Creationist gold! The Mosaic law was so ahead of its time!

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by kendemyer, Jun 24, 2005.

  1. kendemyer

    kendemyer
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    I created a thread called: "Mosaic Dietary Code shows divine intelligence - John Hopkins Study" at: http://www.christian-forum.net/index.php?showtopic=579

    (In that thread I said I do realize that the Bible says in the book of Galations that Christians are not under the Mosaic code and thus are not under the dietary laws of the Old Testament. )


    This thread complements the aforementioned information.

    First, here is an excellent article written by the scientist Alan Hayward :

    A Law Ahead of its Time

    Imagine one of those programmes where a man in a busy street with a microphone and a television camera stops passers by.

    "Excuse me, Sir, (or, Madam). I wonder if you can tell me who first spoke these words: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself?"

    Leaving out the "Don't know" and the "Don't care" brigade, it is a fair bet that most people will answer, "Why, Jesus, of course!"

    But they would be wrong. Those words first appear in the book of Leviticus,1 near the beginning of the Old Testament. All Jesus did was to remind people of their importance.

    The first five books of the Bible-Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy-contain the code of laws under which the children of Israel lived. Together they are called "The Law of Moses", or simply "The Law".

    "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" illustrates how far the Law was ahead of its time. Jesus is regarded as a very advanced moral teacher, and, of course, He was. Yet one of His most famous sayings was a quotation from the Law of Moses.

    There is no need to spend much time discussing the Ten Commandments. No other document in the world has had so much influence on the legal and moral codes that civilised man lives by. Other men in the ancient world, like the famous Hammurabi, drew up their own codes of law. Yet none of these has had the lasting effect of the Ten Commandments.

    But at the moment I am more concerned with the Law of Moses as a law of love. Men think of it as a stern, strong law, and it was so. It had to be, in that far-off lawless age. But in many ways it was also a tender, merciful law. And considering the age in which it was written, that is little short of a miracle.

    A little over a hundred years ago, a famous cartoon appeared in an English journal. It bore the following caption:

    " Whos 'im, Bill?"

    "A stranger!"

    "Eave arf a brick at im."2

    This typifies the attitude of men to strangers all through history. Now contrast what Moses said:

    "The stranger that dwelleth with you shall be as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself, for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt."3

    Not only your neighbour, but you must also love the foreigner as yourself! Here Moses was not only ahead of his time, but ahead of our time, too. Think how much racial strife would be avoided in the world today, if men would only do as Moses commanded.

    The Law was concerned with little things as well as big. Think of all the mental suffering that has been caused by malicious, gossiping tongues. The Law clamped down on this:

    "Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people."4

    Among the other ancient nations there was no end to mans cruelty to his fellow men. Only among the Jews was cruelty kept in check. There was no death by prolonged torture in Israel. The only forms of capital punishment prescribed by the Law of Moses led to a quick death.

    The Law also set a limit to the extent of corporal punishment. Other nations would flog criminals indefinitely, until often they died beneath the lash. But Moses said that forty strokes must be the maximum.5 The Law even ruled against cruelty to animals.6

    All through history the moneylender has been the curse of primitive societies. Even today, in many underdeveloped countries starving peasants spend their whole lives in debt, while the moneylenders grow rich from disgracefully high rates of interest. Many Jews are among those who have made fortunes from moneylending. But they would not have been if they had appreciated the spirit of their Law.

    For the Law set an example to all mankind by frowning on this practice. Israelites were allowed (though not encouraged) to take interest from foreigners. But three different books forbade Israelites to charge one another interest.7 At the same time Moses insisted that, if a poor citizen needed an interest-free loan or a gift, he must be given it.8 Although the lender was allowed to ask for the borrowers coat as security for a loan, he must not keep it after sundown if the owner needed it for warmth.9

    Pure Worship

    When Israel first became a nation, the religions of their neighbours were indescribably vile. The world was full of idols, in whose name the foulest deeds were done. Human sacrifice, black magic, ritual prostitution, witchcraft-there was no end to the evils perpetrated under the guise of religion.

