Exodus 21 – Law and Grace

Exodus 21 – Law and Grace

The literary setup of the book of Exodus is pretty straightforward. It begins with the experience of the Jewish people in Egypt. The book describes the miraculous deliverance from slavery. We move from there to the Sinai revelation.  So far so good. Chapter 25 continues with the Tabernacle – the ultimate purpose of the exodus and the Sinai experience; where God comes to dwell amongst His people (- see Ezekiel 37:28). From that point on (ch. 25), the narrative proceeds in a logical fashion – the instructions for the Tabernacle, the sin of the Golden calf, Moses’ intercession and the building of the Tabernacle.

Chapters 21 thru 23 pose a literary question. Why are these chapters; chapters that discuss the technical details of judicial law, placed between Sinai and the Tabernacle, two  highlights of Israel’s history? We can understand that “Law” follows the revelation at Sinai in a natural way, but why these laws? Why the focus on monetary disputes between one man and the next; laws that in most societies are only studied by judges and lawyers?

The opening phrase in chapter 21 only highlights the question: “These are the judgments that you (Moses) should place before them (Israel).” The implication is that all of Israel must know about these laws, the men the women and the children. Why would children need to study these laws? Why would a child living in 21st century U.S.A. need to know the laws concerning one ox goring another? And why are these laws placed in such a central setting?

The answer is that knowledge of these laws form the foundation of our relationship with God.

The study of God’s Law lights up our path (Psalm 119:105). When we study the Law we learn to look at the world the way God wants us to look at the world. The laws pertaining to justice heighten our sensitivity to justice, which is the basis of a relationship with God. The most elemental concept in our relationship with God is the concept that as creations of God, we owe everything to God (1Chronicles 29:14). This concept is only meaningful to the degree that we appreciate the ideal of justice. As long as we fail to appreciate that what belongs to someone ought to go to that someone – then the fact that God is our Master is an empty concept. It is only to the degree that we appreciate that each must get what is rightfully theirs that we can appreciate our relationship with God.

God’s Law is the grace that God provided so that we can learn to love Him. Through God’s Law we learn to appreciate what He has done and what He continuously does for us. Though the study of God’s sense of justice, we learn where it is that we stand in relationship with Him.

The study of God’s justice and the practice of the same is the basis for knowing God (Jeremiah 22:16, Micah 6:8). There is no Tabernacle without justice and there is no closeness to God without justice (Isaiah 58:2). The justice of the Law is the continuation of Sinai and the foundation of the Tabernacle.

Let us take hold of the grace that God has extended to us by providing us with this light. That light will yet illuminate the world.

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Yisroel C. Blumenthal

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13 Responses to Exodus 21 – Law and Grace

  1. Len Hummel says:

    “The Law [and condemnation of sin and sinners] came by way of Moses,
    but GRACE and TRUTH came by Yeshua the Messiah.” Grace ? How ? Mercy, Divine Love, and selfless Atonement as CLEARLY seen in the foreshadowing of Isaac, Yosef Ben-Yahcov, and Isaiah 53.
    you MISSED and DENIED your own Messiah, Saviour & Deliverer. you’d best wake up and see the REALITY of Who and What HE REALLY WAS & IS. … and I’m going to remind you boldly that when you fight Yeshua{Yahvahshuah}: you always lose. … just telling you the Truthe: no matter you despise it and fight it.

    • Dear Len;
      YOU miss the point that Christianity compromises much of His word, leaving in, if not introducing foreign material not supported by the Torah, if not outright condemned. I am not going to take up space here to state what these are; you can look at each item you claim is supportive of your way that we do not have, and then see what G-d has to say about each one. Point is, we have two different theologies, and they are not compatible.
      You do the best yhou can to obey what Jesus said (or at least Paul) and you shall do fine.

  2. Len Hummel says:

    you said: “That light will yet illuminate the world.” … the Light of His Life and Love and Teachings have ALREADY illuminated the world. … did you ever hear ? … “I AM The Light of the world, He who receives Me shall not walk in darkness but have THE LIGHT OF LIFE.” – those who walk in That Light have His Light & Guidance by THE HOLY SPIRIT within [and without]. … those who walk in religion & eg0, … well, they *either* come to The Light, … or go to their assigned place.
    “religion” saves no one. CHRIST Is The Saviour. … and there’s not a thing satan (or anyone else) can do about it.
    Just saying, … for the record.

    • Thomas says:

      Throughout the hebrew bible, it is loyalty to Him alone and to God’s Law which achieves salvation for israel. There is not one shred of evidence anywhere in the hebrew scriptures which demand loyalty to any man, or even the messiah. If jesus feels left out, well, as rabbi b wrore earlier, too bad for him. We stay loyal to God, and God never commanded we worship or follow jesus. Come to think of it, most scholars don’t think jesus ever claimed it, either- but that’s a reality I suspect some people would prefer to downplay. Frankly, if the OT doesn’t command israel to worship the messiah, and neither did jesus, to worship him would be not just to create a theology totally foreign to the hebrew scriptures, but also foreign to jesus himself.

  3. Len Hummel says:

    Did Jesus claim to be God? – Who is the real Jesus?

    Many are willing to accept Jesus Christ as a good man, or a great prophet, but argue that Jesus never claimed to be God.
    Jesus clearly claimed to be the Messiah and Son of God:

    Jesus told the Samaritan woman that he is the Messiah (Jn 4:25-26)
    Jesus affirmed Peter’s statement that he is the Messiah and Son of God (Mt 16:15-17, see also Mk 8:29-30, Lk 9:20-21)
    Jesus told the high priest that he is the Messiah and Son of God (Mk 14:61-62, Mt 26:63-64, Lk 22:70)
    The Jews understood that this meant Jesus was equating himself with God: “he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God” (Jn 5:17-18).
    Other places where Jesus equated himself with God:

    Jesus told the Jews, “I and the Father are one.” (Jn 10:24-38)
    Jesus told the disciples, “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.” (Jn 13:13)
    Jesus forgave sins, which only God had the authority to do (Mk 2:5-11, Lk 5:20-24)
    Jesus said that he had seen Abraham and that he is eternal: “‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!'” (Jn 8:57-58)
    Jesus said that he had seen God, which no one else could do (Jn 6:46)

    Some people have used Matthew 22:41-46 (also Mk 12:35-37, Lk 20:41-44) to say that Jesus denied he was the Messiah:
    While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?”
    “The son of David,” they replied.

    He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.”‘ If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.

    Actually, this passage demonstrates that the Messiah has to be divine. The way to resolve the apparent contradiction between Psalm 110 and Isaiah 11 is for the Messiah to be divinity in human form: biologically a descendent of David, but divine and thus David’s Lord.

    • Thomas says:

      Len, you’re simply repeating the same old long-rejected proof texts that have failed to convince not just the Jews, but even a growing number of conservative Christian commentators. Psalm 110 is not generally understood to be showing the deity of any human being, and certainly neither does Isaiah 11. What you are doing is trying to shoehorn Jesus into a prophet’s mouth who clearly had zero concept of a divine godman of which you speak. Psalm 110 has David speaking to Solomon, as most exegetes say. David nor Solomon were seen as anything remotely close to what you believe about Jesus. Isaiah 11 has the messiah, one who has “fear of God” bringing the ingathering of the exiles. There is no contradiction here because, in the words of Christian OT commentator Bernard Anderson, “The King, even the one who was to come, was not regarded as divine, ‘cosubstantial with the Deity'” in the Hebrew Bible. As for Jesus’ claims, this is also an issue which seems to be rather widely-agreed upon, except for in apologetic circles, but apparently not to y-jesus.com.

    • naaria says:

      Len, you darkness comes from the religious lies you’ve accepted from reading perverted texts. Or do you pervert God’s word to promote religion? In Psalm 110, you write “Lord” and “Lord”, but in the bible those are 2 diferent words. The word love in “God’s Love” and in “I love ice cream”, would mean the same thing to you. Or Love and admiration are the same thing. Or in “GOD said to my lord Prince Charles”, England’s Prince Charles is a messiah & is divinity & even God. Or since lord and master mean much the same thing, God said to the chess master”, a chess player is a divine being. If your 2nd lord was divine, he has no power because he is totally dependent on the 1st Lord. And how did King David overhear this conversation between God and a “future messiah” or “Jesus” who cared not to come as Jesus until 1000 years later? And didn’t the NT have Jesus saying “OUR Father who art in heaven”, which means Jesus felt he was no better than his audience of ordinary Jews and he was declaring them as Sons of God? If they were all divine, why are you showing favoritism to one dead man? Have you ever bothered to even read the OT? If so, why does it seem to many that you act so naive or ignorant? God calls many His Son. A whole nation is His Son. God even has Daughters who are Israel & Judea. The city of Jerusalem is called His Daughter. So Jerusalem, a city is Divine, a messiah, a christ, God? Don’t point to a handful of vague, often misquoted, lines in the OT and in effect, toss out the rest of the Hebrew bible in a garbage can ,because it doesn’t support your RELIGION about a man.

