By Paul Johnson

ISBN-10: 0060156988

ISBN-13: 9780060156985

ISBN-10: 0060915331

ISBN-13: 9780060915339

ISBN-10: 0061159271

ISBN-13: 9780061159275

A countrywide bestseller, this significant 4000 yr survey covers not just Jewish background yet he influence of Jewish genius and mind's eye at the international. via the writer of recent instances: the realm From the Twenties to the Eighties.

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He had been brought up at court; he was literate. To set down the law in writing, to have it carved in stone, was part of the liberating act of fleeing from Egypt, where there was no statutory law, to Asia, where it was by now the custom. None the less, though the Mosaic code was in this sense part of a Near Eastern tradition, its divergences from all other ancient codes are so many and so fundamental as to make it something entirely new. Firstly, the other law-codes, though said to be inspired by God, are given and worded by ISRAELITES / 33 individual kings, such as Hammurabi or Ishtar; they are thus revocable, changeable and essentially secular.

In it, in effect, the ancient Israelite society merged its interests with God’s and accepted Him, in return for protection and prosperity, as a totalitarian ruler whose wishes governed every aspect of their lives. Thus the Decalogue is merely the heart of an elaborate system of divine laws set out in the books of Exodus, Deuteronomy and Numbers. 97 This Mosaic legal material covers an immense variety of subjects. By no means all of it dates from Moses’ time, let alone in the form it has come down to us.

Firstly, the other law-codes, though said to be inspired by God, are given and worded by ISRAELITES / 33 individual kings, such as Hammurabi or Ishtar; they are thus revocable, changeable and essentially secular. By contrast, in the Bible, God alone writes the law—legislation throughout the Pentateuch is all his—and no Israelite king was ever permitted, or even attempted, to formulate a law-code. Moses (and, much later, Ezekiel, transmitter of the law reforms) was a prophet, not a king, and a divine medium, not a sovereign legislator.

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A History of the Jews by Paul Johnson


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