A Handbook of Bible Law - Law and justice

Copyright 1991 by Charles A. Weisman. 2nd Edition: Aug., 1992; 3rd Edition: Dec., 1994


Comments: All law and order, all societies, rests upon some legal authority. There must be a source or foundation for the laws and jurisprudence of a nation. Many different modes of law and justice have been devised, yet after thousands of years of struggle along these lines the world has failed to find any system of law and justice which can compare with that which is taught in the Bible.

Human legal systems come and go and are continually in the process of reform and change, but the eternal principles of justice, truth and righteousness established by God for man are unchanged. They have endured the test of time by way of their proven effectiveness. Thus, all equitable codes of jurisprudence are founded upon Biblical teachings and principles, and indeed must conform to them, as Sir William Blackstone well says:

Upon these two foundations, the law of nature and the law of revelation [scripture], depend all human laws; that is to say, no human laws should be suffered to contradict these (1 B1. Comm. 42).

Blackstone further stipulates that human laws are only declaratory of, and act in subordination to, divine and natural laws; and should any human law allow or enjoin us to do what divine law has prohibited, we are bound to transgress that human law. (1 Bl. Comm. 42-43). Man's observance of divine law is essential in his moral conduct, economic well-being, and social order, just as the physical laws are essential in an orderly universe.

The Bible contains those precepts and commands which constitute the legal and moral authority to guide human conduct. There is no doubtful authority contained in the words: "Thus saith the LORD." This is the authority all law and justice must be founded upon.

Diblical justice consists of an exact and scrupulous regard for the rights of others, with a deliberate purpose to preserve them on all occasions sacred and inviolate, and for the perpetual disposition to render every man his due.

The Bible also contains many rules, regulations and laws for the creation, maintenance and enforcement of oaths and contracts, which are essential acts for both conducting daily business and in administering justice. Laws of Biblical society held that one who had undertaken a duty or obligation, in legal form, must fully and exactly perform it, at all regards. If a man acted, he did so at his own risk. It was his duty to keep his eyes open and abide by the consequences of his agreement and the law of the land.

Biblical justice stresses the importance of requiring two or more witnesses in order to condemn a person of some offense. In Biblical law, as it is today, it is mandatory that witnesses give their testimony in the presence of the accused and that they testify by oath.

Law and justice are to exist as fixed and standard rules. They never were to be determined by what any individual or Judge believed was right or wrong, good or bad; but by what was right or wrong according to what God established:

You shall not follow other gods (ways, laws, etc.) ... You shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, His testimonies, and His statutes which He commanded you.

And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD, that it may be well with you. (Deut. 6:14-18).

With the law established, it is imperative it be publicized, for it has been a recognized maxim throughout the ages that; A law is not obligatory unless it be promulgated. When God gave Israel the law, He verbally pronounced it to them (Exod. 20). Later He had Moses pronounce the laws to the people (Exod. 24:3). If the law was not made public, and instead placed directly in the 'Ark of the Covenant' (which no one was allowed to touch), the people would never have been obliged to keep the law.

That we might not be ignorant of the law and justice God requires of us, He had performed one of His greatest works- the recording of His word on these matters in the Bible and preserving that word throughout the ages.

4A - Law of the Land

  1. The laws, statutes, commandments and judgments of God are to be kept throughout the land. Lev. 18:4-5; Deut. 5:32-33; Ezek. 20:19.
  2. There is to be one law applied to the citizen and the stranger. Exod. 12:49; Lev. 24:22; Num. 9:14.
  3. Foreigners to abide by and obey God's law. Lev. 16:29; Lev. 17:12-15; Lev. 18:26; Lev. 24:16; Lev. 25:6; Num. 15:30; Num. 35:15; Deut. 1:16; Deut. 5:14; Deut. 24:17; Deut. 27:19; Deut. 31:12: Josh. 8:33-35.
  4. The LORD is our lawgiver. Isa. 33:22; James 4:12.
  5. You shall not follow the laws and ordinances of other nations in your land. Lev. 18:3; Mic. 6:16; 2 Kings 17:19-20.
  6. He who does any thing defiantly and with contempt for the law, that person shall be cut off from among his people. Num. 15:29-31.
  7. All must confirm the words of the law by doing them. Deut 27:26; Gal. 3:10.
  8. Laws and decrees that are contrary to Divine law or justice, or oppress the rights of persons, are repugnant and void. Isa. 10:1-2; Isa. 24:5-6; Dan. 3:10-30; Dan. 6:5-22.
  9. We are to remember the ancient events and principles of the past which formed the law of the land. 1 Sam. 24:13; Job 8:8; Isa. 51:2; Jer. 18:15.