    Now and again some outstanding man-such as King Amenhotep IV, who ruled Egypt during the fourteenth century B.C.-would try to reform his countrys religion. But none of them had any lasting influence on mankind. There was only one nation whose Law shone like a beacon in a dark world:

    "I am the Lord thy God.... Thou shalt have none other gods beside Me."10

    "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord, and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might."11

    There was only one God, not a thousand and one. Because of that, a man must be single-minded in his devotion to that One God. The idols of the other nations were as nothing; therefore they must not have the slightest influence upon a mans thoughts or deeds.

    " Thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord."12

    Right up to the time of Christ there was not another nation that had followed Moses example, and banned all these hideous religious practices of the ancient world.

    Health is Wealth

    "Whats he got that I haven't got?" is a common human complaint. One reason for the Jews unpopularity is that men have often had cause to be jealous of them.

    Professor Rendle Short, who was a surgeon as well as a Bible student, gives an interesting example from fourteenth-century Italy.13 Plague was sweeping the country, and the Italians noticed that the Jewish communities escaped much more lightly than themselves. They guessed, correctly, that the Jewish Law had something to do with it. So they adopted the Jewish system, and their death rate fell.

    As a twentieth-century Italian doctor has written in an ordinary medical textbook:

    "No-one can fail to be impressed by the careful hygienic precautions of the Mosaic period. The extremely stringent quarantine rules very likely did a great deal of good."14

    Here are some of the provisions of the Law that helped to keep Israel healthy.

    Isolation. "Lepers" (the Biblical term includes a whole group of infectious diseases, along with the modern leprosy) were commanded to live separately from the rest of the people.15 The modern practice of isolating sufferers from infectious diseases was derived directly from the Jews.
    Washing after handling dead bodies. When a Jew had handled a dead body he was regarded as "unclean". He was to be quarantined for seven days, and to undergo an elaborate washing procedure before he was regarded as fit to mix with society again.16 Until about a hundred years ago surgeons used to handle the dead and the dying, and then go straight into the operating theatre without washing. Thousands of their patients died through infection. Many of them might have lived if those early surgeons had kept the Law of Moses.
    Sanitation. In 1969 I walked along the main street of a large African city and watched human excrement drifting along the open drains at the sides of the road. I reflected on the high incidence of disease in that city, and the low expectation of life. And then I wondered how much better off the people would be if only they obeyed the Law of Moses:
    "You must have a latrine outside the camp and go outside to it; you must carry a spade among your weapons, and when you relieve yourself outside, you must dig a hole with it, to cover up your filth."17

    It was not until the eighteenth century that Western Europe began to see the life-saving wisdom of this part of the Law. And hundreds of millions of people have not seen the wisdom of it yet.

    The food laws. Two chapters in the Law18 are filled with lists of the birds, beasts and fishes which may and may not be eaten. With a few exceptions the lists agree with what modern man regards as healthy and unhealthy food. The flesh-eating creatures, the rats, the reptiles and most insects are forbidden; the vegetarian bird and beasts are permitted.
    The main differences from modern practice are that pork and shellfish are forbidden by the Law, yet are eaten today. But there were good reasons for the Laws strictness. Today public health inspectors backed by an elaborate laboratory service can ensure that pigs and shellfish are reared under healthy conditions. Israel had no such facilities.

    We know now that two serious diseases, cysticercosis and trichiniasis, can be caught through eating the flesh of pigs infected by parasitic worms. In a primitive society the only safe way to avoid these diseases is to steer clear of pork.

    As for shellfish, they are quite harmless if they grow in water free from sewage. But if human excrement is present they feed on it, and then may harbour the germs of typhoid and other intestinal diseases. Modern science takes precautions against this, but the only precaution open to ancient Israel was to abstain from shellfish.

