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[Devarim 4 Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)]

1 Now therefore hearken [shema], O Israel [Yisroel], unto the statutes [chukkim] and unto the judgments [mishpatim], which I teach [melammed] you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land [ha'aretz] which Yahweh elohim of your fathers [Avoteichem] giveth you.

2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep [be shomer mitzvot] the commandments of Yahweh your elohim which I command you.

God requires that His doctrine be kept pure and separate from man's ideas. As soon as other ideas are added, or some of the commands taken away, the Truth becomes lost, and men grope in darkness. The Word of God is pure, every word is given by inspiration (Prov. 30:5; 2 Tim. 3:16) and is to be humbly and thankfully received and obeyed by the faithful.

Bro David Clubb

This, in the Mosaic shadow, is the condemnation of all human invention in religion; and the confutation of the popular idea that sincere ignorance or ignorant sincerity is eligible in worship: or that man can save himself by his own devices.

Man is "condemned already", and can only escape this position by God's own provision, of which man can only become aware or avail himself through the enlightenment of revelation. The revelation is abundant and clear, if men would but make themselves acquainted with it.

RR - Law of Moses.

8 And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments [chukkim and mishpatim] so righteous [tzaddikim] as all this law [torah], which I set before you this day?


How much the excellence of human life depends upon law we do not at first realize how much! We grow up under the feeling that the best thing for us is to be just let alone to follow the bent of our own sweet will. We learn at last that this is just the worst for any man or nation. Experience confounds false philosophy. Men are not as cabbage roses that will automatically unfold their blushing beauty, and exhale their fragrant odour if left alone; they are rather as the apple trees that will grow crabs unless grafted with good slips. The dictum of Christ and Paul is found correct: "In the flesh dwelleth no good thing" (John 6:63; Rom. 7:18).

The fact is nationally illustrated in barbarous races, and, individually, in the uneducated members of civilized communities. The extremest demonstration is seen when a child happens to be kidnapped and brought up in the woods away from human culture, of which there have been instances.

Modern literature is impregnated with false notions on this subject. These false notions are generated by a false method of study. Man is looked at as he develops under the surroundings of an established civilization, and because he is interesting when enlightened and subject to law, he is supposed to be innately good and rational, requiring only a proper self-evolution. Disastrous results come from this theory when it is acted on in either public or family life. A lawless community, or stubborn and rebellious children bring misery when the hand of repressive discipline and kindly culture is absent. Human nature in itself is only a bundle of potentialities, which cannot be developed except by firm discipline under the wise administration of good laws. The best men of the best nations are those that have seen the most trouble, along with the possession of knowledge.

But what is law? In the abstract, it is a rule of action made obligatory; but its value must depend not only upon its obligatoriness, but upon its nature. Unless a law is calculated to evoke results of well-being, its obligatoriness will be a calamity. Its enforcement will oppress--and destroy instead of blessing. Hence the importance of devising laws and rules that will work out for good. But who is able to do this? It evidently requires a very far-sighted acquaintance with human nature and its needs to be qualified to prescribe a law which in all points will work out individual and social well-being. The world knows much of law of one kind or another. That it has not attained to the law that it needs, is manifest from its evil state, and the ceaseless law-tinkering and agitation for law-tinkering going on in every country.

Among all the systems of law that have appeared among men, there is only one that makes any admissible claim to be Divine; and that is the system known as the Law of Moses. Of this we have the most ample information in the Bible, apart from which we could have no reliable knowledge of it, for Jewish tradition and Rabbinical gloss tend rather to obscure than to reveal its features. We could wish for nothing fuller or more satisfactory on the subject than we get in the Bible; and we must assume on the present occasion that the Bible is good authority in spite of all the hostile endeavours of German, French, and British criticism. 

That body of criticism seems a weighty affair to people who make no endeavor to master the subject for themselves. In the abstract it is a mighty mass, but reduced to its elements, it only amounts to the opinions of men groping in obscurities, who hazard suggestions in a learned style, and catch up and send round each other's suggestions with the effect of holding each other up in their uncertainties. A single authoritative declaration of the resurrected Christ is as destructive to the whole mass as a spark of fire would be to a mountain of gunpowder.

We have more than a single word. Christ says that God spoke to Moses (Mark 12:26), and that Moses gave the law (John 7:19), and that the books containing it are his writings (John 5:46-47); and that it is easier for heaven and earth to pass than one tittle of the law to fail (Luke 16:17). This is decisive against a whole world of speculation or doubt. We may trust absolutely, on Christ's authority, to the unmixed divinity of the law given by the instrumentality of Moses. We are certain not to be deceived or disappointed in Christ's view of the case: who can say as much for the merely speculative critics of these late days?

If the law of Moses were not divine, there could be no object in considering it. A merely human conception of what was suitable for an age long gone by would be of no practical interest to men of our age, and of no value for guidance in a state of things so radically different. If it could be shown there were good things in it, they could only appear good on a principle that would leave us at liberty to discard or modify them according to our particular bias. Moses, in that case, would be down on our own level; and we probably should not feel disposed to submit our judgment to his on the mere score of antiquity, but probably the reverse, as we should naturally hold a later and longer experience to be a better guide than the experience of Moses at so early a time.

It is as a divine system that its study becomes so important. There is something in a work of God for us profitably to exercise our faculties on. A divinely prescribed rule of human action must be wise; and a ritual system that is divinely declared to be an allegory of the principles and the purposes before the divine mind in His dealings with the human race, cannot but be interesting and profitable when worked out by the clues divinely supplied (as they are in the later writings of inspiration, by the apostles).

The study of the law of Moses on this basis will lead us to share the intense admiration of it expressed in various parts of the Bible--panegyrics that otherwise appear as the mere extravagances of sentimentalism. Such for example as the language of the Psalmist: "O, how love I thy law; it is my meditation all the day". And again, "The law of thy mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver"; and again, "I hate vain thoughts; but thy law do I love"; and again, "The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb; Moreover by them thy servant is warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward" (Psa. 119:97, 72, 113; 19:9-11).

Moses himself speaks thus on the subject: "Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me . . . Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law which I set before you this day?" (Deut. 4:5-8). Paul in another way utters the same praise: "The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good... The law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin" (Rom. 7:12, 14).

Law of Moses Ch 1