The Law

The first par, which contains the law, is divided into two parts, insofar as there are two kinds of law, public and private.

A private law is imposed for the observance of one person or one family. Such law is contained in Genesis as is evident from the first precept given to man, “But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil ‘you shall not eat'” (2:17), and to Noah, “Saving that flesh with blood you shall not eat’ (9:4), and to Abraham, ‘And again God said to Abraham: And you therefore shall keep my covenant. and your descendants after you in their generation” (17:9).

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The public law is that which is given to the people. For the divine law was given to the Jewish people through a mediator, because it was not fitting that the people should receive it immediately from God. Deuteronomy 5:5: “I was the mediator and stood between the Lord and you and at that time to show you his words.” Galationas 3:19: “What then was the Law? It was enacted on account of transgressors, being delivered by angels through a mediator.” Thus a twofold level is found in legislation. First, when the law comes from the Lord to the mediator, and this pertains to three books: Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. Hence we frequently read in them, “God spoke to Moses.” Second, when the law is given to the people by the mediator, and this pertains to Deuteronomy, as is evident from its very beginning, “These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel.”

These three books are distinguished by the three things in which a people should be ordered. First, precepts bearing on equity of judgement, and this is found in Exodus. Second, in sacraments with respect to the establishment of worship, and this in Leviticus. And third, in offices, with respect to the administration of the community, and this in Numbers.