  4. Shomer says:

    The theme is called: LAW & GRACE. As a former Christian I have made a horrible discovery (to Christians): Jesus has nothing to do with grace whatsoever, but he is the carven Idol on the crucifix (Exo 20:2), the idolatry as such, that requires YAH’s grace. YAH is eternally providing grace and at no time he was in need of a sacrificed son who is a carven image likewise. YAH was always very straight how man could achieve his grace but man always knew better. As a result, man printed the straight divine directions and the knowing better into the same (black) book covers and in order to make every-one believe that the whole content of this paper is infallible they printed in golden letters on the covers, “The Holy Bible”.

    YAH at no time had revealed that he was in need of a sacrifice to provide grace. This would be like a spiritual vending machine; pay sacrifice and obtain grace. – A proof? In Genesis 4:1-8 the word “sin” appears the first time in Torah but the sacrifice was preceding the sin. Sacrifice was the trigger for sin and not the solution. From this background, “Jesus” (as the sacrifice for the sin of the world) must be a “impressive idea” of mankind – not more. – More proof? Moshe, in Exo 30:10 was given the Yom Kippur – YAH wanted the shuv (repentance) of the people and that they would do better. At no time HE required of HIS people to collect sins to the tenth day of the seventh month every year in order that these sins are sacrificed for, so that the people can start collecting again. I believe, YAH’s idea was much better.

  5. naaria says:

    Some have to read the “OT” they way they do so that they can have “hints”, some vague reference (“foreshadowing”) that allows their pagan concept of a godman. But King David was a firstborn begotten Son of God and there was no need for any “divine rape” of or any spiritual hanky-panky” with Jesse’s wife. And David was actually not even a firstborn of Jesse or his wife. God gave the “Law”, why do some despise it (except for 10 of the many commandments and a few other favorites of men). You concept of sin, rejects God’s Word that “Be ye Holy as your God is Holy”. Gid loves us more than the Roman-Greek pagan philosophers of the NT & the church. If Holy God commanded that we sinners be Holy, why do hate God’s Grace?

    • naaria says:

      Why do some hate God’s Grace unless it first gets somehow filtered through the image of a man. Man can be Holy and can get to God without an intermediary which is or which smacks of the ultimate idolatry.

  6. Brian says:

    Len Hummel,
    I am not promoting jesus here, however even your jesus disagrees with you Matt. 5:17-20 Last time I looked out the window the heavens, and the earth were still here; The word fulfill, means to do, not do away with.
    The “LAW” which is the translation of the word “TORAH” came directly from G-D not Moses; at least in all the bibles I have read.
    The “LAW” [ TORAH ] is called “TRUTH” Psalm 119:142
    G-D brought “TRUTH” via “The midst of the fire at mount Sinai” When he spoke to all of Israel.
    So Len, we didn’t miss anything; You did; as a matter of fact you have failed to acknowledge G-D and his divine instructions on how to identify what or who he is not; Deut 4:15-19 “NOTE” man is on the list!

    • Shomer says:

      Shalom Brian,
      I’ld like to continue. There is no scripture in the Tanach that describes the necessety of a “New “Testament. The description about the “new covenant” in Jeremiah 31 clearly shows us that a “New Testament” is something totally different. The book of Hebrews pretends that the “NT” is the “better covenant”,

      > Heb 8:6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

      But in Jeremiah 31, I read the opposite of the “New Testament”,

      > Jer 31:33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD (יהוה) , I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God (אלהים), and they shall be my people.

      The “invalid and expired” TORAH will be put in the inward parts and the hearts of the Houses of Israel and Yehuda. There is no scripture whatsoever that predicts the new covenant (Brit Chadashah) for Christians (Gojim). As a matter of fact, a Christian who is coming down to the “roots of his faith”, when he is honest he must admit that Jesus has nothing to do with the forgiveness of sins but that he IS the sin of idolatry that the FATHER will forgive according to HIS requirements in the TORAH.

      Jesus had said that he is the way to the father. I found the father, but never ever on the way Jesus. I discovered that Jesus is a dead end (dead! end).

      Shavua Tov

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