Five Solas Ministry


Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, p.670

Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, p.670

XII. The Law in the Old Testament

Rousas John Rushdoony

The Institutes of Biblical Law: A Chalcedon Study, Nutley, N.J.: Craig Press, 1973, pp.670-697

1. God the King
2. The Law and the Prophets
3. Natural and Supernatural Law
4. The Law as Direction and Life
5. The Law and the Covenant


1. God the King

 The Hebrew word for “law” is torah, meaning “a pointing out, a direction, or authoritative direction” from the Lord. *1  From the very beginning of Israel’s relationship to God, there was thus of necessity a law, or authoritative direction. Previously, authoritative direction had been given to Adam, the line of Seth, Noah and his descendants, Abraham and his heirs, as well as to other men (as witness Melchizedek and Job). It is impossible for a relationship with God to exist without law. (p.670)

 Since the modernist lacks a faith in the sovereign God, he cannot accept the existence of a given law from the beginning. He must posit instead an evolution in man’s self-awareness and a development of law in terms of man’s experience with reality. As a result, the modernist sees the law as a late codification of Israel’s national experience.  S. R. Driver, in his very influential work, An Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament (1897), assumed an evolutionary position and made no attempt to prove his thesis; the faith of the day was with him. The same position was given an important restatement by Robert H. Pfeiffer, in his Introduction to the Old Testament (1941). The basic premise of such critics is an evolutionary and philosophical humanism. Not surprisingly, with Darwin such a faith came into its own. The comment of Allis on this point is telling: (p.670)

 Even a cursory examination of the literature of the higher criticism makes it clear that it has been increasingly dominated by three great principles of evolutionary theory: (1) that development is the explanation of all phenomena, (2) that this development results from forces latent in man without any supernatural assistance, and (3) that the “comparative” method, which uses a naturalistic yardstick, must determine the nature and rate of this development. *2 (p.670)

 In Biblical history, because the law is always the assumed perspective of every book of the Old Testament, the judgments of the prophets and writers are always on the premise of the law. (p.670)


*1:S. R. Driver, “Law (in the Old Testament),” in Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible, III, 64.

*2:Oswald T. Allis, The Five Books of Moses (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1943), p.228f. (p.670)