Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Mosaic Law Definition:

Ancient law as set out in the first five books of the Bible (Old Testament).

Related Terms: God

The name is derived from Moses who received the Ten Commandments; this and other Jewish law as set out in the aforementioned first five chapters ("books") of the Bible.

The law that, according to the Hebrew or Jewish Bible (aka, the Old Testament), is derived from the Ten Commandments that, according to the Bible, God dictated to Moses.

Thus, Mosaic law begins with Commandments but includes the significant number of additional laws and rules set out in the first five books of the Old Testament.

In Jewish law, these first five books (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) are known as Torah; to Jewish people, synonymous with "law".

In regards to claims of divine origin of Mosaic law, a comparison of the Mosaic law and the Babylonian codes such as Hammurabi's Code of 1700 BC shows that the early Jewish tribes might have been inspired by the god of Hammurabi, Shamash (the preamble to Hammurabi's Code, says that he received it from the Babylonian god Shamash).

Kent writes that in comparing the two, Hammurabi's Code:

"... bears striking analogy in theme, content and form to many Old Testament laws."

In The World's Earliest Laws, Edwards writes:

"The discovery of the great Code (of Hammurabi) raises the very natural question as to whether the (Torah) is not also of Babylonian origin."

The influence of the Babylonian empire upon the nomadic Jewish tribes circa Moses, would have been pervasive, especially in matters of trade and justice, in which the Babylonians and, later, the Jewish people, excelled.


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