Look! More laws! Lots and lots of laws!
I thought about looking at some of these in particular, because there are some that are more interesting than others. Both in terms of actual law and in terms of what still gets referenced today (and what doesn’t).
But to be honest, ,I’m still turning around a lot of that in my head and I don’t think I’d have anything coherent to say. Because a lot of it, really, absent other information is about discernment and I’m still pulling pieces together.
So instead, I’ll talk about something that struck me about this. Which is that really, these laws are not just setting up the framework for a religion, they’re setting up a framework for a society. It’s not a unique concept (Code of Hammurabi, anyone?) but it’s also a bit unfamiliar.
It’s really fascinating to think about how very much religion and society were intertwined at that time in history. That the two fed each other, with tribal or societal connections serving as glue.
Which I think is why I struggle with some of these laws — because how do we know what is what? Some things are clearly strongly societal; laws relating to property, for example. They are grounded, perhaps, in religious ethics, but are not strictly theological in nature. But others are not so clear.
The Bible doesn’t give reasoning, at least not here. There’s no explanation. So I find myself wonder — what is this here for? Is it really about society and power? Is it about social norms? Is it a purely religious dictate? How do we know?
Of course the thing is that we can’t, and that’s what makes all of this so frustrating. Not because discernment is new — when you spend a significant amount of time learning about religious paths with no central texts you have to become comfortable finding out your personal ethical boundaries — but because it feels like there are so many twists and turns. So many people claim to know the ‘correct’ way to interpret the words on the page that it leaves me wondering at my own authority to do so. Even though I know that is a part of faith, and that it’s necessary for growth.