4B - Law Publication

  1. The law is to be revealed to the people; it is not to be kept secret, or made obscure, or hidden in any manner. Deut. 29:29; Deut. 30:11.
  2. The law is to be publicly written, displayed and recorded. Exod. 17:14; Exod. 31:18; Deut 27:1-3,8; Deut 31:9, 24-26; Josh. 8:32; Josh. 24:25-26.
  3. Every seven years, on the year of release, the law is to be read before all the people that they may learn and observe all the words of the law. Deut. 31:10-13.
  4. The Law is to be taught and instructed privately and publicly. Deut. 5:31; Deut. 6:7-8, 20-25; Neh. 8:1-9; Jer. 36:6; Acts 13:15.
  5. The law is to be displayed on door posts of homes and on city gates. Deut. 6:9; Deut 11:20.
  6. The law is to be publicly read to remind the people of the law and that it is to be observed. Exod. 24:7; Exod. 35:1; Deut. 5:1; Josh. 8:34-35; Neh. 8:2-6, 13-14; Neh. 13:1-3.

    4C - Bribery

    1. You are not to take a gift or money offered as a bribe. Deut. 16:19; 2 Chron. 19:7; Isa. 33:15.
    2. Bribery condemned as being wicked and perverting justice and judgment. 1 Sam. 8:3; Job. 15:34; Psa. 26:9-10; Prov. 17:23; Eccl. 7:7; Isa. 1:23; Isa. 5:23; Ezek. 13:19; Amos 5:12; Matt. 26:14-15.
    3. He who takes a bribe against the innocent may not dwell in the LORD's holy nation. Psa. 15:1, 5.
    4. You shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the wise and subverts the cause of the just. Exod. 23:8.
    5. Those in government who take bribes overthrows the justice and stability established in the land. Prov. 29:4.
    6. They are cursed who take reward against the innocent. Deut. 27:25; Psa. 15:5.
    7. He that hates gifts is blessed. Prov. 15:27.
    8. It is iniquity for judges to pronounce judgment for a bribe or reward. Mic. 3:10-11.

    4D - Oaths, Vows and Contracts

    1. If you swear or take an oath you shall do so in God's name. Gen. 24:3; Deut 6:13; Deut 10:20.
    2. You shall make no false or deceitful oath or covenant. Psa. 24:4; Jer. 7:9; Zech. 8:17; Hos. 10:4.
    3. You shall not swear by God's name falsely. Lev. 19:12.
    4. When one fully performs all the terms of an oath or contract, he is clear of all obligation to it. Gen. 24:8.
    5. If a man makes a vow to God or swears an oath to bind himself by contract or binding obligation, he shall not violate his word but shall do all that he stated. Num. 30:2; Josh. 9:20; Judges 11:30-36; 2 Sam. 15:7-9.
    6. You are to keep your word. Deut. 23:23.
    7. When you make a vow unto God, you shall not delay to pay it, for God will require you to keep your word. Deut. 23:21; Psa. 65:1; Psa. 66:13; Psa. 76:11; Psa. 116:18; Eccl. 5:4-5.
    8. If you refrain from vowing there is no sin in not performing what you said you would do. Deut. 23:22.
    9. If a young woman, who is under her father's house, makes a vow and her father hears it but says nothing then all her vows shall stand. Num. 30:3-4.
    10. A father can cancel the obligations of a vow or contract by his daughter who is in his house. Num. 30:5.
    11. A husband can allow or annul the vows or contracts made by his wife. Num. 30:6-8.
    12. A vow of a widow or divorced woman shall stand against her. Num. 30:9.
    13. If a divorced woman makes a vow while in her husband's house, her husband can affirm or annul the vow. Num. 30:10-14.
    14. We should avoid making any oaths so that you may not fall under judgment. Matt. 5:34-37; James 5:12.
    15. God will judge and punish false swearers. Zech. 5:4; Mal. 3:5.
    16. If a person swears thoughtlessly with his lips to do evil or to do good, and whatever he pronounced by the oath is hidden or unknown to him, when he comes to know it, then he shall be guilty in these matters and shall confess them. Lev. 5:4-5.

