Did You Know There Are Different Hebrew Words for "Law"?

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Did You Know There Are Different Hebrew Words for "Law"?

In the Old Testament, there are different Hebrew words for the term Law, which may or may not be clearly indicated in the English translations. In fact, there are eight of them:

Hebrew words for Law.png

Source: Barnes’ Bible Charts.

The Ten Commandments, literally called the “Ten Words” in ancient Hebrew, make up the core of God’s ethical, holy character and standards.   

In the broad sense of the word, Law is viewed as the entire Word of God. God’s Word are his propositions and/or commands set forth for life.  In the narrow sense and according to the context of the Bible, Law has to do with the moral, ceremonial, and civil laws.

The Mosaic law  looked ahead with anticipation, the coming Savior and redemption. The Law  administered the promises of that redeemer and salvation through various types, foreshadows, and rituals.

In the Old Testament, God’s Law was considered God’s light to shine on the path of God that led to his life and blessings. 

The New Testament Gospels tell the great news that the Savior arrived who fulfilled the Law in every way.  The best way to understand the Law is through the interpretive lens of the New Testament.

  1. The New Testament provides us with understanding for how the Law fits into the history of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. The Law points to Jesus Christ in every way.

  2. The New Testament understanding of the Law takes precedence as the interpreter  of the Law and must also be understood in consort with the whole Bible.

  3. The basic, fundamental requirements of the Old Testament law are not done away with by the New Covenant; rather they are expressed in the fullest terms.  

  4.  Each of the commands of the Ten Words are quoted explicitly or referenced implicitly in the New Testament.

  5. However, no one is capable of keeping the Law perfectly. Jesus Christ came to perfectly and completely fulfill God’s Law. He does this on behalf of his people who receive and believe in him by faith alone.

  6. Love was and is always the disposition for keeping the Law Love fulfills God’s Law  (Romans 13:8, 10). Jesus summarizes the Law in terms of living God (Commandments 1-4)  and loving others (Commandments 5-10).  Love fulfills the Law. The ground for obedience was and is love for God and for others. The ground of true obedience is not  simply because it is commanded but because our sovereign and holy God has redeemed  his people and did so from love.  Jesus pays the penalty for failing to keep the Law and violating God’s holy standards. He then clothes true believers in Christ with his righteousness and imputes righteousness to believers’ accounts. Therefore, his people have a faith-response of gratitude expressed through love. The ground for our living and loving is the self-sacrificial love of Christ! The power for living out God’s imperatives is by the Holy Spirit.