The purpose of the Torah

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Many people do not seem to understand why God gave us commandments to live by. So, we need to see what the Bible says about it.

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The purpose of the Torah

by Lex Meyer

Many Christians mistakenly think that there are only ten commandments, but there are actually hundreds of commandments in the Torah. The Rabbis teach that there are 613 commandments, but I haven't counted them myself to know for sure.

The Hebrew word for "commandment" is "mitzvah", and is used in connection with hundreds of commandments throughout scripture, except what we call the "Ten Commandments". The word that the Bible uses here is "d’varim", which means "word, thing, or saying", and is used to mean "the sum of that which is spoken".

So, according to the Bible, what we call the "Ten Commandments" are actually the "Ten Sayings that sum up that which God has spoken".

Understanding this helps to bring clarity to the scriptures. For example, when Yeshua (Jesus) quoted the "Greatest Commandment", He quoted from Deuteronomy 6:5, and when he gave the second, He quoted from Leviticus 19:18, neither of these commandments are listed in the "Ten Commandments", but Yeshua said that these are the two greatest commandments, so obviously when He speaks about the commandments of God, He is referring to more than just the "Ten Commandments".

Yeshua said,

"All the Torah and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
- Matthew 22:40

If you think about it, the Ten Commandments can be divided into two sections, the first half dealing with how we love God, and the second half dealing with how we love others. If we look at the other 600 or so commandments, we will see the same principle applies to them as well.

Yeshua taught that the commandments teach us how to love God, and that we are to obey and teach all of the commandments in the Torah.

"Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
- Matthew 5:19

Every commandment in the Torah teaches us how to love God and how to love others. We see that John also explains this concept in his first letter:

"By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome."
- 1John 5:2-3

Paul also teaches the same concept, saying,

"Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law."
- Romans 13:10

As does James:

"If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself,' you do well."
- James 2:8

So, you see, the commandments are given to us for the purpose of teaching us how to love God and love each other. Every single commandment teaches us to love.

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