Which of the religious rules is the most important to follow?
Old Testament contains over 800 laws and commandments, some large
and some small, all designed to help the Hebrew people live faithfully
and successfully in the Promised Land of Canaan. In addition, the
prophets articulated expectations that don't take the form of rules
but clearly were meant to guide human behavior.
Ten Commandments were intended as an overarching framework, as was
the call to justice. Thus, a holy people would have one God, worship
him only, would not engage in murder, adultery, theft, false witness,
dishonoring of parents, and would observe the sabbath. The prophet
Micah put it this way: “What does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with
in turn, contravened or redirected many of the laws of Torah, such
as the “law of retaliation” and rules on observing sabbath.
In his teaching, two commandments stood above all others: love God,
and love your neighbor.
is never enough to prowl Torah (the first five books of the Old
Testament) to find individual statutes for addressing critical issues.
For one thing, from a Christian perspective, Torah has been superseded
by the teachings and ministry of Jesus. For another, the prophetic
witness in the Old Testament offers better guidance for some modern
issues than does a specific rule designed to help a nomadic people
cross Sinai. Finally, the laws governing Israel's early years are
grounded in conditions and assumptions that no longer apply to us,
such as patriarchal norms governing the roles of women.