      4E - Witnesses and Testimony

      1. You shall not bear false witness against another nor raise a false report. Exod. 20:16; Exod. 23:1; Deut 5:20; Luke 3:14; Luke 18:20.
      2. A faithful witness speaks the truth and saves lives, but a false witness speaks lies. Prov. 14:5, 25.
      3. One witness shall not condemn a man for any iniquity or crime he commits. Num. 35:30; Deut. 17:6; Deut. 19:15.
      4. Do not join your hand with a wicked man to be an unrighteous witness. Exod. 23:1.
      5. False witness is an abomination and condemned. Prov. 6:16, 19; Prov. 12:17; Prov. 25:18; Jer. 7:9-10.
      6. Do not be a witness against your neighbor without cause. Prov. 24:28.
      7. A false witness is to be punished. Prov. 19:5, 9; Prov. 21:28; Zech. 5:3-4.
      8. Physical proofs and facts can serve as a witness or evidence in certain cases. Exod. 22:13; Deut. 22:15, 17, 20.
      9. You shall not testify in a dispute for the sake of following the majority and thus pervert justice. Exod. 23:2.
      10. At the testimony of two or three witnesses shall the fact of the matter be established. Deut. 17:6; Deut. 19:15; Matt. 18:16; John 8:17; 2 Cor. 13:1; 1 Tim. 5:19: Heb. 10:28.
      11. We are not to be a witness against another without cause. Prov. 24:28.
      12. If someone gives contrary testimony, then the judges shall make diligent inquisition between both men to see if the witness is a false witness. Deut. 19:16-18.
      13. If a witness is found to be a false witness by testifying falsely against his brother, then he shall receive the punishment that the accused brethren would have received if guilty. Deut. 19:18-19.
      14. When a person who is a witness sins when he has taken an oath, about an event he saw or knew, if he does not tell it, then he will bear his guilt. Lev. 5:1.
      15. A disreputable witness scorns justice. Prov. 19:28.

      4F - Justice In Law and Judgment

      1. You are not to twist, distort or pervert justice. Deut 16:19.
      2. You shall not be unjust but shall follow that which is just and righteous in matters of law and judgment. Lev. 19:15,35; Deut 16:20; Jer. 22:3.
      3. You are not to be partial towards anyone or a respecter of persons in exacting justice, whether they be poor or rich, small or great. Exod. 23:3; Lev. 19:15: Deut. 16:19; 2 Chron. 19:7; Prov. 28:21.
      4. Judgment to be quickly executed upon those violating the law of God or the law of the land. Ezra. 7:26; Jer. 21:12.
      5. Seek good, and not evil; hate the evil, and love the good, and establish justice in your courts. Amos 5:14-15.
      6. You shall keep far from a false matter. Exod. 23:7.
      7. Injustice of the least kind is condemned. Luke 16:10.
      8. You shall do no injustice regarding the measurement of length, weight or volume, but shall adhere to a just and standard measurement. Lev. 19:35-36; Psa. 82:2.
      9. They are condemned who call evil good, and good evil. Isa. 5:20.
      10. We are commanded to act justly and pursue justice. Deut 16:20; Prov. 21:3: Isa. 56:1; Mic. 6:8; Phil. 4:8.
      11. You shall not pervert the judgment of the stranger, the widow, the oppressed nor of the fatherless. Exod 22:21-23; Deut 24:17; Deut. 27:19; Psa. 10:18; Psa. 82:2-4; Isa. 1:17; Jer. 22:3.
      12. You shall not pervert judgment of the poor or needy in his cause but judge them righteously and deliver them out of the hand of the wicked. Exod. 23:6; Prov. 29:4; Psa. 82:2-4; Prov. 31:9.
      13. Doing injustice by justifying the wicked and condemning the righteous is an abomination and condemned by God. Prov. 17:15; Prov. 18:5; Prov. 20:10; Prov. 24:24-25; Prov. 29:27; Psa. 82:2; Lam. 3:35-36; Mic. 3:9.
      14. Blessed are those who keep justice. Psa. 106:3.
      15. Punishment required for injustice. Prov. 11:7; Amos 5:11-12.
      16. You shall not turn aside the needy from judgment, or take away the rights from the poor by unrighteous decrees. Isa. 10: 1 -2.
      17. When the wicked surround the righteous, the law becomes ignored, justice is never upheld, and wrong judgment is rendered. Hab. 1:4.

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