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What do we learn from Moses about the Hebrew Bible? (II)

  • July 22, 2019
  • By Ben van Noort
What do we learn from Moses about the Hebrew Bible? (II)

What do we learn from Moses about the Hebrew Bible? (II)

Moses, like Abraham, wrote down the words of God, and he introduced a second documentation formula.

The Second Documentation Formula of the Hebrew Bible
“Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the ordinances which the Lord your God commanded me to teach you.”
Deuteronomy 6:1 RSV

  • Mizwah. Commandment (from the verb root zawah: order, command).
  • Chukim. Statutes, records; better Recordings (from the verb root chakak: engrave, scratch, carve, inscribe, draw, record).
  • Mishphathim. Ordinances, judgements (from the verb root sjaphath: judge).

    The coherence of the words are really clear. A command has been given and should be done from that moment onwards. It was written on a wax tablet, and recorded on a scroll. Then it had got the form of a judgement that was ready to be taught as a valid rule.


31 But you, stand here by me, and I will tell you all the commandment, the statutes and the ordinances [records and judgements] which you shall teach them.”
Deuteronomy 5:31 RSV

In the book of Deuteronomy Moses looked back on many culmination points of the journey through the desert, and in this case the law giving on Mt Sinai. He had repeated the Ten Commandments with several additions as was permissible for anyone who recalled orally a former word of God, provided that it was done in the spirit of the original. And then he called into remembrance how God had said to him that he should teach these words to the people. It has all appearance that not even Moses introduced this new formula of documentation, but God (5:31). 

Final Remarks
The two documentation formula’s are:
1. (Abraham) My commandments, my records, writings (statutes) and my teachings (laws).
Genesis 26:5

2. (Moses) All the commandment, the records, writings (statutes) and the judgements.
Deuteronomy 5:31

Shortened forms of 1 and 2 are:
1. The record (statute) of the teaching (law).
Numbers 4:4

2. The records (statutes) and the judgements.
Malachi 4:4

The emphasis of the Hebrew Bible on the documentation of the words of God has also meaning for the direct speeches of human beings, which are also authentic. If the human sayings would not be original, of how much value would then be the actual words of God?

The authenticity of the direct speeches in the Hebrew Bible has meaning for the many great and supernatural miracles in the book that are so frankly shared in it. If the authors could present accurately what was said, it was not very difficult for them to also present what had occurred at the same time.

It is not necessary to have strange and deep meditations before we are ready to believe what we read in the Hebrew Bible. Once we have accepted Jesus, who fulfilled the law and the prophets, we have to understand how the spoken word was written down in all sorts of situations (in accordance with the documentation formulas).

A Serious Question
That brings us to the subject of the following blog articles: How is it possible that we have so many conversations on our table of Abraham and Sara, of Saul and David, of David and Jonathan, of Naomi and Ruth, and so many more?


By Ben van Noort, July 22, 2019