The Law of Moses – ahead of its time – more than human foresight

If you were to look at the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) you would see the code of laws under which the Israelites lived.  

Around the year 1490 B.C., the Israelite leader, Moses, was given the “Law” by God. This consisted of the Ten Commandments along with further statutes and laws. These provided judgments and penalties which controlled the attitude of the Israelites to God and His worship. The laws also controlled their attitude to each other and to the nations among whom they dwelt. These various laws and ordinances together came to be known as the “Law of Moses”.

God gave Israel the Law to make them a holy (separate) people to Him. It was intended to guide their lives so that they might be an example to the surrounding nations and as a result, glorify the Name of their God.

Good health

In the Biblical book of Genesis (chapter 17) it talks about how important it is to stay clean and use proper sanitation if the community is to stay healthy. And in Leviticus (chapters 12 to 14) it gives a number of rules for the community to stay healthy. This obviously is exactly what Medicine today also teaches.

The following are some of the sections of the law that helped to keep Israel healthy:+

LawCommentBible verse
IsolationPeople with infectious diseases (like leprosy) were commanded to live away from the rest of the people. Modern times In modern medicine we see this same practice of isolating people who are suffering from infectious diseases.Leviticus 13:45,46
Washing after handling dead bodiesIf a Jew had handled a dead body then he was seen as being unclean. As a result, he had to be quarantined for seven days, and then go through a washing procedure before he could mix with society again. Modern times: Prior to the twentieth century surgeons used to handle the dead and the dying and then, without washing their hands, go into the operating theatre. Because of this many patients lost their life through infection.Numbers 19:11-19
SanitationSanitation was important for obvious reasons. The laws said: “Designate a place outside the camp where you can go to relieve yourself. As part of your equipment have something to dig with, and when you relieve yourself, dig a hole and cover up your excrement”. Modern times: Many countries of the world saw the importance of this law with the development of modern facilities. But there are still some third world countries which haven’t seen the wisdom of this and people’s health suffers as a result.Deuteronomy 23:12,13
The food lawsThere are two chapters in the Bible which list the land animals, birds and fish which can or cannot be eaten. Modern times The list of animals in the Law of Moses pretty much agrees with what we regard as healthy in the modern age. The vegetarian birds and beasts are allowed and the flesh-eating creatures like rats, reptiles and insects are prohibited. The main differences between what we eat now and the times of Moses are pigs (pork) and shellfish. These two animals were forbidden to be eaten back then but we do eat them now. They didn’t eat them in the time of Moses because of the high risk of these foods carrying disease – pork can be infected by parasitic worms and shellfish can be contaminated if they sit in water where there is sewage. These days we have strict health laws to keep pork and shellfish uninfected.Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14

So by following the laws of Moses, the Jews, down through the ages managed to keep themselves a lot healthier than the surrounding nations. There are actually statistics to prove this.

Protecting limited resources

In modern times we see all of the earth’s resources being consumed at a rapid rate. We see parts of the ocean losing all of particular types of fish because of over-fishing. The media tells of vast areas of forest being cleared and destroyed. The list goes on. If only we took notice of “Laws of Moses” in regard to conservation of resources:

LawCommentBible verse
Bird lifeIf an Israelite came across a bird sitting on a nest, he was not allowed to take both the eggs (or young chicks) and the mother bird as well. He was allowed to take the eggs (or young chicks), but had to let the mother go free. The idea behind this was to keep the species going. Modern times: when we look through books on nature we see them full of references to not only extinct birds, but also animals and fish. It is frightening to think of how long the endangered animals list is.Deuteronomy 22:6 – 7
Land fit for cultivationEvery seven years, the Israelites were not allowed to cultivate the land which was fit for cultivation. This was to protect the fertility of the soil. Without this year of “rest” the soil would become overused and not have the nutrients that would allow crops to grow. Modern times: Modern farming techniques mean this doesn’t apply any more. However, in some of the third world countries and even in the vegetable patch of your backyard (!) it does still apply.Leviticus 25:1 – 7
Fruit treesDuring times of war, the Israelites were forbidden from cutting down fruit trees to make defensive barriers. Even though the trees may have reduced their casualties in a battle, the tree was seen as valued source of food for all the nation of Israelites.Deuteronomy 20:19, 20
Human strengthIn the times of Moses there were no machines, so human strength was extremely important. It was recognised as being critical that there be a day of rest each week so that men and women could recover both physically and mentally. This was a new idea back in those times. And it was made even more revolutionary because the law said there should be a day of rest for everyone – Israelite and foreigner, master and slave.  Exodus 20:8 – 10

These laws all had one idea and that was to conserve and protect the resources they had at their disposal. This is a law that is not observed in a number of places in out modern society.

The secrets of good family life

In the ancient world, women were quite often mistreated and perceived more as objects than human beings. This wasn’t the case with Jewish law. Jewish women had to be respected. Even if men disliked their wives, they still had to treat them fairly (Deuteronomy 21:13 – 16; 22:13-19). It was pointed out that the ideal marriage was one man and one woman joined together for life (Genesis 2:18-24).

The law also covered the upbringing of children. It made it very important that children be brought up carefully. It was the responsibility of the father that the children were well educated in the ways of God.


The Law of Moses was amazingly advanced in its ideas for such a ancient time. How was it so advanced? Was it because Moses had thought up some great ideas?

The answer to this is “no”, as Moses himself acknowledged. He pointed out the Law came from God. This is why it was so advanced in its ideas. This is another reason to believe that the Bible is true.