The Law of the Covenant


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The purpose in this book is to give a theological and useable exposition of the first extended law code of the Bible. There is no extensive commentary on Exodus 21-23 of the Bible written from an orthodox, evangelical standpoint. Thus, at numerous points I have been put in a position of either saying very little or else breaking new ground. The reader may well find peculiar or strained, for instance, my interpretation of the stipulation that the owner of a slaughtered beast be compensated five-fold for an ox and four-fold for a sheep (Ex. 22:1), or my discussion of the meaning of “thou shalt not boil a kid in its mother’s milk” (Ex. 23:19), to take two examples. I only ask the reader’s indulgence that he or she carefully consider my suggestions. I may be wrong at one place or another, but then again, I may be right. What seems strange to us might not have seemed strange to an ancient Israelite.

If we take a man-centered approach to these laws, we might say that the purpose of this legislation is only to ensure human prosperity. Such an approach to the law of God misses the most basic point. These laws show us God's own genuine personal care for His world, and as such these laws cannot be altered by human whim. To be sure, the Bible is man-oriented, and thus obedience to these laws will improve human life; but the laws are God's, and cannot be changed by man. Thus, as we examine the laws in Exodus 21-23, our first concern must be the glory of God, not whether these laws seem right to us sinful men. If we start with God, we will soon see how these laws also improve human life. (from the author's Preface)

"At some points I have problems with Jim's discussion. On the whole, however, the book is a tremendous contribution. There are fresh insights on nearly every page. It raises the discussion of biblical law to a new level of precision and cogency, because it deals with the law in such detail. It is the most practical piece of biblical theology I've seen in a long time. It has changed my thinking on a number of matters. I encourage you to read it in gratitude to God..." (from the Introduction by John Frame)

Paperback, 335 pages; or PDF Download


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