The Division Of The Law In The Old Testament
The Division in the Pentateuch
From the beginning, the Decalogue is distinguished from the other laws which God gave. Most of the Pentateuch contains laws given by God to Moses. Although the Pentateuch is often called the Law of Moses, this does not refer to the origination of the laws, but rather the way in which they were communicated to Israel. The Decalogue alone was spoken and delivered directly by God, all the other laws were mediated through Moses, but the Ten Commandments were directly spoken by God to the people (Ex. 20:1; Deut. 4:33; 5:4-5, 22; 9:10). This already gives us the idea that there is some significance to the Decalogue, for why would God only speak these Ten Commandments and not the other ones directly to Israel? This shows their primacy over the others. In fact, Moses tells the purpose why God directly came and spoke the words to Israel, namely, “that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin” (Ex. 20:20). Obviously, this does not mean that they would not sin merely because of hearing the Law, they surely did. But it does increases their liability as they heard these words directly from the mouth of God and still rebelled against Him.
That only the Decalogue was written by the finger of God on tablets of stone shows their everlasting character (Ex. 24:12; 31:18; 32:15-16; Deut. 4:13; 5:22; 9:10). To be written in stone means that they are meant to survive and remain unchanged, unlike all the other laws which were communicated by God to Moses and written by the hand of Moses. This shows non-temporary character of the Decalogue, unlike the ceremonial and judicial laws. Furthermore, the Decalogue was to be stored in the Ark of the Covenant showing their centrality to the Old Covenant, unlike all the other laws (Ex. 25:16; 40:20; Deut. 10:1-5; Heb. 9:4).
The Decalogue has a timeless character to it, unlike the other laws which were only for a particular time shadowing the sacrifice of Christ and thereby showing that they were temporary. The laws of the Decalogue are “obvious” and self-evident to man in general. If God exists, we are to worship Him and to obey Him. If we want to live a good life, we must love our neighbor as ourselves. These laws are not things like brining animal sacrifices or not eating pork, which do...