550 - 450 BC - Final Composition of The Torah
The Torah is a compilation of at least four independent earlier sources. The Documentary Hypothesis was
first formulated because readers notice several doublets: two different stories of creation, of the
covenant between God and Abraham, etc.
Exodus - Passover meal required roasted meat, no boiling
Deuteronomy - Passover meal required boiled meat
2 Chronicles - Passover meal required "cook over roasting fire and boiling offerings"
It was assumed that there were two authors, as doublets demonstrated a uniform type of vocabulary -
one strand always used Yahweh, another always used Elohim; there were also inconsistencies between
Deuteronomist historian (D), compiler who took portions of the mythopoetic accounts of J (earliest
document from Solomon's time) and E (from Kingdom of Israel) and stitched them together to create a
historical narrative, the most important book of which is the Deuteronomy - there is also a Priestly source
(P), who selected section pertaining to the Levites (priestly class) and produced much of Leviticus
These are the first five books of the Bible, alternatively referred to as the Pentateuch, or Five Books.
Traditionally ascribed to Moses, modern scholars defend a "Documentary Hypothesis."
538 BC - Cyrus the Great of Persia's Achaemenid Empire Conquers Babylon
The Persian Empire inherited Babylonian territory, including Judah, which was known as the "province
beyond the river"
Babylonian exiles were permitted to return
538 -BC - Cyrus Cylinder is an edict written on a clay cylinder, sometimes considered to be the first
declaration of universal human rights
Final redacted form of the Torah was likely composed after the Israelite exile to Babylon.
4th - 5th centuries BC - Jews of Elephantine
A Jewish community of mercenaries serving Persia on the Island of Yeb (modern Elephantine, Egypt). Letter
contain evidence of a Temple of Yahweh, and many theophoric (containing part of a name of a deity) names
have been identified. A Passover Letter written in Aramaic described festal instructions for the Passover
The Law Codes of Ancient Israel
Covenant Code (Exodus)
Holiness Code (Leviticus)
Deuteronomic Code (Deuteronomy)
Priestly Code (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers)
The Ten Commandments or Decalogue
While the Codex Hammurabi was description and not prescriptive, the law codes of the ancient Jews are from
different time periods and created for different groups - the law codes are both descriptive and prescriptive.
Taken altogether, there are 613 legal provisions.
1446 BC - Exodus and The Ten Commandments /The Decalogue
The laws are Apodictic (from Greek apodeiknumai, to demonstrate), meaning that they take the form of
an injunction, prohibition, or demand.
No other Gods but God
No graven image
Don't take name of Yahweh in vain
Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy/observe the Sabbath and do no work
Honour parents/Don't curse your parents
Don't cheat on your spouse
The Biblical account has Moses leading his people into the Sinai desert and receiving through dictation the 10
September 21, 2017
Ancient Law Page 1