The Uniqueness of Moses’ Laws

Moses’ Laws (the Ten Commandments plus the other laws written in Exodus and Leviticus) stand apart from all other law-codes of that era, just as one should expect if they have a supernatural source.

For instance, Egyptians regarded slaves as those without understanding and to be driven like cattle. For Moses to take pity on them (as the laws demonstrate) was remarkable.

  1. Moses’ Laws demanded humane treatment of the slave and the stranger. This was nothing short of revolutionary for that time.
  2. Likewise, no murder could be paid for by property or by substituting the life of another man (such as a criminal or slave). Moses’ law tells us that “whoever sheds the blood of a man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God was man made.” (Gen. 9:6) So, the sacredness of life fixed the payment – life for life.

In contrast, cuneiform findings show that Mesopotamian law (as seen in the Code of Hammurabi) was linked to the value of property and the strength and wealth of the community. In other words, life was replaceable by sufficient goods. If a wealthy man committed murder, he could buy his way out with money.

Also, a wealthy man could send a slave to take his punishment. In contrast, in Biblical law there is an underlying assumption of the worth of every human life. The Biblical recognition of a slave as an individual with rights, though he still lacked the status of a free man, has no parallel in the laws of Mesopotamia, or any other laws of that era.

This uniqueness and superiority of Moses’ laws is evidence that what Christians and Jews believe is true: these laws did not come from man, but rather they had a higher source, God himself.