Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Torah and the Ten Commandments

Following is an email that I sent to a rabbi before leaving the Seventh-day Adventist church. I had been taught that Moses' Law and God's Law were two different laws and that the law was divided into civil, moral and ceremonial. I was also taught that the ceremonial law, which they say is Moses'Law and the one that was added in Galatians, was the one that was nailed to the cross. The Bible makes no distinction of two separate laws nor the division of the law. The law is simply referred to as The Law. God's Law and Moses' Law are the same law, one unit of 613 laws and are used interchangeably. 

I was desperately searching for answers. Since the law was given to the Jews/Israelites, I considered them to be an authority and decided to email a rabbi to see how his answer would align with Scripture. I found his response to be very informative and true to Scripture. Here goes..............

From: Patricia Allen

I understand that the Torah consists of 613 laws including the Ten Commandments. Are the 613 commandments considered a unit or are there categories like civil, moral and ceremonial laws? When Scripture speaks of The Law is it speaking of the entire law (Torah)? Can the Ten Commandments be separated from the Torah?

Thanks for your response. 

Shalom Patricia,

I like your question, as there are some very important key concepts contained within, important to Jews, and important to non-Jews. You have classified yourself as a ben Noach, which is quite correct, as anyone who is not Jewish is under G-d's Noachide Covenant. It is a positive thing to identify oneself honestly and straightforwardly as a ben Noach for this is the direction G-d wants every non-Jew to take. BTW: One should not think that G-d's Noachide Covenant is a simple set of seven laws. It is nothing of the kind. It is an entire way of thinking, an entire way of living, and it is a philosophical and intellectual exercise without end.
As to the Ten Commandments, there is no such thing. I realize that everyone thinks it is the Ten Commandments, and therefore calling it anything else would be troublesome, and as so even most knowing people stick to the title. However, the Hebrew term for "Ten Commandments" would be, "Aseres Mitzvos," and that is NOT what these commandments are called. They are called the "Aseres HaDibros," the Ten STATEMENTS. The Rambam (Maimonides) explains to us that the Aseres Hadibros are actually 14 commandments, couched within Ten Statements.

You ask if the Aseres Hadibros stand alone away from the Torah, away from the 613? No, they do not. They are a reflection of G-d's complete law to the Jewish people. The 613 do not stand alone either. AND, the Sheva Mitzvos Bnei Noach (Seven Laws of Noah) also do not stand alone. G-d's covenants to the Jews and to the rest of humankind are all encompassing modes of daily behavior. What needs to be clearly understood is that G-d's laws to the Jewish people are NOT the same as G-d's laws to everyone else, and a person is to learn and follow HIS set of laws, be they Jewish or Noachide. He is not to become confused and think he is to follow the other person's rules.

The laws making up BOTH G-d's Jewish and Noachide covenants were both given over at Sinai, and are both incorporated within G-d's Torah. The key to understanding those laws, both Jewish and Noachide, lie with the knowledgeable and observant of the recipients of those laws at Sinai, that is, the Jews. The Aseres HaDibros (Ten Statements) are NOT incumbent upon a ben Noach, and there are sections, such as Shaboos observance, which is not even allowed for a ben Noach. However, righteousness can be achieved BOTH by a Jew and by a ben Noach if he understands and follows his own set of rules, and makes them the basis for his continual improvement throughout his life.

 I do hope this is helpful.

Regards, Eliahu Levenson

The rabbi's response is in total agreement with Scripture. The Bible makes it plain that the written law was given to the Jews/Israelites, "And God spake all these words saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage..." Exodus 20:1-2

Gentiles do not have the law that was given to the Jews. 

Romans 2:14 (NIV)
14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law,
Ephesians 2:11-13 (NIV)
11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)--
12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. 

Gentiles are also of the seed of Abraham.

Abraham was saved by faith before the law was given to his descendants 430 years later (see Galatians 3:17). We, too, are saved by grace through faith because we were never under the law given to the Jews/Israelites.

Romans 4:16 (NIV)
16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring--not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 

Believers are led by the Spirit and we are not under law.

Galatians 5:16-18 (NIV) 
16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.
18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law

May God richly bless and enlighten you as you study His Word.

Patricia Allen

"God cannot kiss His bride until the veil is lifted."  Patricia A. Allen


  1. Extremely helpful and informative post about Torah and the commandments. Hats off to the writer for sharing such useful information. Excellent share indeed!

  2. We should respect all the holly books no matter whatever the religion we belong to. Because these holly books are message from GOD. These books surely have good living outlines for us.

  3. As a former SDA I found this article very informative. Thank you for your writing and research and to the Rabbi for responding to you.