Monday, 14 March 2016

Ex 19:5 Bible Goggles and the law of Moses

In another post I will look at chapter and verse for Moses' land laws, but this is just an overview. Bible Goggles see the law of Moses as
  1. strict
  2. (for Christians) primitive
  3. followed in Old Testament times.
This view suited the ruling class, as they could claim to represent Moses. It especially suited Paul, as he could then replace the law with something supernatural. It let us remove the supernatural Bible Goggles and see what the law actually said

Strict?

In an imaginary supernatural world everybody knows all the laws. But in any real society only judges and lawyers need to know the law. In a real society, normal people only have  avague idea of the alw. What really matters is:
  • Who interprets the rules?
  • How much money do I have?
Moses' land laws ensured that everybody had equal land. So everybody had equal power. Everything had to be done by consent. All laws, no matter how strict they appear, are open to interpretation. Rich people and good lawyers know this: "although it looked like my client did X, what actually happened was..." In a society where everybody has equal power, your real judges are your neighbours, so you have to get along.

Moses showed by example that his laws were open to interpretation. He said "thou shalt not kill" but killed in war. And if somebody committed murder Moses created cities of refuge where they would escape. The system allows for strict punishments if the community agrees, but is flexible by design.

Primitive?

Without the supernatural we must focus on the economic aspects of the law. These were economically and politically superior to our modern tax based ideas.

Followed in Old Testament times?

Moses law had no place for kings. So once kings began (around 1000 BC) the law was no longer followed. Even when there were no kings (e.g the fifth century) the High Priests acted like kings, a hereditary theocracy gathering taxes for the Persians. Some argue that Moses was an invented person, and his laws were actually written down around 600 BC, when kings were long established. In that case the law of Moses was an ideal view of how society should be, and was never at any time followed. 

Take off the supernatural goggles and the Bible is a very different book.

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