    Even modern food science can sometimes slip up, and let an unsafe batch of shellfish on to the market. The last time (the very last!) that I ate oysters I was carried off on a stretcher at midnight. I had a week in hospital-ample time to reflect that Moses was wiser than I.

    Cecil Roth has published some figures showing how the Jews have remained healthier than their neighbours right down to modern times.19 One year when statistics were collected for the death rates among infants less than a year old in Czarist Russia, the rate for Jews was 13.2 per cent and for non-Jews 26.0 per cent. In Vienna it was 8.3 per cent for Jews, 16.1 per cent for non-Jews. In New York in 1915 it was 7.8 per cent for Jews, 10.5 per cent for non-Jews. "Even today [he wrote in 1956] the infant death rate in Israel is the lowest in the world."

    Conservation of Resources

    In 1966 a new body was formed in London by a group of eminent British citizens. It is called "The Conservation Society", and its objects were defined as including:

    "(iii) To promote the conservation in the interests of mankind of natural resources and animal life .

    (iv) To promote the conservation of human cultures, skills and knowledge ..."20

    It has taken the world all this time to realise that the worlds resources are limited and need to be carefully conserved. Meanwhile, human foolishness and greed has done untold harm to the beautiful world in which we live.

    Much of this harm could have been prevented if more people had obeyed the Law of Moses. For this Law taught the necessity of conservation of resources several thousand years before man seriously thought about it. Here are three examples:

    Bird life. If an Israelite caught a mother bird sitting on a nest, he must not take both the mother and her eggs or young. He could take the eggs or young birds, but had to let the mother go free to perpetuate the species.21
    If only modern man had listened to Moses, the museums of the world would not now be full of stuffed examples of extinct birds. We should not have a saying, "Dead as the dodo". The beautiful passenger pigeon of North America, and the great auk of the North Atlantic, would still be thriving in their millions as they were at the beginning of the last century.

    Arable land. Every seventh year the Israelite had to let his arable land lie fallow (that is, uncultivated).22 Under modern farming methods this is not necessary. But with more primitive methods of agriculture, constant cropping was liable to destroy the fertility of the land.
    The Law of Moses provided an effective method of preventing human greed from ruining the good earth. But mankind disregarded the Law. All over the world man-made deserts sprawl where once were fertile fields. The deserts of Iraq, the coastal belt of North Africa, the dust bowls of the United States-all these might still be rich farmland if the Law had been obeyed.

    Fruit trees. In present day warfare anything goes-or almost anything. There are, it is true, a few "rules of war", dating back to the first Geneva Convention in 1864. But they are limited in scope, and not all countries recognise them. Even those that say they accept them sometimes break the rules when the crunch comes.
    In the Vietnam war America introduced a new military tactic. It is called "defoliation". The U.S. air force has sprayed many thousands of tons of weedkiller over enemy-occupied territory. Vast areas of jungle where enemy troops once hid have been turned into a temporary desert. Rice crops and fruit trees have also been wiped out, and great numbers of Vietnamese have gone hungry in consequence. Such is "total war", as it is practised today.

    But ancient Israel were forbidden to treat nature so ruthlessly. Even under the stress of war they were not allowed to chop down fruit trees to make defensive barriers. Though this might have reduced their own casualties, or even turned defeat into victory, they still must not do it. Moses told them why not: "for the tree of the field is mans life."23

    Thus the Jewish Law of three thousand years ago was in this respect far wiser, far more civilised, than American law (or British law, for that matter) of today.

    Human strength. This was the most precious of all natural resources, in a world where machine power had not yet come to replace muscle power. The Law of Moses introduced a revolutionary new principle to conserve human strength-a compulsory day of rest, once a week.24
    Those far-off days were not noted for any humanitarian tendencies. Yet the astonishing fact about the Sabbath law was this: it applied to everybody in the land, Israelite and foreigner, master and slave alike.25

    Such an act of generosity on the part of rulers towards their slaves is without parallel in history. Yet Israels Law commanded it, and, by and large, Israel obeyed.

