When you get immigrants to a new country, you find that cultures may clash. I’ve heard of people moving to America and getting offended at things we did casually and unknowingly. It is interesting seeing cultures clash. It is also seeing it happen almost every time a modern person opens a Bible.
I’ve opened the Bible so many times and interpreted events, sayings, or people based off of the culture I live in. However, the culture in ancient Israel is very, very different from the American culture. Things that may be comfortable for us would be foreign to them. Things that were general knowledge would be found nowhere in our understanding.
One thing I found very interesting was the amount of laws in the Old Testament. There are 613 total laws found in the Old Testament. Many people find this an incredibly large amount but really it is quite small. The United States, when asked to count how many laws they have, said they had neither the manpower nor resources to find out. They do know that just criminal offense laws numbered well past 3,000.
So, how could Israel make do on just 613 laws? That is where there is a cultural difference. In America, law is very specific. You have to be convicted of many aspects of a crime in order to be convicted of that crime. For instance, in order to be convicted of drunk driving, you have to have a certain amount of alcohol in your body. You can have some in your body and yet not be convicted.
In ancient Israel, however, law was paradigmatic. Meaning, an example was given and the judge would deal out justice based off that example. For instance, if there was a law that said you would be convicted of a certain crime if a wall you built fell on a neighbor’s cow. Now, let’s say you built a wall and it fell on your neighbor’s lamb. in today’s culture you could not be convicted of aforementioned crime because it was a lamb and not a cow. Not so in ancient Israel culture.
In Israelites’ times, you could still be convicted of said crime because the judge would draw from the paradigm or example given and say that it was essentially the same crime. This kept it easy for everyone to know the law easily and to be able to live honest, and God-honoring lives!