What about the 613 Laws?
Many embrace Jewish traditions more than Scripture. They observe purely Jewish holidays like Hanukkah and Purim and neglect the commanded seven annual Holy Days of Leviticus 23. Incidentally, the word Purim is Persian and means “lots,” as in casting lots. The ancient practice worked like a horoscope, where the heathen cast lots to divine the future each day.
Following Jewish practices often leads to renouncing the New Testament and along with it, Yahshua the Messiah.
At the other end of the spectrum are critics of obedience as practiced in the New Testament. “So do you keep all 613 laws?” they typically ask in a “gotcha” attempt intended to entrap. Let’s take an overview of what the Jews contend are the 613 laws of the Old Testament.
Granted, we observe the vast majority of Yahweh’s commands in the way He intended. But there are some commands that clearly could only apply to the time of ancient Israel.
For instance, a statute in Deuteronomy 22:8 says to make a low wall about 3 feet tall around your roof. That law makes sense for safety on flat roofs in Israel because families used their roofs as living spaces. But it makes no practical sense for most homes today in America.
Following are more of the 613 laws we today cannot comply with because of their nature: Leviticus 25:34 says Levites are to redeem their homes in their Levitical towns; their houses are redeemable but the land surrounding them is not. To keep this law we need first to find out where any remaining Levites are today, where their fields are and where their cities are. If we can’t determine that then we fail in this law.
Deuteronomy 12:2-3 directs Israel to destroy their idolatry and its appurtenances. Anyone care to go through retail stores in December and take a hammer to all the Santa figures and cut down all the Xmas trees?
Exodus 22:18 targets witchcraft with a mandate not to allow a witch to live. What would happen if we took this law into our own hands vigilante style?
Then there are all the laws pertaining to the high priest and the conducting of temple worship. Being we are not under the Levitical priesthood, these laws are unobservable today. Hebrews 5:6 tells us, “As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”
Anyone with a physical defect shall not serve in the sanctuary, Leviticus 21:17. There is no sanctuary or priesthood even existing now.
We get ourselves into a real predicament if we attempt to keep the sacrificial laws today because sacrifices are owned by Yahshua’s power as our High Priest in the Melchisedec order. His sacrifice covered all sacrifices for sin. We best not offer animal sacrifices if we value our salvation as there is no complete removal of sin under the old system of animal sacrifices.
Those 613 laws (a number not found in Scripture but only in Talmudic tradition) were also the constitution of Israel. Those statutes were necessary for running a righteous, theocratic government under Yahweh. They include laws on how a ruler should conduct himself as well as statutes governing political interactions with other nations. They regulated court proceedings and judgments, punishing of criminals, citizen behavior, social interactions, and worship.
Many of these statutes are not in our power to comply with because we live under a Roman system, a government of man, which has assumed some of Yahweh’s prerogatives. The Bible was Israel’s constitution and it will be again in the millennial Kingdom.
Now, biblical laws dealing with Yahweh’s worship, social relations, and morality are for everyone. Many crossover categories. The following is a quick breakdown of major divisions of biblical law and some examples of each.
The king must not have too many wives and horses, Deut. 17:16,17
The king must not have too much silver and gold, Deut. 17:17
Regulations of houses in walled cities, Lev. 25:29
How can such statutes apply to us?
Appoint impartial judges, Deut. 1:17 and16:18
A judicial court must not execute anyone on the testimony of a single witness, Deut.17:6; Num. 35:30
Anyone who knows the evidence must testify in a court case, Lev. 5:1
Punish the false witness exactly as he sought to punish the accused, Deut. 19:19
How can these laws apply to us in a court system that’s not ours?
Moral Law (regulates relationships with fellow man, Ex. 20:12-17; Matt. 22:37-39)
Don’t bear a grudge, Lev. 19:18
Don’t wrong any one in speech, Lev. 25:17
Don’t curse father or mother. Ex. 21:17
Keep your word and your promises, Deut. 23:23
Don’t take revenge, Lev. 19:18
Don’t be superstitious, Lev. 19:26
Keep the Ten Commandments, Ex. 20
These laws are for everyone in any age.
Observe the Ten Commandments, Ex. 20; Deut. 5
Keep the Feasts and Sabbath, Lev. 23
Eat only clean foods, Lev. 11
Observe the sabbaticals and jubilees, Lev. 25
Yahweh no longer wants animal sacrifices (Hebrews 10:5)
Animal sacrifices did not remove sin. (Hebrews 10:11). They simply pointed to the Messiah who was to die as the Lamb of Elohim who would take away the sin of the world.
Crossover laws: Don’t allow anyone practicing witchcraft to live (Ex. 22:17)
Slay the inhabitants of a city that has become idolatrous and burn that city (Deut. 13:16-17)
Man’s statutes do not change perpetual spiritual laws such as sodomite marriages.
Order of inheritance, Num. 27:8
Help a brother with his fallen beast of burden, Deut. 22:4
Don’t overcharge or underpay for an item, Lev. 25:14
Don’t charge a believer interest, Deut. 23:19-20
Houses sold within a walled city may be redeemed within a year, Lev. 25:29
Yahshua Our Standard
Yahshua is our guide when it comes to obedience, as He provided the proper example of how to live the precepts of His Father Yahweh. Being sinless, Yahshua was faithful to the Old Testament commandments, including the weekly Sabbath and Feasts, Hebrews 4:15, 1Peter 2:22.
The Saints at the end of the Bible are defined as those who “keep the commandments of Yahweh, and the faith of Yahshua,” Revelation 14:12. They have both Yahshua and the law. Obedience to the commandments as well as fidelity to the same standard of living shown by Yahshua come as a unit. Those who do Yahweh’s commandments are called blessed, and they will have right to Yahshua’s coming Kingdom, Revelation 22:14
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For instance, a statute in Deuteronomy 22:8 says to make a low wall about 3 feet tall around your roof. That law makes sense for safety on flat roofs in Israel because families used their roofs as living spaces. But it makes no practical sense for most homes today in America. The above comment in the article was necessitated to prevent accidents and applies today when we fail to make our environment safe for others thereby breaking the command of treating others as we would like to be treated. It is my perogative to ensure that I think about others… Read more »
In the construction industry as well as looking at homes built in places with warmer temperatures, it does make sense to build walls in the flat roofs today. In fact, I find it advantageous to even build them on homes with flat roofs for safety against intruders, especially if you know anything about certain tactical operations to taking out your enemy. A wall of sorts can be helpful.
What is your position regarding the use of the Talmud in general as well as the discussed Noahide Laws currently being discussed by Jewish leaders?
By the way, I agree with your position, as I have understood it, regarding the 600+ laws and its irrelevance to followers of Yahshua today. Thank you for your clarification.