Moral and Ceremonial Laws

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by VilnaGaon, Aug 10, 2009.

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  1. VilnaGaon

    VilnaGaon Puritan Board Sophomore

    Some time ago I read a book by Reformed theologian Albertus Pieters in which he denied that there is a distinction between the Moral and Ceremonial Laws saying that the Bible makes no such distinction.
    The Chafetz Chaim(A noted Rabbi) in his book on Mitzvot states that the Bible makes a distinction between two types of commandments----Mishpatim(ordinances) and Hukkim(statutes). He states that the Mishpatim(ordinances) are those commandments whose reason is obvious and the benefit of carrying them out in the world is known.eg the laws on robbery, bloodshed, respect for parents etc. He further states that the Hukkim(Statutes) on the other hand are commandments whose reason is unknown.eg the prohibition on pork, the red heifer and the goat sent off into the wilderness. All the offerings of sacrifices are in the category of Hukkim(Statutes).
    Would it be correct to state that Mishpatim(ordinances) are the Moral Law and Hukkim(statutes) are the ceremonial Law??:detective:
     
  2. Skyler

    Skyler Puritan Board Graduate

    What about the civil law?
     
  3. Christusregnat

    Christusregnat Puritan Board Professor

    Jacob,

    Certainly, the usage of a particular word in Hebrew may not be universally trapped into one particular meaning.

    Cheers,
     
  4. VilnaGaon

    VilnaGaon Puritan Board Sophomore

    I think the good Rabbi would have classified it under the Moral Law.

    -----Added 8/11/2009 at 05:11:56 EST-----

    Might there be a reason different Hebrew words were used, other than to make a distinction between the 2 types of commandments.:confused:
     
  5. Christusregnat

    Christusregnat Puritan Board Professor

    A similar classification was used by Samuel Rutherford.


    Depending on the context, it may have reference to the type of response in the recipient of the law, the intent of the law giver, etc. All sorts of factors determine the usage of words.

    Cheers,
     
  6. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    These are the statutes and judgments and laws, which the LORD made between him and the children of Israel in mount Sinai by the hand of Moses.(Lev.26:46) (KJV)

    What is the significance of the terms "statutes", "judgements" and "laws", if any, in this verse?
     
  7. KMK

    KMK Moderator Staff Member

    What he probably means is that our categories of 'moral', 'civil', and 'ceremonial' are not explicitly laid out, but require good and necessary consequence.
     
  8. Christusregnat

    Christusregnat Puritan Board Professor

    One other thing I forgot to point out (but is illustrated in this verse) is that the Hebrew language was particularly fond of repetition, and repeated itself repeatedly (pun intended).

    A Hebraism would be something like:

    She was a virgin, neither had any man known here.
    By Him all things were made, and apart from him nothing was made that was made.

    Same thing is happening in Lev. 26:46: statutes, judgments and laws are the same thing.

    Cheers,
     
  9. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Most scholars follow this up by saying that there were various "clues" for the Israelites, in the law, the psalms and the prophets that some laws were positive and provisional, while others were moral and permanent.

    -----Added 8/11/2009 at 06:25:15 EST-----

    I thought this might have been the case. They used this repetition a lot in poetry and psalms.

    I'll check these words in the lexicon, anyway.
     
  10. Christusregnat

    Christusregnat Puritan Board Professor

    Richard,

    If I'm not mistaken, Hebrew also uses a great deal of repetition in prose. "She was a virgin, neither had any man known her" is used to describe Rebekah in the historic narrative of Abraham's servant meeting her for the first time.

    John 1 is also historic narrative that uses Hebraistic repetition.

    Cheers,
     
  11. KMK

    KMK Moderator Staff Member

    I was simply offering a possible explanation for "Reformed theologian Albertus Pieters'" denial in the OP.
     
  12. VilnaGaon

    VilnaGaon Puritan Board Sophomore

    If the different Hebrew Words for commandments do not not indicate a distinction between Moral and Ceremonial Laws, are there any specific indications in the OT pointing to such a distinction???
    I personally heard Rabbi Tovia Singer from Outreach Judaism(the largest anti-Christian Orthodox Jewish Organisation) say that there is no such distinction between Moral and Ceremonial Laws in the Old Testament and that such a distinction is a Christian Invention.
    I thought I struck gold with when I came across what the Chafetz Chaim said. I have just finished reading Maimonides's ""Shemoneh Perakhim ""in which he makes a similiar distinction between the Commandments.
    I was hoping to use this in Apologetics against Orthodox Judaism. It never ceases to amaze me how much ""Christian Apologetics"" there is in Classical Rabbinic Sources. You just have to dig.
     
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