Hebraic law


Hebraic law
Law codes of ancient Israel found in the Jewish Scripture (Old Testament).

Three separate codes are usually distinguished: the Book of the Covenant, the Deuteronomic Code, and the Priestly Code. The Book of the Covenant is found in Exodus 20–23 and is similar to the much earlier Code of Hammurabi in Babylon. The Deuteronomic Code in Deuteronomy 12–26 is a revision of earlier Israelite laws and was used in the effort to purify the worship of Yahweh (God) from Canaanite and other influences (see Deuteronomic Reform). The Priestly Code, found in parts of Exodus, all of Leviticus, and much of Numbers, covers mostly ceremonial practices.

* * *

      body of ancient Hebrew law codes found in various places in the Old Testament and similar to earlier law codes of ancient Middle Eastern monarchs—such as the Code of Hammurabi (Hammurabi, Code of), an 18th–17th-century-BC Babylonian king, and the Code of Lipit-Ishtar, a 20th-century-BC king of the Mesopotamian city of Eshnunna. The codes of both Hammurabi and Lipit-Ishtar are described in their prologues as imparted by a deity so that the monarchs might establish justice in their lands. Such law codes thus had the authority of divine command.

      The laws of the Hebrews were conceived in the same manner. Two types of law are noted in the Hebrew law codes: (1) casuistic, or case, law, which contains a conditional statement and a type of punishment to be meted out; and (2) apodictic law, i.e., regulations in the form of divine commands (e.g., the Ten Commandments). The following Hebraic law codes are incorporated in the Old Testament: (1) the Book of the Covenant, or the Covenant Code; (2) the Deuteronomic Code; and (3) the Priestly Code.

      The Book of the Covenant, one of the oldest collections of law in the Old Testament, is found in Exodus 20:22–23:33. Similar to the Code of Hammurabi, the Covenant Code is divided into the following sections: (1) a prologue; (2) laws on the worship of Yahweh; (3) laws dealing with persons; (4) property laws; (5) laws concerned with the continuance of the Covenant; and (6) an epilogue, with warnings and promises. In both the Code of Hammurabi and the Covenant Code, the lex talionis (talion) (the law of retribution)—namely, the “eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” law—is found. The substitution of financial compensation or a fine for the literal punishment, however, was allowed.

      The Deuteronomic Code, found in Deuteronomy, chapters 12–26, is a reinterpretation or revision of Israelite law, based on historical conditions as interpreted by the 7th-century-BC historians known as the Deuteronomists. Discovered in the Temple at Jerusalem in 621 BC, the Deuteronomic Code attempted to purify the worship of Yahweh from Canaanite and other influences. The greatest sin was considered to be apostasy, the rejection of faith, the penalty for which was death. The Deuteronomic Code is divided into the following sections: (1) statutes and ordinances, especially related to dealings with the Canaanites and worship in the Temple in Jerusalem alone, to the exclusion of the high places (see high place); (2) laws (known as sabbatical laws) concerned with the year of release from obligations, especially financial; (3) regulations for leaders; (4) various civil, cultic, and ethical laws; and (5) an epilogue of blessings and curses.

      The Priestly code, containing a major section known as the Code of Holiness (in Leviticus, chapters 17–26), is found in various parts of Exodus, all of Leviticus, and most of Numbers. Emphasizing ceremonial, institutional, and ritualistic practices, the Priestly Code comes from the post-Exilic period (i.e., after 538 BC). Though most of the laws of the Code of Holiness probably come from the pre-Exilic period (pre-6th century BC), the laws reflect a reinterpretation encouraged by the Exile experiences in Babylon. Purity of worship of Yahweh is emphasized.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Hebraic law — The term Hebraic law refers to a set of ancient Hebrew law as found in several verses in the Old Testament also known as Mosaic Law. The Hebraic law has a great similarity to the law as proclaimed by ancient monarchs of the Middle East, including …   Wikipedia

  • Law — /law/, n. 1. Andrew Bonar /bon euhr/, 1858 1923, English statesman, born in Canada: prime minister 1922 23. 2. John, 1671 1729, Scottish financier. 3. William, 1686 1761, English clergyman and devotional writer. * * * I Discipline and profession… …   Universalium

  • law — law1 lawlike, adj. /law/, n. 1. the principles and regulations established in a community by some authority and applicable to its people, whether in the form of legislation or of custom and policies recognized and enforced by judicial decision. 2 …   Universalium

  • family law — Introduction       body of law regulating family relationships, including marriage and divorce, the treatment of children, and related economic matters.       In the past, family law was closely connected with the law of property and succession… …   Universalium

  • Babylonian law — Archaeological material for the study of Babylonian law is singularly extensive. So called contracts exist in the thousands, including a great variety of deeds, conveyances, bonds, receipts, accounts, and most important of all, actual legal… …   Wikipedia

  • dietary law — Judaism. law dealing with foods permitted to be eaten, food preparation and combinations, and the utensils and dishes coming into contact with food. Cf. kashruth. [1925 30] * * * ▪ religion Introduction       any of the prescriptions as to what… …   Universalium

  • ethics — /eth iks/, n.pl. 1. (used with a sing. or pl. v.) a system of moral principles: the ethics of a culture. 2. the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc.: medical ethics;… …   Universalium

  • Mnachem Risikoff — Mnachem HaKohen Risikoff Mnachem (Mendel) HaKohen Risikoff (1866–1960), was an orthodox rabbi in Russia and the United States, and a prolific author of scholarly works, written in Hebrew.[1] Risikoff used a highly stylized and symbolic pen name,… …   Wikipedia

  • Hammurabi — ] Hammurabi died and passed the reins of the empire on to his son Samsu Iluna in ca. 1750 BC. [harvnb|Arnold|2005|p=42] Code of lawsHammurabi is best known for the promulgation of a new code of Babylonian law: the Code of Hammurabi. This was… …   Wikipedia

  • SOCIOLOGY — as a field of intellectual endeavor is much older than sociology as an academic discipline. Modern sociology can be traced to the Scottish moralists such as Adam Ferguson, David Hume, Adam Smith, and possibly to Thomas Hobbes. The word sociology… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.