicates an instruction of law even before sinai.


 


the sciatic nerve (gid hanashe) was forbidden to jacob (israel) and his descendants.


en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gid_hanasheh

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2 years ago  ::  Apr 07, 2012 - 10:38AM #9
Dudette
Posts: 137

Hi Pam34!


Thank you for taking the time...this is very interesting information and I understand better now!


I didn't know that only about 240 laws or so are really applicable nowadays.

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2 years ago  ::  Apr 07, 2012 - 11:03AM #10
Dudette
Posts: 137

So even though the Scriptures start when Moses writes them (it took me a while to understand this), there were laws before but I guess they were transmitted orally?

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