I know what you’re thinking. You have another question.
Why didn’t they just put all the laws in subject order so you don’t have to jump all over the book to find everything that applies. I have two answers. No, actually, I have three.
First, I don’t really know why things are in the exact order they are in. I would need a time machine to go back and watch what happened to find out why the commandments ended up in the order they did.
The second answer is based on an email somebody sent me citing Deuteronomy 10:5 where it says that Moshe put the tablets in the ark, meaning that the law was written down. (There’s a Jewish tradition that the two tablets had all 613 commandments on them.) This goes with Exodus 34:28, where it says that Moshe wrote Gd’s words on the two tablets, but it never says what he did with them. (This is after the golden calf incident and the breaking of the first two tablets.) The question was whether I denied that these tablets had been written down.
So I asked back what did happen to those tablets? Is there anything in Torah or other Jewish classics that says what happened to them?
The answer is that they were always in the ark. They were never taken out. Even if all the laws Gd wanted the Jews to follow were on those tablets, the people never saw them.
How did the people know what the laws were? See Exodus 34:32; Moshe taught it to them.
So Gd didn’t teach Moshe the laws in subject order?
After Moshe, the people had to remember the law the best they could. Much later in these lessons I’ll show you that it’s nearly impossible for people to remember things precisely in their original wording. Not unless they have a written format to study from. And even then – how many times did you go over your notes and still flunk a test? Human memory is a tricky thing.
The third answer is that American law still does it this way. No, seriously. The statutes may be in subject order, but an attorney doesn’t go into court and argue on the basis of statutes, she argues on the basis of the previously decided cases that went her way. Those aren’t organized by subject. They are organized chronologically into “reporters” which are keynoted by subject or phrase to make it easier to find the case you want. Doing it “by hand” in the hardcopy is excruciatingly difficult.
There are online databases now that make things MUCH easier on the modern American attorney. There are also online copies of Torah and Talmud, BUT to use them properly you have to know Hebrew and Aramaic. There is software that lets you search Torah and Talmud and has copies of most of the relevant texts, but once again, you have to know Hebrew and Aramaic to use them.
And to some extent you have to know Jewish law. But you only care about that if you’re going to try to practice in a Jewish court, and we are so far from not there yet that we can’t even see there from here. But the point is, through the ages right down to the Internet age, it has been necessary for people practicing the law to deal with non-subject-organized compendia to argue their cases in court. Courts don’t accept cases for trial in subject order; that would mean putting off every single murder case until all the drunk driving cases have been dealt with. Is that any way to run a society?© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved