Are all the laws in the Torah directly from God, or did Moses create some?
I’ve always believed they were all from God, but there are some that I just can’t see God saying because they seem to clash so violently with Jesus’ teaching. For example…
There’s a law that tells what you can do with a guy’s daughter after he sells her to you as a slave.
There’s a law that lays out conditions for how to treat multiple wives.
There’s a law that says beating your male or female slave is not punishable as long as said slave can get to their feet in one or two days.
If a wife tries to help her husband who is being beat up by grabbing the testicles of the attacker, the wife’s hand must be cut off.
If a husband thinks his wife has been unfaithful, he is to take her to the priest. The priest will mix dust from the floor with holy water and then the woman must take an oath with a sworn curse. After that she must drink the water. If she truly was unfaithful, she will suffer terrible consequences.
If your brother, son, daughter, wife or close friend tries to secretly get you to worship another god, you are to kill them (all the others will help but you are to strike the first blow).
The usual explanation (sometimes called Divine Accommodation) is that God gave the Hebrew people laws that were meant to regulate existing customs and behaviors and we should not view them as characteristic of God’s moral will. And this may be true, but I see three problems with this view:
1. Yahweh doesn’t come across as one who is interested in regulating sinful behavior.
2. For thousands of years God’s commands defined morality and God’s character. For thousands of years slavery, misogyny, polygamy, and a legal system that left little room for compassion and mercy could fit within a godly, holy, and righteous life. It’s hard for me to accept that an omniscient, personal, righteous and jealous God would desire this kind of harmful ambiguity.
3. When the Pharisees pointed out to Jesus that Moses permitted a man to divorce his wife if he found something offensive in her, Jesus’ response was quite interesting. He said that going all the way back to the garden of Eden it was not that way and it should not be permitted (unless one’s partner is unfaithful). Then Jesus said that Moses permitted it to appease hard-hearted people (Mat 19:3-12).
Now maybe saying “Moses permitted you to divorce…” was synonymous with “God permitted you to divorce…” but it seems like Jesus is disagreeing with Moses and reaffirming God’s hatred of divorce.
What do you think? Did Moses ever interject his opinions (like Paul, 1 Cor. 7:12), or did all of the laws in the Torah come directly from God?
As I researched this topic I discovered that Marcion of Sinope (85-160 AD) was so bothered by how the Old Testament depicted God that he completely rejected the Old Testament.
Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Ambrose and Augustine all taught that the passages in the Old Testament that ascribed sinful behavior to God and holy men were not meant to be taken literally; instead they were to be read as allegorical.
Referring to the book of Joshua, C.S. Lewis said that when the goodness of God conflicts with the doctrine of inerrancy, the goodness of God must prevail.