The law of Moses – ahead of
its time – more than human foresight
What is the "Law of Moses"?
If you were to look at the first five books of the Bible (Genesis,
Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) you would see the code of
laws under which the Israelites lived.
Around the year 1490 B.C., the Israelite leader, Moses, was given the
"Law" by God. This consisted of the ten commandments along with further
statutes and laws. These provided judgments and penalties which
controlled the attitude of the Israelites to God and His worship. The
laws also controlled their attitude to each other and to the nations
among whom they dwelt. These various laws and ordinances together came
to be known as the "Law of Moses".
God gave Israel the Law to make them a holy (separate) people to Him.
It was intended to guide their lives so that they might be an example to
the surrounding nations and as a result, glorify the Name of their God.
In the Biblical book of Genesis (chapter 17) it talks about how
important it is to stay clean and use proper sanitation if the community
is to stay healthy. And in Leviticus (chapters 12 to 14) it gives a
number of rules for the community to stay healthy. This obviously is
exactly what Medicine today also teaches.
The following are some of the sections of the law that helped to keep
infectious diseases (like leprosy) were commanded to live away
from the rest of the people.
In modern medicine we see this same practice of isolating
people who are suffering from infectious diseases.
handling dead bodies
||If a Jew had
handled a dead body then he was seen as being unclean. As a
result, he had to be quarantined for seven days, and then go
through a washing procedure before he could mix with society
Prior to the twentieth century surgeons used to handle the
dead and the dying and then, without washing their hands, go
into the operating theatre. Because of this many patients lost
their life through infection.
important for obvious reasons. The laws said:
place outside the camp where you can go to relieve yourself. As
part of your equipment have something to dig with, and when you
relieve yourself, dig a hole and cover up your excrement".
Many countries of the world saw the importance of this law
with the development of modern facilities. But there are still
some third world countries which haven’t seen the wisdom of this
and people’s health suffers as a result.
|The food laws
||There are two
chapters in the Bible which list the land animals, birds and
fish which can or cannot be eaten.
The list of animals in the Law of Moses pretty much agrees
with what we regard as healthy in the modern age. The vegetarian
birds and beasts are allowed and the flesh-eating creatures like
rats, reptiles and insects are prohibited. The main differences
between what we eat now and the times of Moses are pigs (pork)
and shellfish. These two animals were forbidden to be eaten back
then but we do eat them now. They didn’t eat them in the time of
Moses because of the high risk of these foods carrying disease -
pork can be infected by parasitic worms and shellfish can be
contaminated if they sit in water where there is sewage. These
days we have strict health laws to keep pork and shellfish
So by following the laws of Moses, the Jews, down through the ages
managed to keep themselves a lot healthier than the surrounding nations.
There are actually statistics to prove this.
Protecting limited resources
In modern times we see all of the earth’s resources being consumed at
a rapid rate. We see parts of the ocean losing all of particular types
of fish because of over-fishing. The media tells of vast areas of forest
being cleared and destroyed. The list goes on. If only we took notice of
"Laws of Moses" in regard to conservation of resources:
||If an Israelite
came across a bird sitting on a nest, he was not allowed to take
both the eggs (or young chicks) and the mother bird as well. He
was allowed to take the eggs (or young chicks), but had to let
the mother go free. The idea behind this was to keep the species
When we look through books on nature we see them full of
references to not only extinct birds, but also animals and fish.
It is frightening to think of how long the endangered animals
22:6 - 7
|Land fit for
years, the Israelites were not allowed to cultivate the land
which was fit for cultivation. This was to protect the fertility
of the soil. Without this year of "rest" the soil would become
overused and not have the nutrients that would allow crops to
Modern farming techniques mean this doesn’t apply any more.
However, in some of the third world countries and even in the
vegetable patch of your backyard (!) it does still apply.
||During times of
war, the Israelites were forbidden from cutting down fruit trees
to make defensive barriers. Even though the trees may have
reduced their casualties in a battle, the tree was seen as value
source of food for all the nation of Israelites.
||In the times of
Moses there were no machines, so human strength was extremely
important. It was recognised as being critical that there be a
day of rest each week so that men and women could recover both
physically and mentally. This was a new idea back in those
times. And it was made even more revolutionary because the law
said there should be a day of rest for everyone – Israelite and
foreigner, master and slave.
These laws all had one idea and that was to conserve and protect the
resources they had at their disposal. This is a law that is not observed
in a number of places in out modern society.
The secrets of good family life
In the ancient world, women were quite often mistreated and perceived
more as objects than human beings. This wasn’t the case with Jewish law.
Jewish women had to be respected. Even if men disliked their wives, they
still had to treat them fairly 1. It was pointed out that the ideal
marriage was one man and one woman joined together for life 2.
The law also covered the upbringing of children. It made it very
important that children be brought up carefully. It was the
responsibility of the father that the children were well educated in the
ways of God.
The Law of Moses was amazingly advanced in its ideas for such a
ancient time. So how was it so advanced? Because Moses had thought up
some great ideas?
The answer to this is "no", as Moses himself acknowledged. He pointed
out the Law came from God. This is why it was so advanced in its ideas.
This is another reason to believe that the Bible is true.
21:13 – 16; 22:13-19
2 and verses 18 and 24