    The great medical historian, Karl Sudhoff, has said:

    "Had Judaism given nothing more to mankind than the establishment of a weekly day of rest, we should still be forced to proclaim her one of the greatest benefactors of humanity."26

    Family Life

    Jews have always been known for the happiness and stability of their home lives,

    In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, when wife-beating was expressly permitted by English law, the Jewish rabbis could say, "It is not the way of our people to beat their wives as the Gentiles do."27

    In 1952 Jewish marriages involving divorced persons numbered 122 out of a total of 1,876, or 6.5 per cent. This was about half the comparable figure for the British people as a whole.28 Most Jewish wives regard homemaking as a full time job. In 1950-52 only 11 per cent of Jewish women went out to work, compared with 34 per cent of the overall population.29

    The secret of successful Jewish home life, like so many other things Jewish, lay in the Law. In the ancient world (as in primitive societies today) wives were often regarded as mere chattels, to be used, discarded and replaced at will. Children were nothing more than economic assets to the Gentile nations.

    But Israels Law was different. Jewish women had to be respected. Adultery, fornication and prostitution were very severely discouraged. Men had to treat their wives fairly, even if they disliked them.30 Although divorce was not forbidden it was not encouraged, but was carefully regulated.31 And the ideal Jewish marriage was clearly specified in the beginning: one man and one woman, joined together for life.32

    The Law laid great stress upon the careful upbringing of children. It was a fathers responsibility to see that his children were well educated in Gods ways.33

    The Jewish religion would never have survived without this stress on religious education within every family. At the same time it has had a useful by-product for the Jews. They have always been more advanced than any other nation in every form of education. Without doubt, their success in the world is partly due to this.

    Thus, for example, a census taken in 1861 revealed that more than half the adult population of Italy could not read or write, but that only one Italian Jew in 17 could not read or write.34 A census of university students in Britain in 1954-5 revealed that 2.8 per cent of students were Jews,35 although Jews form only 0.8 per cent of the countrys population.

    How Did Moses Manage It?

    Once more we have a remarkable fact to face. The Law of Moses (contained in the first five books of the Bible) was astonishingly advanced in its provisions. It was at least three thousand years ahead of its time. The rest of the world did not realise the wisdom of many parts of the Law until the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

    How are we going to account for this? How did Moses manage to give his people such a revolutionary and brilliantly successful law?

    Here is Moses own explanation:

    " What great nation is there that hath a god so nigh unto them as the Lord our God is?... What great nation is there that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this Law?... The Lord spake unto you . . . The Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments."36

    Moses took no credit for himself. He was not the greatest legalistic genius of all time. He was not a man 3,000 years ahead of his time. It was not his brain that anticipated so many discoveries of modern sociology, hygiene, medicine and economics. His Law, he says, came from God.

    This explanation by Moses fits the facts. Is there an alternative explanation that fits them half as well? How do the unbelievers explain the stubborn facts?

    The answer is that they don't. They cannot provide a rational explanation for the facts, so they fall back once more on the technique of side-stepping them.

    "Moses didn't write the Law," they cry. "It was compiled by other men, between five and ten centuries after the time of Moses."

    As if that made any difference! If true, it would only make the Law two thousand-odd years ahead of its time, instead of three thousand. And in any case, as we shall see later, it is by no means proved that Moses did not write the Law.

    So they try another tactic. "Pah, this is just a load of pro-Jewish propaganda!"

    Again: so what? Facts are still facts, even if somebody throws dirty words like "propaganda" at them. And in any case, it is not true. My feelings are certainly pro-Bible, but they are not pro-Jewish. I have no particular liking, nor any dislike, for the Jews. I am just a neutral observer of what anyone can see to be an extraordinary people, with an extraordinary Law.

    Ask yourself: how do you explain these facts? You know how Moses explained them. He said that he received his astonishing Law from God Almighty.

    If this is not true, how did he manage to produce such a Law?
     

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